Hey guys, how’s it going? Rahul here coming in with a brand new blog. I hope everyone had a great last week. I want to use this blog to talk about how my week was. So, let’s begin.
This last week presented a whole new side of me I never knew existed. To summarise the whole experience, it was a roller coaster of emotions where I saw a lot os ups in terms of friends, opportunities, and fun but at the same time I saw a ton of downs where I felt like a loser, bored, scared, etc.
Last week was the University Week in our college and I took part in 2 big events: the basketball tournament and the Mr. and Ms. University competition. So I’m, going to talk about those two things separately because of how different the experience was in both.
Starting with the basketball tournament. I can not express nervous I was when the team selections were coming near. But, when I heard there wasn’t going to be any selection for the College of Arts and Sciences because there aren’t enough players, I was pretty surprised. However, my happiness to just be selected was immense. Considering how much of a basketball culture runs in this country I thought it was really going to be some tough competition and I would have to bring my A-game from the very beginning.
My first practice, and I was totally ready to play my hardest and show everyone that I’m capable enough to play on the starting 5. And, that’s exactly what happened. But, for a different reason. Turns out that the College of Arts and Sciences are not really known fore their sports and that’s evident from the fact that we haven’t won a single basketball game (mind you I said “game”) for many years. So, not only were my team mates demotivated but they also had it in their mind that they had no intention to win. Coming from an awesome basketball team in India, I knew I had to take charge. I played hard in every single practice and tried motivating the team by simply showing them what I am capable of. Of course it wasn’t the entire team that was demotivated. There were still a few players who believed in the team as well. This is where I learnt a new life lesson. To motivate means to be a leader which means to show you are capable.
Come game day. The whole team is pumped. Over practice we were able to develop some chemistry. My goal wasn’t to win the tournament (I’m more realistic than that), rather it was to win one single game to break the curse haunting the CAS for so many years. As the game commenced I realised what it meant to be a small fish in a big pond who used to be a big fish in a small pond. We lost the game by a staggering 16 points. I was defeated and totally down. In the whole game, I played for the whole 4 quarters with a total bench time of 10 seconds. The game made me realise how much the team had put their faith in me and I was not able to convert that faith into a victory. Game 2 followed a similar faith but with a bigger loss. Game 3 which was supposed to be the one game we could actually win ended with us losing by 3 points as well. This game had me fed up with the team and caused me to storm out right after the game with no intention to participate in game 4. But I let my morals get the better of me and realised that I need to play for the respect of the game and respect for my team mates who had put all their hopes into me. Come to game 4 against the hardest team. I went into the game with 0 intention of winning only to have the most fun I would ever have. And that’s exactly what happened. I had one of the best games in my life with over 30 points worth of baskets and insane rebound amount. I felt so free and played so good that even though we lost by just 9 points, it felt like I had won and had rewarded all of my team mates hopes and faith. It was a fantastic feeling when my friends came and hugged me from seeing such a great game. Although my goal of winning even 1 game didn’t come through I played with no regrets and had so much fun. I was able to mingle with so many Filipinos from different colleges as well which helped me make so many friends. I played for the love of basketball and had one of the best experiences ever!
Now coming to the next segment of my University week; the Mr. and Ms. University competition. My friends came up to me saying that one of our teachers is calling me to the faculty room. After going there, I was told to meet the head of the psychology department. “After some recommendations and consideration, we would like to select you to try out for representing the College of Arts and Sciences in the upcoming Mr. and Ms. University competition”. I am not the kind of person who misses out on opportunities like this. Even though I had no idea what I was signing up for, I put no second thought into it and said, “Yes, I will gladly go for the audition”. The next day in the audition I was asked a few questions about where I was from and why I decided to audition. I was further asked to ramp walk (mind you I have never ramp walked in my life) and thought that would be the end as I was competing against 2 other candidates who seemed way more capable. But, as my number was called out by the judge and the words “You have been selected as the male candidate to represent the College of Arts ands Sciences” were said, I went into a state of disbelief. Photos were taken and a schedule was given but right after I left the room, I went to the nearest table and just sat down to think about what had just happened. Upon arriving back to the hostel I was greeted with ‘congratulations’ and my parents and friends back at home were all extremely proud. The feeling was great and I could not express how excited I was to see what this competition had in store for me.
Days went on and I was approached by the president of the CAS to help me get a ‘handler’ (yes, I was so new to this I didn’t even know what a handler was). Further, I had a full team of people including a make up artist, hair stylist, etc. I had never done anything like this before so having someone do my make up, choose my clothes, make my hair, straighten my hair, etc. was like I was getting pampered. After a few days we had out first photo shoot which was later put up on the notice boards for the whole university to see. I had begun noticing how people start noticing you now that you are a part of this competition. Of course while there were all these positives there was also one big negative. The feeling of loneliness that came initially. Having to sit for so many hours with people from another country and culture and who spoke a different language made it hard to approach people and interact to make new friends. So, I felt very isolated from the crowd. But, this changed quickly over time as some people started noticing that I was not interacting much and decided to approach me themselves. I can not express how grateful I am that some people actually decided to take the time to approach me and talk to me and make me feel more comfortable. This not only allowed me to make so many friends but really helped me dive into the culture of these people.
One of the best feelings about this whole thing? When people came up to me asking for a photograph. There were 3 or 4 times in different places when someone came up to me and asked for a photograph. The feeling was so genuine and it made my day go so good that it really felt that every decision I made was worth it. I know it doesn’t sound like much but when someone comes up to you and says, “Excuse me, can I get a photograph with you? You’re so handsome.” It was enough to keep me smiling for many hours and really think how I’m so proud to be a part of this competition. Over time we had our pre-pageant and a ton of rehearsals for the final show. A really memorable moment during one of the rehearsals was when a girl game up to me and said, “Hey, I’m from the College of Arts sand Sciences as well and I just want to express how glad I am that you got selected for this competition because you are not only representing our college but you are representing each and every Indian that is a part of this university as well and that is something you should be proud about.” I had never seen this competition in that way but that was the day I realised that this is more than just a competition I took part in for the experience, rather this was me representing an entire community at the level of the entire university.
The final day as I walked on the stage with all my Filipino traditional clothes and said, “Good evening everyone, my name is Rahul Mody representing the College of Arts and Sciences.” I knew, that no matter what happens, I am proud, confident, and so god damn happy that I got this great opportunity. Further, I was made to walk with my sports attire and formal attire as well. Majority of the Indian community was there to support me as well. I didn’t win any award that night nor did I make it into the final 5. But, none of those things mattered to me anymore. I had one of the most amazing experiences. I was given a bouquet of flowers from the College and I made so many close friends along the way and had so much fun doing these things that I never thought I would do before. I got to meet so many amazing people as well. I live by the motto “everything happens for a reason” and I feel my motto was justified through these experiences. I feel like I made a name for myself in this university and being able to do that in just 4 months of being in a new country is a great feeling. The best part of this whole competition? Being the first Indian to ever represent the a college in the Mr. and Ms. University competition.
What a week, what an experience.