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A cool crowd

Students at the Manipal Institute of Communication take challenges in their stride



A WHOLE WORLD Manipal is a melting pot of nationalities, languages and cultures

Nostalgia might make student life seem simple and perfect. But living through it though is neither simple nor perfect. The pressure to excel in all, from academics to partying, is a strain by itself. Living miles away from the comfort of home adds to the challenge. A melting pot of nationalities, languages and cultures, just learning to live in the university town of Manipal seems to be quite an education. And students at the Manipal Institute of Communication like to take it in their stride. A conversation with the students usually begins with hostel life and the biggest grouse — food.

"Mess food is good. But becomes monotonous having the same thing every day," said Swetha, a masters student. While Sameer thinks all the north Indian dishes have a south Indian flavour here, some like Shankar don't quite agree. "Even the south Indian does not taste like home food. It is not really south Indian either."

An argument on whether coconut oil is used in the mess chapattis follows with no conclusions. There are lots of small eateries around the town that offer a range of culinary delights. But Shankar is adamant that none of the eateries offered authentic north Indian dishes either. But the mess food does have a few loyal defendants. "It is hygienic to eat in the mess. You wont fall sick," says Pooja. "Students visit the food court at M.A.H.E quite often. It is expensive, but we tend to go there often."

From expensive food, the focus shifts to expensive living. "Money flows fast in Manipal," says Ashwini, a first semester student. And all the money is spent on food, travel, and mobile currency.

Manipal probably has the highest density of cellphone users and it comes as no surprise that students tend to spend a lot on calls and SMSs. Some of them even have two phones. "Many students have two phones, usually a Reliance connection to speak to families in different parts of the country and another to SMS friends locally," says Prasanna, a student from Bangalore.

Travel burns a hole in the pocket too. As hostels are away from colleges, a lot of money is spent on autos. Most students here know neither Kannada nor Tulu. But language, they say, has never been a barrier. All the auto drivers and shop owners speak English.

"Kannada gothilla and chill madi is all that we know of the language," said Neeraj while Shikha from Mauritius said she know no Kannada except maadi. "Oh, I also know pavam, but is that Kannada?"

As communication students, this group gets a lot of industry exposure with internships and the fact that they are at a small location is not a disadvantage. "Although we are here, we are exposed to international media standards. And we gain a lot through internships in media organisations in different parts of the country," says Neeraj.

Students who have been here long vouch for the town being a wonderful place to learn. From planning your finances to taking care of yourself when sick, hostel life is always a teacher, they say.

SAVITHA SURESH BABU

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