Editor: Neha Anand | Design: Niharika C & Aryamaan
Hostels are (or more appropriately, are supposed to be) a home away from home; a place where we put the finishing touches to the canvas that is our personality. There is a lot of growing up done within those walls and sometimes it is to our advantage that this maturing is done away from the suspecting gaze of our parents or guardians. Hence, to ensure some semblance of order in this jungle, hostels have certain rules. These regulations, specifically the vigilance rules, have always been a point of contention amongst students.
Most rules have been justified with the age-old “we have your best interests at heart”. Even the restrictions that are for supposedly ‘safety reasons’ are over fairly innocuous items.
Surely an IITian wouldn’t burn the hostel down because they put cheese pita in a toaster oven, right?
In a bid to tease me on my lack of college life, my dad would often recite old hostel legends with great gusto. Once, as for many hostellers, there was a craving for midnight Maggi. Because there weren’t many electrical appliances at that time, the then-future of the country would tie a live wire to a piece of wood and dip it into the water to heat it up and hope for the best. The moral of the story is that plausible horror can easily be justified using the argument of convenience and economics. For example, if coolers were allowed and affordable, the central library wouldn’t be packed during the summer months. If electric stoves were allowed, we wouldn’t need 24/7 eateries and CMFGS can divert that money to call the OG Ramu back. One thing’s for sure: this ban on electrical appliances reduces our carbon footprint and we can live guilt-free for all the plastic the monkeys steal from our rooms and throw it into the park.
And then come the inebriants. We are all adults here; we don’t make fortnightly trips to Pondy just for the beach. The allure of alcohol to young adults is fuelled by curiosity and anxiety, and despite many of us being of age in the later years, it is a strict no-no.
Whisking a couple of bottles and disguising it as gin-ger ale might be worth a shot, but when the vigilance officers rummage through your room, you would be left shaken (not stirred).
Then come the substances. As a disclaimer to insure T5E from potential lawsuits, the consumption and distribution of drugs are illegal. Don’t be Andrew Garfield and save someone else’s MJ. However, hypothetically even if some were to be legalised, I would imagine we would roll back to the previous point. The peaceful peeps would argue that the (legal) activities conducted in one’s own room should be of no one’s concern but alas, the administration wouldn’t let them have their high.
“Take a chill pill,” they said. “What are chill pills and where have you stashed them?”, they replied.
This isn’t just about inanimate objects. It’s also about people. The constant state of paranoia of being caught is universal to unmarried couples in India. Recent events suit my case. Who knew that human trafficking would be a necessity in the engineering hostels of India in 2022? You know things have gone too far when couples carry each other’s baggage (and it’s not the emotional kind).
If you want to invest in the budget hotel business, Adyar and Velachery are good places to start.
Imagine all that money being spent just because society is insecure of a relationship until a piece of paper is signed and a few shlokas are recited.
College is the place to be for a young adult. We experience all the ups and downs of living away from home and shape our personalities. It is crucial we learn to balance adventure and responsibility by ourselves. Cheeky charlatans can counter the cognitive dissonance of this veiled sense of freedom all day but the only factor that can truly change this is time. All in all, if we try to look at the bright side, this type of restriction does give us practice for the conservative residential housing codes we might have to observe after graduating.
The only difference is that you can’t pin the messy state of your room on a monkey.
Disclaimer: The above article is an opinion. The views are solely those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of T5E.