The Night Life

@IIT Delhi

Night Life @IIT Delhi

I change my mind and ask the driver to pull over beside the solemn bilingual letters that announce the entrance to some of the most cherished memories of my life. “The experience is much better on foot.” I get off at the IIT Delhi main gate with the kind of excitement that old people get on visiting their childhood homes. After all, it’s been years since I’ve been on a date, and let’s admit it, we all went through a nostalgic phase during the pandemic. Tonight is just about me and the gorgeous IITD campus.

SDA

As I stand in front of the main gate, the dangling mystic lights from the food outlets at SDA catch my eye, and memories of all the late nights spent there come gushing back to me. It’s funny how we tried to cross the ring road at night in the drunk, hazy state that we were in because the subway would close by 10:30 pm (These stunts are performed by trained professionals, don’t try this at home.). SDA was like a corpus for food and partying for all the overpriced restaurants that offered discounts to IITD students (major flex moment). It’s the place for the best momos and shawarmas, and that great food made great memories.

Main Gate

Walking through the Main Gate of IIT Delhi resembles the start of a roller coaster ride, making you go through a flurry of mixed emotions. ‘Bhartiya Prodyogiki Sansthan’ embedded on the left never fails to give me goosebumps, even after all these years. The much-loved Momos Wale Bhaiya flanking the right side of the entry is as much a part of the campus community as any student board Gsec. He has always supported our Food Rights’ against dull mess routines at prices that no student can be too broke for.

 

The whole thing is like ‘Avatar,’ blue-uniformed guards with sword-like barricades. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to the metaphors.

Not much has changed except for the vigilance due to Covid. At least I didn’t face the interrogation that a 20-year old entering the gate with me did. It could be because of my car. Though I’d still switch lives with a student if I could.

Girl's Hostel

The path to the left heading towards the girls’ hostel used to be more happening for the guys than for the ladies. I remember my friends sneaking around late at night until the campus security officer sent Romeo back to his hostel. And to think that some of these people are married! I’d give credit to the campus. It’s probably the most romantic setting unemployed students can afford. Late-night dance-music-drama practices (or should I say early morning?) and the hunt for vacant sofas in the air-conditioned common room were highlights of our sleepless nights. The mess food was disappointing, but the friendships made over ranting about it were not 🙂

Blocks

The Blocks! Oh, such memories they hold.

 

The searing heat in Delhi can burn any skin. Coupled with the mosquitoes, sleeping inside the hostel room was a punishment in an era of exhaustible resources like mosquito repellants. Thus, fleeing secretly to the labs – not because we were curious engineers, but to experience the pleasure of a peaceful sleep under the AC. The camaraderie made the whole risk worth it. Also, what could go wrong? Failing to wake up on time guarantees morning tea in the professor’s office, which is all the more better because “breakfast humesha skip hojata hai.”

Biotech Lawns

As I come closer to the Main Building, I take a right and pass the iconic place where every fresher officially flaunts his/her IIT tag for the first time, by getting a photo clicked. ‘Indian Institute of Technology Delhi,’ it says in capitals. Opposite to it lay the large Biotech Lawns, green and lush as ever. There’s nobody there at the moment, but I remember nights where when I would pass it, it would never be empty. People would either be passed out there or doing something even more enjoyable under the trees 😏

Dogra Hall

As I raise my eyes to witness the Dogra Hall, I am reminded of every picture of the IITD main building. It is incomplete without the infamous paraboloidal roof. From BRCA nights to the convocations, the Dogra Hall has witnessed the zeal of freshers on their first day and the nostalgia of graduating students on their last.

WindT, CCD, Exhall, Amul

Walking towards WindT, I finally see some life! On summer nights like this one, this area is the most popular haunt. Oh, how we used to chant our hostel naaras during any inter-hostel event in the Seminar Hall towards the left. It used to be such a boost in dopamine levels with everyone’s hostel spirit spiraling towards maniacal. Subsidized yet still an expense, CCD towards the right was a great place to grab some coffee and work peacefully. They still have scarce seating, I see. Exhall remains occupied by the passers-by who couldn’t find a place to sit inside the pricey cafe 🥲

Maybe I can find a bench near Amul, the go-to place to grab an ice cream, chai, and snacks. The stone benches, which were once over-occupied, now have only one person on each owing to social distancing rules. Honestly, I feel sorry for the current batch. Maybe I won’t switch lives with them after all.

As I enjoy my cornetto without judging eyes on me or my $1000 attire, I see a short, blue-colored electric bike with a big headlight pass by me. I had seen a picture of the director posing on one of these…Yulu bikes!

Masala Mix & Chaayos

Further, towards the SAC circle, the eye beholds the big white capital letters of Masala Mix. The ambience has changed. Masala Mix now appears to be more like a cafe because of the influence of Chaos, ah my mistake, Chaayos. The entrance to the area has undoubtedly progressed with proper fencing and gating mechanisms to make it more exclusive to humans rather than an inclusion of both humans and dogs. Hey! I see a dog. Nevermind. I take a table and reminisce about the open mics under this sublime lighting, the loved-by-all playlists at Chaayos, and the birthday treats.

Lecture Hall Complex (LHC)

This new building replaces the academic blocks with state-of-the-art classrooms and labs (I may have helped with that). The wooden benches and the air-conditioned rooms make it a perfect place for studying (read: sleeping). The glass pyramid also resides here (mandatory picture alert).

Walking on the main road towards SAC brings back perhaps the most memories. Be it running for 8 am classes with sleep in our eyes or returning to the hostel after a long day, again with sleep in our eyes, this was the way.

Boys' Hostel

Taking a right, I decide to pay the Kumaon hostel a visit (for the oh-so-yummy choco lava cake, of course) and I can already hear roars of ‘Jai Kumaon in my head. Most boys hostels have kept their rich enthusiasm in sports and other cultural activities. GC used to be such a test of hostel spirit, and I’m sure the legacy remains and will continue.

However, hostel spirit was not limited to competitions. A lot of bonding took place when every Friday night, we played cards, and the bet was that the loser had to sponsor tickets for a movie.

Fact Alert:

Vijendra Chauhan, an alumnus of the 1996 batch, recalls how he spent nights playing carrom with Amitabha Bagchi, a professor at IIT Delhi today.

SAC & Swimming pool

Oh, by the way, did I mention? I was quite the swimmer. I mean, an Olympic-sized swimming pool was enough to get me engrossed with the sport when I joined IIT. Also, because RDX, the only couples’ dance event, was organized around the swimming pool. Lads waited for this day the entire year, but only a handful could make it due to the poor gender ratio. And even for those, the struggle did not end there. It’s very frustrating when your partner leaves with someone else, and you can’t, thanks to the couple’s exit. Happened to a friend, not me, obviously. It’s time to move on.

Inside Seniors' Rooms

While I go around the hostel area, I see new freshies talking to their seniors for the first time. These guys are missing quite the time of their lives. I remember my first interaction with hostel seniors. My “friends” told me to go to this certain senior’s room after dinner. Not knowing better, I did, only to be greeted with puffs of smoke and seniors waiting for us. We introduced ourselves, and the “party” began. The whole night went by without us realizing it, and we obviously had a lot of fun.

That room soon became the place for several such parties, “poltu” talks, trying to lure people to their side by selling, giving advice on PORs and interns (Even though they barely even got their own).

All of this began the same way – “Dinner ke baad ek baar room me aana.

With all this, there’s no way one can forget the night before an exam. It had become a habit to catch hold of a studious person from our hostel, who taught us everything in one night. I wonder how life has turned out to be for that person.

Shashi Da Dhaba

As I go ahead, I encounter the space that used to be the best runaway spot from the bland hostel food until a few years ago, the legendary Sassi Dhaba! This name invokes nostalgia in a lot of alumni. Famous for its tea, omelets, and paranthas, it was the right spot to chill out with your friends. Whether someone had won some competition or did anything “Machau,” it was the individual’s duty to sponsor the parathas that night. It was common for other people to eat what you had ordered and leave the last piece for you out of mercy. Ah, those friendships!

Rajdhani

While walking on the most confusing hostel sequencing road of Ara, Kara, and Jwala, I’m tempted to check out Rajdhani. But times have changed, and so has this establishment, and to my astonishment, Delhi-16 has now replaced it. I take a seat and look at the menu for today (yes, I’m not done) written with a marker on a whiteboard. I order a tea, and as I wait for it, I wonder if the food here is as good as Rajdhani’s. I remember eating the best dal makhani I’ve ever had at Rajdhani and seeking solace in it here whenever the mess food felt straight-up inedible. I get my tea and take a sip: it’s not as good as home, but it’s not bad either, and that gives me hope for Delhi-16 🙂

Alumni News