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.

    COMMENTS (23)

    mehak ali | 11 years ago | Reply i think in hostel life we actually came acroos the world.we teach how to defend urslf. how to manage each n evrything whether it is money or or ur life....... no doubt mess n wash room is a worst part of it........... moreover hostel life taught us to control ur anger,attitude and taught to compromise.................... in short it is good on one side n a little bit bad on another side
    kalim | 11 years ago | Reply I have been in hostels all my life, since class KG that was 1985. You start loving the hate list once you are out of the hostel. I learned how to stitch a button or torn clothes (because of the beating we used to get from our terror warden, we used to call her Aapa, 5 feet 2 inch stretched and stuffed with 90 kilos of flesh, dark complexion with the biggest nose i have seen til now). I still remember the first time i was polishing my shoes, i started by polishing the sole instead of the toe side. I still remember the breakfast with porridge/corn flex/boiled egg one slice of bread with butter and a cup of tea, our menu for supper used to be either brown beans or pulses on alternate evenings but pulses often winning the race with hat-ricks and at time double hat-ricks. I still remember Friday and Sunday two days off a week, Easter holidays Christmas holidays and the chicken piece used to be served once a year that also on picnic. I still remember the gifts of sweets we used to get on Christmas.I still remember being a boarder gives you a certificate of being wild and fight with any day scholar whom you don't like or you just want to fight.I still remember the tee-lo express and save save or sab sab.I still remember the big wash on Sundays and small washes on every evening. I still remember waiting to go to class 4th so we can watch the Pakistani movies aired on Ptv weekly and at times monthly. I still remember Pakistan winning 1992 World Cup. I still remember the mere fees of rs 500 per month. the list goes on and on. Most of the time the questions i face from my friends is were your parents too cruel or you too horrible that you have to be put in hostel at such an age and i just say that no better education facility was available in our place so have to go to hostel. One do enjoy things once you leave that place but i will again love to go to hostel if i am born again at that same place. Not all may agree with me but i think i have been better in life because of hostels and the best thing you learn from hostel is that you can gain and be an excellent friend who will lever ever sell any of your friend. P.s Please omit spelling and grammar mistakes because i m in hurry doing my breakfast getting late for office.
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