After having a hectic fall of research projects, senior seminars, and job applications, this J-term felt wonderfully free. Firstly, I was able to add the class “Bollywood and Beyond” so I spent my month watching Shah Rukh Khan dance around the Swiss Alps in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Amitabh Bachchan restore his honor in the name of justice in Sholay, and Nargis embody post-Independence India in Mother India. In addition to watching these fantastic films, we learned about the religious epics, polarized politics, and social conventions that inform these movies. For my final paper, I read Devdas, a short story written in 1917 by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, which has since spawned 12 film versions of the same story over the past century. After reading the story that began the legacy, I watched Bimal Roy’s Devdas from 1955 and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s version from 2002, noting the differences in nostalgia, melodrama, and aesthetics.
Needless to say, I was in my academic and personal element.
In addition to immersing myself in this facet of Indian culture, I also took moments to enjoy my last J-term. Twice a week, I attended my “Yoga and Meditation” workshop, taking time to strengthen, stretch, and soothe the body. Additionally, with four other friends, I took a workshop called “Art of Tea: Tasting and Sustainably Sourced Loose Leaf Tea (and Chocolate).” We sampled green teas from China, matcha tea from Japan, and of course, we ended the session with a Chai tea from India. We ate white chocolate lavender bark, mocha snacks, and LoFi chocolate with each of the teas, all in the soothing, warm Stone Leaf Tea House.
In between yoga, tea tasting, and movie watching, I headed out to California for my cousin’s wedding for the weekend. I lounged in the pool, ate fresh tortillas tacos, and danced the night away with cousins and aunts and uncles. The wedding was a perfect interlude to reconnect with my family and some happy California sun.
At the end of the month, I was a little sad to say goodbye to J-term. It was the perfect time for me to explore an area of interest I do not normally during the semester. For the month, I was able to engross myself in Bollywood extravaganzas, subtle teas and chocolates, and some quality family time. The end of J-term also heralds the beginning of spring, my last semester as a Middlebury College student. Stayed tuned for exciting adventures next semester!