It was 16th September 1999. The day we were looking forward. It was the reunion day for the Guindy 89 batch of E&C guys in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Ravi was very excited. I was also excited because I was going to meet the guys , about whom I have heard lots of stories from Ravi. I think Ravi would not have slept the whole of previous night, just waiting for the dawn. We started our journey at 8am. Throughout the journey Ravi was in his own world. If at all he would open his mouth, he would say,"Pasanga ellaam vandhittu irupaanga." He was reading his college souvenir-this must be the hundreth time. He preserves it as his treasure. I consider it to be very lucky because it has traveled with him all over the world. He was smiling to himself-I guess he was thinking about his college days.
The thrill started when the flight was nearing Jackson Hole for landing. We were flying between steep rocky mountains on both the sides. I think the guys selected this particular place for their re union as a symbol of their soaring ambition. We were scared whether the pilot could make it . But he was an expert. He was handling it like a motor cycle. We reached Jackson hole at 6.15pm. We rented a car and drove to "Cowboy Village"-the resort we were to stay for four days. The moment we checked in, he gave a call to his friends' s room. He behaved like a twenty year old chap ,eagerly waiting to meet his friends. We met Logananthan alias "Lokku" and Gopal, the convener of the reunion and also their respective wives. We were talking for sometime, then Lokku's family and our family went out for dinner in "China Town." By the time we returned to the room, a couple of other friends had come. Ravi went to meet his friends after leaving me and my daughter in the room. I dont know what time he returned to the room after that.
Next day almost all the friends had arrived. All were in high spirits, talking non-stop. I could hear patting and tapping sounds-this is how they greeted each other-probably this is the Guindy style. The word "macchi was the most heard word. We planned to go to the Grand Teton Mountains. After introducing the families to other members, we went in seven cars following one another as if in a procession. We went hiking in the Teton mountains. There was a beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains. The water was crystal clear and we could see the reflection of the mountains inside the water. It looked like the mountains were sitting under the water and were trying to move whenever there was a wave. Lokku and Pattu threw stones in the water to see how far it went, with how many leaps and jumps. The stones went like jumping frogs. After a short refreshment we started again. Those who were tired stayed back.
In the evening we had camp-fire. We played Dumb Sherads. It was Men versus women. It was so much fun. When I had my turn I realized how difficult it must be for dumb people to express their feelings. For a single word I was struggling to express myself without the aid of my tongue. May be I'm inefficient in it. It was turning cold. The heat from the burning logs gave warmth. Around 8pm we returned to the cowboy village. Again Ravi went to talk with his friends. It was an escape from me probably.On the 18th morning we went in a tram for an ariel view of the grand Teton. It was a wonderful ride. The guys were reminded of the 47A bus in college days, with beautiful girls around. The whole tram was filled with laughter. We got down at the top of the mountain. A gush of cold air passed through every nerve. On all the sides we could see only mountains with scattered snow here and there and huge valleys. When I looked down from the top I felt dizzy. Lokku and Hari in their excitement went running down one of the mountains, without knowing where they were heading towards. We waited for a long time for them to return. Deepa and Sowmya, their respective wives were tensed. Gopal went in search of them -a real care taker. After one hour they all returned. Lokku and Hari brought a big ball of snow to show us. It was a thrilling experience. I felt so happy to touch the snow ball. We went back to the cowboy village to get ready for the big formal party in the evening. The much awaited friend of all-Gulty-had arrived then. He had come leaving behind at home his wife and one month old boy baby. I would say that he made a wise decision in coming otherwise, he would have regretted his whole life for not having made it.
Around 3.30pm we started for the grand party. The much awaited show started at 6pm at Snow Kings Resort. But for 2 all other guys were in marroon T.Shirt, specially printed for the occasion..They all looked like college boys in their uniform. Most of the ladies were dressed traditionally. It was a treat for the eyes. Gopal as usual started the show and Hari as usual came up with questions to show his presence. All of them spoke about their college days, about the past ten years , about their wedding,wife and children. It seemed that all wives were wonderful-in putting up with their work schedule and in allowing them to slog in office. We had a delicious dinner. After that it was the wives turn to say a few words about their husbands. Almost everyone felt proud to admit that their husbands were wonderful-What a liar we all were I thought! The show ended with Ravi's mimicry. He imitated his lecturers. This added spice to the show. Everyone seemed to enjoy it greatly.The whole hall was filled with laughter. The guys laughed heartily, remembering their old, joyful college days-forgetting all their present work tensions. They became students once again. Even I used to do the same in my college days. But after so many years I don't think I can remember my lecturer's behaviour and imitate it as effectively as Ravi did.
On the 20th we started for Yellow stone National park. It was a 55 miles drive-Scenic drive, wide range of mountains with the scattered snow on top ,glittering in the sun. It looked like the mountains were adorned with diamond crowns. There was vast stretches of land with cows grazing. Roads went winding like snakes and seemed never ending. As far as eyes could reach it was only mountains everywhere. I thought this was the end of the world. The changing colours of the trees talked about the incoming fall. Clouds were crawling over the mountains, playing hide and seek with them. Seeing the mountains feel the clouds, I couldn't withhold my urge to feel the clouds. I wished I could touch the clouds and feel their softness. Sometimes even the mountains seemed to move along with the clouds. The mountains were so tall as if to touch the sky. Some were rocky, some with lots of trees, some with shrubs. They showed unity in diversity. The entire scene soothed my heart. When you behold nature's beauty you tend to forget all tensions and worries.As we entered the yellow stone the experience was different. At the bottom of the heart I experienced a little fear when I saw the forest area and the valleys. We stopped near a beautiful waterfall. Waterfalls are free and independent..No one to control their way of flowing. Huge areas of land were covered by pine trees-some burnt down due to forest fire-some grown tall to touch the sky, as if there was a competition who was the tallest. It was scary to look at the black, burnt, lifeless trees standing erect. They were in a condition to fall down any moment. May be they died just to give space for their next generation. Small streams ran along the roads on both the sides.
First we went to visit the world famous geyser basins. I was stunned to see the steam coming from the ground and the water erupting. It took sometime for me to accept the truth that the earth underneath had boiling water. We saw a whole lot of geyser basins in many areas. Some were blue in color , some red ,some green, some white. Each basin was different from the other in looks and in characters, as we humans are. Some left red sedimentation-may be to show their pent up anger. Some were very calm, just bubbling -as if smiling. Some had green sedimentations. The blue color basins were peace loving. One basin had the combinations of blue,red,orange,green and yellow color. I thought that some painter had spilled his colors over there. Though hot, the geysers were kind enough to allow certain vegetation to survive in their beds. When we walked near the geyser basins we were fully covered by steam. I felt I was cleansed of all my sins and I was a new human being stepping from heaven.
The geyser basins tried their level best to control their emotions, when out of control they erupt . I t thought that they wanted to tell us something . Thats why they were bubbling. Though we talked a lot about them when we were near them not a single soul attempted to talk to them. Their stories must be full of sorrows, that's why hot steam was coming out of them. Some geysers were potters themselves-built figures out of mud without anyone's aid-unbelievable. . Near the geyser basins we saw two bisons seeing us with a question mark on their face-"Are we so very important that so many of you come to see us -why? what is the reason?" they were the VIP's in that area.
It was almost 3.30 pm ,a few of our friends wanted to leave for Jackson Hole. Rest of us continued with the trip. On one side there were waterfalls, with geyser basins here and there. We went to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We viewed it from the inspiration point. Person with no artistic talent would also be inspired either to write or draw about the amazing scene. We saw at the time of sun set. The sun was trying to take rest behind the mountains, allowing the moon to take its position. It scattered its colorful rays over the mountains. This added to the existing beauty of the scene. Even at that moment I felt a tingling sense run through my nerves. When I think about the huge giant mountains with water running inbetween them-the sight though amazing was wonderful. The mountains were sculptors themselves. Some rocks were like temple gopuras, with idols of gods on top of them. I wondered who gave them the idea to carve themselves so artistically. The sound of the water falling accompanied by the sound of the blowing branches and the song of the chirping birds was like a symphony. There is no comparison to nature's music-each note is different. Even the steps we kept on the dried foliage added a rhythm. The rocks were of yellow, pink and orange in colour. Most of it was of yellow color, may be that's the reason for naming it Yellowstone-just a guess.
We saw elks on the way. A couple of them were grazing near the road side. Unlike humans they did not want to be the center of attraction. They ran away from the crowd. They didn't like humans entering into their territory and disturbing their privacy. They tried to scare us by running around. Our return journey started around 6.30 pm. Full moon day was nearing and the moon was very bright. Its streaks fell on the river water and dressed the water in rich silver clothing . The delicate dancing river and the pleasant shining moon traveled along with us for a long distance. It was dark everywhere, but for the moon's light. We reached the resort around. 11.30 pm. Never in my life can I forget the Yellowstone and its beauty. When I close my eyes and bring back the scenes, I feel i am in that place. I am captivated by the beauty. Though what we saw in our one day trip was just a tip of an iceberg I will treasure the feelings in my heart for ever.
Next day was the parting day. Everyone left around 10.30 am. Our flight was at 4 pm we were the last to leave. We felt left alone in the place as if the whole family had left us. Cowboy village which was lively the day before seemed deserted. With a heavy heart we left the place at 12 pm. Ravi's face became dull. We went around Jackson hole for a couple of hours. When we reached the airport Ravi was silent. I could understand his feelings and I left him undisturbed. For three days we were as one family-new place, new friends(for me) and new experience. I am looking forward for the next meeting . Hats off for theguys who made it as a success. In the flight I sat near the window just to have a last glimpse of the Jackson hole. As the flight went high in the air Jackson Hole disappeared from my sight. I could view only a bed of mountains. "Mountains you inspire me a lot I will come back to see you when you will be dressed in pure white." After a while even the mountains disappeared and our flight was sailing on a bed of clouds." Ravi sat closing his eyes- may be he was recollecting the four days events........