Nearly six months back Bhagya asked all of us if we had time to get together for a reunion in June 2017 as she was coming over from the US for a family wedding. I was the first one to say yes, little knowing what was in store for us as 2017 dawned. I had said yes because the very first plan was for us to leave for Chennai just after Jan 14th and spend a couple of months with my mom-in-law and then to cover some districts in Tamil Nadu and Telangana/Andhra before returning to Delhi by end of March. I thought I would easily go over to Hyderabad in June when Bhagya was planning to come over and be available for the reunion.
Once we reached Chennai on Jan 29th and realised the depth of the health issues that my mom-in-law faced, we decided to be there till we got to the bottom of it all. We left Chennai after 3 months and then decided to cover Vizag and Bangalore before returning to Gurgaon. We did that in May and in between those two trips, Krishnan went back to Chennai for a couple of days as my mom-in-law’s health took a turn for the worse. I told Ravindra and Viju when I met them in May that at best I may be able to just come for the 24th evening and then I would go to Chennai to meet with my mom-in-law. Many others were unsure of reaching for the reunion… Viju had some work that could have taken him out of Hyderabad, Neeraj was at his incommunicado best, Abhijeet was tentative, Smrity hadn’t made up her mind and so on. Rose and Sanjay had confirmed and Ravindra anyway was coordinating everything so he was confirmed.
The tentative plan was to meet for dinner on the 24th and then go to our old school at Air Force Academy, Dindigul and relive some special memories …. my mom-in-law passed away on June 8th and immediately all our programs were up in the air. We were in Chennai over the next two weeks and then I had a governing council meeting in Chennai on the 26th which was at risk of getting rescheduled. So I again told Ravindra that I will definitely be there for the dinner on the 24th but I was tentative as far as the school trip was concerned. The spree of cancelling flight and train tickets started from the 20th of June – in a span of 4 to 5 days I had canceled nearly 8 tickets because our dates kept changing due to the meeting on the 26th and the reunion plans.
Finally we took the call that I will go for the school reunion and attend the meeting in Chennai on the 26th and we will then leave from Hyderabad to reach Gurgaon…
Everything just fell in place – Ravindra had a special call with Neeraj and he managed to join on the 25th for lunch, Abhijeet, Smrity, Rose, Sanjay all joined in, Viju managed to reschedule his out-station trip, and the best part was the surprise visit by Sarbjit all the way from Canada. When things have to happen, they just happen.
Rose and Viju played a prank on us by saying that she missed her flight …when she was just landing at Hyderabad. We picked Smrity up from her place to go for the dinner and here’s the dinner pic from the 24th –
The next day we all gathered at the hotel by 9.30 and were off to AFA. None of us could recognise the road that we had taken several times in the bus … As soon as we entered the AFA gate, the first thing that I wanted to see was Sirisha and my owl-watching spot and it remains just the same. We all then drove down first to our school.
We had such lovely memories of this school !! I had only studied my 10th, 11th and 12th class from here while Bhagya and Rose have done nearly their entire schooling from this school. We were returning to it after 31 years.
Viju had managed to get us the permission to enter the school and even though it was a sunday, they managed to open the school for us. We took a picture at the staircase as soon as we enter the building –
While the building has been extended and there was a fresh coat of paint, we were sad to note the sad state of the toilets and some of our class rooms. We even found some desks which had 1982-83 written on them and the whole surface was scratched with names, graffiti and stuff. Very very sad. We walked around to the physics and biology labs and then to the library. I called Vidyasagar Sir, (our English teacher and my Guru) and we all spoke to him – credit to him that he remembered nearly all of us !!
We then took a pic standing on the stage at the assembly ground – where nearly the same set of people had taken a pic 31 years back.
We then walked out of the school to go to our respective houses when we lived here. While Rose managed to chat up the folks who live in her ex-home, Bhagya and others didn’t manage to get inside the houses and just made good with pics in front of their respective houses. We went to the shopping centre and while some things have changed, there was still a restaurant at the back where we had tea and samosas. The restaurant owner was very sweet and gave us a separate room and served us really good tea. Sanjay had got some snacks from Pune and my favourite Bhakarvadi which I promptly ate enough of.
From the shopping complex we went to the open air theatre Kiran, which is probably non-functional now –
We then started the drive back to the city to meet up with Neeraj at lunch. We went to Hotel Basera for an amazing lunch and then Roshni said she was just about to reach the place, so we waited around after eating ice cream from Dairy Den across the street. For me Dairy Den is a special place because I would frequent that place from my college.
Rose had to leave to catch her flight while the rest of us hung around waiting for Roshni. Smrity also left as she had her flight just a couple of hours after Rose’s flight. We had tea with Roshni and then dispersed for the day.
What an amazing reunion that nearly didn’t happen with everyone’s schedule up in the air till the very end ! We relived special moments and behaved exactly like school kids even though most of us have kids that are in college now. Guess school friends bring that child out in each of us.
This post has been long overdue, but I have just been swamped and couldn’t make the time to write the blog, but whats a few days between friends who have known each other in school and the friendship is 30+ years :). So here’s to all of us – may we meet again soon and with some more of us who couldn’t join this time.