When going to study in a new place, accommodation can be a big issue. It is so more so with the Delhi University. Some colleges, universities and other institutions have enough hostels for all their students while others fail to deal with the burgeoning number of outstation students pouring in.
So what does a girl do?
Students turn to other means like paying guests, renting a flat or other private hostels/dorms. A tiny economy thrives on providing outstation students accommodation.
Meanwhile, all those lucky ones who do get the hostels have to deal with a gazillion rules and restrictions-early entry timings, restricted number of night outs, ridiculous mess timings, attendance woes, strict and ruthless wardens and other miscellaneous rules that make the life of hostelites hell.
What can these poor ones do apart from craving vengeance on the warden or secretly wishing to have an Invisibility Cloak to sneak in and out of the hostel in unearthly hours of the night (read 11pm only)? If you are also prone to such disturbing symptoms then take care for you are suffering from a not-so-rare kind of disease-“hostelitis”-one that strikes hostel students frustrated with medieval rules. But don’t worry, you are not alone. I guarantee you that there isn’t one single hostelite in this world that didn’t break rules.
When I luckily got a hostel seat in a well maintained hostel of Delhi University, I was also a little crushed by these illogical rules. Having always lived with my parents who always gave me freedom to do what I want (well most of the times!), these restrictions seemed like a terrible hindrance to my life. I resented them at first-an early deadline, fixed mess timings (which meant you could eat only at fixed timings of the day), restricted number of night outs and leaves and other ridiculous ones forbidding the students from cooking, owning electric appliances etc. I was frustrated with them and felt that they were a hindrance to my life. I just wanted to get out of this mesh of rules and be free. I then realised that (shudder) I too was suffering from the hostel-itis disease. I wanted to break the rules really bad but just didn’t have the guts to do that.
In my one year there, me and my friends did break some knowingly and some quite unknowingly. Breaking rules about having electric heaters and kettles was quite common in the hostel. Initially I was quite apprehensive about breaking this rule too. But seeing that most seniors had them in their rooms gave me courage too. Besides, the Delhi winters are freezing and my room was always a degree colder than the others. I didn’t get a heater but did get a hair dryer to warm the blankets.
Not signing attendance for days became quite common too especially when our housekeeper was on leave and no one bothered to keep track of whether everyone was signing the attendance register or not.
Another common rule I often broke was to save food for later in case I didn’t want to eat it then. It wasn’t a written rule that mess food couldn’t be taken to our rooms but for some reason the housekeeper was very particular about it even when the mess bhaiyas were all right with us taking food in our dabbas/tiffin boxes and other utensils. I didn’t feel any guilt in breaking this rule because firstly it wasn’t a hard and fast one and secondly I thought it was completely illogical because we were paying for the food and as long as we were taking it in our own utensils, it shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Now let me come to the interesting part. There were always residents who had booze parties in their rooms. The no alcohol or cigarettes in the hostel premises was broken by all residents.
A very funny incident happened with a couple of my friends on the day of Holi. They had decided to go for dinner and had managed to come before the hostel deadline as well. But to their surprise the guards were deep in sleep. No matter how much they called out their names, knocked at the gates, banged the locks, the guards didn’t wake up and we suspect that they had had a little too much of bhang that day. Finally giving up, these two girls just climbed up the main gates to enter the premises. It really wasn’t a breaking of a rule because they were on time, but just climbing up the gates, that too the main one, felt very sneaky and mischievous in itself.
In the end, we somehow complied with the rules and made our peace, breaking a few of them here and here. The trick is of course to not get caught and even if you do be smart enough to wriggle yourself out of trouble. Because, hostel life is incomplete without bending some rules occasionally.