"There won't be any toilets. You might have to go into the field early mornings to relieve yourself. Yes. Girls included. We are going to live like the locals. It is going to be cold, sometimes freezing at night", he continued.
"Investing in sleeping bags might be a good idea. We might not even have roof over our heads. We might need to camp out in the freezing cold. We might also need people who can cook. Otherwise we might have to go to sleep hungry stomach. Are you all sure you want to come?".
This was a good time to bail out, yet all 30 of us stayed put in our seats. No one moved, for the thrill of the adventure was greater than the threat of possible death, as he put it.
Us: 30 students from Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.
Him: Nishat Ahmed. Faculty of Broadcast Media at the said College.
Adventure: "Covering Deprivation Tour" to Rajasthan.
For the uninitiated (which includes almost everyone reading this), Covering Deprivation is a module where students from our college visit and report from hinterland, on various issues afflicting the locals. This comes right after a series of lectures by none other than Mr. P. Sainath who shares his experiences on poverty and corruption, and we are expected to bear in mind while reporting, all the things he said.
Our lot was selected to go to Rajasthan with Mr.Nishat, and boy were we excited. For many, it was the lure of an enchanting landscape, the forts, palaces, sand dunes and other exotic stuff that we see in movies. He didn't say where in Rajasthan we were going. All we knew that we had the chance to visit border villages and interact with the locals (plus, maybe a few camel rides and Baajre ki Rotis as a bonus).
After the discussion on to-dos and do-nots, necessaries and excesses for the trip, the meeting was dispersed. We decided on a name and since we were going to spend a majority of our time in Barmer, we were christened "THE BARMER ARMY" (Oh. Thank you, you crazy English cricket supporters!).
We left for the December vacations and it was decided that everybody meet at Jodhpur railway station on 3rd January 2010 to begin the tour. Thus began a journey which will we are unlikely to forget in the near future.
NEXT: "Arrival: BARMER BANTERS"