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Travel

Off to Tata Jagriti Yatra 2009

Those of you who’ve seen me on Twitter and Facebook, would’ve noticed statuses about an imminent All India Tour that I’d embark upon. Even though I kept mentioning it every time, I’d kept details under the covers. Thought of making it public in a whim. 🙂

Yeah folks, I’m off to Tata Jagriti Yatra 2009 – A journey spannning 13 destinations, 18 days and 7000 km of travel all across the country, with 400 people on board a special train! The journey’s organized by the Jagriti Sewa Sansthan, in association with Tata Sons. Throughout the journey, we’d meet some of the most eminent entrepreneurs in India, who’ve made a difference in their and others’ lives with their work. Hundreds of India’s highly motivated youth (with some participation of international students) between the ages of 20-25 and experienced professionals, with age above 25, join up on this eighteen day national odyssey. The aim is to awaken the spirit of entrepreneurship – both social and economic – within India’s youth by exposing them to individuals and institutions that are developing unique solutions to India’s challenges. Through this national event,  the youth of India are inspired to lead and develop institutions both nationally and within their communities.

I’ve always wanted to make a difference with my life, but sadly, such a thing never happened in my 21 years of existence here. I heard about Jagriti yatra when a friend of mine got selected, but he couldn’t make it due to exams. I’d decided then and there, that I’d board the Jagriti Train this time. I applied for the Yatra this time, and luckily got selected. It was a euphoric moment – and ever since I’ve lived half-a-life, expectantly awaiting the commencement of the Yatra.

Today, the wait gets over. I’m boarding my Mumbai train – The journey starts on 24th of December, at Mumbai. I’ll do my best to continually blog about the Yatra – the train is specially equipped and has round the clock net connectivity. So keep watching this space for more updates as to how I get enlightened myself!

Wish me luck, guys! 🙂

Categories
Narration Personal Travel

Onam ’09 – A photoessay!

For most parts, 2009 was a year of disappointments and failures. I went through a LOT – found myself in umpteen issues and weathered the worst crises of my life! Had it not been for the occasional silver lining, I’d have lost control altogether.

Yet, I’d call 2009 – the year I turn 21, the MOST memorable year in my life, thanks to this Onam, which was simply THE best! 😀

For those of you non-mallus, Onam is the traditional harvest festival of agrarian Kerala, which celebrates the season of bounty with a melange of interesting customs. All Malayalees, transcending feckles of caste, creed, religion and gender, celebrate the grand harvest festival with pomp and grandeur. So goes the old Malayalam proverb: “കാണം വിറ്റും ഓണം ഉണ്ണണം” (Thou shalt sell thy belongings and eat to thy content, for Onam!). 😀

Following tradition, my nuclear family (Dad, Mom and I) left to mom’s native place – Kottarakkara, Kollam, to celebrate this Onam. The native place trip has its roots to my being the only kid in the family. Perhaps, trips to native place were made to kill my loneliness – I could play with my cousins and have a great time. I remember my workaholic dad taking up to three days of leave for onam and packing us all off to Kollam regulary for each Onam and Christmas! What began as a loneliness-killing routine stayed on as a bonding exercise and today, we’re closer than ever to our grandparents!! >:D<

Armed with a (borrowed) Sony Cybershot S950, I clicked pics away. The camera sucks bigtime (it’s at the bottom of the food product chain), yet somehow the pics came in nice.

Let ’em do the talking! 😀

My native place – we arrived on the first onam day. ‘Twas a warm welcome, as always! 😀

Too many cars spoiled the broth! 😐 We (kiddo cousins & I) couldn’t play any outdoor games! 😐

Thiruvonam: The rain was a VERY unpleasent surprise. It rained cats and dogs. We thought all our onam plans were spoiled!! 😐

Yet, we stood firm! The four of us braved the pouring rains, collecting flowers, leaves and all foliage we could lay our hands upon and made this (rudiementary) pookkalam! \m/ It ain’t the best, but… 😀

Onam + Bhakti = Nirvana. Wasting no time after the pookkalam, my cousin devi readied the pooja room and we were in bhakti mode! 🙂 I had my conversations with Lord Krishna! 🙂

Ah, the hugely awaited pic. That’s me, donning Mundu. However, the folds of my dhothi aren’t perfectly adorned this time. Technical problems relating to elasticity of the fabric, et al. Still I managed to keep it unscathed all day, sans external contraptions for the same! 😉

My Partners in crime – dearest cousins! :)We had all the fun we could have in a span of three days. 😀 Was the best! \m/

An amazing Ona Sadya – courtesy my grandparents who’re among the BEST cooks I’ve seen! 🙂 But yeah, on the third-onam day, the sadya was polluted with meat and I was forced at gunpoint to gobble up chicken. I refused though! 😉

On the third onam day, we went on a trip to the nearby ‘river’. I guess the pictures are good enough to explain the fun we had! 😛

That evening, the three of decided it was time to groove and danced away to glory! I was the DJ! 😉 I too shook my leg for a while! 😉

Day 4 – The 4th Onam saw the three of us climb the nearby hillock. It was a very pleasant trekking experience, and the three of us accompanied by the local kiddo Rahul made the most of it!

That evening, I stole the keys of my uncle’s brand new alto, and decided to prowl away on an exciting journey over the long winded village roads! Sadly, the plan backfired and I was caught red handed. Nevertheless, the trip happened, even though my driving previleges were limited and I was allowed to sit behind the wheel only for a quarter of the journey! Yet, it was an awesome experience. Precarious trips through those ‘roads’ made me feel like Mohanlal’s ‘wanderer’ in Bhramaram! 😉

No, it wasn’t me!! This sight greeted Vaisakh and me as we surreptitously walked over to the terrace of the house! 😐 Apparently my ex-military uncle had made a few trips to the canteen and obtained his rationed monthly ‘quota’. We’d noticed uncles and dad climb upward all three days, but we weren’t sure what they were upto. They, presumably, had a very nice and sober time! My uncle forgot his Nokia 1100 at the crime scene – as you can see, even the phone got ‘drunk’! 😐 What a fitting culmination to an Onam! 😐

Check out all the pics in my flickr album – or watch this slideshow! 🙂

P.S.

Neither dad, nor my uncles know about this pic! 😛 Yea, so if you know my dad, dare you NOT mention this to him, okay? 😉 I remember him debating incisively over the alcohol consumption during Onam, and the way he pokes fun at queues in front of BevCo sales counters! Take that, dad! 😉

P.P.S.

I forgot this part, and I know it’s a tad too late. Still, here’s wishing a belated Happy Onam to all of you. Rock on! 🙂

Categories
Life Narration Personal Travel

De-Tour | The exodus

DISCLAIMER:

This post, to put it mildly, is GIGANTIC!! This author will not be responsible for any potential body disorders that might arise by reading this one. If you’re short of time, just take a quick glance. That should do. 😉

(Continued from the previous post)

Bustling with unbounded alacrity, we set off on the 5th of April, Friday, at about 5:30 AM. Though the departure-time was fixed at 5 (and announced to all as 4:30), few bothered to reach the place on the dot. Surprisingly, our HOD had come to PMG Junction (from where most of us boarded the bus) to see us off! We were touched by his gesture. Sadly for him, his car-tires got punctured and he had to wait for quite sometime to get his car hauled. I boarded the bus from Sreekariyam, which was en-route. No sooner did I get in, I was greeted by a wave of good-natured cheer and clapping! Now, that was way better than a red-carpet welcome, if you ask me! I noticed dad’s icy stare at the cacophony as I waved back at him. (He’s a bit old-school, you know…) Renjith, who got in from Kazhakkoottam got a similar (but, a tad less vigorous) fit of cheer at which he was almost blushing. 😉


The shutterbug in action!


One of the first pics

Shutterbug that I am, I dug up my camera and started clicking away within no time. Soon, others followed suit and the bus was flooded with camera flashes. We snapped everyone, especially ‘intimate moments’ of those who were taking light naps falling over others’ shoulders, only to stop when threats on the very survival of cameras were issued by the un-relenting ones. 😀 Then we decided that it was time for some kick-ass music. Music CDs and DVDs were fetched out of bags and bingo! The bus became a make-shift dance floor, complete with green-tinted ‘arc’ lights! Excluding few reluctant ‘sleepy’ guys and photographers like yours truly, everyone tried a hand at ‘the dance floor’; grooving away to hip numbers from “Pokkiri” and the like… An hour of dancing put an end to the frenzy and most of us retired to our seats; some even forced to reluctant naps thanks to long spells of dance.


Dance like no one’s watching! 😛


The waltz for romance…

Stopping by for a quick breakfast, we stocked ourselves with more (read -‘quality’) music from a nearby store to add punch to further dance sessions. Meanwhile, everyone had shaken off their sleep; doing random, totally out-of-the-world things. While IBBA (IT Bad Boys’ Association) guys opened their well-preserved packs of “Wills” and started making rings of smoke in the air perched onto the rear seats, Greeshma, presiding over a dutiful gang of girls started “spot-choreographing” steps for her version of “Move your body”: the song from Johnny Gaddar (LOL! It was damn funny!)! In the meantime, poor ol’ me, haggard by hours of standing-non-stop; was in deep slumber. Karma perhaps, everyone whom I’d caught sleeping on camera had sweet revenge by clicking my sleeping pic! 🙁 I was almost falling over Archana who sat beside me! Thankfully, my friend Mithun who occupied the seat behind mine saved me from the embarrassment that would have ensued, by timely alerting me whenever I went too close.


An eye for an eye!


IBBA

By about 10:45, we reached our first stop: The TCS Office at Infopark, Kochi. Most of us (guys, that is) were rather enthralled by the proposition of roaming about a top-office of the country’s largest software exporter; enamored about possible ‘ornithologist’ pursuits. Having had a hands-on analysis of corporate-culture, thanks to MNC/SEs* and “Life in a Metro”; we tepidly set foot on the sprawling campus expecting to see good-looking chicks. And we weren’t disappointed at all! 😉 Though our dreams of chatting up a few chicks didn’t realize, we had a nice time there. Mr. Stephen (Chief Consultant, Infrastructure), briefed us about TCS with his presentation, which was followed by an interactive session. We were even shown a video depicting how the Tata conglomerate had its role to play in an average Indian’s life, thanks to its multitude of commercial products. Later on, we all emerged awed and wide-eyed! “TCS IS the place to be”, everyone voiced in unison.


TCS Building


Another building at Infopark

We left for Marine Drive after a satisfying lunch at the Infopark canteen. Marine Drive, the cynosure of Kochi, found all of us clutching our noses to shield the foul smell! The well-planned and beautiful lakeside-boulevard would’ve been a world-class place, had it not been for the putrid odour that permeated all around. Desperate to escape from acrid sensation, we hired a boat to the Bolgatty palace; which is sort-of an island in the lake and can only be reached by boats. The Boat-trip saw me croon for the first time on tour. Surprisingly, it was the girls who wanted me to sing! Seven or eight songs later, when we reached the palace was feeling like Johnny Fontane in the opening scenes of “The Godfather”.


Boating!

Me Posing in front of the Infopark Canteen.

The exorbitant “entry-fees” into the palace forced us to roam about the lush greenery around like most tourists. Meanwhile some of us did a stint at horse-riding. It was quite hilarious seeing some guys ride!! A few of the light-bodied girls even tried a hand at the swings in the nearby-makeshift-park. Prashant, Anup, Renjith and Mithun got lucky with a North Indian chick, while I looked on in envy. Prashant’s unbounded joy in managing to get her number and realizing that she lived at NOIDA (near his Delhi-home) was short-lived subsequent to her comment: “Your Hindi sounds so southie!”. Now, the hapless dude who strongly clung on to his ‘Dilli’ credentials was horrified, enticing guffaws at his “chammified” expression from amongst us on-lookers.

Rejith fearfully clinging on!


Too young to swing!

The boat trip back to marine drive was long winded but exciting. We caught glimpses of countless boats and ships docked alongside. By now, we had got used to the ‘smell’, and decided to do some mall-surfing again hoping to hit on better chicks. Again, my gang was left unlucky after about an hour of walking criss-cross through the mall and later, by the Marine drive. We got back to the bus and set off on another tedious journey to Ooty, only to stop once near Trissur for dinner. Our attempts at watching movies en-route was dashed by the DVD player, which as my friends in Mechanical(who’d used the same bus for their tour last year had explained); was a piece of shit. It would hardly read a handful of DVDs already stocked on the bus: and that too, sleepy mallu movies like “Naran”, “Thuruppugulan” et al. I settled down with “Riot” by Shashi Tharoor, fixing myself a seat near Abhilash Chettan (sir) and chatting up with him.


Jayakrishnan, Me, Anand & Mithun @ Marine Drive


Ships docked

Post dinner at a way-side Trissur hotel, we were about to board the bus when a bitter quarrel ensued between a few classmates. Now that’s a story in itself! There’s this high-profile, inseparable couple in our class. (who I refuse to name for personal reasons, but my college mates would know better, I suppose! :P) Anyways, they’re a bit alienated in the class these days for reasons they alone created. The girl (G1 now on, for convenience’s sake) even broke up with her best friends at the words of the guy who perennially bears an I-rule-the-world attitude on his sleeve (which incidentally is worlds apart from the truth!). G1 suddenly picks a fight with her ex-best-friend(G2) for apparently no reason and all hell breaks loose! G2 lashes back, aided by her dutiful gang of friends. G1’s boyfriend joins hands with his girl and starts making wild accusations about how G2 tried to ‘seduce’ him with a ‘porno’ sms (Duh! Dumbest one I’ve ever heard in my life, and that too from a GUY!!), which you can well ‘read between the lines’. 😛 Hearing this totally baseless charge, poor G2 bursts into tears. When a lot of dirty linen was washed in public, they broke off and we left the place. The whole damn incident ruined everybody’s mood. Everyone was daggers at G1’s boyfriend, who now started canvassing for himself and his girl, even waking up sleepy guys and picking fights with harmless ones!

[Psst! G1’s boyfriend threatened me to delete the section where I supposedly ‘berated’ him! :P The poor chap hasn’t read my blog yet, someone passed the news to him. He almost held me in gun-point, part-threatening me that he’ll beat me up with his ‘goonda’ friends. Eeps, sounds scary! Someone help me out, please!!]

When the issue subsided to some extent, we reluctantly decided to see ‘Naran’ to put the whole damn thing behind us. Lalettan fan that I am, I managed to catch a few scenes fending off sleep; talking to my friend Sajna who was now sitting by my side. I slept for about four to five hours that night after the movie, intermittently woken up by random stops on the way. We reached Ooty at about four in the morning, and checked into Hotel Ooty Gate. The cold was setting into our skin, and some of us were wrapped in sweaters already. Mithun, Renjith, Anand and I checked into our room and rested our tired asses on the bed. The Hotel seemed perfect except for the TV which was actually a couple of decades old. It didn’t even have a remote! All of us had a tough time, straining our fingers in a bid to tune channels! The next shocker came in the morning, when we discovered that the hot-water channel, like our room’s defunct lock, wasn’t working. The four of us had to rely on others’ toilets to cleanse ourselves! A harried argument with the Mallu hotel manager finally helped us get a new room by the time we were about to leave for sightseeing.


Our Hotel


Brokeback Mountain 2| Deleted scenes!

It was then that we noticed how Ooty had changed! It was no more the scenic tourist-haven it used to be… At least we felt so seeing the roads; all battered beyond repair! They were so bad, even by Kerala standards! We were relived and our impressions about Ooty remained intact when we reached our first destination; the Ooty lake. It was as glorious as ever! Most of us took a boat-ride in the lake, which was a fun experience. While some tried a hand at the ‘rides’ installed around the lake as if in a fair, others tried a hand at shopping amid roaming about. Renjith, Mithun and I managed cool Harley Davidson caps for a rock-bottom Rs 55 a piece by tough bargaining. We returned to the town for lunch soon afterward. The Hindi-gang of my class, accompanied by myself, Archana, Saranya and Bindhu marched to a nearby ‘Punjabi Dhaba’ for lunch. A horde of girls followed us, and a long wait of half an hour later, we got our ‘Naan’s and ‘Aalu Paratha’s. Though the food was delicious in every sense of the word, we were left poorer by sixty bucks. Added to that a ‘service-tax’ of Rs 30/-! Inflation, indeed!


Ooty’s beauty! :-S


Boating @ the Ooty lake: Mithun & I


The Punjabi Dhaba! Anup, Me, Anisha, Saranya, Archana, Bindhu, Greeshma, Swaraj, Vinit, Narasimhan

Another stint at boating

Our next stop was Dodabetta, where we went via separately-hired twin minibuses due to the narrow route through which our ‘Volvo’ wouldn’t go. Dodabetta, better known as Ooty’s suicide point for reasons obvious, gave us lots of pleasant tongue-in-cheek moments. The sights were awesome and lots of group photos were clicked. “What a romantic place!” remarked our lover boys and lover girls who longed for their girlfriends’/boyfriends’ presence at the moment! The next item in our itinerary was the Tea-Factory at Ooty, where I made the mistake of paying Rs 10 for my camera! It had nothing remotely photogenic, needless to say. Though the process of tea-manufacture gave an erudite satisfaction to many, it was boring to put it bluntly. The tea they produced, on the contrary, was top class. Most of us bought packets. We pooled in money and bought one for our dear HOD! Back to Ooty town, we dispersed for shopping. I shopped a stylish T-Shirt for Rs 150 and an ensemble of delicious Ooty-sweets on a sojourn assisted by Anand, Narasimhan and Swaraj. Meanwhile, I noticed that my camera’s carry-case went missing!

Dodabetta

From left: Sreehari, Mukundan, Mithun, Me, Swaraj, Narasimhan, Anand

Gobbling up some light food from a nearby ‘Kerala’ restaurant (where we caught our Brahmin friend Mithun, eating chicken!), we returned to the Hotel. It was time for the cynosure of the Ooty trip… Yes! THE CAMP FIRE! Since another Tour-group had booked the space in front of our hotel for their campfire, we moved onto a nearby place opposite hotel where we had breakfast in the morning. Soon, we lit up the logs and started dancing like hell! To our dismay, the songs were mostly-‘Paandi’! Having suffered Pokkiri all through, we argued with them and finally got groovy Hindi numbers like “Dard-e-disco”, “Mauja-Hi-Mauja!” and “Naqada” to shake a leg. Everyone, well almost everyone, hit the dance floor and started grooving to our heart’s content. People like Lina did a good job, almost syncing the original steps while amateurs like Vinit and I shoved away our cameras and did whatever steps we felt like!! Girls would later remark that my steps looked cute! 😮 Girish, in all his intoxication even fell heads-down trying to dance, slightly hurting his toe. To our surprise, our resident ‘buji’ Sreehari, tried a hand at a few professional steps which worked out pretty fine. Basking in euphoria at having shown his prowess to his current crush (Yeah, she’s a classmate), he even threw away his overcoat into the air which fell over poor Bindhu’s face, who angrily disposed it in dismay!



Warming up! 😛

This video speaks for a thousand pics!
(Spoiler Warning: The author advices STRICT use of a headphone while watching this video in public!)

The campfire turned out the best part of our trip, till then that is. After an hour of dancing which enticed quite a lot of eyebrows from outsiders (some of whom were eyeing our girls), we called it quits after the “Deewangi” song out of sheer fatigue. A quick ‘Antakshari’ later, (which we did sitting down around the pyre), we left for our bus. Another personal realization of loss then stung me; I lost my newly acquired cap, and couldn’t find it after a lot of search. Dejected, I drowned my sorrows in sound sleep as soon as we reached the hotel. Meanwhile, all my friends stacked their cards and played a plethora of games from “Donkey” to “Bluff”.

The following morn, we left for our next destination, Wayanad! En-route, it was raining photo-ops! The mind-blowing sceneries found all shutterbugs in action once again. In the meantime, we caught many a ‘couple’ sleeping over each other on camera. Some pics were mind-blowingly awesome! I badly want to put a few couple pics out here, but for fear of my life, I WON’T! 😛 Post breakfast at Cudallore, we played cards, listened to music, and watched parts of the Mohanlal flick: “Devasuram”, to kill time.


Tea estates

Ahem… On second thoughts, I don’t give a damn about my life! 😉

We had plans to visit the waterfalls and other places in Wayanad, but time constraints forced us to visit just the Edackal Caves. The edackal cave is housed in a hill of about height 5000 ft. We split into groups and went for the climb. After visiting all the caves, which housed lots of interesting inscriptions, my gang (Renjith, Mithun, Anand, and Myself) decided to go for the kill. After crawling our way through crevices just a meter wide, we reached an open area which gave full view of the hill! It was huge and the climb was tough. We were terrified! To go or not to go; that was our question. Finally, after a lot of deliberations, we decided to do it! The climb was tough indeed! Besides, the rocks were weathered at some places so it was hard to get foothold. After about half an hour of climb, we reached atop. Anand couldn’t make it to the summit, and he stayed back midway for fear of heights. We were the first to make it up to the top! All of us felt on top of the world, quite literally!! J But we decided that the climb was too dangerous for girls and forbade them from climbing the summit.

(M
ore about the climb in an upcoming post!)

The Edackal Summit!

The view from Top!

Taming the skies!

We descended and had a sumptuous lunch of Rice and Fish from a nearby hotel. We got to see quite a lot of monkeys on our way back, not to mention other exotic animals whose names none of us knew. All of us were totally excited after the climb, and couldn’t keep it off our mind for a LONG time! Wayanad turned out the best part of our tour! By the time everyone dismounted from the hill, it started drizzling, and we slowly made our way to the bus for our journey back home. Most were dog tired, and were dozing off all the way… Again we had stopped at a few places like the ‘Tamarsseri Chooram’ (which is a hilly road-area with a fantabulous view). All those who could keep their eyelids open assembled and started playing cards while some other reluctantly tried to see ‘Thuruppugulaan’ (the last working DVD in the bus) on TV. After dinner at Kozhikkode, it was a ten hour journey back home. Some were reluctant to close their eyelids fearing IBBAs, who were ready with items from Toothpaste to shaving creams; all set to pounce on unsuspecting victims disfiguring their faces beyond recognition. On the contrary, they too were sleeping their asses off, thanks to the Edackal-climb. Thanks to a cozy window-side seat; I too slept soundly.

I opened my eyes by the time we reached Kollam, and to my surprise, I was resting my head on shoulder of the girl who sat next to me; her head partly rested onto my shoulder too!! Seemingly, we were sleeping ‘together’ (pun NOT intended!) all night. Thank God, she, like everyone else in the bus, was sound asleep! Though it felt damn good to sleep on a girl’s shoulder, I would sure have got a tight slap on my face, had she woken up. 😉

“In the end… It doesn’t even matter!”

As I deboarded at Sreekariyam, bidding good-bye to all those who’d groggily opened their eyes at 5:45 in the morning, a sea of sorrow captured me! It all got over so fast. But, as I walked back home to my crap, mundane, average college-life; I realized the truth: All good things must come to an end!

Categories
Narration Travel

De-Tour | Genesis

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.


Doesn’t mean that everyone was involved in planning! Some, like Maheen(Top) and Girish (bottom) saw it as an opportunity to unwind. 😉

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…)