It’s been almost two years since I joined TISS as a Masters’ student. The course is about to end. I am not sure if I have really seen the TISS life – since I do not live on campus or even close by. So I have missed out on the hostel/pg stories and the *cough* vibrant night life. But I have been around for my fair share of TISS exposure and I do think I understand its spirit.
When I initially joined, I had put the institute up on a pedestal – because of what I had heard before. However, I have discovered that the place has its own flaws and paradoxes – one of the most glaring ones is how haphazardly masters level research is done by more students than not in a place that prides itself on research and field presence.
Another one was the kind of people I met. I think that just because I met them in TISS, I was expecting a socially conscious and humanitarian person in everyone. That doesn’t happen. Human tendencies are everywhere – in teachers and students. The base emotions of insecurity and jealousy cannot be done away with – even if you are a TISSian.
However, I also know that a lot of what I learnt would not even be accessible to me in a place like Mumbai University. This is not limited to the course content and how it was taught – but the way the two years in this institute have broadened my thinking – to the point that I can no longer have uninformed, one-sided viewpoints or opinions. This was compounded by a training in psychological therapy – which requires further stripping down of your issues and meaning in life – to the point where you are that you know yourself well enough to be secure to enter someone else’s personal psychological world.
I have met a variety of people. I am not going to keep in touch with all of them – but some I am going to treasure. People from diverse walks of life and who amaze you by the amount of good work they have done – as also how humble they are.
However, when I was still a novice, I put these people in some holy light, and would feel really bad if they stopped whatever was required of them professionally to draw out, compartmentalize and have time for themselves. I realize now that it is required – in a field as loaded as ours. You might encounter such grave issues in work that you have to force yourself to stop bothering beyond a point – even if it means drawing up artificial borders. The only difference is, some people still do it better than others and then it hurts less.
I always had a vague dream of ‘giving’ back to the society. Being at TISS has taught me where and how I can concretely do so. It has shown me the gaps where a mental health professional can be useful – community work, policy making, and so on. Even if you follow your ambition and want a comfortable life – it can still be a righteous one.
You learn that giving a fuck about things isn’t something special.It is also nothing which requires a lot of time and effort. But, if everyone did their bit, people who are into slimy stuff would never get away with it as easily as they do. Who can escape a million questions?
I think at the core of it, TISS is a hopeful place. They go all like ‘oh this is a gap in the community? we will create a course to generate professionals and research to understand this better’. And there you are. They are trying to do things their way, and it has its limitations too.
I have probably not lived the proper TISS life, but I think what I’m taking away is the philosophy of it. Being a TISSian is not about the time you spend there, its a way of life.