The news struck as like bolt from the blue. We were enraged like hell! Even the most restrained guys among us couldn’t help but mouth a couple of choicest abuses at our then-Head of Department over his downright regressive decision: He vehemently rejected our class-tour proposal! The reason? Mr-Punctilious simply does NOT encourage tours! Legend has it that a final year student got drowned at Hoggenackal during a similar class-tour long back, and the HOD’s astrologers predicted that history would soon repeat itself! It’s a different matter that all our batchmates in various branches had gone on excursions without any departmental-hassle whatsover. “Why us?” we rued! Expressing our heart-felt condolences to the lost soul; we knocked all doors to the HOD’s office, leaving no computers(stones) unturned, in a bid to rescue our tour. The word-smiths (headed by yours truly) penned heart-rending pleas running unto pages in length in our favour, the loquacious even propounded new theories in astrology countering HOD’s hypothesis… But Alas! Meek First years we were then, we had no choice but to retreat in defeat with heavy hearts and bowed heads appropriately in place!
But we knew we’d have our day of redemption. Like God-send, Mr HOD decided to call it quits and left for another prosperous self-financing college in our second year! Amid a cacophony of crackers and pandemonium (organized by seniors) celebrating the man’s long-awaited departure, we saw a strikingly well-dressed man set foot into GEC Barton Hill, alighting from his well maintained Maruti Zen. He was Mr Krishnan Kutty, who’d transferred himself from College of Engineering, Trivandrum, to take charge as the new Head-of-Department. The tour-issue was brought to his notice right on his introductory-session. Our well-groomed HOD pondered for a split second and quipped: “I’ll take it into consideration.”
Many a university-exam and a semester later, we were STILL waiting for his ‘consideration’ in early February. What drove us to the point of insanity was the fact that all our junior batches had gone on tour by that time! Was the new HOD worse than the old guy? Dejected and dispirited, our think-tank racked their brains and reached a solution: Man ‘O’ Mano. We’d take it directly to him. United by an instinctive urge to tour (which we decided was our right!), a spirited eight-some comprising Anand, Renjith, Vinit, Anisha, Anup, Prashant, Archana and myself marched to the HOD’s office. Lifting an eye from his Acer 17″ TFT monitor, the HOD eyed us quizzically. We spoke our hearts out trying our best not to reveal the pain at being denied our self-imposed “Right-to-tour”. The HOD heard us for a couple of minutes, and flashed us that characteristic smile, which just meant one thing! “YES!”. [Archana tells me that at that very moment she felt like jumping up high in the air and caterwauling, (which she did right after we alighted from the room!), at that very moment!] But HOD reminded us of the new set of University rules which paved way for just two tours in the course; not to mention other technical hurdles. Intelligent that he is, he himself suggested means to circumvent the red tape: We had to morph our tour into an Industrial Visit.
Tour Planning: Over a game of cards, nonetheless! 😛
That day would remain etched in the minds of every single infinITe (yeah, that’s the name of our ‘gang’). We were at the best of our spirits, all 64 of us awaiting the tour with eager enthusiasm. After a lot of paperwork and planning, we finalized a tentative schedule. It would be a three day trip. We’d go touch down on the TCS office at Infopark, Kochi (to add an IV flavour to our tour), then visit Ooty and later, Wayanad. Anisha’s dad was a senior consultant at TCS, Kochi. He helped us get the required permissions sans delay and red-tape. A tour operator, “Ambadi Travels” had set the cost per head at Rs 1100/- which was quite low for a three day trip.
Then came the catch-22! We did not have a teacher to accompany us! The university had this strict diktat that the teachers (a male and female staff member) accompanying students must be from the same department. This exactly was the clause that turned out as the singular tour-spoiler. All our teachers voiced that two-letter word we’d now learned to hate the most: “NO!”. An issue that gave many of us sleepless nights! The situation was of such dire proportions that our HOD even entreated us to visit teachers’ homes and plead with their family members to let them go, lest the excursion materialize. That was it! Back to square one. Empathetic that our HOD is, he loosened the net a bit at our dilemma, and allowed us to invite staff members from other departments. Back in action, we scourged and scourged and finally cajoled Mr Abhilash (of Mechanical Department, who’s a GECian of the 2007 batch, incidentally) and Ms. Sandhya of the Electronics Dept. into accompanying us. Now the only hurdle left to be crossed was the Principal’s consent, which we got without much ado.
Thus, all the stage was set for our class tour! All our efforts paid off, at last. The excursion would commence on Friday, the 4th of April at 5 AM in the morning. We’d spend Friday at Ernakulam, Saturday at Ooty and Sunday at Wayanad. Trip of a lifetime, indeed! Now that the logistics was in place, we moved over to stabilize the required monetary resources. Within a short span of three days, a whopping 46 guys and gals coughed up the money! None of us expected such an overwhelming response; for, you could call it a miracle if half the class managed to come on a class-tour! Even the worst of atheists (or rather, quasi communists) amongst us exclaimed the name of God! The day before the tour, all of us dispersed afternoon itself, getting home early to pack…
We SIMPLY couldn’t wait for the D’day!
(To be continued…)