I decided to take a little bit of creative liberty and skip the “e” of extra as I try to explain the xtras of our mess bill.
Our mess bill was divided into two parts, basic and extra. The basic mess bill was what everyone had to pay, irrespective of what and how much they ate. It included the usual dal, roti, rice, and subji, available every day, plus the one ladleful of paneer for special occasions. The mess bill used to come monthly. If a semester’s mess bill was not paid before the start of the new semester, the report card could be withheld.
Apart from the basic mess bill, there were also mess xtras. These include milk, curd, non-vegetarian food, eggs in breakfast, packs of tiger biscuits and watery Maggi. The last two used to be available in the night mess from 10:30 pm to 11:30 pm in MB. For daily items like milk and curd, we would purchase the tokens for a month. Every day we would give these tokens to the bhaiya handing out plates from behind the counter. Only then, we could take these items (milk was for breakfast and curd in lunch). For extras like eggs or packs of biscuits, one needed to enter one’s id in the register kept at the mess manager’s table. At the end of the month, the extras would be added to the basic mess bill.
The non-food item that could also be added to the mess bill as an extra was the RAF movie tickets.
In today’s digital age, one can scan documents through a smartphone and email them. In those pre-smartphone days, we had to depend upon Xerox to copy notes. One needed to Xerox, if one was in the habit of regularly bunking classes (thank you, no attendance policy), or if one didn’t attend a good professor, or if one was genuinely lazy in taking notes. While there was a massive Xerox machine in the Insti in the FDIII block, I preferred to get my notes xeroxed within MB.
Near Kiran didi’s room, was a room with a xerox machine as well as an STD/PCO booth. STD booths were how we stayed in touch with our families. We would start lining up from 10 pm and then impatiently wait to call after 11 pm when the call rates would be cheaper. This Xerox/ PCO room usually had two local girls manning the desk. These girls, who did not look older than twenty, would gossip, crochet, knit and sometimes, put beautiful mehendi for each other as they whiled away their time. If there were too many pages to Xerox, they would snidely comment on how many classes we had bunked. They also shameless eavesdropped on our conversations (we usually never kept the PCO booth door closed as it used to get suffocating).
Like Kiran didi, they were always there but usually ignored.
This post has been written as part of #BlogchatterA2Z where all through the month of April I will be writing about BITS Pilani.
I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z.
Psst. My book “Xanadu: Three Souls Searching For Their Paradise” is now available on Amazon, do check it out!