-By Brave Flower-
It was December, the time for our annual office picnic. It was customary for us to select one picnic spot and spend a day there with our families. Usually we go on this trip the weekend before Christmas and this time the manager had chosen a riverside. We split ourselves into two groups and one group left on Saturday afternoon to enjoy camping, fishing, bonfire and stargazing. The rest of us joined them the next day for breakfast with our families. Breakfast was prepared by 4 of our executives who were good cooks. They had also volunteered to prepare a great lunch for us.
We reached the destination by 10 am and had an English breakfast that consisted of bread, eggs, fruits, cornflakes with a choice between coffee and tea. The breakfast was kept simple because they always concentrate on the great lunch which they take great pride in cooking.
After having breakfast, the children went to play the games that we arranged for them like musical chairs, treasure hunt, story writing and other activities. This was taken care by a group of colleagues who were in charge of the children. One of the activities involved the children playing a game where they were divided into two teams and were given 5 minutes to dig the riverbed and whichever team struck water first would win. Adults had different kind of games too like dancing singing, narrating incidents etc.
Since it was winter, the water flow of the river was at half and we had pitched the tents on the riverbed. At that time, I noticed a fisherman (dressed in typical fisherman clothing which consisted of lungi, vest and pointed hat) rowing a boat. My friends and I (we were all women) decided to ask him to take us on a small boat ride. When I asked him he refused to take us. We even offered to pay him but he told us that he felt women couldn’t balance on such a small boat and he flatly denied us. I got frustrated and asked him to explain about how men are able to have families if women didn’t know how to balance. He still maintained his stance and took 4 of our male colleagues instead, on the boat ride. We returned to our spot and continued chitchatting. A few minutes later we heard screams and people were running towards the river. I turned around and saw the boat floating upside down in the river and my colleagues were wading out of the water totally drenched. The fisherman was nowhere to be found.
I started searching for him to ask him why his men failed to balance and ended up in the river but couldn’t get a hold of him. None of my colleagues interfered and they were standing with an amused look on their faces. They knew that I never participated in discussions regarding which gender is better or weaker etc. I believe that men and women each have their own abilities and can overcome each other’s shortcomings by functioning together. They were all wondering what that man would’ve said to me to make me this angry.
I gave up my search and later on found out that he had swam to the other side of the riverbank as he was worried he would run into me. One of my senior colleagues approached me and told me that the person wasn’t actually a fisherman but was our company’s cashier. He was dressed in that outfit to get into the holiday mood and he had too much to drink. He had found the boat by the riverside and started rowing and his team didn’t object as the water was just 6 feet deep and it wasn’t dangerous and they were close by in case something happened.
I was startled at this since he had looked totally different in that attire and also because he was usually a very reserved and well behaved person. Everyone laughed it off and went back to their activities. That was when our cashier returned to our side of the riverbank but was avoiding the place where I was seated. I went up to him and told him that he should take part in the fancy dress competition that we hosted at our club and that he would definitely take home the first prize. I guess the fall he took in the river had sobered him up as he apologised for his earlier comment. He told that what he actually meant to say was that he didn’t want to risk taking women boating as he was drunk. This incident earned him the nickname ‘Fisherman’.
It was time for lunch and the menu was Chicken Biryani and Fried Fish for the non vegetarians and Bisibala Bath, Potato Cutlet and Curd Rice for the vegetarians and ice cream for dessert. All the dishes were delicious and we all ate to our hearts content.
After lunch few of us took a walk while some of us took a nap and the rest of us continued the conversations.
Soon the evening came upon us which meant that it was time to pack up. We started cleaning up the place and gathered the children and completed the head count before we started back. This year was a unique one and all the credit went to the cashier.
On our way back we were discussing about the venue for the next trip. The happy memories of this trip created a positive energy in us which we will take with us when we step into the New Year.