I tried to Google the meaning of the word “hostelite” but I did not find any. I guess it was coined by a random person and everyone knows its meaning. But it still has not found its way to an English dictionary. And in case there is some rare anybody who does not know what it means – it’s a person who stays in a hostel…. simple! 🙂
Now, living in a hostel is an experience of a different kind. Only a person who has lived in one will understand this. And I must say, those who have not experienced it, had missed on a whole lot of fun and experience of a life time. Hostel life is like a parallel culture, a bag of mixed experiences, which takes one out of their comfort zone (home) & expose to the realities of life. Getting to know people of varied ages and varied backgrounds (who are experiencing the same dilemmas of a new life) from close quarters and living by some stringent rules, is enriching in many ways, though we did not enjoy it in the first few days. I still remember my first days in my post-grad hostel where we were made to go from one room to another of our seniors and write down their names, department, birthdays and hometown. During the attendance call, juniors were randomly asked to identify a senior & give her other details. If the junior failed punishment followed. We hated it then but later on realized that it helped us in knowing all the hundreds of girls in the hostel whom otherwise we might have not interacted with at all.
For many of us, our hostels was our home away from home and our fellow hostelites our family members – some we liked & loved and some we hated, just like in a big family. When we went for vacation / semester breaks, after a few days at home, we longed to be back at our hostels. 🙂 The memories that comes to my mind when I think of my hostel days are the late night chats, long gossip sessions, movie marathons, jokes that made us literally roll on the floor laughing, clicking photographs to capture our fun moments and finally the group studies (this one comes at the end :P). Then, there was also the taking care of one another – both during sickness and emotional issues.
Hostel life has a charm of its own. It is in a hostel where we developed team spirit, sense of mutual cooperation, healthy competition. It gave us wings and at the same time we learnt to become responsible persons as we were responsible for our own actions. It also made us independent in many ways – managing our pocket money, doing our own laundry, managing time for both fun & study. There were some traditions that were followed only by hostelites. As a result, the day scholars or the non – hostelites often felt out of place. We were not always part of the various competitions that our hostel took part in but we were there to scream our lungs out when it was time to support our hostel (but then my sentiments for my department was much stronger 😛). I remember trying to devise plans to avoid being a part of the Inter–hostel March Past team, just because I hated the early morning and late night practice sessions; but soon I ended up with a strained ankle and ultimately did not have to be a part of it. 😛 Then there were the hostel birthday rituals. After the cake has been cut, unlike the boys who went for birthday bumps, what we girls did in our hostel was pour water on the birthday girl and her roomie too and soon everyone else was drenched. Because it was not possible to play with water in winters we had a different plan for the winter born babes. Both the birthday girl and her roomie were covered (yes, you read it right, they were literally covered) with some outrageous make-up depending upon the level of creativity of the person who did the make-up. To make it worse, we clicked their pictures and made fun of them for many days till we found another scapegoat. All the summer born girls felt quite lucky then! There were also the farewell parties where all the seniors got to dress up and were treated like VIPs and were given gifts too. All these fun traditions we followed at hostel had been handed down from generations and brought us closer to each other.
For me hostel life was all about bonding & adjustment. Till I was at home, I was a person who could not study in a group and I preferred reading out my lessons aloud (characteristic of our 3 sisters). When I first came to a hostel the only thing that worried me most is how I will study aloud in a room shared by 2 girls. But as they say, adjustment is the first lesson you learn in a hostel, I too learnt to study silently and then in groups (!). During my MBA days I remember four of us (Apu, Pallu, Paps & me) huddling in one room for assignments / group studies, many of the other girls wondering how we did it together. Every now and then Ms. Virus (who lived in another hostel) came to stay with us. Actually this group study helped all of us a lot. We clarified each other’s doubts, joked to drive away sleep and when one did fell asleep there was someone to wake her up & continue- just like our mothers do at home. Studying in groups also meant sessions of coffee, Maggi and other snacks together, whenever we took breaks. Now it was a rule to take permission of the Warden if we wanted to spend the night in another hostel & the permission was at her discretion. Many a times when she was not allowed, Ms. Virus sneaked into our hostel. Also, it was a rule that any guest who ate lunch/dinner at the hostel cafeteria had to pay and we, in order to escape making any payment, used to sneak into the cafeteria long after everyone had their food. We four also tried to hide tiny lil’ Ms. Virus so that no one saw her (God knows why we did not want to pay, it was only around Rs. 30 or so per day 😛). How thrilled were we each time we managed to hide her successfully and get away without paying.
Hostel life is like the two sides of the same coin. Though it has immense potential to groom you into a better person it can also be the other way round. Many of the hostelites get carried away by their freedom and adapt to wrong things in life – drinking, smoking, drugs, etc. – paying no attention to the basic goal of their being there, i.e. studies. Many people get negatively influenced and finally end up repenting; but they realize it it’s too late. What they remain with is tears, no hope and with regrets thinking about the opportunities that they did not explore in spite of they being at their doorstep.
Hostel life has taught me a lot. I have learnt & unlearnt many things during those (3 + 2) years. Interacting with people of varied interests and different outlook towards life, my horizon of thinking and looking at things has broadened too. Seniors became elder sisters / friends & juniors became my lil’ sisters. All this has made me grow as a person. It has also gifted me with some wonderful memories and people which/whom I shall cherish forever. Many of my fellow hostelites got lost with time but the good times spent with them will be treasured by me forever. I would like to dedicate this post to all those girls who had been my fellow hostelites at different points of time and also thank all of you for helping me create some wonderful memories. 🙂
I read this somewhere about hostel and I am sure every hostelite will agree to it –
“bad food, dumb rules & swarms of mosquitoes are just one part of the story. The memories you take after a stint in hostel – they make it all worthwhile”.
Do share your memories as a hostelite if you were one…. 🙂
Some of my memories….there are many more…