I was watching the TV and waiting for an IPL match to start. The anchor asked a player about their plans for the match and while he was giving vague remarks about the plan, I remembered a saying, which I myself endorse; The Best Plans are those which are Unplanned. At that very moment I remembered two occasions in my life, one in College and one in University. Once we went for Picnic and in the other occasion, we went to visit Kaziranga National Park. Both can be said to be totally unplanned trips. I realized that I have not yet documented those two interesting trips and as such immediately sat down to write down those experiences.
Picnic to Hahim, December 2004
We were in the second year of our graduation studies at that time in Cotton College. It was the month of December and the picnic season had already begun. We did not go for picnic the year before and we were eager to go this time. But we were informed by our department that no picnic will be arranged from the department side, as apparently few years ago some students were involved in “inappropriate” behaviour during a departmental picnic and the teachers are in no mood to witness another one.
So, one day while we were sitting in the class, we decided that we will arrange a picnic ourselves. One of our friends told she will arrange vehicle, one said he will arrange for cooking gas and suddenly we were all geared up for Picnic. We decided we will go after two days. Now the question was to decide a place. Two places were suggested and since we could not decide on one, we wrote the names on a piece of paper and picked one. The name that came out was Hahim, a quiet spot along Assam-Meghalaya border. We then decided that we will collect money and do the necessary marketing the next day. But at that time, we had no idea what circumstances were waiting for us the next day.
Even before the first class began the next day, the purse of one our friends were stolen from our class. She had kept her bag in the class and had gone outside. There was no one in the class at that time. When she came back, she found her purse and mobile missing. One of her friends said she saw a boy wearing a black jacket leaving the class. We immediately started our search for the boy with a black jacket. The search proved futile. We also called the mobile. The “thief” picked the mobile for the first time and then switched it off. We then went to the local Reliance office asking them for the call data record, just to see if the “thief” has called someone from the mobile. We were told that we would need to file a FIR with the police first. So, the next destination was the Panbazar police station. We filed the FIR, while listening to the lengthy “words of advice” of the office-in-charge of the police station on how to keep your purse safe and how such things are now happening in a prestigious institution like Cotton College. It was already late afternoon by then.
We then went back to our department, where our other friends were supposed to be involved in planning of the next day’s picnic. When we reached there we saw everyone was sitting with gloomy faces. As it happened, one of our classmates was the daughter of our Head of Department. As such, she asked her father for permission to go to the picnic. Her father refused to give her permission and then came to our class and asked us to call off the picnic. So, the picnic was on the verge of collapse. We were unable to plan anything as our HoD’s daughter was also sitting with us that time. After some time, she left for her home. We immediately sprang into action. We decided to continue with the plan (however, sadly we had to leave out the HoD’s daughter). We collected the money and delegated the various jobs amongst ourselves.
Now another issue cropped up. Our friend, who had lost her purse, was afraid to go to her home fearing that she will be scolded by her parents. She also said that she will not be even allowed to go to the picnic now. So, we decided that we will all go to her home. We went to her home and told her parents that she had no fault in losing the items and she should be allowed to go to picnic. But looking at her father’s mood, we understood that there was not even a slim chance of making it to the picnic. Finally, we came from her home. It was already late evening. We then went to the tent house for renting utensils and simultaneously, others went for marketing.
We went for Picnic the next day and thankfully, except for a few minor hiccups, nothing went wrong the next day. We had a wonderful day and that picnic is still the best memory of my college days.
Visit to Kaziranga National Park, April 2009
We were studying in the fourth semester of our MBA studies at Tezpur University. Six of us decided to go to visit Kaziranga. We picked up a Sunday and left the University by the first bus at 6 am. We were planning that we will have breakfast in Tezpur town and then leave for Kaziranga and reach there by 8.30 am. We were in for a surprise.
We reached the town, had some tea and got up in a bus. But once the bus started, we were told that we have to sit in the Cabin as Kaziranga was short distance trip. We got down from the bus after travelling for around 2 km. We were still in Tezpur town. After waiting for another half hour, we got a bus. The bus then stopped at Mission Chariali, which falls on the way while leaving Tezpur town, and the bus conductor told us that the bus will wait for about 45 minutes. Well, since we were already late we decided to have some breakfast there itself.
It was about 7.30 in the morning. The hotels were just opening. We went inside one and ordered for Puri-Sabzi. Suddenly we say the cook dragging the gas cylinder from inside and fitting it with the stove and also cleaning the dust from the stove with his hand. And without washing his hands, he had started grinding the dough to prepare puri for us. We immediately left the hotel. Then we decided to go to Hotel KF, which had a well-maintained and costly (for us at that time) restaurant. We asked for Breakfast and we were told that Breakfast was buffet but when he told the price per plate, we silently left the place. We then decided that we will have breakfast once we reach Kaziranga. So, we went and sat on the bus. The journey started after some time. We reached the Kaziranga National Park entrance by about 10.30 am. We were all hungry and immediately entered a restaurant and had our long-awaited breakfast.
Then we went for booking a Jeep safari. Another setback waited for us there. We were told that morning safari ended at 10 am and the next safari was at 2 pm. We had not even thought about the park timings (as I said, totally unplanned trip). We asked if they can arrange a special trip for us citing that we had to return to University by afternoon as we had time restrictions (such a lame excuse that was!). The person asked us to go the Park office. We went there and asked the officials there. They said no. Then we asked to meet the Director. They said he was not there. We took the Director’s number and called him. But, he said he was in a meeting and did not listen to our pleas. We were losing out options. One of our friends then made call to another friend, who had a friend, whose father worked in the Forest department (phew!). That did not work out as well.
Now we had around three hours to kill. We walked around the tea estate in the area. We discovered a nice area with a stream flowing by. We spent a wonderful time there. Then after having lunch, we finally went for Jeep safari at 2 pm. We had a splendid time inside the park, memories of which are still inscribed in my mind.
Those were, indeed, the best days of my life.