(To say nothing about the others who did not show)
Towards the end of the two year course of Masters in Biotechnology, a multitude of ideas sprouted in each one of our heads to bid a befitting farewell to the friendship and bonhomie that we had shared in the preceding 104 weeks. A visit to the most luxurious hotel in the town, a street food eating spree, a picnic on the banks of a nearby river, a visit to the archaeological monuments of the region, a cycling expedition along the rural terrain, a gala dinner studded with games, sports etc. are a few of the most interesting ideas. Time travels fast and before we had realised this obvious phenomenon; the number of people from the group had dwindled to a bare minimum. The pangs of separation, the reality of moving away and the prospect of a life without the chosen few had started to get the better of everybody and much sooner than later; all the ideas and plans of giving a special goodbye to ourselves were shelved under the carpets.
The month of May had ended. Dissertations, project works were getting the final touches and a sense of urgency was evident on everyone’s face. With the closure of the hostel mess; breakfast, lunch and dinner became times when everyone gathered to spend some quality time together. This was indeed a wonderful practice and I often wondered how wonderful it might have been if we had carried on this practice for at least a month or two at a stretch. One such fine noon, while engrossed amidst the homely thali (being offered at local Amenity), it was unanimously decided that we should all visit some resort at Kaziranga (a UNESCO world heritage site) on the occasion of World Environment Day.
On the 4th of June, however, most people opted out of the plan on accounts of their impending work pressure. The blueprint that was made only a couple of days back was all set to go under the carpets much like all the plans and ideas that were thought of earlier. From a sizeable group of eight, the number of people willing to go on the trip had shrunken to a dismal three. What was to be done? The hot and humid day was followed by an equally hot and humid night. At 1 AM in the morning of 5th of June, it was eventually decided that the trip was on for the special trio irrespective of the others who had backed out of the show.
At exactly 7 AM, on 5th of June the three of us [The adorable Triveni Borgohain, the gentlemanly Jotin Gogoi and the not so ‘bony’ me- winks] started for our last outing together. The weather was pleasant, the sweet smell of the earth (still wet from the previous night’s rainfall) still pervaded the atmosphere and a cool breeze serenaded the surroundings that made the green leaves of the trees sway in a unidirectional manner exhibiting some sort of synchronization and harmony amongst the varied elements of Mother Nature. It was just about the perfect condition that one could hope for in the treacherous heat of the Indian tropical summers. The red university bus with its blue seats took us to Nikamul from where we were to board a Jorhat bound bus. The emblazoned one horned rhino on the bus seemed even grander today. Apparently, the excitement of visiting the largest abode of the Rhinoceros unicornis was getting the better of me. Getting down at Nikamul, we boarded a bus for our destination.
Close to 9.45 AM, we alighted from the bus at Kohora- the place which hosted the entrance gate to the infamous Kaziranga National Park. The scene was unusually calm and quiet. The shops were yet to open their shutters; the odd local resident was squatting on his haunches with his toothbrush on one hand; the newspaper boy was frantically cycling across the leaf strewn highway, while the road side tea vendor was trying to light up his kerosene stove with an eye on us (the potential customers for the auspicious “bauni”).In midst of all that, three of us without a plan and programme stood there with palpable anxiety hoping earnestly that at least one of us would come up with a plan to do something. Just then as if our prayers were answered, a safari gypsy went past us and stopped a few paces farther. Knowing exactly the need of the hour, we approached the driver asking if we could avail his services to have a detour of the area. The National Park was closed for the season and the driver offered to take us along the boundaries of the protected area. Jumping on to the open aired car, we embarked on our expedition of the area. The first stop was a dhaba (Pelican Dhaba) where we had our breakfast. A plate of puri-sabji coupled with an enormous omelette made our day. The breakfast followed with a visit to the fringe areas of the national park. We were lucky enough to witness a herd of elephants, a pack of deer and a few rhino’s from close quarters. Thereafter, we paid a visit to the local picnic spot and the rubber and coffee plantations. All this while, the driver left no stone unturned in trying to explain each and every detail of the place. In one such occasion, he was explaining Triveni the significance of coffee plantations emphasising on the fact that the seeds of the tree were used to brew a drink similar to that of our traditional tea. On another occasion, he was explaining all of us the strategic position of the famous horn between the two ears of the rhino. Mr. Chandan, as it turned out to be his name, seemed to be a jovial guy without any qualms and whims and was at ease even though we made him wait at different locations for undue hours. A visit to the ethnic village followed thereafter which was aptly complimented by an attempt at rock/ hill climbing and a stroll around the lush green foothills of Karbi Anglong. With the sun out in its full colours, we decided that it was time to go for lunch and we requested Mr. Chandan to drop us at the Borgos resort- a place about which we had heard from some of our friends. Great ambience, green surroundings and flawless architecture is what that greeted us at this wonderful place. Mouth watering food, innumerable photographs, a little kid’s birthday and a stop at the makeshift shop (as a recluse from the pouring rain) made the visit to this ‘wild haven’ a memorable one.
Late in the afternoon, it dawned upon us that it was time to wind up. We made our way back to the highway through the wooden bridges and muddy tracks. The calm and quiet atmosphere strengthened our yearning to stay back. But, we all had promises to keep. The same bus that had dropped us in the morning found us waiting for it in the afternoon. The day had come a complete circle, I thought. Boarding the bus, we started our journey back. Finally, a day well spent criss-crossing four districts of the state of Assam.
Thank you Triveni Borgohain for being a gracious victim to countless raillery and Jotin Gogoi for being enthusiastic about the entire trip right from the word “Go”.
It was a wonderful day indeed!