There is a place at almost every university campuses in Bangladesh that holds an undebatable five-star rating by its peers for most soulful hangouts. Some are not even specific to individuals as well.
For example, near the Arts Faculty at the University of Dhaka, there is a small lane with cement shades, bicycle stands and some printing stores on one side and a parking lot with a little ‘canteen-ish’ food place on the other side-- called Campus Shadow.
If you happen to walk past the shadow, the chances are pretty slim for you to not notice a group of youngsters sipping from an icy glass of lemonade or a cup of hot tea.
This is a common hangout place for many DU students. Hangout culture is very much prevalent among the youths with university campuses being the ultimate hotspots.
However, restaurant hangouts are not far behind. These days, one can find a diner place in Dhaka on every corner they turn. The popularity of restaurants as hangout places, fancy or simple, is on the rise.
From hot cups of tea at campus shadows to well-plated dishes at rooftop restaurants, the hangout places are changing. But is the change comparable or just situational?
Campus areas have some perfect places for hangouts, with food being of secondary interest in those places, while gatherings and hangouts being primary.
In the case of restaurants, the food is also an important factor, and not to forget, the picturesque. So, random hangouts can happen anywhere from campuses to restaurants, given the readiness of the group.
Though many youths visit restaurants quite regularly, the preference still bends towards the campus for more intimate and comfortable hangouts.
Antara Raisa Nodi, a third-year student of Mass Communication and Journalism at the University of Dhaka thinks hangout places depend on the type of friends. If they are friends from university, campus is the perfect place for hangouts. For friends outside the campus or a smaller group, a meet-up at a restaurant seems better to her.
Mir Akil Shams, a final year student of Department of Finance and Banking at Bangladesh University of Professionals, would hardly go anywhere if the campus is open.
“Restaurants are always a plan B when our university is open. Given the current situation when it's closed or during vacations, we would meet at restaurants. But hangouts on campus are time saving, almost everyone can be present, we have beautiful places to have little meet-ups between or after classes. So, we prefer campus hangouts over restaurant hangouts.”
The restaurant hangouts have become popular with newer modern diners being set up every day. But students who live outside Dhaka still prefer campus hangouts.
Farjana Mamun Mim, a second-year student at Khulna University of Engineering and Technology, says she prefers her campus for hangouts because, outside Dhaka, the restaurants are not very close by. Also, restaurant meet-ups tend to be a little formal or occasion-based anyway. Not everyone can go to restaurants for only hangouts.
But do campus hangout places always promise a fitting atmosphere? Nishat Sultana, a second-year student of Mass Communication and Journalism at the University of Dhaka, put some light on a different perspective.
“Not all places on campus are suitable for a hangout, I think. TSC, Modhur Canteen, Social Science Faculty or FBS canteen of Dhaka University would be better compared to the Shadows, but then again, one cannot arrange an elaborate hangout or meet-up out of the blue because there are always other people.”
Hence, Nishat sees restaurants as viable alternatives to campus, especially for plans to meet friends and have a good and peaceful time.
Hangout places might have seen some transition in the past few years with newer trends and cultures being added every day. Nevertheless, the essence of hangouts with friends is still the same. They are all about coming together over some snacks or maybe a ukulele or guitar playing some tunes, or just meet-ups over good food.