Muddling up Manipal

The transition from school to college is quite a surreal experience. Naturally, questions abound, especially about the place where you intend to spend, what will assuredly be labeled the ‘Nostalgia Center’ of your memories. Information is scraped and scrounged, and it’s often like propping open pearl oysters – sometimes you strike gold, but it is hard to know when exactly.

More often than not, you are left with a heap of sand, in this case – Misinformation. It isn’t anybody’s fault, but sometimes they start out as rumors, or as swooping generalizations which happen to include the search of your choice. Manipal, unfortunately, is no exception. Right off the bat, there is the conundrum of cartographs.

Where exactly is Manipal? Most fingers fly to the Seven Sisters and then hover there in silent contradiction to the tickets headed to Karnataka. That is one of the tame confusions which may have found their way across the paths of many future students.

Likewise exist the myths of utter absence of any food other than that of the Southern palate, of an insurmountable language barrier and an inhospitable people even before we broach the topic of college. A day’s stay in Manipal is quite enough to dispel any such contrived rumors. 

The slightly fanged misconceptions which persist beyond a time they have any right to, is because of their tenuous grip on truth. Whilst some factoid may be untrue for Manipal, it may be true for some other university town. The presence of a truth in a certain place far removed, can lead to a sweeping generalization in the minds and words of the people, which lends a bug-like invincibility to utter falsehoods elsewhere.

This seems counterintuitive. If the news reports that some taco eaters in one corner of the world got food poisoning, that shouldn’t mean that the same can be said for all tacos everywhere. Still, if it’s a taco from a place you haven’t really heard of, maybe it’s best to give it a pass. It is an imperfect analogy, because tacos are not the same as (or at) colleges, but such a train of thought is quite common.

This leads to many anecdotes which are hilarious in hindsight, usually because the leading line is so guilelessly biased.

The aunt (but-not-really-only-a-family-friend) who tipped off the “fact” that carrying a cheque-book streamlines the education process is especially recalled amidst laughter in the crazy sprint before the examinations.

Watching the tired faces of our compatriots as they sleepily trudge through the long days, smirks arise at the memory of that one random person at the airport who upon eliciting the college name in idle conversation had snidely commented that the sight we now saw was attributable to the special ‘greenery’ of Manipal.

In fond remembrance lies the great treasure trove of knowledge imparted at social functions, the natural habitat of wildly sweeping generalizations, where, as ice slowly melts inside quickly refilled glasses, the prevalence of the same is discussed. Over hot cups of ginger tea to stave off the burden of the day’s exertions, we share these stories and along with them, some warm mirth.

These rumors are often to do with corruptibility, be it monetary, substance-related or so on. It is beyond words to kill words. An assurance, even from a trustworthy source cannot dissuade that niggling worm of doubt from a mind. It is only through experiencing the adorable rains of Manipal can the final dregs of worry be washed away.

Hence, instead of a preachy assurance, on offer is a heartfelt invitation to come to Manipal, Karnataka (In case the hills found here impress on the first-timer that they are actually in the Seven Sisters and all of this was just a big practical joke that the airplane companies are in on, these are the Western Ghats rather than the Himalayas) and make up your own minds about it, as have so many before and hopefully as so many will.

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