Life is about moments and memories. Celebrations in a hostel are the most unique and unforgettable of life’s moments. I have skipped straight to these because these were some of the most exhilarating experiences in life and nothing can recreate them.
Birthdays in the hostel were events in more ways than one. Especially in the early years. If Enid Blyton captured the essence of boarding school through St Claire’s and Malory Towers, hostel life was all about living those kinds of dreams.
A birthday was always celebrated at midnight. Bleary-eyed friends trudged up to your room and woke you up just before the clock struck 12 and Voila! There was a cake complete with bright, iced flowers in multicolour, candles to blow out and strains of ‘Happy Birthday to you’ reverberating through the corridors. Birthday bumps were followed by the most boisterous and enthusiastic singing, with overturned buckets doubling up as drums. The rest of the hostel slept soundly like nothing was going on!
Holi in the hostel was like no other. Coloured water entered the rooms and filled the corridors. Buckets of water were splashed all over the walls and there was total mayhem.
Dahi- handi and Ganpati processions were celebrated outdoors by boys and men dancing and having a good time. But for the girls it meant being indoors and watching enviously through the windows. Dancing to the loud, upbeat music on the streets was definitely a male bastion. But the music was such that the girls always wished they could dance to it. It was invigorating and energetic with a beat that invited you to get up and do a jig. Finally one year, it got a bit much for some girls in the hostel, who could not contain their longing to let their hair down. So when the music played, these spirited girls just gave vent to their heart’s desire. In the landing between two flights of stairs, they danced as the deafening music outside got louder and more frenetic. We cheered, clapped, whistled [another male territory] and laughed hysterically as we gathered around them and egged them on. Tying dupattas on their heads as bandanas they looked like boys themselves and never have I seen such passionate ‘tapori’ dancing or such dance steps!
There was no dearth of entertainment in the hostel. There was only one television set in one room in the entire hostel. The common room had one but one had to make special efforts to go down to see it. No mobiles of course. Some radios. But what we lacked in electronic devices we made up for in more ways than one. Talking over a cup of chai was one. We could talk endlessly, gossip tirelessly, share jokes mindlessly and laugh uninhibitedly. Sitting on our cozy beds in our comfy gowns there was nothing as pleasurable at the end of a tiring day at college. There was a kind of sisterhood that slowly developed between us that just cannot happen when one does not live in a hostel. There was a comfort level that you usually felt only with family members and that steadily increased as the years rolled by. A lifetime bond formed uniting to memories of shared experiences……………………….