The other day, I spoke to two friends who had never stayed at a hostel before. This was kind of shocking for me.
“So like never?”, I asked.
“No yaar. Never.“, they replied sadly.
“Was it anything like Mallory Towers?”, they enquired hopefully.
An image appeared in my mind and I quickly dismissed the image.
I said “HAHA, you do make some great friends. But no fancy tuck boxes and field hockey tournaments.”
And that was that. But the image lingered in my mind. My memory began to add details to the initial vision. Colour, shape, sounds and smell. I tried to forget it. I couldn’t. I still can’t.
So I thought why not write about it so y’all can’t forget it either.
There are 3 kinds of girls hostels in Kerala:
– Those run by nuns. I have covered this eloquently here.
– Those run by regular folk. To read about the inside scoop on what’s cookin at the ‘Martha Stewart-esque’ kitchens of these hostels read here.
– Ladies hostels of the colleges.
I have had the privilege of surviving…I mean staying….at the first 2 establishments mentioned above.
I can go into the nitty gritty of what goes on…food, laughter, gossip, the works.
But the image in my mind begs to differ. The main difference in both the places was how Aunt Flo was managed for its residents.
Most convent hostels are quite old and established. There’s always one very bent, ancient nun who looks you up and down, scans you for any immoral behavior to be reported back to the Vatican, asks your family name and then recalls also stalking your mother/aunt in the same corridors.
But all said and done, convents do have a sturdy, ingenious system of sanitary napkin disposal.
Imagine it’s your first month at the hostel and Aunt Flo strikes. You have no clue what to do. You miss home a little then. You ask the first senior you see, where to dispose off the pads.
Her face grows serious, she points to the dark row of toilet cubicles and whispers “In there….“.
You gulp, and walk gingerly in your rubber chappals to the slippery bathroom area. A lone tube light flickers above and the resident lizard watches you make your way over to an empty cubicle.
The door creaks and you step inside. And you look down at the comfortable Indian closet. Great for core strength BTW. Not so great for your average day dreaming session.
And then you see it. Straight in front on the wall. Behold, a tiny steel trap door! You open it with trepidation. And the Jumanji movie soundtrack is playing in your mind. And there it is. A tunnel passage like that book disposal thingy you see at libraries. You shove your napkin through it. And slam it shut.
And run out.
I don’t know where it goes, who collects this. Let’s not go into the dark, bloody depths of that thought (excuse the pun).
Image courtesy Novembersunflower.
Next we move on to napkin disposal at a certain privately owned hostel I stayed at.
Everything was great about this place. Lot of room space, clean surroundings, freedom, no veiled judgy wardens around.
Everything except the Communal Period Bin. Yup you read that right. Uh-huh.
So I am trying to imagine how this idea came about. My hostel warden/owner just sat with someone and brain stormed one day.
“So how we do we dispose off all these used pads that’s going to happen?”
“Ok well why don’t we keep a bin in the toilets?”
“Bah that’s too much work. The removing and throwing.”
“Hmm what about a bin outside in the courtyard ?”
“Nah…dogs would be all over it at nighttime. Bad idea!”
“Ok what about a gigantic drum with a lid. By the stairway of the hostel.”
“PERFECT! I see no flaw in this one. In a hostel with many young girls of healthy age and bodily functions.”
By the way, the Communal Period Bin was red. Because duh…symbolism. And by the stairway for access to all. Also if anyone opened the drum and fainted from the stench, hey atleast they could fall down the stairs, break their neck and die.
And since when you live in a hostel with all your mates as one big happy family, nature steps in and kinda syncs everyone’s periods. So the drum stayed ever full. And the stench of a hundred festering pads rose from it when you opened the lid.
I still remember clutching my napkin, mentally preparing myself to open the drum. Should I not breathe? Breathe through my mouth? Just short puffs to survive.
Open. Throw pad. Close!
And run! As fast as you can wearing rubber chappals and a fresh pad between your legs. You girls know the feeling right?
You reach the bottom of the stairs and fill your lungs with air. Oh sweet oxygen!
So now that I have that image stuck in your mind, I can go to sleep.
And if you’re PMSing, just remember you never had to endure the Communal Period Bin at a certain hostel. Cheer up. Go eat candy.