Monday, July 22

A letter to my imaginary brother in First Year of St. Xavier’s College!

Dear Digga,

In this letter, I’d like to point out some things that I think you should know before getting into St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. I would try to be as frank as possible, so here it goes:

I remember on the first day, as we entered our new classroom, the teacher asked us, ‘why did you choose this course?’ We all took our seats and sat quietly waiting for the teacher to ask some relevant question. We kept quiet. ‘What happened? Tell me, why did you choose this class?’ I kept thinking if this guy was serious? Do people think before choosing a course? So 19th century man! A girl stood uncomfortably and said, ‘because I didn’t want to choose the other courses available.’ The majority nodded in acknowledgement. ‘Hear! Hear!’

This seems like a very insignificant insight about one of the many experience that I have had at this wonderful place. Yes, it is wonderful, in all sense of the word. I know you’ve heard everyone say, ‘Xavier’s is shitty!’, 'you must go to Bangalore, Kolkata sucks!' matched with a certain enthusiasm of their friends, but trust me, it is not. I drift a lot from the point, don’t I?

st xaviers college kolkata campus
Look at this picture and tell me it's not beautiful? 
Anyway, you’re in college now and you can’t afford to be this lost. It was harmless in school, but not anymore. You will see different kinds of people, doing things you thought they only showed in movies, reading books you’ve never heard about, listening to music they themselves created, and smoking cigarettes like the result for ‘Google Search: Cancer’ doesn’t exist. You will see every kind of person, each sample, each variety, good, bad, black, white and gray. You will have to figure out where you stand and what you want to do. Smoking a cigarette is not cool. And it can never be justified. Say I’m addicted rather than saying, ‘Oh! you know what, my relative never smoked blah blah and he got cancer? Why shouldn’t I smoke? We are anyway going to die.’ Because douche, cigarette is a cancer catalyst, that’s why you don’t smoke. People start it out as ‘I want to just try, yaara’ and then in a month, a chunk of their pocket money is spent on cigarettes. But it’s your life; you do what you want to do. I will just say, do not do anything under peer pressure, it’s not worth it. Remember a wise saying, walking with the crowd doesn’t make you a lamb, and walking against the crowd doesn’t make you a lion. Stick to your principles and values. But, change them often.

St. Xavier’s Kolkata is the place where you will be forced to do something of your own, dance, music, get rank, job, internship, blogging. There are so many talented people here that sitting on a computer surfing porn for 4 hours a day would fill you with a whole lot of guilt. You might not land up on THE thing you want to do in the first instance, it’s all trial and error thing here as well, just that you’ll get a lot of help. There are amazing people trying so hard to make you feel inferior and thus motivate. Two of my great friends in this place are phenomenal dancers and only God knows how much they’ve helped me.
Come out of your comfort zone.

#5: Your whole Xavier’s experience will be directly proportional to the friends you have. [Not number, dude, not number] Let me try to explain in an easier manner. You log into Facebook and you see all kinds of crap. Is Facebook inherently bad? No. It’s your newsfeed and the people you have subscribed to. Have the willpower to change some settings.

I know what happens with the average Xaverian- he sees his name on the list, he is treated like some champions in his home, school and neighborhood. And this sometimes takes a toll on the rational part of his head and he starts believing all these people who say he must be extremely smart to have made it into Xavier’s. Remember, everyone in Xavier’s is theoretically smart, smarter or the smartest. Keep your ID card in your pocket. At this juncture, I should mention that you might find it hard to believe mostly because of your big ego that’s inflated to great highs already, that people who didn’t get into the mighty St. Xavier’s are as smart as most of the people in Xavier’s. The difference in the resources. Just the resources.

Now about this inferiority complex that I mentioned earlier; see as you start meeting more and more people, you’ll soon realize that no two people are same, their lives entirely different, their conditioning, their upbringing, their thought process, their goals and motivations all dictated by the lives they’ve lived. You simply can’t compare your life with anyone. So, when you see you a guy bunking class, dancing and singing all day, playing games and other shit, don’t take him as a dumb guy. He is someone who might have been your college’s face in the last year’s national level fest or he might have been the one with the certificate for playing squash at national level. There are all kinds of people here. Remember, what motivates you to move mountains, won’t even figure in someone else’s conversations. Comparisons don’t work here in the traditional sense.

#4: Compare what you were yesterday to what you’re today, that is the only logical way to understand if you’ve made any progress.

The weirdest thing in Xavier’s and also the most overrated by a certain community of people is the politics for getting a seat in the Union Room. This is the first thing, your senior well-meant bhaiya or didi would have told you, ‘Dude, you can be a CR!’ I would not go into details here for then I might sound like the bhaiya but this whole business is grossly overrated. There are exceptions here as well, good people, doing good decent work [By now, you should assume this for everything you see]

But others live in God knows which Utopian country. Yes, I agree they don’t have to show ID cards while entering the college and they can jump lines while paying fees, which is fully online now by the way. Great, isn’t? It’s not entirely their fault, it’s the Bhaiyas and Didis, who have told them, they’re smart and amazing without meaning it and they, because they’re not that smart and amazing, took it on face-value.

One incident I must share here; we had this fest last year, the crowd was amazing and unexpected. The hall was full. All the security people were instructed to not let anyone enter without a pass. Now this guy, the self-acclaimed Duuude enters without a pass, the junior at the security stops him. This guy turns, holds the poor first year’s collar and asks him, ‘Duuueeede, tum jaanta hai hum kaun hai?’

This is what this false sense of glory can do to you. Do you really want to turn out like one of these people? I hope not.

[Till last year I genuinely believed politics was a good thing, and here I am blabbering against it. This thing is highly subjective. I hated it, loved it, again hate it.] Change them often!

 #3: Exercise all your wisdom when affiliating yourself with anyone. You’re known by the senior you lick or kick for that matter. Choose them wisely. One free advice that comes bundled with this is, most of the times you’d see some people constantly being talked about, the politicians or others. You’d see all kinds of people getting glorified. They have nice personalities, you’ll be told. They communicate. They dress well. They are socially un-awkward Just ask yourself when you are about to get influenced by the whole frenzy, ‘Did I get into Xavier’s so I could be like him?’ More often than not, the answer will be no.

Okay, I think this letter is getting way too big and I see you’re already fighting with your senses whether to continue or not. See, you’re in Xavier’s. It is a good college. Hell, it’s India’s second best commerce college. Use your time here wisely, invest yourselves in the activities you want to excel at. There are so many opportunities; there are so many good people ready to help you, the teachers, the staff, all there for you. Do not then sit on your computer screen and waste your time writing at hTe osLt. Make many mistakes; just don’t forget to learn from them. There’s so much blabbering and bickering you’ll see all around about the teaching staff. Do not get overwhelmed by that. The teaching staff here is wonderful; you can have such great discussions with them. Stop being an idiot.

#2. This point is so close to my heart. You’d see people insulting the teaching staff, the non-teaching staff, the guards, the man who works at the bank, the librarian, the people who work in the treasurer’s office. Do not join them, take out some time and try talking to these people on a more personal level. You’d see they’re normal.  

I promise this is the last, in case you don’t think I know basic counting.

There are five stages, one of them, the biggest one has some impressive attributes, it has a microphone, a personal assistant, some people behind taking notes, a fully fledged orchestra. But the most important aspect of this stage is its height, when you go on this stage, a lot of people can notice you or they start noticing you. This stage provides you visibility. The other stages are somewhat differentiated but none are better than our beloved Stage. Imagine yourself as a performer with above average talent. You’re to perform on one of these stages. Which stage would you choose, if you could choose that is?  

I wonder how many of you have stepped into Xavier’s thinking it’d change your lives, or it’ll turn you into some sort of intellectually cool hippie badass. Xavier’s, in my opinion, is just that stage. You choose the best stage there is possible and you climb on it. You’re in Xavier’s. Welcome. You see your parents, your relatives, your neighbors sitting in the front seats clapping for you, with tears of joy and jealousy. You bask in this sense of glory. You go onto the stage. You reach for the mike and that’s when it hits you. You’re supposed to speak, the stage will not speak; it will provide all the help possible, but in the end, all rests on you. If you get nervous and start stammering, like a, umm, I don’t know, what do you call it, no I mean, if you get nervous easily then the stage is worthless, the visibility it brings is of no use as well. Xavier’s, without doubt, can provide you with the best of resources, the mikes and the notes and the stage and the better lights, everything that is conceivable, but in the end if you start stammering, Xavier’s cannot help you. The onus of improving yourself is totally on you. You can be in Xavier’s and still be an idiot. Being in Xavier’s guarantees nothing. Xavier’s is like what the teleological theorists said ‘it is not an end, but a means’. Wait, that’s what the deontological people said. See, a prime example of an utter ignorant fool, almost out-of-Xavier’s but still dumb, right in front of you?

#1: Xavier’s is THE stage, but if you, the performer suck, there’s no point in having the best stage.

You’re not the jeans you wear, the bag you carry, the shades you wear, you’re not your hairstyle, you’re not your lip gloss, you’re not the fancy car you own, you’re not the people you know, you’re not the phone you use, not the contacts you have, you’re not the non-academic credits you have, you’re not the friends you have, you’re not the hot girl you’re dating.

You’re the words you speak, the wisdom you gain, the knowledge you impart, you’re the lives you touch, the people you influence, you’re the world you’ve made better, you’re a Xaverian.

Yours ever,

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