Sunset to Sunset – a Day in IIT

Have you ever stayed in the hostel any time during your graduation or post-graduation? Have you experienced the most relaxed life of the hostel? Yes!!, No!!!… hold on… let us see what an Aamjunta says in his own words, on his daily hostel life at IIT Bombay…

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Swana, Swana, Swana, Swana,
Haan… bolo Shan
will we go for breakfast?
Haaan.. chalo, aata hun


Oh… it is breakfast time now.. my god… it is 9.25am. Have to be there in hostel mess in 5 minutes — 9.30 am the breakfast time closes. Sid manages to reach the mess area within 5 minutes, half brushed and half washed face. This is not only the story of Sid; it is the story of Ram, Karim, Hari, Sanju, Anne, RP … many such Sids in every hostel…. each morning.

The routine tune of the life of an IITian just plays on, with a few unusual hiccups and occasional highs. Life here is routine. Even then, the life of a Research Scholar (RS) differs significantly from an MTech or a BTech. The flexibility of working hours and working style allow and encourage many Sids to wake up late or to go to the department/lab at their convenience. Many researchers wake up just before breakfast time, some wake up just before the end of lunch time (some time event after lunch time). For many lunch is the 1st meal of the day, popularly known as brunch (breakfast + lunch), 2nd for some and 3rd for the rest (heavy food in late night canteen, quick breakfast and lunch).

Though the working style and hours of male RSs are different from their female counter parts to a certain degree, it is not completely incomparable. While some researchers like Swana or Shan wake up very early in the morning and get ready for breakfast after morning  exercise, it can be next to impossible for Anne or RP or Gyan. For Anne, waking up before 9.30 am happens once in a blue moon, where as for RP or Gyan,waking up before 12.30 pm happens once in 2/3 blue moons. These people can’t be blamed because they sleep late in the night (they claim that they sleep almost at dawn). Sometimes these night-outs happen because they are studying/working the entire night, but often they also happen due to chatting/telephone or gossips or movie shows or something of the type. Even if they sleep on time,  waking up before 9.30 am…. just next to impossible. Body clock does not allow. For instance, it does not matter, whether you put 10 alarm bells or 20 wake up calls, if Om does not want to wake up, no one can break her sleep. The person calling will lose patience and the alarm bells will go to snooze mode after some time… but nothing would destroy Om’s Kumbhakarna sleep. Fortunately or unfortunately, the alarm bell of the mobile non-stop rings and wakes people who are sleeping some 2 floors up/down or 10 rooms away.

I still remember the day, when Disho came back from the dept after a heated argument; he was supposed to meet a person in the main building for his registration on 2nd Jan, but went to meet him on 3rd Jan. He was  adamant that it was 2nd Jan and not 3rd Jan, could not accept and believe; he slept on the late night of 1st Jan and woke up only on 3rd Jan morning (after some 27 hours of non-stop sleep) thinking that he woke up only on 2nd Jan. He still could not believe that 2nd Jan was gone, called me and his aunt to verify the date 2nd or 3rd. Poor Disho, paid Rs 200/- as fine for the delay of registration 🙂

Some times I wonder – is there any body clock that actually controls? Is there any time for sleeping, working, playing or eating? The TT tables are fully occupied even at 3.00 am in our hostel; TV room is almost full at 2.30 am; big queue at the canteen at 1.00 am; serious discussion among groups at 4.00 am; whispering on phone with sweet hearts/would-bes from their room/playground/culvert; chatting with their GF/BF sitting close to him/her with a very low tone in the playground/culvert or near H12 cone at 4.30 am; going (coming) to (from) the dept at 3.00 am…. everything happens here, in the chilly winter, in the hot summer and the horrible rainy season. Quite interestingly, one day when I woke up at about 3.00/3.30 am, in my half-sleep I went to the bathroom and found one bathroom occupied and the shower was running… someone was taking a bath at this time !! For some time I stood fixed and got confused, is it morning bath or night bath? Coming to the issue of a bath, in an average one RS baths 5 times a week (very high average for H12 inmates, even less in other hostels); some bathe twice/once in a day.. some bathe once in 14 days, some once in a week. In winter, the frequency goes down, some bathe once in 30 days or more; really saving water and electricity… But, of course we spend more on chemicals… Deos and perfumes.🙂

Sometimes I wonder… Should we close all the bars/L-shops? Should we regulate liquor in the hostel? IIT Rule says…yes, liquor is not allowed but in practice.. how far is it being followed? I am not against personal consumption, that is a matter of personal prerogative. But I strongly feel that if you have to have liquor that should be without disturbing others. But that does not happen every time. For most when they are drunk, it is the time when they are high and do some thing wrong or right. Once drunk, they get into interesting acts: catching fish in the room, dancing on the some high pitch-full volume item song, or sleeping in the toilets (some drunk gentleman even sleep while they are standing), or crying in the mess with a plate full of food in hand or laughing in the midnight, attempting to fly in the aeroplane or give non-stop philosophical lectures.  For some it is fun, for some it is inconvenient, for some it is enjoyment and for the rest it is a part of life. It happens! Bachelor life – partying with friends is common and natural.

On a different note, marriage for researchers is a big task. Searching for a good groom or a bride is always an important assignment from the day one they enter the institute. Some try to optimize their search with the options available here in the campus, some try to get some one from their native place, some still wonder what to do? Searching the right partner is tough though, many try their luck and burn their fingers in the process; a mix of sweet and sour experiences. Those who are married and have not got any married accommodation… tough life . But they also search for enjoyment in the official entry time of IIT Bombay: 7.00 am to 10.00 pm (Some have even paid fines for violating the official time).

With all these fun it will be incomplete if I do not highlight the research work or TA work or Ghodagiri of a Research Scholar. For some the burden is evenly placed throughout the year and for some only during the deadlines; APS, Presyn, Conferences, Journals. For some 24 hours per day is just not enough; spending even more than 28 hours in the lab at a stretch are very common during deadlines. The impact of success and failure of self and the other is also quite visible on the daily life of an RS; some get frustrated, some enjoy and some become composed. Research and Re-search continues, papers after papers published, country after country visited, party after party celebrated and life goes on non-stop, with speed-breakers in between; ego clashes with guide and colleagues, fighting and love with sweet hearts,  extending stays in hostel until one gets a job, buckling under the pressure of parents to complete PhD and getting married, or just sleeping aimlessly through days and nights or enjoying 6 movies in a day… It happens and starts with a new evening (morning… hardly any RS sees the morning) till the next evening; from Sunset to Sunset – a day in IIT.

Note: All the names and incidents mentioned here are fictional. Aamjunta does not hold any responsibility for any resemblance of the incidents or the characters with any person dead or living. This article was originally published as an invited post on 26th March, 2009 in “Iris”.

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25 Responses

  1. Dada, went through your article. Well written, and linked. One request: why don’t you write your experience on your life at IITB? I know it is emotional one, but, I am sure you will be able to handle that.

    Also write some thing on the dos and donts in phd.. you can contribute a lot 🙂

  2. emotional ones huh, these experience i would like to hear too!!!so dada when are we going to have that privilege of hearing all the senti experiences,:)

  3. Cool… even though most of the incidents are narrated with the base of IIT Bombay, I can see the connection of your article in IIT Kgp also.

    And.. in the Sunset… it is the dark that ruled the world the most. True to its core (senti) ….

  4. @MangoMan: Finally! Remember that “HK uth, saath baj gaye” bellowing? Remember those times when you disturbed my sleep? Now Shanmuga gives you a taste of your own medicine!! Muahahahahahaha

  5. Great Blog Dada! Real happenings in the life of PhD student @ IITB are clearly narrated.

    @ Sreyash: Nowadays, Swana does not reply me even when he is in room. I end up calling him a couple more times. We have a new slogan for him “Shvaana Shvaanow Shvaanaaha…” 🙂

  6. Very good insight into lives of IITans. As an IITan, it refreshes my memory of the days I spent at IITB. Truly nice article HK…

  7. Completely I share your opinion. In it something is also to me this idea is pleasant, I completely with you agree.

  8. Excellent blog! I genuinely love how it’s easy on my eyes as well as the information are well written. I am wondering how I might be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which need to do the trick! Have a nice day!

  9. Excellent blog! Have a nice day!

  10. Good article, Wish to see more on this type of subjects in the future!

  11. Interesting stuff friend

  12. Well written, Aamjunta….you have brilliantly captured the zeitgeist of a RS in IITB…

  13. Excellent blog! I genuinely love how it. Have a nice day!

  14. Great thank you

  15. Excellent espresso and a cold morning on the patio with the k9 reading some fantastic copy, just what more can an individual ask for?

  16. Any book coming on aamjunta’s life at IIT? We are hoping so 🙂 Brilliantly captured the life of a PhD scholar of any IIT.

  17. Being an hostelite I can correlate my story here. Good one, quite funny.

  18. Being from IIT Madras and a hostellite, I can say you captured each and every point very well. Chetan Bhagat 2? or some thing else? 🙂

  19. Another Chetan Bhagat!!! I can see a better Chetan Bhagat of course.

  20. some of my friends are research scholar in IITs…and their part of the story is same as what you just narrated above. It was a fun read aamjunta 🙂

  21. Nice article AJ

  22. Hostel life and the fun along with the associated ‘norms and cultures’…in an age of no regrets…life is fun when you are at college 🙂
    Nicely captured moments. Loved reading it!

  23. I never had breakfast in hostel, the food sucked. We used to sleep late, and bunk all classes. I miss that life.. I wish Btech was 8 yrs. I agree with you RS’s life style is completely different from that of Bachelors, but there is always a friction between the both..

  24. Very nice post Aamjunta – well said.

    @Niranjang-Being an IITian for more than 10 years (BTech, MTech and PhD), I can understand your point and the life of an undergraduate. The life is fun there, but once you move from undergraduate days to post graduate days, you need more and more privacy and life changes. Both are good in their own sense; enjoy as it comes is the motto of mine.

  25. Lovely one. Can’t match your story telling and creative writing. I am forwarding this articles to some of my friends.

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