The ostensible purpose of the trip was to attend Ipsa’s graduation. But what I was more interested in visiting the place where she lived for the past two years and being a part of her experience.
I remember talking to her the first day after she reached her apartment. She said she was sleeping on the carpet, and she would be ordering the bed and mattress the next day. I thought that was okay, as she had fixed the place, including her housemates on the Net. Then she added : She was sleeping in the dark as the room’s bulb had blown and it was too late to get a new one.
So how was the room in which she slept on the carpet in the dark like? How far would she have to walk in the snow to catch a bus to the campus? How far to the hospital where she had to go to get her leg in the cast after she broke it trying to ride too-tall a bicycle? I wanted to know.
And I liked what I saw. The cherry tree outside the building. The gym at the entrance. ( I didn’t get to see the swimming pool at the back though.)
The campus was very cheerful and inviting too. I have already mentioned the choice of eateries the town of State College offered…Cozy Thai, Zola and more. There was also a big Stadium which was associated with a famous American Football team and hosted performers like Lauryn Hill.
I did not like to think of schools or colleges as just stepping stones to a good career or a great future. Your time in school or college was a part of your life like any other part and had to be enjoyed and well lived.
From Cluny Convent and Sophia High School to Mount Carmel College and IGIDR I liked to be reassured of the institutions that Ipsa ( and Jojo) attended by some kind feel-good vibrations that I felt when physically there in the campus. I liked the vibes here alright, though I was checking on it only after she had already graduated!
The graduation ceremony itself was simple but warm. What I liked most was meeting the parents ( and in one case , spouse and children) of students from India and Bangladesh and Ipsa’s classmates , Asian as well as from US. And yes, there was a very nice spread of lunch, the highlight of which was an inexhaustible mound of delicious, fresh-tasting shrimps.
And it was great to have Shanto , who has been such an inspiring mentor and bedrock of support for Ipsa during her stay in US, with us on this happy occasion.
The real graduation ceremony , the formal one where the entire university students participated were scheduled a week later. Ipsa had more or less decided to skip it. Jayashree was not very happy, she so much wanted to see her daughter in a gown and cap. But I didn’t mind. The lovely black dress and red shoes ( which had arrived through United Parcel the night before) with the certificate in her hand would do just fine for a keepsake photograph.
- Suburban Houses
- Air and Space Museum, Washington DC