Home and Belonging in Manipal

What do you call Manipal? A city, town or a village? Which other place combines the Cosmopolitan vibrancy of a city, the demographics of a town and the intimate scale of a village so seamlessly?

Manipal is essentially a settlement of migrants. Right from the construction worker to the student, most people come to Manipal seeking something, be it education, employment or opportunities. They leave of course in many cases with much more than what they originally sought. Given its confounding status, it is very easy to misunderstand Manipal. It is easy to forget that you essentially live in a village inhabited by city dwellers. It becomes important then to understand that though you physically live in a village, the ethos that surround you are essentially urban.

Manipal 2020

Manipal thus can be a hard taskmaster when it comes to habituation. People generally take time adjusting to it. Of course, some lucky ones take to the place fairly quickly, but if you are anywhere near as naive and arrogant as I am, you may have found that the process can take excruciatingly long. The delay can cause great anguish and alienation, leading one to take refuge in solitude.

Loneliness on the outside is very attractive. It promises self-reliance and freedom from certain obnoxious human traits. But inside its captivating shell,what you discover is ugly hollowness. That people are expendable is one of the many misconceptions that adolescence bestows on its subjects. It takes time to resign to the fact that you are after all hopelessly human and this makes you to be perpetually in need of human contact. It takes time to realize that a certain monk from Mohan Nagar is no substitute for people.

However arduous the process, it is inevitable that one day you will get up in the morning and realize suddenly that you in fact belong to Manipal. When is it that you actually belong to a place? When can you say that a certain place is home? Maybe it happens when the place becomes a permanent facet of our comically abstract, muddled up notion of home. Enriching it, while complicating it even more. When a place induces that unique homely feeling of boredom, familiarity and comfort. It ceases to be intolerable then. The people around you become beautifully complex, multidimensional, much more real. Unlike the clichéd cartoons that they were before. It makes you love and hate them with a greater intensity, intensity which used to be blunted by indifference before.

It is of interest to note that such a radical change does not occur on the outside, the change in fact is deeply internal.To accept a place as home entails respecting the fact that it is not going to mould itself just to accommodate you. Change and adapt it will, but at its own pace, according to its own whim. What needs to be done is to let the place affect you, let its spirit suffuse you, so that you are altered, for better and for worse.

I have always resented the concept of destiny and what it implies. How it makes puppets of men and women. So you will have to allow this sentimental author the creative license of hypocrisy when he says that this chapter of his life, in  Manipal, seems eerily predetermined. People have always asked me why I chose Manipal, frustration and regret have at times driven me to ask the same question too. The answer is I am afraid, uninteresting. I literally had no other choice and my parents could afford it. What I now realize is that an infinitely more interesting question to be asked is, and I hope you ask it of yourselves too, why did Manipal choose me?

This is  a guest post by Sai Krishna. He is pursuing MBBS at Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Manipal. Sai Krishna is a self-confessed Politics and Current Affairs junkie and wannabe writer.

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