After a coffee its a run to office and we usually get packed lunches. It is again a strict timetable- variety rice, each different everyday. Tamarind rice, lemon rice, tomato rice, curd rice and a repeat of the same...No wonder i hate the sight of these now. As for the vegetables that accompany them, its usually papaya, bottle gourd, cabbage and ash guord, all no waste veggies! Cleaning the veggies is done with utmost care, you often end up staring at a boiled maggot! Well, it is boiled anyway! We were offered chicken only on sundays. Wait, no over enthusiasm here- did i say chicken, oh...mistake, it is chicken skin and bones! The chicken curry on sunday afternoons is a watery gravy made with only the skin and bones and a few muscle left unscrapped from the bones. The pieces walk to the Convent kitchen all by themselves and land themselves on the nuns' plates! Oh i forgot to tell you, i was in a hostel run by Catholic nuns. All of us were supposed to assemble for daily night prayers irrespective of religion, it often looked like a Dictator's Victory Speech by Mother Superior. I wonder how she never got bored saying the same thing all again and again- "No lights after 10 pm, no power during the day, only two buckets of water for everyone, no unauthorised visitors, no phone calls after 10 pm" and so on. She was our Peter...Repeater!
There was also the other 'dark' room, where no inmates stay. It was rumoured the ghost of a former hostelite haunt the room. I face the other side whenever i cross the room and try my level best not to pass there during the nights. There are unauthorised 'fashion shows' where each one of us tries to outbeat the other when it comes to night dresses! You can see all varities- long sleeves, sleeveless, laces, velvettes, satins all glowing after the ceremonial 'switching off' at 10 pm! Mother Superior would have definitely had a heart attack seeing us then! And oh...i forgot the "inner" stealers! They were the active pack who always used to whisk away new ones, especially those with laces;) That you call 'thieves with a taste'! There were episodes of late night dances, girls waking up in morning with close-up red gel moustaches, some who had surprise unknown hair cuts, some pushing and pulling when their long braids have been tied to cot stands, omelettes on secret stove-tops and purported "ghost appearances". I forgot to say i am a nocturne. God! Was i a handful? May be, may be not;) The food was bad, but the fun was good! Indeed, i did love my Queendom and the women( including the nuns) at No. 1, Birds Road. Wish i were a bird there, right now!