Midterms: Travelling and Beyond
A Dosco does a fair bit of travelling while in school as compared to another boy of his age elsewhere. As part of the never ending Dosco banter in front of strangers, we mostly include the incidents of busting, the story behind a YC, a (in)famous love affair with a Welhamite, epic Inter House matches, Sunday outing shenanigans and the likes. However, we often forget to mention the most glorious aspect of growing up in school, the thing that is integral in bridging us from the boyhood of D Form to the manhood of SC Form – Midterms!
No, I’m not just talking about the genuine midterms, spent trekking across unknown terrain with kerosene cans and ruck sacks but also the ones spent smoking Sheesha in Chandigarh. These travels, initially restricted and exciting under supervision become a lot more exciting when they’re independent and the budget is made to stretch, using all sorts of pretences with the Housemaster as well as at home. Taken for granted during as well as after school, we tend to forget the big lessons it teaches us. And these aren’t just cliched lessons of exploring unknown horizons and all that jazz, but the lesson behind having the drive to actually go forth with a sudden trip, or one that you’ve been postponing for since you got your first pair of Wayfarers (or that DSLR which you’ve only used to click lame black and white pictures of random things for); of the desire to shift focus from the routine indulgences and spend on the one thing that is truly valuable – Travel.
Recently, my Facebook news feed was plastered with photos a Harley Davidson, parked by the road with the chrome glistening under the sun et al. The initial thought that occurred to me was that some Dosco probably bought that beast with the intention of riding it around the city, all its glory and power wasted in all entirety. But then I looked further into the album, only because I realised that the owner was Kowkab Naim, a Dosco I trust to have a much better judgement having spent ample hours with him in school talking about random things (under the tutelage of Nishant Ohri); and I was correct. This man was travelling to Goa for the India Bike Week from his home in Sainik Farms, New Delhi taking charge of the power of several horses residing in the engine of a Harley – a feat rater daunting, for I was dead tired doing the same from New Delhi to Mussoorie to attend a rave while I was in college. It is things like these these that makes life worth living, a thought I truly realised on my flight back from the Sunburn festival in Goa this time.
The realisation was back in early January, but the impetus to write about it came to me a few days back while reading the February issue of the Lonely Planet India Magazine, which had some real authentic descriptions and suggestions for venturing into the remote parts of India. The article on the North Eastern part of India spoke of the breathtaking scenic beauty and the grandeur of the Indian Rhinos at Kaziranga, which took me back to my SC Form midterm to Kedartal (quite a tough one that was), wherein we were in a tent freezing our masculine gift from the Gods (for the lack of the apt word considering The Rose Bowl a family read), wishing for a little warmth; scared to go out and answer the call of nature, lest some wild animal came and mashed us up like humus in a little bowl!
One part also mentioned the need for a dollop of luxury after a tough trip which reminded of my first midterm without the teachers. Having ‘almost’ finished Nagtibba, we came scurrying back to Dehradun to enjoy in style the remaining 2 days of our midterm. Discreet and yet full of pride, walking down Astley Hall and into Hotel President to order ourselves the hallowed bowl(s) of Butter Chicken, a generous number of Naans, Crispy Shredded Lamb, Fresh Lime Soda and the high point – a detour to the Polo Bar afterwards for some cold ones! Such was the extreme joy, the magnanimity in simplicity, that it us made us feel like champions at having pulled off such a task.
All this thought about the midterms brings back the C Form midterm to Dodital, which was a grand affair considering a big group was going together. I remember the morning of the second last day from Dodital, when everyone was busy preparing for the return journey to school, while myself, Jehangir Chinoy and Achshay Singh pondered over our decision of smoking our first cigarette. We decided against going ahead with our plans..(However, me and Chinoy compensated for not having had shared a cigarette then with countless trips all throughout schooldays to the H & J House bogs and some behind O House along with Atto Singh, under the graceful presence Mihir Misra!)
As we progress into adulthood, we make grand plans of travelling to the farthest corners of the world, but fall short of our expectation by leaps and bounds. That Che Guevara-eque visit to Macchu Picchu, that desire to spend a month living in Goa or to the villages of Himachal in search of sunshine, the pending decision of doing a Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara style holiday in search of a Layla before a friends wedding, the definite plan of going for Tomorrowland or Ozora, all fall short of happening for real as days go by.
In his book “The Island”, Aldous Huxley speaks of the bird who keeps emphasising about “Here And Now”. Most of the times, we voluntarily took for granted the chances to milk out the best from those midterms – the same treks which I’d willingly attempt now as part of my zealous efforts to cover every nook and corner of Incredible India before touching 30 (which, hopefully, is a long way to go). My SC Form midterm to Kedartal was a serious effort, and to this day I can clearly narrate minute by minute details leading up to four of us reaching the partly frozen Kedartal (lake), the sun casting it golden grandeur on top of a peak next to it, and the immense satisfaction that came with completing the trek. An achievement, the pride of which is known to most Doscos; one that comes with a fruitful result on putting a boat load of hard work. Booking a hotel room in Uttarkashi and drinking good scotch doesn’t exactly bring in the same sense of satisfaction when you’re 17!
To end this, I’d like to quote Jack Kerouac with a small part from his legendary book “On The Road”:
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh…”