Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Down the memory Lane - Part III

I was always branded as a pseudo-hostelite. Truth is, I went home only to watch TV, play on the comp, and more importantly: do the laundry. What that little two days spent at home afforded in terms of reducing home-sickness is just trivial. I hardly ever got homesick during the 4 year period, inspite of once staying a month in the hostel during a difficult period of end-sem exams. Thus, while I may not get classified as a true "Hostelite" as I had only stayed on an average 5 days a week in the hostel, it did give me a good perspective on what hostel-life is all about.

My original hostel had been, as mentioned before: Mandakini. But as the leaf turned over, it so happened that not enough seniors left in order to accomodate all the incoming juniors. So some had to invariably shift. That some included me. I was transferred, or rather, asked to be transferred to Alakananda Hostel, where there was a larger proportion of Chennai-ities and a larger proportion of branch-mates in my batch. Was it a change for the better. I suppose it was.

I still remember:

The long nite-outs, spent many times farting (meaningless gossiping, NOT creating an atmosphere of noxius air and pungent smells), discussing events, rumors, anecdotes, stories, news, books, academics, silly profs and their sillier actions and their silliest method of teaching courses; spent sometimes studying for exams; spent many times gaming; and finally spent doing nothing but watching movies.

The sometimes early morning rides I undertook with friends to the nearby Beasant Nagar beach to enjoy the morning sun, and sometimes a cool walk.

The afternoons spent crashing heavily, until someone with some sense decided to wake us up so that he could have company to go the mess for tea.

The evenings sometimes spent playing games, sometimes swimming, sometimes reading books (some new book always found the way into the wingmates - new books ready to be read, reviewed, criticised and then shamelessly passed on).

The messing around in the mess, noon and nites, eating food aka grub (though it could hardly be classified as one) with a heavy heart, discussing abject subjects with an even abject interest. Fussy Lucky ones managed to stay out of the circle of hostel messes completely, feeding solely on the snack crumbs at the nearby bakery in the evenings and a regular "Garden restaurant" in the nite and once again, in the late-nite. The availability of ice-creams in the messes and the opening of a Dhaba really spiced up the last year of hostel-stay.
That was completely offset by the innumerable treats that were given (and shamelessly taken too) in multifarious restaurants around the city. Popular ones being the Sangeetha and Shakes & Creams in Adyar, Residency, Dhaba Express in Beasant Nagar to name a few.
I also contributed by bringing grub from my house which relatives pretentiously left at my place thinking that I lived in a out-of-civilisation tribal area. Grub that included tasty namkeens, washed out chips, cakes, pastries, and some traditional sweets. I just assumed that it was in their best interests. But that did help me in me becoming more popular among the guys because I got good food to offset the measly hostel grub.

The Eating Out that sometimes formed a part of End-Sem completion celebrations, mostly observed by dipping bodily into the waters of the Bay of Bengal, frolicking in the sand and consummated finally by cosuming food at nearby restaurants.

While all this seemed rosy, there were quite a few disadvantages of staying in hostels, especially at IIT Madras; a scenario quite not possible in other IIT's. Problem: Lack of water.
The lack of water which coerced hostel management to get water supply through tankers, which effected the release of water daily to be limited to a period of 2 hours: one in the morning and one in the evening, forcing the billigerant hostelites to catch water every nite so that water would be available in the morning to atleast brush teeth and "Do the Loo", and if possible, take bath, or better yet, stay bath-free for a week. THANK GOD for Deoderants.
This total water scarcity which had forced compression of more than two semesters (from 5 day week to 6 day week so that the sem would close 3 weeks earlier) also caused the non-washing of the BOGS (Bathroom Of Graduate Students, as we always called 'em) resulting in toilets so dirty for weeks that we would have gladly used the public corporation toilets.

Another "Unique" problem to IIT hostels: Monkeys. Actually: the common langur.
Initial observation brands them as:
"Oh, Look at it. Its so cute nibbling on that leaf."
"Wow. Look there. Its so cuddly."
"Hey. There is one grooming the other. Can there be anything sweeter?".
Bull s**t. One week of stay in the hostel is enough to change anybody to gun-toting, shotgun riding, ready-to-shoot-any-monkey mood. One week. Thats all it takes.
My first experience with them: First year. I brought a huge load of home-made namkeens and a cake from house. While going to the afternoon session of class, the window was left open by mistake. Come evening. I open the door the a nite-mare. Namkeen spilt and spread all over the floor. Mineral-water-in-a-can tipped over, gurgling slowly, wetting and softening everything. And to complete the party celeberations, columns of red ants that decided to do the cleaning work.
Ended up spending the whole evening cleaning the mess.
Come every afternoon, there is a monkey raid. Apart from tipping over garbage bins and making the corridors dirty, they surreptitiously enter the rooms, make everything dirty, untidy, and untouchable and sometimes entertain us by "making babies". Thw worst part was, just after the BOGS are cleaned, they come over, spoil and soil everything, leave the taps running (wasting the little water that was available for bathing) and sometimes scare innocent hostelmates doing their loo.
Argh. I still hate em.
All this apart, life in hostel was fun, inspite of not having even LAN among the rooms. I must say that the magic of staying in hostels completely took me by surprise. A feeling that shud, rather, ought to be enjoyed by anybody who joins this institution.


At July 30, 2004 at 12:34 AM, Blogger TheDQ said...

Sympathies for the water shortage. The corporation loo comment reminded me of my college (Govt. college of engg pune, ie COEP) were we had a ladies loo that was never cleaned in i think a 150 years (the college hits 150 this yr). I had personally gone to the princi and our dept HOD to point out this problem, but they would rather spend more money on painting the sidewalk in the fartherst corner of our college, than do smth about that. tch tch. this attitude prevails in most govt institutes.

At July 31, 2004 at 6:38 PM, Blogger Jane said...

The more things change the more they remain the same. I remember Aishwarya Rai, once said "Change is the essense of life."

That may be true to some extent. But clearly not completely true. That's why she was simply Miss World. Not Miss Universe, like Shusmita Sen.

Anyways this post is very very nostalgic and touching. I went to IIT , Bombay in 96 and doesn't look anything much has changed at all.

We did not however have any water shortage. Too bad about the water shortage maybe things will get better.

At July 31, 2004 at 10:35 PM, Blogger Vivek Kumar said...

You pre-empted my nostalgic posts ;-)

Really really nostalgic. Just goes on to prove how IITs are beyond space and time for us students.

IITB was on the other side of the fence as far as water supply was concerned. So, never had to face that trouble.

As to the rest.. I could draw a lot of parallels.

Very nostalgic.

At August 1, 2004 at 10:12 AM, Blogger satosphere said...

A common reply - those 2 were unique problems to IITM - the water problem and the monkeys.

Napur: That exists in IIT here. You wudnt believe the administration here. They are slower than snails on a tortoise. Their lackadaisical attitude really turns me off.
The toilets were atleast cleaned once a while. So i was happy, to say the least

Bindu: Rightly said. Things change. And so do people. But we shudnt leave things behind when we change. So this series was written.
And even now, it evokes tears in me when I read it.

Vivek: I suppose its a common thread that runs thru all IIT's. And sorry abt pre-empting. I was leaving India in a cpl of days, and I wanted to put it all in words before I left.

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