My remote choice
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My remote choice

Six big-city-bred youngsters talk about their journey to colleges in small towns with lush landscapes, calm surroundings, zero distractions and a slow pace of life

education Updated: Jun 23, 2010 09:21 IST

A noted institute located somehere in the back of beyond beckons you with an offer letter. You are ok with the college, but have reservations about life in a small town. Many young city slickers have had to make that choice. Is it easy?

We asked six such youngsters about their journey to colleges in small towns and cities across the country.

They all have interesting tales to tell. Though they complained about small movie halls and malls or their absence, the natural beauty of those towns left them impressed.

A student had encounters with snakes and scorpions in Orissa’s lush, hill town of Dhenkanal. While he almost rejected the place for starters, its scenic beauty, the immense distance from the clamour of Delhi’s politics, helped him focus on the courseware better. And Dhenkanal got another admirer.

Delhiite Yuvika Johri’s tastebuds had difficulty taking to the fare available in Pune. Tamilian Charanyan Iyengar faced a linguistic challenge next-door in Kerala, home to IIM Kozhikode. Sumit Bhattacharya, studying at Kharagpur, had to travel seven kms to the nearest and only mall, but ultimately gave this city the
thumbs-up because it had no distractions.
Rahat Bano

First few months were dull

Sumit Bhattacharya Fourth-year student, metallurgical and materials engineering department, IIT Kharagpur

Kharagpur has no nightlife. But that’s good for concentration! IIT Kharagpur has definitely changed my life for better. It turned me into a complete man and taught me the importance of academic life alongside extra-curricular activities.

When I joined this institution, as a student I was really thrilled to study in an IIT, but coming to terms with the life that you have to lead here is initially quite difficult. I have grown up in the steel city of Durgapur where I used to enjoy a city life. However, the situation is very different in Kharagpur. The nearest and the only mall is 7 km away. This mall is very small. There is no decent movie hall. Really the first few months were pretty dull and boring. But with time, I adjusted myself well with campus life and truly realised that this (campus life) is not as bad as I thought it would be. Rather it is a fantastic place.

Living in a hostel with students from every corner of India is a unique experience. I have learned how to appreciate different cultures.

Moreover, in Kharagpur, you are away from all the pollution that you are thrown into in a city. I strongly believe that hostel life is the most important thing for an engineering student like me to concentrate on my studies, as you are away from all those disturbances, though tempting, known as nightlife in cities. We learn together how to solve an engineering problem as a group, which is very important for our career. This is absent for day scholars.

IIT Kharagpur’s faculty members are excellent. They not only are excellent teachers, but also take care of the students with respect to their campus life as well as their personal problems. It is indeed a home away from home.

I wish to go abroad to do my postgraduation and would love to return to IIT Kharagpur as a member of its faculty. I have become what I am today because of my alma mater, IIT Kharagpur. And it will be my dream come true if I can come back to my alma mater as a teacher.

As told to Pranab Ghosh

No culture shock at XLRI

Vishek Mittal student, PGP in personnel management and IR, XLRI, Jamshedpur

Iam currently pursuing the two-year postgraduate programme in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations (PMIR), the oldest and the most prestigious course at XLRI, Jamshedpu. I have never felt culturally alienated on campus, especially considering the fact that I’m from Delhi.

True, this was my first hostel experience but if one is able to empathise with people and accept them as they are without being judgemental, it’s not difficult to get along.

I did my Bachelors of Business Studies from Delhi University and worked for KPMG for a year. And life at XLRI has been smooth sailing. XLRI is a city in itself.
As far as education is concerned, it’s the best institute for human resource management education.

The institute also has a very friendly culture. One can go up to any faculty member or a senior and ask for help.

I’ve become more independent and have started taking my own decisions ever since I’ve come to study here.

Perhaps, the only problem I’ve faced so far is that entertainment options in this city are limited unlike in the Capital city of Delhi.

As told to Vandana Ramnani

It’s An oasis in the desert

Rwitajit Majumdar (second from left in the second row) student, ME design engineering, BITS, Pilani

Kolkatan Rwitajit Majumdar went for a four-year integrated MSc (Tech) programme in engineering technology at the Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani and is now an ME design engineering candidate there. Majumdar recounts his passage to the small town in Rajasthan.

BITS is a university of international repute. Given a chance, I grabbed it to study in the most financially-affordable private engineering college in India.

I had my initial qualms as to whether to leave the physics honours programme at St Xavier’s, Kolkata, and go for a degree in engineering at a faraway place. But the flexibilities offered in terms of the courses that I could opt for later and the international reputation of the institution that I confirmed from others made it my first choice.

The whole idea that I could make my own time table and could choose my class hours and professors was very exciting at that moment!

The first time I landed in Pilani was for my registration at the institute. What struck me about the place was the greenery in the midst of the desert state of Rajasthan!

Did I have any adjustment issues? Personally, I didn’t have much of a problem. There are many new friends and once in college, during the first few days, you are involved in many activities and that keeps you busy … then you start feeling that you have already adjusted to the place and it’s good.

How are the two places different in terms of quality of life? Kolkata is a city I love to be in. It has its charm to a Bengali which words fall short to describe.

Pilani as a town doesn’t offer much. But BITS is really an oasis where you have a much-enriched campus life. It builds up a person who is ready to be anywhere in this competitive world.

I definitely find it worth studying there!

As told to Rahat Bano

My trysts with SNAKES

Sandeep Narayan alumnus, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Dhenkanal

Son of an Indian Foreign Service officer, Iran-born Sandeep Narayan spent his childhood in New York, Colombo and Port of Spain (in Trinidad and Tobago). He went to Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Dhenkanal, for a postgraduate diploma in journalism. Currently, a sports journalist with a Delhi-based newspaper, he talks about his stint at the hilly town in Orissa.

When I got an admission offer from IIMC Dhenkanal, I won’t deny being scared. But dad said if I wanted to do journalism, I should go because the course is the same as at IIMC Delhi.

I went to the Nizamuddin Railway Station to buy a ticket. But the station master had no clue where this place was. He checked his book and … soon I (with my dad) was on the Hirakud Express, the only direct train from Delhi to Dhenkanal.

Once there, initially, to my metro-city-eyes, everything looked like a village, though it was developed, infrastructure-wise and amenities-wise. With about 50,000 to 60,000 residents, it’s a calmer town, relatively well off than other parts of the state. What took me aback was its scenic landscape. An odd snake or strange insect would creep into the hostel. While shuttling between the academic block and our residence, we would sometimes spot one of these reptiles.

After a while, we got used to such sights.

The institute and hostels were good. I have no regrets of deciding to study there. We spent most of our time in classes and the hostel. You are away from the politics of Delhi, so you focus so much on your coursework. Apart from academics, there was nothing to do there. The nightlife was non-existent. Roads were deserted after 9 pm.

After all, (the location) made no difference. It was just an eight-month course. Right after, I got an internship in a Delhi paper and a job 10 days into my internship.

As told to Rahat Bano

A melting pot of cultures

Charanyan Iyengar Second-year, postgraduate programme, IIM Kozhikode

IIM Kozhikode is a melting-pot of cultures and sensibilities. However, the transition from the hubbub of cities to the serenity of Kozhikode (in Kerala) has its share of unsettling moments.

With a mix of fresh graduates and experienced people from the corporate world rubbing shoulders, the variety on campus has its own challenges. Within the campus the cultural diversity one deals with is minimal because of the pan-India sensibilities taken care of right from food to celebrating festivals. The grandeur of our Diwali is as awe-inspiring as the mayhem we cause on Holi. And Onam and Pongal are celebrated in their truest sense.

However, whenever a student comes to Kozhikode, the first issue that bothers him is the perennial language problem. So much so, that I, a Tamilian, have a tough time talking to locals. It is even tougher for people who have lived all their lives in a different culture. Those who manage to learn some broken Malayalam can survive beautifully on the streets of Kozhikode.

Thanks to the unique cuisine of Kerala, not many people enjoy the local food. I, personally do not enjoy food cooked in coconut oil, and therefore, am very particular about the kind of restaurant I get into when I eat out.

That being said, experiencing diverse cultures gives us perspectives as we interact with different kinds of people and understand their sensibilities, which makes us better human beings at the end of the day.

As told to Pankaj Mullick

Life’s Slower and SImpler

Yuvika Johri second-year student, Symbiosis Law School, Pune

Before joining college, I didn’t know much about the outer world. This was because I always lived in a very protective environment, thanks to the place that Delhi is. But it all changed when I joined Pune’s Symbiosis Law School. When I moved to Pune, I changed myself a lot. I feel much more confident now. I have become more resolute, mature and a risk-taking person.

The quality of life in Pune is not the same as in Delhi. Our metropolitan city seems different from Pune, a small town, in every sense possible. Pune is peaceful; life here is slow and simple.

However, I had lots of problems adjusting here. There weren’t the luxuries that I used to get at home. You have to do everything yourself (here).

Initially, I didn’t get a warm welcome since I was from Delhi but as they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. As I made an effort to meet people, I made new friends. Now, I am happy to call a few people my ‘family’ here.

Since Pune is a students’ city, you’ll find kids from every corner of the world.

Learning the names of places, for example, Yedwada, Hinjewadi, etc was seriously a challenge. There are international students who face more trouble than us. A normal onion is called kanda! And the funniest of all: the locals would talk to you in Marathi and you have to tell them, ‘Sorry, Marathi nahi aati, Hindi please!

In the two years that I’ve been here, I’ve learnt the vagaries of the place. My college has made me “street smart”. These days, even my mother gets surprised when I do many things without anyone asking me to do those things.

Being in a law school, we all are groomed in such a way that we can handle any situation. It gives us an edge over others. I don’t mind going through these five years if it makes me smarter and knowledgeable. My sense of judgement about people or situations is now better. My college life has helped me a lot to be what I am today. I look forward to a very stable and bright future. The one I look up to is Ram Jethmalani, the mentor of my college.

As told to Nitin Sreedhar

First Published: Jun 22, 2010 12:01 IST