But that's not all... being an official-type organization, there was lots of time to be spent tidying up official loose ends.
We spent about a week back at the main NIM campus de-issuing gear, doing a bit more rock climbing, practicing the graduation ceremony, and, most importantly, going into town so the long-deprived students could have some junk food. Junk food in this case means chaats, street food, often fried, frequently sweet, and, as required by the definition of street food, largely without redeeming nutritional value but fun to eat! Tikki burgers (fried potato patties on a roll with chili sauce), dahi puri (fried crunchies with sweet sauce and chili sauce and yogurt), and jalebis (fried swirls of batter subsequently saturated in sugar syrup)... sense a trend?
But the more important graduation ceremony was carried out in good style, followed by a "cultural" presentation - everything from Bollywood-style dance numbers to skits about decompressing from the NIM experience to local dance and traditional music. Students returned their stylish NIM graduation sweaters and were suddenly faced with that inevitable end of such an intense ordeal and bonding experience. Hasty goodbyes and early-morning departures left some relieved, some hoping to see new friends on the Advanced Course next year.
I personally am ready for some down time, and am looking forward to a visit with two new friends, one from the mountain bike race, one from the Basic Course, in Chennai. Mmm... warm weather.