An Unconventional Surprise

July. A month spent in transition from the first half of the year to the next. When lives undergo multitudinous changes. A change, that years later, as Robert Frost cites in “The Road Not Taken”, will be reflected at with a ‘sigh’, introspecting on the ‘difference’ created by walking down a road, a change in this case. Time and tide wait for none. Every year, a batch gets promoted. Some get promoted to alumni. Some to sophomores, the new seniors. A rush of emotions follow through at this time. Expectations weigh down on you and hang around you like the Grim Reaper’s eternal axe.

This is neither a story of the feelings nor a didactic take on the life of the population lost in transition here. This is a story of how the senior batches of NIT Rourkela were surprised after a summer as pampered over-grown infants at home-sweet-homes. Pleasantly surprised? We’ll leave that for you to decide.  

Dhirubhai Ambani Hall of Residence

With Dhirubhai Ambani Hall of Residence being granted senior hall status and as the most preferred hall status (previously belonging to M V Hall), the seniors were in for a joyous surprise at this announcement. Seniors, who got a room in this hall only. The rest of them went green with envy at their comfortably large rooms and continuous water-supply. Especially shocking for the residents of GDB who got thrown to a corner of V S Hall. However the DBA people had their celebrations short lived. The room allotment date was set to be 20th July, 2014. In an unusually punctual turn of events, allotments started as early as 16th July. So, the followers of the ‘Indian Stretchable Time’ were in for a shock as rooms were being given on a FCFS (first-come-first-serve) basis without paying any due respect to the batch of the pre-finals in the form of preference on the basis of batch, who cried foul when the sophomores whisked away with the best rooms leaving the elder pre-finals to settle for less than satisfactory blocks and rooms. Being late was always a fault. Being early suddenly became a bigger crime.

The freshmen residents of DBA, GDB have been looking forward to being seniors owing to sundry reasons. LAN connections being one of the major driving forces. The C-block consisting of final year students have been enjoying that leaving the pitiable A,B block residents completely frustrated with Wi-Fi at a much slower speed. Last year A-block ground floor had 4 routers. This year just 2 remain leaving many laptops loading the google homepage after so many seconds. B-block ground floor under went no-change with the only router placed at the far end of the corridor. Bathrooms remained unaffected by any wind of change. Major improvements were missing throughout the hostel in any form. There are just 2 water-supplying machines throughout this large hall, compelling people to live on mineral water. Another mastermind move being closing the cycle stand gates between Hall 4 and Hall 5 by 9.30. Both of these are senior hostels now. Who would want a curtail in his freedom now? Was one whole year of signing-in-the-register and frisking-by-the-guard not enough?

MS Swaminathan Hall of Residence

Blessed than DBA in terms of LAN, but cursed by the goddess of water. Repeated water shortages leaves people migrating from one hall to another to take a bath and freshen up, even to quench their thirst. A funny instance is that there exists a water crisis in the hall, yet the corridors remain waterlogged in patches here and there. Strange. Utterly strange. Bathroom doors are still broken allowing very few bathrooms for so many residents. Yes, privacy is precious. Very.  Pre-allotments were scraped, bringing great relief to the residents there. Yet again, allotments started by 19th. Another case of over-punctuality. Another case of “no due respect” to the pre-finals, over the sophomores in preferential room allotment. The extension D-block lacks water supply machines.

CV Raman and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw Hall of Residence

Promises were made. Promises of a colorful future! No water problem, no more bad food, and rooms for everyone. Or so they said! The dream went crashing down as swiftly as it was made. “No!” they said. CVR and KMS Halls of Residences would continue to function from the same complex. AGAIN! The only silver lining! Improved food quality. 

Room allotments in the KMS HoR were done on a roll number basis, much to everyone’s shock and indignation. AND thou shall not change room-mates. Finally, after a big showdown, people were allowed to choose their roommates. But the problems were far from over. In the CVR blocks, everyone was allotted the same room and the same roommates. So, the people who spent a year toiling in the third floor were in for a rude shock. Everyone had the same question running in their mind: why were they asked to shift their stuff to common room if they had to drag them back to the same room? The room issues were resolved and everyone accepted their fate begrudgingly.

Homi Bhabha Hall of Residence

Even as rumours had spread about the room allotments in various halls prior to 20th, not a word was out regarding allotments in HB Hall. The pre-decided room allotments were scraped and FCFS method was employed. Allotment venue shifted from Warden’s Office to the Reading Room owing to incessant rains and massive “show of strength” by the boarders in forming queues. Priority being the Senior year boarders, their names were called out branch wise(alphabetically). Final year Metallurgy and Mining Engineering bore the brunt and got their rooms booked at last. Pre-final year guys had their names called out randomly. HB Hall saw a paucity of sophomores this time, who were the next in line for booking rooms. PhD fellows, who are in abundance in this hall this sem, had their rooms allotted 3-4 days earlier. As new scholars come in everyday, the room allotment process is still on the go. 

There have been some visible changes. While the administration had cited that “cleaning of rooms and some maintenance work” were the reasons the boarders had to move their belongings to the common room in the summer vacation, no cleaning or any type of activities have been done in the rooms except each room being secured by locks, only to be hammered open in the following days. White-washing work has been started in patches. New gym equipments have been procured, to be installed after the hall elections. There has been a change in the mess, with general dissatisfaction speaking of its quality. Night canteen has started operating but with its timings rescheduled from 5 pm till midnight, it is expected to keep the debate on the night-canteen timings alive. With the evening snacks scraped and no day-canteen(as of now), Dilip Bhai’s samosa chat and the Backpost have become the hottest destinations. Water scarcity has been the latest problem, in spite of the newly installed push-release taps in the bathrooms sure to stop water wastage.

Vikram Sarabhai Hall of Residence

The beginning of the end, the final year. That is the time for people to live the last year in the place they called home for 4-5 years. The last time to fulfill their unrequited wishes. It was significantly maligned by the sudden news of pre-allotted rooms and blocks for these final years. Being the last year, they automatically have freedom, as their birthright and the privilege to be the numero uno in preferences pertaining to any case. A complete shock to them that they couldn’t choose their blocks, their block-partners; that their freedom was on a hold. After a great deal of chaos outside the Warden’s office, they were allowed their birthright. We can’t help but sympathize with these poor souls who had to fight tooth and nail to get back their right in the end. A part of the problem was solved. Now remained the pre-finals and sophomores.

They were instructed to find their own roommates and swap rooms, with ANYONE, if required and then register, leading to a great deal of confusion and chaos throughout the day for the first few days, even till the middle of the first week of classes. Pre-allotment was a complete sham, of the stature of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq’s supposedly grand visions. Another bolt from the blue arrived in the update that swapping would be carried out only between people of the SAME BATCH, not among different batches, completely contradicting the previous announcement. Such a well-thought plan. Once again, chaos ensued with mass migration of luggage and goods between rooms. As of now, the calm has been restored for a while with the water-scarcity problem plaguing the residents year after year.

We have a newly-installed imitation of a missile in our campus to boast of. But no solution to water-scarcity problems common to most halls of residence. Thus, we can see the seniors were welcomed into the campus after their summer vacation with a great deal of multitudinous, unconventional, surprises. 

We leave it for you, the young turks of the nation, the NITR junta to decide, how surprises on the part of the Institute of national importance can either completely make or astonishingly break your mood after a happy summer, completely rejuvenated to fight another year-long battle against the odds. With this, we welcome you back to NITR, wishing you a fruitful new scholastic year.