Till date, no one has given me a sound logic as to why the second Saturday of every month be a holiday in school? Not that it hurt us in any way. Well, to some it sure did. With the second Saturday coming, Class VI had a bad Friday night. Most of them would be washing shirts & trousers of seniors. After all it would be the much waited Mussoorie Trip. Class VII & VIII would be CKs (care keepers) in the dormitory so that the masseurs & washers would not get caught by the warden. When asked why not a Sunday trip, the reason was on second Sundays our school girls used to have an outing to town. As if on second Saturdays all girls on earth became deaf, dumb & blind. Why Mussoorie trips on second Saturdays was not the single mystery on this trip. There remain some more.
Class VI would wonder why is it that this particular senior would ask us to wash, dry & then early morning run to the dhobi to get his shirt & trouser ironed on every trip? If one knows second Saturday is coming, why wear the same shirt for three consecutive days, dirty it like a coal mine worker & then make us scrub it like a fisherman’s drab? As per rule, every student needs to have “eight white shirts” & “four grey trousers” which is supposedly physically counted by every House Master. Mr. Bhatt certainly did it for each & every boy in his House. And still, this would happen before every second Saturday, year after year with every batch.
Class V, VII & VIII would have at least one teacher who would be their escort for the whole trip. His job was to constantly overlook movements of all these boys in town. He would roll-call the first time on reaching Mussoorie, once just before the matinee show at the movie halls (Picture Palace & Vasu) & finally after the movie was over before pushing everyone towards school. But there were boys missing on these roll-calls who would F@#K off to Dehradun only because the movie they wanted to watch was not showing in Mussoorie? Did teachers know of all movements? This would happen every second Saturday, year after year with every batch.
In Class VI when we started visiting town on our own, the bus ticket from Jharipani to Mussoorie was Rs.3.50 each way. Any one of the chosen cuisines – South Indian, North Indian, Mughlai, or the Chinese lavish lunch at any of our favourite cheap joints would cost on an average Rs.15. The most waited & wanted movie ticket would cost Rs.4.50 if taken in the front 10 rows & Rs.6.50 if taken in the last 10 rows. So, the maximum you could spend on a trip was Rs.28.50. Our princely pocket money handed to us by our House Masters on the morning of the second Saturday, just minutes before rushing to the Bus Stop was Rs.30. To save that extra buck for one extra round of video game, boys would walk the 9 kms from Jharipani to Mussoorie. The walk has its own stories. Some other day, though. Am sure, with every passing year, during those years too costs of most of the things would rise. While passing out from school in Class XII, the then Class VI, VII & VIII would still get the princely pocket money of Rs.30 & seen running to the Bus Stop & take the road, reach Mussoorie before the bus, saving the buck & making stories on the way. This would happen every second Saturday, year after year with every batch.
There were times, when some boys did not have even Rs.30 in their kitty with the House Master to make that visit to town. House Masters were kind enough to give credit to boys who would ask for it. They would mark the money credited with red ink to avoid any confusion while explaining the account to respective parents. But there were also boys who would forego the trip. Reasons ranged from F@#king off to Mussoorie on Sunday to see their girls to reasons best known to them. No one asked them, why. No one even asked what they did back at school. But the moment boys from town were back, the boys in school would be the more important ones. They were the ones who would have to listen to each happening lived by each boy that day; right from – the sensational free bus ride by fooling the ticket conductor this time, the new video game at the game parlor, the way that girl looked at me at the card shop, the super-duper masala dosa etc kinds of stories. Batches changed. The stories remained the same. Walking through the corridor on the second Saturday evening, this would happen year after year with every batch.
Every second Saturday was a new trip. Yet, everything was the same. Why? Well, I told you. It was a mystery trip.
– Kanishka Mallick (1996 Batch)
1990s Kanishka Mallick