The Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages (CIEFL) is an abrupt break from the OU campus
that leads up to it. Like the territory of a foreign embassy, it has a full-fledged culture of its own, thriving within its the oasis-like precincts. A culture which is, among other things, cosmopolitan, secular and patently free!
Pay a visit to the water tank by the mess, and you will soon catch the bohemian flavor of life here. The nose rings and dreadlocks are just the attire, but one would really kill to know what they discuss so seriously between blowing smoke rings.
How this melting pot came about is a whole bunch of factors that serindipitously converge at CIEFL. First, it's five schools that offer courses that are unique in India and most of Asia. Languages German, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Latin, French and Russian, apart from the Sanskrit work Panini, are all taught under one roof. And that means CIEFL attracts students from all over the world. The international traineeship program brings in its fair share as well. So what you have is a colony of Indians, Asians, Latin Americans and Africans, sharing classes, meals and living areas.
Next, you have several professors of world repute. Ashok Bhalla, Susie Tharu and Javed Alam, to name a few. The classes held are mostly interactive, and debating what is being taught is actively encouraged. The fancy sounding cafeteria system of education means you get to choose the subjects rather than follow a prescribed list, no matter what you decide to specialise in.
On-campus restrictions on students' behaviour are almost nil. The girls' hostel is open to outsiders till 11pm, and the boys' hostel, always.
Finally, there is the 15-acre campus that is almost hermetically self-sufficient. There are a large library, a 24x7 computer center, a men's hostel, a women's hostel, the staff quarters, non-teaching staff quarters, the playgrounds, a mess, the Education And Media Research Center, a health center, a guest-house, a store, a photocopy shop and a canteen. Almost a mini-township that is also rather far-flung from the city, it probably ensures students stay in and make this campus a place buzzing with activity.
There are quirks aplenty on campus too, like demonstrations to discontinue Saraswati worship in the campus library since it is believed to have unsecular overtones.
To sum up, it suffices to say that students around here are a chilled and thrilled lot. Chilled because they have the freedom of choice for practically everything. And thrilled because it does not come at any price really. There is probably hardly another course that is world-class in its own right and still comes at about Rs. 2,000 p. a. The hostel with messing, that definitely makes the 'decent' grade, is even more delightfully priced at Rs. 6,000 p. a.
So, if languages and cultural studies are what you wish to pursue, your list of colleges in Asia is gratefully short. And if you happen to be a Hyderabadi, finally you can go to the ivy league at home.