Sleepless in the Studio

As I walked into the MRTS station at Kottupuram this morning, I noticed something I wasn’t used to seeing on a daily basis there. An old man lay sprawled on the floor, bare-chested. He was homeless, yes. Drunk, maybe. He lay there beneath the giant staircase leading to the overhead rail. Under his head he had a small bundle of clothes that he used as a makeshift pillow, with his slippers placed by his side.

Looking at those slippers, I couldn’t but help notice the familiarity of the scene to something I was accustomed to not too many months back.

Just over a year ago, I was still a student. Back in Ahmedabad, it was the culture of working in studio till late at night that got us used to sleeping in the studio / lab whenever the occasion demanded it – which was rather too often now, come to think of it! It was not uncommon to walk into a studio and spot an insomniac dog trotting about on its midnight rounds; until of course you caught sight of a student or two curled up on a drafting table, or sprawled on the discussion table, their slowly heaving chests the only indication of the life in them.

Sleeping in studio was something you needed to get accustomed to. People used to bring mattresses, chattais, bedsheets, pillows, and the occasional mosquito repellant to ensure a comfortable, albeit short, snooze before a jury. Some were innovative enough to dismount the drafting board and place it on a set of bricks that turned it into a makeshift bed for the fortnights of night outs before the finals every semester. This was in the days before they built the luxurious bathroom with the shower stall. Once we had a place to bathe on campus, nobody wanted to go home at all!

Me, on the other hand, I made sure I carried the bare necessities for a nightout. A bedsheet, a toothbrush, a toothpaste, a hairbrush and some facewash.  Come 2 am every night, I’d open the windows of my big balcony (the view of which I posted here), spread out my sheet – but not too close to the railing- remove my shoes and put them someplace I wouldn’t see it first thing in the morning, place my laptop bag under my head, and I was good to go. In the summer nights, the breeze would blow like a lullaby to my frazzled nerves, and I’d find it hard to rouse myself 6 hrs later to start the new day.

And then, one day, I saw a rat the size of a cat darting from one balcony to the other, and that pretty much ended my sleep-in-the-studio-sessions.

Something about those old man’s slippers made me realize how much I missed being a hassled, stressed out student sleeping on a balcony for the 6 hours of her day that was really worth all the torture.

I am dangerously close to turning this into a ‘nostalgia’ post like this one, so i shall promptly change gears.

I guess there’s something about the spirit of an education that makes you want to be dirty, sleepless and basically, eccentric… for a very short period of time, of course. Quote from the play I’m currently rehearsing for:

“Angelica: Are you hungry?

Benjamin: Only for knowledge.”

Yeah, I know… corny line and all. But it symbolizes a lot.


Beats me. I don’t have to figure it out for a review/jury! I’m off to hit the sack.

Goodnight! 🙂


17 responses to “Sleepless in the Studio

  1. Hahhaa.. cool one. Well as far as i know, i have slept in my previous office studios for so many nights, and in my college couches, and those were some of the most well earned sleeps. Missing all that actually. Sleeping at work after working really hard is actually one of the best sleeps anyone can get.

    • true. especially after u wake up and remember u weren’t doing anything before going to sleep 🙂 i’m so used to jumping out of bed and rushing to the drawing board… that now when i get up and see i don’t have to do that… i feel a little lost !

  2. I know, what you mean by there… living a student life is a different bliss all together.
    I remember the times when I used to sleep on chairs in the Pandal when we were organizing fests. Sleeping on the terraces when we were discussing things and a lot more.. Life was fun then.

  3. Hey,

    I never knew you still wrote. Fantastic writing as always. Reminds me of the days I used to sleep in the OR under those humungous lights. 🙂

  4. Yo… I completely agree with the dirty and sleepless part of it. Man, those were the days.. Happy!!!

    Wait a min, that Angelica, Benjamin, too much!!!

  5. Just wondering about the best place I have slept. Think it was in Tattapani near Shimla. Slept on the banks of the River Sutlej. Peace as I know it. I found it there.

    • wow. me and a bunch of friends once went on a road trip to Champaner and Pavagadh in Gujarat. Pavagadh is a hill, at the top of which there is a Durga devi temple. We camped halfway up, then settled down at 12 am in front of a lake to sleep till 4am from where we resumed the rest of the journey.

      That was an adventure and a good snooze 🙂

  6. Been there, done that. Last thing you remember is attacking the keyboard in a frenzy at 3 in the morning. Next thing you know, the office boy sweeping the floor and never bothering to disturb your blissful sleep. These are the places I’ve found myself waking up in the morning: The chair, the sofa, the beanbag, the reception, the MD’s cabin, the smoking zone outside office, pantry. And under the dining table (that was a different trip altogether.)

    But never has a homeless reminded me of myself. May be my colleagues are reminded of me when they see one.

    • under the dining table? LOL…!

      i used to hate the sound of birds chirping early in the morning because it reminded me of the nights out. thts when we would realise its the morning of a jury/review/presentation and we weren’t even halfway through our work! 😉 at one point, it was so bad that as evening would descend on us, i would start to feel claustrophobic! so in a way i’m glad its over.

  7. Sleeping in office can get stressful at times when you have deadlines to finish. I worked as a mattress tester at a mattress store and had to test 20 mattresses on a single night 😦

  8. well..I too have slept in colg hostel but mostly not because of work but due to excessive boozing, puking etc. etc. :P…nice post!!

  9. i don’t remember sleeping much during my college days i mean nights… we were insomniacs… stayed awake till 4 in the morning then got up again at 6 to catch the 7:30 class… but it was fun i miss those days too 🙂

  10. Aaah, blissful life of a student 🙂 Leading such a life… Yayy :p

  11. If its a night-out why do you ‘Sleep’? Aren’t you supposed to be studying/working?! Well, either way, I haven’t really been of the ‘Hard-working’ kind. If there were sleepless nights at college or work, I just don’t remember them! But its good to know about all your stories though!

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