After collecting her assignment for the class from VJ ma’am, Samudyatha and I came back to the canteen where our friends were sitting. My task was simple: talk to a complete stranger (and not cheat, like Samudyatha did) and write about it. As I entered the almost deserted canteen, I saw this cute guy who had  a mole on his left cheek the size of a new 1 rupee coin, sitting all by himself, eating a chicken roll and on an impulse, I went to him and sat down in the empty chair diagonally across him.

I simply introduced myself and he was not in the least mortified as I went on asking him questions. It was almost as if he was used to strangers coming up to him and talking to him about his state and his new life in Bengaluru. I learnt that his name was Tonir (even though he hesitated for a split second there, I understood that his name was something longer and more complicated than “Tonir”.) and that he lived in the college hostel. He was in I B.Voc (Bachelor of Vocation), the same class as my friend Arun and last year he was in PEM (Physics, Electronics and Math), and I knew a few people from that class as well.

I have met quite a few people from the North-eastern states but nobody that I knew well was from Arunachal Pradesh. It was really intriguing as I listened to the stories of his hostel life, as I’d never lived away from Bengaluru. His hostel life sounded really fun. He told me about how his seniors in the hostel made him feel very welcome. There was ragging, apparently, but not severe ones like they portray ragging in 3 Idiots. It was much simpler; just singing a sing or dancing to some random songs. Stuff like that. He told me how he and his brother got cheated by an auto driver. And he said it so casually, like, “…and yeah, my brother and I got cheated by this auto driver once, like so many others…” It actually pained me to hear what kind of situation all outsiders find themselves in.

Then we talked about weather in Bengaluru. He praised it so much! He explained to me how, in Arunachal Pradesh, there were longer months of cold season, almost 5 months. Even though his room is in the basement, he’s never once turned on the fan (If he had one.). He’d even brought four-five sweaters to Bengaluru, but he has never even opened them till now.

When I asked him how he came to study in Bengaluru, he quietly smiled his shy smile and explained to me how in AP, even though there were colleges, he didn’t have half as much as exposure that he had in St. Joseph’s. And he really enjoys college.

One thing that surprised me was when he talked about the hostel food. He really likes breakfast (even though, like me, he skips it; mostly because we’re both too lazy to be up early enough to be in time for breakfast) and dinner but hates lunches because they’re always the same and taste really bland. He’s gotten really adjusted to South Indian food and that came off as another surprise. Most of the people I know almost always complain how they have problems with the food in Bengaluru.

After talking to him for about twenty minutes or so, I decided to take my leave. I stood up, offered my hand and he shook it firmly with both hands. I was really touched by that gesture. It feels really awkward when I offer my left hand some people offer their right and the handshake goes really lopsided and weird. I smiled at him once again and left to join my friends at the other table, where they were eating Bhel Puri without me.

Published by Parinitha Prasanna