Where You Are
That title speaks a million words, but also likely tells you that I snapped it out of the 2016 animated film ‘Moana’. I think it is the right start though.
While it is true that most of your journeys into college have begun in an uncertain time, I write this with the hope that when a sense of normalcy does dawn upon all of us, you will have the opportunity to experience it all for yourself, firsthand.
Just like so many of you out there, I too was looking for colleges and courses and had attempted numerous examinations at the rate of 2 or 3 every week; it kept me occupied nearly the whole summer of 2018. Not once in those months did I ever think I’d make it to Coimbatore of all places; it was the last thing on my mind. Eventually, June came along and within a quick fortnight, it was decided. I’d make my way from Bangalore, where I grew up, from the comforts of home and a city unparalleled in so many ways, to Coimbatore, where I was slated to spend the majority of the following 5 years in a hostel block.
Coimbatore certainly isn’t Bangalore, but it is everything that makes it just as special. The first thing I did upon arriving here though, was to search for an equivalent of Bangalore’s Central Business District, a place that rarely ever sleeps and where you could spend months exploring what the place could offer, ranging from fancy restaurants and cafes that offered so much in terms of variety to the endless number of clubs and nighthouses that never really ran out of people or alcohol (I’m a teetotaller), and at the end of it, just as I expected, my disappointment was immeasurable.
Having said that, I knew it was a tad too early to judge the place because I knew that unless I took up “expeditions” of my own, I’d not know for sure. I spent the better part of my initial weeks in college trying to explore what Peelamedu could offer, and it really wasn’t so bad, even if I knew that my options were limited and I had to keep going back, especially when you know you’ve got 3 malls, fewer localities and significantly fewer "fun places" (but who knows what I’d be doing without Pazhamudir Nilayam or NMB). And after a whole year, I’d barely seen beyond a 5 km radius of the college. How ironic !
Eventually, that is what I understood Coimbatore to be; every suburb of the city had something special to offer, in whatever way. It certainly wasn’t like my home turf where I could simply find hangout “hotspots” every second mile or so. It was more about the small cafes, roadside eateries or likely a mess, or the calm of the residential localities where you could lose yourself in thought, the catchy nature of all the surrounding specialities like Isha, the Hill Station on the Nilgiris, away from all the bustle or the spiritual abode of Maruthamalai just outside the city and undoubtedly, the amazing Kovai people, whose warm and welcoming nature makes you feel no less than home. Sounds familiar right, all of these “Unique selling points” in an argument? But know this, it carries as much truth to it as cheesy as it may sound.
Also, the wondrous language differences between those I met in college and those I’d grown up with, well it takes adapting to, no less. Being from Bangalore with a curious background in debating and a very cosmopolitan environment at school, I can proudly say I communicated in fluent English (trust me when I say this, there won’t be any end to the “semma kalai” that you’ll be subject to), the local language Kannada (I was certainly “not” offended when they said the script looks like “jalebis”, it really does) and of course, my mother tongue Tamil with a distinct dialect, whilst some of my classmates still have problems understanding, especially those who are based locally. But the local Tamil lingo is unique, intriguing and if I may say so, very respectful, especially when you hear them add the ‘anna’ or the ‘akka’ at the end of every sentence. I know I’m not being a hundred percent accurate here, but trust me, when you hear them speak, you’ll gain a feel of what I’m really trying to say.
When those of us come to an institution like PSG from cities like Chennai or Bangalore, or elsewhere in this country, we generally tend to get carried away by the notion that we’ve landed up in some rut and that we’re the naturally “cooler” bunch of people and there is hence, a certain arrogance to the way we see things, often felt by the way we keep lamenting and loathing about how our home city was better and then just grimace for every little thing. It doesn’t take long to realize that we ought to appreciate where we are, otherwise, it is just as they say, “Vechhu senjuduvom machi”. Just kidding.
Not a day goes by when the city and its people fail to amaze me and once we start appreciating that feeling, there’s no stopping it. Oh, come on, none of us ever want to give out on our home turf, ever, and I’m no exception to that. But beyond that pride we feel and the prejudice we hold, we belong here now, in an iconic city that often identifies itself with this iconic institution just as we, it’s students do and so, let us feel that pride for a change and then watch as it makes us feel at home, away from home.
As students entering college in 2020, it is evident that each of you have already displayed extraordinary mental fortitude to keep working towards your goals amid all else, and so, I believe that you will be able to experience all that you've just read for yourself in good time.
On a concluding note, I’d like to say this
"once you know what you like,
then there you are,
‘Cause every path leads you back to
Where you are,
You can find happiness,
Where you are"
Okay, I flicked those lines off of that song again, just like how this started, but it works out just fine, doesn’t it?