The world around us is made up of stories. Our lives, our families, our actions, our homes, our things, our nations, our religions and our cultures are all part of a larger story, as well as stories in themselves. It is wondrous how we’re surrounded by stories as well as living in one, but we rarely ever view anything through that lens. I don’t know whether to blame the rat race we’re running or just the fact that we now live a life devoid of magic and liberally littered with distraction, but the meaning of curiosity seems to have become so narrow!

Living on a closed campus in the isolated village land of between Sonipat and Narela lulls one into a cocooned existence oblivious to all things that are not immediately relevant to one’s life. It is the realisation of this phenomenon that gently began to prod this carefully crafted ignorance I had dug myself into and created a void of sorts that needed to be discovered and explored. As this feeling of dissatisfaction began to open my eyes to the kind of violence that this oblivion inflicts on being able to experience the stories around us, I saw that this wasn’t just an experience unique to me. I saw that all the cocoons I was surrounded by were waiting to be peered into and pried open to see the magic of the people inside and the stories they can tell.

Fortunately, this was an experience that was tapped into by three wonderful, spirited and vibrant people who walked into my life. Namrata has an eye for capturing more than just what meets the eye and being able to communicate it through a swift click of the shutter. Her thoughtfulness and inviting nature was perfect to ease people into sharing the tidbits about their lives and relationships that showed us the character brimming below their exterior. Reva possesses the talent of making herself comfortable anywhere and letting that feeling seep into the people around her. It is not difficult to slip into raucous laughter and soulful engagement with someone who always feels like home. Arjun exhibits the energy and ideation to make something of the talents that he sees around him. His keen eye saw Namrata and Reva’s love for people and people’s love for them, recognised my fascination with stories, and put us together to work towards changing this trend of cocooning on campus.

Despite our relationship as thick friends and companions in daily life, Arjun brought us together by connecting dots we never recognised. He suggested that maybe we could do something to defeat that dissatisfaction by jumping in headfirst to find those stories and reveal to others that there are hidden treasures all around them by conveying our words and showing them our pictures. This gave birth to the venture of ‘Humans of JGU’.

This idea was derived from the very successful blog of Humans of New York. Much like Brandon Stanton, we have tried to speak to people from all regions, backgrounds and walks of life. We have made it a point to try to include students from all schools and batches, as well as faculty, administrative staff, labourers and employees of the Security companies and Sodexo. Over the past five months, our Facebook page has garnered over 1300 followers in and beyond the University. And we know that this is a huge milestone in our individual lives as well as for the University community.

While we have a long way to go, we have made a substantial impact through the conversations that have given root to each post, as well as those we hope that they have prompted. Exposing the hidden depths of the people around us leads to greater sensitivity to one another and awareness of the humanity surrounding us. We want to weave a thread of kinship and belonging within everyone invested in this institution while allowing outsiders a glimpse of the vibrant community within our four walls.

The ultimate success of this venture to us lies in the fact that we have been able to make a difference. We don’t know how many people we have affected, but even the minutest opening of eyes is a great inspiration and motivation for us. In a world full of disenchantment (especially at law school!), showing that people can also make a positive contribution in their everyday existence is important to us. We didn’t realise the depth of this idea when we began, but being knee deep in stories and real lives has led us to our own epiphanies, and to our incredible growth as people.

We have learnt that real avatars can only be seen when someone tries to look beyond the fact that we are two eyes, two ears, two arms and two legs. And now we know that to our uniqueness is inextricably tied to what we have in common. Our individual experiences make us more than what we seem, and to appreciate that is to celebrate humanity. To be extremely corny, beauty is really more than skin deep and it is also extremely varied. That is a message we hope to spread through our small effort, while inspiring people to revel in recognising the value of the stories they themselves are, through showing them how much they mean to people around them.