I’m writing this the weekend before I head back to college for my final year and as the feels of going back to campus for one last time settle it’s inevitable to feel that the rug has been pulled from underneath you, it’s all gone by too fast. In a world where time has flown by like a YouTube video in 2x speed, there are some moments that stick with you throughout. That you can always recall with even the most intricate detail. It’s so surreal, you just feel like there’s no deadlines, there’s no rush. You just want to be you, it’s a perfect world. You have everything you could want around you. A feeling not of boundless ecstasy and joy but of timeless contentment and bliss.
Look at me being all philosophical 😛 Anyway, seems like a trip back in time down memory lane is exactly what the Doctor ordered.
The first place (or time) I want to head is way back in 2002. It’s an average Sunday morning and six year old me is just waking up. A big grin is plastered on my face because I’m getting up on my own, means my parents aren’t forcing me up, means it’s not a school day 😀 The bedroom is full of golden sunlight as opposed to the dreary half light at the break of dawn which at which I had to get up to catch the school bus. The smell of food is what finally convinces me to get up from bed and brush my teeth. Since both my parents work, weekdays breakfast was always the South Indian mom’s favourite of Idli. It’s very easy to prepare, I was told. After going to school for a couple of years I was thoroughly overexposed to it and having anything other than that for breakfast was a treat. So the image of my mom sitting and rolling chapatis in the morning always filled me with joy. The newly rolled chapatis kept on old newspapers ready to be put on the tawa and dad bustling to and from the kitchen to get them heated and ready. My sis and I would go and sit around her and she would give us a little dough to play with. We would try to roll it and make shapes (unintentionally of course :P) like the map of India and sit and watch in awe as mom churned out perfect circle after another at a breakneck pace. The door would be open and we would periodically wave at the neighbours as they went for their shopping or to the temple. If there was cricket on that was an even bigger treat. I vaguely remember India playing New Zealand and getting hammered and I used to like Zaheer Khan and I remember he bowled them out for 94 once after we got skittled for 99 and I thought he was going to be the best in the world. (Turns out I was right :P).
This mental image is something I still cling to as being a kid whose parents travelled a lot, especially at that age I used to love having everyone at home. The atmosphere of happiness coupled with the golden sunlight shining through the open door and the smell of beautiful food – it had everything and I always forgot all about school and my scary PT teacher and my utter hatred of the subject Hindi. It was a little bubble that the kid in me could run wild in.
Now that we’re talking about school though, we might as well stop over there as well. The year is like 2008 and the bell has just rung. You can see the students pouring out onto the field because it’s lunch break!! There’s the older kids grumbling about tests and what not and then the little ones that are running at full speed trying to reach their spot first. The unspoken rule of the lunch yard is that every group had a spot and that stayed with you throughout. My friends and I used to sit on the Basketball court near the three point line and we ended up sitting there for the best part of 9 years. It’s the month of October so exams are over, the annual day is coming up so a lot of time will get wasted, sorry utilized, in practise for it so we have not a care in the world. Two things immediately spring to mind about school lunches. The first is the attacking of others’ food. Somehow everything always tasted better when raided Genghis Khan style. There was one poor fellow whose food was so routinely attacked that he had taken to getting an extra box just for his friends to devour. The second was the games. Having graduated from Cops and Robbers to Hand Cricket and Dragonball Z and then to Mafia, I have so many memories from this time. Countless accusations regarding cheating and the in depth trials and examining of evidence that followed (“I put three not four see, I just put four like this. It’s not my fault. I’m not out!! Don’t blame me if you’re blind” -_-). Ribbing and pranks of various scales and learning to hide your food when you hadn’t brought a napkin, which seemed to be of great importance to the aforementioned scary PT teacher, were all part and parcel of the whole experience. That measly half an hour is what we lived for the whole day and we made sure we made the most of it. School was the first place I felt so comfortable outside home and that random circle on the basketball court is one of the pivotal reasons why.
Fast forward a few more years to 2015 and I was now in college. The lasting memory I have from first year was my whole friend gang holed up in one room swapping stories of ragging, tricks to get easy math marks and debating about everything under the sun. I don’t know how it happened but we used to have actual debate sessions where everyone was given a chance to speak and all. Put a group of opinionated young adults in a room and they’ll argue about everything. It was such a cool environment and we used to talk about everything from the our favourite football clubs to world politics. There was one particular time when the government had just announced the colossal Statue of Unity and we had a furious debate on stamping India’s mark on the world vs the gargantuan costs associated with it. There was always a clash of ideologies but a sense of mutual respect from both sides. Oh and I can’t not mention the FIFA. At any given time, there was probably at least one game going on regardless what else was happening. And the immediate surge when we used to get the call from the Night Canteen guy telling us to come down followed by how we all used to sit and eat together like one big happy family. I’m pretty sure I spent more time in that room than my own and I instantly adjusted and soon it was not a case of missing home when in hostel but the other way around. I will never know if it was a giant conspiracy that mess used to purposefully make rubbish food so that NC could do roaring business and then split the profits but jumping whenever anyone’s phone rang if our order had come and the subsequent disappointment when it happened to be their mom was the lasting memory from first year. I don’t know the number of seven rupee vada paavs that were consumed in that room but just sitting there together often doing nothing is what I remember most. We’ve all moved out of that set of rooms but the memories are everlasting.
All this talk about food has got my stomach grumbling. And one final parting thought. I don’t really think it’s a coincidence that every above incident had food in it. I don’t know what it is, maybe satisfying the primal hunger in you adds to the sense of satisfaction. After all as JKR said, “This was their first encounter with the fact that a full stomach meant good spirits; an empty one, bickering and gloom.”
Parting words from the best.
P.S. Did you like the nice way in which I first mentioned breakfast at home as a kid followed by lunch in middle school then dinner in college 😛