Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The home that wasn't

During my schooling or collegiate days, I have never been away from home. My 'away from home' days were when I starting working, at Bengaluru and the closest to isolation from family was when I went overseas for short visits. There was always a romance with being away from home which was never satiated in my school/college going days except for occasions when we went on the ubiquitous field/study trips which were a riot in their own sense and where I doubt if any 'study' was ever done. :-)

I feel in hindsight, I missed out on a wonderful aspect of college life, the hostel. I had friends who were a mix of day-scholars (wonder who gave such a dull but heady name) and the rogues (obviously the hostelites, for all the fun in the world :-)). The camaraderie and fun that the hostelites had was incredible.

Here are some recollections of the hosteliers' days as an observer (Don't think I was involved in all these. I was a nobody then in the scheme of things, what they call as "vaayilla praani" in Tamil, I can't get a close enough translation in English other than 'dumb animal'/'dumb ass') at the Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai where I spent my grad days. It would have been more fun recollection if I had been a hostelier than a random visitor. The above "Google Maps" grab shows the whole campus with the mens' hostel, the top 4 horizontal buildings, then the main campus and the bottom most, the womens' hostel.

  • The potpourri of places from where people came in: Pattiveeranpatti, Gobichettipalayam, Chennai, Vellore, Ramanathapuram, Tirunelveli, Nagercoil, Dindigul etc. Some of this diversity led to group formation.
  • The hostel rooms - There would be 3-4 people in a room depending on size. No bunk beds or I don't also recollect shelves or racks to keep things. A drab greyish blue paint at the bottom with the customary white from head level up. I don't know why no cheery or bright colors were being used.
  • The seniors vs. juniors wings. The hostel bullies and the day-scholar bullies. The ragging of the first years!!! Had a torrid time with the bullies. It was a kilometre's walk from the college to the bus stop and the road skirts the mens' hostel and that was enough for the seniors to ambush the day-scholar freshers :-(.
  • Never ending noise and music on the cassette players with cooked up dabba amplifiers. Anyway, there was nothing else then and no mobiles at that time (what mobile?, there were practically no phones as well).
  • Pictures of actresses/models pasted on the room walls and doors with the odd hero here and there, old newspapers and magazines strewn around, mounds of unwashed clothes.
  • The shouting between rooms that always used to permeate the hostel blocks. The poor man's intercom. :)
  • The mess (canteen). The closest to a classless, casteless place. The real meaning of the words 'sama-pandhi' or 'sama-bhojanam' or 'sarva-bhojanam' can be found here. The long rows of tables and the clanking of plates and utensils, the food queues and the occasional faulty seats causing mirth.
  • I found nothing bad about the food at the times I had food there, but the hosteliers always complained. :-) And add to it, the choice was only vegetarian.
  • The movies at the hostel which used to be projected on a makeshift screen which folks watching it with catcalls and whistles. I regret not having learnt the art of whistling. Not the soft ones, but the ones that can be used to stop a bus. :-) There was a gal in our class who put guys to shame by whistling effortlessly which could be heard a mile away. :-) And she wasn't a loudmouth or boisterous one, but one of the silent types.
  • Some of the day-scholars being virtual hosteliers, spending more time piggybacking at the hostel than at their homes.
  • The "flood copying" of assignments that used to happen. Folks would catch me at the entrance of the hostel, take my assignment papers and a cascade of copying would begin page by page, for submissions to be done that day. 
  • Oh, the blazing sun (you've to be at Madurai to believe it! It just scorches) and the short siestas at the hostel rooms of colleagues with the drone of the puraana times ceiling fans with the repeated cluck-cluck-cluck sound, when there were 1 or 2 continuous classes cancelled.
  • The last minute runs to classes from the hostel just as the bell rings. Luckily gravity was on our side. The college was at a lower altitude than the hostel. :-)
  • The joint study time during exams. The omnipresent scourge of most in the hostel, the guys who pester others by saying, dei naan indha lesson/subject mattum padikkavey illaida. Nee padichchittayaa? every now and then? (Hey, I have not read only this lesson/subject. Have you read it?) when the most of the folks would not have read even one chapter/subject.
  • The digressions into discussing absolutely useless topics when trying to revise and the realization that nothing was achieved that day. :-(
  • The large playground and the evening football games once in a while.
  • The vices. Drinking. I have seen folks make cocktails after smuggling them in and then start a verbal diarrhea. Every subject under the sun would be discussed under influence. :-) The Smokers' dens. Some of the rooms were occasionally misty enough for you to assume you were in Kodaikkaanal. :-D
  • The tea drinking at the 'Nayar' tea shop outside the hostel. Though there was a 'kadan illai' (No loans) board outside the shop, some of them managed to be exceptions somehow.
  • Clothes washing time (Sat/Sun) and the clothes-line of washed clothes (colors galore) hung on ropes tied between pillars of the hostel walkways for drying. (In Madurai, you put a fully wet carpet out for drying at 10:00 AM and at 12:00 noon, it would be bone dry. The sun is merciless there)
  • The hostel day/annual day celebrations. The NOISE, festoons and the music bands that get called to play in the playground dais.
  • There is the college guys anthem with meaningless words that gets a vocal presence during these times and for TCE it was for 2 lecturers who caught some students copying in an exam long long back even before we were born :) and had them thrown out of the hall. Tradition at the hostel (esp. during ragging) passed this anthem down each generation. Dunno if it exists now. :-|
  • Taunts and songs to girls walking on the road to/from the college or the hO-Ho noise made when the girls' hostel bus passed by. The girls' hostel was away from the college premises at that time. On a reconnaissance pic of the college using Wikimapia, found that the girls hostel is now in-premise, but far far away from the mens' hostel and in a different direction. :-)
  • There used to be a "TEC times" magazine, but I am running a blank now and unable to recollect. But our class after graduating used to have a shared magazine called "Aalamaram" (Banyan Tree) which was also the place under which groups of folks used to sit chattering during breaks or to idle around or float gossips. The magazine died after 2 or 3 years because people drifted. :(
  • The excursions into the bald hillock near the college in the simmering heat. Would come back sweating like a pig and then sit under a neem tree to relax (power cut in hostel!). The air would be absolutely still with a mild breeze at times. Noticed from the Wikimapia pic that the hillock is still bald. Thought somebody would have made an attempt at afforestation. :)
  • The "home going" and "coming from home" time. The "going to home" for breaks used to be silent and people trickled away. Once they come back into the hostel, any goodies from home would be raided, pilfered and finished off even before the owner has a chance to look into it. :-)
Mmm, those were the days.


savitha said...

The joys of hostel days!Sigh!!

Srivats said...

Me too have missed the fun of hostel life, My college was vivekanandha which was infact a school minus uniform. But I am living it here in singapore the last 2 years has been wonderful, None to question when I come and go , what I eat how I spend my time, how long I am awake etc :)

Srivats said...

Hostel google ellam panni erukeengaley , edhavadhu master plan ready agudha ? apparam andha ladies hostel building ellam clear a ve therliya

RamMmm said...

@savitha - Too many Sigh!s from you these days??? :-|

@Srivats - Tiruchengode? school minus uniform. :-) :-) appO kaaichuputtaangannu sollunga. Enjoy your few more days of bachelorhood :-) appuram anyway kaelvi varum.

Wikimapia-la paaththadhaala womens' hostel anga vandhadhu therinjudhu. Edhukku master plan, sollunga? No need for anything for me. :-)

Oru vela zoom panna hostel nalla theriyumO ennavo! Enakkaen vambu? :-)

The inspiration for this post was I was trying to touch base with one of my teachers and was fiddling with the college site and tortoise coil took over.

gils said...

:) ur istoorry..copy paste mine :) same to same :)

RamMmm said...

Gils, :-) if you had written yours (I have not gone much into your earlier posts, எங்க timeமே இல்லை. :-)), it would be more டமாசு. Where study, you? :-)

Swaram said...

Oh wow! What a list! I hv never been out of Blr too .. the move to Hyd 2 yrs bk ws the first one :)
The gossips abt the watchman, the cook of the hostel, the talks abt so many girls was all that we day scholars would get to hear, but then abs. no contribution from our side @ all ;) Silent spectators ;)
Ur post reminds me of Five Point Someone :)
Well written :)
U do have a nice memory :)

RamMmm said...

Thanks Swaram and I am flattered by your comments. :)

Some things are easy to recollect because they are chained in memory and tied to a few incidents. You thread those one or two incidents out and everything follows as a flood of memories. :)

You love 'home' more when you are away from it. When I started working at Bengaluru, used to look forward to the once in a month or two overnight trips back into Madurai where my parents stayed at that time.

Uttara said...

Life is pretty much the same these days. Except that at CIT we have a swing and a basket ball court in the girls' hostel :-)

The boys' hostel remains as bad as it was 52 years ago

RamMmm said...

That is surprising. No change, Hmmm, Probably the hostel mottos are something like

(Wo)Men may come and (Wo)Men may go
But I stand the same forever.

Or are you using a double edged statement to hint at guys as well? :-)

Anyway at TCE, the multitude of guys had no clue into the ladies' hostel at that time. :-) We were muggles to the Hogwarts hostel for ladies. It was invisible to us. :-D Even now, it looks like that for the distance that it seems to be from the main campus.

gils said...

//Where study, you? :-//

study/?/me?? athelaam entha kaalathulayum senjathu kedayathay :D :D padichatelaam chennaithaan

RamMmm said...

@gils - :-) ippadiyey mokkai poattukitey irunga. :-)

zeno said...

Yeah nothing has ever changed in hostels and universally they are same. Certain things never change. and ppl say change is the only thing that never changes :)

RamMmm said...

Sigh! Those were the days. AppO theriyala, ippO theriyudhu. :-)