Right after dinner, some girls would stay on in the common room adjoining the dining hall to watch some TV while others would proceed to their rooms..........either to their own or to their friend's.
Those days there weren't many TV channels like we have these days. We just had DD (Doordarshan) and one of the favourite programme was "Chitrahaar" ...which was a medley. This was at 8.30pm if I re-call and used to draw the biggest crowd........just about when dinner got over. More than the actual scene happening on the TV, it was the antics of some of the girls which made it more enjoyable. It starts with the Sponser's (NIRMA) advertisement. Nearly all the girls would join in singing the jingle, "Nirma washing powder...". When "Chitrahaar" started, apart from the antics there would be comments on the actors & actresses style, clothes, etc. It was actually quite hilarious....I got to see a few, during my stay in M.H.H.....thanks to some of my avid TV watching friends.
Personally, I never liked viewing TV.....with a crowd!
Friday, September 28, 2007
Right after dinner, some girls would stay on in the common room adjoining the dining hall to watch some TV while others would proceed to their rooms..........either to their own or to their friend's.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
The ragging in the hostel.......slowly was becoming fewer as the days passed. It would soon be over.........the last day....night to be precise was to be the "Miss Underworld Nite". We didn't have a welcome dinner as such.........this was to be it.
All of us "Freshers" were told to dress up as an Underworld Character. It was like a Fancy Dress Do......except that the Seniors were in their usual attire.........some even in their nightclothes! This was the last time when the Seniors would get to rag this batch of "Freshers" and so they were all out to make the most of it! M.H.H. Mess - the dining hall was indeed a long hall. At the beginning when you enter, there's the long table where the Warden, the Housekeeper & the Nurse would sit overlooking us students who were seated in 3 rows of tables. Now, there was a mike too nearby. We were to introduce ourselves as the character we were impersonating and then run through the rows where the Seniors sat with their legs stretched out so as to trip you when you ran through as well as grab you..........do not undertsand what they got out of it..........it was so childish!
Well, we had girls dressed as Ghosts.........with white sheets as their costumes with holes for the eyes, then loads of witches all dressed in black...with blackened faces and who when they cackled looked more hideous as some of their teeth were blackened too! Then, there were others dressed as thieves, dacoits...........a friend of mine was dressed as the famous Dacoit Queen, Phoolan Devi!
As for me, hmmmm I went dressed as a Gangster's Moll! My name was called out....they now had a "Good Name" for me, finally.........they had to come up with one.........everyone was given a name tag card....I guess it was a tradition?! As I said, my name was called out... "Fresher Bah!" Why? "M was a perfect sheep. Whenever we asked her to do something, all she said was "Bah!" Hmmm I would have to agree on this! As I said in my earlier posts, I just refused to be ragged. Me being a Goat (Capricorn that I am) ....comparison with a sheep... not far off too! After this, I crooned as seductively as I could, "Like a Virgin....." Madonna's hit song!
At the end of all this fancy parade, we were served a sumptuous dinner. Officially, ragging was now closed. At last!
Friday, September 21, 2007
K.Nags............Kamla Nagar for those who are not from the University.....and not into the Miranda Lingo......was a hangout for all of us here in the University Campus.......North Campus to be precise. Yes, there are 2 Campus - the North & the South..........and of course the North Campus is the best! No, I mean it really! Ask anyone! Most of the Top colleges were here in the North and all at a walking distance.
Well, coming to where I started.....K.Nags.....this was the place where we bought all our course books..........this was the place where we bought greeting cards for all occasions..........and occasions were plenty!..........Birthdays........Valentine Day.....Holi.....Raksha Bandhan... Diwali....Christmas...New Year.....and also for no occasion cards....simply!....Missing you...Sorry...
Then, there was this "Chana Bhatura" (Indian Bread with chickpeas) stall in a "galli" (lane).........."Chacha's". Chacha in Hindi means an Uncle. In India, everybody was an Uncle or an Aunt..........we do not address as Mr or Mrs....that would have been rude. This is the Indian culture. Coming to "Chacha's", this was a really popular place with all. The food was delicious and the price reasonable. One had to wait.....to be served.........not in line though! Just hang around in front of the stall!
Another popular place with us, was the place where we would either have cold coffee or badam milk....."Badam" meaning almond. A trip to K.Nags was incomplete without having a drink........and this was really delicious.........especially the badam milk..........nutritious as well as tasty.....We would see that all the badam pieces at the bottom were tossed to our mouth along with the last bit of the milk..........full value of the money paid!
I also must tell about the corner cold drink shop where we would so often stop for a refreshing drink...........of "kancha nimbu"! No, this is not an exotic drink...........just plain old lemonade in a bottle with a marble for a stopper! Kancha is marble and nimbu is lemon in Hindi. The marble in the bottle would be punched in to remove it and masala (spices) which was black salt, pepper, etc would be added, shaken and a straw inserted and given to us. It was yummy!
Lastly, this was a place to see and to be seen...........for many boys & girls!
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Continuing with the ragging...........One of the silly things which the "Freshers" were made to do by the Seniors was to dress up like "Behenji" for the day or for a week. This means even going for your classes and everywhere else dressed like that or you've had it!
The word "Behenji" actually means sister (Behen) with the suffix ji (mark of respect). Here in the University, College, hostel, the word meant an outcast...you were not hip, smart & happening...... something to look down upon. So to be one... or act like one was....demeaning.
Now, to dress like a "Behenji" meant wearing salwar (the bottom part of a Punjabi suit) with a T-shirt, oily hair braided if long and to cover the head with the dupatta (scarf/stole) and lastly to wear a big Bindi on the forehead.
How utterly silly!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
We were served four square meals!
Breakfast was rationed.....the milk, cornflakes, bread & butter and we could either have an egg or a fruit! Tea was unlimited. Choosing between the egg or the fruit...........it was a major decision....at least for me! I was not a tea drinker back then, so I just had the bread & butter and the egg and went for my classes. The milk was kept aside to be consumed late at night.......... made into coffee to be precise!
Lunch was one meal that I seldom skipped, even though every week the menu would be repeated. Some girls would know precisely what we were getting............I never did............good in one way....at least there was the element of surprise that I could look forward to. "Kadi"(made with curd & gram flour) & "Rajma" (Kidney Beans) were the favourites of nearly everyone. All "Dals" (lentils) were described by their color. Girls would ask, "What's for lunch?" to those who have already had....and the reply would be "Red Dal" or "Yellow Dal" or "Green Dal". There was also a "Dal" which we all knew as "Flying Saucer". I still don't know their actual names!
Tea was served with some snack. I only went for the snack as I didn't have tea. Tea again was unlimited while the snack was rationed...one "Samosa" or one "Bread Pakoda" or one "Aloo Chop" or one..... At times, they would make teeny-weeny "Pakodies".......these we would get a handful. One should see the girls having their tea..........they didn't use the normal tea cups...they had these huge Coffee Mugs....... some even drank their's in Beer Mugs!
Dinner time, the Mess was packed unlike Lunch time when the girls used to come in as per their class schedule or when they felt like during the time limit. As in lunch, we were served Rice, "Chappati" (Indian Bread), "Dal", "Subzi" (Vegetables) and curd. We were also given dessert! This could either be Custard, "Kheer" (sweet rice cooked in milk with dry fruits) or even half a Watermelon............during the watermelon season!
I had escaped ragging so far. Seniors knew more about me than I thought.......they knew me as the Pilot's daughter.........Dad being in the Air Force! Seems they had been enquiring about me. They were really eager to meet me. These ragging sessions were conducted in little groups....and there were a couple of groups who were credited as being the Worst Raggers..... headed by Seniors who were BAD.
So far, I had just heard from my room mate & friends what happens in these session...and what they are made to do. So, when I got a call from this Notorious Group, I decided to check it out for myself. I entered along with a couple of other girls, the smoke filled room. There were Seniors on the beds....on the chairs...perched on the table....standing/leaning against the wall.... in short it was house full....nay, room full! They stared us down.......blew smoke from the corner of their mouth.... like the bad guys in the movies....they tried intimidating us. Was I scared? No. It was disgusting.........the bullying part....
They asked me to introduce...I didn't have a "Good Name" so far.....they couldn't come up with one either. Then, being an English Hons Student, I did the "Reading". I guess they didn't have much fun with me.
This was my first & last ragging session in Miranda House....I chose to experience it first hand.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I was told that I walked with my head held high & my nose up in the air.........well, nothing wrong at that but I guess while you were new to the Hostel/College, one was expected to have shown some fear of the Seniors & perhaps was expected to have shuffled along with your head touching your chin when you were around them! My upbringing & the nuns in the school had instilled in me what the correct posture should be so I just couldn't change to suit the Seniors!
The Seniors called me Snooty....Haughty...........none of which was/is true! A Pilot's daughter?........hmmmm.........partly true..........as Dad was in the Air Force....flying branch...
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
One of the many nonsensical things which the Seniors made the "Freshers" do was.....what I call the Coo-Coo thing. Depending on the number of "Freshers" present, each girl was made to call out an animal or a bird. The Seniors would say, "Hey! You....you be a cat....you be a cock...you.... then when the cock crows..........the dog barks....then you mew....then you say Coo-Coo!"
Some were made to stand outside the door....some in.... and one would have a bucket over her head. When one's turn came.........they were made to cry out like the animal or the bird they were representing.
The girl with the bucket had to peep out of the bucket and say "Coo-Coo!"
Sunday, September 9, 2007
I barely got ragged. Yes, it's true. I escaped...........at dinner time, after attendance I just went back to my room....locked the door from the front & got in from the back door.........I never had dinner ..... didn't feel hungry at 7.30pm.....this was too early.....in Summer!
I remember one particular Senior who got the thrills when she was addressed as "Ma'am"......... Unfortunately for her, that was not coming from me at least! I would invariably bump into her a couple of times in a week... during the day..........and as no greeting came forth from my end, I guess she was trying to intimidate me....... "Good Morning Fresher" she would say..........and without batting an eye or stopping, I would reply "Good Morning!"..........like a General to the Private!
Hee-hee! I enjoyed that! Cheeky, me?.....oh no! I was just being myself!
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Ragging continued unabated.............not so much in the College as it was in the Hostel. This was probably because of the classes that we had to attend and so one could escape from the lurking Seniors in the corridors, lawns & of course the canteen...........and in between classes back to the sanctity of one's room........and even IF some unfortunate fresher was caught, it was but to sing a song or dance with the "dupatta" (scarf) covering the head or to woo a Senior doing all this three!
Thus, the "Day Skis" escapes the RAGGING which happens in the College Campus.........totally or with the minimum degree of it while the Hostellers are subjected to some degrading treatment in the quiet of the night which was revelry? for the Seniors..........never understood what pleasures they got out of the suffering of the "Freshers". Is this an initiation that one can look forward too? Never!
Now, everything that we had to do was to be done in The Mirandian Way......Before I proceed further, all Seniors were "Ma'am" as said earlier and Seniors from the same subject that we were doing, was our "Super Ma'am".
First came the Mirandian Introduction to the Seniors. We had to kneel and with our hands cupped together in the front at elbow level, greet all Seniors with "Good evening......" and then proceed with the introduction. "My Bad Name is.......... " our actual name & "My Good Name is...." the name now given by the Seniors after coming to Miranda. In case one had not acquired a "Good Name" this was the time they would be given one.........like "Fresher Smiley" because of the prominent smile, "Fresher Shammi Kapoor" because of the Shammi Kapoor Act which she performed....."Fresher Goofy" because you look goofy or acted goofy?...........
We had the Mirandian Prayer which was a lift from the Christian Prayer - "Our Father, Who art in Heaven.........." Now it was "Our Lovers, Who art in ......." the words were now substituted with the names of some of the Colleges which had Boy's Hostel..........
Then there was the Mirandian Walk....right foot forward with an exaggerated sway of your butt while slapping it lightly and saying "Hit the apple". Then with the left "Hit the pear" and with both feet together "And grind it" which is to roll your hips in a circular fashion like one sees in Latino dancing!
The Mirandian Exercise was quite popular and provided a good laugh to the Seniors. Some "Freshers" who were really adept at this led the rest like a Drill Sergeant. Stand with our feet slightly apart....hands brought up to the shoulder level with the elbows out....and then stretching it to the back with your chest out........all the while chanting.... "I must, I must increase my bust. The bigger the better, the tighter the sweater, for the Guys depends on us".
Lastly, there was the Mirandian Reading that one could be subjected to especially if you were majoring in English Literature. A "Mills & Boon" novel would be given and you would be asked to read a steamy part...........the Mirandian Way....after every 3 words one had to say "In my Uncle's pajamas".
The right way to be done..........nay, the best way to be done.........The Mirandian Way?!
Friday, September 7, 2007
Life in Miranda House..........went on. We learnt fast. In the beginning what sounded strange to our ears soon comes out naturally. The Day Scholars were "Day Skis".........and was lower in hierarchy...... we were the Superior Ones!
Kamla Nagar, the nearest market soon became "K.Nags". Cannaught Place was C.P, Karol Bagh became "K.Bags".........and so on. The Co-operative store adjoining P.G.Hostel was known as "Coops". Even our favourite tea snack wasn't spared from having it's name shortened! "Hot Sam" was what we called the Samosas and for the lovely Hot Gulab Jamuns that we often used to have in "Bengali Sweets", it was "G.Jams"!
The Principal was always "Princi" to us and we talked of our Hostel Warden as "Wardi". Last, we never said University...........it was too lonnnnng..............for us, it simply became the Univ!
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Scene at Dinner Time, the 2nd night when the Hostel Mess opened. Having just arrived at M.H.H, we “Freshers” were pretty quite, well behaved & properly attired! The Seniors were boisterous & being the month of July & Delhi being hot, a few of them were clad in shorts & skimpy tops with a bit of cloth “dupatta” (scarf) thrown over to cover their modesty? & some were in their nightdress or in their pyjamas! They eyed us........like a cat watching & waiting for the right time to pounce on a mouse!
At the tables...there were 3 rows of tables and in each row you had 2 tables.........the Seniors took it for granted that they had all the rights to sit wherever they felt like. Thus, some of us “Freshers” got pushed around or were squeesed in between them. One “Fresher” landed at the same table with a Stuck Up Senior who thought she was very clever. This “Stuck Up” lady made the poor girl’s dinner an ordeal! And how?
Miss Stuck Up – “Hey Fresher! Do you know what a square meal is?”
Miss Fresher – “Yes, Ma’am.” (By now, some of us have been told.....and the rest of us... word passed around that we were to address the Seniors as Ma’am!)
Miss Stuck Up – “Well, have a square meal then. Do you know how?”
It turns out that the “Fresher” had to pick up her food and take the spoon over her plate tracing an imaginary square and then eat it after which she had to say “Yum-Yum”. She had to do this for the entire meal! How sick! A Bully I would call, Miss Stuck Up.....nothing less.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
It was in the evening that I arrived at the Hostel gates. The Hostel looked so imposing and the neat lawns laid out in front completed the majestic look. I remember parking myself at the Porch... sitting on top of my trunk....waiting to be announced which room I was to occupy. It was to be D-14 if I remember it correctly, on the first floor.
We, the “Freshers” as we would now be addressed for one whole year......were asked to check in a day earlier by the Hostel Authorities. I guess this was to give us a breather and get ourselves familiarized with our whereabouts before we got terrorized by the Seniors. Miranda House had earned notoriety as a place where ragging could be a nightmare and Mirandians were known to be notorious. Do not know where this originated from..........all Colleges especially the Hostels were all into ragging but it was us “Hostellers” who got the brunt of the ragging. The anti ragging squad supported by the Police, patrolled...........but still.........who could stop or monitor ragging in the hostel?
Shifting into D-14, I saw that this was a Double Seater which means I had a room-mate. One can say that the rooms in Miranda House Hostel are all double seaters except for a couple of (former) Teacher’s rooms (Teacher’s no longer resided in the Hostel....there’s a separate Teacher’s flats adjoining to the Hostel.) which got converted into triple seaters and again we also had a couple of single seaters too. One of my neighbours turned out from one of my former schools....we were school mates.............different section but had the 3rd language classes together! One tends to form little groups....and quickly I too was a part of a group which consisted of girls from different parts of India!
The first night, as officially we were one day early, the Hostel Mess Guys were still on vacation...... dinner was served in the College Canteen. Attendance was taken and a short welcome speech was given to us by the Warden after which dinner was served.......buffet style. One could see that by now all of us had made friends and we were all in our own groups. There was a lot of chatter, plenty of smiles and a few laughs. We discussed the ragging that was eminent but never could visualise how it would be in actuality..........only time would tell....
I guess we all slept that night thinking about the days to come........so far so good....
Monday, September 3, 2007
I remember packing my bags to leave for the hostel....to embark on my further education. We were to bring our bedding and so my favourite pillow along with my mattress, blanket, bed sheets, pillowcases were all packed into a holdall. I also had an aluminium trunk and a suitcase packed with my shoes & clothes.
While preparations to leave were going on, any opportunity when Mom would find me all alone, she would impart her advises..... “Concentrate on your studies...don’t roam here & there....Boys! Don’t believe them....they would say “I love you” just to take advantage....you know what I mean” or “Be careful of your belongings in the hostel....some girls would live off other girls...always borrowing and never caring to return...” I know where she was coming from.........she too was once my age.........she too had gone to a College & lived in the Hostel.
The day arrived for me to finally leave Home....all these years I have never been away from my Parents & my two younger brothers & our dog....till now. My youngest brother bought me a gift on this occasion....a small carved rectangular shaped wooden box. Don’t know where he got the money or where he bought it. I was really touched by this gesture..........it was real sweet of him......I still have it.
With a mixed bag of feelings............scared at the thought of living without my family.......excited, at the adventure which lay ahead?! my family dropped me off to the Railway Station where I was catching a train to Delhi. It’s about 3 hours journey from Agra to Delhi. Of course my Parents did not send me all alone.........I was chaperoned by someone from my father’s office.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Being convent educated all through my school days..........my hope to go to a college where boys & girls mingled and had loads of fun....like they show in the movies.....were dashed to the ground when I was given ONLY, all Girls Colleges application forms to be filled in. Believe me....it’s true. I didn’t have much say as I only wanted to study in Delhi University........and being sent away to a Girl’s College was last of my worries.
Miranda House was to be..........where I would be for the next 3 years. I got the subject that I wanted to study....no, it was more like, the subject I was asked to major in....in the first go....my name was there in the First List selected from all the Applicants who had applied....again my name was in the First List for a Hostel Seat! I shudder to think what it would have been if my name was not there in the First List! Probably, gone back to Agra, the city where my father was currently stationed. The College Principal turned out to be the wife of Dad’s former instructor/colleague in the Air Force and this clinched it further as the right college... and thus finally, I got enrolled into Miranda House College.