Campus columnists 2022 signing off

One final time..

campuscolumnisten 2022

Leonie: Hi Chandni! How are you? As fellow DUB-columnists for the past year we’re reaching the end of our columnistship (is that a word?). Time to wrap up the year and make room for a new couple. Do you remember our ‘election day’?  It was online, you were in India still. Happy that the new columnists will have their announcement live again. I’m happy our paths crossed. How are things in Kerala? I missed out on swimming/ floating with you down the Krommerijn, we both wrote about this river.  Any floating in Kerala?  

Chandni: Hello Leonie!! It's been almost a year since our term was announced!! It has been a really happening year for me. And was it surreal! I remember being in complete disbelief after the announcement and then logging out of the call. There was this long moment of silence when I thought of how I got an honour like this and yet my life was largely limited to the room that I took that call in. I was actually wearing my pyjamas below the shirt that I had pulled on for effect! How was it for you? 
Kerala has been nice mostly. It's not as hot as it was when I arrived back! We should have definitely gone to the Kromme Rijn together. Missed that!! But it was a huge culture shock for me. We don’t usually swim in our rivers back home. Especially not women. There are bathing areas for communities that live near water bodies but they are usually gender segregated and strictly for bathing and laundry. Only very young children and again specifically boys are expected to have fun playing in the water. So imagine my surprise when there was so much floating and swimming involved in the everyday lives of the Dutchies.  
Leonie: I like the thought of international exchange, ‘how things go here is not necessarily how things go there’. I travelled 2 months through India as a student, after visiting a dog castration project in Goa. You have a beautiful country. On a very (very) long, south bound train trip (towards Kerala), I found myself surrounded by a group of Indian women, who kindly shared their food with me (Indian food is truly undefeated). They soon figured out that I was a single traveler. ‘You travel alone?!’ (lifting eyebrows). ‘You are you not married?!’ (surprised laughter, followed by the sharing of more food). International exchange, or exchange of any sort I think, benefits from the sharing of food. It has a certain intimacy, I think.  
Chandni: Definitely! Both on the beauty of the country and the intimacy of sharing food. Some of my fondest memories of the Netherlands is around the many impromptu meals my friends had with at the Kade. There is just something really intimate about sharing what you have and food carries so much import. We have a whole field in anthropology dedicated to food and this intimacy. On that note, I had a mixed experience with food. On one hand, I loved that the Dutch supermarkets always had some gluten free and vegan options that allowed for my dietary restrictions. That’s difficult to find yet in India.  Yet, I often missed the sociality of eating with family and friends. I also often felt that my friends needed very little in terms of food. A salad or bread was a whole meal as opposed to the elaborateness of Indian meals. It's great for saving time but also felt a bit cold to me.  
Leonie: Any special plans for the ‘holidays’, Chandni? I’ll be working in the clinics for a couple of days. Working between Christmas and New Year is always a bit special. It’ll be unusually quiet in most of the building, getting a hot chocolate from the vending machine in the otherwise busy and noisy waiting room. People wear Christmas sweaters and for lunch we’ll finish left over food and drinks from our team’s Christmas dinner. It may/ may not be busy in the emergency rooms, there will be patients coming and going and there will be some that may/ may not be ever going home again. And we feel for those that must leave their pet behind, just a bit more around Christmas. Some of us share the things that we wish to leave behind in ‘22 or are looked forward to in the new year. Christmas lights are on, and there will be even more food, brought from home, sometimes by a grateful owner. We’re all a bit ‘happyclappy’ together, as we’re working our way through the scheduled patients. I hope it will stay quiet this time of year; I always do.  
Do you have any activities planned for the end of this year or perhaps for the new year? We'll leave our column behind in ‘22. Will you write in ‘23? And to whom?  
Chandni: That sounds lovely. I wish I could have stayed to see the season change in Utrecht. Both festive and climate wise. Christmas is unfortunately not as much a big deal here as it is there. While many people celebrate it, there is no season around it. So it is more common to hear joy and trepidation about the year that is coming to an end. And once again Covid looms over our heads like an ominous shadow.  
On that note, it is quite sad to know I don’t have this column anymore either. It has been quite a ride and I have come to really enjoy it. I am thinking of actively looking for another writing role so that I can  continue to practice writing and getting feedback. I remember wanting to be the campus columnist so that I would be able to gain the courage to put my writing out there. I think I am feeling a lot more better about it so I am also planning to make my blog public! What about you Leonie? 
Leonie: I've grown into the habit of writing down potential topics when a situation arises: it is a steadily growing list. Not sure yet where to plant those columns-to-be, or in what shape or form. But the occasional feeling of ‘now this may actually contain some pretty good stuff...’ was very rewarding.  And tastes like more.
In the meantime, I wish you a happy new year.  
All the best Chandni, from Utrecht to Kerala.