« Back to articlePrint this article

'Hostel life taught me the art of compromise'

October 01, 2019 12:20 IST

We'd asked you, dear readers, to share pictures and tell us about your favourite hostel memories.
Nisha Tandon, 49, Dubai tells us how hostel life prepared her to deal with challenges and enjoy life.

Nisha Tandon

IMAGE: Nisha Tandon shared this picture with her classmates from Institute of Hotel Management, Bhubaneshwar in 1988Photograph: Kind courtesy Nisha Tandon

Way back in 1988, at the age of 18, from a protective environment I moved to an environment that was in complete contrast.

I came from a relatively conservative background and always stayed under the protective wings of our parents, like most kids did during that time.

Having successfully secured an admission in a hotel management institution in Bhubaneswar, Orissa I had to move out of home in Kharagpur into a girl’s hostel.

I had mixed emotions of fear and anxiety. But being a Taurean, I was quite adventurous and was ready to take on life head on.

With no pre-planning, I decided to take each day as it comes.

My father accompanied me to the college and after completing all the formalities and receiving assurance from the hostel superintendent, he dropped me at the hostel.

I felt lonely, completely lost and to say the least, most nervous.

I turned behind and with tears rolling down my cheeks I saw my father walk away, perhaps with the confidence that 'hereon this is her journey and she will stumble and fall but rise to be a winner.'

Nisha Tandon

IMAGE: 'My room mates and closest pals -- Renu Agarwal (now Singh) and Julliet V Thomas' Nisha captioned this photograph.

Hostel life initially was not easy.

The art of compromise was served lavishly on a platter -- be it food, sharing room and personal space with strangers.

There were limited number of washrooms and a total lifestyle change.

Sitting on the dining table in the mess made me and the others yearn for food so lovingly cooked by our mothers and fed with an overdose of love.

We tend to take things in our life for granted and learn to value them only when we have them no more.

Being a vegetarian worked against me and I was sick of seeing burnt chappatis and potato curry being served almost every day. How I missed my mother!

Another issue was the use of washrooms. Early bird catches the prey fitted the bill completely here.

One needed to compromise on sleep and be in queues to make it in time to the college bus.

We learnt to wash clothes and iron them too as there was no laundry facility available in those days.

Each chore reminded me of the comforts of home and the lavish lifestyle we were so used to.

Slowly we got used to make the most of whatever little we had.

But all those hardships made me a better person.

The bonding we formed with our seniors, peers and juniors was the best thing hostel life gave us.

We sought comfort in the company of strangers who gradually became our own and by the end of the third year it seemed impossible to separate from them.

In the absence of blood relations, we found a sister and even a mother in someone out there -- someone we could talk to, share our anxieties with and help us with solutions to the many problems we came across. And unbelievably they became relationships for life.

The best memories were of the midnight coffee sessions we girls had in our pyjamas. From sharing the secrets to heartbreaks and infatuations.

The Maggi moments were some of the most cherished memories too.

All was not hunky dory though; we did have disagreements with many mates to the point that we became arch rivals, be it in academics or extra curricular activities.

We would try our level best to woo the attention and affection of our seniors and be in their good books by writing their journals in various subjects.

Although it was a part of ragging, we enjoyed it thoroughly as that was the foundation of intimate relationships.

When I look back at those days, I have a smile pasted on my face.

So much so we even had our first stint in a domain we had not dared to venture into so far -- beautifying ourselves.

Most of us had never visited a parlour (salon) before this. So many beauty tips were shared by experts, or so they thought, every Sunday morning.

It was a sight to watch!

The worst memories -- how much we missed our families during the festivities.

I remember spending the first Diwali at the hostel, because we were not granted leave or allowed to travel home. It was one of the saddest days of college life.

But we had a few classmates who bought us the toy guns with crackers and a few basic crackers. It brought some solace as we girls burst them together in the hostel.

There are memories that are unforgettable and one could go on and on.

The entire phase of 3 years I spent at the hostel had been very enriching. It taught me life skills and how to cope with situations in life. It also got me ready for what was yet to come.

Our batch of 1991 relived our hostel days in Goa at one of our reunions. 25 of us had travelled across the globe to be there with each other.

We went back to college days, excited to share rooms once again and gossip till wee hours of the morning. We traversed back in time.

Today as I note down my memories, nostalgia of three decades engulfs me. How I miss those days.

If I could go back in time and had a chance of reliving it, would I do it differently? Most definitely not.


Have you lived in a college hostel?

What was the experience like?

Send us your best stories and memories of living in a hostel to (subject: Life in a hostel) along with your NAME, AGE, LOCATION and photographs, if possible. We'll publish the best responses right here on