Sophia College Hostel

Hostel training was amazing in my life. Learnt such interesting things which were very different from how we operated at home. I think all this was very specific to Sophia college hostel. We had to keep our room clean. The bed had to be made in the morning when you woke up. It could not be left to be done after breakfast. Meals were on the ground floor and rooms on first and third. The intercom number of the floor was 31 and the higher floor was 40 so we called that floor 40. Life was simple. The receptionist called your floor if there was a visitor for you. You could not call anywhere except reception from there. If the phone booth was not working, you could make calls on the main line post 5pm. The receptionist connected the line. You went into the cubicle to talk and paid three rupees for that call. If the parents did not get through the hostel line, they called on the main switchboard and you were called down to talk to your parents. This is how telecommunications operated in those days.

Contrary to all the hostel life shown in the films, this one was very disciplined. You didnt come out of your bath with a towel wrapped like a sarong and sing songs. The college class rooms and library were above your floor. People used the same staircase which passed outside the hostel. Silence was to be maintained. Music could be played from4-5pm and 9-10pm only. Lights off at 10pm and the table lamps were put on. Cloth laundry bags were hanging to your wooden clothes rack where you dried your clothes in your room. 40 was where all final year college students were put up as most rooms were two seaters. The first four years we were in the heritage side of the building with high ceilings, amazing carved antique furniture in terms of dresser , wardrobe and study table. 40 corridor was inspirational and a little cool. The rooms opened into a balcony and there was a garden outside. The window behind overlooked a beautiful tree and a lane with the most amazing flights. At nights these elite houses had warm welcoming lights. We stared and craved for home.

Meal timings were sacrosanct. If it was one cup ice cream, then that's all you got. Some days post dinner time, when Francis and Ronald were taking the food trolley out of the dining room to the kitchen, we would beg for an extra cup of ice cream. Lawrence was the main catering guy and he was used to girls begging for an extra piece of chicken or mutton. He refused firmly and by fifth year we could get an extra portion of dessert. Tea was 4-4.45pm with two pieces of batata wada or one table spoon of bhel or chiwda. Five pm, the birds chirped and silence descended in the hostel. All of us studied at that time. No chatting, whispering or walking around the place. We all wanted to eat fast as you could run to Breach Candy for a walk post dinner. Breach Candy those days had the best shops and the best guys on their bikes or cars zooming away. Women were all those old moneyed variety. Inspirational area for us kids in those days. We waited to hear the chatter of the food trolley and rushed down to eat as the food would be warm n fresh. Salty maida rotis with lot of dry flour on it, vegetable with coconut, yellow dal and rice. After you ate and cleared this plate, we got a quarter plate with dessert. Lunch time instead of dessert we got mosambis or sweet limes and curd too. We did not eat them but kept saving them for a rainy day. Rainy day in the hostel life meant when you were hungry in the middle of night and no one had a snack to share with you. All sweet limes were dried and thrown before your Room Check.

Room check... Aha! Thats what I want to tell you about. Mrs. D'Mello stayed in another part of the college on the same floor as the hostel. She was the second in command after the hostel warden who was always a Nun. Mrs. D'Mello gave us medicines when required as she was a nurse earlier. She came for scheduled and surprise room checks. We were given a fixed day in the week when our room checks happenned. She checked around eight rooms every day. On the room check day, we ran for breakfast early as we had to be back by 7.30am. Class started at 8am. The bed cover was called counter pane is what I learnt in the hostel. The bed sheet was put on the mattress and then the bed cover on it covering the pillow and the blankets. It had to be neat, tucked at the right places. She would check if the edges were equal on both sides. Your cupboard had to be clean. All similar stuff arranged in different shelves, newspapers lining the shelves, clothes folded in a particular manner. Clothes had to be folded as they come back after being ironed. The mirror had to be sparkling and all drawers with undergarments and cosmetics to be kept clean. No posters on the walls. We were allowed to make a collage and stick on the cupboard with prior permission. Shoe racks were checked. Could not have dust on any piece of furniture or even your own shoes. She taught me how when we kept bottles, the symmetry and the appearance both was important. She taught how the edges of clothes could not be seen in the cupboard. The rounded side or the folded side had to be outside facing. She had a diary on each room and the people living there. We were rated and remarks were given. If we improved, we were surely acknowledged for it. Lights fans not to be left on if people left the room even for a few minutes. We would run out of the room fast so that the last one put the lights off. Rooms had no locks yet so much privacy and space you called your own. The doors while shutting should not bang so we all had tied a cloth from the front handle to the back handle.

Yes, I get that I am stating it like Dos and Donts, but most of these were unsaid. We just found it so much more harmonious to live like this. Half the room to be cleaned by each hostelite. The dustbin to to emptied in the main bin in the mornings without fail. Apart from this the cleaners would come to sweep and swop your rooms and the corridor. The clothes are to be washed in the night and dried on your racks as we all slept with the fan on and they would dry. The clothes were not to be washed on the bathroom floor and this was news for me. There were sinks with flat bottom provided for washing clothes.Ideally clothes were to be rinsed once in water, then soaked for half an hour before we scrubbed it with a brush. Those days clothes did not run so much colour. Even when I was working, I could wash all my sarees in the working girls hostel and the colours were intact.

The amazing sense of timing which Sophia college hostel put in me, still stays. The smooth flow of tasks to be done and the best way to do it was learnt there. At times I feel I have forgotten all this and dont implement it, but when I get down to work, I surely work this way.


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