Desert Rose

(This article was published in The Write Stuff 2002, the 'English Literary Society' publication)

‘On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair…’ I take off my earphones and step out of the bus. At 2 a.m., five sleepy Tamilian BITSians huddled in blankets at the registration desk welcome me to my second year at Oasis. As always registration and accommodation take up the first few hours at Pilani. Traditionally, the SR contingent has been one of the largest which participates the least and whose leaders abandon it at the gates. We, however, chose to break tradition, in all respects but the first. We huddle inside the renovated ‘All Night Coffee Shop’ and sip on ‘the taste that gets you started up’.

Morning takes us to Connaught where we are to have the rest of our meals for the next few days with its specialities of fried Maggi and ‘Chofo Shake’. I hire a cycle and attempt to explore the endless acres of BITS, Pilani and later all that is within, thanks primarily to the treasure hunt. Amid our wanderings and nights at Shiv Mandir, we realise that there is a fest going on and head towards the auditorium. Somewhere in the middle SRCC does a street play in the Sky Lawns and then we get back to out temporary languid lifestyle. I sneak in a few hours of sleep after I religiously await the sunrise every morning at the Birla temple. The sun’s rays and the chime of the temple bells wake the scores of pigeons perched atop the dome who circle the edifice while the peacocks preen their feathers in the mist below.

The contingent departs in divided groups as the fest draws to a close. I stay on to watch another sunrise and fill in the form for Mr.Oasis. Returning from what is sadly to be my last year at BITS, Pilani, I bring back more than laurels and certificates. Each of us brings back memories of the time we spent in Oasis as literally titles as it is metaphorically symbolic, to those few days when we took a break from our mundane lives in the concrete desert of Delhi to an Oasis six hours down on a dark desert highway.