The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Foursome on two wheels

Indrajeet Sen, a 17-year-old student of Calcutta International School, set off for the All India Ride for Peace and Unity with Chandan Lahiri, Joy Raja and Solomon Jacob, bike enthusiasts from across the country. The under-age Indrajeet — also the youngest in the recently-held expedition — was the official photographer. Here are a few snapshots from the journey:

Three ‘Bullets’, 12,000 km, 30 days. That was the task taken up by four adventurers, who had come together from across the country.

The ride — an effort to raise funds for the victims of communal riots in Gujarat — started from Delhi. Leaving Chandan’s Chittaranjan Park flat, we loaded up and the four of us set out on three bikes, for the flag-off.

The two-lane highway was smooth, and we reached Chandigarh, our first stop, with no trouble. In Solan, we stopped to pick up a stock of meat pickle — enough to last a few days. Then, the Ghats were upon us and Solomon, our most experienced rider, was full of tips on how to manage the slopes. But a shortage of fuel forced us to head back for Solan and halt for the night.

The next morning, we decided to head straight for Dehra Dun, skipping Simla. The roads were smooth, the scenery breath-taking. There was just a handful of towns on the way, where people would wave us through. The lunch stop meant stuffed parathas and anda-bhujia, hot chai and photographs. Soon we also had to stop as the brakes on one of the bikes were giving trouble. We were riding non-stop on the twists and turns of the Ghats, but at sundown, we were still quite far from Dehra Dun. Then, my synthetic muffler got stuck in the back wheel, melting partially in the heat and getting jammed. We had to park and painstakingly remove the bits in the dark. By the time we reached our night halt, it was 2 am.

We took our vehicles to the Royal Enfield workshop at Dehra Dun, where we were told that it would take the rest of the day to complete repairs. By 7 pm, the bikes were ready for the road. We set out, deciding to cover as much ground as possible. By midnight, having travelled around 150 km, we spotted a dhaba where we had dinner, and stayed the night at the dharamshala next door.

At daybreak, we set out for Lucknow. It proved to be an easy and safe route, and we reached our next stop by 7 pm. We touched base at the Action Aid office, supporters for the trip. The next day was to be our first day of fund-raising. Though some were hostile to our cause, most at the Hazrat Ganj market were curious and some even contributed. The next day, we were back on the highway, headed for Patna. This stretch had some off-road riding in store for us. We were behind schedule, due to the repair stops, so we just stayed the night at Patna, leaving for Ranchi the next morning.

A splash of cold water woke me up the next morning, with Solomon deciding to take the last resort in the difficult task of getting me out of bed. The road was bad, as was the light, but we got some work in when we had to stop at a railway crossing. We gave out pamphlets, generating some excitement. We were warned not to ride at night, so we found hot food and khatiyas at a dhaba. The safety factor while travelling through Bihar was something we had been warned about. So we slept in shifts, though as the youngest of the group, I was instructed to get as much shut-eye as possible.

At 5 am, there was still a fair amount of fog, but we had a deadline to meet. Joy’s bike was giving trouble again, so he and Solomon had to stay back to get it fixed, while Chandan and I rode ahead to make it in time for a press conference at Ranchi. The others finally joined us in the evening, and we decided to get some rest and leave for Calcutta at 2 am. But a flat tyre held us up on the road again. By the time we hit BT Road, it was afternoon. We were cruising along, till the road suddenly narrowed to a single lane, where other drivers were merrily taking the wrong side!

With my ‘A’ Level exams coming up, I could not continue with the group beyond this. So I headed back to Salt Lake, as the rest of the gang headed for Bhubaneshwar, an official photographer short.

But it had been quite a ride, under the shelter of the sky.


Screen time

Movies with a message was the motto at the fifth film festival organised by the Calcutta University Students’ Union Central Standing Committee from March 20 to 22 at Nandan. Pro vice-chancellor Suranjan Das, who inaugurated the event, stressed the need for screenings as a voice of protest against war.

The Nandan campus was teeming with students from various departments of the university to catch the action, including Mammo and Suraj ka Sathwa Ghora, Goopi Bhagha Phire Elo and Titash Ekti Nadir Naam. Documentaries such as My Lenin, Puruliar Chou and Nagarik and crowd-pullers like Deepa Mehta’s Bollywood Hollywood shared screen space.

While union reps believe entertainment is a good way of promoting principles and ideologies, the students’ enthusiasm on getting a chance to see good cinema is what has kept the festival going into its fifth year.

— Srinwanti Das,

IInd year, Jadavpur University.


Top grooming gear

The hall at the MDB Airport Hotel was filled to capacity. At some of the tables, executives in formals lent a business-meet look. But most of the chairs were filled by young things in T-shirts or tank tops.

Holding court at the soft skills workshop, organised by Aria Finishing School, was actress-VJ Ruby Bhatia. “Do not get overawed by the status of the person you are speaking to. Treat them as equals,” was her advice to the teens. Even Ruby got an attack of nerves on receiving an invitation to Pratiksha, the Big B’s home, for a Holi party. “A senior artiste told me if I gush and gape like a fan, Bachchan saab would treat me like one. Instead, I should behave like a colleague in the industry,” she recalled.

Then participants Priyam, a Class VIII student, and Sangeeta, a B.Com fresher, had the audience in splits with their enactment of a scene in an aircraft, where one “passenger” could not keep her mouth shut. “It is also important to learn how to say ‘no’,” added Ruby. Beauty tips and diet charts had the class buzzing with suggestions, followed by silence when all present were asked to list their own strengths and weaknesses.

For the diffident and the celeb-happy alike, the day-long course was a success. Enthused by the response, the finishing school is planning on holding such workshops more frequently.


Tribute to scholar

A national seminar on ‘Thoughts and works of Gopinath Bhattacharya’ was organised by the department of philosophy, Jadavpur University, starting March 25. The two-day meet hosted delegates from across the country. The focus was the scholar and professor’s work in relation to “individual enlightenment and rational development”. Teachers from Calcutta University, Lady Brabourne College, Rabindra Bharati University and Madras University were among the speakers.

The philosopher’s students, many of whom have made a mark of their own, shared their memories of the legendary educator.

Anisha Baksi,

PG II, Jadavpur University.


Canvas call

Intersect, a youth forum, invites participants for an art workshop, entitled Canvas, on issues involving working children. Works of young artists on the theme will be exhibited at Oxford Bookstore on April 27, ahead of Anti-Child Labour Day on April 30.

Intersect is closely associated with the ECPAT International’s youth network and Sanlaap, an NGO. The youth platform aims to promote social awareness and encourage children to speak out about their problems and suggestions. Projects involving theatre and visual arts, like photography and painting, conceived by members aged between 14 and 24 years, are to find the spotlight.

All those interested can call Sangeet Shirodkar, Asian Youth Representative, ECPAT International, at 3103-9103 or Sanlaap at 24649596.


Community service

The Award Holder’s Association and the East Zone Award Authority, International Award for Young People, India, are organising a fundraiser, a musical evening at Swabhumi, The Heritage Plaza, on April 4, 2003. The performers for the evening will be Orient Express and Shayne Hyrapiet. The proceeds from the event will go towards education of underprivileged students. The International Award for Young People, India, aims at encouraging, motivating and providing opportunities to the youth to make the most productive use of their time and serve the community.

nPuja awards: The second Parle Saraswati Vandana Awards will be given out on April 4, 2003, at Nazrul Mancha, from 5.30 pm. The inter-school contest recognises the efforts of schools for Saraswati Puja celebrations. The pujas are judged on the basis of the idol, audience, ambience, discipline, devotion, decoration by students and overall appeal.

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