As the title suggests, you are more than welcome. You could come in, explore, live in, play with and do pretty much whatever you like with the Other Side, but you need to realize that as soon as you enter into it, your original Side ceases to exist. You’re on this Side, not the other and though you might have originally felt that the grass was greener on this Side, I am sure as time passes by you would realize that grass somehow always has the same tinge of green. It doesn’t change, only the way you perceive it changes.
And yes, as the name of the seminar suggests, we discussed the Other Side. The real world, in a certain sense, beyond the protection of the world of academia. Where somehow life becomes more about finding a place for yourself, than the next research paper that you need to submit and the next examination that would determine your performance. Performance loses its traditional sense of merit and engagement. Performance becomes a sum total of your quality of life, whether you can afford to buy a house or a car or whether a trip to Norway is within your budget considering the obligations of responsibility that your family might put on you. The Other Side welcomes you, the question is whether you wish to travel that distance and get there or would you just like to keep living in the cocoon of student life.
I once asked one of my professors, “How important is money really in determining your quality of life?” He looked at me with strange eyes and immediately responded with a certain hint of a chuckle, “You are certainly growing up!” And then, he went on to explain, how life is certainly not about being Bill Gates, but one would certainly like to have enough money to be able to help friends and family in times of crisis. Then, he went on to explain the complexity within the simplicity of an ambition and ultimately, ended up with a pithy remark that, “Quality of life is a bundle of relationships and it certainly goes beyond the idea of money making.” I don’t know; if I would call him in idealist, but I think that if being a bartender lends itself into a better quality of life for somebody, then they are better of being a bartender than working with excel sheets in a high profile business consultancy.
We discussed our goals and where do we think we would be five to ten years down the line in the future and honestly, that question scares the hell out of me. Maybe one should be a Zen master about these things and simply say, “What will be; Will be!” But, somehow one always ends up being short on wisdom when it comes to Zen. With the knowledge that I have gathered over the short number of years of maturity, all I could spell out was my innate love for writing and everything that I would like to do with it. But, the Other Side isn’t all that green when it comes to wanna-be writers. You need to be good and even if you are good maybe even great, there is a chance that you might die in the immense expanse of obscurity like Kafka, to be only known in the future for your work. Is that an acceptable quality of life?
Somehow I enjoy being a student because the Other Side seems to be a lot more romantic here. There is hope, expectation, play, rationalization, theory, dreams and certain celebration of ambiguity as a student. Something that I cherish more than anything else in student life. But, the fact of the matter is that you are growing up, all the time and as you grow up, you certainly need to move beyond the idea of being a student. But, maybe, just maybe, the Other Side might just afford the same hope, the same dreams, the same ambiguity, if you play your cards right!
As the words of “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young” written by Mary Schmich and published in the Chicago Tribune as a column in 1997, which were later made into a music single “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)“, released in 1998, by Baz Luhrmann, point out, “Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.” And hence, “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t!” And while, you are doing all of this, “Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.”
Maybe life is all about trying to solve an algebraic equation by chewing bubble gum. But, if the bubble gum tastes good, then I guess, I will take my chances with the algebraic equation.
This profile page belongs to Ranjit Singh, an Indian who is currently lost in Maastricht and has been trying to find a way to complete a Research Masters degree in Cultures of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST) at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS), Maastricht University. I am currently in the second year of this degree which also suggests the successful completion of the first. Usually my profile page has a single quote by Bill Waterson’s character Calvin which goes something like this: “Why isn't my life like a situation comedy? Why don't I have a bunch of friends with nothing better to do but drop by and instigate wacky adventures? Why aren't my conversations peppered with spontaneous witticisms? Why don't my friends demonstrate heartfelt concern for my well being when I have problems? ...I gotta get my life some writers.” I usually write to fill up the space of these missing writers, trying to find things that are worth a mention in an otherwise mundane existence. I have pretty straightforward hobbies, first, travelling and the second, writing short fiction. The first hobby also explains one of the many reasons why I came to do CAST at Maastricht University, apart from that fact, that CAST is developing into one of the most prestigious STS programs in the world. Though it doesn’t really hold much value if I as a student go on bragging about the course. As for the second hobby, interested people may visit: http://dropsfromsolaris.posterous.com/ Being primarily from a city in India, specifically Ahmedabad, in Gujarat, I have had consistent difficulties in treating Maastricht as a city. It is just too small to be called a city from Indian standards. But, I guess if you overlook the size of this small little space struggling to breather between Belgium and Germany, I suppose being in Maastricht has its perks: a strong community of international students, a complete constellation of events organized by Studium Generale and a wide collection of pubs to hang out.