The first week of October also saw a new batch of students entering the campus. They came in as a whiff of fresh air for the students of Batch 5, who were facing many a turmoil due to recession in the markets. Many new girls caught the eyes of the boys who were in their best behavior and clothes.
An informal ice-breaking session was conducted in the first weekend, to get to know the new batch. A fun filled two-and-a-half-hour session ensued where the entire batch of 48 students were asked to perform a few tasks. Towards the end of the session, Ashima walked up to the front of the class to make an announcement.
“Folks, it was a wonderful opportunity getting to know you all on a personal level. On behalf of the students of Batch 5, it gives me great opportunity to invite you all for the Fresher’s Party to be conducted in two weeks time. The theme for the party will be disclosed just a few days before.”
Ayushman joined Ashima “But before you people start rejoicing about the Fresher’s Party, let me break some bad news”
Groans were heard from all corners of the class.
“Its tradition in our college to conduct a business plan competition just a week before the fresher’s. We introduce you all to BLINK…an annual competition, where all of you will be tested on your presentation skills and innovative ideas.
Business plans are decision making tools. A good business plan can help to make a good business credible, understandable and attractive to someone who is unfamiliar with the idea. Preparing a business plan draws on a wide range of knowledge from many different business disciplines.”
Ashima chipped in “The entire class will be divided into 6 teams of 8 each. The common ground for all of you would be e – business, with respect to specific domains that will include Auction, e – learning, Entertainment, Investment, Kids, Matrimony, Real Estate, Social Networking and Sports”
“The terms and conditions for the contest along with the list of groups will be mailed across to your group ID. Any clarifications, you people can always reach out to me,” concluded Ayushman.
At the end of it, Ayushman heaved a huge sigh of relief. It had been one hell of a ride to convince the class to adhere to the tradition at the campus. Because of the placement scenario, which was nowhere close to satisfying, most of the Batch 5 students were least interested in conducting the event. They wanted all their energies to be focused on the placements.
But Ayushman was different. He wanted the contest to happen and had his selfish reasons as well. Ayushman, by nature was hungry for fame.
He lobbied hard and managed to get them interested in the event. Ashima on the other hand worked hard in the girls’ hostel to make sure the fairer sex understand the importance of the contest being held. Finally there was a consensus on everything. From people sitting in the class to attend the contest, to the topics that were to be given to the juniors, everything was agreed upon.
A lot of ego-messaging was done to get the guys and the girls ready and Ayushman and his team made sure they leave no stone unturned to make the event one of the best ever held in the history of the college.
12th October 2011, the day of the BLINK dawned. The judges for the evening were Mr. Sainath, a former alumnus and a financial analyst, and Mr. Krishnan, a software engineer from Microsoft. Ayushman and Ashima were the unanimous choices for hosting the event.
This day was going to be the turning point in the life of Ayushman Bhatnagar.
Ashima was looking very pretty that day. Dressed in a white salwar kameez, she was dressed to kill. As he walked towards her, he saw her talking to Rahul. She was pretty, he thought. And when he finally joined them, she looked his way with a pair of hazy eyes that kept on coming.
“Hi,” she said as she offered her hand, “I m pretty nervous. I hope you aren’t. Hope we do a good job in there.”
But as he shook her hand and met those striking brown eyes, he knew before he’d taken his next breath that she was the one he could spend the rest of his life with. She seemed that good, that perfect…Ayushman was completely bowled over.
Ayushman and Ashima started the proceedings and each of the 6 teams proved their mettle, vying for the first place. The judges had a tough task in deciding the winners as every team tried outdoing the other.
After the event the judges spoke a few words of encouragement for both the batches. They said they understood the difficulty the seniors would have gone through coming up with the contest especially because the placement season was on and was impacted by the ongoing slowdown.
They saluted the resilience shown by the students of Batch 5 in these times of distress. Unfortunately not any of them knew that this show of strength was fading at a cancerous speed with every passing day.
All through this, Ayushman was absolutely quiet. He was so smitten by Ashima that he couldn’t peel his eyes off her.
“What is happening to me?” he wondered.
Later that night, Ayushman was very restless in his room. He just couldn’t take his mind away from Ashima. As much as he tried shutting her out of his mind, she kept flirting in absence.
He dished out his mobile from under the pillow and re-read the message she had sent him last week.
“Tomorrow, at 6 in the evening. I shall meet you in Barista,” he replied back.
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