Trying to catch some sleep with all the excitement in me and the chuck chuck of the train in the background, i thought of how i got in here...
10 days before the D-day,
"Nakul, you going to Trichy fest?",
"Not decided as of yet, i have labs to miss, you see...",
Amma," you going to Trichy?". "i'm not sure ma, no other 2nd year is willing...."
Jose says ,"dude, you gotta tell me if you are coming, right now. It takes time for the names on the waiting list to actually get seats. Wanna go standing all the way? :X ..."
My reverie is broken with," whats the time da?". This from vishy, sleeping on a berth below mine. "2.25am" i reply. "Another hour and a half to get there....."
Received all the customary advice, which ranged from not hanging loose on the door of the coach while in motion, to drinking reverse osmosisified pyuure water, to avoid getting bitten by bed bugs (for which i was equipped with a pair of bedsheets and a pillow (with cover)), to not get into trouble and the sort.
I was very excited since it was the first time for me, venturing out of KaruNadu, alone and especially with college friends. The very thought of an overnight train journey with the fun bunch of quizcorpers made it something to really look forward to...
On the train, and we were literally haggling the passengers around us, so that the whole bunch of us could sit together. The ladies had their seats in the adjacent coach from ours, because of the quota... we finally agreed for a makeshift arrangement with the TC .(who fuming thru his moustache, muttered "what kids i say! , i will make them get down at Salem"...)
Having settled down, the group which consisted of me, Kent, Jose, Ma, Ni, Nanded and Vishy got down to business. Which was the opening of our respective foodie goodies. chakkulis, chapathis, english sandwiches and the like were devoured within no time...This was followed by dumbcharades and activities which involved us in making lots of noise. A stern warning by a passenger which went, "wawawwhat do you think of yuvarselves i say?"( wide eyes and thumbs up), made our entropy zero (almost ;))
After a breezy ride from the station to the insti courtesy the insti bus, some of us were awed to be in the presence of a certain studd quizzer named after a mystical aspect of judaism. The reason being he mispronouncing the director of Godfather. So go figure ;)
Having settled down at our respective hostel rooms, we all decided to take part in some literary activities before the lonewolf quiz. The lack of sleep played a major role, in my dismal performance in the quiz. By dismal i mean writing Hindware for a Thomas crapper question. The crossword workshop after that was great fun. It completely changed my idea of cryptic crosswords. The enthu, with which the students guided us through the tricks and the shady hints to be found in a given clue, floored me.
The finals of the quizzes at the NIT's and the IITs start at midnight and end up in the wee hours of the morning. The lonewolf was my first midnight final as an audience. So after the cryptic workshop, we caught up on some sleep.
The finals started at around 11pm and we were surprised at the no show of females in the audience. Queer i wondered, considering that a good no. of them had participated in the prelims. We came to know why, the hard way. Minutes after settling down, one of the co-ords brashly asked Ma, Nanded and Paddy to 'get the hell outta here'. Apparently the insti had rules about not allowing girls to roam around beyond 11pm and so there has never been a female audience to quiz finals ever. The sentiment and the intention was understandable, but the way it was said was offending. Ma put some fight, but to no avail. They all stomped out of the auditorium and this left a bad taste among the rest of us.
After 3 rounds we, the bleary eyed, decide to leave after witnessing mystical aspect smash the competition. The long walk back to the hostel, hollering and laughing at 2am, with Jose retelling his funny and heart warming experiences of prev. Trichy visits and with Kent playing music on the loud speakers was unforgettable. :)
Started with me and Ma desperately asking the debate co-ord to include us for the competition. "impassible, i have already turned down many other teams. Don't waste my time i say"said He. We sat down, listening to the impassibly good speakers speaking in broken indian english and doing typical-i-read-Hindu-and-i-am-holier-than-thou expressions, much to our amusement. Later we headed out to the Spent quiz, with my team closely missing out on qualifying. Ma, as usual convinced me to attend a creative writing workshop after the quiz, which was being conducted By Sidin Vadukut.
Forgive me for digressing here- a month back, one Saturday afternoon me and Ma were discussing about Indian blogging culture and she mentioned Sidin Vadukut and the post which made him super-duper famous. Read up for the whole story.
And imagine how i felt, when the same Sidin incidentally being an alumnus of NITT, conducted the creative writing workshop. I was overjoyed and Ma chided me for not knowing this earlier. Sidin started off in a very informal vein and entertained us right through with his anecdotes and moments of epiphany. We never sensed the time go by, so much so, that even during a power failure mid-way through his talk, we didn't mind listening to him in the darkness :D. His travails which led him to what he is today, filled us all with hope.
With nothing left to do till the finals of spent and we to loiter around the spacious campus, making a fool of ourselves. The last bit, due to our parodying of Dark Knight by shooting a kannada version. Boy o boy was it fun!! Casting the current and the prev generation of actors in Kannada industry as the cast for Kari-Nayaka as we put it, made us laugh till we cried. Nanded, Jose and Vishy were a bit miffed at not getting most of the kannada references but joined us in the merriment nonetheless.
The sun was setting behind us, when we got to know of a power shortage in the campus, to make up for the high wattage Sivamani concert, that was to follow later that night. Feeling lazy to walk all the distance to our hostels, Kent suggested we play rummy. Some of us were apprehensive about the idea, for getting caught by the insti people for shady business was the last thing on our minds. He convinced us nonetheless and we found an abandoned exit to the LHC to start the game. As the game progressed with fortunes swinging rapidly from player to player, the night too advanced with merry abandon. With no street lights, we continued playing the game with cellphone backlights as a source. It was indeed hilarious. My cellphone as usual played the role of providing soothing background music. Kent complimented me after listening to my playlist, by saying "You're the MAN". That's something i'll cherish. ;)
We bid goodbye to him and Ni for they had some work on Sunday. The ladies went back to the hostel with an air of nonchalance around them. Not attending the Spent finals, was hardly on their minds. They were warming up for Tomorrow's India quiz.
The spent final was a repeat show of mystical aspect's dominance. But me and Jose had a great cracking questions from the audience. Pepsi and coke bottles with shady contents were moving around among the audience, i was a bit apprehensive about that ;)
The long walk back to the hostel-part2 also had the same share of fun, but i missed Kent.
Day 3, a Sunday which had only the India quiz for us to take part in. We had to leave the campus by mid day to reach Bangalore by night. The quiz master shortened the India quiz to a one round event due to lack of time. Questions were good. Missed a few easy ones. Ma's team smashed it almost.
Then we all foolishly waited to participate in a solve-the-mystery contest, which led to chain of events so improbable that we did not reach Bangalore on the same day!
Writing down the clues and watching the sloppy video (credits for the effort though) made us unaware of the fact that it was nearing 1pm and no one had even packed their belongings. Running our way back to the hostel, we discussed the various permutations of routes by which our destination could be reached the same day.
Its 2.30 in the afternoon by the time we check out. We waited for a bus to Trichy central, opposite to the insti. 45minutes later we hoisted ourselves into an overloaded one and it became increasingly clear, that at this rate we had to stop over at one of the towns enroute and take the overnight bus to Bangalore. Getting stranded at 1am in namma ooru and the CM being quoted as "they were being adventurous", lest something happened to us; was the last thing that we wanted. ;)
Having resigned to that fact, we took a bus to Salem after reaching Trichy for it had higher frequencies to our city. The supposedly 3.5 hour journey took 5 hours, but we had music and Ma's books for company so we didnt mind.
All along the journey,
as i savoured the natural beauty,
i noticed some publicity material,
which made the setting ethereal...
I wondered if had stepped into a DMK nadu rather than Tamil nadu. Posters and life size cutouts of the aforesaid party members, lined up till the end of horizon. Flags and buntings besought their presence. The idea that Tamil politics is more about creating a larger than life image and making sure that you enforce it to the common man, just became concrete in me. Not having exposed myself, to such a robust display of the various poses of politicians, it was indeed funny. By poses i mean, leaders pondering with the tip of the pen resting on their lips, photoshopped ten-headed leaders, hand shaking and hand waving leaders and in each of these cases, they are reinforcing the message to the people that "look, this is ME. And i am in POWER. And i am doing something good for you all" :| . The common man is enamoured.
Vishy interrupted my discussion on this topic with Ma, pointing out that politics is a sensitive issue among the locals and the bus was not an ideal setting for it. After reaching Salem, by 9pm we searched around for a place to eat and we found 3 Saravana Bhavanas within 100mts. Having filled our stomachs in of the swankier ones, we lounged on the steps of an abandoned shop, for we had about an hour and a half to spare. Another round of idle chitchat about local and Karnataka politics, Literature, college and its quirky staff members followed before we took the bus to Bangalore.
The company which i had in this trip was akin to cousins or brothers say, people to whom you could open up to without inhibitions. Jose, Vishy, Kent, Ma and the gang were so very easy going and fun loving that you were made to feel comfortable effortlessly. That all of them possessed a great sense of humor just added up to it...
All in all it was a memorable trip...