LAKKUNDI RURAL STUDY TRIP (BATCH 2013-2015)

It was past noon. February the 9th, 2015. Was it excitement or tension..? I couldn´t say! But whatever it was, it lit the air around with hyper activeness as everyone busily buzzed around with last minute packing, ticking their ´things-that-you´ve-got-to-have´ checklist, pre-trip selfies and some, walking ´to and fro´ with glum expressions on their faces, questioning "are we really gona sit and draft there?!?.. Should I really carry my T-scale and board all the way!" We, the 2013 batch of Mcgans, stood at the brink of the most awaited experience of the semester, still clueless about all the unforgettable moments, amazing events, vivid experiences and horrible and tiresome incidences that laid awaiting in store for us in the Gadag district of Karnataka.

As we gathered at the Perar junction with a truck-load of baggage, T-scales and drafting boards, waiting to board the bus, I couldn´t help but think how exactly one year back, I watched my seniors go for their rural study and work on their village survey sheets, and wondered when I would reach the same point and how would i make it through.. Time swished past faster than a freefall and there I was boarding the bus to do our own village survey. After all the hustle and bustle of catching the window seat, settling down next to your best friend and the repeated number of headcounts, FINALLY the engine of the S.E.T.C bus roared into life with all the whistles and howls of the students and we made the first mile of our Rural Study trip! As we make our way through the winding roads, the dry lifeless yet splendidly tall towering trees, wildlife reserves, the dusk set in and all the initial enthusiasm slowly ebbed away, with some of us staring blankly out the window with their earphones on, other drooling and dozing off, a few playing a game of cards and some still dedicatedly posing for photos.

At the end of the night long bus journey, we reached the premises of the Mysore railway station where we were divided into groups to board the compartments, given our train tickets accordingly, lectured on having dinner quickly and making it back on time to the train plus the ´usual´ additional note on ´proper behavioural code´. It was the first train travel as a batch together and for a few, it was their very first time on a train as well and it was as overwhelmingly exciting as it sounds! Having boarded the train to hubli, regardless of the tiring day of bus travel we had and a hectic schedule awaiting the next day, the compartments filled with the Mcgans batch were still echoing with chit chats, laughter, yells, music, chorus singing and howling which soon died along with the night only for us to wake up to witness the beauty of the dawn breaking into vast fields of cotton plantations, the sound of the train´s whistle as it sped, the cold breeze hitting our faces and the voices of the vendors yelling "kaapi.. 10 rupee bru kaapi.."

On reaching the Hubli railway station, we lethargically got down and dragged our tired selves along with our luggage and drove our way a 1 hour journey to Gadag, the place that housed us for the next ten days. Stepping down from the bus, as our gaze fell on the three star hotel, our excitements ran equally high as our tiredness. Gadag, a dusty dry city where may be a person who prefers to live life with minimum comforts and just the bare necessities would love to stay!.. And our three star hotel- Keshav clark´s Inn, stood unrelated to, and differentiated from the rest of its dull and rusty surroundings, And THAT was Our very first day at Gadag, Our first day of Rural study! After the hasty freshen-Ups and gulping down some quick breakfast, we assembled at the lobby, hopped onto the bus and made our first visit to the site- the lakkundi village, a 20 minutes drive from Gadag.

First day at the village, as we roamed under the scorching sun, familiarizing every part of village allocated to each group, much did we notice us being followed by curious little children whispering and giggling amongst themselves and shy faces peeping out from the corners of the houses. With the heat of the lakkundi sun at the zenith and sweat trickling down my back, dipped in SPF 50 sun block and wrapped around from head to toe to escape the wrath of the sun, it became our daily routine of venturing into the village with measuring tapes, umbrellas, back packs filled with water bottles, sketch books and stationaries determined to accomplish our daily action plan.

The first day of our rural study felt like a game of treasure hunt, as we split ourselves in groups with the village map in each of our hands, hunting for boundary lines, marking and differentiating each landmark and house from another. With the pressure of completing the documentation works each day went more hectic than the previous one. Tensions ran high as we inched closer to the last day, keeping in mind all the left out chunk of our mission yet to be completed. But nevertheless, Everyday as the dusk sets in, a sense of relief comes along as we leave the site, all tanned and tired, walking all the way back to the bus to board to our hotel rooms with the thought of a warm soothing shower and some delicious dinner on our minds.

As welcoming as the cozy and comfy beds of our three star hotel looked for us, the ones with sore feet from walking all over the village, with sun-burnt skin and a heavy head ache after a busy day at the site, The fear of reviews and markings kept us up all night and gave us the strength to say "dear cozy bed, No thank you.. I´ve got lots to complete!" Every night after dinner, starting from 10pm to sometimes as long as 7am the next day, All the groups took turns, stayed awake and had their reviews and markings for their progress and on-site works accordingly, with the hotel lobby´s and corridors filled with students, some tensed up, half awake and half asleep, sitting and drafting 3 AM in the morning, while some screaming, "HURRY UP!, WAKE HER UP!!.. Our group is going next for the review" or "DAMN IT! I can´t find our butter sheets!" With all the screwing up, the disappointments, the approvals and appreciations we got from our faculties...

AS hectic and tiresome as all this sounds, We´ve had the best of our times too!!.. The unforgettable and funny experiences of trying to communicate in Kannada with the locals of the village, the kind invite-overs and the yummy local food served to us by the people of lakkundi village, the Throbbing DJ nights organized by the hotel for the Mcgans students, the countless selfies, Being attacked by a mob of children every day at the site cashing you for chocolates, pens and pencils, And our great site seeing trip to Hampi, Badami, Pattadakkal and Aihole and enjoying the scenic wonders and the ancient tales of these gem of historic places! Our Rural Study was a wholesome and an Overwhelming experience and today looking back at those photos, remembering those hectic yet fun filled days of our ten day village survey brings back smiles to our faces.