Songs and dance,classical music,sound of blowing of conch-shells reverberated in the lawns of the St. Xaviers College campus as Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee lit the lamp for the function to mark the completion of 150 years of the institution.
The ambience was sedate even though the sense of jubilation was palpable among the scores of students and members of the alumni who had gathered for the function that was to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Though the PMs visit was cancelled at the last hour,nobody seemed to be complaining. While the CM made a passing reference to it in his speech,none of the other speakers mentioned it.
The spirit was high,the chin was up. And the mood was festive.
The tone of the function was set right by a spectacular ballet accompanied by the song shimar majhe ashim tumi,a Rabindrasangeet of pooja category. The melody of the song as well as the fabulous choreography left the audience spellbound.
The speeches were short and the one by Hashim Abdul Halim,who graduated from the college in 1959,was filled with peals of laughter as he recounted his days as a student of the college.
We did not have the privilege of having girl students here as you have now, Halim told the students. We used to meet girls outside the gates. Of course,they were from Loreto House, Halim said amid roars of laughter.
It served as a breather for the chief minister too. After being regaled with songs and dazzling performances,he later joined crucial talks with members of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha at Writers Buildings.
In his speech,the CM referred to his favourite Dickensian phrase Best of times and worst of times to describe the situation in the world.
Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi,who was supposed to attend the function,did not come. Raj Bhavan sources said it was because of protocol problems.