I’ve been feeling a bit low for the last few days. This is not a very welcoming way to start something, but I am a realist and reality is hard like a brick. This is my final year, I am a part of the cultural committee of Noida International University and currently working for the annual fest, Fest of India, 2016. I am also a part of the street play team of my university. Naturally, my friend circle is more leaned towards cultural activities than academics, as compared to others. And we are proud of that, because we are the ones who worked hard and established the cultural committee of our university and we love whatever we do.

But I’ve been feeling a bit low for the last few days. Things haven’t been good. My personal life is a mess, my academic life is a mess and yet another mess contains everything else. We’ve been working for the annual fest of this year (which was supposed to be held on 28th & 29th of April) for about three months, now. We started off with practicing the street play, and I remember this because we had received an invitation from Gujarat National Law University and we were planning to perform there in their annual college fest on 19th February.

Anyways we, the students started our practice and preparations back in February. No support from the university, the faculty members or anyone else whatsoever. Just over a dozen students from all departments and semesters roaming around the academic block, catching everyone’s unwanted attention. There were times when we weren’t given a practice area, and then there were times when we were kicked out of our practice area. Most of the times, all the people from the team would not turn up for practice. Over all, there were a lot of issues with our street play practice and fest preparation, but we still carried on.

Days went by, weeks and months. A couple of months and a couple of events (where we did a couple of plays inside the seminar hall in front of a lot of people) passed and finally fest preparations came into full swing. I started with the documentation work, because I believed I am good at that and I can do it well. So, we started off with sponsorship, full-time. At times, I was working 8-10 hours a day, with my declining health. Everyone in my group was working really hard, but that was all preposterous. We were so involved in our work that we had failed to realize that all our preparations were going in vain because of our own zoomed-in, flabbergasted image of our capabilities, work and results. We were only a bunch of people, working together in a tiny space, hoping to host a multi-million worth fest to a crowd of several thousands. We were outnumbered and standing at our breaking points.

Initially, we had planned that the street play team would perform at a lot of colleges and in turn register our presence and our university’s, so that we could get returns for our fest. It was because most of the culturally active students, my friends, are a part of the street play team, so we thought we could get two-shots-for-one if we could prepare everything on time. Also, we had already performed at elite platforms like Hindu College, Amity University, Galgotias and others to name a few, since 2013. But I guess not many people are aware of that.

All the prominent college fests in NCR happen in February-March. When we started our practice on Feb 1st, it was already time we began performing at colleges, to promote our own university’s talents. 15-20 working days are enough to prepare a play, and I can say that after doing street play for the last 4 years.

We skipped GNLU.

We skipped Amity.

We skipped Sharda, Galgotias, GNIOT, GBU and the entire DU & IP.

Overall, we didn’t perform anywhere, because we couldn’t perform anywhere. Because when there was still time, when I had completed writing the script, when we had begun our practice and when we were confident that everything is finally going smoothly, we couldn’t obtain funds. The university took too long to give us the 9,000 rupees we needed to buy clothes and props for the play. It was like handing over the tickets to a voyage when the ship had already left the harbor years ago. Now that voyage can never be completed. This is my last year of B.Tech. In about a month, I will leave this university. Now, all I can do is take a boat, set sail and row for a while just to get the feel of the ocean and satisfy my conscience that yes, all my efforts didn’t go in vain. That it’s okay if I couldn’t get on-board the ship, or go on that voyage which could have changed my life forever, even if I could only touch the water and say that yes, at least I tried. That the script which I wrote with all my heart, the best play I have ever written in my entire life won’t go unperformed. That like every other year, we will finally perform our street play to the one and only audience of our university, and nowhere else.
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I convinced myself with a few invisible tears and unnoticeable sobs, that it’s okay. Just let it be. I know I can do better and I will do it. But it wasn’t just about me. I can do numerous street plays my whole life and keep getting better at it. But it wasn’t just about me, it was about the university. I love my university, and always have. And this love is unconditional, because no matter how many pebbles and rocks and boulders the university throws in my way, I finally get through it. I know this university has the potential to surpass all the expectations. I know it, I’ve seen it in the glass doors of the Newton Block and in the workers hanging by ropes, painting the walls of the Medical Block. We are not talking about some centuries old Oxford or Harvard or Cambridge. We are talking about a five-year old university, a baby, which is still developing. Do we treat human babies the way we treat our university? But trust me, just like the way we can tell about human babies, I can tell that this university can go far.
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But no, it can’t. Why? Because of you. Because if you’re reading this, then there’s a 100% chance it’s your fault, too. Because, you are also a part of this university, and not just me.
You know why I’ve been feeling low for the last few days? Because of you. Because you have this habit of being spoon-fed, expecting a well-bred ‘college life’ where you can just go and chill with your friends and have fun and click photos and make memories. But, to your disappointment, you couldn’t get that at NIU. This is more like feeling hungry but expecting someone else to cook for you. If you want to eat something, get up and cook. If you want a good college life, get up, go out, work hard and make it.

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A few days back, we had a potential sponsorship of about 10 lakhs for our fest (which is an amazing thing). We were happy. We were happy the next day, too, and the day after that and so on. Until a lot of days passed, but the potential sponsorship remained only potential. Because we had clear instructions that the university was not at all willing to organize a fest or spend money on any such thing, but if we could bring in sponsorship, the management might invest equal amount of money.

As far as I remember, we’ve been active in organizing events and cultural activities from the very first year itself. I’ve seen a lot of preparations, but this was the first time when we had to face the biggest hardships of our lives so far. I can’t describe how much my personal life is affecting my professional life. We were asked to fire our arrows in darkness and hope to hit bull’s eye. Without the dates & artists finalized, without a final budget, we had set out for sponsorship in the beating sun. Again, not to forget, without any help from the university (I don’t want to take any names, but the only help we were getting, was coming from the admission cell). We had to arrange our transportation, our resources, calls, emails, internet and all other expenses ourselves. Now let’s keep this here so I could tell you something else before coming back to this.

Some of the main problems with our university and it’s cultural life as seen by us are as silly as they can get. Our annual fest, all thanks to the level of enforcement of our academic calendar, is held during April. Day temperatures are rising rapidly, most of the colleges are having their exams and add to that is the March-closing factor of the corporate world. Simply put, we can’t get sponsorship, we can’t get participants and we can’t even get proper audience for our fest. Forget audience, if we could even do something for and to ourselves, even organize a few little things well enough, we would be happy. But this is where comes that lack of your participation, and your friends’ and every other student of our university. There comes the lack of a common space, a common time span and there we miss a hostel inside our university campus like every other university. Because nobody notices or realizes it, but this thing can make a huge difference. Like other nice colleges of Noida-Greater Noida, say, Sharda, Amity, Galgotia, if we had hostels inside our college campus, students could attend their classes during college hours, and then stay in hostel and practice and prepare after college hours. No body would have been disturbed that way.

Moreover, this is not my personal fest or a privately hosted party – this fest is as much yours as it is mine. We are not here to serve this fest to you, because that’s not our job. So why do we always have to feel that it’s just the few of us taking rounds in our own little delusions that everything will be alright?

As I am writing this, I am having a mixed feeling of tiredness, anger, frustration and hope. Less than a week is left for the fest, we still don’t have sponsorship, we don’t know the artists and we don’t know how we will get everything done on time. Because it’s just the few of us doing everything. And we know we can’t do everything on our own on time without any help from the university, from the students and faculty.

I always keep on telling people to learn to take initiatives, because it changes us head to toe. It pushes you on the slide to become who you are meant to be because once you learn to take initiatives in your life, you won’t have to ask anyone for what you deserve – you will earn it.

But nobody listens to me, and that, is the problem. If you had taken an initiative, if you had come up to me and offered help, if you could have picked up the laptop I was working on and finished typing all the invitation letters, or if you could have stuck those posters or helped us organize that blood donation camp, where I had to donate blood despite being underweight because we weren’t able to reach our target of 300 donors by the end of the day, or if you could have assisted us in setting Help & Registration Desks or anything at all, I could have gone back and completed my street play, the one thing I always held dear in my college life.

I had also planned to shoot a documentary film for our fest. We even began shooting videos of our practice sessions and preparations, but we couldn’t continue because the people who are actually meant to do this job, the students, despite having been called and told several times, didn’t turn up. Now there is no documentary film and there is no hope there will ever be one, either. Because of you and people like you. And yes, I can blame you for this because you are avoiding your duties as a student. You didn’t do things you could have done, so I and my other colleagues could have done something else and shared a helping hand wherever needed.

No one comes with any gift from a mother’s womb; it’s just a myth we’ve constructed to veil our own shortcomings. Whatever we do, we do here in this world. We learn and acquire things and abilities with every passing moment and every finished or unfinished act – some in greater degrees, some in smaller. Someone becomes becomes Kalpana Chawla, someone else becomes Usain Bolt. But even if Usain Bolt is the fastest man on Earth, he can’t run an entire 100 mile stretch alone with a constant pace. So we needed help, because we always have. Because no matter how different we are in our capabilities, we can’t do everything alone.

I have a lot of things to say, but it doesn’t matter. Nobody at NIU is interested in listening to me because they all think that I talk gibberish. I don’t understand how the things which are so obvious to me, appear alien to others. People at NIU are too caught up in their high, self-woven esteems to come up to us and offer help. Why? Aren’t the students who are already working for the fest the same as you? Why do I always have to answer everyone about the fest? Why do you have to ask me? Why can’t you come up to us, get involved and know everything for yourself? We are not special or something, we just know how to do our jobs right.

As far as I remember, we did every possible thing we could have done to get you involved. But whenever I saw someone passing by an ‘Auditions for Anchors/MCs’ or any similar poster with a blank face, I felt a pin pricking through my heart and injecting poison inside so that I could die a little every time someone did that. We’ve missed our classes, missed our meals, missed our sleep, missed our personal life so that we could prepare a fest and present it to you. So that you could come to the university on the evening of the fest, well-dressed and looking handsome or gorgeous and dance to a famous-&-trending musician performing on-stage and have a good time, while we brush off the dust from our faces and clothes, running around carrying water bottles and papers and other stuff, managing things so that you could enjoy. By that time, a lot of eyes remain glued on us with high hopes for the fest.

Do we know each other? No.

Can I ask for your help? Yes.

Can I expect something? No. Not at all. Don’t I know who am I talking to?

I started writing this because the chances of the fest happening this year reminded me of something from last year. 2015 was the year when the first B.Tech. batch of NIU was graduating. I wanted to give farewell to my seniors, but because I was so involved in last year’s fest, I couldn’t take out time on time for the farewell. I couldn’t give farewell to my seniors and I don’t know if this matters to you or not, but it does to me. I’ll always live with this regret that I couldn’t give a farewell to my own college seniors.
This year I am graduating. I don’t know if we’ll get a farewell or not, because nobody is interested, and we can’t give a farewell to ourselves.

I can keep going on and on, but nobody cares. This is me, speaking my heart out for one last time for the university. In a few weeks, I’ll pack my bags and probably leave this town forever and everyone will go back to doing what they always do and nothing will change. But if you’ve read it this far, I humbly request you. Please, do something. Don’t waste your life and time and money inside classes you don’t want to attend, courses you don’t want to study, things you don’t want to do. Don’t be slaves to your life, because you only get one shot. It’s either now, or never. Stop blaming people or the university or anyone else for that matter. Start taking responsibilities, because if you don’t accept and realize your own mistakes, you’ll keep on blaming others for it and hence, you’ll never improve.
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If you’ve read it this far, leave your computer, laptop, phone whatever and get up. Because trust me, there’s literally a first time for everything and every new avenue is a new voyage. And when you come back from that journey, that voyage, you are not the person you were anymore – you become a totally new being altogether. I couldn’t complete my journey being in this university, but don’t let several other dreams shatter just like that. We can’t achieve anything if we don’t learn to join hands, first.

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