-A fairly obnoxious account of one day of my life.

Editor's Note - This article was the first piece written by Aarthi for the Family Newsletter and was first published in May 2004

One night I hadnít slept.

I came out of the New Campus (thatís what we call the new wing of Srishti, my college) at 8.30 in the morning, surprisingly awake.

We had started the edit of our documentary film, shot in/about Hampi, the process of which is an epic of its own (75,000 worth of equipment, which we were carrying was stolen on the train, but thatís another story for another day). Essentially, we were given 10 days to filter through 7 hours of footage into a 10-minute film.

1. Film, especially a documentary is a statement. You donít want to make a hash of it.
2. Before you even begin to edit, you must know your footage like the back of your hand (I actually donít know what that phrase means, I donít know the back of my hand, but, anyway) Watching all your footage at least four times was the declared unspoken minimum.
3. The ratio of the time crunch begins to sink in and you are a nervous wreck before even starting work.
4. Nothing happens for some time, and you wonder whether there is ever going to be a film.
5. One night you decide to stay up, and frenzically prepare a pot of black coffee.
6. And, surely, something does happen, and it starts falling into place.
7. You look up, and its 8.30..

In the morning, like I said. And I was surprisingly awake.

My college starts at nine in the morning, and 8.30 is the time a throng of people (our college consists of 100 people, so a group of 10 qualifies as a throng) hover around the chai kadai, a name given to the makeshift pushcart shack right opposite the old campus (as opposed to previous). It provides 1. chai, as the name suggests, 2. omelet-bun for 5 bucks, 3. sambar-rice, 4. bhelpuri, 5. biscuits, 6. chikki, and 7. cigarettes for the chimneys in college. A fair amount of philosophy happens there through the day. Itís a disease one gets anyway, but is rampant in epidemic proportions in art and design colleges.

The new campus is a 10-minute walk from the old campus. MotorbikeI have a bike (A very beautiful blue Yamaha RX 100, by the way).

Only two people were sitting there.

Then it hit me. That day was actually a holiday, because of the elections. There were only two other losers, like me, who were hanging around college on a holiday.
1. Loser 1 is my batch mate. 20, female, Chennai.
2. Loser 2 is my senior. 21, female, Bangalore.

I joined them with the usual impolite conversation we all indulge in on beautiful mornings. From there, we went into the most brilliantly pointless discussion on a recent movie, when Loser 2 holds up her hand, the back of her hand, actually (where have I heard that before?) and examines it.
Loser 2: It hasnít come on properly
Me: What hasnít?
Loser 2: Indelible ink markThe markÖit hasnít come on properly. See? Its all smudged.
Me: You voted?

It hadnít occurred to me that someone from my college would have voted. You see,
1. My college consists of mostly outstation students,
2. who are in Bangalore only for the four years that they have intelligently chosen to spend in the pursuit of an art and design education,
3. engaged for many long hours about the questions of communication, responsibility as a designer, freedom as an individual and other longer-than-seven-letter words that I do not understand,
4. therefore it is fairly obvious that democracy and its implications on the individual as a citizen is not the uppermost issue on our minds,
5. at least not to the extent that someone would wake up frenzically (I like that word) at 6.30 in the morning, get ready and leave at 7.00 to find the correct voting booth, walk around from booth to booth (three booths in all) finally find her name at the fourth, use her voting card, which she had got made 3 months in advance, cast her ballot, which was a decision she had arrived at after a complex process of education in politics and current affairs, which in turn happened over active engagement with newspapers, television, and in discussions with other strange people thinking about the same things and this process was spread out over a period of three weeks.

[Wow, that was a long wrong sentence!]

But Loser 2 tells me thatís exactly what she did.

And this was followed by two more losers, 3 and 4, who showed up by this time. Both 21, female Bangalore, who said they had carried out a similar exercise in the wee hours of the morning.

Loser 2 got up to pay for her chai and chikki
Loser 2: Yeshtu?
Man: mooru
(Hands him three rupees)
Loser 2 : You must go and vote!
(Man has blanked out and is standing with a confused smile)

Losers 1, 3, 4 and me : You bloody activist!
Loser 2: Hey, Iíve wanted to vote since I was 12, okay?

Inspiring, I thought.

The same evening, I was part of a discussion, in which some of us agreed that the world is a figment of our imagination, constructed by our collective consciousness. Therefore, nothing exists.

So Iím all confused now, and Iíve lost the point.

Aarthi Parthsarathy
May 2004

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