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What is the lifeline of every college?



The college canteen: place for food and some fun. — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

IT'S THEIR favourite hangout, the place to flaunt their newly acquired possessions, the place to catch a glimpse of who's who of the college. Welcome to the college canteen. "Our only shelter when we bunk" is what some students defined it as. "CANT Eat Elsewhere Now" is another definition. Canteen/Cafeteria is a vital aspect of any educational institution.

Educational psychologists of U.S. concluded that a good canteen in a school/college could increase the academic performance. Institutions today are understanding the importance of and striving hard to provide good canteen facilities. Students unanimously agree that canteen is the place to unwind, relax and hang out. It is a place where you can be yourself and forget the classroom etiquettes. Even if you are broke or a bookworm, the charm of the canteen will still capture you! "A coffee in the canteen is a break from the monotonous lecturers, it is the final destination for a tired and bored student," said Samrat Goswami of Garden City College (GCC). Samrat's companion, Rahul Sharma, contradicted him by saying, "Students bunk and go to the canteen which hampers their attendance; it is not worth it in the long run." "One should know how to strike a balance" is what both said after an argument.

Food, definitely, is the priority when one goes to the canteen. Meeting friends, completing notes, exchanging news (read as gossip) and not to forget dating, are on the list too. The most creative minds are at work here, be it the drummer who practices with spoons and plates or an amateur poet who scribbles on the canteen tissues. This has to be the busiest corner on the campus.

"It is the ideal place to plan and rehearse for a skit or singing competition," said Akshay Prasad, a Christ College student. The Public Relations Officer of Christ College, Shiju Sebastian, said, "The atmosphere of the canteen initiates a student to perform better in academics. It is the right place to take a break and come back to classes with a healthy mind."

"It is not affordable to eat in fast food joints everyday. Canteen reduces my expenses and since it is within the campus I can grab food anytime," added Sri Vidya of Dayanad Sagar Engineering College. An Industrial Psychology Lecturer, Deepa Menon aptly said, "Canteen is a important aspect of college as it encourages socialising. However, I strongly feel that the food must be healthy and should be approved by a dietician." Posters emphasising awareness programmes on AIDS and vaccination should find its place on canteen walls as this attracts the students' attention, she added.

Most of the college passouts feel that moments spent in a college canteen will be cherished forever. Vandana Bhattacharya, aged 42, nostalgically said, "We often talked about our homes. During our time, only snacks were available. The canteens now have improved drastically, specially the quality of food."

Mrs. Bhattacharya visits her daughter's college regularly and is fascinated by the trendy seating arrangements and variety of food on the menu.

Though the canteen is the much-loved hangout for all students, it has its share of drawbacks too. Many students complained about time restrictions, crowd, slow service and dull ambience.

Popular suggestions from students included:

  • Serve us fast — food must be served on time.

  • Keep it clean — hygiene is essential.

  • We need change — change the look of the canteen to attract students.

  • What's new? — introduce new items on the menu.

  • The `money' factor — give concession to the regular canteen goers.

  • Turn on the music — What's the FM for?

  • Not another classroom — the canteen should exclusively be for students.

    From Chinese to chats, pizzas to `pakoras', college canteens offer it all.

    Jose Sebastian of Christ College voted for Chilly Chicken as the most desired food whereas Ravia Gupta of G.C.C. said, "Channa Bhatura and Momo rules our college canteen."

    Sahana T.S., an ex-student of Canara College, Mangalore, still misses her favourite Mangalore Bonda served in her canteen.

    The canteen can be rightly called the lifeline of a college. Long live canteen, the lifeline of every college, where you can meet, eat and celebrate the golden days of life.

    (Contribution by educationplus team)

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