Tada! Here I was, at the Asian College of Journalism. India’s best journalism college, according to the better informed. I stepped into the foyer of the imposing white building, and the first thing I heard was a distinctive nasal voice.
“You know what happened to me when I was traveling to Chennai?”, and so it went, in a sing-song, clippity-clap fashion, like an over enthusiastic teenager on a school trip. I looked around the reception area. On top of the stone table that filled half of the sunlit hall perched a tiny specimen of a girl, all of five feet and two inches, regaling a bunch of twenty-somethings with some shitty story. Her audience seemed to be lapping it in. Or perhaps they were being polite to her, it being Day One and all.
Then she saw me.
“Hallo there! What’s your name?”
Twelve pairs of eyes turned to me. “Um, hi, I’m…”
And then everyone else offered their names and degrees and places of origin. Pointless exercise, really. Apparently none of the authorities had turned up yet (Strike one, ACJ!), so they were lounging around and getting to know each other. I dragged my luggage to a corner and joined the group of shiny happy faces. Miss Clippity-clap had done her B Tech and worked at some brain-killing tech company before throwing it all away to come to this dump. That would make her, what, forty-five? She hardly looked fifteen, with her riotous mop of black hair and seventy watt grin. She had forgotten to bring her certificates, and for some reason it did not bother her at all.
“Really? It was written in the letter??” she asked.
No, we all just like lugging our certificates around. Damn proud of our credentials, you know.
“Duh? Of course you had to… didn’t you read the letter?” I said.
She cocked her head side ways, closing one eye like she was concentrating very hard. “Nope, I guess not carefully enough!” and she broke into a grin.
At that moment the receptionist walked in and everyone clamoured to her desk. I lost my new friend in the crowd.
The next I saw of her was late in the evening at the hostel, I was going downstairs with a couple of people I had just met.
“Hi! Come down, man, everyone’s in the lawn!”
Her smile lacked the seventy watt brightness of the morning.
“Mm… I think I’ll pass for now.”
She slipped away into the corridor, dragging her feet as she went.
PS: This was a class assignment about what I think would be someone’s first impression about me. Does it come anywhere close? 😛