All the cleaning works in the hostel are done by the contract workers. These hostel ‘ammas’ deem it absolutely essential to clean the hostel ground (the cement quadrangle, mind you, not just the tiled floor) – scrape, scratch every speck of mud and empty the water tank and leave the hostel water-less. They pack their bags and leave at 4pm. I’m the one who faces a dry toilet when I come back to hostel at night. They even keep rubbing the steps, hoping to make them shine perhaps (I wonder if they are competing to make Rohini win the ‘cleanest hostel’ award). If you protest, they claim there’s water and so they are doing it. If you protest vehemently, they say you must speak to the supervisor. So you go hunting for the supervisor, who’d be twirling her thumbs in some corner of the hostel. She agrees to halt it and asks you to write a letter, stating why you stopped them from doing their ‘duty’.
This was just one day. I haven’t stopped them after that. How do you convince them you only want a decently clean hostel and not a sparkling clean one, at the cost of already scarce water?
I sight no cobweb on my door and the paint is fresh. Yet cleaning my room door from the outside has suddenly become vital for their survival – it’s among their list of ‘duties’. When I hear a maid scraping outside my door at 8 or 9 in the morning – door knob and latch rattling, feet shuffling – removing imaginary dirt, I must tune myself to become deaf. I must ignore the urge to open the door and ask her to go clean some other door and leave me in peace. I wonder if the new contract workers’ workload has been increased to make the worker’s or student’s life more miserable.
At least the contract workers work; the permanent employees bask in sunshine. When I ask, I’m told that the hostel office has told them to ‘just come and sit in the hostel and do nothing’. So you see them bathing, eating, chatting; and they get twice the stipend that a final year PhD student does.
Another mounting irritation is things that go missing. What do the maids do with the mugs in the toilets after cleaning them? Take it home? I suppose, since I use the toilets, it’s my solemn duty to go chasing after the maids, asking her, in my broken Kannada, where the mugs are. After every bout of cleaning, I must threaten to complain to the hostel office and then the mugs will be kept back in place. Fortunately, my friend and I take turns at this so I have someone to share the burden.
The maids (especially the permanent workers) have a habit of conveniently bathing in the hostel. The time they take to finish the job is many fold that of an average student. On days when there’s water in only one bathroom, if you find an ‘amma’ inside it, you feel like breaking the door. To cap this, they wash their clothes in gallons of water and the amma’s daughter and grand-daughter also bathe here.
My tolerance valve burst when one day I found my bucket missing. I went looking for an ‘amma’ and asked her if she knew what had happened to it (there are no secrets between them). She said some amma had taken it. I said I wanted to bathe and wanted it back. She called out some name and that person answered from inside the bathroom saying she’ll give it soon. I went livid – the gall of the woman! Does she have no better job here than bathe? And is this why the institute employs her? Like a brawling fisherwoman, I fumed and ranted at her, demanding my bucket back. After a few minutes of losing my temper, energy, time, she put out a hand and let my bucket out. This time I did complain to the supervisor.
I suppose I must adopt the ‘chalta hai’ attitude and move on. Who cares how much water is wasted? If there’s no water, just complain to hostel office and fret and fume when nothing happens. Why let the maids’ new unnecessary duties and misbehaviour bother you? You’ll get used to it. After all, they say, even sitting on nails can become a habit.
Smrithi Murthy (MRDG), with inputs from Monisha Bhattacharya (CES)
The Students’ Council, IISc has announced a survey, conducted via Google spreadsheets to estimate the importance of the IISc scholarship and also to find out if the need for LAN in the hostels really exists.
The following is the announcement of the survey as it appeared on the broadcasts, for those of you who didn’t receive it.
Students’ Council requires your input for estimating the importance of Scholarship and LAN in our hostels: Below is a link to the survey we have to answer ASAP. This will enable us present a good case.
Alternatively,the link for the survey form is also available on SC website.
On filling your info., PLEASE REMEMBER TO PRESS THE “SUBMIT” BUTTON at the end of the form.Do revert back to us in case you are not able to view or submit your details.
Indian Institute of Science
A further appeal – 3rd July, 2010
Student Council is trying to collect some information which helps in putting forth a strong case for efficient implementation of the increase in scholarship hike and LAN in IISc, Filling of the form just takes two minutes. It will help you only. Privacy of all the furnished information is guaranteed. Regarding Scholarship, we want to put forth views in a different way to the administration given the fact that MHRD, the parent body of IISc, still did not approve the increase in scholarship. Only DST has approved increase in scholarship . Only 377/2700 students filled the form so far. Please actively participate and help the student community. We also request the outgoing students to fill the form as it helps our future students.
Thanks in advance.
Do reply to the survey as soon as you can!
1. You get to tune your body clock according to water availability timings – you can probably publish a Nature paper titled “Rewiring the circadian rhythm – a study on effects of water availability on the human wake-sleep cycle” .
2. You can kick bad habits like getting up at 6 AM, as you don’t get water till 9 in the morn.
3. The long walk from your room to the only bathroom in the hostel that has water, on the floor below yours, can prove to be the morning walk you always wanted to take, but were too lazy to actually go on.
4. You can experience emotions which you never thought you were capable of – like the murderous rage that hits you when you see the unkempt lawns in front of the main building being watered incessantly, when you don’t have water for basic needs.
5. Your mind gets sharpened and inhibitions lowered; and you come up with crazy ideas like taking a face wash and tooth brush to the main building, and freshening up in the morn, using the water which is available in plenty there.
6. You get to check out all the loos on campus – on other wings in your hostel, the ones in other hostels, the ones in your dept etc.
7. You can publish a book titled – “A comprehensive survey of bathrooms on the campus of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and classification of the same based on water availability and hygiene”
8. You get to play your role in the water conservation movement by not taking the daily bath.
9. You can opt to be a subject in trials for perfume and deodorant companies.
10. You appreciate the administration’s successful efforts in making you empathise with the under-privileged, who have to struggle for the water on a regular basis.
Chetana Baliga (MBU)
Sketching: Rupesh Nasre (CSA)