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In a tiny cell enters a shy, timid teenager. Riddled with doubts, bursting with life, gleaming with the newfound freedom in his eyes, he watches that cell aka his hostel room in awe. He sees the falling plaster, wipes the sweat beads down his brow, and pulls the mattress up onto the bed. He is meticulously arranging his stuff in the cupboard when there is a sudden knock on the door. He finds his reflection there. Struggling with overflowing bags, first looking at the room and then at him- in awe. Gazing at each other with lips twisting into a gentle smile, they wonder together, “Are they crazy? How are we ever going to survive in this space?”

What follows next? The most memorable chapter of their story at IIT. The room surprisingly grows with every passing day, the space becomes larger with every fun night-out, and every last-but-yet another all-nighter for the next major exam. The falling plaster seems a work of art, and the ruthless Delhi-heat a delight in front of the next mess meal. They say time accelerates swiftly when you are enjoying the moment. Then why does life at IITD, during those days, seem an eternity? It trickles down slowly through your grasp, with moments sweet and bitter. And leaves an irreplaceable hollow once you graduate. You bid adieu to IIT but does your heart ever let go of the hostel life?

Hostel life is undoubtedly the most cherished moment in our IIT days. We all enter into hostel lives with tonnes of excitement and plans. What is your memory from your first day at IIT? 

Mr. Anand Sangwan (2018 Batch) recollects his initial days at IIT. “I still remember the day when I first entered D-5 (1st-year room) with a mattress, my backpack, and a lot of dreams. The four years spent in Aravali were delightful with lots of ups and downs and they have played a foundational role in my development.”

The “home away from home” leaves you with innumerable experiences, friends, emotions, and learnings for life. “My hostel life was a great learning experience. You get to meet people from different backgrounds and regions. You interact with them, get to learn what their perspective is towards life” said Ujjwal Singla (Batch of 2018).

Life at IITD is a struggle in itself from the very first day. You are plunged into a deep sea of various administrative processes, rules, classes, courses, cultural shocks, and soon the academic rigor. In the middle of all these tensions, your roomies and friends in the hostel act as your backbone. You forge friendships for life with the entire hostel becoming one large family. The tremendous support from the hostel seniors and their icebreaker introduction sessions kickstart a string of experiences to savour forever. Night mess’ tea, common room discussions, funny pranks with friends, cheering in competitions, all-nighter before minors, and the list of memories goes on. Academics take a backseat, late-night CS: GO sessions become a daily norm, and night mess your savior from the monotonous mess food. In a way, night mess achieves the unthinkable. It unites people from different hostels amidst all GC and poltu cat-fights- all munching lip-smacking paranthas under the same roof. “Life is chill” when Kumaon peeps flog to Jwala at 2 in the morning because surviving against mess food transcends hostel boundaries.

The response by Mr. Anagh Prasad (Batch of 2018) perfectly sums up our night mess experiences,

“The one thing that stands out as a memory to cherish is late-night group discussions we used to have at the night mess. We would typically take a table while ordering Maggi/eggs and more batchmates would join us if they saw us there. Somehow, a new topic always used to come up on its own. Topics were as random as campus life, physics, tech, online dating, geopolitics, sports, student elections, basically anything/everything under the sun. Sometimes the conversations became so interesting that the entire group used to come to my room after the night mess and keep the chit chat going till 4-5 am, sometimes even till breakfast!”

However, come even semester and hostel rivalries reach their zenith. Politics or precisely “Poltu” remains one of the most interesting components of one’s hostel life. Freshers ride high on hostel spirit anticipating glory. Alas! They are all left as spectators as the seasoned men play the game of thrones. The poltu season gives birth to many gods as the king-makers rise in numbers, while for many, shattered egos and bitter losses leave lessons aplenty. Hostel politics is a bittersweet experience for most with wins and trust scarred with broken friendships and embarrassments. Hostels having the audacity to interfere in the internal politics of other hostels while they can’t manage their own internal politics is still a mystery to all. However, even with all the complications, the poltu gossips are too hard to resist. Isn’t it? So, why not hear the poltu accounts of some of the IIT Delhi alumni.

Each hostel has its own identity that its residents wear as a badge of honour. GC standings, club cultures, and poltu sagas majorly determine the position of any hostel within the institute. Although these identities continue to change with time, they dominate our late-night discussions and gossip stories during the IIT days. So, while you go down the lanes of nostalgia, let’s take a moment to have a look at the current talking points of each hostel.

Nilgiri

The hostel with the two-party system, Nilgiri excels in water polo, quizzing, and dramatics. Being one of the oldest hostels, it has a very rich history of success.

Karakoram

The most well-maintained hostel, Karakoram won the garden trophy last year. Apart from that, they are a powerhouse in Dance and Basketball.

Aravali

Aravali dominates in racquet sports like Squash, Tennis, and Table-Tennis. It also has been consistently producing some of the best debaters in the institute, maintaining its stronghold in Debating.

Jwalamukhi

One of the best hostels in sports, Jwalamukhi has won four of the last five GCs. Athletics and Volleyball are sports they are strong at.

Kumaon

Known for its 25 year-long streak of winning the RCA Trophy, Kumaon is one of the leading hostels in cultural activities especially Dramatics. The defending RCA champions will be looking to retain the trophy this year

Vindhyanchal

One of the oldest hostels in the institute, Vindhyanchal is the Enactus stronghold of IITD. They are coming up in various sports and cultural activities like Debating.

Satpura

The hostel with extremely high CGs, Satpura does very well in academics. They have a growing culture in Debating. Also, they have unmissable parathas at their night-mess.

Girnar

One of the newer hostels, but are coming up fast whether in sports or cult. With three Gsecs this year and winning the last GC, Girnar is a hostel to reckon with

Udaigiri

The hostel which owns half of IITDonair, Udaigiri is also relatively new. However, in this short time, it has managed to be a PFC Powerhouse and very strong in Debating.

Kailash

Did you see that house day video with amazing songs and more amazing people? These girls fly high and show their excellence in academics, cultural, and sports activities

Himadri

The newer girls’ hostel, Himadri boasts its dominance in Quizzing, Literature, and Journalism. It also excels in sports and academics.

Zanskar

The hostel with the famous “The Marvel Wall”, Zanskar is a hostel with an exciting culture. Athletics is a place where you wouldn’t want to challenge them.

Shivalik

The hostel which put an end to Aravali’s stronghold on CAIC. This hostel has been developing in various non-academic pursuits like drama and literature.

Each year IIT sees a rise in its incoming batch size which has created an immense pressure on the hostel infrastructure. To solve the shortage of hostel rooms, the institute is developing three new hostels in the campus. Two new girls’ hostels- Sahyadri and Sapthagiri, and one boys’ hostel- Dronagiri are under construction. The construction work, which got stalled in 2020 due to Covid-19 situation, is expected to be completed this year. All these hostels will have central-air conditioning facilities.

Apart from these developments, the old hostels undergo minor upgrades every year to keep up with the infrastructural requirements. All hostels now have air conditioning in common areas like mess, common room, study room, among others. Hostel residents get unlimited wifi facility, however, net speeds are still a cause of concern in certain hostel spots. Most hostels have functional gyms now. Some hostels have dedicated libraries and dance rooms. There are fully automatic washing machines and water coolers installed at all floors. But because of the increase in the student intake over time, the existing rooms were made to accommodate more students. One seater and two seater rooms were converted to two seater and three seater rooms respectively. Also, the hostel residents are now allowed to keep air coolers during summers. Various other initiatives are taken every year, as we list down some of them from the responses we received from a few ex-House Secretaries.

“We started an online feedback and complaints form, and biannual reviews for which I actually visited room to room and took down complaints, in my tenure as the maintenance secretary. We also started having committees and wing representatives for effective redressal of problems.”

Ms. Minaal Dembla, Kailash, Batch of 2019

“Publication of hostel magazine, Digitalization: Hostel inventory, website creation, library inventory, Implementation of menu change in 15 days taking hostellers feedback into consideration, Installation of sanitary napkin dispensers and installed newspapers in all washrooms for hygienic disposal of sanitary napkins, Introduced lost and found counter.”

Aishvi Jain, Himadri, Batch of 2019

“New cricket nets and volleyball courts were developed in the hostel backyard. New TT table was installed. Night lights were installed in all the play areas. The gym was renovated. All this meant that we had so many places to hang around: NC roof, backyard, baddy court, North Block lawn and TV room. A new night canteen came up in the hostel which became famous for its parathas.”

Manoj Kumar, Satpura, Batch of 2013

“During my tenure as maintenance secretary in my third year, BHM got the approval for renovation and air conditioning of the hostel mess which was a big relief in grilling summer days (I am sure you can relate :)) Around the same time, the laundromat was opened near Karakoram hostel and wifi connectivity was provided in all the hostels. During my tenure as House secretary, our team successfully utilized the alumni fund for a complete overhaul of the hostel gym and night mess.”

Anand Sangwan, Aravali, Batch of 2018

Just like their culture and traditions, every hostel has its own symbol that can be found proudly painted on their entrances. Well-maintained lawns and beautiful paintings adorn the hostel premises, while night messes continue to provide respite from mess food, even when new eateries pop up every year. A lot has changed in the hostels in all these years, but the essence remains, same as ever.

In the past, IITD alumni have always been eager to give back to the institute through funds, mentorship, guidance, and countless other ways. They have contributed immensely to the infrastructure of the institute and hostels. However, there are still various issues that are prevalent in the hostels. There is no one in a better position to understand these concerns but our alumni. All these can be resolved to a great extent even with their most generous engagements and make the hostel experience of the current batches more comfortable and joyful. On this note, we end this newsletter and express our deep gratitude to each IIT Delhi alumnus for their support and contribution to the success of the institute.

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