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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What university really teaches you...

My last exam is tomorrow, well technically, today. I need to sleep. Anyways, I've just done some relfection as to what university has really taught me. What are my parents paying $30,000 a year for? Do I know more about world politics? Definitely. Have I become better at maths? Not really. Am I better at drawing up financial documents? Sort of. Then I realised that leaving home and going to university is as much about learning about yourself as it is about learning the subjects you're being taught. So what have I learnt about myself? Alors...

I am the most patriotic person I know. I am so proud of anything India achieves. I always think 'in terms' of India. I think it arises out of having lived out of India for so long. I love telling people about the lovely things back home like having a maid and a driver and conveniently skipping over the power cuts, terrible police and larger social atrocities. We're rich so they don't affect us, right? I am quick to distinguish myself from the 'brit-Indians' here: the disillusioned, 2nd generation bunch of chav-dressing morons this city is filled with. Some of them are nice though. I'm far too passionate about where I come from.

This brings me swimmingly on to my next observation about myself. What started out as harmless humour has actually gotten ingrained in to my head and I find myself judging every single person I meet based on their skin colour and accent. I make assumptions about them 5 seconds after saying hi to them. It scares me. I love how different everyone is here, but then why do I always associate the worst qualities with someone of an ethnicity just based on their skin colour or accent? If someone is brown they're going to be boring and speak bad english, if someone is black they're going to be loud and talk in slang, if someone is chinese they'll be quiet and not talk at all and if someone is white they don't have time for me. Where have these weird reactions all come from? I don't know. I have some complexes I need to deal with.

Moving away from all this serious stuff, I realised how out of place I feel in a bookstore. I was never a reader. I read only what I have to, as a chore. In my LIFE I've read the following books: the harry potter series, Life of Pi, the Artemis Fowl series, The world is flat, a few Dan Browns, and Mr Nice. That's really it. Sure I've read loads more but they were for school. The other day I went to a bookstore with Thomas. He was browsing away for something he wanted....I was like my granddad in the Vodafone showroom. I walked in circles, looking for the few books I'd heard people talk about. I found some about various wars, told in Dan brown style. They looked alright but I'd wait for the movie. The movie is always better, you and I both know it. You sit there for 2 hours, completely engrossed in it. The stars, the action, the sets, the's magic. So why waste 3 months reading something? Anyways, whatever, I was in a bookstore, I had to fulfill my obligation to consume. I bought a book by Noam Chomsky about America in the middle east, a book about the Bid Laden family and a book by an American writer talking about how society in India is coping with the the changing face of the country. I think that sums a lot up.

Now for some myth busting. From what I'd seen in movies (!) and heard from people, university was all about sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. But mostly about the first two. I came here and realised how little I care about either. It astounded me, but I am/was happy with myself. Society has vilified drugs and glorified sex. The government has vilified both, whilst pop culture have glorifies both. I was not going out of my way to find either - and I was content. Sure, I could have scored some pills and gotten laid but I thought about how I'd feel the next morning. And sure enough, the pessimistic side of me (who has been working out) won. I imagined my mums face if I died a cocaine overdose or gotten AIDS or something. That kept me on a steady keel. The image of my mums face. Gosh, I really am a kid.

On a somewhat similar point, I found out that I'm happier spending an evening alone at home, with heavenly internet speeds and sushi, than staggering around a pulsating nightclub eyeing girls I'm never going to get with, alongside guys I've gotten drunk with too many times. Yeah.

You don't appreciate people till you leave them. As my earlier post will show, I only really understood how cool my parents were once I left home. They do stuff on time, they plan things out, they know how to handle people and navigate situations....I have some way to go. When you go to a new country (albeit one you've previously lived in) you realise the value of home and people who will be there no matter what. It's that unconditional love I crave.

On a more humble note (or humourous, depending on which way you see it), I realised how average I am at football. Anyone who's been on this blog for more than a few seconds will know how much I love the sport and that I live, breathe and make love to it. However, after coming to England and to university, I was truly humbled by how much better the other lads are. In India, I used to play on the school team. I was one of the better players among the group of boys I played with in the compound on weekends. I was never quick or strong but skill and control got me by. Not so here. Oh no. I came here and got shoved off the ball by massive black guys, and then hilariously out-paced by some German guys and then nut-megged (where someone plays the ball through your legs - the ultimate humiliation. For any video-gamers reading this, its like getting knifed) by an Egyptian guy. And all on the same day! I had skill so I just about managed to escape ridicule but I have a long summer of gyming (haha, yeah right) and diet (more chance of North Korea disarming...) ahead of me.

I guess above all, university teaches you what life alone is like. How to do laundry. How to wash dishes. How to 'cook'. How to befriends strangers. How to talk to girls. How to plan one's day and more importantly, one's work. How to choose friends and know when someone is playing you. How to realise when you're playing someone. How to spend wisely and how to drink wisely - and how to face the consequences of not doing both. It's about creating a second home, somewhere else. I seemed to have made good ground in learning all those things. 

This post is too long, I know. I have an exam soon in which I'll be tested on how well I've learnt the things I was supposed to learn. Sigh. What my next few years of college will be like, I don't know. All I do know, is that I can't wait to get out into the REAL real world and start working and buying a motorcycle and all the other challenges that come with the next step of the way. 


Princess Stefania said...

That explains it! :P
(Nice post. All college had to teach me, was to bring my own lunch everyday for a long and happy life.)

Serendipity said...

Shravan! I have the exact same things to say to you nearly each time I read somethign you
write which is 1) is it EXTREMELY well said 2) I identify a LOT with it 3) I cannot believe someone so young says it so beautifully.

as for #3, I realized the first time I read your blog it said '16' yrs and now its 18! I was mentioning your link to a friend the other day and tellin her that your only 16 but write so well! and now your 18! :)

Btw, your gonna be in India in the summer? Lets meet. I stay pretttty close to Colaba :)

Farcenal said...

Thanks Seredipity. Like, really. It feels good when one of the big dogs give props to the little guy.

Has my writing changed in these 2 years?

Well if I come to Bombay this summer, I'll definitely give you a shout! It would be awesome. I live in Bangalore, see.

Serendipity said...

Im a big DOG?

Farcenal said...

Big Dog as in the powerful, well respected, highly viewed bloggeress.

Not a colossal bitch :)

Sagar said...

Great post man, it's all too true.

helen watson said...

You write with such power, it's captivating and always leaves me pondering. Once again, well done my friend.

Farcenal said...

Thanks guys!

Helen, may I ask what brought you to my blog?