As a child I wanted to ‘grow up’ and be ‘independent’ and now I long for the good old days. No it doesn’t mean that I am unhappy presently but just the proverbial case of the grass being greener on the other side.
I always wanted to stay in a hostel. This was due to an overdose of Enid Blyton’s St. Claire’s and Malory towers. Circumstances were such that after my Class 12th I had to stay in hostel for my BCom. I was supposedly to join some college in Bangalore but as soon as I emerged from Bangalore City Station and saw the traffic I got scared. So when my father later asked what would I prefer-Bangalore or Mysore, I preferred the latter.
My parents friends Mr. and Mrs Parthasarthy became my local guardians and the following years had the best of both worlds for me. On the one hand I truly became independent ( which included washing clothes and doing bank work, managing on the allowance my father sent etc.), Having fun with friends, getting a good education and enjoying family times on weekends. Uncle and aunty embraced me as on of their own and those 3 years I shared all joys and festivals with them. Once there were riots, the college was shut down, the hostel was deserted and I was wondering what to do as there was no way I could travel to be with my parents; when I get a message that there are visitors for me. And there they were, risking a curfew to take me home. So off we went on the deserted roads riding three on a ‘lamby’. With aunty I formed a friendship which still exists. After my convocation have never ventured again to Mysore fearing that all those beautiful memories and again parting with Uncle Aunty will bring pain. Yes, I am an escapist…..
Mysore exposed me to a traditional society, their different views, the food and the beautiful climate. This was also the first experience of meeting a cross-section of people. In Bhilai all people work for the Steel Plant and so all were equals i.e. middle class but in Mysore there were rich, poor, traditional, modern. In short I met all sorts of people, a wonderful experience.
MBA in Warangal exposed me to a different set of people all together. People here were more of the Upper class, there was cut throat competition and again this time I experienced the traditional Andhra society- their culture, food and language. Being a residential set up the grind and fun were both unique. Days were spent sweating or sometimes dozing in the class, evenings were spent in preparation of case studies or around a bonfire (in the winters) or taking long walks (in the summer). But I often felt lonely as there was no home to go to on weekends as in Mysore.
My real taste of independence came while working in Mumbai. Being financial independent gives a different kind of freedom. My stay here was in Yuvathi Sharan a working womens hostel run by Nuns and Here I was exposed to the Catholicism. We used to have Roll Call in the night followed by a passage from the Bible to be read by one of the girls and then hymn singing. Weekends there would be mass but never attended any because either I would be asleep or visiting my relatives. My sister and her family gave me the ‘home feeling’. Travelling first class from Dadar to Andheri on a fast local with the wind blowing on my face gave me a HIGH which cannot be expressed.
All together staying in a hostel hasn’t been bad at all. It gave me an exposure to different cultures, people and society which otherwise I wouldn’t have got. It was also during this time that I realised that however much I liked to be with friends; I craved for a home and during my stay in Mumbai decided that it was the right time to have my own ‘HOME’.