BlogchatterA2Z ~ Of Wingies And Workshop

A word that is imprinted in a BITSian’s mind is “wingies”.

The hostels or Bhawans of BITS Pilani were huge buildings. A central staircase rose to lead to the corridors or the wings of the building. All the rooms of a particular wing shared the bathrooms/toilets. The students who had a room in your wing became your “wingies“. Wingies were further differentiated as “sidey”, the one whose room was adjacent to your room; “Oppy”, the one whose room was opposite yours ( only in new blocks of Meera Bhawan); “Backie”, one whose room was behind yours, with both of you sharing the wall at the back of your room( this was in Boys’ hostel as well as Meera Bhawan old block). Each wing in the new block of MB used to have twelve rooms, one on each side of the corridor. The corridor would end in BOGS* at the far end and the staircase/common room at the other.

The hostel administration allotted the rooms in the first year based on discipline. From the second year onwards, it was for the students to decide with whom they should make a wing. It used to be a tough decision as your wing would be your support system. They were the ones who always had your back. It was important that even if your wingies were not your bosom buddies (though they usually were), you should at least be on good speaking terms with them. Plus, wingies needed to have good personal hygiene as bathrooms were going to be shared with them. And believe me, this second point really mattered!

In the first year, everyone was trying to adjust to a new environment. But we all got along. Groups were formed and broken, arguments flared and were pacified, as we discovered each other’s mannerisms, habits and nature. By the end of the year, I had made friends who became very close in the next three years, as they would become my wingies. As we shifted our rooms from block to block each year, we remained wingies and friends. 

My wingies came from Kashmir, Dehradun, Baroda, Maharashtra, Chennai, and Rajasthan. Since we were from all over India, we decided to name ourselves the MSMT group or the Mile Sur Mera Tumhara group, inspired by the iconic Doordarshan video that showed the beauty of India’s diversity. 

Wingies were the ones, from whom we borrowed (or lent) dupattas, footwear and accessories. Wingies were the ones who helped in draping sarees for the official pictures or farewells. We celebrated birthdays together at twelve in the night and received (or gave) birthday bumps from our wingies. We commiserated and supported them over heartbreaks or failure to clear placement interviews. Wingies were ones with whom one had extended lacha sessions while sharing snacks sent from home. They were also the ones with whom we fought for hot water in peak winter. 

And, of course, wingies were the ones with whom one shared a plate of maggie and loaf of bread when we wanted a break from mess food.

*****

One feature that I loved about BITS Pilani was the fact, that irrespective of the discipline, one needed to complete the common courses in the first two years. Two of the most important courses in the first year were Workshop and Engineering Drawing. Both courses had a massive four credits, so a “D” in them could sink your CGPA. These two courses were an important base in our engineering education. While Engineering Drawing was not my cup of tea, Workshop was a course that I loved. 

The workshop was a stand-alone block next to FDI. This was a massive warehouse-like structure that used to hum with activity. There were lathes and machines to cut wood and areas for polishing, electroplating, etc. The course Workshop was a totally hands-on course where one was supposed to operate these machines and build things. The funny part was that while we were not given any protective gear to wear ( no gloves or goggles or coats), the workshop staff used to be very particular about their no-open-shoes policy. They would send back students, if they were wearing sandals or chappals. I remember being sent back once since I was wearing sandals. I then exchanged shoes with a friend (a wingie) in the Ref Li, as I didn’t want to cycle back to MB to change my footwear. I ended the semester with a silver electroplated candle stand made by myself and an “A” grade (woohoo!). Alas, how and where I lost the candle stand, I do not know.

We went back to the workshop for our second-year course, Measurement Techniques (MT). While I do not remember what I did in the workshop for MT, I do clearly remember learning how to use the Theodolite in that course! (Theodolite is a surveying instrument used for measuring angles. You can read more about it here.)

*BOGS was the BITSian slang for Bathroom/Toilets. BOGS would have two bathrooms, two toilets, along with two stand-alone sinks, an electric geyser and a solar geyser.


This post has been written as part of #BlogchatterA2Z where all through the month of April I will be writing about BITS Pilani.

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTU, V, W, X, Y, Z.

I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z.


Psst. My book “Xanadu: Three Souls Searching For Their Paradise” is now available on Amazon, do check it out!

20 thoughts on “BlogchatterA2Z ~ Of Wingies And Workshop

  1. This one definitely took me down the corridors of our hostel and to our wing where we used to have so much fun. I remember once we took out a cot from one of our wingies room and then we were having a nice lacha over bottles of beer, when suddenly the hostel warden came…we all became tensed…however, he got hold of the most sheepish wingie and asked him if this is how he was spending his father’s money…that wingie who was dead drunk…mustered all his courage and replied back not to talk about his father. We all could not stop laughing once the warden left.

    Wingies were the ones who made life fun in college. It used to be disgusting when none of your wingies were around…though you could do some stuff only in their absence.

    I remember spending those hot summer afternoons in a wingies room and having such heartiest laughter on silly jokes that were so intelligently crafted (mostly on one of our wingie).

    Workshop taught hands on skills with lathes as we crafted wooden and iron pieces. It was the only way to put things into action. I feel we should have been taught more of workshop skills like soldering, etc. Theodolite continued to haunt us as we were from Civil Engineering. We used to have fun with all those survey equipment and it still brings back memories when I see someone using those equipment on the road. Alas we are the builders of the nation!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay workshop sounds all kinds of fun and scary! Being able to make a candlestand is infinitely cooler than measuring angles 😀 Also wingies, sideys and oppy sound ridiculous but oh the fun of having your own lingo and using it with elan while others are scratching their heads…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely Suchita, when two BITSians get together then it is difficult for the third person to understand what they are talking about.
      Workshop was too much fun. While writing the post I remembered how much I liked creating something with my hands there

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is an excellent semi -technical blog that has been made easy with the help of related narration of various terms.. Enjoyed the reading.
    Dr. .S. K. Nanda

    Liked by 1 person

  4. MSMT…a very thoughtful name indeed. What I am curious about is are all MSMTs still in contact with each other? I wish to believe that they do, courtesy of new and improved platforms for staying connected.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh that’s sad to know. But you can now take initiative and you may well get enough to chronicle this reunion… could well be the theme for next A2Z. So cheers for that!

        Liked by 1 person

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