One of the fondest memories I had as a child was growing up in a boarding school and having a "hostel party" with my friends.
This was before my Montfort School days. Back in 1989, I joined St. Thomas Boys School at Khidderpore, back then Calcutta, and yeah it was actually a very memorable time. Montfort School taught me discipline and the rigors of a residential boarding school, but St. Thomas was where I experienced life at its full brim :)
Our STBS hostel had three floors. The ground floor was (ironically) called middle dormitory, which was for students from class 5-6 till 9-10, the middle floor was called senior dorm where class 10-12 students stayed, and the top floor was called junior dorm which was occupied by all the younger students below class 5-6. I had to put hyphenated figures because there were aberrations here and there, which I think were based on maturity and preference.
I was in the top-most junior dormitory.
We had wardens overlooking each dormitory. For us, there was Aunty Riche, Middle dorm had Aunty Hale, and Senior dorm had Aunty Goodall. I may get a few names or spellings wrong as this happened more than 25 years ago.
Now, here's what our dormitories were like back then. Unlike Montfort School or other hostels that I have seen till now, there were no "personal cupboards" next to our beds. Instead, there was this vast empty hall with beds placed next to each other, and we had our trunks under our beds while our lockers were at a different location (we called it the locker room).
Hence those of us who were scared of "ghosts" could easily push our beds next to our neighbor's bed once the hostel lights were switched off (and I confess I did that many times!).
Back then, my Mizo amigos at junior dormitory were Rothangpuia, Zothangliana, and the two brothers Joseph and Hmingtea. The five of us had nicknames for each other. I was "thick lips", RTPa was "round legs", Anggu was "haddi", Joseph was "kir bep" and Hmingtea was "four eyes". We drew this "super hero" who had a round wheels for legs, extremely skinny, curly haired, super large eyes with an equally super large lips, and we really loved that :)
My cousins, the twins u Dinga and u Zara, and Sangtea were also in the same hostel but in different dormitories. I will never forget that night I was bullied by a Manipuri senior (I think his name was Jagdish Sigham) and my cousin came to my defense and fought with him, except I really can't remember now whether that was u Dinga or u Zara! :D Twins are so confusing sometimes :P All I remembered was, pow pow pow and there they were on the floor punching and pounding each other until a Prefect came and stopped the fight. I love you my cousins. :)
Coming back to this topic, we would have "hostel parties" occasionally. I googled "hostel parties" for reference and this was one of the many images I immediately got.
[image source – Google image search Hostel Parties]
Urrmmm… yeah… this wasn't how our hostel parties were. :D
Back in STBS, hostel parties were times when we were allowed to eat snacks inside our dormitories late in the night. It happened only in the weekends, and it was something we always looked forward to. This is another image I finally found on google image search, and this one is much closer to what I’m talking about.
[image source – Google image search Indian school hostels]
I had to use google image because I don’t have a single photo of my STBS days! :(
In fact, the image below that my friend RTPa had uploaded to his Facebook album is the only image of me during my entire four years stint at St. Thomas. So sad :(
And so during such hostel parties, all of us would sit on the floor together with our respective group of friends. A towel is laid at the center of the group, and every member of that group would bring out an item from their respective tuck box to contribute to the "feast".
Now and then our warden Aunty Riche would come out of her room (with her long cane) to make sure nobody was eating on their bed or that people weren’t making unnecessary loud noise or mess.
There were also certain people who would roam around from one group to the other asking for "contributions". RTPa and Anggu-a did that many times :D They would both carry this towel, holding it on either ends, and move from one group to the other where the other boys would put in a handful of biscuits or chips etc. and eventually they would have enough food to feast on :D
The most popular items in our hostel parties were "muris" and "chanachurs". You gotta love Kolkata for the street food. Nothing in this Universe can beat the awesomeness of puchhkas, jhaal muris and bhel puris. Other Indian cities may have their own versions or even call it by different names like paani puri or golgappa, but they’re never as awesome as the Kolkata versions. Muri (puffed rice) is a very common snack back in STBS hostel, along with different varieties of chanachur.
Recently, I came across a sponsored ad on Facebook. It was this new website called Place Of Origin. What caught my eye immediately was the word "Mukharochak". That was the name of a very popular brand when I was STBS hostel that sold different assortments of snacks like chanachurs and muris (pretty much like how "Haldirams" is synonymous with sweets and bhujiyas).
I went to the website immediately, and drooled at the options of food available for order - Papri chanachur, Mirchi chanachur, Khatta-mitha chanachur, Masala muri, Kabuli chana, Chaal bhaja, Chira bhaja, Nimki, Chowkhas, they had it all!!!
I placed an order immediately.
In less than a week, my order reached Pune.
As I sat their enjoying the awesome snacks, it was STBS hostel party all over again. In my head, I could hear the echo of a thousand laughter, of us being kids again, running across the dormitory or sitting around a towel filled with such snacks and hogging them down and having the best time of our life.
Sigh, such wonderful memories.
The Nimki also tasted exactly like how my dear departed dad used to make when I was a kid. I would watch him roll and flatten the base, and he would let me cut it in the diamond shape before frying them. Over here, they call it Namkeen. And no, it is not the same. Nimki till I die.
I’ll definitely be ordering a few more stuff from Place of Origin. I also saw a similar sponsored Facebook ad on my timeline again, this time leading to a similar (competing) website called Flavors of my City featuring Mukharochak and a few more brands. I’ll definitely give that a shot as well. I know I’m seeing all these ads on my timeline because of my browsing behavior, and while many people complain about invasion of privacy, I really don’t mind man. It’s much better than seeing completely unrelated ads that I have no interest in.
And so, this is my #ThrowbackThursday post for this week.
Until the next throwback, cheers y’all.