What every Loyolite looks forward to in the 12th is undoubtedly LAfest. For those who dont know, it is an interschool cultural festival completely organised and conducted by the students of class 11th and 12th, the latter being the kingpins :) Our batch had hosted the 11th LAfest when we were in our 11th std and now it was the 12th... "All the world's a stage... here is the spotlight" ran the motto.
But this year, there was a problem.. the driving force behind it all, right from the very first LAfest to the 11th - DP (of whom I've already spoken) was no longer with us, atleast no longer with us all the time. So, yet another hurdle for our batch. (Recurring misfortune has been very special to our batch.. right from the 10th. We got our board exam papers corrected by someone who really hated humanity)... ah fine... so this was our LAfest and we had to make rock it.
(brace yourself, this is an epic)
The preparations started about a month back. Since DP could only come on weekends, we had to make sure everything went on smoothly. Meanwhile, the dear ol ex-loyolites assured us that they would help us all through the thing, which they did most beautifully, not interfering too much, yet helpful in the most helpful sort of way. We, after much looking-into-timetables-of-other-schools, kept it for the ninth of July. That was close indeed! We swung into action... held meetings, formed committees and made sure everyone had a part. While everything was heating up pretty alarmingly, we postponed it to 23rd of July... for the better. We had much more time now. Since DP wasn't here, we couldnt do the usual - come to school, dump the bag, get out of class, LAfest, LAfest, LAfest, go back home - kinda stuff. We had to make do with as much time as we could squeeze out of free periods and by begging our teachers to give us a period off. In between all this, we had dear ol' DP coming to school on weekends and reviewing the whole thing. The coordinators were a really efficient gang; together they made sure all the essentials were ready - inviting schools, sending brochures and of course, what they do - coordination. So hats off to you guys!
We had a new event this year... after much sittings and debates, we had decided on a street play.. Details were all worked out by the community members, they made sure all went out without a glitch. Meanwhile my event, block and tangles was one of the oldest ones, so it was upto a team of eight hosts(two per round) to think up something novel so that the audience would like it. After some brainstorming sessions, we fixed up four rounds on the eve of one DP's visits... only to be forced to redo the whole thing. This, and the 'presentation' was to go on till the night before LAfest. We sat and put down questions, tore up innumerable scraps of paper, accused each other of blasphemy, treason and what not. It was quite fun, anyway :)
The weekend just preceding LAfest... On saturday the boys of 11th had come and we made them do what we did last year - 'physical work' - euphemism for pulling up weeds, cleaning toilets, fixing flag-poles, at the end of which everyone was left with varied opinions about them. Achuth of the other class...whatever... not going into all that now. On Sunday, we blew our brains gettting everything fixed up. The more problems we solved, even more kept cropping up. DP was to be given a tribute in the form of a presentation, the judges were to be briefed, questions for events were to be printed, judges-score sheets, gap fillers(more on that later), time keeping and what not. Asti(aka. Rahul R) was constantly helping the quiz team, the jukebox dudes and did the same all through LAfest and we all thanked him from the bottom of our hearts. Ganesh(gman), Kichu, KC, were all out to help us as we got ready for the big day. Thank you chettas!
We went home late at night.
I had a gap filler and was informed about it in the last moment... I planned to do my ol' trick - a violin classical-fusion, complete with background score(which I had composed in my dabba thanks to a composer software I had). It was partly inspired (rather, fuelled) by the fact that I had overheard some people in St. Thomas remarking that my drumming for Metallica at SanRevo wasnt that good. I somehow had to make an impression (it was a prestige isuue :) so there it was...
The big day dawned.. rather I dawned before the big day did. Half past five in the morning. Guru had very enthusiastically demanded that I start from home at 5.45, which I had very energetically turned down, and so I rambled off from home at 6.15. At the bus stand I met Rahul("Mad" Mike, lead guitarist for the band I am the drummer for) and we got into a rickety ol' bus and parked our bums. After general comments on how bad the T-shirt was and how really retarded it was, the conversation droned off to less interesting topics and then waned. There was an unsually cold breeze which made me wonder if Guru would really have lasted all the way to school if he had started off at 5.45...we took an auto from Sreekariyam to the school.
Everything was almost up and ready in the Sutter hall... The programme would start in a few hours. I met up with the remaining Block and Tangles gang and got everything ready. Holy Angels ISC(universally referred to as HAC:) had already landed. The rest were yet to come.
Time flew and the ceremony started. I kinda screwed up the intro to the school song, but that was only a few seconds. After everyone had sat following the prayer, the real heat was on... This was our thing! We had to get it done! After Mr. Ganesh Kumar's(the chief guest) speech, our Principal came up and spoke a few words. The lighting of the lamp was unlike that in any other school fest, where the Principal, school leader, Vice Principal, Treasurer and who-not of that school come up to light the lamp... Here, the school leaders of all the participating schools lit the lamp.. signifying that this was truly a student-event... Hail LAfest!
Next up came the age-old LAfest song.. La lalalala la la la la laa la... LAfest! Succeeding that, was a sort of show.. the stage filled up with smoke, curtain slowly rises.. Cradle of filth's "Hallowed be thy name"(originally Iron Maiden) played.. and the whole crowd started headbanging.. mm.. would have been fun but the audience turned out to be so dumb that they stared and listened.. sad.. this dumbess would reverberate later, through Block and tangles and all through La Persona, when most of the hosts' funny comments fell flat.
Harmony was up first... struggling to keep time, coping up with the delays of the participants. Arun "Mega"Dutt, ex-Loyolite and Axeman for "Rubbur Band" was among the judges. After all the psychedelic performances, St.Thomas came up last with a gang and just an acoustic gutiar.. and proved it all.. simple and clean - that heavy synths and expensive drumkits aren't the magic. After Harmony was over somehow, there was a lull and the publicity team made a gesture to me to head over to the stage for my gap filler. Hoping they would not cut me off in the middle of my song due to lack of time, I began... it was a smooth flow till the end, and I was greeted with a very good round of applause. Feeling quite happy with myself, I got off the stage and joined my friends when I heard to my astonishment that the HAC girls had given me a standing ovation! Well..well... :)
Next up was the Quiz - "Scientia es potentia". It went without any major porblem. The audience was really focused on what was happening, something which was not the case, say last year or so. Cheers to the quiz team! Meanwhile I had to go and join the BlocknTangles team to get updated about the prelims and to lunch before we had to brief the finalists. Heard that HAC gave a good performance, and that there was a talented guy in St. Mary's, Poojappura. The teams that would battle it through in the finals were HAC, STCS (St.Thomas Central), St.Mary's (Poojappura) and Trins(or TIS-Trivandrum International School). The luch was mainly fast food, but filling. A big paneer roll, a doughnut, a puff, something-else-which-i-dont-remember, and a pack of Real Juice made up my veg meal. Then it was back to BlocknTangles.
The briefing took place in the multimedia lab. It was very informal and we felt quite good as we chatted up the participants and made everything clear as to what challenges(!) they might be getting in the finals. Here again, the 11th ushers showed they were not of any use as the participants had to go back to their rooms alone... pity.
Dramatis Localo, the street play event was just after lunch. I completely missed it because we (the BnT team) were reclining in the lab and getting everyting ready for the next event, which was ours. At about 1445, the stage was cleared for Block and Tangles. While we seated the teams as the curtain was down, Arjun sang "Main hoon Don" fronstage, and boys did the audience love it! His voice, coupled with the effect of the song... wah!
The curtains lifted. First two rounds went without a hitch, except for the intro music and exit music(in short, the MUSIC) being messed up due to some unknown spirit in the computer. The third round was the dubbing round, which had been screwed up last year due to "technical difficulties". Now, we watched it go by smoothly. Till the last team. Till the middle of the video they were dubbing.. The spirit... the cursed devil which haunts BnT every year, struck precisely at that moment. The computers hung. Crashed. Trins, who was the last team, refused to return to their seats. Host Akshay then consoled them and told them that they would be evaluated on basis of their performance in whatever part they dubbed. Next up was mine-and-Guru's round. The audience was pretty restless after the crash and I had to fight to get their attention. Made up some funny stuff onstage, but it all fell flat.. dumb audience... again. But the participants had a nice time. We signed off the event after our round. Applause :)
I still ask Derrish how it turned out that ALL the music for Block and Tangles got messed up :|
Next was what everyone had been (or we had assumed would be) waiting for: what proclaimed itself to be THE best personality contest in the whole of kerala... LaPersona. Hosted by Tushar, Ashique and Kevin, they had made it sure that it would be a runaway sucess. They even had a fourth host, Bob, who was a dummy from Raymonds. And boy the audience was most intelligent. Each and every funny or kinda chuckle-inducing comment fell flat. Jokes centering around Bob simply didn't click. The part where the guys walk out, saying "Well, now we come to the surprise round.. and it is called - THE END" , after which Bob says (is made to say) "BOB DEMANDS HUMAN SACRIFICE!!!" was met with blank stares. *What the -*
All this while I have contained myself from speaking about one thing - the cheering by Holy Angels'. At any points of time, I saw various people casting a worried look at the roof and walls of the old Sutter hall.. you know... think soprano, shattering glass... Righto. These girls were screaming HA-ISC (as in heich- ay - Ai S SEE) and "angels gonna rock you" and stuff... Many were th etimes they cheered for our school. I don't know the point of the whole thing but this is it. Think bleeding ears.
After some lull following La Persona, we had the Dance-O-mania event. HAC rocked the stage, followed cosely by STCS and STRS. But the height of everything was undoubtedly what we reserved for the last... dance by loyola. What movements, what music... We had all the people from other schools (including girls) dancing right at the place where they were standing... such was the effect!
All this while, we had been missing DP and we had to give a final farewell to her. We had prepared a presentation as our thanksgiving and... well watch for yourself.
At the end of this, DP was called onto stage by coordinator Joshua and the crowd cheered their lungs out for her. DP is as well known as LAfest itself! A Highly emotional address to the students followed, at the end of which we felt we HAD given her a warm farewell.
All good things do come to an end and so we had to wind it up... The prize winning was one hell of a moment for eveyone. Before that, the closing ceremony was 'chief-guested' by Job, singer of sorts. He kept giving the "Rock on.." sign(index finger+little finger) for some indipop song (!), anyways besides that, he sang well and we were happy that he was an ex-Lafestian(new term?) from BVB. (BVB-applause goes here).. he confirmed strongly that LAfest is THE best fest of its kind in Trivandrum, which received thunderous applause from everyone out there.
As for the prizes, Holy Angels made a clean sweep and kept hugging each other after winning some prize... then came the time for the overall champions..the people standing near the HAC side moved out cutiously.. "HAC" and the thunderstorm came... A crowd of jumping, screaming girls ( :p ) jumped onto the stage and toook down the HUge Natraj we had reserved for the first! The girls fell over each other and hugged, and kissed(!)
After that din was happily over, we cheered for ourselves... the exloyolites and everyone who had been part of this.. and the Sutter Hall shook in pride of the 12th time it was part of this fantastic interschool festival... May it live on for ever and may LAfest go on, inspiring every boy and girl in the city on the spirit of fun and competition.