It’s the last day of 2015. Before I begin to wish my friends and family a happy new year, it’s time to reflect on the greatest year yet. 2015 is always going to be special and not least because I’ll always carry it in my email signature, on my letterhead. Mrinalini Shinde, B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), NLSIU, Batch of 2015. When I joined law school in 2010, 2015 seemed distant and futuristic. And now it’s almost gone. So I beg your pardon for my sense of bewilderment.
One year ago this time, I was helping my classmates prepare for a new year party for 400 people at a farmhouse outside Bangalore. Right now, I am sitting at a desk in Cologne, absolutely alone, just to spend some quality time with myself, a slice of pizza and maybe some Korean drama. I wouldn’t have known a year ago.
For far too long, I used to doubt myself all the time, about everything. Confidence isn’t a quality I was born with. It’s a party trick, that gets a tiny bit better every time you go out. I would keep questioning whether my career was going to work out, whether I was making the right moves academically and professionally; what is expected of me versus what I was doing. 2015 didn’t magically erase those doubts, nor did it suddenly transform my life. However, it gave me the opportunity to meet some very special people, travel and learn a lot about the environment and its politics and for that I am grateful. I am still as clueless and unsure as before, but it’s not in a bad way any more. So, for that I must thank you, 2015.There are so many amazing people doing their bit to advance the human experience. There is so much to keep learning, all the time. Let’s just say, that I sleep better now. 🙂
2015 was when I argued cases before judges for the first time, and worked with transport engineers and biologists on collaborative projects. My first job, with a workplace which keeps me grounded, where my clients ranging from distraught farmers to abused wives teach me to try answering the question that was asked on my first day in law school: “What does law mean?”
2015 taught me what Shakespeare meant when Polonius advised Laertes in Hamlet, that “Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul, with hoops of steel;”. It’s when you’re no longer in a pressure cooker of a university campus, but spangled across the expanse of the country, when you know who you always want to hang with. I scoff at those who scoff at the meaningfulness of electronic interaction. It works well if you care to make it, and I am thankful to Facebook, Whatsapp, Hangouts and Skype for almost not allowing me to miss my friends (you know who you’ll are). I honestly don’t know how I’d survive a day without you all.
2015 was also the year of maximum travel. For work, leisure and friendships. Of backpacking on a budget through Sri Lanka with the gang to exploring the forests of Nagarhole and Bandipur with the greatest fam there is. Of catching up with childhood friends in strange cities and making amazing new friends from places I am yet to visit. Of taking your best friend pillion on your shiny Scooter around the city, because why not.To falling in love with a new country, its vistas and its eccentricities; Deutschland you’re pretty amazing, you are. Of exploring the rural backyards and continuously questioning and acknowledging your privilege as you encounter one humbling experience after another.
2015 made me cry. It taught me a lot about myself and how I deal with the many manifestations of love. It made me more vulnerable, forced me to take new risks, keeping my guards up, also letting them down, and exploring the limits of morality and liberty which I didn’t know existed.
2015 has been rather politically significant. We’re always going to recall the first year of a new government, an old ideology wearing new saffron suits, of finally placing emphasis on questions of sanitation and solar power in public discussion. I was lucky enough to be a miniscule, insignificant part of the movement leading up to the Paris Climate Agreement, and we have to now decide how posterity will judge 2015 in this regard. It’s been a year of extremely polarised global politics, with terror attacks and airstrikes, all of which are destroying innocent lives, one rhetorical sentence at a time.
So yes, 2015 you’ve been quite the handful. I will be grateful for you. But more grateful to every single person who I have met, good, bad and …(beauty is a social construct), and all those who have continued to be my strengths and my weaknesses.
As fireworks start going off across the world to mark the new year (WHY? Do we not have enough smog and child labour already? For details, please see the judgment in Ravindra Bhusari and Ors. in which yours truly has been named as an advocate, trying to get rid of this horrid custom), I am going to bake myself a pizza from scratch and kick back with a mindless drama-binge. Happy new year, 2016 is going to be amazing but you know I’ll always love you, 2015.
*insert Mrin hug here*