The Nineteenth: Exchange Students and Differences

My friend A has just begun hosting her host from Belgium. She had gone on an Exchange Trip to Belgium in May and now, her host has returned to stay as a guest at her place. I am immensely proud of my friend; she has managed to go to Belgium all alone (without any family members) and return and has managed to imbibe so many new things and at the same time she’s still the very same person I had met the first year of college.

My friend J and I waited back to watch the short cultural program students from our college had put up for the Belgians. There was the usual: dances from different places of India, singing of Bollywood songs and a couple speeches. While I was impressed by the talent of the Indian students, my friend and I didn’t find it up to par to our college standards. The PowerPoint presentation was mildly interesting, and the dances were okay. I felt very proud of my college as I watched the students put up the dances. I was fascinated by the dance, but somehow I didn’t think they were actually showing them how we truly are. Not all of us wear traditional clothes every day or dance Bharatnatayam (An Indian Classical Dance). Of course, I have many grouses about the misconceptions of India and Indians, but that is a post for another day. (I’ve already started writing it).

When it was the Belgian’s turn to showcase something, they left us completely awed and spellbound. They sang us a song, which didn’t sound last-minute like ours probably, was, and it was in French! Then they had an amazingly created PPT, and they did stuff about every country they spoke about. Then they started dancing, and wow!

The dances were all the different forms that they have there: contemporary, gymnastic, jump-rope, folk, waltz and some others. They were well co-ordinated and for their last item they did the Sid Song from Ice Age 4. They called up people on stage and had a ball. It was very entertaining to watch. Even the teachers performed, I don’t see my evil English teacher doing anything of the sort. I kinda hoped she wouldn’t speak and make them think all of us have problems speaking English like her. But she did, towards the end. I ignored her, like I always have.

Maybe I’m a bit biased. I’ve been exposed to Indian culture all my life and probably find it boring now. And, it’s exciting for them – they’ve not seen people wearing long, layered, embellished skirts while dancing and they’ve probably never seen the dances we did. For me, what they did was much better as I could relate to it better.

I personally thought that my college could’ve done a bit better, even though it was good. Even when they performed a Bollywood dance, they chose traditional-type songs with more skirts and made out as though we only dance to those. I think they gave a very one-sided picture for some reason.

Well, whatever the thing, I also felt that thing that people call ‘college spirit’? I felt it during Malhar, when I feel something that makes me one with the college I study in. Today, as I watched the performances, both by my college mates and the Belgians, I felt a part of the college, even though I didn’t host or go to Belgium or anything.

Anyway, I complete this completely random post by my friends’ guests (yes, a lot of people from my class are hosting this year) a pleasant stay in India and urge them not to believe everything that’s told to them about us Indians.

Until next time,

Nia. – Sid Song 





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