Friday, March 23, 2007

The Complexion of Growing Up?

After catholic boy's school in Rourkela, it was strange to be in Ravenshaw college. Just as Oriyas were a foreign species then in Rourkela, Cuttack was an alien world for people from the industrial age: it was a swamp of dense and unknowing provincialism. The celebration of Oriya tradition was illusory and was daily confronted with the horrors of medieval food and hygiene. The Rourkela boys cowered in the "cocoon of newness" -- New Hostel, while the Oriya boys and the lazy children of the local bureaucratic elite -- the English-medium feudalistas -- glowered at them in confusion. One class looked forward to sucking blood in large rural bungalows with a multitude of clerical servants, while the other sought to get into the Nehruvian citadels of upper-casteness, the new Babudoms of IIT and AFMC.
I was an anomaly. I studied arts because I wanted to. A lack of focus and familial decay. However, I grew to love my origins in Mayurbhanj: I recognized the imperial intent of both Rourkela and Cuttack. I would slip away home on night trains and sleep among the freezingly warm mail sacks on the 3 am mail bus from Balasore to Baripada. In my four years at Ravenshaw College, all I can remember is a great teacher of logic, and the vast corruption of my home state. I did well academically/conventionally, but came away being reluctantly disliked by many who did not understand my arrogance.

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