Wednesday, August 11, 2010
What is the first thing you see when you enter one of IIT Delhi's chauvinistic hostels? tainted walls? A library? A roomful of geeks?
The mess! A distinctive rush of euphoria floods one's entire being, as one witnesses the utter beauty of this holistic place. The mess is "big", and by big, one refers to IIT standards. Bigger than an entire section of the hostel floor.
It can seat almost 150 people at a time - But it doesn't,usually. It houses state-of-the-art architecture and seating arrangements - if only the food was better.
The Mess works by a menu, but the chief cooks constantly surprise us. Had it not been for our "experienced" seniors, one could never have guessed that the brown elastic matter was actually a "chapati". However, the cuisine speaks of immense variety - both colour and taste. Once a week, the mess has a special offering for junk-food lovers. The attendance at such an event is overwhelming - a sad state of affairs, given how unhealthy it can be.
The mess has timings - slots of two hours for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Anyone 'un'lucky enough to miss it can visit the nearby Food Court.
It's popularity is wavering - However, if plotted as a function of time, the mess' popularity can best be approximated to a strictly decreasing function, as one graduates from one semester to the next.
To be honest, the quality of food available is the best one can avail with the given resources, and saying so, i can speak only for my hostel, Karakoram. The mess staff is extremely friendly, and occasionally, one can hear them humming or singing. It is their positivity and happiness that makes the food so much better.
Note: Above picture depicts Kumaon Mess.
However hard one may try, the newly "baptized" IITian cannot help but recall his pre-JEE days, those strenuous nights of tension, when the sounds of names like DC Pandey and MS Chouhan were music to our ears, and the times of anxiety that filled our hearts with a doubt - Will i make it?
Strangely, as eight-hundred and fifty-one pairs of nervous eyes gazed in awe at the Campus Royalé of IIT Delhi, arguably one of the most prestigious Engineering Institutes in the country, the past seemed like a memory evanescent, fading away to give way to what is to be our identity for the next four-five years.
As the gates of IIT Delhi were summoned open by the lucky few, an entirely new life waited ahead. The long walk from the Academic Area to the Hostel Area became a journey - from the old to the new, from yesterday to tomorrow.
Yet with each step forward, home seemed a glance further away.
The first three weeks have been days of transformation - every second, a new experience awaits. From entering, somewhat hesitantly, a senior's room- a step forward, two back- to making friends you never knew you could have had. Eating maggi at the kiosk(!) outside IIT gate,late into the night, or running about the main building, searching for MS XYZ! Every moment carves out a stronger,better person out of us.
And while the hostel experience can be satirically termed "elite", one has learnt that we live in "houses", not hostels.
Everyone, from the 3rd year "dadajis" to our honorable Professors hold a certain allure that gravitates you towards them, for better or for worse.
Hence, while at the one end, the mess food is strikingly "tempting", and one struggles to resist the delicious aroma that fills the dining hall, the tender affection with which Butler-sahab offers us those hand-crafted pieces of abstract art(read Chapatis), one cannot but be fascinated by the strange fusion that life at IIT Delhi is.
All in all, life here seems to be a heterogeneous blend of dualities - Happiness and loneliness, excitement and anxiety, infatuation and heartbreaks.
Note: "Machau" is a hindi word signifying or implying something that is enticing,exciting and fun! It is formally a part of IIT Delhi's informal lingo.