by Pushpa Raghuram
(Bangalore, Karnataka, India)
Back to page 1 of Excursion Matters
The trio had a good laugh at the blushing Elizabeth. They had not been able to do justice to the essay they had to write after their return. Especially Elizabeth! She bent her head in embarrassment in history class, when she was asked about Vasco da Gama. The seashells- white and brown ones, small and big ones, she had collected and brought from all the beaches were staring at her from her desk drawer.
Jasmine’s educational tour with her college mates was even more challenging. The tour covered three states, the well-known Karnatak University in Dharwad, brand new Osmania University in Hyderabad and the old SNDT college in Bombay. The fee was Rs. 2,500/-, distance to be covered around 1250 k.m. And 12 days long unlike that of Elizabeth’s two day outing to Goa.
Getting money from her mother was easy. But to get an okay from her father appeared like a herculean task. He being a Bank Manager had contacted his colleagues in all the states. Only after getting a commitment from them that they would take care of her daughter, whenever she was in their State, he put his signature on her Approval form.
Jasmine had sighed with relief and had hoped that they did not bother her too much while following her Dad’s instructions. Elizabeth remembered Mr.Shenoy, Jasmine’s dad’s colleague, who had joined the girls when they went shopping in Mathunga, Bombay. He always had a comment to make on anything they wanted to pick up. He had not allowed them to buy even little trinkets, which they had fallen in love with at first sight. The girls were so up set with Jasmine that, they did not speak to her, till the uncle treated them generously to three or four varieties of chaat at Juhu beach. The girls later bonded again over a session of Anthakshari on the train.
Jahnavi excused herself, since her mobile started ringing (Pyar kiya to darna kya blared as the ringtone). Janaki and Elizabeth started giggling like teenage girls. Janhavi could not take the call in peace. She hushed them both and started speaking, rather listening. The call was a long one. The food on her plate turned cold. Others got their dessert and she was still hanging on to the phone. After a good quarter hour, she bade farewell to the person on line and turned to
her friends. All the three were waiting for her, at the end of their patience.
The call was from her sister, who was talking to her about her daughter’s proposed excursion of the 12th Standard students from the school. She asked them all to guess the excursion destination. “Simla? Mount Abu? Agra?” No. Their guess was nowhere near the place Jahnavi’s school management had planned for them.
It was NASA’s head quarters in Washington D.C.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration in North America was the chosen destination for their school’s educational tour.
“Incredible” said Janaki.
“It is so far!” stammered Jasmine.
“What, travelling to another continent for a picnic!” exclaimed Elizabeth.
“Crossing the continent?” What do you mean? It is overseas travel, I mean crossing seven seas. Janaki started counting the seven seas on her fingers “ Arctic, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans. Seven Seas lie between India and North America.” Geography had been Janaki’s favorite subject in school. Jasmine looked at her appreciatively.
Janhavi continued to talk about the telecon with her sister. Her sister wanted to dissuade her daughter from going to America, since everything about the destination was beyond her imagination, the distance, the duration and the expenses to be incurred for that.
Janaki wished sincerely that Janhavi’s niece found someone like her grandmother, who would suggest “Guliga kalam” to get the approval from her parents to go to NASA. Janaki believed that letting children travel was the best way of to educate them.
Elizabeth suddenly realized that the waiter was waiting at the table with a bill folder in his hand. It was way past his lunchtime. Poor guy.
Janhavi was already with her sister mentally.
The other ladies had had delicious food and also food for thought on the way back to their homes.
They had to fix a destination for their next get together: not too far (preferably within 65 k.m. from their homes), not too time consuming to travel to the destination itself, not too crowded, not too expensive, most importantly the food they can get there ought not to be too spicy, too tangy, too sweet etc.
As they discussed, each had to get out at their respective homes. Each of them now recharged to take over their duties at home ASAP. Janaki was the last one to get down and had the longest time to ponder about excursion matters. ****