Saturday, 30 April 2011

Of Roommates and Conundrum

     They can be fat, slim, tall, short, dirty, sneaky, cheesy, serious, sober, geeky….I am falling short of adjectives here. People who have ever shared a room with a stranger know that you can never know-it-all, when it comes to roommates. I have a Seinfeld fixture, so cannot help quoting from it: 

Jerry: They didn't have roommates in the middle ages.
George: How do you know?
Jerry: Well, for one thing, they didn't have apartments”

Apartment or hostel, those of you who think that they are lucky they never had any roommates, let me tell you, you have missed out on one of life’s greatest adventures. It can be a joyride and a nightmare, all at once. It can churn out the best of friends and the worst of foes.

    Miss A and Miss X are allocated the same room in a hostel. Miss A believes they would keep their room spic and span, be entertaining guests, and be good friends. Miss X, on the other hand, has different plans. She wants to top her class, so she intends to keep the room messy and totally free of visitors. She devices a unique method to achieve this. She keeps her clothes and books on the table while she sleeps, and dumps them on the bed when she studies at her table. She throws chocolate and biscuit wrappers on the floor. Miss A is a cleanliness freak, so she’s miffed. She tries explaining to Miss X how her approach is wrong and how she ought to lead a good lifestyle. Needless to say, good advice is rather frowned upon, and Miss X lends a deaf ear to it. Miss A cleans up the room during the vacations, and shoots another e-mail ‘advisory’ to Miss X, warning her to mend her ways. She does pay heed this time, and marches away to another room, much to the delight of Miss S1, who is one of Miss A’s closest friends, also fed up of her messy roommate and looking to move in with Miss A.

     Miss A and Miss S1 move in together, and they live happily ever after. The happy stories aren’t that interesting, so I shall skip them for the moment.

       Habits are such strange things, they make or break a relationship, especially that with a roommate. Two people may be best of friends, but not necessarily good roommates. One may be an early riser while the other may like to stay up late, one may be very hygienic while the other may revel in messy surroundings. One may be loud and boisterous, the other introvert and shy. What comes out from all these combinations is rather spectacular. Generally, roommates have a lot of influence over each other, and may completely change each other’s personalities, for better or worse, as the case may be. A cheesy roommate may giggle and hug you for every thing you say, and you may start to do the same, even without realizing how ridiculous you both look to others.
     Gender bender – I have actually found more girls complaining about roommates than boys. Maybe it means boys are more tolerant, or indifferent. I do not wish to be a judge of that. Females, on the other hand, scrutinize every action of another of their kind. If a girl gets 20 calls in a day, she is either a cry baby talking to her mommy about every meal, every class - in short, every sob and sniffle, or a bimbo trying to attract attention.
      As the saying goes – “You can choose your friends, but not your family” most cases not your roommate either. You were destined to be together. Recall Miss A, who I told you about earlier. She passes out of college, works at a particular location, gets an awesome roommate (Miss S2) there. Happy story, so let’s move on.   

    She moves to a new city and is on the lookout for a place to stay. This time she decides to try an apartment instead of living as a paying guest. This would entail more freedom, she presumes. She rents an apartment along with four other girls. They are very friendly and make her feel at home almost immediately. She unpacks and settles down to sleep. Suddenly, there are noises, someone is crying; the pitch increases and so does the swearing. Moments later Miss A sees a light in the kitchen. One of the girls is burning something .She is terrified at the thought of a fire breaking out, or the gas cylinder exploding on her very first night in that house. She says a silent prayer and goes to sleep.

   It is a weekend, and people are relaxing. Conversation flows, and Miss A’s new roommate Miss Y, is too impressed with her. She starts discussing how many prospects she has met, each one’s salary, qualifications, and even goes through each one’s Facebook page. First Miss A is all smiles, but after the third groom, things start looking alarming. So she excuses herself to take a nap. Later in the day, she sees her roommate applying some strange looking ointments and oils.  A asks if she is taking some kind of beauty treatment, usually a favorite pastime on weekends. What comes next shakes Miss A to the core. Her roommate suffers from a serious skin disease from the past year, and she is depressed and even contemplates suicide at times. She has had several roommates, and considers it some kind of coincidence that most of them leave the apartment and move somewhere else. The disease, mind you, is ‘mostly’ non-communicable. For the next two months A is subjected to some of the worst experiences in her life. She tries to offer sympathy, but the girl seems to be adamant not to take it. What’s worse is that all the other inhabitants of the flat come up and tell Miss A they would have never taken the room if they were in her place, how ironical was that? A was going bonkers, looking for a new place to move into.

    It was a Sunday, and World Cup cricket championships were going on. Someone was fighting on the phone with their boyfriend, okay, routine stuff. Wait, what was that loud ‘bang’ and ‘thud’? Words which remind me of Tinkle “Kalia the crow” comic strip. Miss A rushes out to find one of her flat mates had slammed a door, and broken a rather large piece of wall. There was also a plate of food on the floor, with its contents up on the ceiling!

    Dear Miss A began to have serious doubts, were these people crazy, or was she herself too ‘normal’. Birds of a feather flock together, that was the case here, or how could anyone put up with such chaos. She decided she’d had enough. Sanity needed to be restored. A new residence was sought and finalized at war footing.

   Miss A now has a new roommate. It has been a month, and she is keeping her fingers crossed. They have a laugh now and then, and share some movies and music, but you never know when the tides may turn. Going purely by past statistics, that is.

   I now wish to list some annoying ‘roomie’ attributes, shared by Miss A, purely on her own discretion: 
-         Mentioning the word ‘Roomie’ more than once in a sentence.
-         Assuming that you both are the best roommates and showing off to others.
-         Being extra polite, saying ‘Thank you’ and ‘Sorry’ numerous times.
-         Asking permission every time to use your spoon, when you don’t need it at that moment.
-         Leaving their clothes on the pegs in the washroom, and leaving no space for you to hang yours.
-         Saying ‘sweet nothings’ to their boyfriends in a loud voice, when you are trying to sleep.
-         Telling their family members over phone how good a roommate she has got. They, in turn, calling you to check on their ward’s whereabouts.
-         Asking advice on six short-listed prospects and which one to marry.

    It would be unfair to some great people if the happy stories remained untold. Miss A urges me to write about Miss S1, her roommate in college. They shared a room for three years, and there never was a day of misunderstanding. They were perfectly tuned. Although their habits differed, they lived in perfect harmony. S1 was this mature person always offering support to A in tough times. They had a lot of fun, and were very proud of their beautiful room.

      Miss S2, A’s roommate when she had joined her job, was a cool customer. A vivid personality with many talents, she stuck by A through thick and thin. They have also bonded for life, although they shared a room for just over eight months.

     The chances of getting a good roommate are rather skewed, but they do come by. Have you found yours already?

1 comment:

  1. Hey Aru...good one, I fully understand your feelings here... ;). Keep writing. :)