The Great Escape - Part II
The story continues as promised...
Location - 1st floor, H-8, Tagore Bhavan, SVNIT.
Time - 05.20 am
Situation: Perky. Feeble light starts pouring into the corridors of H-8, stimulating rays of hope among those students who are awake. Encouragingly,other students start rising from their troubled slumber( power is still out... the Quitoes as bloodthirsty as ever). There's more company to look forward to. Nonetheless the hostel seems to be shrouded with dismay. I seem to have overpowered my sleepiness just for the occasion. A few of my friends arise from their siesta and we decide(yet again!) to begin another sojourn to the college gate(if feasible!)
Location - Shit Zone, SVNIT.
Time - 06.00 am
Situation: Desperate. The word used before could be used for the following two cases. 1) The water seems desperate to engulf our college. Shit Zone too has been encroached. The water seems to be flowing at a menacingly rapid pace. It would be only a matter of hours before rescue operations were required( I was day-dreaming about the Army trying to rescue me from the perils of the floods!!).
2) Me and 2 of my friends who set on this sojourn somehow make it up to the staff club without many qualms. A few metres ahead all that we could see was water. The road was nowhere to be seen. But a few people(not students) were spotted trying to move upto the Gate for reasons i couldnt comprehend. These people though werent getting wet simply because they were doing heroics on the median-like structure that separates the main road into 2 lanes. The median is about a metre wide with plants grown in the centre flanked by bricks 1 layer wide. It does take some skill to walk on this 1 brick layer particularly in this situation because there is water(intimidatingly dirty!) on one side and wet soil on the other. The very thought of walking on it seemed revolting to me but my adventurous pals decided to brave the difficulties and we set off despite a reluctant me, DESPERATE to retreat to safer grounds!!!
The walk along the path, as i would put it wasnt without a fair share of thrill. My 2 friends set the pace and i trudged along behind them with a remorseful look. Add to this, 2 dogs coming right behind me( They were not particularly ferocious ones... But i abhor dogs!!) Thankfully people coming from the other side shooed the dogs away. My concentration powers were seemingly at their peak for if i were to put even one foot wrong, things would become nasty(nothing life threatenin of course... but still very nasty... not to mention very dirty!) . As we went forward we noticed that the water was so high that it had even covered the median at 1 point. At this juncture we decided that enough is enough and made our journey back to the staff club. In the end, it proved to be an adventure without many mishaps!!!
Location - AG - 14, H-8, SVNIT.
Time - 06.30 am
Situation: Drab. The hostel isnt exactly buzzing with activity but more doors are open. Many more students are awake now. But its very much early morning blues for most of them. I was bored to the core. I took a bath and lied down to get some well-deserved sleep!!!
Location - Ground Floor, H-8, SVNIT.
Time - 08.30 am
Situation: Irritating. Some idiot(could be one of my friends'!!!) banged on the door without any remorse thereby arousing me from paradise(now... paradise lost!). I didnt exactly arise with a start. It was some time before i actually realized that someone was banging on the door. Once i opened the door the very scene that greeted me was mind-blowing. Every soul in the hostel seemed to be awake. And there were groups of students occupying every inch of the corridors. I couldnt understand for a wee bit of time, what was going on. Then came the enlightening! The water levels had swelled and the water had in fact reached upto a point where the hostel entrance was just a few feet away from the onrushing water. It was just plain scary to think of the rate at which the water had been engulfing the college!
Location - Ground Floor, H-8, SVNIT.
Time - 08.45 am
Situation: Brainstorming. The cell phones kept ringing. Anxious parents calling their wards to enquire about the prevailing conditions. There were rumors of chest high water near the Main Gate. Scores of students could be seen packing there bags with whatever stuff available in the vicinity of their hands. Some of them set on their journey back home. The only viable option of getting out of the college was the Gate at the posterior end of the college. The Main Gate could no longer be treaded upon. My fellow Chennaiites were undecided upon the further course of action. There were all sorts of suggestions and arguments to support them but nothing seemed to be concrete. This pointless banter went on and on and on without any sort of solution coming!
Location - Mess, H-8,SVNIT.
Time - 10.00 am
Situation: Hungry. Suddenly people realize that they are hungry(I had been hungry for a long time!!) and the mess bell rings to everyone's relief! The mess manager assures that this is the last meal they will provide as the water supply has been cut off!!! People start to panic more, the phones continue to keep ringing, the students continue to keep leaving!! But we, the Chennaiites(the Tamils actually!) continue to maintain the position of confusion and entropy.
Location - Ground Floor, H-8, SVNIT.
Time - 10.30 a.m
Situation: Out of Control. We the Tamils are still in a state of delirium(a strong word!!), as the water keeps coming towards to the hostel. The entrance to H-8 has 7 or 8 steps to climb before we get into the hostel and the water has already come as far as the 1st step. Time seems to be running out. At long last a decision is made by us, the Tamils. We decide to set forth to Bombay(a decision taken despite the floods in Bombay too!!). There are lots of things to be done before we can actually set forth(especially for ground floorers like me.. it meant shifting all my things to the 1st floor!!).
Location - Entrance, H - 8, SVNIT.
Time - 11.30 am.
Situation: Thrilling. After much deliberations our decision came and it would prove to be a quotable case of a stitch in time saves nine!!! We set off on our voyage(literally... wading through the waters!!!) to get off the college campus. News had come in that the posterior Gate was the only way to get out of the campus. So we the Tamils( with the Mallus and a few Kannadigas too!!) started a perilous walk in the water. The straight forward route was via Hostels 1, 2 and 3 but as we could see the water along this road was at least thigh high, climbing upto the waist at certain points. Hence we decided to take a longer route around the Shit Zone, Canteen, H-5,H-6 and SAC. At this juncture there was another turning point. Some of the guys came to the conclusion that the journey out of college would be a wasteful exercise and returned to the hostel. There were also rumors that since Bombay too was reeling under floods, trains were being cancelled etc. But we the Tamils stuck to our decision to get out of the college and braved the rumors, the waters, the wildlife in the water which included snakes, spiders, insects and other 6 to 8 legged horrifying creatures!! The road to safety, in our minds was just a few hundred metres away set with a series of obstacles though.
Location - Away from Perdition, Behind SVNIT.
Time - 12.30 pm
Situation: Nonplussed. Just as we were leaving the campus we were greeted by the cameras and a guy holding a mike talking about the floods in Surat. The reception was not what we expected. We were curious for a few minutes and we wished for a few seconds in the silver screen. But it didnt turn out that way and we set off for the original and primary goal... SURAT RAILWAY STATION.
The adventure comes to an end here... All of us who set off from the college that day made it to our respective homes within the next 24 hours or so... It was the first time i( many others too) had experienced floods in my life and it is one experience i will never forget... It will remain a cherished memory forever in the annals of time!!!
Thanks for reading through.....