All those visiting north campus, most will agree that bantawalas do more than just churn out glass after glass of lip-smacking banta. If you are lost in north campus, ask any bantawala and he will happily give you the directions, usually correct. Between crushing ice, squeezing lemons and giving directions, sometimes he also gives you life-changing advice.
Bantawala Lacchu Bhai has been standing outside Ramjas for 14 years. Short of giving career advice, he will tell you all you need to know about Delhi University (DU). He knows where the centralised admission forms, as the forms are called, are bought, which colleges do not accept them, how to fill them, and how much the cutoffs have changed over the past decade or so. He never formally enrolled in a school, though he can read.
“The right way to prepare for exams,” according to him, “is by studying throughout the year, instead of frantic cramming a month before the exams.”
Both Delhiites and out-of-towners benefit from his gyan. “Below 75 per cent,” he says, “you may as well forget DU.” Another bantawala, Laxman, has a stall outside Shri Ram College of Commerce. He cannot read, but has enough knowledge about the most sought after colleges in DU.
Though he is somewhat reluctant to give out advice about courses, he, too, can provide information on forms and where to find them. He also provides an additional service: dispensing advice about hostel accommodation and places of temporary stay for students from outside Delhi.
“Not everyone gets a seat in the college hostel, but there are plenty of places around north campus." In the chaos and confusion of college admissions, students often complain that there are not enough helpdesks set up by students’ unions and colleges. Not really. Because there are “counsellors” standing just outside college gates, with a cold glass of banta.