Back in 1997, age 21, I had joined NIIT for a two year course (Diploma in Computer Science). I really enjoyed my time spent there and I had a bunch of friends who made life enjoyable during those years. The course was separated into 4 semesters and I would change batches after my first semester, 6 months after I joined due to a medical reason for which I needed a little over a month’s time to recover from. The first group of people I spent my 1st semester with were really fun to be around and although I didn’t know it when I changed batches, I would make friends with an even more appropriate & fun loving group of people but I still remember the members of the first batch with fondness. We were 9 guys and 3 girls in the batch. Just as the semester was ending we decided that we wanted to go on a trip. NIIT would arrange a vehicle for us and book a place for us to stay during our trip. Joining us was the young female faculty member who taught our batch and a clerk / office peon. As per policy they had to send him because the faculty member was a lady.
So we decided to go to Kodaikannal (a hill station) in Tamil Nadu for a 2 day stay. We were to leave on a Thursday evening and reach Kodaikannal early Friday morning and return back home on Saturday morning, reaching Cochin in the night. By 4pm we had all gathered at Ravipuram and waited for the 16 seater tempo traveler to reach the institute. We had a couple of bottles of brandy & two huge bottle of coke being chilled in a freezer belonging to a shop right next to the institute. Before we left Ravipuram, one of the guys whose name was Sreehari (I think) said that he wanted to try some brandy as he had never had any till them and was quite excited. He had a little in the cap of the bottle – and he didn’t speak to us for the rest of the duration! I have never seen anyone have this extreme a reaction to a bit of alcohol! Not one word did he speak till the next Monday! Anyways, we left Ravipuram at 6pm and the guys minus 2 (Sree Hari and my buddy Prince, who didn’t like alcohol) started drinking at the back of the van. We left the 4 ladies in the front and mixed the brandy & coke in huge glasses and were quite smashed by the time we reached Thrissur (almost 2 hours later) where we stopped for dinner.
At the hotel, 4 of us made a beeline for the bar and had a couple of pints of beer each and then joined the rest for dinner. We were having a gala time but by 10pm most of us were sleeping in the van, effects of the drinks. A romance blossomed between a guy & a girl that last the duration of the weekend I managed to sleep for a couple of hours but was mostly content to go up front and sit with Prince and chat or look out the window. Prince was the designated treasurer of the group and he sat in the passenger seat up front with the driver on our way to Kodaikannal and back. We reached our rented rooms in a cottage ( 2 rooms for the guys and 1 for the girls) at around 7 am and went in for cold showers and shaves and brushing of teeth. We had breakfast at the cottage and then set out for sightseeing and rides (boat rides, horse rides). We stopped for lunch and tea and by 6pm we also bought a couple of more bottles of brandy and some beer.
At night at the cottage, we had secured some firewood for a nice campfire kinda atmosphere. Food was provided by the cottage cooks – porotta & some veggie stew – and the guys drank and sang and we had some games. By 10pm the girls were tired but 4 of us guys stayed back and joined a group of 3 men from Kottayam who shared our campfire and in return they gave us some of their food which was fried chicken and beef if I remember correctly. By 12 even we were too pooped out to party anymore and we retired to our rooms and the next morning it felt like there was a Slayer concert playing in my head – moshpit and the works!! We went for some more sight seeing and then made the way back to Cochin with beer drinking in the van. On the way a bunch of us did puke – not due to the drinking but due to the effect of driving down the slopes & turns of the road. I reached home at around 11pm, changed my clothes and took a long shower and then slept for a long time, maybe 9 or 10 hours. On Monday we all reached NIIT with big smiles on our faces.
I took a lot of photos but remember this was 1997 and I didn’t have anything scanned at that time. I would get them scanned a couple of years later but I lost most of them and only found a couple. The pic below is of some of us sitting near the campfire. Great memories.