I grew up in the beautiful city of Bhopal. I left my hometown to pursue higher education in Delhi. I wanted to study journalism and the fact that most of the newspapers and media houses have their offices in Delhi made me want to come even more. I had always known that getting into Delhi University is difficult because of the sky high cut offs. I managed to get admission in Kamala Nehru College and then I found out something I did not quite know – that finding a place to live after you get admission in a college without a hostel facility is equally difficult.
After my admission, when I found out that my college did not have a hostel, I was quite disappointed. I really wanted to study here because I had heard so many good things about it. But my family was worried. Where was I to go if my college didn’t have a hostel for its students? There was accommodation just next to the college for teachers but students were not as lucky. My parents even suggested that I don’t go to Delhi at all and instead study in Bhopal because of the lack of an essential facility. The only other option that I was left with was staying as a paying guest. My father wasn’t very happy with the idea but finally gave in when I pleaded.
And then began my search of finding the perfect place to live in. It turned out that finding a place was much more difficult than I thought it would be. Kamala Nehru College is located in one of the posh areas of Delhi and as a result, the rent for the accommodations nearby is quite high. The biggest concern for my parents was safety. They were ready to pay a high rent provided the place seemed safe enough to live. They wanted to make sure I stayed in a place situated in a good neighbourhood. After checking out almost all the options for accommodations, we finally found a place that seemed decent enough to my parents. My parents talked to the locals in Delhi to know more about the location but no matter how much we researched, we always got mixed opinions and my parents were never really sure if the place was safe enough for me.
The rent was high but lesser than the other options we visited. I had to pay the same amount of money as rent for two months as my fees for one year in college. My accommodation promised facilities like – A.C., WiFi, refrigerator, T.V. but they charged extra for that. I wanted to avail these facilities and decided to pay the extra money. But a few weeks after I moved in, I realised how one or all of these things were out of order at some point and the extra money that I was paying was going to waste.
The place where I lived was a 15-minute auto ride away from the college and I had to take an auto every day to reach college. Most days, it was difficult to find an auto in the first place. Apart from that, the auto drivers would often ask for a very high fare. There were times where I was running low on cash and decided to not to go to college at all so that I could save the money that I spend on my commute. This made me wish even harder for a hostel. I would have saved so much money that I spend on travel if I lived in a hostel.
Before moving to Delhi, I was happy with the idea of being finally independent and doing things the way I wanted to do. I had made many plans and was desperately waiting for shifting to my new room in a new city. Little did I know that I would still not be ‘independent’. My landlady was a strict woman with strict rules. There were strict timings for everything, for going out, for coming back, even for meals. If I skipped a meal, I’d be left hungry as they don’t serve meals beyond the timings. I would often find myself facing such days, trying to find cheap food options.
As I got into my second year, my landlady increased the rent. I considered shifting to another place where the rent was lesser but I remembered how difficult it is to find a good place and then adjusting with the new neighbourhood. So, I dropped the idea and paid the extra rent. We keep hearing the rumours that our college would finally get a hostel but the rumours don’t seem to be materialising into plans. Some of my friends in Bhopal had given up their dream of studying in Delhi University just because they couldn’t get a college with a hostel. I sometimes wonder how easy my life would have been if my college had a hostel. Besides saving up on rent, I would also save a lot of money that I spend on food as well as the commute. My parents would be much less worried about my safety and I would be much less worried about managing my finances. The enthusiasm of studying in one of the premier institutions in the country dampens when a student can’t even avail as basic a facility as a hostel.