“Undesirables can sometimes have great significance”

(Republished with permission of The Lantern.)

Messy, uncomfortable, noisy – crowds can be characterized in a lot of negative ways but for some of us, it kind of provides comfort.

I am from New Delhi, the capital of India, an agglomeration of 20 million people. For us Delhites, it’s not unusual to see a group of 20,000 people “crowding” together. It’s my first time in the U.S. and it’s been a month since I landed in Columbus. The first month was hard to digest: a total of two people on the bus, deserted streets at 10 p.m., spooky silence around your apartment, disturbed only by the crickets and a couple of cars that pass without honking.

Yesterday morning when I reached the OSU campus, I was pleasantly surprised to see long lines of students going to the President’s welcome. Cars were almost stationary; some were trying to avoid the students and some were actually honking!

I walked to the Oval for the Involvement Fair which was moved to the Ohio Union when it started to pour. I entered the Union and instantly felt at home. There were ethnic stalls, free ice creams, fraternity and sorority clubs handing out flyers and hundreds of other booths. It was a mélange of cultures, people and ideas.

It’s funny how some things that are undesirable for a few people have a great amount of significance for others.

Thousands of students, lots of noise, a variety of smells, so many colors – I couldn’t have asked for anything else! For a moment I thought I was in a Delhi Metro station.

The original article was published in The Lantern on September 21, 2011.