Friday, June 13, 2008

All That You Can't Leave Behind

It was Arthur Schopenhauer who famously said that every parting gives a foretaste of death. My philosophical vision being rather more limited (and less morbid), when the batch senior to us passed out, I got a foretaste not of death, but of the fact that my own days in college are numbered.

This post celebrates the things I love most about hostel life. By its very nature, it will probably be uninteresting to anyone but me. Especially for someone who hasn’t experienced NUJS hostel life and doesn’t know what the hell I’m talking about, it’ll probably be boring to the point of being unreadable. But as Saha says here, it’s been a good trip, and I think it’s important that one acknowledges that.

Daybreak: I take my time over my morning cup of tea. The first batch of tea that they make in the mess is always the best. I say cheery good mornings to fellow early-risers who for some reason all seem to be Tamilians. I like the peace and solitude, but better still I like to listen to Nokia alarms and Windows XP start-up music: the sound of the boys’ hostel waking up.

Morning: Sitting with people like Lahiri, Kisku and the Quaker makes classes not just bearable but fun. They come up with the funniest comments and do the weirdest things. Lahiri practises touch-typing without a keyboard (on my bag to be precise), and drives the Quaker to distraction with his lizard-call imitation. The Quaker punches his own thigh extremely hard from time to time. When classes get too boring, we chant “Su-phol, Su-phol” in an undertone. Suphol is the man who rings the bell.

Afternoon: Reading magazines in the library. I must have read every word of every issue of National Geographic and Time that came out since I joined college. Often, friends congregate; the magazines are forgotten, and we chat and laugh until Tutu Ma’am turns us out. Less frequently, juniors come and ask me for advice, and I do my best to misguide them.

Post-dinner: I say post-dinner, but in point of fact, our adda sessions have been known to continue till daybreak. Favoured accompaniments: Pure Magic and the Beatles. Once we recorded minutes. Topics discussed included the Battle of Taxis in the World War II, relative merits and demerits of the Choco Pyramid and Chocolate Éclairs from Escoffiere, and an extempore speech by Arjun on fan regulators. As Lahiri once wrote, projects submissions, vivas and end-sems are at most week-long events, to be sandwiched between the all-important continuance of adda.

Night: The orange light from the sodium-vapour lamps filters in through my window and casts shadows on the opposite wall. The trees create fuzzy moving shadows; the shadow of the window bars, by contrast, is darker, motionless and solid. It’s a beautiful show.

Then there are those things that can’t be fitted into a typical daily itinerary. Football practice in the morning; the fact that I can just pop over to someone’s room when I’m looking for toothpaste, a cell phone charger, a confidant; watching late night football games with the most dedicated and biased group of spectators ever to follow the sport; and (although this is going to sound majorly nerdy) even the 4 a.m. joint study sessions with Sarbajeet before exams (just after I’ve woken up and before he goes to sleep).

When I was in Bombay recently doing my interminable ten-week internship, I missed hostel much more than I thought I ever would. So when I got back, I resolved to enjoy, for the remaining one year, those bits of hostel life that I had hitherto loved without noticing.

I began this post with a quote; I’ll end it with another which is about reading, but applies equally well to hostel life. This is from To Kill a Mockingbird. “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

Harper Lee is a wiser and kinder philosopher than Schopenhauer.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rahul Saha said...
Lovely post dude. Really.

Indecision Personified! said...
Amazing post! Much much better than mine. therefore don't see why you shud have gotten worked up over that! :-P and I totally agree about vivas, projects and end sems being at most week long affairs. NOTHING can come between the NUJS hostelite and his/her favourite 'pass-time'.

Pratiti said...
Awwwww, its sad, isn't it? Made me quite sentimental, dunno why, considering I've nothing to do with NUJS and am not even leaving school in a long long while. Very nicely written.

A.K. Visalakshi said...
I've been trying rather unsuccesfully to fake a cold to justify the sniffling!

Sroyon said...
@saha: Awwww, thanks :)

@indecision: Thank you. And the two posts may be about the same thing, but they're really quite different, so let's not get into comparisons, shall we?

@pratiti: Really, you are too kind. I had no idea the post would make any kind of sense to anyone else.

@visa: In office? Seriously?

karthy said...

still I like to listen to Nokia alarms and Windows XP start-up music: the sound of the boys’ hostel waking up.

also girl's

I always wanted to tell you how much I love this line because it's so true and so intrinsic to our hostel lives. of course back then I was very shy juniour who found it very weird to leave a comment. :)

shriram said...

Hostels are alike, beneath the obvious differences. I spent 4 years in one too, so I understand what you mean. Considering this post is almost 2 yrs old, I hope you have recovered from the blow. It took me more than a year to get over it.