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We asked readers to share their stories about living with roommates. Here Gurubaran Thanigaivel, a 31-year-old software engineer, shares the valuable life lessons he learned from living with roommates.
I was brought up in Chennai and in order to pursue my MCA programme I moved to Madurai, leaving Chennai for the first time. Life at the hostel was great, like anyone who has stayed in one would agree.
I shared the room with a junior, who we called Buck. Though it wasn't much fun, we make sure the room was clean and thing were in order; that was how I was raised. One day en route to my room, I noticed three students cleaning the room next to mine armed with brooms and other cleaning materials.
After half an hour, the room was very clean and I was glad to see I had something in common with my collegemates. But I did not expect what happened next -- they neatly spread a paper on the floor and cloth on top of it. They then proceeded to pull out a bottle of rum, and the rest is history.
One of the three guys, Sastha, was my neighbour at the hostel while the others had different rooms. As the days progressed, I began to move with them and we came to develop good rapport. They were pursuing their MFC programme and were localities of Madurai. The friendship grew and I finally moved to Sastha's room.
He was interested in photography and painting, while I was against sticking anything on the wall. But seeing his talent and photographs/ paintings I could not resist putting them up. If either of us felt the room needed cleaning, we would just begin with the other joining in. We would even each others clothes. We talked about everything -- friends, girls in our class, family ties. Both of us like exploring new places and would take our bikes (mine is '86 Suzuki, which I still drive in remembrance of my father) to nearby tourist places. Kodaikanal would be our favourite destination. Once we drove in the rain from Madurai to Kodaikanal, ignoring all the negative weather reports We had a great time there. I am in touch with very few collegemates after getting married, but this guy is one of them.
Later, following campus recruitments I came to Chennai to reunite with my family. After two years I got married and six months later my wife conceived and left for her mother's place. After childbirth, she planned to pursue higher studies and continued to stay there. It was close to 2 years that I was in Chennai alone. I used to go visit them every fortnight. In the due course, I felt the house was too large for me to stay in all alone, so I rented out a room to three of my MCA classmates. The initial days were smooth. But as days progressed, I began to see some conflict of interests.
While I was watching TV, someone would come and switch to some other channel. Slowly I lost interest in watching TV; I would come late from office and speak with my wife over the phone for long hours and go to sleep. Another issue was dinner. Since everyone used to come at different times, we used to wait for everyone to come and then plan dinner. Eventually, we would end up having dinner not before 11 pm.
Since I was not used to eating so late, I told them about it and decided to have dinner earlier. Then since I would get up early in the morning, I would prepare coffee/ tea and share it with them. To my disappointment, they would leave the cups where everywhere, until the maid or I cleared them. Clothes, both dirty and washed, would be everywhere until the laundry guy came and picked them up.
Other than the normal household chores we got along pretty well. But I was constantly preaching to them to be more responsible in keeping things in order. I would talk to my wife over phone and complain about them. She would tell me that it was a "test" for me to adjust with people; nobody is perfect, and it is I who had to adjust to society. She also told me not to move out or ask them to leave. What came as surprise was that her words were more a challenge than words of comfort. So, I saw it through.
That's when I began focusing on the positives: we never had any issues on the financial front. Whatever be the budget per person they would share it without a question. Three of us had cars and would swap just for a change of vehicle. We did actually have a lot of fun together.
In the subsequent days I practised the following:
a) Watch TV, but never just one show. I'd watch anything that was on at the time.
b) Whenever I saw things that could be set in order, I would do it if I had the time. I never looked to see if other people would do the job.
c) I introduced the system of dropping cigarette butts in an ash tray rather on the road or within the compound.
d) Arranging the daily paper in order in a shelf.
e) Learned to sleep with the lights on and noise. Earlier, I needed a soundproof room with total dark. But now I can sleep through anything. My wife isn't happy about it though, specially when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night.
f) I started to prepare the morning breakfast.
g) Started to have dinner alone on time, without complaining.
I got more comfortable, and life was much smoother. Gradually, each got married and went their separate ways.
Now I understand how my wife would have felt living with me for those 2.5 years, where I would not have even tried to adjust to her likes and dislikes.
Adjusting with other people in society and family is a great attribute/ attitude that everyone has to learn, so they can live happily and peacefully. For those with roomies and even those without, inculcate this trait in yourself and in your children. My parents failed to teach me this, but I'm glad my wife succeeded.
Do you or did you once share your living space with a roommate/ roommates? We'd love to hear about your experiences sharing your accommodation with someone else. Roomie horror stories, stories of friendship, we want to hear them all!
Write in to us, along with your name, age, occupation, contact details, and a photograph (if possible), and we'll publish your entries right here on rediff.com!
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