Once upon a time, there was a Sindbad. And a Gulliver. Mythical guys. There were also some guys named Marco Polo and Magellan and Columbus and Vasco De Gama and Captain Cook, who were not so mythical. Between them, they discovered strange, mystical and fascinating lands which are a part of every tour operator’s offering. Today, the travel industry has grown into a huge hydra headed monster.
You can travel to Goa or Kulu Manali or Bangkok or London or Mauritius and demand Jain food and a 25% discount for a travel party of 20 sight see-ers who play Antakshari on a Qantas flight hovering over Sydney. And then, there’s a breed of travellers which detests the beaten track junkets and prefers to traverse the rugged ranges of Machu Pichu or devour the sight of antelopes and lions at Serengiti, which we know about, thanks to some amazing travelogues written by the offbeat traveller.
But this is perhaps the first travelogue about the most fascinating and exotic destination. A country known as IITland. Much has been written, and even photographed, about its 143 varieties of flora and 267 varieties of fauna. Not much has been said however about its most unique species of thousands of bipeds. Heck, they could double as some 7000 wonders of the world. Imagine a guy who spends 4 years learning how to make titanium dioxide and then goes and joins a bank. Complete with customer relation manager kind of titles. Or guys who after researching the “calculation of efficiency coefficient of para amino phenol manufacture using cobalt blue catalyst” decide to junk the research just because a smart Alec from HSS told him, “why do you want to calculate anything so teleologically? Why don’t you just drink some water deontologically? Why don’t you scratch your existential balls with some apodictic certainty?”
IITland is indeed a fascinating place. Made of several exotic provinces. And the BAAland province is easily the wackiest and the fun-est.
IITland is indeed a fascinating place. Made of several exotic provinces. And the BAAland province is easily the wackiest and the fun-est. BAAland was named BAAland by nostalgic residents who loved their alma mater. Clearly, they were mostly gujjus who worshipped their own mater-BAA. It is said that this was badland once. Evolved into a painful BAHland later. But thanks to its gutsy and entrepreneurial population, BAAland is on a roll with a huge increase in its GDP and growth into a great tourist hub.
Entry into IITland and all its provinces including BAAland is easy for some and tough for most. Costs a paltry INR 3000 to get a visa called “alumni membership card.” But the card is issued only to those who’ve spent 4 painstaking years in making specimens of themselves. Once you’ve crossed the entry point-Pain Gate, it’s a 10 minute walk to BAAland unless you get a lift from one of its pretty residents called Zen Driver. The car is a Honda actually. Zen is her name. Driver is both her name and part time vocation.
BAAland is situated at an altitude. Exactly one storey high though there are many stories about BAA. Set amidst a Gul Mohar of the concrete kind, it’s a stone’s throw away from the fabled, crocodile infested Hawaii lake. Oops, we take back the statement about a stone’s throw. This is certainly not Kashmir. Let’s say, the Hawaii lake is one paper rocket throw away. Oops again! This is an environment-friendly land that does not cut trees to make paper. Here, they make rockets that run on high octane fuel and cryogenic propellants. Let us say that Hawaii lake is a shouting distance away. Oh yes! There’s quite a lot of shouting and screaming that happens in BAAland. Good exercise for the lungs and all pulmonary functions.
Your first step into BAAland convinces you that people here are health conscious freaks. There are chairs here, but you are forced to stand since the chairs are occupied by heavy files.
Your first step into BAAland convinces you that people here are health conscious freaks. There are chairs here, but you are forced to stand since the chairs are occupied by heavy files. Once you’ve completed your workout of standing and you want to sit, you have to indulge in some cardio exercise of weight lifting by lifting the files yourself and place them on a table that is full of T-shirts, mementoes, Fundamatics issues and Board meeting agenda papers. Navigating from one region to another within BAAland doubles as an obstacle-course race. You have to hop, skip and jump over chairs, tables, file stacks, and discarded paraphernalia.
Ramanagar is one of the oldest regions of BAAland, but it has kept pace with the new developments and is up-to-date with the latest trends. This is a region that specialises in hosting nostalgic reunions. You can “Hi Patya, Hi Satkya, remember me?” away while “chumma chumma de de!” lilts your heart in the background. Want to party in BAAland? Welcome to Ramanagar. The reunion district of BAAland.
Vandananagar is another old region of BAAland. Storehouse of all info about its residents. Doubles as an accommodation fixing place. If you want to stay in BAAland and want a clean towel and bedsheet, Vandanagar will not disappoint you. Knows your roll number and T-shirt size.
Neelapur is the financial district of BAAland and perhaps, responsible for its new found prosperity. Presiding officers of Neelapur, supported by guys from Kamatpura (arrey baba, we did not say Kamatipura) know how much you have to pay. And they forget how much you have to receive. And they stay forgotten until you’ve forgotten yourself. Neelapaur feeds the reunion fests in Ramanagar and the fun-stays in Vandananagar.
BAAland also indulges in some notable and laudable initiatives for all residents of IITland and in Poojanagar, you’ll see economically deprived residents paying their fees with the help of largesse from donors. Thanks to activities in Poojanagar, folks pay the fees to learn to make the above mentioned Titanium Dioxide before joining ABN Amro bank.
Shindenagar is the seat of your visa aka life membership card. Also helps you with booking guest house rooms in a very notional manner. Their efforts lift you from waiting list No 786 to 687 in 867 days.
Simonnagar is the newly re-furbished Mahendragarh that keeps you alive and kicking in BAAland with some tea, some coffee, and some not-so-stale vada pav.
Sharba Enclave is the intellectual corridor of BAAland. You can expound on the environment, on energy, on education, on life sciences, on cartoons, on agony aunt columns and the like. This is an exchange counter where you submit your articles, viewpoints, paradigms, and poetry. In exchange, you’ll be rewarded with a look that depends on the quality of your submission. Sweet-as-a-sharbat look (if you’ve asked why butterflies fly?) or a spicy tomato-shorba look (if you’re rhyming English willow with Beta, doodh pee lo) or an intoxicating sharaabi look (if you say Glenmorangie). However, this multi-cuisine bar that serves sharbat, shorba, and sharaab opens in the morning and closes by lunch time. You have to carry the look doled out to you in an envelope and open it when you want to unravel the suspense.
Exotic as this BAAland is, what makes it most unique is the fact that you can come here as a fun loving tourist, but stay back as its most engaged citizen.
Lobo Avenue is the throbbing, humming, happening centre at BAAland. Hyper and active. Contains the arterial road that ties all regions together. Clearly, the no-nonsense region that advertised itself as the new tourist destination of BAAland. It is often said that BAAland’s new found success is due to the fact that its elected President and 8 other elected cabinet ministers and other officials are absent and allow Lobo Avenue officials to run the show.
DB Nagar is the pilgrim’s destination in BAAland. Situated at the far end, with a mesmerising view of the Hawaii lake in the background, you can walk into this place and meet the presiding deity in person. This is one vocal deity that speaks and asks. Does not need to be spoken to and asked anything of. The most atheistic are known to have converted themselves into ardent idol worshippers after meeting this deity. One small discourse from her will make you reach into this temple’s hundi and start pouring cheque leaves (and signed ones at that) with full vigour and gusto. Will make you forget that you had to run a Tirupati like obstacle course to get this Devi’s Darshan.
Exotic as this BAAland is, what makes it most unique is the fact that you can come here as a fun loving tourist, but stay back as its most engaged citizen. Know of any Sauvignon lover who travelled to the chateaus in France and stayed back to create wineries? You can do this and more at BAAland. RTI activists, Chief economists, Executive Directors, IT moghuls, petty businessmen, VPs and an assortment of Deans and Professors have presided over BAAland, yet moved back to make way for others. Hired and worked with a team that is now inviting you to create more exclusive and more exotic regions in this fascinating land.
Come and visit BAAland and stay back to tell us that we’ve done something right. Including the fact that you’re reading this piece because of visitors to BAAland who stayed back.