Saturday, November 17, 2007
The Chronicles Of Cassini's - The Oriya Complex
The date: 4th November, 2007
The venue: Xaviers Institute Of Management (XIM), Bhubaneshwar
The players: Cassini's Division, PJ, Amit Goel, your's truly - PJ and Amit are rookies on this tour, for me this would be my 3rd trip.
The event: XPRESSIONS 2007
THE XIM TOUR DIARY
I hear my Mom screaming in my ear - having a human alarm clock around is by far the most convenient device to get you out of bed.
The previous day has been a tiring one: Cassini's Division live @ Nazrul Manch for the "STATESMAN VIBES" fest. So I'm still kind've pooped even though I had an early beddy-bye last night.
I give a wake-up call to both Ludo and the Goel. And I'm off to the loo to do some, umm, stuff!
In a taxi - off to pick up Ludo from his place.
In Ludo's complex. Help him load his drum stuff and we're off again... this time to Abhudaya (no not to pick up John) - to get some medicine for Ludo from his aunt. The big guy has been having fever for the past few days. He even played last evening's gig after a heavy dose of medicine. And today morning he doesnt look pretty good either.
Anyway we take a round past Ruby, much to Amit Goel's amazement whom we dont pick up on the way!
We finally leave Abhudaya and reach the bus-stop. We pick up a groggy eyed ciggie puffing Amit Goel - who looks suspiciously at us for "NOT" having picked him up the 1st time.
Somewhere near Ultadanga... Ludo is yelling at the taxi-driver for driving his vehicle like a, like a, like a... well you couldn't even describe this as driving. Our luck - this guy must be the slowest driver in the world!
We finally reach the airport. We spot John, Sookie, Rahul and PJ sitting outside with a pile of luggage stacked on a couple of trolleys. A fast smoke and we enter the terminus for departure.
The usual formalities - get your luggage ex-rayed, get your boarding passes, blah blah blah. We spot a few Deccan off-duty air-hostesses. Hmm, maybe they're gonna be on our flight? :) heh heh! Well ya right, if wishes were horses!
In we go for the security check - our flight is supposed to take-off at 9:15 AM. But hey, did I mention it's a Deccan Airlines flight???
Anyway, we all finish off with the frisking and man-handling. Sookie gets held up because the security think his guitar gadget is some kind of mysterious device - no doubt to be used to kill all the passengers on board. Anyway, with some friendly explanations and persuasion Sookie and John get that part cleared up.
We meet Chandan (an old SPE hand and a CD fan as well) and his friend Mou at the airport... coincidentally he is going to Bhubaneshwar too on work, and he promises to make it to XIM for the show tonight.
Time of departure... but just our luck - no one seems to be announcing for boarding. So the inevitable delay. We wait for the call. And wait. And wait.
We're still waiting.
Yup - we're still waiting.
We decide to have coffee... and just as we're sipping - the boarding call is announced!
We're up on the plane - and the gruesome sevensome that we are, we've been allocated last row seats just near the loo! So its Rahul, PJ and me at one end. And Ludo, Sookie and John on the other. Amit Goel sits in front of me and he promptly falls asleep.
We take off.
I hate travelling - so I'm busy listening to music on my I-Pod. And I feel kinda nauseous as usual. Flights always make me feel nasuseous. Anyway!!!
Almost there I reckon - John suddenly asks if I wanna go to Konarak after the show. I can't make out if he's joking or serious. So I take the middle path and smile at him geekily.
PJ sitting beside me is busy listening to music as well, and he's having a ball headbanging and playing the air-guitar.
Sookie borrows my I-Pod and listens to some of my shit.
John is looking at the view outside - and so is Rahul too at the other end (in between flipping through the flight magazine).
Ludo is half asleep and staring blankly at the ceiling.
Amit is still sleeping.
I stare at the air-hostess for a bit (Kumud, ya that was her name!)
We land at Bhuibaneshwar. Thank god! I hate flights.
We get our stuff and stack them up on a few trolleys - and out we stroll into the Bhubaneshwar sunshine!
Nice little airport and not very crowded as well... we start looking for our pick-up but don't see anything remotely resembling one. Ludo, John and Sookie start to make the calls. We sit and puff outside.
Amit decides its time to be a camera man. So he promptly starts snapping away - I kinda get all inspired and take out my camera too. We click for a bit and then we get tired of clicking! :))
We're still waiting for conveyance btw!
Me and Sookie go to the nearby airport canteen and buy smokes and some snacks. Everyone seems to be hungry here. John, Rahul, PJ and Ludo join us while Amit is left to guard the luggage. After a while I go and relieve him of his guard duty. And he's off for some grub.
The car finally arrives - its just one car. So we need another vehicle. The guy in charge calls up a taxi and we start piling in our stuff. John is in charge of this and its kind've almost an art deciding which stuff goes in first and what gets stacked on top of what!
Me and Goel and Sookie are in one car with our XIM guide. We drive through Bhubaneshwar and its a pretty sight! A planned city with lots of greenery. A very nice drive indeed. In between we stop at an SBI ATM for Sookie. Anyway in no time we're at the XIM campus and the sight is awesome! Huge and green and with banners all around. A cool, clean environment.
We're at the XIM guest house now. And by God, by golly! What a cool guest house - a typical international standard type guest house you would find at most top Management institutes (we stayed at a similar one when we had gone to the XLRI show). All of us are very impressed and happy too. The fest co-ordinator top honcho Avishek comes to meet us on his bike and apologises profusely for the car pick-up fuck-up. But it's cool - he isn't to blame for flight delays anyway!
We're in one of the 2 guest rooms allocated to us. But since we are 7 people in our entourage Avishek promises to get us 2 more rooms. :)
Avishek comes back with a big box full of Bisleri water bottles, Pepsi bottles and kingfisher beer!!! Amazing!!! And also an assorted set of cigarette packs which PJ and John and Amit distribute amongst themselves. I don't drink beer so he promises me a bottle of whiskey... whoo hoo - where am I? Is this heaven? Better service than a 5-star hotel!
Avishek takes our leave for the time being but informs us that he will provide us with anything (I mean just anything) we need! And that lunch would be available for us at the mess room down the hall.
We plan out for a 4:30 PM sound-check for the drums - the guys wish to do the remaining sound check just before the show.
Just FYI - the itinerary for the evening: a fashion show from 7 PM to 9 PM. And the band gets up on stage and blasts away after the fashion hungama till 11 PM approx. All is cool - and everything looks to be extremely well organised. So no chaap. We relax and enjoy our AC rooms and the drinks!
Lunch time down at the mess hall. A buffet with chicken and roti and veggies shit. Damn good food. After my "maggi dinner" experience at the XLRI show, I intentionally eat a bit too much so that I dont feel hungry at night.
Amit pretends to be the CD manager/spokesperson and hooks up with Avishek and the JAL manager (JAL were the guest band the previous evening). I leave him and occupy our room.
room I: Sukanti and Rahul
room II: Jboi and PJ
room III: A feverish Ludo (his fever seems to go up and down like a yo-yo)
room IV: Me and the ever increasing crazy Goel. Oh, btw its his birthday as well today so he's in an absolute "surreal-freaked-out-this-is-my-last-day-on-planet-earth" mood! :) Lord help us!
Whew! I'm all fresh and chilled out after a quick shower and change of clothes. The AC is on, the TV is on and me and the Goel are busy watching... "BHAGAM BHAAG" :)) - and the Goel also flips channel to the occasional Punjabi bhangra song. He's getting all excited now. Lordy lord!
We get up and check out the others. Seems like they are getting ready to go to the show area and start with the drum sound-check. They also decide to take their other stuff as well - maybe jam a bit after the sound check is done. We get ready too. The proceedings for this evening are about to begin!
Ok so we all take some of the kit/apparatus in hand and walk over to the stage which is in this HUGE field. And the stage looks pretty good too - very wide and there's a "T" shape ramp in front, no doubt meant for the cat-walkers. But that's ok - Rahul and Sookie can walk down the "T" and kick-ass with the crowd.
Umm, one problem though - no drum around! So we wait and the guys make the usual bout of phones. Ludo is pissed off. And his pissiness makes him feel all hot too, as he promptly takes off his jacket.
Me and Jboi and Sookie and Rahul are fed up waiting so we go to the campus cheap shop canteen (whatever its called) for some coffee and some egg-bhujia (for Rahul). There's a Madhuri Dixit film going on and I spend some time staring at her jhatka-matka routine. Anyway. The weather is really cool here. Announcements are blazing all over the place about events being held and sundry. Its total fest time going on over here.
We're back at the stage area. The drum is finally there and being set up with Ludo's help. Amit is again busy mingling with students curious about the band. PJ is getting himself acquainted with the sound knobs. I take out my camera and start clicking... it's my turn to be camera man.
The band and the sound unit spend a considerable time getting everything all ready - the drum sound-check has just begun and its taking some time to get it right. But one thing for sure - the acoustics are excellent. Crystal clear at most points considering the fact that its an open area.
Drums are done - Sookie and PJ are trying to get things right here and doing pretty well. The local sound guy is taking a back seat becoz the 2 of them seem to be handling things between themselves pretty smoothly.
In the background there are loads of announcements going on for the fashion show and stuff. And the emcees of that event are actually tearing their hair out becoz of the delay in our sound-check wrap-up... no fault of ours - the drum should have been on stage @ 4:45 PM!!!
We're done with Ludo and Rahul's guitars and Jboi's bass is almost done. Amit is around trying to pacify a visibly nervous Avishek who is getting apprehensive about tonite's CD show. He's not very sure if we're gonna be able to pull it off and that the crowd won't ejoy themselves... plus he's getting worried about the long time being taken for the sound-check. Which is quite funny - because it actually hasn't taken too long, everything has been handled with clockwork precision.
Oh, now Jboi's check is done - and now it's Sookie's turn!
We're done with Sookie and PJ is now taking care of Rahul's vocals and the over-all sound. The guys try out a few songs - Satyr9, The Story Of My Life, Fallen et al.
It's a wrap! The band are visibly pleased - the sound sounds really good, and we have no complaints with the equipment and acoustics. The lights - well, I can see a sea of bugs near all the lights everywhere and I expect the band to be swallowing a few creepies during the show.
We walk back and I'm pleasantly suprised when one of the organisers catches up with me and gives me a bottle of whiskey. :)
Back inside John and PJ's room. Me and Amit pour ourselves a drink. John makes PJ pull his finger for some SPIELBERG style sound-effects - (Yeeeuuugggh!) and the bugger goes into the loo for a quick shower.
Ludo phones us after a bit asking me if I've seen his jacket. Nyet from my end, and from Amit's end as well... the 1st casualty of war! Jacket overboard!
We're still in Jboi's room chilling out and I'm TOPLESS when along comes a pretty woman asking for Ludo. No time for me to cover up my indecent exposure...
An excerpt from the weird conversation between the 2 of us:
WOMAN: May I come? [the door is wide open and she's actually already inside]
ME: Yes please do come in but only after you let me wear my tee-shirt [I'm standing TOPLESS with my paunch sticking out like the Indian peninsula, with a glass of whiskey in my left hand, and a cig in my right!]
WOMAN: Umm, ok - umm, I'm looking for Ludo. [she stares at me and looks all embarrassed and actually takes a few steps backwards out of the room!]
ME: oh ya sure, Ludo's in the next room I think - sleeping or in the loo!!! [and I'm waving my tee-shirt like a flag indicating "which" direction she should go!]
WOMAN: Thank you! [Takes another look at me which makes me think I'm diseased and in the nude... and runs away!]
We go back to our room and get ready for tonight. Amit gleefully takes out his SLAYER tee. And I take out my standard MEGADETH tee. We go back to the other rooms. John and Rahul and PJ are busy applying gel to their hair... Amit joins in on the gel fun. Ludo I notice is in the mess hall having a quick snack. He really looks down and out.
John, Sookster and Rahul quickly convene in "room I" to chalk up a set-list, and I join them while sipping a final peg of whiskey. Everyone is happy with the song list that Jboi jots down.
One of the organiser's come down to inform us that it's almost show time. Me and Amit walk down the few metres to the venue. And the rest take the car with the gear stacked behind.
We're still waiting near the stage - the fashion show cum dance hungama is going on still with some local singer singing BEEDI JALAI LEH and other stuff. The crowd seems to love it though. I have a head-ache already. Chandan and his pal Mou finally arrive and they have a gift for us - a bottle of TEACHERS! Shit! What is wrong with the world??? Everyone is being so nice to me today :)
I'm standing behind PJ at the sound console. Amit, Chandan and Mou are there too. The band is on stage finally and are tuning up.
Its time to rock 'n roll.
Show begins - the lights flash on Rahul and he starts singing "Drown". The crowd are genuinely excited to see a proper rock band playing in Bhubaneshwar. Anyway, the set-list is attacked by CD with vigour - "Imitation Of Life", "The Sky Is Falling", "Only For A While", "Vindicated"... and then the gut-crunching "Stay"!
The crowd don't know much about Cassini's Division so the usual yell for METALLICA and IRON MAIDEN and PANTERA and LINKIN PARK go around. Someone asks for MARILYN MANSON and Rahul is glad to oblige him with "Sweet Dreams".
The show is more or less going according to their set-list and it's all cool.
One hitch - Sookie's guitar feedback. But taken care of. Ludo seems to be ok as of now.
The crowd suddenly vanishes after an announcement about the campus gates shutting... Chandan and Mou reluctantly leave. The crowd also minimises by half. And its a sorry sight. But Amit Goel takes the role of one-man cheer leader and gets the remaining genuine rock lovers channelised. And what better way to do this than with the help of "The Story Of My Life".
By now I'm on stage trying to do what the Red Bantoo would normally do for the guys, i.e. snap around from various angles. And I kind of plant myself on stage like a prop!
The party is getting a whole lot heavier with "Ceasar", "Voivoid", "SATYR9" and "Kryptonite" being churned out.
In the meantime Ludo's getting all uncomfy with the lights around him - and John has to make an emergency announcement: "Please turn off the lights behind Ludo becoz his butt is on fire"
CD show no signs of stopping - and the crowd magically re-appears. Maybe some of the students had come back after dinner. Anyway, the band dishes out one song after the other - "Lithium", "Fallen", "Smooth Criminal", "Rumble", "Higher", "Glowworm"...
I'm loving it on stage and the crowd are too. Amit is screaming like a maniac from up front and PJ is doing a great job twiddling away with the knobs.
Time to close the party - Rahul does a dramatic entry for "Like It Like This" and then proceeds to sing "Urban Phenomenon". The band also gives in to the requests for RADIOHEAD by playing "Creep". And the final encore is "The Story Of My Life" once again by popular demand.
The band is totally wasted now. John is lying flat on the stage sweating buckets. And Ludo walks up sheepishly to the crowd saying sorry, but he has a fever. But in a nutshell - even after more than 2 hours the crowd wanted more and needed to soak in CD... an amazing show. Almost near perfect for the band and I see Avishek grinning from ear-to-ear now.
We're back at the guest house with a few students who have fallen in love with the band. We bring out the beers and smokes and whiskey and take it easy. Everyone is a happy chappy.
Time for a late dinner - me, Sookie, Amit and PJ march off to the mess hall. And it's great to be able to sample some good food here.
Back in John's room - we chat with the XIM guys and they tell us to join them at the whole night party that has just commenced. They all seem to look forward to it becoz its the final event after a 3 day long fest and it's just for them - in fact the event is aptly named "Just Like That" or JLT. Most of us politely decline (we have an 8 AM flight to catch anyway) but Amit seems interested.
Most of the guys seem pooped and Ludo is already in bed. The beers are out and I'm not in the mood for anymore whiskey. Neither is Amit it seems - in fact he tells me he'd prefer a drink with ice instead!
Sookie proposes a one final cup of coffee - so we all march out of the guest house.
The JLT party is in full swing now. And we walk past it eyeing the crowd. And the crowd eyes us as well. Amit starts to do a few steps on the way.
Avishek and Amit take a bike ride to get some cig packs for the guys and we sit on the benches enjoying our coffee. After a while the 2 "A"s are back and we decide to head back to the guest house. The 2 cars to take us to the airport are gonna be in by 6:15 AM and we plan to push off by 6:30 AM.
We walk past the JLT venue and the party seems to be in full swing - and right on cue the DJ starts playing a bhangra number. Amit looks all hypnotized now and is definitely in some voodoo trance. I ask the him whether he wants to stay back and party or go with us to the guest house. He opts for the former and Rahul decides to give him company for 15 minutes (the time it would take to finish a small drink) - before we depart Amit says that he'll be back within an hour and makes me promise that I won't lock the door.
I turn on the TV and watch some football... but its late and I'm tired - plus I have to be at work as well. So I decide to take a snooze.
I wake up - the bed beside me is empty.
I wake up again - and the bed beside me is still empty.
Final wake up call. The bed beside me is still empty.
I decide to get up and take a shower. Might as well feel fresh before work... and suddenly I hear 2 voices singing in the distance - one of them is distinctly Amit Goel's!
In walks Amit in a dishevelled and umm, non-normal state shall we say? And there is a young management student with him (I learn that his name is Imon). Amit is smiling at me like a toothpaste model and he looks in no shape to travel. He's talking at the top of his voice and he informs he that he's never had so much fun in his life - and that he's never met so many Punjabis outside of Punjab at one single place!!! I'm annoyed and I leave him with his singing partner and enter the bathroom.
I'm trying to crap (yes crap - shit - whatever), but nothing is coming out because Amit and his pal are singing at the top of their voices like loonies. The sound is enough to knock the stuffings out of a rogue elephant. I hear John's voice calling me... but hell, how can you hear what he's saying when you have Bianca Castafiore and Daler Mehendi singing like there's no tomorrow in our room?
I'm ready and packed. Amit isn't however. He's lying on his bed and it looks like he's down for the count. I tell the guys and they all seem worried. The logical thing to do is to leave him behind - but then again, we can't do it without his consent.
We manage to get Amit out of his bed and bring him to the parking lot. John and Sookie have finished stacking their gear on the 2 vehicles reserved for us. A groggy-eyed Avishek is here to see us off. I make a smelly Amit change his tee-shirt. And we're ready to leave!
But suddenly Amit gets off the car and says he can't make this trip! I get down too and tell the guys in the other car.
In hind-sight a wise decision since I doubt Amit would have been allowed to board the plane anyway.
So we leave XIM sans a member short - a quirky way to end a glorious trip! The rest of the trip is uneventful - the Deccan flight was on time. Chandan and Mou are heading back home to Kolkata on the same flight as us. Sookie is as usual stopped at the security check. I feel sick on the flight as usual and listen to my ipod as usual to keep me from feeling pukey. And checking out the air-hostess "Anupama" helps me feel less pukey as well...
And we all reach home in one piece feeling absolutely on top of the world - the band for conquering the hearts of everyone @ XIM, and me for enjoying the best tour ever with CD. Looking forward to the next one... and I'm sure Amit is too :)
Amit arrived back in Kolkata by the Kingfisher evening flight! :)