Not-so-serious but very strict disclaimer:
>this piece of work does not intend to harm or hurt, bisect or dissect, the feelings or image of any individual (if it does, I’ll be very proud of it).
> It has no resemblance to reality as everything is pure imagination of the author (he might take unwarranted inspirations from the reality sometimes.. that’s allowed B-) ).
>The author has tried not to exaggerate and it shall not matter if he has.
>The author shall not be responsible for any brawl, fight, trash talking or exchange of rude sign gestures that this work may cause (if it does, he will highly appreciate it, though 😀 😀 ) .
Some things just happen.
Alok sir had promised me a good news (initially, I expected a chicken party.. a good news for me always means chicken party.. why…. I cannot explain.. ).. It turned out to be a trip to Asia’s largest cultural festival MOOD INDIGO, hosted by elite students of IIT BOMBAY.
I spent weeks in dreaming ways of getting Katrina committed. Thought of different ways I’ll be meeting Bobby Deol and solemnly suggest him to give up the serious offence he calls acting . And dreamt of basking in the magnificence called IIT BOMBAY…
15th December, 2011.
Arrived at Tata by Tata Chapra express ( I seriously disagree with it being called “express”.. a goods train has a higher preference) .The arrival of five of us (Ankur, Gaurav, Rahul, Abhishek Raj and yours truly) at the first year hostels started with an argument with the gatekeepers, who, it being a holiday, did not open the hostel gates.
“NO. IT CANNOT BE DONE”, they said, smoking a “beedi” as they sat around a bonfire they had made for themselves, giving out puffs of smoke, with mocking grins and malicious eyes. Quite the usual answer you get from a nit jsr official folk. Be it anything, from normal signatures to tour approvals…. anything and everything is met with the same reply that’s been programmed in the veins of the lazy officials since ages,” NO. IT CANNOT BE DONE”. They say there’s a procedure to everything. However, if you indeed go by the procedure, you may be walking on a stick and having white hairs by the time you have completed it . You would have made a hundred rounds at the administrative office, pleaded your file to be forwarded, paid a “little” money under the table(s), cursed the officials like cats and dogs and felt like burning down the academic building every time you return without any progress to your case. They may just tell you the procedure, indeed they will. But they’ll never acknowledge the suffering, the patience and the time duration it takes. According to me, they are poorly working-bribe taking-perpetually busy with nothing-time wasting-money sucking-under qualified-super lazy banana peels we students have to bear for no fault of ours. Send the whole group to America, and they’ll crash down the whole economy in minutes ( a very rare talent, I must admit, nit jsr is blessed with diverse talents… yearly sine die, suicides etc… this laziness of mentally sick officials is just another highly underrated one).
Hostel gates did not open. This was not-so-fair. We needed to attend the call of nature. A boy in his teens does not like being said “no”, especially an engineering student, for he may not remember names of all the subjects being taught in his class, one thing he is essentially gifted in, is in using curses. And as we moved towards the senior hostels to get fresh, we cursed the gatekeepers. Devil has gifted me with bliss at swearing, and I did not leave a single relation or scope of the lives of the gate keepers. I wished they would die unmarried and if they indeed were married, their wives would run away with one of our mess workers, and I thought of all nice things I wanted to do to them with that smoking “beedi” of theirs, and if that won’t be enough, I would tie them up, make them drink ten cups of coffee so that they cannot go to sleep, and make them watch Sahid Kapoor’s “mausam” over and over again (serious third degree torture that…. awful movie.. I have been a firsthand witness. That day I took oath never to go watch a Sahid movie without doctor’s aid)
Our train was next morning. We spent the night at the ghastly wreck they call “nit guest house”. It’s a awkward place to be at. Large, lonely looking mirrors at most horrible places (if not careful, you might die of shock from your own image). The guesthouse has a curious somnambulist as its caretaker, who has a mysterious habit of disappearing in dark corners and reappearing at most unexpected places and at most unexpected times. This indeed did happen, as me and Ankur saw him walk out of the main gate, and we moved out and waited for him outside. After half an hour of waiting and constant swearing at ten slangs per minute, we gave up and went in, only to find the caretaker involved in a deep conversation with Gaurav. We decided not to pay this time-space anomaly of the gatekeeper much attention (if he indeed was a ghost, we did not want him to know we knew).
We slept in two rooms, three in each (there may have been more in number, but I am counting only living beings you see). Gaurav took half an hour of make up before going to sleep (I know you will kill me for this gaurav, but I hope I made it clear in the disclaimer). Abhishek raj woke up in the middle of the night and insisted on reading an unusually thick book. At first we thought he was joking, but when he insisted again we had to accept it as one-of-those-unexplainable-fits-to-study-you-get-once-in-a-while (with me it usually happens when a report card of my exam comes in hand.. I become an ideal student for full ten minutes). With no solution in sight, I and Gaurav, with all possible conviction, talked between us in a voice that was barely audible to Abhishek, about how there was a cut hand in the next room. Once Abhishek had eavesdropped on our conversation, and had got himself convinced of the fictional hand’s existence, he immediately went to sleep.
16th and 17th December, 2011 (the journey)
Our seniors picked us up on way to the Tata station. I was too drowsy (an engineering student does not like waking up at 5 in the morning, and the best way he knows to express his displeasure is by swearing. Why, after all, was our train scheduled in morning? It could have been at any time of the day when we are more awake (now that’s another contradiction, I never find myself fully awake except when I am eating). I wanted to go to the person responsible for such timing of the train, and explain to him, in most humble and forgiving manner, that it was a sin on his part to believe that engineering students can get up that early, and that he should do something about it, and he should take my word , as that of a pious gentleman, that if not heeded, he would find his toilet door jammed from inside when he will be at the extreme of all natural possibilities of human bladder’s contentment.
Alok sir provided us all with our tickets (I heard an earful for not paying attention when he was addressing the whole team). The train arrived. We got in. And the thirty hour journey began.
Not much exciting happened during the journey. A thirty hour journey alone might make you lonely. But with friends, it is grand. The first problem we came upon was some of our wet clothes, which, it being cruelly cold in Jharkhand, had refused to dry up after washing. If you are an engineer, all you learn in your four years is, what they very appropriately call, “jugaad”. And so, we soon devised a very quick and funny way to dry up our clothes.
Those staring at our train might have seen a few towels, underwear, pants and handkerchiefs hanging outside the windows of our bogie, blowing with the wind against the train travelling at 85 plus kmph. 😉 . In Jharkhand, our clothes had not dried up in last four days. Our method dried them up in fifteen minutes.
We had an argument with Abhishek raj. We were debating if it would be cold or hot in Mumbai, and he said that it was slightly cold in Mumbai indeed. We asked about on what grounds and solid evidences can he make claims like these, while we all knew Mumbai to be a coastal city, with a moderate climate, excellent sea breeze and awesome weather conditions.
“I saw them wearing jackets in a daily soap on television”, was his reply, and none of us argued any further.
We spent half the day in train. As we drew closer to Mumbai, we came across mountains, valleys, tunnels, barren lands, farm lands, meadows any many such elements of nature. However, the biggest nuisance was created by constant money laundering by “eunuchs”. A different group would come at a new station, take ten rupees per head from the boys and if not paid, they would @#$%##@#$%##@&** (censored).
It is a very illegal practice indeed, because no one wants to part with hard earned money. I am not against the group, I am against this compulsive, spit in the face kind of unjust bravery they have against those who don’t want to be embarrassed. Kapil Sibbal will make all the laws to make the lives of students hell (more reservation, removal of boards, twelfth percentage weightage in iit, censors on facebook and so on..) but not once, in their right mind, will a politician dare to touch an issue as attention needing as this. And very sorry to remark, but a part of the money collected by them makes way to government officials who let this kind of extortion happen. A single person cannot raise his voice, for in India there are many who will be there to suppress it, or worse, silence it. Seven of us students gave ten rupees three times to a different group of eunuchs at successive stations. That’s two hundred and ten rupees. Very unfair. We may just have wasted that money on cold drinks, I daresay, but losing them out like this pinched me. But, as I held no position, rank or authority as such to make amends or call for a regulation in this direction, I did what an engineer does best: swear.
We reached Lokmanya Tilak at 2 pm. Big station. We dragged our luggage to the taxi stand. It was a bit of comedy there. As Alok sir booked taxis for all of us, we were almost being dragged by aggressive looking taxi drivers, who looked angry if we didn’t get in. Fast paced life in a metro does not let you learn ambience I suppose. There we were, almost thirty of us, tired, hungry, thirsty and wasted. And those taxi drivers did not seem like allowing us a little reasoning in deciding who will go with which group. It was rude and selfish on their part. We got in and drove off to IIT BOMBAY.
In one hour we stood at the main entrance being frisked and getting our bags checked. The one who checked mine got more than what he had bargained for. He took my bag with a cheerful smile. That smile was still there when he was opening it. As soon as he did, the strong smell of my socks and unwashed inner hit him full in the face. The smile vanished and an expression having mixture of constipation and scorn took over. He may have tried me for carrying weapon of mass destruction (don’t underestimate my socks). But he seemed a benign soul and he let go. We all took a bus and drove off to the student activity centre where accommodation was to be allotted to us.
It took some time for the accommodation to be allotted, and we utilized the time in measuring the aura around. There were students from all over India: law students, fashion students, management students and all and each. They sat in group as they waited for their accommodation. And then there were girls. Tall, small, pretty, not so pretty and of all kind. Boys to girls ratio may just be a matter of concern for rest of India, especially in engineering colleges where girls are almost an extinct and endangered species. But there, I think girls at mood indigo claimed a strong case of another face of India. Confident, smart, beautiful (ah yes. that’s the word) and not so sedate. That’s a metro girl for you.
But just then something happened, and it diverted our attention completely away from girls. A black Harley Davidson went past us, and we stood there in admiration, our jaws dropped, eyes stretched wide open in surprise and our hands caught mid air in whatever they were doing. If there’s one thing that sets me ablaze, it’s a Harley Davidson bike. And this was my first real life encounter with a Harley Davidson. We all stood there, hypnotized by its royalty and grandeur, finishing touch, sleek slender body and mouth watering shape. Me, Gaurav and Ankur were discussing the details of the bike’s looks, still enthralled by its memory. What color, what style, what class, what looks…. And so on …
Abhishek Raj seemed to be thinking something. It took him some effort (two times raising his eyebrows, three times opening and closing mouth and just as many times curling his lips) but finally he blurted out what he was thinking, ”did you see the acceleration??” !!!!!
We got rooms, got fresh and filled our stomachs to full. And then we left for the opening ceremony of mood I in the open air theater. And it was grand. Performers from Poland, Spain, Indonesia and Turkey lit up the arena like I have never seen or probably may never see. The polish sound track was a bit uncanny (it may just have been a elegy. such grave was the tone and the tune of the instruments.. at one point I was sure that someone had died backstage or if not, someone from the audience was going to pass away soon) but then, everyone there applauded it , so I thought maybe I was wrong in interpreting the meaning of the tune (I am wrong most of the times, no new news that). However, going by the expression on Rahul’s face, I was consoled for not being the only one who saw the sad shades of the polish performance. We packed off the night with a merry time at the bonfire night.
18th december, 2011.
In our team meeting last night, alok sir had talked about our first event to attend: hot air ballooning. It was scheduled to start at five in the morning. We all talked about how excited and serious we were about the business, and we shared intentions of how we will be getting up at four thirty, and how we will be at the ballooning spot by five. We swore to each other our sincerity with waking up early, and how we were to enjoy hot air ballooning while rest of the world was asleep. We cut satires on those who claimed to wake up early and could never do, and we laughed on them. The human mind is at ease when it finds the self having something superior than others, and it stays happy. And so we went to sleep, cheerful and excited about waking up and walking off straight to ballooning. For a happy measure, I set an alarm in my cell. I do not trust myself to wake up by a single alarm, so I put two reminders as well. Now a bit sure about waking up, I had drowsed off, dreaming of all things I would love to do up in the sky, of shouting out names to guys on the ground, of looking at a superb view of the mumbai town and so on..
We had decided to wake up at four. We woke up at eight. (no one mentioned the event of ballooning again). Me and Abhishek Anand left for J.A.M and debate being organized somewhere in LTT theater. It was to begin at nine thirty, and we had left for it at nine. Half an hour shall be enough to find the venue, we thought. After all, It would be somewhere inside the campus itself. That we could not find the venue till eleven, I simply state as a fact. I have not been able to arrive at a suitable explanation myself. We asked about five charming ladies regarding the whereabouts of the venue (we inserted hints regarding their phone numbers in our query), and they had, with all possible politeness and in sweet voices, explained to us the way, each in a different direction and with all possible conviction (their confidence made me doubt if the really knew, but you don’t interrupt a young lady while speaking so I didn’t). But after having made three nonstop rounds in vain, me and Abhishek Anand started to doubt if the venue existed at all, and doubted if it was on earth or on mars. We swore at the four of the five ladies we had asked for directions, for misguiding us. The fifth one was very pretty and pretty girls are never at fault. We thought it was evil on the part of organizers to name the event at a venue that was so hard to find, and if it indeed existed, then they should have taken care that is was discoverable.
We discovered later that we had been standing outside the LTT when we were asking the ladies about it. Its just that the we were so absorbed in talking to the ladies that we did not notice the name plate.
Purvali maam, me and Abhishek Anand teamed up to participate in an event “worldly pleasure”; a competition testing your word power, reasoning capacity and your ability to comprehend things. It might seem easy at first sight. It really does. And the three of us had similar thoughts unless the questions were handed over to us. Out of the twelve questions in the sheet, five were encrypted data. In better words, “format not supported” by our brains. It was elite minds setting the most mind boggling questions. There was a standard to it, I must admit. Even though we were not able to attempt most questions, I could not help denying the fact that I admired the effort behind them. At first we thought we were the only one finding the questions difficult. But a look at those accompanying us in the competitions confirmed we weren’t the only ones who had no clue. Some of the teams gave up in ten minutes. In respect to some other blank answer sheets submitted, our 30% full sheet was decent from first years. We were up against law, management and most post graduate students. We performed fair.
Satisfied and content, we left to watch fashion show. It was my first, and I had mixed opinions after walking out. I mean music and creativity was great, and it was so very phenomenal. The girls walked like robots, their walk appeared programmed and flawless. The male model at the end of the show seemed starved; I wondered why no one seemed to notice it. The boy had a six pack to his credit. In my village, if you starve a man for three days (happens due to poverty most of the time) you can see his six packs. I suppose that male model was also starved. He did not seem happy either, wearing jeans torn in places and nothing to cover the upper part of his torso. He seemed to have come out of a bull fight, such grim was his expression. I thought some of the soft hearted audience might shed a tear or two. But later we concluded it was a ploy to impress the judges so I stopped my wave of sympathy for him, or I was ready to give him five rupees so that he can eat something.
We were almost back to hostel when Alok sir informed us that the team was going juhu beach. We left in five different autos, and arrived with each auto charging its occupants a different fare, for same amount of distance. We decided not to feel being fooled or cheated. I left the auto, crossed the road and moved through the small shops unless, finally , I stood before the ocean.
And I was speechless.
I have come across a lot of blank blacks in my life (including blackouts inside the exam hall, going numb on holding a mike, nervous while talking to a pretty lady and so on..).. but never, not once, in my whole life, I had stood before something so huge, something that knew no expanse, or boundary.. Something that started from nothing and went on and on. The ocean was there, huge beyond my imagination, impressive beyond my dreams and more inviting than any of the pictures or videos I had seen of it. The waves washed our feet tenderly, inviting us to jump in.
We did not care we had brought limited clothes to Bombay. We did not care it was seven thirty in the evening. We did not think about how painful it would be to get back to hostel in wet clothes. We did not care that a thousand people stood watching on the beach. And we did not care the sea water was chilly and we might fall ill.
All we did was to take out our mobiles and other belongings and submit them to one of the seniors who was not going in water. And the next second, we were in, and before I knew, I had five litres of salty water inside my stomach. We jumped, cried, shouted, swam and enjoyed as if we knew no tomorrow, pulling each other down, and shouting at the top of our voices. We struggled for life in knee deep water, and three times I sat on a pointed stone, which, to my anguish, nobody else seemed to notice. I considered that ungrateful on the part of God.
Those present at juhu that day were provided entertainment free of cost by nit jsr students. We worked in all sand, salt and water into our clothes, and we took a bus in that shameful drenched state.
Mumbai people don’t think much about a group of students travelling in jam packed bus, water dripping from their clothes. A man stood beside me, and when I got in, he gave a cheerful smile. After some time, my soaking t shirt touched him on his sides, wetting his nicely ironed shirt, and inside it. I smiled at him as I saw his smile change to mocking curl. After that he changed places and stood three feet behind me, which I thought was mean.
We packed off the day with a meal at McDonalds.
19th December (second day of the fest)
Now we were getting to see why mood I is called as the largest cult fest of Asia. It was way big than any of us had had imagined. There were performers from all parts of the world. Street dancing, singing, rock bands, guitaring, art pieces, unbelievable artists and everything that was there, was top class.
One thing, however, was a contrasting feature which was hard to miss. Every single boy we came across in the campus, be it a student of Iit Bombay or just a guest attendee, did not, due to some curious reason, have a normal hairstyle. Every single head we saw had something done to it, be it big locks (some of them would make girls shy), be it bird nest, be it colored partially or wholly, be it spiked or turned sideways or just a hairjel touch to it. And this made us feel weird as none of us had a hairdo. I have been combing my hairs in the same old pattern since I was born (makes me look like a maize fruit.. but I have always been satisfied with it). Harsh’s was the closest hairdo our group had in comparison to the general folk at iit, and we always let him lead our way in most enthusiastic fashion. Our simple hairdo made us odd one out. If we had just stopped combing and putting oil in our heads, our hairs too would have been following suit with the other boys. However, we felt too shy to be doing anything with our hairs so we did not experiment much, rather decided to ignore the oddity.
I tried my hand at creative writing. It was a gratifying feeling, doing something I always wanted to do. It always is. When you are doing something because you like it, and not because you are forced to do, you will enjoy your time. And I did. One thing, however, I must point out, is the curious tendency of the metro people to dress up and take up the look of something they were about to do. I mean I had seen a guy driving Harley Davidson (jealous of him, so I remembered his face) , then wearing leather jackets, gloves , black “Ray-Ban” goggles. That was his rustic look. In the creative writing competition, I saw the same person now wearing a traditional “kurta” , spects, oiled hair and a pen in hand, that too no usual pen.. a fountain pen. I was a bit taken aback by the change of look. I mean you do a job only as good as you are at it, and not matter how good you look doing it. It may just have helped the fellow develop a “feel” for the creative writing competition, I daresay, but I saw no sense in the attire. Maybe that person saw logic in it which I did not, and he was six feet tall so I did not tell him what I thought of his look. I have been in trouble for having a big mouth (I have called my teacher “useless potato peel”. Those words made me stand three periods outside the class). I have, with time, learned to control the flow of words from my mouth, but you never know what smack my mouth will spill next. A short, easy to intimidate stature does not help either.
Gaurav pulled me for a quiz competition. I don’t really like quizzes. They make me feel awkward. Most of the times, I have been convinced that its more of a guess, luck based game. But with maturity I have been of opinion that it takes effort to do good it quiz. And as I cannot put effort in anything I do, I have not been able to do well in quiz, ever. It was a travel and places quiz. I told Gaurav the only mentionable place I had ever been in was Delhi and Kolkata, and I had not been able to spend sufficient time to add much to my knowledge. I tried to convince him my poor talent at quizzing. But Gaurav said I was a very bright mind and that I just needed confidence in myself to perform well. I believed him.
It was a mistake. Of the twenty six questions asked in the quiz, I could solve only one (save the blushes.. I solved at least one, and I am proud of it)!!!!
Then as we were having lunch, Alok sir told us we were leaving for siddhi vinayak temple. But things did not turn out the way we wanted. The auto drivers in mumbai seem to be having a twisted mind, for they were not in mood for taking passengers to kanjurmarg station, from where we were to catch a train for the temple. After waiting for fourty five minutes in vain (we tried to talk to many auto drivers and none of them seemed interested in our destination. Those idiots earn so much that they take passengers to a destination that suits them. Come bihar or jharkhand, and as soon as you are out of a station, auto drivers will be all over you as bees on sweets, and they will almost drag you to their auto. Not a very kind gesture, I admit, but at least you get to go where you want to go. Here in mumbai,the auto drivers were so stiff and puffed up.. none obliged), we gave up and changed our destination to juhu beach, again.
The masti at juhu beach was just as that of the last day. We tried the front dive, back dive, butterfly and all forms of swimming we can think of. We killed a sea snake and left for “hare rama, hare krishna”, a very sweet and nice temple dedicated to lord krishna. We had the privilage of eating mineral water made “gupchup” there. We came back to college, ate our full and went to sleep after watching a wonderful street performer’s show.
20th December, 2011. (Third and most engaging day)
We woke up early. We had a fine arts event to participate in that day. It was named “pallette for my valentine” and we had to paint our creativity (at first, i thought we would be given a valentine and we will have to sit and paint something for her. i went to the competition that day my hair combed and my face duly washed. i was a bit heartbroken when i found out that they won’t be giving us valentines. so much for the name.).
I used to think I draw well. After what I drew there, I don’t think much of myself that way. My painting may just have the worst attempt in the competition, I daresay. And it would have been no small achievement, I must admit. After all, it takes effort to draw badly. You have to curb your natural sense of doing it right just for the sake of doing it wrong. The human mind is so obsessed with doing things right that it often oversees the immense talent it has of doing things in the not-so-right-way. During the competition, i spent half an hour doing what they call painting. I spent rest of my time trying to evoke a conversation with a very charming lady sitting next to me. I even gave her my brush for some time, and she did smile once. But then she concentrated fully on her painting and did not look at me again. This was bad. After four failed attempts of catching her attention, I walked out of the hall, swearing at her for not having sufficient respect for an honourable young boy like me.
Once our event was over, the team decided to leave for an outing: The gate way of India. We all took auto from IIt Mumbai, and drove off to Kanjurmarg station, where, due to mysterious reasons and unexplainable causes, the first year girls, following some really sincere effort, managed to get themselves lost!! They did that just to let you know what they can do.
I was kind of expecting this.
The girls had a quiet tour so far. And that’s just not-so-girl-like. With girls around, you get to know that they are there, and if you do not pay them much attention, they’ll MAKE you know that they indeed are there. It was kind of “don’t-underestimate-us-we are-girls-and-yes-we-can-get-lost!! ” . We did not underestimate them, but we had not paid them much attention either.
It was a severe hair splitting. while Alok sir kept calling and questioning their whereabouts (they had doubts of where they were. this happens with girls most of time so no surprise. half of the time they don’t know where they are and what they are doing). We said we stood on bridge at the station. They said they also stood on the bridge at the station. We said we stood near the ticket counter. They also said they stood near the ticket counter. This was weird, for if we were standing at the same place, how in the disrespect of laws of physics cannot we see them?? I have been using google so much that i suggested Gaurav to google the girls, but he said it were the girls of nit jsr we were talking about, and even google will be insufficient in finding them.
I got so fed up of this stuff of being-at-the-same-place-where-you-are-and-still-not-visible, that i was about to go to the lost and found section of the station and inform them, in a grave and serious tone of loss, that we had lost three girls from nit Jamshedpur at the station itself, and that if they found them somewhere, they should inform us. I was almost leaving for the “lost and found” section when it transpired to me and Gaurav that there were two bridges at the station, and that there was a ticket counter on each of them, and that the girls were standing on one of the bridges, while rest of the team was at another bridge. After some sincere searching, we solved this time space anomaly of the girls, as we indeed found them on the other bridge. they seemed happy to have been found (as if it wasn’t intentional), after all they had let us know they were in the team, and that they were not going to stay quiet.
We silently left for Chatrapati Sivaji Terminal, where i was captivated by the architecture of the station. Grand curves, wonderful statues, superb designs… awesome piece of work, that building. And it would have looked more awesome, had the people concerned taken proper care of it. i don’t know why, but i have this eye of observing something when it is not properly cared for (may be because i don’t care much of my belongings.. my roommate makes my bed for me. ) . While it was a great piece of art, you cannot deny the fact that it was not well cared for. The paint and plaster was peeling off in places, dust and dirt accumulated over it with time and chunks of it missing. It looked Excellency wasted. I felt sorry for it as i walked past it. But then i am no one to do anything to it, not concerned with its care taking, and i hold no authority to be making these comments either. So i can only feel sorry about it. That’s all.
We went to the gate way of India. It is a grand structure to behold, especially with the hotel Taj in the backdrop. For a moment we forgot we were in India, and as we stood there, my mind drifted off into solemn thoughts, looking at the historical monuments, the sea roaring behind, ferries taking people for a ride in the sea. We did go on a ride, and we discovered ourselves lucky as the full strength of the Indian navy was on display for the president’s inspection the very next day. We came across big vessels, navy submarines, fighter ships and all. Some of them looked very old, while some were shining new. It was a grand experience.
We came back to college, only to find ourselves standing in line for the choreo night. Standing in line is a draining task, as you wait all the time for person next to keep moving on, and if he doesn’t, you have nice things to say about him. And if he keeps moving, you think the person is a good soul, and that you want him to live a happy life and die content. And if he indeed does not move, you want to take a nice little pencil, sharpen it up real nice, and want to stick it in his back. But I seemed blessed that day, and as I stood there, after standing for full fifteen minutes, I discovered that the person standing in front of me was a respectable, honourable, charming young lady, wearing red. And then, due to some explainable reason, I didn’t want the line to be over. I wanted to stand there till eternity, and I wanted to strike up a conversation with her, and go on, forever, into the boundaries of love and knowing. Among all the methods I could think of starting a conversation, I asked her if the line would move ahead. She replied in a very sweet voice that indeed it was moving. I further enquired about where she was from, and if she was interested in a good looking-chicken eating-action hero beating-heart stealing-true to word, true to life gentleman like me. It wasn’t her I got a reply from. It was her boyfriend, who, in a not-so-polite manner, gave me a few eye to eye threats, and explained to me certain concepts of life I find a bit awkward to be writing about. I stood quietly after this.
The choreo night was grand, as we got mesmerized with excellent performances from elite colleges of the country. Colleges like St Xavier’s, Hansraj college, Iit Kanpur, Iit Bombay and Iit delhi set the stage ablaze with unbelievable performances, stealing hearts with superb dancing. After that we went to the convocation hall, where we had a merry time with the stand-up comedian. This was followed very nicely by an instant artist’s show, who painted wonderful life size portraits in minutes just by rubbing his hands on the canvas. We all admired his unique talent, and we our eyes were treated to surprise, as he drew Sachin, Gandhi and face of some scientist I have always seen in chemistry books but never paid much attention to knowing his name . After that, while returning to the hostels, we came across a street performer who stole my heart by the following lines:
“This is who I am. This is what I do. I travel. I perform. I entertain. And I do this all with a single message and prayer that LIFE GETS BETTER FOR YOU”
Truly touching. I was moved at his concept of life. Indeed we are too involved in our worries that we do not get time to appreciate life and wish happiness for others. We party life. We don’t enjoy it as much we should. Ambience and benevolence has gone missing somewhere, and pure hearts do not find anything to connect with other than the internet. Sad and sorry.
21st December, 2011 (the last day of the fest)
Mood I was living a last breath. And it wanted to live full and strong that day. Everything seemed to be alive and moving. Everything had a momentum to it. Street dancers were dancing as if they had no life after this, the singers were charging the air by their classy vocals, the performances, the competitions everything had a certain edge to it, as everything swirled, only to unfold and expand into a bigger and grander version of itself. The students roaming in the campus had a certain beat to their steps, the energy of the fest not allowing anyone to rest, for there always something you could have been busy with. And we from faces team made the most of that energy, learning and observing elements we knew we may never come across again in life.
After a few hours of loitering here and there, we left for Haji Ali dargah, which is a treat to behold. As faith combined with prayer, and as bliss ran into our veins, I stood praying before a god I had not known, praying the happiness of my loved ones, a prosperous life for my friends, asking for belief in God, and seeking strength and courage to follow what rightfully is my destiny. Then we went to the waves behind it, where a violent waves comes at a regular interval, run into the rocks and spray moisture all over us. It was wonderful to dare the ocean, to stand fearless before the approaching waves, to appear lost in the view of a busy Mumbai in the distance, to observe the business of the life they said never slept. I prayed peace.
We came back to the college, with the final covers of Mood I being drawn out the fest was breaking up with a night by Bollywood singer K.K. ‘s show. And by devil’s evil providence, we had not been able to arrange for the passes. Curious, for we had been standing in line since a time we thought was appropriate. But we discovered the passes had been let out, and we had nothing to do for the evening. We had sour thoughts regarding the matter. Before we were all good words about K.K., and we had been talking how good a singer he was, and that we liked all his songs.
But now that we could not arrange for the passes, we were bitter about him. We said there were much better singers to listen to in Bollywood, and that there wasn’t much entertainment in watching him live, for he sings the same songs you can download from the net. We talked about how his songs were not-so-popular, and that his songs weren’t very deep, and we would not have gone for his performance even if we had arranged for his passes. This made our minds subtle, for the human mind likes to criticise something it does not have an access to, and bitterness flows in form of words, healing some of the wounds. The team decided to apply some relief on us, and we decided to go marine drive.
It’s a wonderful place, especially in the evening. The sea roars in front of you, fearless. The highway just behind you had cars going at above 80 kmph. The big stone like structures put on the shore, the street lights running into the distance and a grand night view of sky scrapers of Mumbai adds to a wonderful picture. Poetry came to me as I stood there, with cool breeze rubbing against my ears, the sea singing ahead.
And I got lost in thoughts. I stood there, silent. I stood there, quiet. Thinking how small and insignificant we were on this earth, how very fragile against natural disasters. And yet we found ways of getting ourselves hurt. Our lives are but like the lives of insects and amoebas we see and observe, while we ignore the grand truth of we, ourselves, living at the mercy of someone called god. But then there was something known to us that set us apart from insects. It was our ability to feel. It was the gift of happiness. Our worries and everything we have to be sad about are so small against the wonder called life. We do not realise. We do not appreciate. We keep ourselves sad with memories of failures, of broken relationships, of marred careers, of lost friends. Let there be some realisation. Let there be some more love. Let there be some more empathy and happiness shared. For man is a social animal known to act sensitive by something that’s stronger than a nuclear bomb: that’s human emotions. Something we never really value but are mute captives of.
After that we had a nice little dinner at an open air restaurant called “Bade Mian”. Its one nice little place where you get some excellent variety of chicken (once you have got a seat, that is. They make you sit on tables placed on foot paths, where you eat being seen by those who walk by. ). It took us about an hour by the time we managed a seat, and by then I had measured up the area nearby. It wasn’t much to be appreciated. It was one of dark corners of Mumbai where things get active at night. There were bars around, and as I was taking a stroll, I came across a girl smoking and drinking, oblivious to the world. Something like this I had never come across, and don’t really want to again. After that I silently went back and had my meal. It was already late in the night, and we hurried because we did not want to miss the last local of the night.
It was then that the most memorable incident of the whole trip happened.
Look. Its simple. We had a tiring day. We had been treated to life at marine drive. And we had just had a wonderful meal. It is, in all natural possibility, and under standard conditions of temperature and pressure, normal for a human being to feel drowsy. We had got the last local in the night. And in the empty boggie (but for a gentleman), we kept drowsing. We had plans of getting down at andheri. And before that, comes a station dadar, where we got our concepts of inertia of motion cleared.
It so happened that the fast local stops hardly for two seconds. And when we reached dadar, the gentleman suggested our destination will be closer if we got down there. Now, you don’t make decisions about getting down from a fast local when the train is already at the station. And if you do decide, you shall not get down from the train, which has started to move, the two seconds of its stoppage wasted in decision making of getting down. What exactly happened, I recollected later (I was half asleep when I was nudged by someone to get down, and by the time I was at the train door, things were already happening.)
We all jumped from the moving train. And if you have ever been in a local train, you shall know that it has a very fast pick up. It acquires a very high speed within few seconds of starting. The first three members of the team got down safely. What followed next, we will never be able to forget all our lives.
All of us jumped from a speeding, accelerating local train. And all of us hurt ourselves bad. The five first year girls were before me, and horror ran down my spine as I saw each of them jump from the speeding train, and fall down, hurt and broken. One by one they jumped, and one by one they all fell over, each separated by a second’s duration and about 5 meters or more distance. I was the last to jump, and by then the train may just have been at 45 kmph. I had no idea how it feels falling down on solid ground after jumping from a train. I got my concepts cleared then. At first I did not feel a thing, but as I slowly recollected myself, I felt a searing pain rise from my side, my elbow badly bruised and my legs hurting. I was drowsy when I jumped, and now I was wide awake. My own pain was no concern, for I immediately ran to seek the well-being of the other members of the team, as falling off a local is no small deal (you may get dragged to the tracks and what may happen after that I don’t want to imagine). From god’s bliss all the members were safe and sound, some badly hurt, all bruised, but as much as I can see, were alright and good. Relief ran through my nerves as everyone was okay. I thanked god, and promised to eat a dairy milk chocolate for him. It may just have become a very sad incident altogether, the fact that it did not was just a result of prayers of our families. We were happy everyone was safe.
We returned to the college very silently. By then the banners were down and the fest was over. We went to sleep without another word, thankful to god for returning safe and sound.
22nd December, 2011 (the trip gets over)
The last day at Mumbai. We were still in shock with the last night’s events. But we had programs for going essel world and water kingdom. So we went.
We had promised the girls we will be meeting them at the main gate at seven. We arrived there at nine, only to find them smoking red hot with anger about waiting, and looking at us with eyes that may just have been of some murderer. I did not find this justified, for it had been us boys on the waiting side for most part of the trip. And if we got late by god’s wish for one time, I did not see anything to be angry about. Actually, girls like being waited for. But they never like to wait. And hence was the anger.
Anyway, we left for the essel world. We reached the main arena by a ferry through the sea. And once each of us had coughed a thousand rupees per head, we went in.
And we packed off the trip in style. Roller coasters, slides, giant movers, rain dance, water slides, artificial waves, float sliding and all.. it was way better than any other fun park I had ever been at. And we spent the whole day enjoying, shouting, crying, laughing and celebrating.
The funniest thing is the business of getting up a roller coaster. You stand there in the line, talking to your friends about how you are not at all afraid. You say you have been at numerous places before and it’s just a normal exercise for you. But inside you feel the hollow. You feel hairs stand on their end. You try not to look at the coaster, for even the slightest view instils fear. If you catch a view of those in the coaster and you see and imagine what is happening to them, all you want to do is to go back and leave the line. But you cannot, because you have just recounted out to your friends stories of you daring and bravery. And you wish you had not been so vocal of your brave heart, and curse yourself for not being able to stop yourself from boarding the ride. Once you have sat in it, you say your prayers (you look at the person sitting next to you and you give him a brave smile. He gives back a dry smile, himself not at sure if he will get of it alive). And then when the coaster is going up the track, you remember all the gods you can think of. You decide not to shout much. The next second you are being thrown about, not following the laws of gravity. The next moment you know you are dead, because you can’t feel yourself, as your body does not belong to you anymore. You curse existence, and decide to gift god three kilo “laddu” if you get out safe from in. it gets over before you can say what’s happening. You get down. You walk bravely and proudly to your friends, and you tell them it was so easy and they nod back to you, knowing inside that you were scared like a wet cat for full fifteen seconds.
We came back late, collected our luggage from iit hostels, and walked off. We bid Mood I bye, and we thanked them for the wonderful memories and wonderful hospitality.
We waited at CST for our train (it was at four in the morning). Not much exciting happened other than the first year running away from proctor sir sponsored meal and had chicken for ourselves. We played ludo for rest of the time ( I did not lose. I am a champion at ludo. I may just have been the world champion had there been a world championship about it). We caught our train at four and bid Mumbai adieu. Thanks so much for such a happy time.. Thanks a lot Mood I for all the memories.
Great exposure. Great lessons. Great learning.
We did learn a lot of things in the tour. We learnt to dry our clothes on a train. We learnt to shout to catch an auto. We learnt to behave ourselves when a girl in mini skirt walks in front of you (no laughing). We learnt to stop our expenditures.
Mood I. we will miss you.
We go home inspired.
We will come back again. That’s a promise.