Life is different in hostel. Though I have been a day scholar (as it is called) throughout my college life, most of my bosom friends used to stay in the hostel at Linton Street, Park Circus. That’s why I was acquainted to hostel life to some extent. Whether it was pre-fest night or post fest afternoon, the night before Saraswati Puja or any friend’s birthday party, I used to search for a reason to stay in the hostel. Another thing for which I can still remember those days are the maal parties. We had two places to booze. One was Sam’s room, another was hostel’s terrace. I vividly remember the ecstasy of those adda sessions with glasses in our hand. But its not the story I am gonna tell you today, its a different one.
In college we used to do many things in groups like joining the gym or going to swimming classes etc. It was same for us in case of buying our motorcycles too. So it was a matter of 3 – 4 months when leaving a couple of people we all had our own motorcycles in our group. After having our bikes the very next thing that came to our mind was a road trip. But long trip was not possible because that would had been stamped rejected by our parents. So we started planning for a short one. Meanwhile a few days had passed. During this time one of our learned friends gave an one liner which struck us really hard and made us fall in love with it. It was bike – beer – biriyani. The magic of this trio is only to be experienced, I have no words to explain it. So it was one such night when I was staying in the hostel after my crappy hospital duties, sipping my bottle of Carlsberg in Sam’s room being comfortably numb. It was almost 10 o’clock then when suddenly, as usual, everyone in that room felt like having biriyani (remember the one liner?). So two of our bikes roared with their riders on and within half an hour we were having the famous biriyani from Arsalan. After our dinner was over we were all ready for our second round of beer when suddenly Kuntal started talking about ‘that’ bike trip. You can understand that by then we all were a bit charged up by the previous bottle of beer and a packet of biriyani. So it took us hardly half an hour to finish the bottle in our hand and put on our helmets. It was 12 when we started our nocturnal bike ride – 5 bikes carrying 7 drunk docs.
Calcutta at 12 is a beauty to watch. Empty streets, mad dogs, yellow lights, mild breeze and our bikes. We were flying then. We took the A. J. C. Bose Road flyover to rev our babies a bit hard. It was there that for the first time I touched the triple digit magic numbers in the speedometer. After getting down from the bridge we turned right to take a halt on the red road to see everyone was coming and found Soumitra alias Bantu was missing. So we all got down from our bikes, few went to pee, a couple lighted cigarettes and Rupak rang Bantu. But he didn’t pick up his phone. After waiting for 10 minutes out there we saw the glaring headlight of a bike approaching us, and yes it was bantu coming our way. After that we got bad mouthed by him for another 5 mins for not letting him know the rasta and when we hit the road again it was 12:30. We followed the road to Eden Gardens, gave some flying kisses to the epitome of cricket in Kolkata as we passed by and after a while stopped outside Princeps Ghat.
We all walked the road to the ghat, crossed the Princeps Ghat station of Circular Rail and at last caught a glimpse of the river through the thick embracing darkness and trees. The ghat was dark and desolate. 4 – 5 steps were peeping out of the water. We scattered and sat on the steps and the ground. The only source of light was that coming from the Vidyasagar Setu. Their reflection in the water looked like as if someone had stirred the lights in the water of Hooghly. The only sound was the sound of the water splashing the banks and the steps. No there was another sound. It was the distant sound of the oars, cutting the water, of a small boat coming our way. We sat there motionless looking at the vast expanse of the river feeling the heavenly silence of the place. It was so different from any other night. After half an hour Sam broke the silence and reminded us of our pending bike trip. So we once again took our helmets, looked at the river, over expanded our lungs with the fresh air and turned to the place we had kept our bikes. We started again for the rest of our ride when the watch was clicking 1:30.