It was a hot, muggy day in August of 1993 when Prasad, my older brother, rented a Pontiac Grand Prix from Buffalo, N.Y. to drive me to State College, where I was to pursue my master's degree at the Pennsylvania State University. I was brand new to this country and immensely pleased to be here. As soon as we entered the city, he drove into the university to look at the campus. I had seen nothing like it ever before. In the campus, in addition to department buildings and library, there was the Beaver stadium that could seat close to 100,000 spectators for a football game, an ice cream shop called the Creamery and a museum of fine arts! There were more than forty thousand students in the campus with over three hundred just from India. I had no difficulty finding a couple of roommates and renting an apartment at the Heritage Oaks. Although I had a tough time adjusting to the rigorous academic routine at the campus, I enjoyed my stay and have some delightful memories from my time there.
A couple of weeks ago, exactly sixteen years after my first visit to the school with my older brother, I took my family to the Penn State in a minivan! We toured around the campus, stopped next to the Nittany Lion statue to take pictures, revisited the classrooms in the Hammond building, walked along the main street and later drove to the Heritage Oaks to look at my apartment. We immensely enjoyed this short trip to my life in the past as a college student.
Nittany Lion Statue
Nearly eight years ago, my wife, Prema, and I took a long train journey from Chennai (India) to New Delhi and from there on to Roorkee, a small village at the foothills of Himalayas to visit my undergraduate college campus. There I showed her my hostel rooms, the main building, my engineering department and the recreation theater called the Hangar. Both of us loved the trip to Roorkee, and Prema was quite impressed by the beautiful campus.
From Roorkee, we traveled further up north, to the city of Mussoorie, to participate in the graduation ceremony for the Indian Administrative Service officers, where my younger brother, Jagan, had successfully completed his orientation course and was preparing to launch his career working for the Indian government. Mussoorie holds a special place in our family because my dad, and a couple of other uncles, had lived and studied there before beginning their careers with the government. In Mussoorie, I imagined my dad living in the hostel, eating at the mess, waking up early in the winter months for the mandatory exercise sessions or even playing chess and table tennis with his colleagues. The mere thought made me want to go back thirty years and be a part of his life then.
I am a sucker for nostalgia and have always enjoyed thinking about my days from the past. But there is something special about revisiting a place and also sharing that experience with your family and friends. During such visits, the mere sight of an ice cream shop or a bookstore can bring back fond memories and overwhelm us with a sense of joy.
Have you been to a place from your past lately? If not, I strongly recommend that you do.
Mukund's blog in August 2009. You can read all his blogs by clicking hereUnfortunately Mukund has stopped blogging after 2011.