One of the best aspects of studying in college(s) is the number of interesting people you stumble upon. I have been privileged by meeting friends and making fantastic memories over the years.
It has been pouring heavily; typical monsoons of India accompanied by flooded roads, traffic jams, laziness all over but still the beauty of rains remain magical. I sat by my big window, with hot cup of my mocha from Starbucks, allowing myself to fall in love with the weather and slowly drifted into memories.
The first memory I have of chai (tea), was in my degree college canteen. During your student life, chai bounds to become a part of your daily life, whether you are bunking boring lectures and being in canteen with friends, going for the tuition classes or coming home from college, or having group discussions or preparing for examinations, everyone falls back on cup of tea. Chai remains synonymous with studies and fun.
We were a gang of 6 girls – Humera, Sarita, Pooja, Monika, Reena and I. Except me, all the 5 were chai walis, where as I was the coffee wali and often called ‘Desi Firang’.
Canteens are an important part of college life, considering they’re the only place where you can find your stomach satisfaction with unlimited chai and yummy snacks, which gives all of us the best memories of life. I remembered the time I spent with my girl gang, at the canteen where we together had those endless discussions over a milky sweet- not so hot cutting Chai-the typical Irani chai with Hyderabadi tadka or at times about my love for coffee and the never ending discussions on who would get married first and last, and how we all used to make the most uninteresting tasteless tea equivalent to dum chai and enact the ‘Arre huzoor wah Taj boliye’ advertisement.
I adore the entire picture that comes in my mind when I think about it, the canteen serving us idli sambar, cheese sandwiches, pav bhaji, tea and coffee, coca cola, the leftover cups, garbage, friends and seniors around you, and one step outside the college walls, we had the long line of autowallahs around with some more varieties of snacks being sold by the roadside vendors and also the mobile chai wala, our Shiv bhaiya. He was my girl gang’s favourite chai wala, stopping by him was a must on way back home especially during the rains. We often used to say to bhaiya isn’t it nice to have chai stall to yourself than being mobile; giving our own little bit in the conversation with him till the chai was fully favoured. I remember 6 of us would call out “Bhaiyaji Namaste” in accord to greet him. Spending at times there, my world was all about the chai vs coffee, with friends, gossip, serious dialogues and biscuits.
And then suddenly my mobile rang and I pounced back to normalcy. I wondered what type of life was going now at the canteen and whether Shiv Bhaiya could manage to have his own tea stall or is he still mobile. Somehow I tackled the thought that day and continued with my mocha.
Today it has been 12years when I am out of college and far from my friends who have gone to distant places from Hyderabad; but these memories appear in my mind very often.
Those college days, the small canteen and endless cups of chai over which we discussed the ways world can be changed for better, how we would try to rise up against the stupid rules imposed on us, the debates and the quizzes we had on various issues, won’t be back again as we all are lost somewhere in the realism and insipidness of life, while being crushed with responsibilities as an individual, daughter, sister, wife, mother and also employee.
What I learnt is that college life is the only time where we get to live our life to the fullest. The college memories are the best moments, a few minutes of immediate bonding where friendships are built for long, a little bit of life is built daily on those lectures, annual day preparations, exchanging of notes, around that favorite adda- the canteen and mainly over that ek cup chai and endless charchas.
I write a lot, which keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. There is always something to write about, always a new story to craft. Not writing, for me, is like trying to hold back a sneeze. Learning to write was the most powerful influence in my life. I can still remember the awe I felt when I realized I could put real words onto paper and tell out a story. From that first ‘a-ha’ moment I knew I wanted to write.
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