Student Days-A Short Story

Hostels and their cultures

Writing alumni flashbacks can be tricky affairs. You have to write something interesting without letting your community members know all the juicy or tasteless details. Its been seven years since I was first cultured in Hostel Ten in IIM Lucknow, and I will try to be faithful to both aging memories as well as nostalgic revisions.

People sometimes ask me why I fight so much. Every time I ended up in an email war on the alumni e groups, or in one more important debate, I manage to surprise and alienate more and more people. All except my hostel mates from the class of 2003, from the hostel Ten . Nopes, my hostel mates , the X men (see later) do not get surprised. For it is there , in hostel Ten 2001-2003 , that I honed my instincts from.

In 2001, in a land far far away ,called Prabandh Nagar , group of smug yuppies entered many colleges. What was distinctive about that year was that it was the first batch with a size of 240 (as our equally smug seniors said quantity and quality are proportional), thus creating even more hostels (11 and 12). This led to temporary arrangements in Year 1 , and negotiations within Sikandar for the various football and other sports related activities.

Hostel 10 was divided into Ten tops and Ten bots (for the upper and lower floors), which was changed to a combined Hostel Ten in the second year.Hostel Ten along with Hostel Nine was a bit cut off from other hostels , due to the football field , was younger and newer in construction.We were different, and understandably proud of it . A collection of over erudite young people with time to spare had little encouragement for getting into me versus you contest and these were readily manifested in our contests in sports.

In our first year, Ten Tops won Sikandar and Ten Bots came second, so we had a combined treat at the Fauji Dhaba, with the special black pepper chicken and cold beer. In addition Hostel Ten also had some of the toppers (they claimed the serenity of the cut off hostel helped them study in peace better). In our final year, Hostel Ten combined won the football trophy , and in both my years, the topper as well as the athletics best student award went to hostel Ten.

Did Hostel Ten had a culture? We didnt know it then, but we had a distinctive appeal of brashness, of aggression in sports and in classroom presentations too. Did it help us I dont know, but a big majority of us did well in marketing as well as entrepreneurial careers.

Being far away from Hostel Ten and our lady colleagues, gave rise to a pseudo macho culture leading to video games on the newly established computer networks to teasing of special people who were friendly with the exchange students .

We even had a not very original nickname X Men where X stood for Ten as well as the then hit movies on mutants. We did have a cultural secretary, though he was responsible for Birthdays, and cultural activities like select foreign movie shows best not mentioned here. Our cultural introductions consisted of getting the juniors dressed up in formal suits , then taking them in the common courtyard, for a hilarious round of funny questions , in which they were subjected to buckets of water from floor 1. At the end of each introduction each new member of hostel Ten was given a nick name. Many years later these nicknames endure to the point of occasional hilarity, as we call each other in ever diminishing frequency.

Summing up, Hostel Ten was the place to be in during 2001-2003 and while 500 odd people might disagree , some of the lessons and experiences rubbed off inevitably on our persona. As the clich goes , those were the good old days, when we werent good , we werent old and we were really talking of tho0se endless starry Lucknow nights.

Author: Ajay Ohri

http://about.me/ajayohri

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