• Quirk NLS

Dear MPP08

This letter has been penned by Himani Chouhan and Aishwarya Tiwari (MPP Batch of 2022). The illustration is by Gunjan Jadiya (Batch of 2023).

Dear MPP08,

This meeting is being recorded for over a year now. Mics have been left unmuted, professors have walked in on us in breakout rooms mid-rant, zoom escaper has been discovered, and we’ve possibly made the best out of the limited digital space we’ve been confined to. However, we are beyond excited to tell you that we’re writing this letter from our tiny yet cozy rooms in the gorgeous NLSIU campus! First things first, the dogs are adorable, the staff is immensely helpful, and the mess food is edible. As we run into each other every morning, sleepy-eyed during breakfast, there’s nothing but a smile under our masks saying, “I’m glad it finally happened!”

Much like you all, steeped in uncertainties unprecedented, we first stepped into our zoom classrooms in July 2020, replete with anticipation and excitement. Little did we know that what we thought was a temporary halt would gradually turn into our permanent address. As days rolled by, we got up everyday to stare at our screens for six hours, hoping to register the tiny faces in those tiny boxes. As months passed and the wait grew longer, our faces turned into colored initials on the black screen and our excitement into frustration.

These events were cyclical, waxing with the news that campus might, after all, open soon, and waning with the disappointment that followed. But amidst this callous upheaval, hope did remain ablaze. That teensy yet adamant flicker of hope remained incandescent with us. Hope that looked like endearing Spotify playlists, jostly game sessions, frantic rant calls, the sporadic “I can’t wait to see you”s and the incessant “Hope I get to see you, soon”s. Hope has been a powerful thing to have steered us so far, and it is with earnest spirits that we pass it on to you as you tread along the same path. So here you go!

Studying from home can be hard, ensuring that your eyes remain open in TC[1] lectures especially harder. This wicked problem gets compounded further owing to the undulating landscapes that our respective households and familial equations constitute. Peer-learning gets accustomed to getting sucker punched by the uncertainty fraught atmosphere and the tedium of the online medium. You shall come to grips with new realities. There will be days, even weeks that would make you feel like you are trapped in an IPP[2] viva where all of the questions are from Hannah Arendt. Phases of self-doubt, anxieties, episodic motivation followed by more self-doubt are routine  occurrences for an MPP student.

Remember, however, throughout this turbulence, that even though you are scattered away from your ilk across the country, as cliche as this may sound, you are not alone. You shall soon come to realize that tragic times forge the strongest of bonds even as myriad shades of vulnerability beget resilient solidarity. Those colored initials on your zoom screens are just as smart, generous, and in fact, clueless, too, as you are. Trust us when we say this, reaching out to your batchmates with screaming voice notes and shouty capitals is entirely warranted and extremely natural. It does not make you look dumb. It does not cut a sorry figure. It just makes you human. So reach out, talk, rant, and help each other muddle through what may, at the moment, seem like an unfixable mess.

While occasionally, melancholy brings its own sweet flavours, we urge that you all desist from wallowing and spiraling farther down into that wormhole. Recognize the collective strength that your batch is a repository of. As Google Scholar mentions so beautifully on its welcome page, “stand on the shoulders of giants” amongst your batchmates to have a bird’s eye view of the terrain that lies ahead and which gear you must accordingly wear to continue marching forward.

You may not enjoy the theoretical components of the curriculum as much as the next person or Excel may be a thing of your nightmares while it might be a cakewalk for others. Let that not get into your way of focusing on what you truly enjoy, even if that’s TC. No judgments, heh. Leverage each other’s strengths and endeavour towards making contributions, however trivial they may seem, from your end, too. Find your economics wizards that will help you pass EPP[3] and IDS[4]. Also, pay the extroverts a little extra for taking up such welcome initiatives of setting the balls rolling.

The chaos that a routine day at MPP comprises may affect you in ways you would be surprised. However, we assure that you shall witness a growth curve you will gloat chiefly about in the coming months. The output that you shall personally register and the assignments you shall learn to salvage as groups will, in due course of time, shape a more confident, a more erudite and a more proficient you. So believe in the process and let time figure out whether you took the right turn when the fork was stuck in the road.

All that said, please, by all means, do prioritize your mental health. Your assignment can wait. Your professor, no matter how Snape-ish they may seem, will understand. Take breaks. Normalize breaks! Explore the burgeoning tide of indie music. Let not the cinephile in you die a silent death. Go to Reddit and head over to r/GetMotivated, r/eyebleach or r/hydrohomies or what have you. (Do reach out to us for more such recommendations!) Keep your eye-drops handy. Fix that posture. Breathe. And do not, by any means, hesitate in seeking help, be it from friends or professionals. Check up on your friends/peers, if you are in a good space yourself.

Finally, we fervently hope for this halt to be much shorter for you and that you get to see each other’s beautifully lit up faces in person, soon. Until then, we hope that much like us, you get to know each other, zoom university styles. Interactions often generate proactivity and dispel premonitions, so make them your mainstays.

So long as Zoom university persists, we hope you would soon know who has beautiful paintings in their homes, whose pets love to attend classes with them, and whose fan creaks the loudest. We hope your “I can’t wait to see you” turns into “I can’t believe I hadn’t met you” real soon.

Until then, inshallah is the word.


[1] Transformative Constitutionalism

[2] Introduction to Public Policy

[3] Economics for Public Policy

[4] Introduction to Data Systems

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