Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bliss Point 2009

Blisspoint. That’s the name of an annual economics summit at the Sri Venkateshwara College, Delhi University. 2009 saw this economics fest going international. Amidst a multitude of obstacles, I finally made it to the summit, held at the capital of my country.

Me, Shauvik of my class, and Saugata from Bidhannagar College, left Kolkata on the Purva Express on the morning of 25th October. The journey was pretty uneventful, because all of us were busy preparing for the events to come, doing the 11th hour quick-reads, discussing potential questions for the quizzes, and topics for the debates. Shauvik had done his Plus Two from Delhi, but he hardly remembered anything, Saugata had been to Delhi as a child and for me, it was my first time to Delhi, and my first out-station trip sans parents! The excitement brimming, we reached Delhi on 26th morning. The host college had sent a guy called Rishi to receive us at the New Delhi Main Station. He had to pay a fine of 250rs for not buying a platform ticket. I had to pay a fine of 200rs for smoking. Welcome to Delhi.

We were taken to the International Youth Hostel at Chanakya Puri by Rishi, where we bought our accommodation-cum-food for the next four days with a meager 400 bucks. Not to mention that all our transportation costs were being borne by Sri Venkateshwara College itself! The hostel was, well, good enough. We were given dormitories, where we had to share everything with 6 other people. We spent the rest of 26th October with a friend of mine, who took us to Connaught Place, Janpath, Palika Bazaar, Chadni Chowk, Red Fort and India Gate. It was Monday, and unfortunately for us, visitors are not allowed inside the Red Fort on Mondays. Exhausted, we returned to our hostel late at night, and had a good night’s sleep.

The next day, we were taken to the college, from the hostel in plush Tata Innova cars. The event was kick started by the inaugural speeches of some Economics-Eminent people from the Delhi University. Sustainable development, as usual (since the last few years) was announced as the theme for the entire fest. The first event was Quiz. Me and Shauvik got kicked out in the very first round. Of course, we ought to say this in self-defense that there were 60 teams, from which only 8 teams qualified for the final round. Next came the barter system event called Horse Trade, which resembled a fish market scene. Teams were given a certain amount of one unique item and a list of items that they had to acquire by the end of the event, all by bartering. I regret not participating in it. Saugata from BNC had formed a team with the delegates from Bangladesh (Khaled and Himadri) to participate in it. I missed participating in the Essay writing and Debate competitions, because their times coincided with the first round of the quiz. I hope our college sends a larger team next year, so that such “losses” don’t recur.

Lunch was buffet, and food was quite ok. We left the college premises, and went shopping with Praveen from Secundrabad, and three people from Indonesia. Two of them are Subri and Yanki; I didn’t get the third person’s name. We returned late that night too, and had a good night’s sleep again. For me, it’s strange, since I had turned completely nocturnal thanks to college life.

On 28th October, we had the interesting most event of the fest, Model United Nations. I was representing Viet Nam, and I had a lot to say. But I didn’t have enough data to prove my points, so I left it after the first session. To describe MUN, I would need two whole pages, so it’s best I leave it for verbal communication!

I missed participating in the Economic Quest event, though I had prepared a presentation from home for the same. But it came of some use, since I lent it to my Bhutanese friends, who had qualified for the first round. Other events that day were the Panel Discussion by DU professors. The most interesting speech was that of the NREGA Act.

Later that day, we went to the North campus of the Delhi University (our host college is in the South campus) and then to Kamala Nagar, the adjacent market. We had tandoori momos (first time heard of it that day!) and my friends pierced their left ears.

On 29th October, we attended a movie screening by the Greenpeace environmental agency. The name of the movie was “The Age Of Stupid”; it was a documentary based on climate change. My friends left it mid-way, but it had glued me to the screen. The facts like that of the Shell Company robbing Nigeria of its oil resources, and systematically impoverishing the natives was too hard to ignore!

Then we had the event Ad-Mad, whose tagline was “You have to be mad to make our ads!” Products like color-changing shampoos, vodka-flavored milk etc were given. I got photographic memory lenses. I still don’t know how I could have done it better, but out of the 40 teams that competed, I wasn’t selected for the top 8. I agree I wasn’t mad enough!

After that, Shauvik was with the Bangladesh people, distributing some book by a certain Vikas Vij, whose publisher is based in Dhaka. Saugata and me confirmed our return tickets and lazed around for some time. The concluding cultural evening started around 7pm with a Kathyak dance by Arushi of Sri Venkateshwara College itself. It was followed by some classical numbers, which were so intensely performed that it brought me to tears! All the international delegates performed too. Sri Lankan people did a strange dance in which the girl was dressed as a monkey! (I thought they hated hanumans!) The Bhutanese did a slow rhythmic dance. Subri from Indonesia played a kind of flute which, he said, they play at marriages! One of the Pakistanis did a musical piece for us! Our Bangladeshi friend sang an Indian number by Babul Supriyo. The Venkies (as they call themselves) performed a few awesome numbers, one of them being a song whose background score was performed by the vocal chords of the students themselves!

That was followed by a banquet dinner, whose dessert consisted of the best chocolate brownie I ever tasted! We were given Blisspoint t-shirts, certificates and medals after the dinner. Few of us went back to the hostel; others went to Smriti Iyer’s house (the president of the Economics Association of Venky) for a “party”. I don’t regret missing it as I heard, later, that the alcohol provided was too less!

On 30th morning, we checked out of the hostel. I met another friend of mine, and all of us together had lunch at McD’s at CP. Then Saugata and I boarded the train back to Kolkata, at 4:20pm. Shauvik said he’ll go to Chandigarh.

Blisspoint 2009 is certainly one of the best things that have happened to me in a long time!


Sayak said...

Quite an eventful week you had out there.It's good,but it made me miss Delhi,the youth hostel,chocolate brownies,CP,everything...

T. Mukherjee said...

Hmm. I should have blocked the user Sayak Shome from reading it!

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