Most college canteens being closed, small snacks-selling kiosks is all they can count on

Admission fever has gripped Delhi University for almost a week now, with hoards of young adults from every corner of the city and many parts of North India landing in the university every day. Some are competitive and smart, while some others lack the drive or know-how but come here anyway to take a chance with their career. However, they all agree about one thing – hunger hits at about 1 p.m. and then it is time to tackle another competition, this time for food.

“There is one canteen running in the Arts Faculty, and a small pantry that hands out small eats in the Miranda House centre, both are always swarming with people. While the Miranda House mini canteen is near the counter and visible throughout the day, the Arts Faculty canteen has to be found and I got to know about it only today, when I finished submitting my application form,” said Rukmini over the weekend. She had to come three days in a row to buy the pre-university admission form and ECA forms from every college on the North Campus.

“There is a small out-door sort of thing in Hindu College which hands out samosas and soft drinks that are not chilled and their main canteen in bright yellow is big. It had no people when I went there twice. However, it was open and I had a cold samosa both the times,” adds another girl Smiti.

A few blocks away is St. Stephen's College, selling their own admission, ECA and sports forms. “We had heard so much about the canteen here and planned our lunch to coincide with this visit, but it was so disappointing when we were told that the canteen will open only when the college re-opens in July,” said Ajay, who is a Delhi Technological College student but had come to help his friend with admissions.

“Our main canteen is under renovation so we can't open it until July 23, but the same people who run our canteen have been operating out of a little kiosk near the sales counters,” said Miranda House Principal Pratibha Jolly, adding that students who got into the college were in for a treat since the college ran three canteens on working days. “There is also a dhaba that runs throughout the night,” she said.

The Delhi School of Economics, which keeps its canteen open throughout the year even for outsiders, is also disappointing. “We cannot stock or cook much, business is slim,” said the man behind the counter. He had just turned away a girl who wanted to buy a soft drink because he did not have change to give her. “She gave me a Rs.500 note for a drink that costs just Rs.10, I have not even made that much money all day, where can I get the change from,” he added. Small change has also been a problem with many. “My mother gave me a Rs.500 note to cover my admission expenses, nobody had change and I found it so difficult to buy myself a bottle of water all morning so I went without water. Finally after I had bought my form, I treated myself to a big meal at Nirulas, opposite the Arts Faculty,” said Kamini from Shalimar Bagh.

The nearby Kamala Nagar market is always teeming with people and a quick lunch is impossible there. “We waited 30 minutes for a table the other day, the five of us,” said Suhas, a final-year student who had come to the university for his exams.

Several vendors selling momos, chaat, maize and lime juices can be seen outside colleges and in front of the metro station. They are your best bet after all your other options are defeated.

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