Monday, November 03, 2014

Camping at Balicha

Imagine waking up in a tent. Or better still, not sleeping at all. Imagine sitting around a fire with almost strangers you had met less than half a year ago and letting your heart out. Imagine bliss, the kind an MBA college can't really serve but just did. Such was that night at the new campus at Balicha.

It started quite innocently, with two travelers (vivek and anupam) wanting to do something more. New campus, we might never go there they thought. But then its on our list they claimed. We have to do this. So do they did. And royal it was. A form was floated, fellow dreamers were amassed and atop their colorful rides (pulsars) and their mighty Bullet they sped through. As they saw the highway in a distance, on Que the accelerators were pumped. Poor people had to turn back and take a U-turn   before they could touch it though. Some cursed but then you can't really have everything can you? Atop a hill, the tents were pitched. Little did they know, most of them would lie abandoned the entire night.

Fire we need fire one claimed. So the 'Fire God' was called upon, sacrifices were made (wood of course!) and there they had it. Like an old mustang that had just been fired, it popped and choked giving in to the wind. The sun bade goodbye shaking its head, praying for the few. A few early stars chuckled and smirked at their misery. Eventually though it crackled and danced. The wind which had torn them apart now fueled it and there it was at last. As it burned through the splinters, they realized they didn't have enough for the entire night. Two brave warriors (Arpit and Mayank) picked up their swords and shields and bellowed, leave that to us. So they set out in search of glory. When they came back battered and bruised but with more wood than the night oil could burn, a feast was called upon. Barbecue. Oh yeah baby, we did that too. It was ironical that the splendid warriors were vegetarians but feast it was. Right after dinner was served. There was laughter and then there was light banter for company, the kind not in classrooms but right outside.Then the General(Joel) blew the trumpet. Silence he claimed. What happened after that, isn't something words can capture. That I refuse to enunciate, for to do justice to it one has to be more than a word wizard. You shall have to find that out for yourself. Or wait find isn't the word, lets go with experience.

As he bade us goodnight and retired into his tent, the night was theirs. Action, they claimed. Whereas some lay watching the stars, capturing the moon in its pristine glory smiling down at her new found friends some settled around the fire one master blacksmith (keshav) feeding it claiming the fire would stay alive all night. Then stories were shared, experiences the kind one can't talk about on campus. Love stories, with a little more love and little less story. Love stories with more stories than love. Heartbreak, then remake. As everyone shared their experiences, the girls cheered them on and joined in (Janet especially then Rash and Priyanka) . Then they moved on to Ghosts, spirits and sightings. To believe or not to believe; who knows? Throughout they talked, they laughed.

At four they were hungry again. That was the turn of two more among them to shine (hitarth, vipul) as they walked into the wilderness, this time in search of fodder. Daal Bhaati Churam, a traditional Rajasthani dish was on the cards. So food it was and they sat around the fire drinking coke (just coke) and hogging the churma one couldn't help but realize how lucky one was to have this. Although promises were made on coming back, who knows?

The morning brought serenity and sunshine, the beauty of the mountains, the vast area ahead (more grass than road) which was to be, IIM Udaipur, Balicha campus. Everyone ran around, some into the valley, some onto the other hills and some just waited for the sunrise. But when the sun rose, everyone gasped it was prettier than they had imagined, The orange of the sun peeking from behind a mountain has a different feeling altogether. Not that the mountains weren't pretty, they did take your breath away, but the sunrise oh, it made you feel alive and real again.

As they packed promising to return, to buy tents to do better next time they all prayed. We all smiled and we all hoped this wouldn't be the last. But everyone was grateful. For life, for the juvenile eloquence, for the mystery. Let's do this again sometime.