The alarm rings what feels like several hours too early, and I drag myself out of bed. Soon, showered, dressed in salwar-kurta complete with dupatta, with bag on my back containing all my books and a water bottle, I rush out of the house and to the bus stop. Crushed against numerous others heading the same way, all clearly recognisable by the blue tags around our necks, I endure the long, stuffy journey by promptly dozing off as soon as I get a seat.
Finally on campus, I enjoy the shade of the trees on summer days, or the sun on the “islands” on colder ones. On days when I have no class at 9 AM (oh, how I miss those good old days) I generally spend about 5 minutes sitting by myself at Loner Spot, watching frantic students run to enter the block before the bell rings, as the security guards draw the doors shut in a tantalisingly slow manner. It gives me a callous sense of amusement to watch, a feeling I must admit I rue on days when the miserable traffic puts me in their shoes. Regardless, I seat myself comfortably to kill time until my classes begin.
Armed with a honey bun from Kiosk, I meet my friends as they reach and we quickly review what work is due that day. I scribble a few notes into a notebook and ensure that I have it all in place, occasionally grudgingly sharing the information with other desperate individuals as they enter the classroom. Someone from the last seat complains about having no space; we slide each bench forward to make room.
Some classes, the time seems to fly past as engaging discussions and debates pick at our brains and get majority of the class involved; at other points, especially with long chunks of theory to be learned, each minute seems to drag. I put my head down to block out the noise of people shouting as my classmates leave to get a quick coffee or samosa in between classes. A fortunate class whose teacher has left them free early walks past the window, and my stomach grumbles as I yearn for lunch.
We rush for lunch, hoping to skip the crowd and get some food and a seat in Gourmet at the earliest. On other days, we leave college to visit one of our regular haunts in SG Palya or nearby areas of Koramangala, where we know the service is quick and we can get back in time. We think fondly of our first and second year schedules, where regular 2-3 hour breaks for lunch meant numerous opportunities to explore the city or simply to retire to friends’ PGs to eat lunch and watch movies in peace.
On some days, we find ourselves rushing to get assignments printed, material photocopied and articles downloaded. Deadlines given months ago are suddenly looming, and while some collected classmates sit down to make their final edits, a few scattered individuals struggle to get everything done. Then the 4 PM bell rings, and enthusiastic students spring from their seats to escape the dingy room. A friend leaves for his band practice, another to attend a certificate course. A group of us troop to Nandini, where we indulge in some of our favourite cold coffee or ice-cream. As we talk, the basketball match near us gains intensity, getting excited students on their feet.
Someone near me is excitedly planning a trip for the weekend and I’m mentally scanning my list of deadlines and assignments to see whether I can spare time to go out and relax with my friends. I’m tempted to stay back, yet I know that the traffic gets far worse the later I leave, and I dread the suffocating crowds on the buses. Today, this is a tricky decision, but in a month’s time when college has been decorated for Christmas, I know I will jump at every opportunity to stay behind until the skies darken and the lights come on, imbuing the entire campus with festivity and glee.
I have spent nearly 3 years in this establishment; tolerating some aspects (the travel, the arbitrary rules), evolving to deal with others (the strict dress code, the assessment systems), and loving a number more (the campus – especially around Christmas-time – and all it has to offer, and a lot of the people I’ve met). Christ University isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure, but I’ve undoubtedly learned a lot here.