Some things are done only once in a lifetime. Never again will I have the courage, the audacity, the guts, the inclination, the compulsion, the need or the drive to do what my friends and me did in the hostel.
- Sharing: Living in a hostel, you learn to part with your beloved possessions. Slippers, towels, soaps, mugs all become property of your room mates too. There is fun in lending and borrowing clothes, accessories with your hostel mates. The jar of home made pickle given by your mother, meant to last for 6 months, only lasts for 6 weeks, thanks to your appreciative, ever-hungry hostel friends who do full justice to her culinary skills!
- Rocking bizarre fashion trends: We had no access to hair colour or expensive conditioners, but someone started the trend of the most hideous beauty treatment guaranteed to turn our laboratory-work-ruined hair into lustrous locks. All that plaster dust and heat in the lab was wrecking the hair so we all needed a bit of pampering. So on went a sloppy, gooey mix of ‘mehendi’[ henna] mixed with raw egg. What’s new? Well, this mix was to be applied OVERNIGHT for best results, apparently. And so we fastidiously followed this beauty regime only to leave the bathroom stinking of the most toxic hydrogen-sulfide like stench. But well worth it when you checked the auburn tinged soft tresses the next day. There you have it- a secret revealed, but a practice never to be repeated outside the hostel in normal life. Never again do I want to sleep with all that mess on my head and wake up with a cold the next morning but looking a million dollars after washing it off.
- Watching a movie in the stalls: Yes, been there, done that. As we were mostly ‘kadka’[ broke/short of cash], going for a film always meant sitting in the stalls. Yes, in the ‘chavanni class’. But luckily, we escaped with no untoward incident. The thrill of sitting right in the front seats of the cinema hall and watching the latest Bollywood offering of the 90s is something I can never do again.
- Working from home: Working from home took a new dimension. ‘Home’ was the hostel. Work was lab work with hot wax, flaky wax, sticky wax, spirit lamps, plaster, wires adding excitement and drama to the whole concept of working from home. As it goes, me or my friends never can and never will ‘work from home’ again…………
- Drinking water straight from the tap: in a place like Mumbai, drinking straight out of taps located bang next to the toilets. Done that ! And survived. Not just me but most of us. Nothing like a dose of the most dubious source of water to improve your immunity. I doubt I’d live if I did it again.
- Stopping the lift[ elevator] by simply opening the door: Yes, that is what we did when we wanted the antiquated double-door metallic lift to stop. Dangerous beyond doubt and highly ill–advised. Never again!
- Cooking on hot plates: Every room had a hot plate for warming milk, making the perennial favourite Maggi, khichdi, tea and other basic stuff. But some of us took it a bit further by cooking just about everything on this very humble, simple appliance- chapatis, ‘bhakris’ , sabzis, daal, halwas, you name it. I don’t think any of them would use a hot plate like this again , but think of the life-long survival skills this experience instilled.
- Do-it-yourself makeovers: We boldly executed and underwent haircuts ( I remember being at the receiving end of a disastrous one), experimented with makeup and had the most crazy makeover sessions. At an age when we thought youth would last for ever, we had no qualms about a haircut gone wrong[ hair grows back , doesn’t it?] or an eyebrow gone missing[well, almost!]
These are just some of the many things we did differently in the hostel. I am sure I’ve left out many but my friends should be able to fill in the gaps. After all, that is what most of us do these days………………