Apologies

Apologies for not writing.

I’m sick with a bad cold, my laptop is busted again, and I’ve been busy with camp. It’s been a long week.

With the promise of posts coming soon, I leave to continue watching the Oscars. This year isn’t as fun as before; and I didn’t know James Horner died.

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The Aftermath

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Debating religion with my best friend has taken its toll on me.

I texted the Secretary General (I’ll call him ‘Sec-Gen’ now) a couple of hours ago. Turns out ‘verbal praise’ doesn’t count as a position. So, to put the truth out there in bold, here it is: I did not win anything in Pune. What I got was special mention.

I’m going to apply for the JUMUN. Jadavpur University is right down the road compared to Pune. I’m hoping to do better this time.

To conclude, I’m trying to lead a healthier life; it’s not easy. It is, however, the most logical thing to do. Sorry for being so cryptic. These things will be spoken of in due time. Now that I’ve told you what I got, let me tell you why Pune was worth it.

Sorry; Too Lazy to Write

I’m not really in the mood to write today. A little tired, a little distracted… nothing wrong, just not in the mood. ‘Part three’ of my ‘adventure’ will have a bold opening, and I’m going to formally introduce myself. Now excuse me while I go watch superhero shows and anime.

Decisions and Revisions

Standing with the jostling crowd, with distracted listeners around me, I had just agreed to hop on a train in a few weeks to go to Pune. I didn’t have the faintest idea about the rules of a MUN or even how to register. I only knew that there was a team, and I was part of it. We didn’t know how we’d do this. We didn’t know who’d get tickets. I told myself that I couldn’t ‘wing’ this: that I had to know ‘the plan’, and make decisions. Let’s call the first year who brought this up ‘A’. A answered a couple of questions, and we left for our hostel rooms after agreeing to talk on WhatsApp. I called my parents and told them what I knew; they seemed pleased.

What now? I waited, and tried to get things in order before the time would come to leave. I didn’t know when it was – sometime in early February. I hadn’t seen the website yet; I trusted A to know enough to alert me in time. The following week was spent in the usual routine, with the thought of a journey at the back of my mind, like Frodo about to leave the Shire. Not that the monastery is the Shire for me: despite the friendship and comfort we enjoy at the hostels, I, for one, still consider myself a private gentleman rooted in his domus. The many trifles of conversation that have some bearing on my adventure escape my memory (my memory being something which worries me often). I think I had seen the website by late January, and had begun my enquiries with the Secretary-General. There were no limits to a delegation’s size, I was told – you could be single, or go with a group.

The trouble began with one of the first years. At a time when you had to be sure of yourself, he wanted to back out. The next day, or that after, A told me he’d talked him into staying in our team. I still didn’t know if there would be teams at the MUN, but I figured we needed to stick together. But I was worried about something else. A team is only as strong as its weakest member, and I wasn’t so sure about the number of people joining us. I think I can confess without inviting criticism that having known them for almost two years, not everyone could be relied upon. The last thing I wanted was to make Pune an extended walk in the park, with clueless man-sized children holding a mini parliament to decide on taking a taxi. Readers familiar with the gentlemen involved will guess the object of my fears.

It was at this time – the weekend, I think – when I found out that my father was having chest pains. He had an angiogram last year that told us that he was ageing as someone well past sixty often does. I had never intended to involve my father in these proceedings except when prudent or necessary; but on the other hand, I couldn’t leave him unattended at home. I told the others. Everyone agreed – half of whom barely knew me – that they would be a considerably weaker team without me. Then they decided to back out. Imagine my dilemma when my personal problem intruded on a plan that involved, at that point, no less than six people.

The myriad experiences of Pune have wiped the smaller details from my mind. Two things stand out. Among these potential delegates there is one young man, well read and showing much promise as a future scholar of literature, whom I have been friends with for over a decade. We were in the same class in school. I remember telling him, after making a public confession of my father’s condition, that I could not let go of this opportunity. Something that I didn’t know how to do had already assumed the stature of a personal campaign in my mind. And I told him that I owed it to my father.

For my father had sat me down, and explained in a serious tone that he was ageing, and sooner or later, time would get the better of him. It was his wish that I use his remaining years to take counsel from him. At this point, there was nothing he wanted more than for me to attend the MUN, and give my best. He wanted me to leave him; he was sure he’d be fine. The implication was that even if he wasn’t, he’d want me to go out into the world.

The next few days were not easy. I explained my dilemma to SP (our Head of Department), and true to his nature, he was encouraging and sympathetic. My teammates had all backed out. Something that I had not known about lay ahead of me, and an ailing father lay in Kolkata – one whom I wanted to stubbornly guard, even while my eyes turned westward. I read what I could, as my father wished. What else happened? I can’t remember; I don’t particularly care to.

I decided I’d take a last-minute flight to Pune if I finally did go. I had my application of leave signed by SP, and then the resident monk of our hostel. When I went home, my father surprised me: he had booked train tickets without telling me, and I was set to leave. I registered as a delegate (turns out most committees only have single delegates), and packed my bag (I decided to take just one).

And so it was that in the early hours of the 4th of February, in the two-thousandth and sixteenth year of the Common Era, I left my home and my college for uncharted waters in the west.

An Unexpected Party

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

I’m back in my college hostel. I study in a monastery. On weekdays, I wake up in the morning, pull out a Scotch Brite from a musty drawer in a wooden desk, wash my steel glass, and walk down three floors to get milk tea and biscuits. Then I go back to my room and drink my tea. I shower, dress up in my white uniform, and leave for college. I walk for about seven minutes, usually taking the small road past the garden of medicinal plants, to the college building. It’s renovated often enough, and all things considered, it’s a fine building – very decorous and rigid, in keeping with the aesthetics of the order; the garden and the bougainvillea add colour. If we have the first period, we have to be present for the college prayer (distinct from the two sessions of prayer at the hostel for first years, and the brief prayers said before and after major meals). After that, one attends classes, making sure to be marked for attendance – less than 70% makes you discollegiate, while anything between 70% and 80% makes you non-collegiate. In between classes, one lazes about, wastes time talking, or runs errands like photocopying notes. When classes are over, one walks back to one’s humble rooms. I fill my bottle with water before I take the stairs. Then I go back to my room, change into a T-shirt and pyjamas, and lie down with my phone in front of my face and earphones in my ears, trying not to think of anything till I’m too tired to stay awake.

The tedium of life is broken by holidays in particular, besides the many events at college. If I remember correctly, the Department of English hosted a students’ seminar on the 18th and 19th of January. After a long day listening to people’s papers, we were glad to be heading out of the auditorium, wondering what we’d be given to eat at the hostels. It was then that we were stopped by our Head of Department, Professor SP. Two students from the History department had something to say.

We waited, looking around, while SP looked up from his papers (he was very busy) and called for them. After a while, they were found talking to someone, and SP called them over.

One of them explained that there was going to be a Model United Nations in Pune, and he was looking for a team.

‘Pune?’ everyone asked, before generally shieing away. Pune is a long way from Kolkata, about 2000 kilometres. I remember one of our class joking that his father couldn’t afford it (for the record, I’m sure he was joking). I was standing there with the others, about to walk away.

Then a lot of things occurred to me: the image of the 104th Training Corps giving their all; the vague notions I had always had of making the right choice when the time came – a time when a Gandalf figure would ask me to play Bilbo; the recurrent feeling that it was time I thought of myself as an adult; the necessity, often repeated to myself at odd hours, of doing what is necessary in time. I kept myself from turning around and walking to my rooms. I had never been to a MUN before. I volunteered.

There and Back Again

I just came home from Pune. I had what must be admitted to be an adventure. I participated in the Symbiosis School of Economics Model United Nations, 2016. I was France in the General Assembly.

I sent my laptop to sleep while I took a shower and had dinner. I’m typing this before bed. Over the next few days I will publish in detail the many events that I was witness to, every single one of which reminded me that I was alive, from a bawling baby in a train to applause from a crowd of strangers, many of whom I already miss. Many details of a delicate nature must be left out from my narrative, and some of it may never be said. The titles to the posts will refer to The Hobbit, because what I had was a Bilbo Baggins experience.

Much remains to be said, perhaps even as a preamble to my travelogue; but it’s getting late, and I have to go to college tomorrow. I go to bed with a healthy share of victory, regret, and contentment.

Header

One of the things that I didn’t like about the header was that it was too small. I decided to keep things simple (and a little formal), but still unique personalised. The header image was taken on my camera and sent through my phone to my laptop, resized to a tiny fraction of its original size, and uploaded. Written with the grey Linc Siren that I’m currently writing with, on a page in my khata (not going to translate that unless you ask me to). Taken on my table next to the window, on Monday morning.