Dileep Kumar PK is a Keralite student from Kannur, Kerala. He has been in Delhi since the past three years. He completed his MA in social work from Kerala and is now studying at the Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, where he is doing his M Phil in international studies with sustainable urban development studies as his major focus. He lives in the campus hostel and has been there since over a year.
“Homesickness is a normal problem for everyone when they are away from home” says Kumar. “There are seven hostels in the university and only 15 Keralite students on the entire campus,” he adds. He shares his room with other three students who hail from different states. A few times they’ve come to blows. He says, “Fights do occur but they are usually resolved easily. It’s a boys’ hostel and such things happen.” He has no problem with them, which actually translates into his ability to adjust well. However, some things are, literally, hard to digest. “The mess facilities are very bad. The contract has been given to some locals and somehow the quality goes down everyday,” says Kumar. Even in the mess hall, some sense of clanism exists.
However, that may just be because people in minority numbers feel safer sticking together. Therefore, the Keralites have their own table. However, there is a flicker of hope for integration. Recently, some students have expressed a keenness to learn Malayalam.
Hostel life does have its restrictions. Residents are allowed to go out and enjoy the cultural and culinary offerings of the city but they are required to return at least by 10pm. Apart from that, Kumar has adjusted to daily chores well. He washes his clothes himself and doesn’t consider it too much of an effort though most men living on their do. Some other students in the hostels, the well-heeled ones, do give their clothes to the laundry. What bothers Kumar is not this disparity or the toil that he is now accustomed to... It’s the instances of some students scolding the poor dhobi’s children due to what is attributed to ‘poor service’.
Jamia is otherwise hospitable. For any illness there is a hospital on the campus, so there’s little need to worry. Dileep recounts an example of his friend falling ill and being taken to the campus hospital where he was treated well. However, he attributes some of that graciousness to the fact that there are many Keralite doctors there and they clearly understood the feeling of being away from home.