There’s something unique about being in academia. Your performance in your job depends on how much you read and research. Scholarship drives academic pursuits. It’s food for the intellect. Intellect (at the risk of oversimplification), however, can be soulful only when it is able to share and engage. And that is why, teaching and engaging with students is the core of the academic profession. Teachers may age but they do not grow old, for year after year they encounter younger, more energetic people. My academic journey is around 13 years now, yet the experiences I have been able to soak in will last me a lifetime. What is interesting is how certain contexts add on to these experiences. And in my case, the context that I refer to is this city and its vibrant academic spaces.
I don’t want to call Pune as the Oxford of the East. I think we do great injustice to the concept of individual identity by looking at everything with the West as a point of reference. Please do not get me wrong. I am not espousing any patriotism. I am simply trying to look at this city as an independent academic space which is neither a copy nor a replica of the hegemonic sentinels of Western educational institutions. For a city which was the metaphor for cultural enlightenment during the struggle for independence, it was indeed the most interesting progression to evolve as such a significant centre for educational pursuits.
When I came to Pune in 2009, I admit, I did not understand the part this city would play in my journey as an academic. I teach at a private university here and I completed my doctorate from a state university here. If not complete, I’d refer to this experience as holistic. For someone who came from up- North, this city has come to represent her karmabhoomi. While on this road, I earned colleagues, friends, students, student friends and also students as colleagues. What’s interesting is that there’s a warm sense of familiarity wherever I am in this city….