Mumbai Musing-1: Life in a hostel

July/August 2006:
Hostel life forges the characters of young men and women, don't they say?! I was already running late for my admission for my Masters in Economics after sealing a first class degree in Economics from Fergusson College in Pune. Somehow, our bachelor degree result got delayed and stuck which compelled me to make on and off trips to the city of dreams in an effort to sweet talk admission authority at Kalina Campus in Mumbai. Finally, things got settled and was awarded admission on merit list at Kalina Campus.
Since admission for hostel seats already started in the city of dreams, the director of Economics department got me a place to stay on Kalina Campus for a week or two, before shifting me in the hostel at South Bombay (SoBo). It was my dream to stay at SoBo in one of the hostels that face Marine Drive, one of my favorite place in the heart of the city. Hostels are really a cheap option for students like us who cannot afford the over-expensive flats in Sobo whose rental power goes over and above 30 to 40 k a month.
The initial days were spent running from one place to another, shuttling in the locals from Kalina Campus to Churchgate in order to convince the wardens to get me admission in SoBo hostels. Then, back to university in an attempt to convince authorities since I was told that seats are jam-packed and there is no vacancy. My luggage were left at a friend's place in Pune and been surviving in Mumbai for a month with a bag, few tee, shirts, jeans, banyan and under wears. Finally, the director gave me a letter to give to the warden at J S Hostel on B-Road, Churchgate and earlier, he promised, 'I can do something for hostel in the city.'
Admission was granted one fine day when I reached the building of J S Hall hostel, opposite Jai Hind College on B-Road, Churchgate and few minutes walk away from the amazingly awesome Marine Drive.  I must confess that the hostel building was not impressive at all but I found solace in my new home because of the fact that it was opposite Jai Hind college? You got it right?! Of course, girls in one of the coolest college Jai Hind and our Marine Drive. When nothing works for guys, girls in one of the most hip college make the heart beat faster...dhak dhak karne laga..
After paying 8,000 bucks for the six-months semester which is actually cheap, I was directed to the room and must say, I was quite taken aback that I gotta share the room with three other guys, which means that four of us will be in the room. Four people in a room means different personalities and of course, clashes which came quite early coz of the lights since the guys would turn the lights off at 11 p.m. Me, being me, I found it quite boring but, somehow, had to adjust in some way or another. There were two Kashmiri guys and another one, Lalit, whom I didn't like in the start but found him to be quite nice as we got to know each other. Our first days were spent hanging around at Colaba since he wanted to buy something for a girl he liked and who was cross with him for saying something stupid. One Saturday, we went to the shops at Colaba Causeway and I suggested that he surprises her with a, a wooden heart shaped key chain with her name inscribed on it and a card saying, 'I am Sorry.' Lalit liked my idea and they were back to good friends. The next day, was Ganesh Chaturthi and we walked all the way from Churchgate to Chowpathy Beach amidst the whole crowd where Ganesha was immersed. It was my first Ganesh Visarjan in the city and I bonded well with Lalit. It was awesome watching hordes of people, shouting Ganpati Bappa Morya. We ended the day with Pav Bhaji. The Ganesh Visarjan remains one of my fondest memories in Mumbai.

The nights were spent alone, strolling at Marine Drive and listening to Radio Mirchi, plugging the earphone to my newly acquired and prized Nokia handset. Life was a dream that became true in the city that never sleeps. I was sitting on the parapet, smoking a cigarette or two, gulping the cuttting chai down the throat and watching the sober crowd of SoBo. I dreamed to be part of the local crowd and I was on my way to be a localite. I would stay at Marine Drive till midnight, the time our hostel gate closes down and would listen to one of my favorite RJ on Radio Mirchi, Kalindi on the programme, 'Purani Jeans' where songs of 70s and 80s were played. It became a daily routine to spend the whole night at Marine Drive after dinner time and taking a long walk, dreaming of making it big in the most amazing city, Mumbai.
Welcome to Mumbai! ahem! ahem! The city welcomed me with malaria where I was confined to the bed and couldn't move for a week or two. What started as a mild fever turned into weakness and cold but thanks, to my doctor in Colaba Dr Pophale, I slowly started to pick up my threads which took a month or so. As friends told me, 'Welcome to Mumbai. Now, after malaria, you gotta make it big in the city.

To be continued..
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