From 11 to 12

Have you been to the dining area of any Boys’/Gals’ hostel? Read this to refresh your memories, if you have been to those places; or to know some thing interesting, if you have not been to those places.


It was a Thursday evening…

I was invited along with two of my friends to H11 for dinner. Reasons for the celebrations being to taste the mess food at a ladies hostel and to learn/realize the system of H11 mess. We reached at about 9.10pm — too late for dinner at H11 mess; missed many good dishes like the sweet and kofta. However, some food was still left and we decided to pounce on it. Food was Ok!!. But the taste was slightly different, not due to the ingredients, but due to the change in the style of cooking and the juicy, gossipy environment. We were keenly interested in the discussions and gossips other than the food. 🙂

After taking in the initial euphoria of being in a girls hostel, we got so much absorbed into our own discussions that we did not realize there were some girls sitting very near to our table. Those girls were sitting not to complete their food, but to listen to our gossips so that they could further make use of these gossips in their own gossiping circle ; quite interesting though. But, the crux of our discussions were leaked. We thought of making use of the invitation as an opportunity to sustain some of our own curiosity and gossiping capability — but in the end we fell prey to the girls’ group trap . It was almost 10.00pm by time we were through with our dinner, left for our hostel after thanking our host.

That was one incident which gave me an opportunity to learn some thing from H11 mess. That was my first time in a ladies hostel mess and after that day I have been visiting their mess, though not very frequently, (once in a month or less than that). But these visits are mostly neither for fun, nor for learning rather for some reasons and some time compulsions, like some problem with H12 mess food, or for a quick lunch/dinner (H11 comes closer to my department than my own hostel H12) to get back to work at the department. Every time I go for either lunch or dinner, I get a different experience of the place — some times people don’t like to show their face and run away once they see certain guests even among their own acquaintances, some times they sit at a far end with a long face, some times they just sit and listen carefully what people are talking to their hosts, or some time some people sit and pass on comments; like hum bhi mami banenge….., tera mama ko bol… etc…. 🙂 Staring at a guest the moment he/she enters the mess is a must; embarrassing though.

Other than these gossiping, staring and different expression scenes, what I don’t like there is the manner they serve food. Plates, chapatis and some thing or the other… not at all available in the dining area, only available in the inner kitchen where guests are not allowed. Moreover, one should not be very serious about hygienic conditions there. Most of the times, the plates and spoons are washed at the peak hours of lunch and dinner and the inmates have to get into the washing area to get their and their guests’ plates. Guests have to depend solely on the host for the guest coupon (most of the times my host runs out of cash at the mess counter though ) , food, water and even for a seat. Poor host… The guests have to stand near the food counter helplessly and watch their hosts run inside the kitchen to get plates, chapatis, curd, etc. …

But, with all these problems, cribs, faces, staring, etc., eating in H11 mess is quite different. The gossips are most of the time beauty centric or Boyfriend/boy friend centric and sometimes polished cat fights. Occasionally some released films or presyn/thesis submission too surface as interesting topics for time pass. The gossiping groups are fixed — almost like treasury benches in the parliament; hardly any one else can be part of the discussion and most of the times these are closely guarded groups. These are not only my experiences, many others who visit H11 occasionally or regularly will definitely agree with me.

Now coming to H12 mess…

I have been eating in H12 mess for the last five and half years. Let me tell my experiences. Believe me, it is unbiased!!. First of all, the mess food is hygienic, and the counters (both coupon counter for guests and the food counter) are quite ordered, structured and methodical. The guest does not have to depend on his/her host. Every thing is in place; starting from collecting plates to taking food at the counter to getting water at the dining table. Since the number of visitors are very high (including ladies) and the number of regular mess members are very high, one hardly stares at any one (if the visitor or the member looks some thing extraordinary or if there is some serious problem, then people might). For most of the members the seats and eating times are almost fixed. Yes, gossiping is there to its maximum extent; some time even we do for hours, but one hardly sits there to eavesdrop. No one bothers about others gossips. The topics of gossiping are mostly either lab related or political, and on cricket during cricket season; which are of course quite different from H11. There are some other topics, like credit cards, department and hostel politics, Girlfriend/Girl Friend and Boyfriend/Boy Friend issues, life, marriage, etc. Most of the times it is just leg pulling and some PJs. Any one can be absorbed and adapted into the gossips irrespective of the gender and age. Hardly any one will feel out of place at H12 mess. It is just like home.

The same argument one can give about H11 mess too… It is too a home for many (inmates only), but not for all. The difference is not at the level of facilities or resources, it is there in the attitude, the way of treating guests. If you are a guest at H11 mess, I’m sure you will be treated the best way that is possible by your host. It is quite a personal affair (some times lacking in H12 mess though). The experience one goes through at H11 mess and H12 mess are completely apart and just orthogonal. One can only experience not think. And one must experience this difference at least once in his/her IIT career.

Aamjunta what about your experiences?

Note: H11 is the women’s Post Graduate Hostel of IIT Bombay and H12 is the men’s Post Graduate Hostel. This article was originally published as an invited post on 1st January, 2009 in “Iris”.

Disclaimer: The opinions of this article are completely subject to the experiences of the author. Aamjunta doesn’t hold responsibility for the opinions expressed

4 Responses

  1. Not stupid common man.. clever common man mess. Cant comment on that.
    Nice post, but have not experienced H12 food 🙂

  2. quite interesting, but not full unbiased. even though we have problem in our mess, we just love it some times and are used to it. this is an iit mess and is bound be like that. and about your experience at the dining table, you are right from your angle. bhgwan ne ladkiya ishliye banaya hai

  3. Never been to H11 mess, but H12 mess is a good place to eat and spend time with ur frnds. And yes it is OPEN and humble to visitors.

  4. @Ruta: what about your experiences? Thanks.

    @Rohit: hmmm, as the mess co of h12 you should visit and taste the food of other mess. This will give confidence to you and we can get better food too Thanks.

    @anonymous: Oh.. thats wonderful, i’m just the common man… neither stupid, not clever… You should visit h12 mess and taste the food and the ambiance Thanks

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