Steve Jobs has said that one has to “Stay Hungry and Stay Foolish” to be successful. Our Halls (hostels) have taught us to be hungry -Literally. Those who can survive four years of Hostel Food can survive with anything edible including airline food. Remember the scene in the film ‘2 states’ where Arjun says to Alia that you will get used to both the quality and rationing of Hostel food. I still remember hurrying up to Hall-mess to find a semblance of thickness in the Daal or to find a leg piece in curry at all. Adjusting the food has taught us to be resilient and survive. We survived on various forms of eggs served at night canteens open till sunrise for night-owls in our Halls.
What makes me remember this? This Holi weekend I happened to see the 67 th National award-winning best Hindi film Chichore again. This film based on Hall-life is directed by someone from the IIT fraternity. I can definitely associate with the concept of lifelong bonding built on those four years of Hall life as well as the Inter-Hall rivalry depicted in this well-made movie. It triggered a chain of my own memories. I relished every moment of Hall Life as those were the best days of my life as Bryan Adams would say. Forget the sarcasm of staying hungry part, I sometimes wonder if my degree has imparted me more lessons to survive later in life or was it Hall Life that has helped more.
After studying books like Hall and Knight (made famous by the E V Rieu in the same-titled hilarious poem ending with “And Knight, he winked at Hall, and they printed off the Algebra and sold it to the chaps”) which symbolize all the lessons across all the physics, chemistry, and mathematics subjects needed to crack the entrance exam we entered those Halls of Fame. And life has never been the same again.
Now comes the stay foolish part. This Learning starts in the first week of Hall-life. All the pampering done back home vanishes as you are just one of the many around you. The realization that you are ‘foolish’ than the ‘idiots’ around you starts after interacting with people with different capabilities, backgrounds, and thought processes. The huge ego boosted by social recognition achieved just by getting admitted in the system is busted by acknowledging the individual brilliance all around. This survival among the variety of your peers then gives you the inner strength to get assimilated into any system be it Corporate, Governance, Research, Academics, and finally the Society.
Hall Life teaches you time management. You need to land up for tempo and cheering to your hall during the inter-hall competitions. You also need to practices for events in which you are participating. Pride of Hall is of utmost importance as depicted in Chichore. Each second of sleep is very important to catch up with the accumulated sleep deficit. To reach your first lecture at 8 am you need to get up at 7 40 to gain your additional sleep. You need to manage the brushing and dressing to reach the mess, to grab something termed as breakfast, and pedal toward the lecture rooms: all within 20 minutes. Daily ablutions are a luxury as you can use your time for that on a weekly basis. You need to chat endlessly with your Hall Mates, be entertained, and finally, you have to manage your study/assignments and academics.
Hall Life teaches you collaboration. Though I am not sure how it happens these days with everything going online. But during our pre-internet era during exams, you can pick your own subject of strength and explain it to others in a group study. With the load divided between collaborators, it was easier.
Hall life gives you priceless lifelong bonds as depicted in Chichore. These bonds you build with your seniors, peers, and juniors are more important than professional networks (which though help significantly in professional life as well). Our seniors were our Natural Intelligence Enabled User Manuals to guide us through their experiences across academics and beyond. We played the same role for our juniors. Thus the cycle of life continues eternally across the batches in our Halls.
Hall life also gives you the experience of dealing with unscrupulous people who are so convinced about the rat race that they don’t leave a single stone unturned to reach the top. You find such people in the latter part of our professional and personal lives. Remember Chatur in 3 Idiots. 3 Idiots was another movie like Chichore and 2 states based on Hall Life. That movie had a narrative deviating from cliché, that Nerds were heroes and not comedians. That was quite a reflection of India’s story especially in IT and now Pharma.
Finally, the most beautiful byproduct of hall Life is the lifelong quest for a reunion. The emotional aspects of reunion are depicted effectively in films like Rock On where friends separated by personal issues reunite to recreate musical magic they created during their college days. And how can we not mention Dil Chahata Hai where the central characters vow to reunite every year. Despite Facebook and Whatsapp, we don’t connect to people with whom we spent days and nights together in those Halls. There is one more film scene that still is etched in my mind is from the film Rang De Basanti where DJ played by Aamir says that he doesn’t want to graduate because many stalwarts in College life were lost in the oblivion of mundane life outside the campus. Definition of success is tricky and cannot be compared on any standard scale. So when you brush aside those worldly comparisons, what transpires in any reunion is the sheer nostalgia of those magical years spent in those Halls of Fame. Life lessons are not learned in the books like ‘Hall and Knight’ but these Halls grant you Knighthood to fight and survive any challenge in the outside life.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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