THE FIRST OF MANY LECTURES

                                            THE FIRST OF MANY LECTURES 

                                                                                          -Yugika Mital

He’s a small man. His glasses resemble those of my grandfather’s. He sticks his hair together and is always dressed as if for a professional interview. Today, he wore a red and blue checked shirt with a dark brown pant and walked into the classroom with the usual calm he is known to maintain. Continue reading “THE FIRST OF MANY LECTURES”

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IMAGINE

IMAGINE

                                                            IMAGINE

                                                                  -Yugika Mital

 

How could we ever live without imagination? Without creating a more fantastical version in the mere spheres of our heads?

Where we stand has a major role to play in what we imagine, both metaphorically and literally. If I look out the window from the 10th floor as the city lights sing and rhythm with each other under the dark shadow, I imagine a world of progress, speed and untiring effort. In some more hours, as silence would dominate the empty space, Continue reading “IMAGINE”

TO THE ONE INSIDE

TO THE ONE INSIDE

                                                         TO THE ONE INSIDE

                                                                        -Yugika Mital

 

‘Maybe if I watched an emotional motion picture, I’d be able to express better.’

‘Maybe if I read a beautiful poem on love, loss, cheer, I’d finally be starting on writing my masterpiece.’

‘Maybe if I went through some old photographs, collected memories from the shut closets of my imagination, I’d have better metaphors.’

‘Or maybe if I stayed silent, let my hands and my heart do the talking, it would actually turn out to be an honest piece. An article written for the soul. That is all that suffices.’ Continue reading “TO THE ONE INSIDE”

FROM START TO MID

FROM START TO MID

                                                                FROM START TO MID

Yugika Mital

Standing in a group of people you’ve met for the first time.

A new campus.

A different city.

The same you.

If you signed up for Mass Communication then does it mean that it’s easy for you to converse in this situation or is there still time to improve your social skills?

The truth remains that no one shall sit you down and make you feel like home, but with the right effort you can learn, grow, see the reality and mould yourself for good.

My college is not wholly comprised of the usual students, Continue reading “FROM START TO MID”

SOME HOURS WORTH WRITING ABOUT

SOME HOURS WORTH WRITING ABOUT

                              SOME HOURS WORTH WRITING ABOUT

                                                                                            -Yugika Mital

 

We sometimes find people outside our regular space who may be complete strangers but in that moment we feel like we belong with them. In that moment, we surrender to the imperfection of the world and vow to be optimistic along with convincing ourselves to indulge deep in the present because you don’t know when that feeling of solace will come next. You are aware of your surroundings but they feel different. A ‘different’ that has no definition and cannot be consistent for any two people.

With a hostel that has a compound large enough for new entrants to lose their way and swing sets that are a constant craving among the undergraduate students, hungry to plug in their headphones and for a couple of minutes escape this world with their feet in the air, you constantly look for new ways to spend the precious and rare leisure time in hand. Sooner or later you get used to the juggling of tasks and the people who are running the same marathon but after a certain point, familiarity is not sought in names or faces but in emotions, situations and smiles.

While you sit with familiar faces, in your comfort zone near the swings, playing some soft music, you are oblivious to the ears that pass by and the souls that are reminded of the beauty of togetherness in some silence. The four of us, after dinner, simply were going about our regular chatter – things about the unexpected free weekend with no assignment, how lazy we had been lately and other quotidian topics when we decided to let music set the mood and were later joined by three students from the same hostel but a different college. In short, we had probably passed them in the halls and the mess but were as oblivious to their existence as they were to ours. The cool but not so starry night, some wind, the swings, dim and warm fairy lights from the overhead rooms and above all music got us together.

There was a myriad of artists whose work was welcomed – from The Chainsmokers to the good old Hoedown Throwdown and then Lata Mangeshkar with some Bruno Mars. It was a collection of anything that anyone sitting in the area wanted to hear. Not a lot of words were exchanged apart from the regular ‘What’s your name?’, ‘Which college are you in?’ and ‘Hey! This professor teaches us as well!’ but that was enough for the impromptu gathering to sail smoothly and comfortably for all of us. There was no need to establish a further connection on purpose. As said, after a certain point, familiarity is not sought in names or faces but in emotions, situations and smiles. The compound lights gradually went off but more people just joined in.

In colleges and hostels, yes, different cultures collide. Different languages, different traditions and values but some things remain the same. Music is one of them. That one song from Taylor Swift brings back bizarre stories from Middle School and gradually, people do end up listening to a veteran musician/singer just like an ultimate integration of all the commonality that existed. You just wish upon the shooting star for the night to last a little longer (or the classes to get delayed the next day) just so you could enjoy the time a little more. The heart wants what it wants. People forget their phones and come together to experience a typically expected hostel night but one that was not very common in actuality.

We look for common mind sets, common backgrounds, common preferences, common interests and other intersecting points between other people and ourselves but sometimes all it takes is a welcoming nature to see how acquaintances can be established without any solid common ground. Sometimes all it takes is the willingness to hear what another person has on their playlist and what their moves to your song are. Maybe sometimes all it takes is a cool, calm and regular night at the hostel, some songs on your playlist that mean something to you and a good speaker to spend some hours’ worth writing about.

LUCKNOW, AS I HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN IT

LUCKNOW, AS I HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN IT

                                 LUCKNOW, AS I HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN IT

                                                                                                  -Yugika Mital

There is a place one likes to call home. A place that isn’t perfect but brings back a bundle of memories, surrounds you with a familiar crowd, those same buildings with a few more additions on every visit, the same public problems, an acquainted way of dealing with the locals and a reason why you call it ‘home’ and give it more importance than the rest.

Just when the flight landed, I closed my eyes to remind myself that ‘I was home’ and not in my hostel room, some thousand kilometres away, saying ‘I miss ghar ka khana’. The eerie agreement that happened right then between my mind and my heart is a conversation they alone understand. And the best part was when the passengers lined up to exit, I saw someone do the gesture of ‘pehele aap’. Though I failed to understand how that helped in that moment when we just wanted to leave, I smiled on my inside.

Lucknow.

People see it for the chikankari, the imambaras and some more things that I admit I’m not aware of because I don’t remember the last time I behaved like a tourist at ‘home’.  Home is just not the city. It is the places I visit the most, the people I meet most often, the food that satisfies me more than any fancy portion on my plate and the people I call ‘family’.

Lucknow is the comfort of home that has looked after me the entire time. The same places of the house where I crawled as a baby and then stood in my first sari. The familiar sounds of ‘good morning’ and where everyone feels they have the liberty to switch off my alarm if I snooze it too much. Lucknow is those five people in the house who wait by the gate every time I visit and hug me the tightest to last until my next.

Lucknow is kebab paratha at every street midst the chants of Tunde. A hub for non-vegetarians which managed to turn this vegetarian into a kebab lover.

Lucknow is Sharma Ki Chai in the winter when you don’t mind waiting for half an hour for some samosa and bun makkhan. If you’ve lived for nearly two decades of your life in a single city, there are chances you’ll always meet someone wherever you go and home is that feeling when you’d socialise because you want to and not because you’re bound to because you already have your crowd.

Lucknow is where ‘hum’ refers to one person and ‘aap’ is any stranger, younger or older.

Lucknow is the night Ganj where you’d walk for hours together just to get exactly what you need and a wee more, to say the least. To pass forth the Novelty cinema and see what was the single film trending in the crowd that made up half the city while people like us enjoyed myriad choices at the mall. Lucknow is being aware of what new business opened above Café Coffee Day and just thinking that it won’t last for more than a couple of months.

Lucknow is La Martiniere. While the college grows with new infrastructure every time I visit, it gives the same feeling of confidence, love and belongingness. And a new addition now, Lucknow is the annual 12-D meet at the same place, in the same restaurant and with the same people who just mature and grow closer with each day. Cities and even countries couldn’t keep us apart.

Lucknow is a long drive on the expressway or the marine drive with your favourite people. You know you’re most comfortable when there’s silence but not awkwardness. The extension of Gomti Nagar with more student friendly areas and new outlets are giving more life to the city now.

Lucknow is the irritating traffic and unbearable heat. Where if one person honks, the chain reaction is unstoppable. It is the place where you know the short cuts to your most visited places to avoid traffic. In Lucknow, cultures like slam poetry are growing and taking some spotlight because here change is slow but an audience for everything. Here The Cherry Tree Café is the common point from all areas and you are bound to know that.

Lucknow is a million other things that are overshowed by the safety issues, corruption and population. Under the label of ‘Capital of UTTAR PRADESH’. Lucknow is a place where you’ll find almost everything. You just need to know where to look and whom to approach. Lucknow is over the stereotyping that is done because it is busy establishing its new identity alongside perfecting its originality.

 

HALF OF SUMMER

HALF OF SUMMER

                                                               HALF OF SUMMER

                                                                                  -Yugika Mital

As time progresses, school classes evolve into college lectures, field trips into week long study tours, friends into ‘home team’, longing for restaurant food turns into ghar ka khana craving, nap time into grocery shopping time and vacation is all about coming home even if it is for a 9 to 5 internship. Reminiscent of the time when one of the two months of summer break meant nani ka ghar, I got to talking to one of my friends once and she said, ‘Hey! You just found your next blog!’ and this is an effort to execute the idea.

When I take a moment to recall my nani ka ghar days, the memories reach beyond the extent of my closed fists and the moment always lasts longer than I expect it to. It used to be an annual experience, a month long till I was in middle school, then it came down to 20-15 days with the high school medley and finally just a week before I had to move to a different city for college, but yes it did happen for almost every year.

Preparations would start a few weeks in advance with the entire shopping spree; collecting gifts for every individual and most importantly, rechecking the tickets to see if you got the date right. We were a group of five over enthusiastic cousins that met annually and fought unimaginably when left alone but stood for each other when a second party was involved. One of the highlights – Nani ke haath ka khana is a blessing no one should be devoid of. I would have an entire list and needless to say, always returned with a kg or two gained. Summer meals with family form a very memorable part of any summer break because at the end of the hot meal came fresh and cool fruits. All kinds of mangoes in varied forms; mango shake for breakfast, mango ice cream or simple fruit post lunch and then some more post dinner. Lychee, watermelon and muskmelon are the other essentials because these fruits come with summer remembrance wrapped around them. Lychee always meant having more than my sister and I loathed the watermelon seeds that interrupted my pleasure. They are right in saying that meals help traverse the road of togetherness.

As kids, my uncle would insist on getting up at 5 in the morning to play and exercise but he never got an encouraging response for more than 2 days. Instead, we enjoyed the evenings. After hobby classes, Nanu would take us to a park down the lane and we’d always bargain for more time. At hobby classes, we tried to put our 10 hands combined in different activities – sand painting, calligraphy, Bollywood dance, Salsa and countless others. It was our mechanism to deal with the regret of ignoring any holiday home work from school. While the adults indulged themselves in photo album sessions and more shopping, our group would get together to get friendlier with the neighbours’ kids, play detective games, do some choreography and as we grew older, even go out for a drive. Later even the park visits were replaced with badminton time with colony friends, on the streets in front of the house and none of us would return until dinner time. It is really a different authority you feel over that part of the road.

My personal favourite would be the Housie sessions post dinner (which gave me some ‘hard earned’ money), late night movie marathons, late night meals of Maggie and chips and the rain dance to welcome the monsoon. We’d dance on the terrace with the first showers and then bring buckets of water until our hearts were satisfied when the rain ended.

Broadly most of our years comprised of this activities with some moderations here or there. Sometimes we’d take a road trip to nearby cities and others we just spent playing some decent card games with Nanu. Gradually, as the trip’s duration decreased, we started exhausting the capacity of marking new adventures on a daily basis and sat recollecting the old ones to refresh the wonderful days. It is important, as I was once told and have begun to believe, to not only live but also remember because ultimately it is these memories that we shall move along with. It was during these trips that I realised that we have limited time (not life wise but a month is a month – 30 days) and we train ourselves to manage all the activities in that duration. Summer started getting booked for other priorities – school trips, college admissions and now internships. There are some people with whom we spend the best time of our childhood and some of us are blessed to have those people for the rest of our lives. From our group of five, we are studying or working in different cities now but we do look forward to this annual trip, no matter how short it is because some things are worth holding on for.