“There is a place, like no place on earth. A land full of wonder, mystery and danger! Some say to survive it you need to be as mad as a hatter”
Mad Hatter’s statement in Alice in Wonderland is a fitting reference to Lady Shri Ram College for Women. Entering LSR seems like a dive into a vast sea of oestrogen to the untrained eye of a new student who has only been educated in co-ed schools. A discovery channel enthusiast may compare the first day at college to visiting a zoo where the cliques/herds of different animals are clearly segmented and the survival is only of the fittest. A new student is like a lost sheep trying to find its way around the college campus while simultaneously wondering what differentiates a canteen from a café.
A day that begins at 8.45am and ends at 4pm with back to back classes is not what one has in mind when they picture college especially if they have grown up watching Karan Johar movies. It takes about a week into college to realize that one has been tricked by their mother as the 12th std. board exams are definitely not the last time one has to study with superior concentration.
For an outstation student settling into a new city, a new college can be tiresome. Parents, friends, distant relatives and the media don’t leave any stones unturned in making sure that you arrive in the rape capital of the country armed with a pepper spray and a prejudiced mind.
The stereotypes people create precedes them; contrary to popular belief the favourite hobby of men in Delhi is not rape just like the conversation in a girls college and more specifically LSR doesn’t always revolve around hair, shoes, boys and nail paint. Surprising as it may be male bashing and feminism are not compulsory concurrent courses offered in our curriculum.
Jokes about the sexual deprivation of the students of LSR which were once only a feature of lunch time conversations of college students have now become a part of stand-up comedy acts of Vir Das. Ironically, LSR students find these jokes equally amusing. The lack of testosterone in college leads to women dropping all their pretensions (almost). Thus, the sight of women dressed in their snow man printed pyjamas soaking up the winter sun while sipping on some hot chocolate is not an unusual one. It is hard to fathom that these unglamorous pyjama clad girls were once the inspiration behind the Punjabi rap song ‘Kudi LSR Di’ by the Triple Aces.
Touted as one of the best colleges in the country, the atmosphere at LSR is a competitive one. In throes of self-pity students often think of the college as a ‘military boot camp’ and imagine their over achieving classmates as hamsters on steroids running an endless race. But it is these very people who constitute the mystical ‘magic of LSR’. When existential and economic crisis seem to get the better of us it is these people who come to our rescue as we try and find catharsis in mulling over about our fleeting woes together. The differences in our personalities, ethnicities and interests brings us together as we try to find our individual niche in the protective bubble that is LSR.
Living in Delhi and studying in LSR are both acquired tastes. Sure, the winters are harsh and the curriculum is taxing but they both grow on you with time. There is a method to the madness in this city and in this college; all you have to do is discover it in the process of discovering yourself.