In the shadow of the BSNL tower

The first thing that strikes you as you reach Waknaghat is the BSNL tower standing majestically on the hill. Going past all inhabited areas delving deep into the mountains looking around to catch a glimpse of the university. Fondly referred to only as “Jaypee” by the students and locals alike, the Jaypee University of Information Technology can be seriously labeled as ‘jungle mein mangal’, for kilometers around theres is nothing but mountains, the green grass and trees. It’s a wonder to see the superbly constructed buildings, the magnificent mess, hundreds of computers, a helipad, v-sat and R-F linkages, big lecture theatres and wide hallways right in the middle of “nowhere”.

I stayed an year at Waknaghat and that time is indelible in my mind. It was the first time that I was supposed to stay in a hostel and the frantic shopping trips by mummy and my sister, gathering everything right from quilts to buckets took time and finally the night of departure came, 28th July 2002. The hot and humid carriage of Kalka Mail took us to Kalka at 5 AM, where we alighted, catching a bus from Gandhi Chowk for the onward journey to Waknaghat. Sitting amongst the many bags and hold-alls of the passengers, I finally found a seat next to a jawan of the Indian Army. Speeding confidently on the highway, the bus took us out of Kalka, beyond the BHEL complex at Parwanoo and up to the grand mountains of Himachal- a state made up entirely of mountains.

Watching the mountains roll by from the window was pure ecstasy for a teenager who had never lived outside Delhi. Staring wide-eyed at the maze of water pipes and thick black electric cables running alongside the road, staring at the vegetation and wondering what these four years would hold for my future. We passed the “Timber Trail Resort”, me trying to find the end of the ropeway going up into the mountains and disappearing into the morning mist. I remember thinking that the climb seemed to be very steep, but after my subsequent trips it didn’t seem so anymore. Even though the bus was crowded, but the gentle rocking motion was very soothing and the jawan next to me began to talk.

He asked me where I was from and why was I going to the hills. Upon learning that I was going to Waknaghat with the noble intention of the pursuit of knowledge, he advised me to study hard and bring prosperity to India, and to stay away from Himachali girls – as they happen to be too attractive. We reached Dharampur where we halted for a break, by this time, the dawn was breaking and everything looked different in the light. I took deep breaths and lets the pleasantly cool air assimilate in my lungs {I still miss that cold air}. The journey resumed after a 10 minute break. And we went on and on, past the hills, past the people, rolling along the endless mountainside, climbing higher and higher.

I caught the first glimpse of JUIT from the bus right after we rounded the Times of India Holiday Inn. Waknaghat was not what we expected. It was too small. An open backed Tata-Mobile took us to The University. The helipad….. It was the first time that I had seen a helipad so close. JUIT was a unique experience, I long for it everyday of my life. The freshers party was a wonder, we were the only ones there being the first batch, but we had a ball. The trips to Shimla, sitting around the town hall at the mall. Bunking classes and visiting Kufri at the first snow and having snowfights. Openly flouting the uniform rule each and every day. Going for a walk to Waknaghat in the pitch dark hours of 2 AM and returning frightened after finding 2 shining eyes of a jackal staring back. Lying down at the helipad and staring at the countless millions of stars at 3:30 AM, troubling the washerman- T.C.Bharti by bringing in clothes dirtier than ever before. Running into the kitchen at every lunch and dinner to get chapattis right off the tava. Inspecting the Jaiprakash Industries helicopter Gangaputra at 4 AM. Chatting long hours deep into the night with new friends. Running off to Shimla on every Saturday, after classes. Troubling Puneet Sir and Sinha Sir for net access. Sleeping right through the electronics practicals every Thursday and then being scolded by Jyostna ma’am. My life changed. I was dependent only on myself for my own survival.

The fest: a major turning point for me, that masti and the great time, dancing late into the night with the girls…… Going through the grueling choreography session of “Mohabbat Kar Le Re” That time was different and I miss all that. After my transfer to JIIT-Noida in the second year, life has changed, college life is tasteless. I had the chance of visiting Waknaghat again during the 2004 fest, and meeting all my friends. One of the best things was the mess….. the glass walls that look right out into the valleys.


~ by sleepwalker on May 29, 2005.

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