Nothing can raise the activity levels in the hostels like exams. This is especially true for the final exams. I stayed in hostels in late eighties and nineties and can recall the feverish pitch at those times. Then text books and reference books were scarce. The ratio was like 1:10. If one person had one reference book someone else had another. So we had a to perfect a barter system and a scheduling system. Half hour intervals were chalked out and assigned. Sequence was arranged as to who would be having what book at what time. Ask anyone in the group and they would tell you exactly based on the time, who is reading what. If only we had put all that effort in reading – that is another story all together.
For some reason, studies especially before the exams were very effective only during the long nights. It is another matter that effective studies never started before the finals – we are not even going into that territory now. Typically summer sets in by then. So one excuse would be that the evenings and nights are long and cool, perfect weather for studying. Anyway, activity started around evening. Before dinner, warm up sessions would be held. First to come up with a schedule, then an attempt to put the mind into the task of studying.
After dinner, it starts gaining momentum. But the peak is after the midnight tea or coffee sessions. We were served this hot colored sweet liquid called coffee/tea in humongous glasses. Filling up the sweet concoction in our steel tumblers we would return to the rooms or common areas and read to our heart’s content. Guesses were made as to which questions would be asked and generally there would be that one person who would get it right. It is another matter that the person who gets the question right for some reason would never get the answer right. Maybe they never believed in themselves.
Anyway, I had always teamed up with my friend, U for reading. She would read out loud and I would listen. That way we got an hour per book (her half and my half hours) combined. Because of the ruckus we caused, we had to find a place far from the loners whose concentration would be disturbed. This would go on till late or sometimes early mornings until 3 to 4 am, when fatigue took over and we slept. Occasionally, we had a full night out, finished the exam and came back to crash only to repeat the whole thing again.
Last day of the exam the excitement would be quite palpable. Some of us did quite well in anticipation and some of us would be so carried away that we could not finish the paper well. Lazy lunch followed with anecdotes of our study marathons, postmortem analysis of the papers, regrets at attempting everything … yadda yadda.
The highlight was going to the cinema. It had become a ritual of sorts to go to a movie, any movie, on the last day without which the whole effort was naught. Relief for many, anxiety for some ruled the emotions when watching the movie.
This post is especially for you, “U”. If I did not thank you enough then I am doing so now. Thanks to you I can still remember the OSI model.