The April 2018 issue of Ping had a two-feature article pushing for co-ed hostels on campus. The article in turn led to a drive for… err, “further discussions?”… on the issue. But before we “go out with the old and in with the new”, let’s dive a little deeper into the older; the existing hostel rules.
No one really knows or cares about the documented rules. And even if they did bother to go through the rather banal document (as at least one of the authors of this article painstakingly had to), it has been left so open to interpretation, that the rules may be executed at will.
(There are two(!) rules stating that the rules should be followed, with one even going on to call them the “laws of the land”. The final line brings it all together though; “For smooth running of the hostels, the hostel administration may drop/modify the existing rules or form new rules whenever required.”)
But it’s not just about the documentation, hostel rules are executed at will, and rumoured and “expected” rules overshadow the document. It is an open secret that there is a gap in understanding of “campus life conduct” among the various groups responsible for it. Security guards, caretakers, faculty, students; all have a different idea of how things should be, and this friction leads to results that are sometimes outrageous, sometimes plain absurd, but almost always hilarious.
But this is not going to be a serious look into the situation. Rather, we took the knot and twisted it further. Yes, we made up a fake survey, with fake rules, to get real reactions out of people. The fact that we conducted the survey on April Fool’s day didn’t help either.
We had three different types of rules; the completely made-up ones, the rumoured, but unsubstantiated rules, and the actual, albeit misinterpreted rules. Our participants obviously didn’t know which was which, and we presented them all as actual documented rules. To our disappointment though, most people were just “meh” about it. The best was one participant who just had one word to say to everything; “Weeeeeeird”. Still, we managed to sieve out the occasional funny lines. Here are a few:
(after introducing the survey)
“I am a lawful citizen of OBH. I don’t think I violated any rules.”
How wrong they were to be proven soon enough, when they found out “you’re not allowed to watch or have pornographic material in your room”. Sigh.
There is a rumoured rule, as conveyed to one of the OBH main block residents, that curtains are not allowed in the OBH main block.
“No porn and no curtains; they sure don’t want us jerking off in our rooms.”
“I need curtains to, um, block the sunlight. *poker face*”
Putting up posters is allowed in the room or not? Most people thought it wasn’t. Although, the housekeeping staff did appreciate my Lana Del Rey posters; “picture achha lagaya hai, bhaiya”. When we told them that it is actually quite alright to put up posters, one student realized, “There’s at least something to make up for the porn and curtains we are not allowed to have.”
Here’s another rule that we conveniently made-up; no condoms to be kept in the room. “No porn and no sex. They are really promoting a platonic, celibate environment here.”
Another one that’s a mix-up of rumours and misinterpretations, “no more than three people are allowed in a room, and if there are, you shouldn’t lock the door.” “Well, what do they expect, orgies? I think the celibacy was well-established by now.” However, a rule-breaker proudly declared, “No one can know what goes on behind locked doors in girls hostels.”
We misinterpreted the “weapons” rule from the document to tell people that they are not allowed to keep razor-blades and knives in the room. “Sigh, I murdered some fruits only last night.”
Here’s something that was decreed by one of the security guards, “guys are not allowed to stand outside girls hostels.” The awareness of this would have saved a lot of guys some unnecessary consistent efforts. But one man remains stubborn; “Well, I was standing outside the football field, not the girls hostel.”
In the end, we did do them the favour of informing that some of the rules were made up.
A hopeful enquiry followed; “The porn rule is the one that was made up, right?”. Nope, that’s on the document.
The disappointment on their face told stories.