As I was recently reminded by someone, college days are supposed to be the best days of anyone’s life. This is a slightly worrying notion to me, especially when applied to Indian colleges.
Firstly, how can you sit back and have fun when there’s such furious competition for the handful of jobs remaining these days, with the bewildering quantity of information you have to absorb every day in class, with the constant pondering on what you’re going to do once you finally get out of college, and when every avenue of having serious fun is either illegal or against college rules and you are likely going to get severely disciplined for it?
And secondly, you mean everything after this is WORSE? How am I supposed to function with that thought in my head?
On that uplifting note, let’s start to take a look at the wonderful place that is Manipal…the Promised Land where the university that you’ve enrolled yourself into is located, priceless fool that you are. Here’s a sneak peek so you aren’t caught off guard.
When you reach Manipal, the first thing that’s going to hit you is probably rain drops. Lots of them. Coming down fast, and relentlessly. For more than three months, continuously.
Now, if you’re from around here, you already know well enough to have bought the requisite reinforced-skeleton umbrellas and anti-fungal creams, so this is for the benefit of those of you who aren’t, and are thinking, ‘Hey, that sounds nice, I like the rain, it’s pleasant.’
I AM TALKING SERIOUS PRECIPITATION.
I mean, the Great Flood in the Book of Genesis was caused only by 40 days and 40 nights of rain. This is twice as much. Think it’s gonna be fun and romantic? Here are a few side effects:
- Mushrooms growing on your room wall.
- Swarms of monstrous, unholy insects from Hell.
- Other tropical fauna, such as, fucking snakes.
- A new and vicious flu every week.
- Explosive diarrhoea.
- Fucking snakes. It’s important you note this.
But come on, how bad could it be, right? The rains have got to stop eventually.
Yes. To be replaced by sweltering, mind-addling, equatorial, humid HEAT. For the next seven months. Because somebody told Manipal about winter, but it decided it was a silly idea.
Still, the weather is just the weather…there are so many more important things to think about when making your mind up about Manipal. Such as…
Have you been living in a big city all your life? Are you tired of all the convenience and comfort and facilities at your disposal in a metropolitan setting? Do you crave to be far away from the comfort of it all?
If yes, you’re headed to the right place.
This precious little university town is located on top of a hill in the middle of a jungle, and hour and a half by road from the first proper city. Thanks to that, soon upon arrival, you will find that the outside world ceases to matter as you get involved in the day-to-day life of your little toy town.
Which is great, except that the entire economy of this town more or less centres around the university. And, for the most part, the citizenry are students, professors and shopkeepers.
And then you go back to your big metropolitan city for the holiday, see a 5-year old, and get completely freaked out.
In addition, thanks to the wonderful free ‘high-speed’ wifi internet, and the greatly illuminating headlines offered by Mangalore newspapers (read: unintelligible monstrosities of spelling and grammar), you return from your blissful shell in this tropical getaway to a major city, and feel like Rip van Winkle returning to a world he can barely recognise.
Wonderful if you’re on holiday, kind of terrifying when you’re in a four-year college course.
Now, I’m a big lover of food and eating. So one of the most fun things for me is to discover the local cuisine of a place I’m going to. I’m willing to overlook greatly disorienting cultural norms in the eating department like-
- any random person or persons can join your table in the middle of your meal and start ordering;
- If you put your spoon down for half a second to breathe in, your plate is cleared;
- It is acceptable practice to attack a plate of rice with such vehemence that flecks of it fly everywhere, leaving behind a circular halo of debris once the plate is lifted up;
and many others, so that I can get a taste of what new culinary adventures any new place has to offer.
And of course, what a variety Manipal offers!
- Coconut chutney
- Masala Dosa
- Lime juice
- Watermelon juice
- More Fish
- More coconuts
Okay, fine. Maybe I’m taking a prejudiced view here. We’ve all heard about the famed cooks of Udupi. To be sure, there is some great local cuisine with rich tropical flavour (hint: coconuts) to be found in Udupi, but come on…you’re a student, you can’t afford all that fancy stuff.
You know what you CAN afford?
That’s right. Coconuts.
Here’s a small incident I can recall, to give you the feel of a typical interaction:
(This, mind you, is in a five-star hotel’s cafe.)
Me: What? Oh…yes, I’d like a mocha walnut brownie, with chocolate sauce and ice cream.
Waiter: One mochawalnutbrownieicecream. And?
Me: And…um, that’s all. Oh, and please make the brownie hot this time.
(Expression of incomprehension mixed with ill-disguised loathing.)
Me: Um. Hot? Heat the brownie?
Waiter: Mochawalnutbrownie come cold only.
Me: Yes. Yes, I’ve noticed. That’s why I’m asking you to heat it.
Waiter: Ice cream is cold. Mochawalnutbrownie will come cold only.
Me: Ah. Well, could you heat it anyway please?
(Looks at me like I’ve just tried to fart in his wife’s handbag)
Waiter: It will…take time.
I’m not at all sure if he didn’t gob a load of spit into my plate. It can’t possibly take that long to heat a brownie.
Okay, wait…now that I read that list, it seems like Manipal is a pretty cool place after all.
Come to think of it, I may just have wasted 20 minutes of your time.