Rotaract, I believe is a place where you explore yourself while exploring new things, you meet a lot of new people and make lifelong relationships, and while doing that you also develop yourself and contribute in benefitting and uplifting the society. I was 17 when I first joined Rotaract Club of Kasthamandap – unknown of what it was and what it meant to be a Rotaractor. I would say I tumbled into Rotaract while trying to explore new things, and I definitely fell into the right place. 2 and half years later in Rotaract and the greatest opportunity came my way when I was selected amongst the six people to participate in the Inter-District Youth Exchange Program (IDYEP) 2016 to Mumbai.
When I first read the email of my selection in the program, I was quite skeptical about if I wanted to go. I was concerned about missing a lot of classes, and… oh well, that’s all I was concerned about. But then I decided to give it a go and make the most of this opportunity. Little did I know, a great chunk of beautiful surprises awaited me.
The journey began on 27th August 2016 when we were all called for the orientation in Entrance Cafe, Pulchowk. The day I met with the team. Five of us who were in Kathmandu came for the orientation while one didn’t because he lives in Biratnagar. The first day I met with them, I was concerned if I would be able to jell up with these people, being the socially awkward person that I am. But I got very positive vibes from everyone from the very start.
Then started continuous phone calls from our team leader telling us to start packing and to convert our NCs into ICs. But the procrastinators that we are, did everything the night before we had to travel, leading to a sleepless night just before we started travelling for almost 50 hours continuously.
The next day we had to catch a microbus at 8 am for Biratnagar. However, sleepless nights plus unfinished packing plus procrastination again led to most of us being late. We made the bus wait for half an hour until all four of us arrived. One of us had already started travelling a day before so as to meet us directly in Biratnagar. After delaying the bus on self-demand, we started our travel. The travel was rather amazing and fun, except for the road with a lot of twists and turns, and have us a bit of a hard time. However, we reached Biratnagar with a lot of excitement and happiness.
Then we finally met with our team leader, the one and only Sajal Pokharel. He took us to his place to rest for a while, freshen up and get ready for the farewell program organised by Rotaract Club of Biratnagar. We were given a very warm and heartfelt farewell by the club.
We had what was our last proper Nepali dinner for the next 10 days. Then came the part where we had to cross the border. For someone like me, for whom it’s the first time crossing the border, I was quite amazed and shocked by the carefreeness of the people in the border. We finally reached Jogbani station, where we witnessed everyone staring at us as if we had come from another planet. Amused and shocked by everyone’s behaviour, we all went to a corner to avoid eye contact while our team leader went to book our tickets to Katihaar. Our train was scheduled to 2:30 am which meant that we had to wait for 4 long hours.
The 4-hour wait which we thought would be very long passed in the blink of an eye as we were bonding. During the wait happened a lot of things, I celebrated my 20th birthday with absolutely new people in my life, we were scolded by the people of the station for making too much noise, laughing our hearts out… and oh so many memories. Finally came the time to get on the train, and to finally have my first train experience. The weather perfectly complimented the excitement I was feeling. The thunderstorm, the drizzle and the cold breeze was all just perfect. We were basically going to live on trains for the next two days, so we were preparing ourselves for the journey. After we reached Katihaar at 6 in the morning, we were in a rush because we had our train at 6:30 to Mumbai.
The 36-hour train to Mumbai was another unforgettable experience. A lot of inside jokes, nicknames, and funny stories were the outcome of the journey.
After 36 hours, we reached our long-awaited destination, Mumbai. My first impression of Mumbai was that it was way too crowded, and full of people rushing to reach somewhere. In the Kalyan Station, we were picked up by our first host club, Rotaract Club of Ambernath. We were tired, and hungry and needed a proper bath, but as soon as we got off our train, we again had to get into a local train in the very crowded luggage section, standing with our luggage on, – that was our first local train experience. The best part of this day was the dinner, – a proper dinner after 2 days, and wow, it was so delicious. After the dinner and the formal Rotaract letterhead exchange, we went back to the apartment we were staying in, where began the streak of sleepless nights for the next five days.
The second day started off with our first dose of extremely spicy breakfast and also being acquainted with the Bangladeshi team and Delhi team. We were then ‘given away’ to another host club – Rotaract Club of Ambernath East. The club that introduced us to the phrase ‘What happens in Ambernath stays in Ambernath’. The club that gave us the most fun car rides and bike rides. The club that took us to Parle-G factory. And the club that hosted the most epic pool party!
The third morning started off with our third host club coming to pick us up. We were given away to Rotaract Club of Uhlaasnagar Sapnagarden- the club with the sweetest people who are very good with names! This day, the Tamil Nadu team joined us. This day was a religious one! We were given a tour to some of the famous temples of Uhlaasnagar and a taste of their culture. With Ganesh Chaturthi the next day, the excitement in the streets were so evident. We were very much pumped up because of the energy we were witnessing, except for our team leader. He was “pumped down”- sick, in the bed for the next 2 days. We had to leave him in Uhlaasnagar only and move on as we were given away to another club the very evening.
We were so tired after three days of fun and sleepless nights that we all fell asleep throughout the train journey to meet our next host club. Rotaract Club of Saraswati College and Rotaract Club of Navi Mumbai Hillside jointly hosted us that evening. Rotaract Club of Saraswati College, the club with the most active engineers and Rotaract Club of Navi Mumbai Hillside, the club with the very adventurous members. We were set to go on a trek the next day, so we slept earlier than previous days to charge ourselves up. The next day, we were taken to a 7-hour trek, which as we were told was supposed to be very easy – so easy we could do it in our normal shoes. But, it was the complete opposite. However, it was the most fun we had. We trekked all the way to 2,400 meters above sea level to Prabalghad, Kalawantin. After coming back from the trek, we freshened up and went to Saraswati College for Ganesh Chaturthi. Then, we were instructed by our next home club to sleep early this night because the next day was going to be hectic.
The next day, we were again given away to another club, – Rotaract Club of Dombivli. The club that made sure all our wishes on our bucket list got checked off. We were reunited with our team leader again on this day, and we were finally feeling complete. This club had warned us that this day was going to be hectic. And we were ready for it because we are Nepalese people full of energy. This club made sure we did not sleep all night. we went to all the exciting places on this day, Bandra Bandstand, McDonalds, Marine Drive, Gateway of India and so on. This was the day we danced on the road with the local people.This was the day we had that extremely fun yet emotional dinner with RID 3142. This was the day we actually experienced the excitement of Ganesh Chaturthi. The day we didn’t sleep at all.
The final day, the day we left Mumbai. This day started in a lot of rush of getting ready, finishing packing and leaving for the station but whilst in that rush, there was also a sadness within us because this extraordinary journey was coming to an end. When we reached the station after having lunch, we were waiting for our train, while we came to know that it had been delayed for 7 hours. So, normally a news like this is a bad news but for us, it was 7 more hours to spend in Mumbai with our friends. We went to Marine Drive again, and the memories we created on this day were probably the most unforgettable ones. All my wishes had been fulfilled in this trip, except for the one, that was to go to Starbucks. However, I was so satisfied with this trip that it didn’t matter that this wish wasn’t fulfilled or not. But in the last hour, when we having dinner and were already very emotional, these amazing people made sure even this wish got fulfilled and they took us to Starbucks. And finally, it was time to say Goodbye. When I came for this trip, I didn’t have the slightest of an idea that I would leave in tears but I did.
I met so many amazing people here, made so many friends. I have five people to call my family, my team Nepal. I got a sister from this trip, who I can fight with for no reason and also talk about serious stuff with. I got a very special elder brother from this trip who takes care of me, annoys me and fights with me. But he is the sweetest person ever. I got a really great friend from this trip, who is filled with so much energy and enthusiasm that you just want to dance when you’re with him. And I got two amazing brothers from this trip who make me laugh so hard, that I can fall off the sofa and still keep laughing. And the friends I made in Mumbai.. only god knows how much I miss them and how much they mean to me even when we spent very less time together. All I can say is Mumbai is dearly missed and the people, they are what I miss the most.