I remember the best chapter of my life is forever carved in my memories. If we ask anyone what their best memory of their life is, most of the time, the answer would be their school or college days. I am no different from them, and I miss those days a lot, but it is not my school or college days; I’m talking about my hostel life. It is 16 years since I left the hostel, but the memories of my hostel life are so fresh and clear as if I were there just yesterday. It was the first time ever I left my home to come to Pune for higher studies.
Frankly speaking, I was very scared and a little intimidated to be staying in a hostel, and I was new to the city too. I come from a small town of Uttar Pradesh, so it was very natural to fear the new city where one of the many hurdles I had to face was the local language. The situation and practicality demanded me to be a little optimistic, have some courage and be strong. The day I entered the hostel, I never thought this place was going to give me some of the best memories and friends of my life to hold on to forever.
My hostel is one of the best girl’s hostels in Pune. It has a huge entrance followed by a little passage decorated with flowering plants and trees on both sides. After crossing this beautiful passage are the reception and office area. Adjoining this area is a corridor leading to the cafeteria and to the rooms and mess area. It has the facilities of an assembly hall cum entertainment room, library, internet café, gym and yoga area, swimming pool, telephone booth, and parking area inside the campus. It has everything one could ask for.
Our hostel has strict rules and guidelines to be followed by everyone without any discrimination. The wardens were genuinely like our parents taking care of everyone’s needs and requirements and pointing out our mistakes, and if required scolding us too. It has a strict in–time for all the girls at night. It was mandatory for every girl to be inside the campus by 8 p.m. After 8 p.m., a roll call takes place in the assembly room to check if all the girls are inside the hostel premises. The girls were found outside the hostel after 8 p.m. without prior permission and valid reason after three fair warnings would be reported to their parents, with a final warning that they would not be getting admission next year. Even after night outs, our parents or local guardian permissions was compulsory. Because of all the facilities, rules and restrictions, my hostel friends and I used jokingly call it the ‘golden jail.’
At that stage of life, my friends and I used to find it sometimes very frustrating to be inside the hostel campus by 8 p.m., while our other non-hostel friends could stay out late. Now, after so many years, when I think about this, it does make sense that there was no necessary reason to be out late at night in a new city without any family. The city offered a lot of temptation, anyone can easily fall into those traps, and the best way to avoid them was the restriction of timings because, as a student, there is no excuse to be outside. And, whatever we needed was inside the campus for the safety of girls.
Since the hostel was home to girls from all over India for various colleges in the city, it was a great learning experience to be a part of various cultures, traditions and food. All the festivals were celebrated equally. Especially Our hostel was famous for Ganesh Utsav. Those three days would include various activities such as plays, singing, fashion shows, dance programs and more.
We learned to accept each other with all our imperfections. Watching television was another challenge; the group which comes first has the preference of watching their show or channel. In case there are more girls in the room and want to watch the different shows at the same time, we had to vote for our favourite show.
Especially on weekends, we did not even realise how the night turned into morning. Carrying conversation to the early morning breakfast table over hot poha and tea was normal. Whenever anyone falls sick, someone is always there by their side to take care. During exams, the entire hostel used to turn into a library with pin-drop silence. Whether it is the staircase, rooms or library, everywhere the girls can be seen studying either in groups or alone. The whole atmosphere inspired each other to study a little harder.
It is not necessary that everything we want, need and deserve, we will get, but there is something which is in our hands, and those are our friends because they are the family which we choose. We laugh and cry together; we have one another to lean on and trust; whatever the circumstance, we stand together. Through thick and thin, we are always there for each other.
Today I am more confident and a stronger person. I believe in my capabilities of decision making and judgement. I dare to follow my heart and accept the challenges. I do not feel shy or scared to own my mistakes, and I learn from them. I value and know the importance of any type of relationship. I can take care of myself and roam the world alone with confidence that I will make it and survive on my own. What I am today, to an extent, I owe it to my days spent in the hostel. That was the best chapter of my life.
Contributor: Sonal Srivastava
About our Writing Program Student
A simple yet strong and emotional girl, Sonal a fitness enthusiast firmly believes in healthy living. She loves travelling and exploring new places and being a foodie, loves to cook! For her, spending time and energy reading, listening to music, watching movies with friends and family is a an investment of a lifetime.