In one’s old age, one is apt to remember fondly, all the idiocies one commits in one’s youth and gladly categorize it as 'experience'. My first study tour was one such unmitigated disaster.
Lets look at the bare facts, shall we:
The study tour was entirely in the wonderful state of MP (or maddha pardes, if one was to get colloquial). Law and order isn’t exactly this state’s forte.
The only responsible members accompanying us were two professors (Both male. One drew the short straw in the staff room. The other was absent on that particular day, so he was unanimously voted in). The teacher student ratio on this trip was 1:20. A rather generous sprinkling of teachers, we thought.
The student group consisted of 40 teens, split halfway down the middle according to gender.
Even one of the above should have warned the authorities of the incumbent disaster. Take all three in conjunction, and we have a Chernobyl in the making. However, by pure luck, these facts were overlooked by the usually hawk-eyed princie, and we sent off on our 20 day adventure.
Did I say set off? I mean almost set off… all students were supposed to reach the appointed station by 12p.m. Unfortunately, opinions varied on what one would call the ‘appointed station’. Certain students mistook this to be a multiple-choice question, and were found loitering at arbitrary stations, looking like lost puppies. Finally most people managed to make it just as the train was puffing its way out of the station.
Once aboard the train came the task of finding seats. This was easier said than done. Not only were we assigned berths spread out over the entire train, we also had to compete with the cliques- who decided they would sit seven at one go, or not at all! So it was decided that the luggage would occupy the odd seat, and the rest can squash themselves in the remaining space. Here again, the glaring differences of ‘bare essentials’ to a boy and girl came to the fore.
The boys all had a small suitcase (duly packed by mum) which contained about 3 pairs of clothing, their Nintendo- or whatever gizmo which was their current crush and a few pairs of clean shorts. Their only preparation for the winter cold was this snazzy jacket they had thrown about their shoulders under the impression that it made them into instant studs.
Girls had a minimum of four pieces of luggage, a food basket, a vanity case and a small purse. Winter clothes- 3 pairs to co-ordinate with each set of clothing they’d brought along and matching shoes. Also cold cream, conditioner, manicure kit and sharpened pencils and sketchpads as instructed by the professors.
(to be contd…)