2013-10-26

Mumbai Musing-3: Life in a hostel

November 2006:
Finally, I shifted to the hostel I've been dreaming of staying, International Students House (ISH) on C-Road from J S Hall, located on B-Road, which means I made three to four  trips to drag my luggage on the streets of Mumbai. It didn't make sense to hire a cab since it's a distance between two roads close to each other and I dragged my stuffs, mattresses, pillow, two huge luggage and various other items stuffed in the suitcases. All said and done, I received a warm welcome in the toilet. Bang on!
'Make sure you flush your shit down the drain, Mind that poor child who has to face your explosion," Okie, okie, I apologize for the writing on the wall, I mean toilet wall, but that's how I was greeted in the toilet on my floor. It's sensible on our part to move away from my welcome in ISH's toilet, isn't it?! I spent the whole day in the room, feeling so happy that, finally, I got a single room. The day was spent cleaning the room and re-arranging my stuffs and the remaining hours was spent the day peering at my neighbors, lesser mortals like me of the feminine species in their shelter, Telang Hostel. The fan was on. After all, in a city like Mumbai, one cannot switch the fan off due to the heat caused by humidity. I decided that the light will not be switched off tonight after bearing the torture of lights off for more than three months. I feel like dancing in the room.
The picture has been taken from the ISH facebook page/https://www.facebook.com/ISHmumbai?ref=br_tf

Eight months elapsed at ISH leading to the first year M A exams where I made my first friends Nitin, Subhodeep, Mahesh, Karan, Rizwan and also, Ali, a super cool dude from Delhi who is always seen in shorts. Often, we would have a glass of tea and smoking in the hostel canteen which was not allowed by rules but we ended breaking up the rules like so many students did. I guess the warden knew about it but pretended to turn a deaf ear to our sinful but fun activities. We often spoke about chicks staying in the neighboring hostel and who were often spotted in our canteen. Yes! Our canteen was frequented by our cute and hot neighbors dropping for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lil' did I know that Ali would one day become an actor or for that matter a star and he did a cameo in Three Idiots and was one of the main heroes in SRK's Always Kabhie Kabhie and Farhan Akhtar's Fukrey. One can imagine the sheer delight when I moved out of India and the hostel to see a dear friend of mine on the silver screen and I was like, it's so fucking awesome. We should always live up to our dreams in life and I am sure Ali, my hostel mate, will become a big star one day.
Hostel life means stupid and silly bickering with friends and inmates which is a very normal part of hostel life. I had my share of fights with some neighbors who were friends and became foes at a later time due to misunderstanding and, also our, plain stupidity. It could have turned into an ugly spat but, then, hostel life is very boring without petty squabbles between students. ISH was the place where the cops would often visit at night since neighbors in the posh locality would complain about some students yelling at night and shouting, bhenchod, maderchod. When I joined hostel in 2006, I also witnessed the frenzy of cricket craze since the famous Wankhede stadium was within walking distance of the hostel on D-Road as one could see TV crew stationed on Marine Drive, film stars traipsing at Inter Continental Hotel and on 12th  floor of hostel, we would get a partial view of the iconic Wankhede stadium, known as Sachin's turf.
I remember, Harry whom we would affectionately call Harria, the tiny and skiny fellow who would roam C-Road to sell us, hostellites, cigarettes that he would keep in a carry bag. Harry would reach the hostel gate in  the morning at nine and stay till noon. He would be back at nine p.m and would stay till midnight. Cops normally patrolled the hostel area in the evening and since selling cigarettes and paan is strictly not allowed within parameters of educational institutions and hostel, he would play cat-and-mouse game with the cops. We were very cautious when buying cigarettes since Harry was dispensing a service to hostellites who had to walk all the way towards Ambassador hotel or Jazz by the way, sea face on Marine Drive and Churchgate Station to buy their provisions. Thus, Harry took an extra buck providing fags and a classic mild was sold for six rupees rather than the normal 4 rupees. That was way back in 2006.
The mornings and evenings were spent on Marine Drive where I became friends with two twin sisters and street urchins who were begging on the streets. My heart sunk for those lil' and cute six year olds who look battered in the face of an unfair life and ruthless world as they tendered their tiny hands to the people sitting on the parapet and asking for money. I always looked for my lil friends and would give them a rupee or two or got them some bun and bananas to eat. How life can be cruel at times where innocent kids are robbed of their childhood? They would just crash on the parapet because they were so tired in the scorching sun after begging throughout some. One evening, their so-called guardian started beating them mercilessly because for falling asleep and some of us, intervened. I just pray that they find happiness in life and may the shining light always guide my two lil' friends.
The sleepless nights were spent in the rooms of friends who narrated some interesting but thrilling stories about ghosts that took place in the hill stations in India. Our friend, Subho, narrated some very interesting stories about ghosts that took place in a hostel in Shimla and we sat through till the wee hours in the morning.
There were also some rumors doing the rounds in our super luxurious hostel that one of the floor was haunted by a female ghost who was killed by some African students. In the start, I laughed it off but it actually turned out to be true where some Afra students high on Cocaine invited the local girl, who was their friend, inside the room and the bastards raped her. They flung her body on the first floor where the warden stays. The room where the incident happened remained closed till date and no hostellite was allowed to stay there.
Guess, there are certain things that cannot be explained. We were told that if we happen to be on the specific floor during the night, we will feel some 'weird' kinda vibration and a chill down the spine. There were days when we would watch cricket and football matches in the TV room past midnight. According to hostel rules, students have to climb the stairs to their rooms since lift is not allowed to operate past midnight. There were few occasions when we walked past the 'haunted' floor and felt some fear owing to negative vibration. This led me to believe that the spirit is present on the floor, albeit the hostel and that there are more to the rumors.
It is also a fact that the hostel gate close down at midnight and there has been times when we would be late after a movie show or partying where we had no other choice but climb jump the gate and knock on the door. We had to bang on the door several times and coax the 'mama', security guy whom we woke up, to let us in. Most of the times, the 'mama' would relent to our demands but not without giving him some notes so that he can buy 'chai.' Or, during revision time, we wanted to go out for tea at Churchgate Station after midnight since it's at this specific time that amazing tea is made. We would take the warden son with us as a shield to get out and P would sweetly ask the security, 'Kakka' or 'Mamma', depending on his age to open the door for us. If our friend, the warden son, who resides in the hostel, is not with us, it's the time to give some notes to the 'mamma' so that he let us out. After all, we were night owls.
It was the same hostel where I received the bad news that my dad was battling his life as he has sunked in the coma. At that time, I had no handset on me but the, 'Mamma' would pass the calls as there are two landlines on all the hostel floors. The security guards were nice guys and since I was quite friendly with me and they would always pass me the urgent phone calls. Do you know how they were calling us? My room number in first year was 601 and he would tell me over phone, "Oye! 601! phone from your parents."
 I vividly remember that I received the call on Saturday morning and the next day, Sunday, I had to pack my stuffs to visit home. What an ordeal it was coz I had to stay near the phone for two consecutive days so that mom and relatives would give me updates on air tickets and dad's progress. When I reached home, I was able to meet Dad but he passed away after one week.
I was back in Mumbai after spending three months with mom and reached in August and finally, convinced the warden to change my room to the one, sea face. I got a nice sea view room on ninth floor which made me run with excitement and happiness.
Gosh! What started as just one single post on life in hostel under Mumbai Musing has already run into three parts as I relived my memories in Mumbai. Three parts is not enough to describe two wonderful years of my life in Mumbai. Watch out for the final part.

To be continued..Mumbai Musing 4 and final part on Life in a hostel to come soon.
Love
Vishal

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