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…


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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