Yesterday I was watching an advertisement for an Indian talk show. The moderator was talking to a Mother and her daughter. The daughter who lives in a working women’s hostel (somewhere in India) was being constantly watched by her Mom. The Mother is so annoying she does not believe her daughter reached safely to her work that she makes her call from the work place’s landline.
This brought up my memories staying in a working women’s hostel in India, nearly 27 years ago. At that time there were no cell phones just land lines. But my parents were not bugging me like this girl’s Mom since they knew I was at a safe place. Ha Ha, Let me tell you I stayed in a hostel run by a Catholic Convent Nuns. So yes, I was watched like a hawk.
I used to work for a General Insurance Company which closed at 5.45 pm and Life Insurance offices closed at 5.30 pm. Mother Superior who could not understand the difference between the two would stop me and ask me why those people who work at Life Insurance came early. For her it did not matter why I came late, just that I was late.
The hostel was in a remote place, but was surrounded by a beautiful garden, greenery with coconut trees. One of the disadvantages of the place was it did not have proper power supply and they needed a step up generator to increase the voltage. The Sisters of the convent were so strict they saw that it was used in the most economical way otherwise we could just see the filament inside the bulb and not bright lights. The generator was shut down around 9 pm and there was no other activity and that we had to go to bed.
So how about the food. It was cheap. How about the taste, sub par. But the company during dinner and breakfast was fun that every morsel of food found its way into our mouth and the plate was empty. Hey what did we talk about ? How to escape our hostel management and sneak out for a movie.
But this all changed when Sister Andrea joined. She was a much younger person and was put in charge of the hostel. She could understand what was going on and got us a Television. We used to rent video players and watch movies all weekend. The hostel also hosted girls from the nearby Polytechnic. So she made the working women in charge of food. I was part of a budgeting team and do you know how hard it is to feed 300 people on a limited budget. It was definitely a learning experience for me. She hosted one of the best Christmas parties.
I did not like staying in that hostel that time. I missed my home and the home cooked meals. But thinking about it now I feel that laid the foundation for me to handle bigger things in life like autism, anxiety and OCD. I was raised as an Orthodox Hindu, but I learnt to accept Mother Mary. Voluntarily I used to sit for prayer times as they chanted Hail Mary. Sister Andrea was supportive of all religions and she saw the Muslim girls were respected during their fasting period and made them special food.
I was in touch with them for some years but as time passed I am not in touch with any of my hostel friends or Sister Andrea. But those memories cannot be forgotten.
Two prompts for today motivated me to remember some of my past.