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The Picnic Managers: Prasanta Chakravarty

This is a guest post by PRASANTA CHAKRAVARTY.

Writing in the Encounter, September 1961, Edward Shils characterizes the Indian student in the following terms:

“Your curiosity, idle or ordered, takes you to an Indian university or college. You walk across the dusty sun-stuck grounds or through damp, dark corridors and past malodorous lavatories; and you see clumps of boys, chirruping like birds, an occasional pair walking hand in hand, sometimes a little knot of girls in pigtails. They look extraordinarily childlike, with all the melting tenderness of children, terribly shy, soft-eyed, gentle, fragile, and very quick to smile…Their voices are low and soft, their movements light, elastic, lamb-like. If one of them, darting about in the suddenly ignited outburst of a boyish prank, nearly collides with you, he aplogises with timorous embarrassment. If you ask one of them where to find a certain professor or the head of a particular department, he will go far out of his way to lead you to the right place, and you will be impressed by his shyness and deferentiality. When he has delivered you to your destination, and you thank him, he will say something like ‘Not to mention’ and will turn and dash off as light-footedly as a young deer.”

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