Happiness is recollecting college memories
2007-10. I was doing my graduation. I was staying in the hostel. It was actually a convent.
Some of us had mobiles – the basic one, me included. It was the time when private FM channels were launched. We were 13 in a dormitory and 2 of us had mobile which could support FM. We used to put them in loudspeaker in the lowest level of volume and sit around the phone and listen to it. There was a program called “Muddugow” in Radio Mango at 10 PM, playing romantic songs. RJ Saju used to anchor the show in his romantic voice. We used to sit in pin drop silence listening to him. Had we listened with half the concentration in the class, we all would have been rank holders for degree.
We had no charging points in any common area except mess hall. The rule was one can charge the phone only once in a week. We had to pay Rs.3 per charging. There was a log maintained for this. Since mobile was not allowed in the campus, there is no option to charge from the class. When you go to the warden and tell her you wana charge your phone, she ll give you “the look”, as if whom are you calling girl. Then she ll check the log to see when was the last time you charged your phone. Considering it was the period of free SMS, it was difficult to manage the charge for 7 days. We had to listen to radio. Some had to call the boyfriends and so on. So once the warden goes to her room after the 10.30 bell, one of us pretend studying infront of warden’s room and keep the ears sharp to grasp the lightest of the sound from her room. Then we listen for the sound of her bathroom’s bolt, then the sound of shower, and then locking the bathroom again. Once we hear the sound of the lock after her bath, we are sure she has changed her dress and will not come out unless in emergencies. We climb down the stairs as softly as possible and tiptoe to the mess from 2nd floor and charge the phone. The girl who is on duty continues to pretend studying unless we the mobile is charged for the day.
Another way of charging mobile was this. Almost everybody had a Nokia phone and the battery was the same, evenif the models are different. One of us, who is not in urgent need of the phone will sacrifice their phone for the day. We go to the Warden, pay, make the entry in the logbook and will put the phone to charge. After, say 2 hours, the phone will be fully charged. Then the second person, who needs to charge the phone will suddenly be thirsty and will head to the mess to drink water. She will make sure that nobody is seeing her and will immediately exchange her battery with the phone which is put to charge. If we change the phone altogether, warden will figure it out. If we change the battery, how will she know? This has gone upto charging 3 batteries in one go. She always wondered why is it taking this long to get the batteries charged. Battery problem, you know 😉 😉 😉 That was all about the plugpoint in the mess hall.
With the number of mobile phone shooting up, we had to find out new ways to charge the phones. It was around this time that it was decided to put asbestos sheet to the open terrace and use it as study hall. On special occasion, this can be used as the stage also. So a plug point was added to connect the mike set and the wise warden made sure that a box is build around the switchboard so that she can lock it up. After some celebration during our final year, the mike system was duly returned to its original place. She forgot to lock the switch board. Woohoooo.. God has opened another option for us to charge. Only we final year-ers knew about this. 7 to 7.45 was the prayer time. Christians should go to the chapel and pray. It lasted 45 minutes. Hindus should light lamp and pray. Our prayer was quick. After the prayer, we run to the terrace. We keep the mobile to charge and closed the box and act as if we are studying. 7.45 to 8.45 is the dinner plus leisure time. So, generally, none came to the study hall. It was also the time when phone calls from parents are allowed to the hostel landline. This one hour was also the only time when we are allowed to use the mobile. On some days, some juniors who are just out of the school, tend to follow the same discipline in the college too and come to study even before the 8.45 bell. Then we had to find a way out to take out the mobile from the box. Poor us! Do you know what we did. Somebody who was having the mobile handy in the study hall will call to the hostel landline. When warden picks up the call, we change our sound and asks for the girl who was posing a threat to our “Mission Full Charge”. Warden will then call out the girl in the mike and she will go running. The moment she is out of sight we disconnect the call and take out our phones from the box. Poor girl, climbs down all the stairs from 3rd floor to ground floor only to hear a disconnected tone. This method cannot be applied when there are multiple threats in the study hall. It has happened too. The warden will lock this study hall at 10.30, which means we will have to get up at 5.30 next day and run to study hall as soon as it is opened to pick the phone. Huh! Such fun!
And this was all teamwork. No one person can do this all alone. There has to be friends in full attention at multiple points. We have to be careful about the warden. We had to be careful about the other sisters of the convent. We had to be careful about other students. We had to be careful about the ladies working in the kitchen. Such complicated operation, you know!