Saturday, March 31, 2012

An Incredible Journey of 4 Friends!!

The following story dates back to the incredible summer of 2005. The 5th semester University exams of our engineering course had just begun. The first 3 papers had gone well for me and 3 of my close friends and classmates - Jaidev, Amit and Viraj. We had bonded quite well in the 1st year itself and used to study together in a group for the exams.

The next paper, "Communication Skills" was after a 3 day holiday. None of us had bothered to touch the CS book the whole semester, still we were taking things easy. Reason being, this paper - CS, was in many ways very similar to the English language paper we had in our 10th/12th and hence was considered a piece of cake by us!!

The first 2 days of the 3 day study break went by in a breeze. We would sit down to study but just could not concentrate. We would either get chatting on something or the other or sleep away like a king... the time just flew by. Out of the 4 of us, at least 2 would not be in a mood to study which meant that the whole group would be distracted and CS would take a back seat.

The Day Before The Exam...

Having wasted yet another morning, we were all sitting in my hostel room having just returned after taking a heavy lunch. After an hour of incessant yawning, Amit spoke, "Let us go into the forest today!!!", looking intently at the thick forest which lay at a distance, visible from the window.

Our college was surrounded by lush thick forests on all sides and comprised hilly terrain. We 4 (Jaidev, Amit, Viraj and myself Dhiraj) regularly ventured deep into those jungles and found great joy discovering new trails, climbing trees, crossing valleys, studying the vast flora and fauna, eating mangoes, jamuns, karvands etc... Once in a week, at least, we would go out to explore the forests which many would find intimidating to look at even from a distance! Sometimes, friends joined us for a trek but they would never come back next time as they found the whole expedition very arduous. But we loved spending time in there... trekking and walking for hours... Unfortunately, it had been over a month now, since we have had one of our routine excursions as we were all busy preparing for our upcoming exams. Needless to say then, the mere thought of it had got me excited!

View from College  Window
View from my Hostel Room Window,
the vast jungle lays beyond...

"Yeah, let's go there. As it is, we are not studying. It will take our mind off the studies and freshen us up too!", I chipped in, always eager for a break.

"You have got to be kidding me!! Break? Break is what we have been having since our last exam got over... This is simply ridiculous!", Viraj tried to take stock of the situation, looking a touch worried.

"What is there to study in CS anyways? We have not studied these 2 days because there is nothing to study!", Jaidev blurted out, most of which I thought was not true.

I suddenly intervened Jaidev, "I have an idea!!" Now they all froze because they knew whenever I spoke those words it meant that something really unimaginable was coming their way!

"Today we will carry our CS books too with us. A 250 odd page book won't pose any burden and we will study under the Mango tree for sometime! This way we get to go into the jungle and we get to study too!!", I said with an air of nonchalance while glancing at Viraj.

Viraj, the most studious of us buddies, dint look quite convinced but his love for nature finally got over him.

"OK then, let’s go! It’s been pretty long and I am myself missing the greenery and dense vegetation!" said Viraj with a faint smile on his lips and a glint in his eyes.

At about 5 in the evening, we left for the wilderness escaping through the side of the hostel through the barbed wires. Our CS books, a couple of loose sheets and a pen dangled loosely from our back pockets.

We trekked for about an hour and a half, forgetting all about the exam scheduled for the next day at 10 am. We crossed narrow paths strewn with dried leaves, passed through rocky areas, and waded through small streams most of which had dried... 

Our jungle adventure
The Jungle Adventure Begins...
You can see how dense the Jungle is...
It is so gloomy...

Me and my 3 friends jungle adventure
Partners in Crime :P
Jungle Adventure
Is that a Snake?? Or a creeper??

My jungle adventure
Some Sweet Moments... Frozen!

We observed the ever busy ants walking busily in a long disciplined line, red colored crabs besides a dried pond in a desolated area, prayed at the Shiva Temple which was situated in a dark cave and went through areas strewn with cacti plants...

Cactus shrubs, jungle adventure
Thorny Cacti Shrubs

We then approached the large Alphonso Mango tree which was laden with big, juicy, ripe, yellowish green Mangoes.

Amit climbed up the tree in a jiffy along with Jaidev, both of them taking care not to disturb the large ant colonies situated at the foot of the tree. I and Viraj, meanwhile stood with handkerchiefs spread to collect the booty! After we had collected some 2 dozen Mangoes, both of them climbed down.

Ant Hill, jungle adventure
Ant Hill (can you spot the ants?)

Usually, we would eat them on our way back to our hostel rooms and distribute the surplus amongst our room mates. But today, we decided to clear a small patch of land under the tree and relish them there itself while studying CS for a while. We collected some large banana leaves to make our seating comfortable!!

The trees towered high above us forming an umbrella that blocked away most of the light! Thus light was always scarce and at 6.30 pm, it felt like night would fall soon. We collected some dried twigs and leaves (available aplenty), lit it and sat around it in a circle.

Sunset, jungle adventure
Sunset -- Time to head back?? ..Naaaahh..!!

As we were relishing the Hapoos Aam, Viraj slowly took out his CS book. We did the same.  A subtle change had come over us. There was a fire in our eyes. For the first time in 3 days, we all seemed serious about the exam as we discussed parts from the syllabus. The fact that it was an University Exam had finally dawned on us.

After about an hour, it had gone completely dark. Night had befallen. It was unanimously decided that since we were finally studying at that place and since it would be very difficult and risky to go to the campus in that darkness, we would spend the night there itself!!!

The night was spent well, with those rough pages and pens which we had casually brought with ourselves finding use. There were plenty of doubts which cropped up but most of them were solved easily. It was a subject probably resembling the English Language paper about 70% but there was much more to it. None of us slept even for a moment that night. We knew we were too far away from the college and in too dense a part, so there was no danger about someone noticing our bonfire. The cool night breeze relieved us greatly from the blazing hot summer that we were witnessing at that time. Thousands of fire flies kept glowing in perfect sync flashing greenish yellow light in one corner every few seconds, the toads croaked all night, the insects created a ruckus, the dogs barked often at a distance... But nothing deterred us from studying. There was no frivolous gossip, no time passing. By the time the first rays of the Sun broke through, we had finished off CS as also the Mangoes!!

We were done with the subject in just one night... a subject we had not even bothered to touch during the whole semester! The most surprising thing was that none of us felt tired or sleepy. We felt fresh and excited... We trekked back to our hostel, each one of us took a long cold water bath and we were ready to leave to write the exam.

Adventure of a lifetime
Trailing Back Finally..after an adventurous night of Studies! The college visible in the distance!!!

The exam went well and the rest of the papers too, soon got over. When the results were declared a month later, we 4 were in for a pleasant surprise. We were in the top 7 scorers for the subject. When others asked us how our whole group had managed to secure top positions in CS, we just shrugged our shoulders and replied "Hard Work!!!"

The hard grind and the stress associated with University Engineering Exams meant that we never studied in the forest again. That was a night which was extra ordinary and incredible in more ways than one. We did many bizarre activities during our college days but this incident still ranks right up there with others!!!

Our group still has discussions about that night whenever we meet or talk... We still imagine ourselves sitting below our favorite Mango Tree... in that dense jungle, on the night before our University exams... and coming out as Winners...

PS - This is a true story and all the photographs used are original.

PPS - This post is written for the Incredible Stories! Contest sponsored by MahindraXUV500 and Indiblogger.

PPPS - If you are an Indiblogger and like the post you can promote it here - An Incredible Journey of 4 Friends!!


Teamgsquare said...

Wow , your lucky that college /hostel was located in such serene area and Didn't know that your name is also Dhiraj ...... Wow .
All the best for the contest .

indu chhibber said...

your story is truly incredible-no other word for it ..i hope you win this contest,i think you will !

indu chhibber said...

Thnx for your b-day greetings,yes the day was good!

Arti said...

Wow DS!! That was some adventure! Talk of thrill and excitement and your post has it all, in loads!! I don't know if you will get a 'prize' by the sponsors but for me this is a winner, really! And the best thing was that you added the real pics. They gave a twinkling spark to your heartfelt writings!

Fabulous experience, with close friends.. those days.. ahh! Truly Incredible!! Best of Luck, DS!

DS said...

@ Dhiraj
Thanks a lot for your wishes Dhiraj!
Yes, the college location was very beautiful.

DS said...

@ indu
Thanks a lot for your kind words and well wishes Indu.

DS said...

@ Arti
Delighted to have your comment on my post!!
Thanks a lot, your and indu's comment already makes me feel like a winner.
This is the first time I have used original pics!

Ghumakkar Punit said...

Wow! What an adventurous study trip...I was just trying to imagine the night with fireflies you spent there :)
Seems it happened in Sahyadris, is it?

DS said...

@ Punit

Yeah, It was an incredible night!!
It was the Konkan!!

Animesh said...

Reminded me of my hostel days. I have many stories to tell and one is somewhat similar to this:)
The fact I am loving most that you have gradually becoming a storyteller from a cricket commentator :P

DS said...

@ Animesh
Thanks, dont we all have stories to tell? Share yours too, the contest is still open.

Animesh said...

Not sure about the contest, but will surely write the story

T F Carthick said...

Nice combined study session out in the wilderness. Interesting idea.

DS said...

@ Animesh
Waiting to read your tale!

DS said...

@ The Fool
Yes, it was more of a spontaneous decision. But it was an incredible experience!

N.S.Kirti said...

ooooh! studying for an exam in a forest! sounds exciting! and your post brought out that excitement superbly. well written as always. i especially loved that part where you guys sat down to study with utmost determination. you wrote that part REALLY well :)
the vicinity of your hostel is sure very greeeeeen; the photos made me wish i could visit that place :)
this is really an incredible story DS! all the best for the contest!!

DS said...

It was exciting ns and a wee bit scary too!!!
And hope your college is located at a similar green place!!

Vinay Leo R. said...

so we finally see the DS in real :-D wonderful photos to accompany what is a beautiful narrative. It must hv been a thrill. n a good mark to give bonus delight :-) going back there any time soon?

DS said...

@ Leo
Oh! I would love to go there again with my bunch of friends!!! Unfortunately the 4 of us are all in different cities.

pramod said...

adventure galore, with studies in the heart of ferocious jungle and coming out alive. and in flying colors too.
really envious tale.
best wishes.

DS said...

@ Pramod
Actually you hit the nail on the head, we came out alive!! There are numerous snakes and other poisonous insects there as also wild pigs were known to roam those jungles in the night. Glad we were not harmed!

Antara said...

Now that has got to be the coolest way of studying before an exam! :D Now mind you, if I did that with physics I would be failing :P

But seriously, studying and having fun is the best way to do it. In 10th grade, I remember we were about 12 friends studying together for 3 hours and having SO much fun. Infact we had so much fun while studying that most people assumed we didn't study much :P And we got fabulous grades then.

Absolutely LOVED this story DS :D

DS said...

@ Antara
We never know Antara, maybe this is the right way to study physics!! When we are having fun and doing things we generally do them by heart and so the chances of success are much more!!!

Rohan Shankar said...

Oh yeah... we have Tech Report writing... exact same thing!

I never went to any class, and the first one I went was on the day of a "surprise" test. Obviously it had been known that there was going to be the test that day.

I still didn't study. Good for me, because the question was rewrite the sentences in a more attractive fashion.

DS said...

@ Rohan
Thanks for sharing your story!

Princess Poo said...

Throughout the whole post I was going WOW :D. This is an awesome post DS :).
How awesome would it be to study in the midst of nature :D. I always study on our house terrace which is covered with trees and plants :D but forest is something totally different ;). A lifetime experience for sure :D.
You made me drool when the MANGOES part came :D.
It was a really nice post DS :D :).
All the best for the contest :D.

DS said...

@ Princess Poo
Yes, it was an experience of a lifetime for sure!
And they were not just any Mangoes! Alphonso Mangoes, the King of all fruits!!!

Princess Poo said...

Now I'm even more jealous DS :(.
When I come over there, please take me to that forest :D. I need to eat them :) :D.
There is nothing better than plucking a fruit yourself and eating it ;) :D :P.

DS said...

@ Princess Poo
Surely! Even I am missing those Mangoes!!

C Suresh said...

Excellent DS! Normally I am put off commenting when I see a zillion prior comments but this I had to compliment.

Unknown said...

This is absolutely amazing. I envy you your experiences. I always studied in set boring environment as my college was 10 minutes distance from my place. Ah, how I wish I too had my college somewhere in jungle. :P

PS: Your writing was fantastic. I could actually visualize the atmosphere during your bonfire. Great work!