Living Life The XL Way – Live A Little More At XLRI Jamshedpur
The taxi stuttered to a near-stop as the huge gateways flanked by uniformed men were flung – well, more-fractionally-than-wide open, and thus began my journey in XLRI – early in the morning, in a rickety taxi loaded with more stuff than it could honestly hope to carry; with me nervously staring ahead and my mother excitedly taking in the sights of the place she’d come to dump her prodigal offspring off in.
Immediate apprehensions took precedence over wonder at the old-world charm of the campus as we approached what was to be my new home. It being my first hostel stay, I’d been told numerous horror stories by ‘well-meaning’ friends. Gradually, a lot of my fears were allayed. Airy room – check. Mess food – not a nightmare. Other food joints – present in abundance.
Too soon, it was time for Mom to leave. I kept a straight face throughout and broke down as soon as her auto disappeared from view, taking with it the last vestige of familiarity. There I was, alone in a strange place, amidst strange people and their strange ways, starting a strange new chapter of my life.
The first day was bewildering, with the desire to interact warring sharply with my natural reticence. Then classes started, and all worries became inconsequential in the face of something far larger – survival.
Pedagogy was so participative, that I felt initial reservations melting away in my excitement to contribute. With each new class, I made acquaintances from a varied range of backgrounds and began enjoying the experience immensely. Academic rigour hit like an all-engulfing tidal wave, sweeping us into an unending whirlpool of classwork, quizzes, assignments, projects and exams. The sheer volume of work left us petrified.
But the scene wasn’t even complete yet. Without those that would, if hearsay were to be believed, force us into various acts of humiliation, dump onto us an undue portion of their work, and generally make our lives a living hell. The seniors arrived, and how.
It took us a while to understand that they would indeed shape our experience here – albeit in a manner starkly different from what we’d dreaded. From Bodhi’s wisdom to Bishu Da’s irreplaceability, they were instrumental in guiding us towards discovering the essence of XL culture. As the armour of invulnerability slipped away, we realised they had been through all this too. More importantly, they had adjusted, survived – thrived. That, more than anything else, gave us the courage to pick ourselves up and get going.
From staying awake for days on end to bonding over assignments submitted at 11:59:59, this month has been a whirlwind of insane ups and downs and roundabouts. For my part, I managed today to have one whole proper meal, did not inadvertently fall asleep in unfortunate settings, and hit a fewer number of people bicycling than any other day before. I also managed to hope a little more, live a little more, fall a little more in love with this place. Good progress, I would say.