Ashoka Never Sleeps
Swasti Acharya, a first year student, takes us through an Ashokan’s day, from sunrise to sunset.
November, 2015: Tired and exhausted at 3.37 am, I finally go to bed. The next morning, groggy and lazy boned, I wake up just in time for a hot shower, one of the greatest pleasures in winter before my class scheduled at 10:40 am. I make my way to the common bathroom on the first floor of women’s residence filled with similar dopey-eyed first-year girls.
When I am done brushing my teeth, I hear someone else shout out the question I was just about to ask – “Guys, is the water hot?” and the two of us are relieved to get an answer in the affirmative. I dress quickly and hurry down the stairs, bumping into a friend who greets me with a “Hi!” in the common room. I return it with a haphazard “Hey! I am in a hurry, sorry!” I look down at my watch and it tells me that if I walk briskly enough I’ll make it to the mess before 10 am, when the breakfast time officially ends.
Just before my first class of the day, I have a full stomach after a rather heavy breakfast. Thanks to my love for the subjects I study at Ashoka, I am prepared not to doze off in the class and I pay attention without my mind wandering to another distant land.
Ten minutes past 12 noon, the class is over. I managed to pay attention and even participated in today’s discussion. I think about having done so and making it for breakfast in the same day; I feel like I have accomplished a lot already.
“I am very sleepy. I think I’m going to bed,” says a class-mate of mine while I consider doing the same. As tempting as it sounds I know that if I crash, I will probably not wake up for my class at 2:35 pm, so I decide against it.
I am back in my room and I suddenly remember that it is a Wednesday. The words GIVE LAUNDRY! are written on my whiteboard and I obey my past self’s orders. The pile of dirty clothes indicates the desperate need for me to send them to the laundry today.
After dropping the clothes for washing, just before 2 pm, my stomach signals that it is hungry. My roommate and I go up to our friend’s room on the 2nd floor to drag her along for some company. There we find three more friends and take them to the dining hall too.
Forty minutes into my second class of the day, my phone buzzes with a message. I look down to see what it is and I am not surprised by the funny mid-yawn picture of a classmate being shared on our friends’ WhatsApp group. A chuckle escapes my mouth quickly and quietens just as fast thinking about how this will be a topic of conversation at tonight’s gathering in one of our rooms.
At 5:17 pm, we have had our evening snacks and are sitting outside the dining hall closer to the big green lawn at the campus. Some, like us, are complaining about the amount of work they have and others are reminiscing about a similar evening where they sat watching the Sonepat sunset – all this from a photo they had Instagrammed a few weeks ago, hashtagging it #sonepatskies.
Close to 9 pm, I check out the mess and find the dinner unexciting – just some vegetables and no dessert to go with them. I ignore the fact that I am on a healthy-food diet and decide to eat a cheesy pizza at the Hazelnut, a café on campus. My appetite thanks me.
It’s midnight now and bursts of laughter can be heard across the hallway as a noisy group of seven girls sits in one room talking about events that happened during the day. One of them was undoubtedly the subject of the embarrassing picture that caught someone mid-yawn. Our discourse continues as we move on from sharing stories to watching funny videos on YouTube.
Its then 2 am and our stomachs are hungry again. Even though it is a bad idea to eat at this odd hour, we decide to call for some garlic naan and kadhai paneer from the Dhaba. I collect the money that we invest in our post-midnight meals and go downstairs to pick up the food which is delivered from the Dhaba to the women’s residence common room. It’s evident that this university doesn’t sleep. There are some watching a cheesy Hollywood film in the TV room while others are sorting out each others’ assignment doubts on the other side of the common room. One of us is trying to complete her essay which is due tomorrow at 9 am and decides it’s time to make her way to her own room, where the chances of her essay getting completed on time are much higher.
The conversation is beginning to get crazier and we’re laughing at things we wouldn’t perhaps laugh at earlier in the day. Our eyes give way and casually shut mid-conversation. Outsiders in the room decide to go back to their respective rooms only to find hungry neighbours cooking Maggi in the pantry. We can see them debating whether to eat again, while we retire to our rooms.
It is 3:30 am and tired and exhausted again, I finally go to bed…only to repeat the cycle tomorrow.