Monday, December 24, 2012

School Reunion

(Had to make an effort this time to access the Net. A School reunion after 33 years just had to be written while the memories are still fresh. Still left-handed and still in Chennai)


When Gautam Banerjee (do not be mislead - the school was in Neyveli not Calcutta) called me up for a reunion of my batch at Jawahar Higher Secondary School Neyveli, I jumped at the chance. Not only because I'd get to meet quite a few of my batch-mates after a third of a century but also to reassure myself that it was not I alone who had changed for the worse. True I had shot up six inches in height since school but I had put on about the same around the waist and losing some weight on top of the head - leaving the head as shiny as a reflector - could by no means be considered a compensation. In this expectation I was sorely disappointed. Gautam, as befitted the chief organizer, satisfied me most thoroughly. Sivakumar, a co-organizer, did his best too and the other organizer Babu tried his best but could only manage to look less of a skeleton than he did at school.

The other lot of guys were really horrid. None of them - bar Venkatesh - seemed to have acquired a dignified paunch. The girls too showed no compassion - most looked positively glamorous. I must single out my ire for P.Suresh, T.C.Ravi, B.S.Murali and M.S.Lakshmi - all of whom looked as though all that they needed to get back to studying class X was the school uniform. I had to console myself with the thought that they could not get in to see an "A" movie without showing age-proof and try to hide my waistline behind my plaster-cast inadequately.

That, however, was the only disappointment. The ride to Neyveli with Venkatesh and T.C. Ravi was fun. P.Suresh, who was with us initially along with his son, was rattled by too many skeletons tumbling out of his school closet with his son listening in eagerly and chose to run to safer havens. We arrived in great spirits at Neyveli to a warm welcome by Gautam, Siva and Babu. None of our teachers could make it but S.Nalini - who looked as hefty as at school only more so - made up for it by bossing us around. Luckily for us she did not try to make us kneel down or stand on the bench - creaky knees do not permit such exercises.

Thirty-three years of living cannot readily be compressed into ninety seconds of narration but managed it. From the chap who somehow became a Canadian dentist to the chap who became a planned redundancy (yours truly) we had them all in the 40-50 batch-mates present there - doctors, engineers, realtors, entrepreneurs, executives and home-makers. Having been a quiet, mousy chap with my nose perpetually buried in a book while at school, I was amazed that quite a few of them knew me though a lot of them probably thought I had gate-crashed the party and merely remained quiet because they were feeling too good to cause a ruckus. (NO! It was not my sneaky way of having my current pic on my FB profile that allowed some to pretend to remember me. Just because most of those who did not know me were non-FB users you cannot cast such wild allegations!)

Tea-time was when we started the serious business of catching up. Within no time we were flinging insults at each other like in school - insults that would have got us bashed up, in court for slander or in jail for leaking official secrets depending on the insulted person's nature and status. Here they only evoked belly laughs and the laughing was almost continuous till we had to part. As Suchitra - the Narain version - put it, adult life meant that we only infrequently opened our mouths wide - for the doctor to peer at our tonsils - so this much  full-throated laughter was actually causing the jaws to ache.

Around seven we left to park ourselves at the various rooms arranged by the organizers and reassembled at eight for dinner. Venkatesh, TC Ravi, Anand and I had a sneak preview of the school on the way and had a small chat with the current principal who first tried to shoo us off as intruders but stayed to chat and even permitted us to look around. The school is now bifurcated in two - with one half catering to the state board students and the other to CBSE students. The CBSE school that we studied in is now the state board school.

At dinner, food seemed to be the last thing on people's minds while everyone was chatting and laughing - and photographing, of course. There were a few changes in conversational styles, however. At school it had almost all been Tamil for informal conversation - now one could hear Telugu, Kannada and Hindi as well. I did not quite catch Debasis and Gautam chat in Bengali but that, too, may have happened.

The party at Gautam's house was after dinner. The conversation was in full flow as ever helped on liberally by the lubrication copiously provided by Gautam and company duly augmented by Sundar. The girls left an hour or so earlier (School reunion! Can't be calling them ladies!). We hit our room by about 2 AM but our conversation was on till 4 AM.

Next day began at 7.30 AM and we hit the meeting hall by about 9 AM. Back to fun and games with B.S.Murali crafting a game that set us reminiscing crazy escapades from our school days (Murali! I am still wondering what to do with 8 match-sticks and no match-box). We, then, went for the official view of the school, photography and running around peeking at all the classrooms and labs bemoaning the changes and excited about what had stayed the same. Kumaraguru even found some corrected test-papers and S.K.Radha proved that she still had an eye for marks!

Back for lunch and the bitter-sweet moments of parting. One needs to compliment those spouses and children who came for the meet. The children, of course, must have come to gather some concrete evidence to prove that their parent was ever a student and did not spring full-blown from the ground. They must have also had much fun seeing this bunch of fifty-year olds acting like juveniles. The spouses are probably more to be lauded for their patience.

A last hurrah was celebrated at Suchitra Naidu's behest at Cuddalore and Venkatesh, Ravi and I wended our way back to Chennai with loads of memories. For all those batch-mates who did not come - you do not know what you missed and photographs are no substitute.

Disclaimer: Photo copied from Sundar's FB post

52 comments:

  1. Wonderful idea, School reunion after 33 years. You guys must had hell lot of fun :)

    regards,
    Jahid
    My Blog

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  2. wowow ow ow owwo .. I had planned to go to my school renunion this year but did not get leave .. so hopefully in 2013 I shall be able to do it

    Bikram's

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  3. Glad to read about your pleasantly surprising school reunion. You folks seem to have brought the clock to a full circle. Congrats!

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  4. Hi CS,

    Reunions are always fun, exciting and hard to end because of all the laughter riots happening around. It feels good to be at the same place where one used to play as a child. Those were days of innocence. Lovely recount of your reunion. Liked it. :)

    Regards

    Jay
    My Blog | My FB Page

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  5. Really very happy for you, Suresh. I know how it must be for you after 33 years. Aren't school days the best? I always wanted to have a re union of my classmates but they are scattered through out the world..I wish many of them make it one day..I met a few of my classmates for a couple of hours in my last India trip and it was sooo fun..
    I didn't know you had a cast on your right hand, so that says it all..why you hadn't been blogging for a while?

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    1. Yup1 It just went off today but still next-to-no use possible of the wrist!

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  6. Hi Suresh!
    Thrilled you captured the moments from our Reunion so well. Am proudly sharing this with all who ask "So, how was it?".
    Thank you..

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  7. Hi Suresh

    That was a fabulous narration of the school reunion after 33 years. Good you people were able to make it , thanks to all those who had toiled to make it happen.

    I am a year junior to you in JHSS.

    C Suresh please post you school day photos, if you have one, to help me place you right

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  8. Reunion is always an enjoyable one.. Glad that you met your friends and that was a humorous narration and it brought me my own memories of the past :) Its not three years that I ve come out of school, we are planning for a reunion and I am so much awaiting it :)

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  9. i wish i could meet some of my school friends. i probably wouldn't have enjoyed the sight of my school-mates with gray beard and bald patches but we cannot run away from it.

    this is a lovely lovely post filled with your characteristic humor!! enjoyed every bit of it!!

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    1. Thanks Debs! Part of the fun is that so much changed and yet people mingled the same way!

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  10. Dear Suresh
    Thank you so much for the fine depiction of our reunion...photographs coupled with right write ups truly present the perfect picture...

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  11. Excellent post Suresh Sir :) you should put some pics of the events and games :)

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  12. Dont even know if my schoolmates have had a re union or not? Must be fun though to meet your classmates-cum-partners-in-crime of those golden days!! Would have loved to see more pictures!

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    1. Track it DS or make it happen! It is such fun!

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  13. Beautiful post Suresh! We haven't had a full blown college reunion since our college days - we have met in groups and batches but its always so much reminiscing! Its amazing to notice the changes in our life styles, the effect our spouses and kids have on us, things somehow seem so different and yet at times you would think nothing has changed! With some, conversations can easily be picked up from where they were left off! Lovely post Suresh! Makes me happy.
    Pssst: You can use the 8 matchsticks as toe separators if you're thinking of painting your toe nails! :D LOL.

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    1. Ahem! I never even thought of painting my toe-nails! :) Now who is providing the needful to do that - other than the matches :)

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  14. It is indeed the time for reunions, isn't it? Glad you could experience the joy, Suresh. But why were no teachers there? They enjoy these do's even more than the students :)

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    1. Problem is that Neyveli is a Company town and retired teachers can no longer be living there. At their age they did not much fancy the idea of traveling!

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  15. How wonderful is that! I just met with my school friends after 22 years and it felt momentous. But, of course, I would love to have a full-fledged reunion. My kids were completely amused when we began giggling like a bunch of teenagers. How's your hand now? Wish you a happy new year.

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    1. It is wonderful, isn't it? The plaster-cast is off but pain still there. Thanks for the concern.

      Wish you and your family a very happy 2013.

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  16. Why are you standing in the corner of the photograph ? BTW a nice post. It makes me nostalgic. Almost 12 years since I left school. There was no Social Network those days, wonder how those guys are doing now.

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    1. That's cos I could not join the initial rush, having to safeguard the hand :) Worked out quite well - quite a few guys in the middle did not even get their faces in the pic :)

      33 years since we left, Puru - even telephones were a high-class luxury then :) We still managed to get together!

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  17. Nice, CS. Wish I could be part of such a reunion. Unfortunately I have heard the school where I completed my standard 10 has now become a girls only school and school authorities won't be too excited at the prospect of grown men prowling around the campus in the name of reunion.

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    1. Lol! I can imagine their reactions particularly in the current atmosphere :)

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  18. i have never been to any reunion ever..and I wonder if that wish would ever be fulfilled...even FB couldn't throw up a clue about where the entire batch is! being a girls school, most of them would have new surnames after marriage.. wondering how do i track them? ur colourful narration has left me wanting to get together with old friends...!

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    1. Most people do tend to mention their school etc. on their FB profiles, don't they? There will always be a way!

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  19. School Reunions are always fun...Specially after a gap of so many years....Its a quick Crash Course on all those brilliant cherish-able memories we had back then :)

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  20. Loved the post, Suresh. You seem to have had such fun :-)

    I haven't attended a single alumni reunion, but then I guess it would be difficult as I have studied in 8 schools ! But I have attended a different type of an alumni meet — of the hostel I stayed in while studying in London. The Alumni meet was held in Mumbai in 2011 and it was really something to meet people from even before I was born. But age really made no difference as we spent the evening reminiscing and talking about our days at the International Students House.

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  21. a reunion...
    is fun for friends who never meet... :D

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  22. TY Suresh it was fun I did not know even how 6months passed away.Wating for 2014 Reunion in Hyderabad.When you are in Bengaluru call me. GREAT WORK

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  23. WOW !
    what a post. THoroughly enjoyed . Now am feeling extra bad as I missed my school reunion a week back :(

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    1. Reunions are really not to be missed Afshan! They are such fun :)

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  24. Oh...you have opened a floodgate of memories..inspired by your post to plan a "SOOPER THIRTY' next year!!!

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    1. THAT one was 2 years back. Leaving for the next one the day after tomorrow :)

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