Sunday, December 13, 2009

Indraprastha College Hostel Crazies

IP Hostel Girls with Warden Behenji and Other Staff 
Indraprastha College in New Delhi, India is one of those all women colleges supposedly to keep girls and women safe. It did to a great degree and somehow that translated into it being known as a 'behenji' college by other snooty colleges with no historical significance. Ha! Nonetheless, it has a rich history of being steeped in India's Independence Movement prior to its getting free from the British in 1947. Despite all its associations with independence, the hostel itself was run like an army camp complete with roll call and keeping close scrutiny on girls-in-hostel-campus! 

Recently there was a discussion about a swimming pool. I was there for 3 years but have no memory of a pool ever existing till a lone photograph shattered this misconception. This was also a time when near or in a pool, one had to be fully clothed! Instead of New Delhi, this could have been one of those Middle Eastern countries. Surely there was not much to hide, we all had similar stuff! Other than being the butt of each other's jokes, our virginities and modesties remained dry of all contamination. Nonetheless the glee on some of the faces near the pool reflected contentment and joy in the fanta (orange pop) and chips we all shared. 
IP Pool where being fully clothed was acceptable!

Behenji remained the quintessential warden with a puny little dog and a few chamchas. She probably wished all the boarders would have been of the canine species, so that she could have made pets out of us. But of course that was not to be and she remained the most mimicked human in the hostel. Other than that the entire place was a mad house with girls yelling and shrieking to sort out matters of which there were plenty. If we had the right to carry arms it would have been a bloody battle ground.

I happened to play basketball under the auspices of a complete clown masquerading as a coach. Now this coach was no coach, all he did was yell till he turned blue in the face. We were ready to drag him across the field to Behenji's office if he collapsed. Needless to say not one player ever listened to him. I think we came to practices with cotton stuck in our ears and went the same way for the games as well. The poor man must have cried with exasperation a million times. He must have also been tempted to plead with the opposing team to please let him coach them instead of IP rogues. We happened to get beat by St. Stephens College often. Maybe the male crowd helped those miserable Stephen girls to win or maybe it was our coach himself who may have wished defeat for us rascals. Thanks to this coach, not much came out of these, besides a few of us reaching pre-national championships, primarily a selection process for Team India, minus this coach. 

Vishal, Joyce, Shoma, Chhabi
Regarding the food in the hostel, I thought it was dog food that Behenji fed us but there are others who still drool over what was served. The hostel kitchen and pantry had an all-male staff for a girls' hostel, imagine that and within the strange atmosphere of Indian castes, these men happened to be very cool looking each with his unique swagger, good for mimicking by us girls. But the most popular man on the hostel campus was Premji! He was the man in constant demand by Behenji and us girls for all kinds of troubles mainly electrical troubles and our culprit heaters. There were girls who disappeared in the night and others who said Yes Behenji when the missing girls' names were called. We trained well to be criminals and accomplices. All in all it was a good time, an innocent time, a time of no worries and best of all, a time of no cooking and relishing aloo chaat and gorging on chow mien. 


  1. Bapi said:

    Looks as though you guys had a lot of fun there. Not sure about the 'innocent' bit.
    You're getting stronger in writing.

  2. Joyce...You write well and all facts are well portrayed ! YOU did bring out food nostalgia..which takes me 25 years back into the dining haven or heaven ( HAHA ). Behanjee...Hmmm Lots can be scribbled in her name.. she did pounch on my naughty self and did show her soft side too. Yeah !
    BUTT...those were my best years of life !

  3. Rohin Pradhan-Parekh said:
    Well written .. Disagree about the food.. Behenji fed us well and her food was awesome! well what more could we expect when we were poor! and we could eat only at madhubans and ISBT momos!

  4. Welll...The anonymous was me....Reena. Thought name would just slide in but it didnt ! hah !

  5. Joyce..........kudos to your writing,brilliant sense of humour & command over the language.Enjoyed,laughed aloud & envied the fun you guys had! Jaiya

  6. So Joyce, your saga continued here too. What a hilarious account of A Boarder's Life Part 2! I guess life was never dull for you or those around you, in whatever category or position. You must write a diary, like Brigitte Jones. You sure have the knack and flare and will keep your readers enthralled and captivated.:-)

  7. Very well written..I must say you put a fresh perspective to life at IP...I enjoyed those days so much inspite of the food...Maggie was always there ..not to forget the so called continental or was it Chinese food of boiled vegetables and runny soups..

  8. Sonali Said:
    Joyce Didi, this was sooooo much fun to read. I too went to IP after Sophia. It was exactly as you described it....Behenji,her dog (Mitthu), Madhubans, Momos, attendance....there was also the grocery shop ''Beyti's'', named so 'coz the old man there called each of us 'Beti'. Behenji and her dog looked identical from the back - their walk and their body structure.Behenji has passed away. Do you remember 'Jummaji' the sweeper? He was there even during my Bua's times...thanks so much for describing so beautifully all these memories.....