(Just another day at Hostel No. 9)
You don’t. You simply cannot. If you ever dare, be prepared to be virtually gagged, silenced by a volley of expletives. You can end up giving a treat in the canteen, offering your bum to an array of footwear or worse, losing a bunch of friends forever. Because talking about the comforts of staying at home to hostel inmates is a classic act of “jale pe namak”
When, during the interview for the post of CR, I confessed that most of our assignments and journals are completed in the hostels, I was not trying to be overtly frank or straightforward. Just factually correct. However strong be our love for home, ‘localites’ (some swine prefers the word day scholars) have to depend on batchmates in the hostels for every shard of notes, every assignment, journal, drawing sheet. Nevertheless the relationship is purely symbiotic: localites are expected to ferry them to the hostels, get the photocopies done, occasionally purchase stationery and serve as delivery boys fetching vada pav, poha or locho on every trip to the hostel. Gluttons!!
The journey to H9 is a pilgrimage, it is arduous but the destination is divine and the realizations along the way spell moksha. It seems like ages to walk from the departments to H9. For someone as unfortunate as I, who despite owning a vehicle cannot drive one, every step is a compounded humiliation. At the end of the ordeal, when you look up and find the blue-gray and brick-red façade staring at you, it gives no more joy than meeting Gaga’s makeup artist. I have no particular liking for Nehru, his descendants I disdain. Yet the first thing that greets me on entering the building is a framed portrait of Nehru, smiling at my misfortune, the wry smile growing longer with every passing day.
The lounge at the reception is good though. Till recently in the past, seniors from H13 would warm the sofas, the watchman graces the spot today. Even this chowkidar is a character to behold- he reminds me of villains from Telugu movies: dark, bald, thick moustaches, shirt unbuttoned right up to the navel and a ball for a tummy that peeks from under a torn gunjee. The newspaper stand at one corner is somehow always crowded; courtesy Surat Times’ philia for skimpily clad women. There are no walls, instead huge wooden panels etched with the names of people you would love to hate. Climb the stairs (that callously obstruct the view of the lawns) and you encounter the first WELCOME sign to the hostel- festoons of underwears; all colours, all sizes, all available brands. What is common is the fact that they are all torn at such places that it would be more advisable to go commando. Perhaps somebody took Pandeyji’s “itne ched karenge” warning a bit too seriously!!
Doors are never latched; they rather serve the purpose of DASH-BOARDS. Kick them, dash through them, pour out your creativity onto them (cartoons, character sketches, love history, metal headed madness and the occasional frustration when your friend can do a better ratta maar than you.) They are a portal to a parallel universe where every inch is covered with dirty laundry, smelling of testosterone powered sweat, crumpled bedspread, unfinished sheets, wrappers of Maggi, train tickets and all kinds of plastic paraphernalia. They call this their ‘room’? There is little activity in the hostel during daytime as all the inmates are hibernating. An occasional blare of crappy music from some woofer, nothing more. It is after 10 in the evening that the place comes alive.
Nothing can rival the nightlife in the hostels at SVNIT. Nothing. The charm of student life is nocturnal; the moon transforms people like nothing else. Dinner is hell-like; every morsel swallowed strengthens the doubt that the mess contractor bagged a supari to eliminate you. The night canteen is the only refuge. Night is when the Intranet is most active and sitcoms rule. Download, Watch, Share, Eat, Download, pee in the meanwhile, Watch. Period. There are a hell lot of movie buffs and they possess an enviable collection. Adult entertainment too has its loyal audience, boys with an insatiable libido. In fact, they have witnessed so huge an exchange of Amour rasa, that they are saturated with love. Inside reports suggest that the students are fighting a legal battle against the makers of “Love is in the Air” for copyright infringement. They claim that the term traces its origin to the fact that in SVNIT even flatulence smells of love.
Either way, sex sells. Chetan Bhagat knows it best, so he infused Five Point Someone with an overdose of it. What he criminally missed is perhaps a college student’s first love, an eight hour long orgasm: LAN Gaming!! It is difficult to digest the excitement and hunger to shoot through skulls, point your sniper at all the wrong places and surprise someone with a stab in the back. Gaming ensures that decibels run high in the dorms; friends hurl gaalis with such conviction that you will start believing that the other person has bedded the entire womenfolk of his family. Another daily ritual involves sacrificing the bum of a loved one at the altar of footwear. It is a predominantly nocturnal ritual, traces its history to SVR, is presided over by the “Warriors of Woodlands” and has an internationally accepted nomenclature: GPL. If life at H9 is colourful, then the neighboring H8 is a Picasso masterpiece. The perennial war cry “ Gali Gali mein shor hai…………..” each time the power is interrupted, the round table conferences, heated arguments with the Hostel Secretary on issues like banning music systems, curb on social networking sites or restrictions on moving out at will, the audacity to break open the doors with a single kick and brag about it all sem, make Tagore Bhavan a real happening place.
There is a lot more I want to write, so much more to share. The best way to end for now would be to part with a Thank You note. Thanks mates for giving me some space in your quarters, an insight into the hostel life. Hope to join you soon, amigos!!