When girls swooned over Kapil Dev and other lessons learnt
Earlier colleges had fewer festivals and special events than institutes today. The enthusiasm with which these were celebrated, no matter what the challenges, taught us something valuableUpdated: Jul 11, 2020 22:48 IST
The activity calendar in colleges today is packed with events, much in contrast to the scenario a few years ago when we used to have just three mega events – prize distribution, convocation and sports day. While the first two functions were solemn, academic in nature, the annual sports function in the Chandigarh college I taught in used to be a two-day extravaganza celebrated with much fanfare and zest. The opening day ceremony began with the march past by smartly turned out contingents of various classes to the tune of a military band followed by various track and athletic events.
The end of the first day of the event was reserved for the much applauded staff race or musical chairs. As a member of the faculty, though I never won the coveted top position, I had the privilege of finding myself on the victory stand at the third place quite a few times.
The second and the final day of the event used to be a formal affair when guests and dignitaries were invited. Besides other celebrities from various walks of life, eminent sports personalities such as the legendary Milkha Singh, superstar Kapil Dev and cricketer Dinesh Mongia graced the occasion from time to time.
However, two events, exceptional and special, remain etched in my memory. Having led the Indian team to victory in the World Cup final in 1983, Kapil Dev was already a legend and a sports star when he was invited to preside over the annual sports day function. He was hesitant to be the chief guest, but agreed after much persuasion on the condition that he would be able to spare just two hours for the visit.
Keeping in mind his tight schedule, the event was planned accordingly. Kapil Dev was expected to leave immediately after the function, but to our utter surprise he lingered on. After the kind of attention he got in an exclusive girls’ college from the adoring students, he seemed to be in no hurry to go.
The college authorities had a tough time containing the students who swooned over him and mobbed him.
I also can’t forget how we, the staff members, had to act as his security, cordon off the area to give him a safe passage and how our principal, Mrs Mahajan, heaved a sigh of relief when he left.
Equally memorable is yet another sports day when Jaspal Bhatti, cartoonist, humorist and comedian, was the guest of honour. True to his television show, Ulta Pulta, all arrangements went topsy-turvy when a night before the final function, it rained heavily flooding the grounds. However, our energetic and dynamic principal decided to go ahead with the function and have it indoors.
It was a unique, unforgettable sports day with the march-past and the guard of honor taking place not at the sports ground but in the corridors of the college building.
The lessons learnt were: ‘Come what may, the show must go on.’ Life doesn’t always go according to plans. We must adapt to every situation and try to be happy.
Coming to the present day scenario, the pandemic has brought upheaval in our lives, but we need to ‘re-invent’, ‘re-learn’ and ‘re-adjust’ to the new way of working. We must follow the new norms: Maintain social distance, wear masks and ensure hand hygiene, but the work must go on.
firstname.lastname@example.orgThe writer is a Chandigarh-based freelancer