So there we were, about 30 dewy-eyed, pimple-faced kids on our way to our very first Monsoon Picnic.
The millennium was still a good four years away. After three weeks of sweating it out over mark sheets and admission lists, we became the latest batch of fresh-faced wannabe architects to join LSR with dreams of becoming future Wrights and Gehrys. But our seniors and professors soon brought us down to reality.
A month after admissions, when the rose tinted glasses had come off, we were more than ready for a welcome break and head for the hills. So the annual overnight Monsoon Picnic to Lonavala seemed God-sent. Of course, the added attraction was that this picnic was for the students; by the students… you can fill up the rest.
Elaborate plans and wardrobes were discussed for weeks before.
When D-Day finally arrived, the morning promised to be a fine one, with fresh rain and clean streets. We made good time in two busloads, with songs, the occasional dances and frequent catcalls till we reached our overnight accommodation, the local school. Bags were soon dumped in whatever classrooms were open.
Then the seniors summoned us.
Choosing between answering and not answering the summons was like choosing between the devil and the deep sea - you either got ragged mercilessly now, or faced a fate worse than death later. If you were real lucky you got away with a few sessions of imaginary ball games and a couple of wacky proposals from the tops of railway stations. The unluckiest were those who were spotted by the ‘super-seniors’ - those unique breeds who were in their ‘nth’ year of a five-year course. Their only desire, apart from harbouring dreams of being the first octogenarians to graduate from the institute, was to torture pimple-faced freshers.
I had the misfortune to meet the worst of the lot. After about half an hour of relentless grilling, the details of which are still too gruesomely fresh in my memory, I tottered out into the sunshine. My fellow freshers looked at me like I was a veteran war hero. The saving grace was that once the rest of the seniors heard that Anurag had ragged me, they let me go my own merry way. Nothing they’d do could come close to surpassing Anurag’s techniques.
Of course we were all told in the most ominous tones that this was just the beginning. Meaning that the evening and night would be worse (I secretly pictured all the seniors turning into vamps and werewolves and hunting us down, the way they were going on about it).
Well, by evening, our watch-me-do-just-about-anything GS had converted the assembly space into a temporary discotheque, complete with shiny disco balls, JBLs and a mixer!
Naturally, the quiet town of Lonavala decided to take offence to the fact that their sleep ought to be disturbed by anything other than the occasional roaring of a hungry wild cat. In the midst of all that manic dancing, ably aided by the spiked lemonade ( or vodka spiked with a smidgeon of lemonade), one such peace-loving resident turned up in a bike, armed with a camera. The seniors, of course weren’t took pleased about their mugs being captured on film when they were at their drunken best.
Needless to say, the peace-lover was soon relieved of his camera. This deeply hurt our peace-lover, and he ran howling into the night - only to return with ten other peace-lovers armed with protest slogans, banners and a dishevelled policeman. You could tell that the policeman wasn’t too pleased about being roused from his slumber by the fact that every question posed to him was answered with a distinctive grunt and an odd pawing of the ground, not unlike that of a bored bull.
Soon enough the chant of anti-LSR slogans began to permeate through the alcohol-induced fog that clouded the senior’s brains. To cut a long story short (imagine- this could have been longer!), they wanted us out. Fair enough, except for one small hitch - we had nowhere to go. Repeated pleas to allow the girls to stay behind fell on deaf ears.
Bag-baggage and beer were soon piled into the two buses, while desperate arrangements were being made for a stopover to rest our weary butts. Finally a place was found consisting of two bare rooms where about 100 girls slept, packed like sardines. Kind of an interesting experience where you could choose to breathe in someone’s hair oil or stinky sock. There was also something poking into your butt, but you’d rather not know what it was, since finding out entailed upsetting the whole row of 25 people. The boys spent the night in the bus, where we found them in the morning with blue noses and bluer moods.
The drive back was much quieter with frequent stops to replenish the Aspirin and Pepto Bismol supplies. On reaching home mom asks- ‘so honey how was the trip?’ and I say ‘Awesome, Mom, can’t wait to go again!’