The first few names
I was very much looking forward to the start of my very first academic year! It was going to be the start of my new life. The one where I would be the one calling the shots. The one where I lived alone (given that I was still living at my Uncle's at the time)! And most importantly, the one where I would make new friends.
I still remember the first time I walked into the class and mistook our class in-charge for a student. I came to know about it quickly enough but for the next couple of days I looked at anyone new with a hint of uncertainty. Since our college had started in the middle of the week, our official lectures were off. Instead, we were given a sculpting exercise. We were supposed to cast blocks of POP (plaster of Paris) and carve them. We were supposed to "explore the third dimension" and "think about the voids that we created." All of this was gibberish to most of us back then, but what I want to stress is that this was when I finally realized I was actually alone here.
I have a habit of observing things, especially people, and what I could see all around me were my classmates hanging around in groups. It seemed most of them already knew each other (I presumed these were the "localites"). Others who were from outside Mumbai were sizing people up, much like what I was doing, and banding together (I could detect a bit of regionalist tendencies). I wouldn't say I didn't interact at all. There was the occasional question about where I was from, or a cursory glance and a smile but there was no one who actually made conversation.
So for the remainder of the week, I continued to work and observe. The person I actually made an effort to remember was a girl called Ritinha. She helped me pack my cube before leaving, but I guess the name was what caught my attention. It was an interesting name.
Our lectures started in earnest the following week. The first thing our faculty did was introduce a new project and split us into groups of four to complete it. There were two girls and two boys in our group. Unfortunately, all of us were a bit reserved. There was very little conversation during the first discussion. Apart from me, there was only one other girl who was from a city. Basically, both of us were trying to gauge each other. It was as though the other two were non-existent. Over the next few studio-lectures, she decided that I was the bad guy. She fought with me over almost everything from the project at hand to the way I talked. It was a little disconcerting at first, but also amusing to no end. After a little digging of my own, I realized that she had a grudge against Pune! Her name was Rutali Joshi.
The day after our lectures started, we were summoned by our seniors for an "introduction to college" session. The apprehension was quite apparent on everyone's faces but it wasn't all that bad. They told us about how the college functioned and the who's who of the institute. They also told us about the National Association of Students of Architecture (NASA). It was one of those things that you had to do to be known there. After their speeches, they asked us if we had selected a Class Representative. Since we hadn't, they told us to do so right there. They asked people to volunteer, and then they would grill those people in front of everyone and then let the class decide.
There were only three people (including me) who stood for the post. Each of us got our turn and were bombarded with "what if" scenarios. I thought I did okay but the person who was chosen was Rishi Vora (the third one sat down after he saw what happened to both of us). Once again, I was reminded that I was new here. And it was going to take much more than just public speaking to get through to people. Over the next few days, we got to know each other better. Here was a guy who shared many of the same interests as me. The same kind of thinking that would probably make people doubt if we were sane.
If there was one good thing that came out of that CR selection, it was that most people in the class knew there was someone with the name of Mayukh Gosavi with them.
These people were the first few that have made me who I am today. There are many more but they'll come along in future episodes.