BlogchatterA2Z ~Of Xtras and Xerox

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 β€œXanadu: Three Souls Searching For Their Paradise” is now available on Amazon, do check it out!

18 thoughts on “BlogchatterA2Z ~Of Xtras and Xerox

  1. Mess bills were always convenient. I remember how our Mess bill when we were in the Army used to come at the end of the month, sometimes staggering, at other times tolerable!πŸ˜€ Enjoying all your posts, Harshita!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The way you have expressed (e)xtras in mess is simply amazing. It’s commendable the way you can weave stories around each topic. Even after 20 years of leaving BITS Pilani…you still remember each intricate detail of things…it’s simply amazing πŸ‘.

        Extras in the mess were ignored during early years of campus life…but I remember towards the end we used to be utilising extras without much guilt. Extras for boys mess was sookhe aloo ki sabji or egg bhurji/omelet. They were specially cherished by the end of college life as we got fed up being fed the same menu over past years.

        Xerox as you rightly described used to be the only Sahara when you realised that you don’t have anything to prepare for the test next day as you have been bunking classes as you had much better things to do in life (read dating) and as you were working hard towards a beautiful future (again…not career wise). A lot of tests in BITS used to be open book and that’s all the more reason to get notes xeroxed…hoping that something will come in the test that can be directly copied from the notes. But alas the professors were smart and made sure that open book tests were most faadu and nothing can be directly picked up from the notes.

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  2. The Word-β€œExtra” has been beautifully described as β€œXtra” without hampering its significance/value. In addition to the mess details, the availability and use of reprographics facilities has also been narrated in the magnificently.
    Dr. S.K.Nanda


  3. In HR College, we had a zerox wala too. He had all the notes, pre-prepared in bundles before exams and people used to go to him in droves to get these precious notes. Gosh we’d do anything but attend lectures to score well in exams πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€


  4. I completely forgot about the Xerox machine inside MB. Most of my Xeroxes (and print outs for SOPs – Study Oriented Projects – easy electives to make good grades and up the CGPA) were done in the FDIII unit because I figured out a time when it would not be crowded for me to get my xeroxes done with less hassle. If I was gettind delayed, then I also had the option of leaving the action mid-way for B to take it up and hand it over to me the next day when I met him, as he was a resident of Ram and then RP (2 of the hostels closest to the Insti).

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