Anyone reading my posts on my hostel times could be forgiven for thinking that all we did in college was to slosh ourselves out and stumble our way through. Drinking was an unavoidable pastime mainly due to Aristotle's age old declaration that "Man is a social animal". Consequently when a friend felt that a peg or two would help his cause of celebration or despair, it was absolutely rude to not join in. But all things put in perspective, it was only a minute portion of the fun in hostel life. Most of it was only childish fun initiated by blokes who were tasting their first, juicy morsels of freedom.
Carrom in the common room was a social hub as on-the-spot teams waited their turn on the single carrom board while taking jibes at the skills of the playing parties. There was no point in being gracious about your rival's shortcomings because there was no way on earth that your favour was going to be returned when bad times came calling for you. No sir, under the yellow lights over the board which mountains of powder could not smoothen, it was every man for himself alternating between being part of the jeering mob or being the victim of it. I speak from personal experience of having committed the most sensational fouls at the most critical times in RECK carrom history and the memories of all the reactions around me are hardly nostalgia inducing. The audience always wanted their bit of fun, by hook or by crook. But the malice was never intentional, it was a way of life at the RECK carrom boards.
Rumours especially of the previous semesters results being out were another way of stirring up a quiet night. Sometimes an actual surreptitiously printed Word document from the Hostel I-Net centre complete with marks and roll numbers would find its way on the walls of E-Block, while sweaty browed toppers and borderline cases (Read the rest of the world) would bring the house down on their verification pilgrimages to the site of crime. Powercuts just after or during dinner hours at the mess were when the boys hostels would really swing into life with the hum of a thousand unseen voices jabbering away in the night. The jokes would then seem funnier and the laughter had to be louder.
Infinite hours would be spent on the torn netted chairs at the 'khokhas' during and after class hours mulling over a cup of tea and the rare feast of kings, Maggi-half fry (basically a Maggi with a poached egg on top) with the stimulating company of a smelly buffalo and the flies buzzing over its dung. The cool darkness of the room would conceal a dozen odd eternally single guys lusting after the pretty heroine on the PC screen (Ahem! In keeping with the topic of this post, I speak right now of good, clean popular movies. Hey, they have pretty heroines too, and don't tell me that we didn't see enough of these movies too!) Swear words would be shouted across verandahs in the most jovial of spirits and news of a big action movie playing on the common room TV would bring crowds of all varieties and spirits tumbling into the chairs fanned by very effective coolers.
It was a weird world that we lived in for 4 years and there are countless other tales that would illustrate our paradoxical existence. It was complicated and rough, yet not at all unpleasant. We hated that life then as much as we loved it. I for one could never decide which emotion to stick to!