“Waah kya baat hai!”
“Kya baat hai!!”
A stranger leaps onto me entangling me into his arms. I reciprocate the entanglement, and vigorously try to squeeze him closer. But our generous paunches get in the way of a closer hug.
“Waah, kya baat hai!”
“Waah kya baat hai!”
The initial salutation repeats itself. Two old friends have met!
Only that we did not know who the other was. Twenty five years is a long time, long enough for these two friends to forget what the other looks like. Long enough for the respective paunches to show generous growths. And long enough to get two hitherto unknown persons to hug each other, yes, I had not know the other person at all, all through my five years at IT-BHU, Varanasi. But how did it matter, we were together again!
We were there together at the G-11 auditorium at IT-BHU, Varanasi, for the silver jubilee of our batch.
And then I ask a friend who I recognize: “Who was that?”
“But you too just hugged him!”
“He is at this reunion, and he must be our batch mate! So what is the harm?
No harm at all, I agree; we were there for the silver jubilee reunion of our batch. Some 120 batch mates had gathered in the campus, many along with their family members.
This trend was to repeat itself over the new few hours at G-11.
I must admit I was a total skeptic when this idea of a reunion was mooted. I even wrote on this blog about why such meetings were totally boring and you should never even attempt such meetings. Having vented my feelings, it was left to a batch mate who had read my past to make me change my plans. Someone who I barely spoke with at the campus but for many reasons- which I cannot get into now- keep speaking with him over the last 25 years, called me on a Sunday morning a few months ago when I was sitting bowed to my barber at my favorite hair-cutting saloon. In between the snips of the hair-cut I managed to utter “yes”, “totally agree”, “of course”, “what are you saying?” and eventually, “sure I will be there”! The first thing I did when I returned home that morning- even before the mandatory head-bath after a hair-cut, I sat myself down at my computer and “made-my-trip” to Varanasi for 23rd December. I said, “my?” Just omit that please. It was “our”trip, my wife insisted that the family accompanied me. I thought she would get bored, but my efforts to persuade her to forget about the BHU meet were in vain!
Thank you Arun, (Anant Arun of V yr. Chem, if you don’t know him well enough), thank you! Arun, you made my haircut memorable!
First things, first. My good friend Salil Samshery was the one to make this meet possible. He created a Yahoo group of our batch mates about five years ago. He called each one of us and enlisted us into the group. Salil has a responsible job in the Himachal Pradesh Govt. but he persisted in this private venture in his spare time till he had nearly all our batch mates enlisted into the e-group. It was he who proposed a 25-year reunion. Multiple suggestions followed from the members and we then zeroed onto the date.
Truth be told, the reunion date finalized was some 6 months after the silver jubilee. The distance was maintained so that our NRI friends could join us as well. And they did, some 25% of the gathering comprised the NRIs who took the opportunity of the long winter vacations in the USA and in the other countries, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore and Egypt. Many (most) of the participants were those who were not the vocal types in the group and were there present for the sheer love of seeing their “lost” friends and catching up with their University and their Departments.
Anshu Tandon, a resident of Lucknow- a city some 275 km west of Varanasi- had taken charge of the ground level organization of the Reunion, more about his efforts, in later posts. What a hero he proved himself for the team!
He was at that time enmeshed into a project very dear and important to him. More about this, later.
A couple of weeks after the Reunion party is over, I think about the fairy-tale like situation I had travelled into. Some of us batch mates met in a dream-like situation after the lapse of a quarter-of-a-century, caught up and dispersed again. Some of the paris (fairies) met in the heaven, sung and danced and rejoiced, and then split away.
Who knows when we will meet again! Will we ever?
I will post later my other memories of the reunion. All I can tell you for now that I have much to write about!