31 July 2011


The Department of English, Ramjas College – the Department, of course, as we knew it.


It baffles me. Yes, his and mine is understandable, perfectly understandable as she put it, but the others’ just eludes me! Why, why would someone do that? Why would someone leave Ramjas?

Okay, let me qualify: not Ramjas – not that I can say or think of anything that would make me think of any reason for Ramjas itself – per se, no, but more specifically the Department of English, Ramjas College. RED as they’ve come to call it. Why would anyone want to leave it?

Beats me! It’s not, yes, reckoned amongst the best by the general public, but almost everybody who matters and whose views can be trusted to be reasonable agrees that rankings and ratings are but inflations to create hierarchies for those poor deluded parents who don’t know any better. Everything’s a matter of perception and when it comes to rankings and the standards on which they’re premised it’s all the more so, these notions being, such as they are, more notional and based on tradition established by vested interests and power structures than considerations of performance and results – which considerations, of course, are also subjective and exposed to vagaries of pedagogy and examination patterns. To think purely in terms of rankings, then, is to only be redundant and retrograde.

Which is why when people swap loyalties just on the basis of rankings it becomes difficult to digest. When you’ve spent time in a particular institution and received training from it you do come to develop certain associations with it and to deny their claims just on the basis of ranking is, to me at least, indicative of a certain cold blooded ingratitude. So, that being that, when I’m told such news of Ramjas, even though I consider myself guilty of desertion, I have some problems accepting it.

Seriously. Ramjas is one of those charming places that are neither here nor there. Saying this involves one in the vocabulary of ranking and hierarchy which I spoke against just a while ago, yes, but that’s how Ramjas may best be described in my opinion. It’s old and full of history, but still not one of those colleges which have a heavy burden of tradition on them and where one is expected to be a certain way and conform to certain behavioural notions in order to be an accepted. To be in Ramjas – and more particularly RED – gives one a certain leeway in forming all sorts of interesting and mutually satisfying associations with all sorts of people which is not the case with all those colleges who’re too conscious of their being so and so college and so too involved in living up to their imagined ideals. In that sense, while others are occupied enacting rituals and being so and so, we’re usually doing whatever we please with little to restrict us in thinking and/or doing.

That much about the college itself, the atmosphere and the feel as it were. Besides that, the faculty itself is such that I would imagine one to have little reason to leave it. There’s a healthy mix of various sorts, some downright eccentric, some too enmeshed in theory, some wildly flamboyant, some full of an old world charm, some too perfectionist, some cheerily easy going…this, and none with that sense of being such and such faculty that makes quite a few teachers ridiculously obnoxious. Plus, in my knowledge at least, it’s the only college to have a video library and a very well stocked department library that literally (and unfortunately too, I suppose) spoon-feeds students so unless someone makes it too hot for them I can’t think of any plausible reason to leave it once you’ve been there and known it for some time.

Ramjas English is one of those rare spaces which allow you the freedom to explore and fashion yourself any which way; it grounds you in certain discourses and imparts a certain training, yes, but that’s usually flexible enough for you to evolve your own style, even up to the point that, as in my own case, you can turn become more or less opposed to your training and your trainers will still not come down with vengeance upon you. Why, then, would anyone want to leave such a place? Beats me!


In retrospect, this piece seems a bit unnecessary but since it shews me in a light many think me incapable of, it might as well as stay.


wallflower said...

why did you leave it?

AP said...

I was stupid, other people were silly and circumstances conspired to make things too hot....and all for a few ideas. :-)

Anonymous said...

Since you're neither involved in seasonal work nor in itinerant trade, and fortune-telling, what did you rob?

AP said...

Ah, wit! How charming!