My friend called and said, “A good thing about PhD is you get to read and write.”
My friend was partially correct. Let me rephrase, a thing about PhD is I have to keep reading and keep writing, because it will never be enough. Also PhD students stay at a place for far too long. Having done my Masters at IGIDR, I have overstayed my welcome. I have seen batches coming and going, fresher welcome, farewell and alumni meets; I have seen winters getting colder in Mumbai. I have made friends inside the campus who left and made new friends outside. To make it worse, I stopped talking to new students who arrive.
So today, when I was feeling extremely low about a certain work-in-progress, which has been progressing extremely slowly for the last one and a half years, I thought of staying in and ordering food. It was the end of another day of just another week. Let me rephrase, it was another day of just another week. It was not the end – I knew I would have to stay up late to work. Spending some time on various apps, I decided to go to the mess and have dinner. Little did I know how such a trivial decision would change my evening!
Of the items listed on the menu, I liked none. On the top of it, they were all over and the cook was freshly preparing meal for the remaining students. After patiently waiting for over 15 minutes, I was lucky to get warm and fresh food. Dal Khichdi – for those who know it – is to be savoured with fries, except, I had to savour it with fryums. I joined the nearest table dinner. Simran, a really jolly second year Masters Student, offered us ghee.
It was amazing. Someone mentioned at the table, “It reminds me of home”.
I sat there, enjoying my meal, thinking how this could never compare with anything I ordered from outside. Sometimes, more than the food I consumed, dinner was about the physical presence of people. The juniors were talking about trek and Goa, about classes, plans, weekends; I sat there soaking it all in. I knew where I would be during the weekend (no pointers for guessing that), I knew I would be agonising over what to write in that paper. I knew later tonight I would be struggling to find the right words, but at that moment, at that very moment, when I looked from one happy face to the other, somehow every negative feeling ceased to exist. The molten Ghee in our Dal Khichdi gave it a flavour it did not have, complementing it to such an extent that we could not help but fall in love with it. And all of us at the table, forgetting everything that had happened, was about to happen, the tests, assignments, papers research and progress – were talking, laughing and thriving in our mess food. It was more than I could ask.
I walked back to my room feeling more positive and refreshed than before. Here’s to a group that made me happier, here’s to Simran and the wonderful Ghee!