The unimaginable happened at the DI picnic on Sunday, 15 January 2023. As the bright winter sun shone on the beautiful gardens of Bishnu Bijoli Gardens, eager children gathered in the open lawn near the busy selfie corner, all geared up to flex their muscles as they lined up for the much-awaited annual picnic tug of war. Earlier Leslie had announced that there would be three contests – one for the children, one for the ladies and one for the men waiting to show their strength. The very experienced and beautifully aged DI tug-of-war jute rope was laid out like a long serpent on the vibrant green grass. Its thickness looked intimidating as we imagined holding and pulling it with all our might when our turns came. The first session was for the children of DI and while one expected it to be fun, it was the prelude to the real ‘challenge’ which the men and women teams would present soon after the children’s session was over. The children were divided into two teams, the rope was tied around the waists of the anchors. Everyone was geared up for the action to follow as both the teams would tug at their end of the hallowed rope. At the word ‘Go’ the most unexpected thing happened – initially it seemed that both the teams had won as they fell, one on top of another, and after a moment of stunned silence we realised the rope had decided to be impartial and multiply – one rope became two – it broke from the middle as it was tugged leaving both teams on the ground with their half of the rope. What followed was unbelievable laughter of having witnessed what no one could have thought. After the laughter at the unexpected turn of events, there was no returning with further ladies and men sessions. The hope of men wanting to showcase their strength lay in pieces along with the rope. Children however remained unfazed and decided that the rope was the best toy – they continued playing with it right till it was time to say goodbye.
Our member, Saumitra Banerjee, shares his tongue-in-cheek view of the history that was made:
Where do I begin to tell the story of how great a picnic can be? Where do I start? It began, as it should be, with the appearance of an attractive lady (to be fair, all the ladies were so attractive that I was spoilt for choice ?). Les, Amit and I were sitting under an umbrella on an unusually warm January afternoon when this lady approached Les and said (I dare say commandeered) that the tug of war be proceeded with. Les, caressing his prosperous belly, said it should take place after lunch; presumably to garner strength. Innocently, for this was only the first DI picnic I had attended in my 40 years of membership (do you believe that my monthly subscription is Rs 1.18? Incredible, isn't it?), I thought what a wonderful idea it was. First burn your calories then put them on again after a hefty and generous lunch. Well, so the lady had her way, Les became the MC, and the tug (on hindsight, ugh -- my tongue firmly tucked into my cheek) began. Me, stupid as usual, watched as Les and his accomplices (??) began the show. The MC (you should have seen the seriousness on his face) began the proceedings, instructing kids, according to height, line up on either side of the rope. The whistle blew, the kids tugged... And viola, the rope collapsed. Magic, thanks to Les and his accomplices. It was the most heartwarming moment in my life after a long time. No losers; all winners. Not a single wet eye among the kids, all laughing and me cheering from the wings. If this is not a happy, fabulous picnic, then what is? Any answers?
We started this report with the highlight of the day, since it demanded the top place in this day’s recounting. Now we get back to the rest of the day which was filled with fun games, lip-smacking food, chilled beer, hot tea-coffee, some impromptu crooning, some celeb-singing, some line-dancing, a treasure hunt, games, catching up with friends, basking in the winter sun on this memorable DI Picnic. The day of the DI picnic arrived with the winter morning clouds adding to the chill of the season. The gorgeous Bishnu Bijoli Gardens were all set up and ready for the eager DI-picnic aficionados. The green garden, lined with pretty flowers, colourful umbrellas and tables made a welcoming sight as members started arriving. The proximity of this amazing site to DI, gave everyone the chance to arrive at their own time, in their own rides. Sufficient parking with valet service ensured a smooth arrival for all those who came in at leisure. The day before, the entertainment committee led by Tanya had come to our designated picnic spot (if the extensive grounds flanked by vast bungalows could be termed as 'spot'), for last minute checks and to ensure that the set-up was spot-on. Members greeted each other with bright smiles as they took in the striking sight. They walked around, exploring, taking pictures and selfies. The bountiful bougainvillaea shrub was a natural selfie point for many. The selfie corner had members and the guests taking pictures and children enjoyed the open grounds to run around and play. Coco, the most patient and friendly dog was playfully caressed by all children and seemed to be the mascot for the day.
Little Jayden, dressed in a lovely bright red, was the designated photographer – his focus and dedication throughout the day was inspiring and so good to see. In between the fun, a delicious breakfast put everyone into the right mood. But there is a space reserved for food feedback later! Little Chitrangada and Keerat impressed with their back-arches and cart-wheels; Nasim Uncle enjoyed playing ball with a whole bunch of kids including his grandchildren Zayn and Kaira. Badminton players were everywhere alongside football and cricket. A chilled-out family was playing Uno as they sat on the green grass and basked in the winter morning sun, punctuated by a brightly coloured Frisbee flying across. Members climbed up to the terrace to take in the picturesque view below. Some decided to make that their initial lair till the scent of delicious food tempted them down.
Lorraine and Leslie gathered the children and encouraged adults to join the games after breakfast. Teams were formed and several ball games were played with much cheering and joy as teams vied to win. The first round of entertaining games came to an end with a ‘sweet treasure hunt’ where teams went hunting for sweets scattered and hidden across the gardens. The team with the most sweets won and went on to enjoy the sweet wins after sharing with the other teams. A game of musical chairs was organised on the suggestion of Pradipta Dey, who with her 70+ years of experience and enthusiasm won the game. It was a treat and inspiring to see the septuagenarian in action. She truly lived it up and graciously accepted the prize of a box of chocolates. Ishaan was a generous and chivalrous “runner up” - though he wasn’t allowed to run!
Some impromptu crooning by Dr Gargi Banerjee, Leonardo, Christabel and Leslie added to the joyful mood. Siddharth Pathak, lead vocalist of Wagah Road, treated us to some uptempo singing before lunch. Post lunch, as everyone, with content hearts and full stomachs, lamented the calories they had taken in during the day, a game of Housie was wisely organised. The sumptuous lunch meant we could no longer move, as we sat in the winter sun and gentle cool winds blew. Three quick rounds of Housie followed along with tea and biscuits served at the tables. We had several winners – Nandita, Naskar, Swapna, Nahid, Pooja, Dapinder, Nitya, Jackie, Gurbaz along with the husband wife duo of Andrew and Sandra took home their booty. The Food DI had arranged a good layout of beverages. From everyone’s favourite chilled beer there was a variety on offer to satisfy everyone’s preference of poison. Unlimited on-the-house cold drinks and mineral water ensured the children and members had their share of drinks and mixes readily available and sponsored. Peanuts, chips could be bought separately, though not really needed.
Picnic food is always enjoyed and with Saqi Caterers, the food that was served was relished and devoured in equal measure. Hot puffed peas kachuri and kosha aloo dum along with the most delicious Darbesh was the buffet breakfast. Hot tea-coffee followed. While we did give into the temptation of having that one extra kachuri, the awareness and responsibility of keeping some space for the mouth-watering mid-day snacks to follow, kept some of us in check. We were rewarded by the most tempting rounds of snacks that came to us as we sat on our tables, chatting away. From hot freshly made (read the non-frozen variety) French fries, paneer pakoras, cheese corn balls to Chicken Cordon Bleu, cocktail fish fry, every single item was remarkable in its taste and flavour. The sumptuous buffet lunch comprised fragrant Dehradun rice, moong dal, crisp jhuri aloo bhaja, begun bhaja, aloo phulgobi tarkari as the common fare along with salad, papad, chutney and sweets. Shahi Paneer and kofta curry for herbivores and Shahi chicken and mutton curry for the carnivores. Gur Sandesh, paathi shapta and paan provided the perfect ending to this memorable meal.
Tea-coffee and biscuits were served as Housie was played in the evening before sunset. The menu and the food was quite a topic of discussion as everyone enjoyed their day of gastronomic indulgence. As the day ended, the much needed and heartfelt vote of thanks was given to the Entertainment Committee and to all those who put in time and effort in pulling this wonderful day together for us members and our guests. The owners of the beautiful Bishnu Bijoli Gardens, Bikash, Aritra and Bidisha Roy graciously joined us for the picnic and DI is grateful for their generosity and graciousness.
It had been a truly remarkable day!
Picnicker speak: “We are having an amazing time here. Such a bright day, nice day and we are having a lot of fun” – Alka
“I really enjoyed the picnic by Dalhousie Institute and we are having a lot of fun with our family. I liked all the games here and the food served…everything – the place – everything” – Saadia
“Great vibes. Everyone is enjoying themselves and loving it .. hope it goes on” – Siddharth, Wagah Road.
“I am a second generation member of DI. My parents were members and coming to this picnic is fabulous and it brings back childhood memories – played lots of games, lots of music….It is lovely to see all the members … it’s a beautiful place actually. Fantastic DI, just keep doing this” – Kaajal Banerjee
“First time for me at DI picnic. I have come from Gurgaon two days back and have come with my friends who asked me about this picnic. Thank God we came here, it is good enjoyment. Having a lot of fun with my friends, son and mother. Look forward to more such engagements if I am in Calcutta next time” – Avishikta.
Some links: https://www.facebook.com/100063706733471/posts/pfbid0tikvtj44FQpcgt21SkY2GtmKnVHVYvjLaFRez74DKoXdYgfQaDjzTz2EixDDPSbMl/?mibextid=Nif5oz
Check out the picnic photos on our website:Picnic Gallery