Lately I have been writing a lot about the deep dark secrets of my life. Fist there was the Ugly Duckling article. Then the one on the bus stop issue and now this one. Strangely, I am pretty ok with sharing these rather embarrassing incidents of my life on this very public forum. I think writing is cathartic. So since I am ok with this public sharing business, I will write another incident. May be I should make this a five part series or something! 😛
This particular incident happened in third year of graduation. By then I had adapted to the life in the hostel and had turned in a pucca ‘hosteler’. I had developed most of the essential skills required for surviving in the hostel- learning to study with the radio blaring, sleeping with all the room lights switched on, waiting in line for the hot geyser water in winters, maintaining a steady stock of goodies, making “friends” with the superintendent, avoiding the faculty that lived on campus etc. you name it and I had learnt it in the short duration that I was residing there.
We followed a routine at college. After classes got over, generally around 4.30-5 in the evening, we would rush to the Mess for our “tea-share” (please don’t ask me why “tea” was called “tea share” here. This is a pre-historic college that dates back to 1932 and so many of the words being used on the campus came from the British era. My dad laughed at this term for 2.5 years till I finally graduated from the college and stopped using the word altogether! But in an effort to explain the odd term to you, I must tell you that we got a small snack to eat with our tea. May be that’s why it was called tea- share. That’s the best explanation I can come up with!). Once we had made a quick visit to the Mess we would walk down to Bengali Market or BM as per the college lingo. Walks to BM are some of my cherished memories of hostel life. These walks allowed us the opportunity to unwind after a long day. A fair amount of time on these walks was spent on discussion how horrible the practicals had been that day and which professor was being partial to which student. This was also the time that we would often stop at the local PCO and call up friends and family and if possible, make plans for the approaching weekend. In addition, on days when the menu for dinner didn’t look good we would forage for food at the market- the usual Maggi soup- Maggi noodle fare. BM is actually a very small market but you are sure to find all the essentials there. Plus it has the very famous Bengali Sweets and Nathu Sweets shops. Dilliwallas often flock to the market and hit either of these two shops for the best-est chaat in town. Besides these benefits, BM also boasts of the two smallish temples. I not one of those who follows a strict schedule when it comes to visiting temples but I like visiting them whenever I can. During college the maximum number of trips I made to these temples was before exams!! I must have prayed like there was no tomorrow before the biochemistry exam. God was kind and I passed with decent marks. (It must have been God because I was just dreadful at that subject!!).
One evening after completing a long tiring two hour practical class my friend Akanksha and I were struck with a bright idea. We had just finished our tea at the Mess but wanted to eat something sweet. I don’t have a sweet tooth and to the best of my knowledge neither does she, but we felt like it. We thought the easiest way to get our hands on some sweets would be at one of the mithai shops at BM but we were in no mood to pay for it. It wasn’t that we didn’t have the money. We weren’t broke or anything but we just didn’t want to pay. If you have lived in a hostel ever, you would know that insanity like this often strikes people who live away from home in hostile conditions for moderately long durations! Akanksha came up with the idea that if we go to one of the mithai shops and look like potential customers, we can taste a few mithais and then tell the salesman we didn’t like any and exit the shop. This way we wouldn’t have to pay and our craving for something sweet would be satisfied too. It seemed like a fool proof idea to me so I readily agreed. We walked to BM and confidently entered Bengali Sweets. We asked the salesman at the counter to allow us to taste some of the desi ghee besan laddoo. To our utmost surprise he flatly refused. He told us in a stern tone that only if we were extremely sure that we wanted to buy something that he would let us taste anything in the shop. We knew we were caught but we tried to salvage the situation by rationally arguing with the chap. He refused to relent. Realising we had lost the battle; we left the shop, red faced and utterly embarrassed. There were at least 15 people in the shop when the dialogue between the salesman and us occurred. I don’t think we went back to that shop ever after this episode.
In spite of the extremely embarrassing outcome of our adventure we learnt three things:a) If you want to be a smarty make sure you try your tricks in an area where people don’t recognise you. We were such a common feature at BM that each of the persons who owned or worked in the shops there knew we were girls living in the college campus. They knew us too well to be tricked by us.b) If your parents are kind enough to provide you money to meet daily living costs, use it! They don’t expect you to save money on things like food!!c) If insanity strikes, try using rational thinking. If that fails, at least make sure you plan is fool proof so that you are saved of unnecessarily getting stuck in embarrassing situations!