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WHAT HOSTEL DOESN’T TEACH YOU & LIVING ALONE DOES.

It’s a dull day at the office, as we draw/draft our thoughts away, trying not to think of the minute we could just get up and leave for home. My own thoughts hover over the idea of having to make dinner tonight and to go grocery shopping. It’s quite interesting how God has swept me away from my family and is making me do things in order to come out of my comfort zone that I had guiltily made for myself.

Hostel was easy compared to this. Food was available three times a day. We had a regular pattern of studying, being fed, having water to bathe, had garbage/waste taken out every day. Not having to worry about pril (dishwashing liquid) running out and thereby, allowing the kaamwaali aunty, the excuse to not wash the dishes. UFF! Why should I complain, right? Isn’t it just my fault that I didn’t get the essential demanded by her to wash the dishes?! Man! This is hard.

All those talks about living in a hostel and being ‘free’ and ‘independent’ and stuff.. Who was I kiddin’? Living in a hostel doesn’t teach you anything about real life, does it? Well it does teach you some valuable things like – tolerating a good number of people and their stupidities. It does teach you that ‘community living’ is not a myth and you ‘cannot’ (mark my words) go out and buy yourself a ‘maggi’ for yourself. You buy maggi for everybody or none at all. Whatever you buy/make, it’s not just for you, it’s for everyone-no questions asked! I think if you really had to get down to list down things you do learn in a hostel, there could be few. But let’s focus on what it doesn’t teach you and why you are still clueless when you are living on your own, off your own money.

First of all, accept that you are on your own and ‘freedom’ is relative. What seems freedom to one, may not be freedom to another.

So, what are some of the things that you are unprepared for, when living on your own? Why is it so different from hostel living?

  • You are your ‘own boss’!

As much as that phrase makes you happy, ask yourself this –‘”Am I really prepared to be my own boss?”… I mean, it’s not that you can complain to your mom, about how hard it is to live alone!  Weren’t you the sole person responsible for this ‘huge’ decision of yours?

You are your own boss ,which not only implies that there is no one you need to answer to, but it also means that you are accountable on all counts for your own actions and can’t expect anyone to be at your beck and call for every small thing anymore.  E.g. Search your own apartment, pay it off with most of your own money etc.

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  •  Accounts and finance- “Arrey, paise kaha gae?”…

Remember the time when you were still living with your parents while earning or flashback to hostel when Rs. 500-2000 dresses weren’t ‘that’ expensive to buy. Well hol’ up sista! Your spending spree ‘keeda(bug) just got a loud wake up call. You find yourself checking your balance at the end of each month to check there is enough to pay this month’s rent, khaana-waana, ghar ke other bills and even after that if you think you can afford a 500rs. Ultra- awesome top, then ya, go ahead and buy it! But don’t go lisiting things down if you can’t believe that you are falling short of money even after being ‘so careful’ about it ‘this month’.

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  • Entertaining people- is it really your thing?

I would have to say that this is definitely more of an extrovert/ introvert thing and it does get difficult for a lot of people, if not been surrounded by people all the time. However, it has been an eye-opening experience for me because I never thought I would be the person, not wanting to entertain people if I have my own space. So, when one day one of my intern friends wanted to stay over, watch a movie and order a pizza, I was shocked to hear myself refusing and being blunt about not wanting to ‘hang out’ at all. If you are wondering why this change happened then it would be good to know that when you’ve come back from a hard day at work (or just doing nothing), all you are looking for is some peace and alone time. You don’t want someone else’s interests to influence you, especially under your own roof where your cozy corner is waiting for you.

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  • Uncle/ Aunty Zindabad!

Do you see yourself being extra nice to the uncle and aunties around you? Do you see that those- once-judgmental eyes, now soften when they see you? Do you feel the unexplainable security of knowing that these aunties and uncles would never (hopefully) give your landlord a bad review of the kind of people you are and whom you bring home?! Did any of the aunties just ask how you are and offered you ‘gujiya’ for Holi? Hol’ up again. You don’t want to be ‘too friendly’ but establishing a good relationship with the neighborhood uncles for their deep source of information or ‘duniyadaari’  gyaan and aunties homemade food is something that is valuable in the longer run.

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I think, now since I’m into my fourth month of struggling to settle in, these are the top four things that I can tell you, from over the top of my head. There are definitely a zillion other things you can talk about- paying electricity bills, how to make khaana? etc. But those I’m sure can be found in any ‘survival- guide- for- bachelors’ (if there is any).

Having said all that, living on your own is the best thing (cliché alert) and it is something one should definitely try once in your life. This could be in fact, something you do between college and the mind-wrecking time that your parents want to see you married. Running away is good and living on your own is awesome but NEVER through all of it compromise the values that you grew up with and enjoy your self-claimed freedom till you fall out! Cheers!

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The One where college ruined my life..

I was a 17 year old with an ego the size of a watermelon. I was at a stage in my life where I considered myself superior just for knowing ‘exactly’ what to do in life. Yes, it is an ego booster in India because you totally know what you are going to tell an aunty/ uncle about your future plans (which is apparently VERY important after 12th grade). At least, I was unlike the poor things who got swept away by the flow into doing engineering and other stuff.

I sat massaging my ego after school, totally unaware what God had in store for me. Wow, God definitely has a sense of humour.

I got shipped off to KERALA, a state that used to be at the center of my jokes, just because it wasn’t cool to be called a Mallu (then)! The week leading to joining college, I was greeted by dirty smirks and mocking voices from all around my friend circle. A girl who never associated with anything mallu was gonna join a college, far away from her city where she grew up!  If you ask me, except for the embarrassment in front of my fellow mallu-hating-club friends, I was a teeny bit happy because it would keep me away from my parents for five long years, and not to mention that I did love Kerala architecture. I mean for a Delhiite, people live in mini-mansions there! Wow!

But this is only the part in Hindi serials, where the guy meets with an accident and goes into a coma! Wait for it-! Picture abhi baaki hai…

Now let me tell you ‘about’ my college (I’ll be discreet and not mention the name) *sniggers*
a. It was a minority college for people who hardly get admissions anywhere else and already have their seats booked in 11th grade.
b. I was unaware of point a. because for me, nothing could go wrong in Kerala, like how could you be the most literate state in India and not have ‘rules’, eh?
c. I was one of the 3-4 Govt. allotted seats in a minority college which means I sat with kids who had not planned to be there for the love of joining the course, but because of the pressure to ‘just get a degree’ (because that’s important, hunh?)
Now that’s just the beginning. I soon found out that as much as the kids weren’t interested at all, the faculty could not have been more ignorant. Classes were dismissed just because of strikes or they ‘forgot’ or because they had absolutely no idea how to conduct a class. Now it may seem strange to you, but, up until that point, I never knew that a college could ‘function’ like that. Most of the professors were graduates from the college and hardly had any experience in neither the field nor in conducting classes. I could go on about what was wrong, but, I’ll just say that I had hit rock bottom. I knew that no matter how much I hated it, in order to get out of this shit hole I would require a lot of money that my parents couldn’t afford. I left everything to fate. Regardless to say, I never turned to God.
I got a lot of unprecedented attention from boys. I was a Delhiite in a minority college in Kerala. A college where no one native to the town would go to. I was seen as a symbol of a rebel- a smoker/ drinker who would’ve definitely hit a pub once or twice,huh? I mean she is from Delhi,right?! Wrong! I’ve been to a pub ONCE before joining and done nothing inappropriate for my age up until then. For someone who was not used to much attention, I basked in it. To say very little, I encouraged it. I wasn’t a ‘thoppu'(bombshell) and I didn’t see it until the third year of college when I realised that my friend circle had absolutely no common interests with me except for the fact that we were all not native to the area.
I was also going through near heartbreak for a guy who genuinely interested me. He had ditched me even as a friend to pursue a girl he had been after for a long time. I could not come in terms to the fact that someone I considered my best friend could just leave like that. I was lonely, picked upon mildly at first, and harshly later, for being of a religious background that was different from the people around me. I knew life would not be the same after third year but I was totally unprepared to face each day thereafter. Most of my 15-minute walks from the college to the hostel were alone. I thought I could phase people out of my life as I liked and still survive. I tried hard to be in control of my situation, blinding myself to the fact that there was a guy in my class who was facing the same abandonment and personal failures in his life as I was.
I still don’t know how we got talking. I mean I knew he wasn’t native to the area as well. He definitely spoke good English, but we had never really ‘met’ until then. Come to think of it, we should just have met in the first year. No, he is not my boyfriend. I friend-zoned him long ago * sniggering* (it just happened, don’t judge me).
Kevin is a really sweet guy. We got talking. It was really disturbing to know that we were both cornered for the same reasons. He had been abandoned for making his friend listen to ‘music’.  Apparently, the ‘pottan’ friend thought that his mom got ill at that time because he committed that ‘sin’. Unbelievable. We connected on many terms. We didn’t want to be alone, but neither were we ready to be going on without a plan. We talked and talked. Over a period of time we had a lot of questions, about who God really was. Kevin had almost gone down the path of atheism and even if I’ve not been verbal about it- I was not really living a life that was entirely Christian. My patience had taken a toll and it came out in fits of anger directed at many people at once. Kevin tried to be the better of us two but I’m not really sure if we handled things nicely.
Regardless to say, my architecture studies had taken a backseat. Like it didn’t even have a seat. It was in the ‘diki’ until my final year of college.
One day, Kevin told me that he had had a heart-to-heart conversation with his grandmother over God. She told him that Jesus didn’t pick a stone against the adulteress woman and how He accepted the thief on the cross. Kevin and I cannot claim in any way that we were Christians. We were born into it but never accepted its full power.
His grandmother almost took the role of our counselor. She encouraged us to live a good life no matter what our situations. Most of all, she told us to have heart and love as God would love everyone. I think that was the only advice we took on .No matter what came our way, we tried our best to work our heads into accepting differences and moving on with it. We had tried for a very long time to be ‘hot’ about the situations we were going through and only burnt ourselves out. Neither of us were equipped by the Word of God to fight anything.I  think it was the realization that God has this. He had already planned this course of life for us. He knew what we would go through. He had separated us from the rest of the people to be different for Him. We saw his promises unfold when we found ourselves to be more forgiving. It calmed our hearts , not the situations. And that’s all that mattered.I’ve  realized that this is only a journey to a bigger purpose in my life. He is preparing me for something that I cannot imagine.  Through all of it, he disciplined me, told me to give up my self-reliant attitude and to depend on His grace. Kevin and I were definitely the most blessed in those five years because He thought us worthy of His grace. Praise be to Him!
As I said,It was in my last year of college that I was truly inspired by some amazing bunch of mentors who didn’t want to impress me with a sweet smile or talk, but with gentle scolds and harsh judgements.
Reality strikes when you actually start working.  Meeting deadlines often leaves you brain-dead and you forget to replenish it with ideas and just fall into a routine. For me this is still a journey, a passion that drives me, will always drive me. But it has also made me see it as ‘profession’, rather than something that could engulf my life. To be honest, this is something I still struggle with. I love architecture but I love God more. No matter what I do today or in the future, I know He has got me! Amen!
Alright, now just wait for it, okay? This is not over yet! So impatient you guys are! 😛
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The One where it all began..

So it all started when I was in my eleventh grade. A shy, obedient, bespectacled student who had hardly done anything out of the ordinary. One day she chose a subject that was sought to be admonish-able by the world who had already labelled her as ‘boring’. Yes, I chose to study – Fine Arts.

It must not come as a surprise then, that I had never previously sat for a proper Arts studio except for the one in my second grade where I was taught to make a duck out of the number 2! Neither should it shock you that I was horribly bad. My first sketch could hardly be acknowledged as a mere scribbling when compared to the ‘awesome’ ones by my amazingly talented batch mates. I must’ve been stupid to stay, I thought then, but I knew it would be even more scarier to leave because nothing else excited me. I stayed long enough to understand that there is nothing like ‘perfect art’. A beautifully painted scenery could repulse a modernist who would never identify with its emotions. Art was your own outlet. It was something that was boundless, infinite and dynamic. It can free you or it can keep you captive.

I was its captive for the next year that followed. I didn’t know how it changed me,but I knew how it changed the people around me. People were nicer, even sweeter. I may not have been the best at painting a portrait but I was good at knowing what people wanted to express. I was sought to be an outlet for people to share their stories, their fears and strengths. Whoever had a story, had a listener in me. Unknowingly, I could bring onto a piece of paper- funny cartoons, dark dementors or even just a cheesy poem. It seems like an artist’s curse/ boon to be an advocate of people’s emotions that could be just on the brim to flow. And just like that, I got appointed the ‘Head of Cultural Captains’. As much as I felt proud, I need to be modest here and say that I still,to this day, don’t know why I was worthy of this honor. Even with my batch mates supporting me and loving me through it all, I can’t express how meek I feel with all those eyes upon me.

And for the first time , in my final year of school-people were seeking approval-From Me! Who would’ve thought?

I graduated, still a shy, bespectacled girl with a 98% top score tucked away to my Board credits for the only subject that mattered and would thereafter matter.

Even through all this, I was blind to God’s-soon-to be-accomplished-plan in me…