For the aimless, the driven, the lazy, the disturbed and the peaceful, this study corner is a sacred spot, finds Rishi Majumder

Photographer: Rana Chakraborty

back to back

6:32 pm: A boy in a cheap printed shirt and faded trousers paces frantically, memorising economic laws. Another, in T-shirt and shorts, is motivated by such momentum to recite history dates aloud in ascending tones, that a middle-aged office-goer grappling with legal principles from his diploma law syllabi shushes him. This makes a 20-something pretty girl studying her homeopathic theory laugh. She in turn elicits attention from a bunch of eager junior-college lads otherwise bent over solving complex Math formulae. Blocking their view (rather unconcernedly) is a tightly muscled kid wearing an army print cap over his long hair, flashy T-shirt and frayed jeans – who sms-es, looks hesitatingly at a newly bought text book, sighs, and sms-es again. Then, the boy paces more calmly; the other mutters his history dates under his breath, the office-goer reads, the girl concentrates; the junior college members go back to arguing algebra solutions and the cool kid, well, opens his book. The diverse student community at the 24- hour 50-seat Study Corner in S K Patil Park, Charni Road manufactures and maintains its own rules.
7:12 pm: “The place was built many years ago with
the park, but it was done up with a plastic canopy, painted properly, tiled and hedged with a marble top only two years ago by MLAs from the BJP and Shiv Sena from the Khazdaar fund,” informs the security guard- cum- cleaner cum- gardener Janki Jadav, who lives at the park. Complementing the canopy’s numerous fans is the gentle breeze drifting across the lush lawn and trees flanking the area. The breeze blows a bespectacled 21-year-old Amol Patil back as he looks up irritated from a Balance Sheet problem. “I work as a clerk in a trading firm while continuing with my Second Year B. Com… but I’ve been studying here since class five,” he answers. Amol’s house in Bhuleshwar is too crowded for studying. During exam-time he inhabits this place all night. “Even people who have rooms to themselves come here or those that live far-off come here. But for a poor student this is a necessity!”
7:30 pm: The tube lights have been turned on. As if on cue the army- capped boy wonder starts reading his commerce textbook with escalating urgency- “I’m studying for my K.T. exam.” He identifies himself as 19-yearold Ketan Balsara. And how often does he come here? He mulls before smiling awkwardly, “Rarely. I could study at home, but there’s no drive. The environment here forces me to concentrate.” The junior college group trudging back from the canteen has different reasons: “We like the fact that we have a place where we can study as a team, yet remain motivated,” say 16-year-olds Sumit Chaurasia and Vrijesh Gupta. It also inspires an appetite — “The ‘Uphaar Griha’ in the park itself serves tea and meals for as little as Rs 6, and till eight in the evening!”

8:00 pm: “We don’t let people sit idle or read a magazine,” security-man Jadav had warned. However, two sitters have flouted this rule. While one works on a crossword, the other after leafing through a Marathi daily’s society pages, stares vacantly with his head propped up on the slab of wood attached to each chair for writing. Questioning glances cause them to exit and sit on the benches surrounding the study corner (but not in it). An old gentleman saunters in from the park to sit smiling amidst the open-on-all-sides learning spot for two minutes before walking out. “The park closes at eight. I come in after that everyday to just sit amongst them for two minutes. It gives me peace and some focus,” sighs 59-year- old Jayant Phadke, on his way out. “It’s more silent than the park even – minimum traffic noise, and they get angry if my phone rings.”
9:16 pm: Twenty five -year- old Ajay Pande heads for a drink from the cooler. “I have two more hours to go. I live in Vikhroli and she (he points to the girl sitting opposite him) in Malad. If we go home to study, the train journey exhausts us,” he explains. Reason for such turmoil- their Ayurvedic College exams are around the corner. “There’s another study centre near Churchgate, but it’s too small,” Bhavika Parmar begins. “Also, the garden and breeze here ensure that our mind is always fresh!” Pande butts in. “And even though there are very few girls here, I’ve never faced any discomfort,” she persists. “Although, why is there no bathroom? The one here shuts at 10. That’s a big problem for those who have to study all night,” Pande ends this spurt by slamming a fist into his palm. Maybe he should try political science instead…

Study corner, Charni Road

This article first appeared in Mumbai Mirror, Times Of India: http://alturl.com/bekz


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