Life of a BA-wallah

  • Aarish Chhabra, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jul 06, 2014 15:20 IST

The cut-offs are touching dizzying heights. The queues are getting longer and angrier. The last date is approaching, and the newspaper headlines are making it worse. For those seeking admission to BCom, BSc, BBA and the like, this is the turning point of their lives. A college’s intake will decide if their life so far has been worth all the effort, and if their life ahead will be worth living.

Amid this din, there is an ignored majority.

Welcome to the life of an aspiring BA student. First, the word ‘aspiring’ is only used for theoretical purposes here. Nobody aspires to do a BA. You just do it. There are black sheep among us who are preparing for IAS etc., and take the degree seriously. But let’s ignore them and talk of the majority. Anyone can get admission to BA, even those who have a compartment exam from Class 12 still hanging in the background. Because of this, throughout our history, the BA-wallah has been relegated to a lower rung, treated as a species that just walks around aimlessly, adding nothing to the wisdom of the world except articles about meaningless things.

I am going to undo that historical injustice today, and present to you a list of challenges faced by the humble ‘arts’ student. Some of these are faced by the studious lot too; but they won’t publicly admit it. And this list is not exhaustive, so feel free to add stuff. Here it goes:

Finding the right college: Don’t get me wrong. This is not about the quality of academics. That’s not our thing, you see. We can get into almost any college as long as it has enough BA seats and we line up in time. But one has to see what kind of people study in the college. Is the crowd ‘pendu’ or ‘angrezi’? How good is the canteen? Is the college co-ed, or do we have to just discuss the opposite gender over cups of over-sweetened tea in that canteen? Do we at least have some good-looking teachers? Is there any ‘attendance problem’? Oh, and before I forget, is there an annual ‘star nite’?

Finding the right vehicle: No bicycles, please. That’s for middle school. Have a scooter? You’re a loser. Non-Bullet bike says you’re a boy, which may not be such a bad thing. A Bullet usually means you’re a man, which is not always a plus point. A car means you’re rich. But if you’re an outstation student unable to pay for your new life, nothing is better than having a rich friend. Even if there are six guys/girls riding an open jeep/black BMW, the entire group feels cool. Yes, the owner will get some special attention. But you will get your share.

Finding the right joint: Again, don’t get me wrong. Joints are important for all students. But BA-wallahs have the most pining need for joints where they can hang out and chat about inanities, while actually carrying out the primary task of looking for possible mating partners. It can be the college canteen, but that’s nothing compared to a café right outside college or in a market nearby. What else can explain the popularity of tasteless tea and enormously expensive milkshakes at two such joints in Sector 10?

Finding the right PG house: This one, obviously, is for those from outside the tricity. Sadly, college hostels in Chandigarh are not as awesome as they are shown to be in movies. Illegal stay at Panjab University hostels is the first choice, but authorities are now stricter. That leaves us with PG accommodation. First, we have to consider the entry timings. If there’s a deadline, is it easy to break? Are people from the opposite gender allowed to come in? Can we possibly sneak them in? Is drinking liquor allowed? Can we sneak it in? Will the cleaner come every morning? Does the room have to be cleaned every morning anyway? By the way, what’s the rent?

Finding the money, and notes: A life of wastefulness requires a lot of money. So, to get extra money from parents, we have to lie about buying books. And once that money goes to end-of-season sales and sudden vacations, we actually need to buy books near exams. That’s when we need friends with ‘notes’. Also, we must thank God for the second-hand book market in Sector 15.

Finding a girlfriend/boyfriend: No, I am not saying the BCom/BSc types are celibates. But the BA-wallahs also need to give meaning to their life, and this is it.

Finding a good job after graduation: This is the tough part. We avoid talking about it.

Waise, if you love to generalise, you can always become a journalist.

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