Experience, Amazing

A Kashmiri young man's unforgettable experience at Ole Miss University of Mississippi

VIEW FROM AMERICA

MUDASIR TANTRY

   “Experience, Amazing” is the official slogan for the University of Mississippi, known as “Ole Miss,” and that is an accurate description of my journey here. As a Postdoc Fellow who began studying at the University, I have met many new people, made good friends (and discovered once again that there are some people who I just can’t get along with); I have had the opportunity to do research with some positively awesome professors (Thanks Dr. Prof. Ikhlas and Prof. Elsohly), and studied in this great country. I have also attended many breathtaking sporting events; my favorite being the home football games (American football, played with the hands rather than the feet and with an egg-shaped ball) as the crowds scream and cheer our team on suffered through heartbreakingly terrible football games, as my first years here were some of the worst Ole Miss has had in a while, as we lost three straight Egg Bowls (the football game played every year against our rival school, the Mississippi State University Bulldogs) and won only two games the second of those two years. If there are so many bad memories mixed in among the good ones, how, one might ask, can I answer positively, that my experience here has been AMAZING? Good and bad, wins and losses – that’s life. But it’s what stands out that makes in amazing.
Here at Ole Miss, it is the spirit that stands out. We love to party here, regardless of the low-points, regardless of our problems, and regardless of how many games we lose, and we like to be known for our festive spirit, which transcends the day-to-day wear and tear of life. Here we have a party centered around EVERY home football game, even the games we all know our team will lose. Ole Miss has a reputation for its “tailgating” before football games (in fact, one magazine listed tailgating in the grove as one of the top 100 things you should do before you graduate college or leave University); every home-game Saturday the Grove, a grassy, tree-shaded  area in the center of campus, is filled from one end to the other with red a blue gazebo tents, furnished with tables and chairs and complete with chandeliers and satellite TVs. Under this canopy, 50-100,000 people gather, laying out spreads of food ranging from simple snack foods like chips and cookies on paper plates to entire meals complete with a barbecue grill or china. Non-alcoholic drinks of many descriptions, from an abundance of beer – although it is illegal on campus – to thousands of bottles of vodka, are easily available to people who really want them, even those under the legal “drinking age” of 21. The rich and famous of Mississippi (what we have of them within the state, that is) by and large attended Ole Miss; now alumni, many of them are present in the grove with impressive tailgating set-ups and in the stadium in the skyboxes above the student section and under the press box.
This spirit has never been more evident or more palpable than it was on the evening of Saturday. That was the day that the Egg Bowl is being played every year, and in addition to this being a rivalry game, this year, our access to postseason games was dependent on our victory that day. The game started a 6:00 in the evening, after the sun went down. The Mississippi State Bulldogs team had a much better record this year than did our own Rebels, yet at Ole Miss we all knew our team would win.The stadium was packed. The spirit of a party was in the air from the night before (when everyone sets up their tents in the grove) and as the game began, the spirit of victory overtook the crowd. We always scream at a football game, we jump up and down, high-five with random strangers, and yelling, answer the question, “Are you ready?” with“HELL yes! DAMN right! Hotty Toddy, Gosh almighty! Who the HELL are we? Hey! Flim Flam, Bim Bam! Ole Miss, by DAMN!” Within a minute of the beginning of the game, the Rebels had scored a touchdown (seven points), and the crowd was going wild. Although this was answered immediately with a kick-off returned for a touchdown by the bulldogs, and the game went back and forth throughout the first half, we could tell the Rebels had the edge. At the majority of the games I have attended, many of the Ole Miss fans have left during halftime. Not this game. By the end of the third quarter, the Rebels were leading by three touchdowns; when the Rebels threw the ball into the end zone for that third unanswered score, I saw something I had never seen before at a football game. I was looking down at the field, watching the rebels score, and by the time I looked up, the vast majority of the Bulldogs’ fans had vanished. By this time I and the rest of the Ole Miss fans were all out screaming, as we watched our team pummel our rival and gain entry to postseason play in one game. Although Mississippi State came back at the end of the game to score a final touchdown before the clock ran out, the final score was Ole Miss, 41, Mississippi State, 24. The moment the clock ran out, the field was full of fans from all sections of the stadium as the gathered to celebrate the victory, congratulate our players, and try to touch the egg-shaped trophy for which the “Egg Bowl” is named. As I stood in the stands over the tunnel where the Rebel football players leave the field, I watched as the crowd slowly dwindled, dispersing to return to their parties in the Grove, and in that moment, as I looked over the field, I experienced, on a whole new level the amazing spirit of festivity and victory that makes Ole Miss great.

(The author can be mailed at mudaek@gmail.com)

Lastupdate on : Tue, 25 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 25 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 26 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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