St Stephen’s college is the South Delhi of Delhi University, Snobbish. Here, there is no noise, no dust. Just trees, hedged pathways and redbrick structures. The college has a beautiful campus worth taking a walk.
Though you feel transported to a century-old English garrison, the building is as new as New Delhi, built during the ’40s.
But do not stare at the classroom windows. Lectures may be on. However, if there is an empty hall, step in. The vacant benches and the portraits of dead professors make the surroundings as silent as a... well, tomb.
If that is not spooky enough, try this: at the grounds is an old well, now locked inside a rounded structure. Peer through the dusty window and you will find stairs going down.
Spooky. Hurry down to the college chapel, circa 1952. Potted flowers guard its heavy wooden doors. Tiptoe in. If you are lucky, you may find a girl reading a novel.
The college has a mess for its hostel students, which looked straight out of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ceiling fans, framed portraits, uniformed bearers and a special elevated dining area for teachers.
At St Stephen’s, there is no canteen, but café. And it is very old world-like: wicker chairs, ageing stewards, bone china plates, and forks and knives. No self-service, no samosas.
In front of the teachers’ room is the auditorium gallery, nicknamed Passion Corridor. It is said to be used by romantic couples to get cosy, but “only in the evening when the teachers’ room is closed and it’s dark.”
The students of this college are lucky, but don’t grudge them their present address. A few years of debate, drama, dancing, literature, sex, and then they would be out in the real world.