By Azera Rahman
New Delhi : Sitting on a low stool in the Patel Chest Institute lane near Delhi University or eating at the buzzing Ganga Dhaba of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), it is impossible to miss groups of students from Bihar, Orissa or the Northeast hanging around.
Arriving in their city of dreams in hordes every year, these students from far-flung places make the capital their home – sometimes for five to six years till their post-graduation, sometimes for longer.
Take Malini Baruah from Assam, for instance. Having taken her Class 12 exams, Baruah is now anxiously waiting for her results.
"I hope I get at least 90 percent. Otherwise it will be difficult for me to get admission in my dream college St. Stephen's (in Delhi University)," Baruah told IANS.
For Samridh Aggarwal of Bihar, it's destination JNU. "I want to do my Master's in International Relations from JNU. I will be taking the entrance exam. I hope I make it!"
What is it about Delhi that makes students from places like the northeast, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand throng to the city?
"There are so many reasons. For one, there is no dearth of opportunities here," said Livi Sukhalu of Nagaland who is doing her Master's in Political Science from JNU.
"Unlike in small towns where only the crÃ¨me-de-la-crÃ¨me get prime openings, in Delhi even a mediocre student has a lot of options," Sukhalu told IANS.
Agrees Richa Misra of Patna, who is studying for her post-graduation in Zoology from Delhi University, popularly known as DU.
"People come here looking for opportunities. Being the country's capital and home to three of the best universities – DU, JNU and Jamia Milia Islamia – it is the hub of the best for education at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels," she said.
Apart from the thousands of students who come to the city every year to pursue further studies, there are hundreds of others who come here to build a career.
Visit places like Outram Lane, Indra Vihar and Mukherjee Nagar in north Delhi or Ber Sarai, Jia Sarai and Munirka in the vicinity of JNU, and you realise that these are literally islands of the northeast or Bihar- uprooted and settled in Delhi.
Pragya Vats is among those who have been in the city for a long while.
Basically from Bihar, she did her graduation and post-graduation from DU.
Vats is now working with Action Aid, an international NGO.
"More than anything else, Delhi gives you the space to experiment and choose. Had I been at home, I would have chosen a conventional field like engineering or sat for the UPSC exam," said Vats. "But here, I got an opportunity to get into the not-so-ventured field of development and do something I really enjoy."
Sajjan Singh of Kolkata says Delhi has given him professional aggression. "I studied in Kolkata. When I compare the two cities, I think Kolkata is no match for Delhi. This is a true cosmopolitan city, which accepts everyone into its arms."
He added: "Because the best brains come here, the competition in any stream is very high. This simply pushes you to hone your skills and give your best. So if you can survive here, you can survive anywhere else in the country."
Munching samosas or toiling late into the night, bargaining for books or involved in an animated discussion about the latest movie or a volatile political issue – it's hard to miss these youngsters who are far away from home, yet very much at home.
Welcome to Delhi, the city of dreams!