Every year, SASA (South Asian Students Association) kicks of the school year with a makeshift South Asian carnival on the Green and this year was no different. As I was walking over to the Green to attend my fourth and last Mela Masala, I could already see the huge line forming at the food station. For those of you who have gone to this event, you know that Mela Masala wouldn’t be Mela Masala without its Samosas (spiced potato filled snack wrapped with dough and deep fried) and its Pakoras (mixed vegetable fritter dipped in flour and deep fried).
I have written an event-recap for Mela Masala for the last two years, and have consistently mentioned how just for a few hours the Green turns into a mini world in South Asia, with loud Bollywood music playing in the back and people running around with henna tattoos on their arms. And to this day, Mela Masala has managed to uphold its traditions and it keeps getting better each year.
This year I would like to take a stroll down my memory lane and tell you what my first Mela Masala was like, and why it has held a special place in my heart ever since. I strongly believe Mela Masala does more for the South Asian first-year students than any other attendees. When I was at this event as a first-year, I walked into Red Square and I was confused as to why there was music I was awfully familiar with. Why was I smelling food that I only smelt when I was on the streets of Dhaka city?Why were there non-South Asian people with henna on their arms? I was absolutely confused when I walked into this mini South Asian carnival.. but it was a good kind of confusion. The kind of confusion where you slowly realize, after the first couple of minutes, that there are people here that are just like you. And indeed on that homesick day, after days of experiencing culture shock and constantly speaking English, I was acquainted with Clark’s South Asian community. Since then I have been carrying a part of my home as a badge of honor, because I too had started fitting my roots into my Clarkie life. And those I cared about, soon joined me in my little affairs with South Asia every now and then throughout the semester, and very soon, I had a family of my American friends and a family of my South Asian friends. Yes, Mela Masala is responsible for the beginning of all of that, as many of my fellow South Asian seniors this year will agree.
On-campus student clubs that we are heavily involved with soon become our biggest passions and are a big part of our time here at Clark. As super-active Clarkies, each event we organize holds within itself a part of us and our memories, ones we are sure to look back at and cherish once this journey comes near an end. These memories we make, the identities we form, and the friendships we make become a part of us forevermore. Yes, SASA throws a fabulous carnival each year and while many of us attend it just as we walk in and out of plenty other events at Clark, some of us stay there for hours and let it enter our lives and have it change us for the next four years. Hats off SASA e-board 2015-2016!! I am sure you’ve made a difference in a couple of lost Desi souls this year.
Nostalgic SASA Vice-President
(All photos by Demet)