This article has been written by Mallika Sen (Batch of 2021) with input from Ashi Mehta (Batch of 2021).
Disclaimer: This article has been written by two second floor girls. Any contrarian narratives from the first floor are welcome.
Slightly secluded from the rest of the very ingeniously named Women’s Halls of Residence a.k.a. WHOR lies ‘Yamuna’, the home away from home for first year undergraduate women. As our time to leave this place has now come and gone, we’d like to reflect on our fairly eventful year under the roof of Yamuna. While our views might not be representative of all the women who have lived here this past year or the years preceding ours, we have taken into account as many differing opinions as we could in reaching our conclusions in this brief piece.
“Women shall be allotted dormitories,” I read out to my mother, from the much- lurked upon NLSIU website. (Ah, the idealistic CLAT days.) “Dormitories?” replied my boarding school- educated mother, quite surprised. “In college?!”
Well, turns out the NLS website isn’t quite as fancy as I initially thought. And most definitely, not as up to date. Saved by the “Ask NLS” Facebook page, I soon came to realise that (a) No, women most definitely were not allotted dormitories; and (b) There was a separate first year girls hostel called Yamuna (Hallelujah!)
As far as hostels go, Yamuna is as fancy as can be. Especially after reading the horror stories on the GWC Facebook group of lizard infestations and rat epidemics, we couldn’t be more grateful for the exclusive comforts of Yamuna. Be it the (relatively) clean washrooms, or the granite and marbonite flooring, save for the erratic Wi-Fi (God help the second floor, this First World problem is starting to get slightly out of hand. Just slightly.), Yamuna is like an island of luxury in the cold, harsh world of uncomfortable (thoda adjust karlo, beta) hostel life.
However, if you happen to be living under a rock, harbouring the innocent notion that all there is to Yamuna is its fancy tiling, you couldn’t be more wrong. So here’s a quick breakdown of the Yamuna society.
- The Floor Divide
Yamuna is sharply divided by its two floors. Almost coven- like, the girls on each floor stick together fiercely, often maintaining only the most casual acquaintance with girls on the other floor. Of course, there are some exchanges, resulting in ‘honorary first/ second floor girls’. This, however, is not a Batch of 2021 phenomenon. It happens year after year. Well, at least for the few years that Yamuna has existed.
For instance, a third year, when asked to give her opinion about this said, “All my friends just were on my floor! I don’t know how it happens, but it’s true.”
However, a second year who we interviewed dismissed this phenomenon. She and another batchmate of hers told us that the floor their friends lived on made no difference to them and this perceived floor divide theory might not entirely be true. As we probed deeper, it seems like the floor divide isn’t quite the dramatic Mean Girls- esque syndrome it’s made out to be. While nobody denied that fact that women did interact with people on their own floor more than those living on the other floor, most put it down to nothing greater than mere convenience. Year after year, the college chooses to fill up the second floor entirely, leaving the first floor largely empty. That, added to the convenience of having your friends right next door, is probably the largest factor contributing to the so-called ‘floor divide’. Quite the mundane explanation after all.
Moreover, as the year drew to a close, the floor divide became a lesser and lesser pronounced phenomenon. So much for the drama.
- The General Lethargy/ Lack of Inclusivity
This is a hard one. While most of us would like to pretend that it’s all rainbows and butterflies within the four walls of Yamuna, sadly that just isn’t true. Encouraged by the frequent ‘Himalaya nights’, where all the guys get together, drank and chilled, we tried (and failed) to organise a Yamuna night… With no drinking of course. (We swear! #DISCO4Lyf) It happened once, half- heartedly and then fizzled out. The girls just weren’t as interested in hanging out together as a collective whole. While some of continued to ponder over why this was so, some light was finally thrown on this seemingly inexplicable mystery by a well- intentioned senior. “Arrey the boys all have one bhai- bhai mentality man! Women just aren’t like that.”
Some further investigation brought us to the conclusion that most women attribute the lack of ‘terrace culture’ so as to speak, to a relative lack of use of contraband substances as compared to the men. Another commonly brought up reason is that the women are in fact significantly more academically inclined than men are, leading to them being less inclined to ‘chill’. Both these reasons remain hotly contested, and the floor remains open to more reasons as to why the first year women don’t quite hang out together, that is, as a collective whole, as much as the first year men. (Please say the reasons aren’t as boring as these, we’re more fun than this!)
- The Bizarrely Paradoxical Sisterhood Syndrome
(Yes, we realise that this directly contradicts the previous point. Yes, it still is a real thing.)
One way of looking at why the aforementioned point about the women in Yamuna not hanging out together is not as pressing or worrisome as we would like to believe is probably due to our narrow definition of what “chilling together” should ideally be like. The fact that we put the MHOR culture of hanging out and blowing off steam together at a pedestal might be our naivety. Socializing happens differently for different people. There isn’t something inherently wrong with having close-knit cliques (or as adults call it- having friends) as long as it isn’t restrictive to the point that you’re simply not reaching out to your batchmates. Also, from what we hear from our friends in Himalaya, cliques aren’t exclusively a Yamuna phenomenon.
Having said that, we must shine light on the incredibly beautiful way in which all of Yamuna comes together before any social event. It’s fascinating how both the floors come alive; whether it’s collectively putting in clothes in the outfit and makeup pool or generously showering compliments to every woman before she leaves the hostel, these are the moments when all the supposed drama seems to be nothing but silly gossip.
As we get ready to leave Yamuna and move to other hostels, there’s a lot that we’ll miss. Most of all perhaps, living together as a batch of women. Next year onwards, we’re going to be spread across three hostels, in groups of ten each. Regardless of how much we may or may not like each other in an individual capacity (In Re: snakes reference) living together as a community in our very first year away from home was indeed lovely.
So goodbye Yamuna, you have been good to us. We shall miss you, not just because of your shiny floors and clean bathrooms, but also for the chance you gave us to bond with our fellow female batchmates. (Though there has been much debate on how effectively we utilised the same….)
To the women of the incoming Batch of 2022, enjoy your time in Yamuna. Trust us, you shall miss it when you have to leave.