Life in a hostel: The hate list

You are young, free and away from your parents. Life at a boarding school must be perfect! Think again. There is a mean warden, bunkbeds and suspect cafteria food.

Bushra Maheen Rahman August 18, 2010
The Warden: I wonder if while hiring hostel wardens, the administration specifically looks for bitter, old, and mostly unmarried ladies who will make sure that life is unbearably hard for students at the dreaded boarding school. They inculcate a sense of fear among those destined to be at their mercy. With a paper and pen ready, they are constantly waiting to pounce on their victims just so they can attach another notice on the board of disorderly conduct.

The Washrooms: It is an absolute pain walking into a wet washroom. The pain scale shoots to 10 when the washroom is both wet and littered with hair. Mind-boggling. Vomit-inspiring.

The Mess: Ever wondered why the hostel just cannot have a proper cafeteria or what you did to deserve a fried cockroach in that samosa you ordered during the evening? Have you tried to figure out what it will take for authorities to hire proper cooks in the mess and failed to come up with an answer? Yes? Me too.

The Roommate: When you join a hostel first, you are either stuck with two or three girls. It is only a few years later that you may actually a space on your own. However, before that happens, for some odd reason you are always stuck with people you are not compatible with at all. They will happily sleep at 10 p.m sharp requiring you to switch the lights off without any regard for the fact that you have to study. They refuse to use a pair of headphones. They insist on eating their meals in the bedroom leaving a perpetual stench. Unless you put your foot down, the tirade of shamelessness goes on.

The absence of hot water and heaters during winters: There is never enough warm water in the winters. If, unfortunately, your hostel happens to be in Murree; life is definitely difficult during winters. Heaters were obviously not allowed in the rooms lest the students leave them on which is, indeed, sensible. Yet it still sucks to be shivering all winter.

The Backbiting: While I have come across some of the best people at boarding school, there is no dearth of those who will make sure they report everything whether it is true or false to the wretched warden. If they can’t get hold of the warden, they will make it their business to talk about you behind your back to everyone who is ready to listen.

Bunk beds: I don’t think this one needs explanation.

Kleptomaniacs and spies: Why, oh, why can they not keep their hands and ears to themselves? The kleptomaniacs happily steal things, even if it is eraser that you got from the school bookshop and the spies will eavesdrop on every conversation you have, every contact you meet and keep an eye on wherever you go.

The no-television policy: As if life at the hostel isn’t dreary enough, there are these rules which forbid you from any fun activity whatsoever. Watching TV beyond the specified hours earns you bad points. Blaring music was obviously not allowed and rightfully so, I would add reluctantly. Sundays were worth waiting for.

The Goodbyes: No matter how hard it is living with a bunch of strangers for years, it is painful to say goodbye. Life at boarding school is full of memories cherished to be forever - minus the encounters with the warden!
    Bushra Maheen Rahman A doctor from Peshawar who writes, blogs at www.pistaye.wordpress and tweets @MaheenRahman
    The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.