Last Friday was one of the nights when I went off campus for dinner with some friends. We opted to get a rickshaw back afterward, which is not at all out of the ordinary. As always with the night rides, the air felt extra refreshing and the city extra vibrant.
Something was different, though. During the 20-minute trip back to Tagore, we actually got kind of… cold. The wind had a bit of bite for the first time. Some of us received reports via family and friends that first snow had already arrived wherever our “back home” is, whether in the Pacific Northwest or Norway. I have the highest of doubts that I will ever see real snow in Hyderabad, but now I know and already love the occasional chilly nights here.
That snuck up on us, part of the marking of a time that feels like the beginning of the end. We are all less than a month out from leaving Hyderabad, if not India. On Wednesday, we held the semesterly Cultural Night, a goodbye of sorts. SIP holds one to celebrate at the end of every semester. Each time, students are given the option to have SIP plan it. The one we attended months ago for the outgoing summer students was a concert by a mixed-traditional band, for example. Otherwise, students can organize the show themselves with whatever acts they want. As a group, we opted for the latter.
The show turned out to be so much fun and super entertaining, in my biased opinion. It required more time and preparation on our part, but classes are finishing up and exams are approaching. A fun, justified, and slightly more productive form of procrastination is what the choice more or less amounts to. Emphasis is granted to “fun” certainly, as SIP students all got to pull out our colorful saris for the night. Even better, our Indian friends, classmates, and teammates got to come watch and laugh at our acts and our Hindi.
Among us, two from California were emcees, whose brief opening choreography might have been my favorite part of the hour. One Hindi class started off with a Hindi poem recitation, followed by a solo one in English. Our two friends in the intermediate Hindi class performed a silly skit about misunderstandings of a foreigner in India. Next was a duet, complete with acoustic guitar, singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” in Telugu.
My Hindi class is the largest and the last act, an “India’s Got Talent” skit that included three in-skit performances. The first was a Hindi solo ballad with slight interpretive dancing. The second was a trio band singing “Love You Zindagi” (zindagi meaning “life”), which was cute and upbeat. We saved the undisputed best for last, the predetermined winner of the big orange check we made out of construction poster paper. Ashley sang Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go” in mixed Hindi/English. This is a future Broadway thespian, and it was a proper crowd-stunning performance.
Grand applause aside, we played the obligatory feel-good compilation of pictures and videos of the last 4 months. There was a round of thanks and flower bouquets, which seemed way too final! We still have exams and almost a month left, but I can guess that it will just pass by so quickly. Not too long ago, it seems, I was going on about it being the beginning. What is this now but the beginning of the end of a semester in India. The wind has changed.