Saturday, April 08, 2006

Shantiniketan Revisited

The Abode of Peace – you beckon us
Every now and then
When life becomes mundane
We want to leave behind all fuss
And visit you again
"Guys, we are late! It’s already 2 and the train, to the best of my knowledge, is at 2:50 pm!” I said in utter exasperation as the boys showed no sign of setting off. Instead, they scorned at me saying that it will hardly take time to reach Sealdah. But during our taxi ride to the station, when we got stuck in the traffic for endless number of times, even they suspected that we would not be able to catch the train.
Date: 2nd November, 2005 Place: NUJS Context: Shantiniketan trip by 17 students of 2nd year (2004-09 Batch)

It took a lot of planning throughout the Monsoon semester of the year and phone calls to each other during the vacation to ultimately embark on our journey to Shantiniketan. Of course, the boys were rights and we reached Sealdah just in time to catch the train, but not without some nail-biting moments on the way. Once we were seated comfortably in the local train, all of us engaged ourselves for the next 3 hours. Though most of us chatted continuously throughout the journey, yours truly took card lessons from Semanti and Kinjal for the first time, played Call Bridge with them and also won the first game! The fact that I kept on losing for the rest of the games is a different story altogether as against seasoned players like Abira and Malabika, hardly anybody can hope otherwise. As we neared Shantiniketan, we could not help but notice the eerie darkness outside and wonder how it would be like at Abhiroop’s place where we are putting up.

Our classmate and host, Abhiroop was there at the station to receive us with his trademark broad smile. The auto ride to his place really scared us as it took us through vast meadows covered in ebony blackness with a few houses here and there. Nevertheless, our lodging for the next two days turned out to be a majestic three-storied bungalow, which received our whole-hearted admiration in the form of Oohs!, Aahs! And Wows! in chorus.
After we, girls have captured the top two floors, thereby restricting the boys in one bedroom and the living room in the ground floor, it was time for relaxation and chalking out sightseeing plans for the next day. The evening saw us in a fierce battle of Dumb Charade and Chinese Whisper. We had a gala time punishing the ones in the latter game, where Sayak and Rohit were made to dance to the tunes of Kajra Re amidst our loud cheers. Food was got through home delivery and the dinner brought an end to the first day at Shantiniketan.

As planned, we set out for a morning stroll in the nearby reserve forest (of course, it was devoid of any wild animals!) at 7 am, leaving behind sleepyheads like Abira, Ankit and Sarbajeet. It was a truly enjoyable walk in the chill of the early morning and greenery of the forest where we blindly followed our guide Abhiroop. The later part of the morning saw us all dressed for a long day outing. Just outside the closed gates of the Viswabharati Museum, it dawned on us that it was a holiday on the occasion of Bhai-Phonta and so we had to be content with only a visit inside the University.
We had decided to have lunch outside and Abhiroop had promised a good restaurant, only 20 minutes of walking distance away. But we reached it only after walking for almost 45 minutes in scorching sun! But that was not the end of my woes. I was served my mixed chowmein when the rest were licking off their plates, literally and figuratively! I would have starved to death if not for generous share of food from Kinjal and Abhiroop.

Post-lunch, there was a fierce debate about plans for the rest of the evening. We all set off for the banks of the river Kopai by autoricksaw, who totally robbed us by extracting exorbitant fare. After lots of photo sessions there, some of us headed back home, Sayak and Abhiroop went to get return tickets, while the more enthusiasts like Annie, Sanjana,Ripzong, Aparajita and Shezin decided to go on a shopping spree. They loaded their bags with small memorabilia from the roadside shops and other items like jholas.
Back home, we all settled down to a cozy and enjoyable evening of a game of cards. Ayan refused to bluff at all, while Abira and Ankit kept on bluffing only!

Post-dinner we decided to spend our last night at Shantiniketan in the most memorable way – by indulging in a ‘ghost story session’. Starting with the clichéd quote “This is a true account”, everyone added to the session his/her version of the most varied ghost stories ever heard anywhere together. When we had finally called it a day at 1:30 am and went off to our respective rooms, some of the girls (and I am sure some guys too) were very scared. Tell me who would not be, after such an adda where personal (!) experiences and stories of scary movies like The Blair Witch Project interspersed with frightening instances from NUJS itself were discussed!

The next morning saw us in a frenzied packing mood as we had the train at 1 pm. With wonderful memories at tow, we set off, to arrive and once again, enter our everyday routine at NUJS. It has been a unique trip in ways more than one. Be it for Semanti giving a treat of gulab jamuns to all of us, on the occasion of her birthday which incidentally fell on 2nd November, or Aniruddh’s passes at Ankit, or playing ‘memory game’ during the train journey, or Srinivas offering to take most of the snaps in my camera so that I could feature in them, the whole trip is etched in our minds. I wanted to revisit it by penning an account of it and hope that the rest of the group will relive the moments when they read it.


whatsinaname said...

I thought it is a good account( if of course no attempts were made at establishing a travelogue) of a short trip. You have almost given a vivid kaleidoscope of your journey by the appreciable choice of your words. I always knew you were a fast learner and you have really learnt the ropes( or the rope-ends ,should I say) of achieving the interest of the average reader. That's something really worthwhile.

Misha said...

@shuvo...the piece was written with the sole intention of reliving the happy memories of the trip for myself n all the others who were with me...n for providing a glimpse of it for those who were not with us...hope u became one of us while reading it...