The Reunion- that happened
Last year around the same time, the peace at Mist View Bungalows, a 4-BHK property in Lonavala is broken by a team of five fifty-plus males. They were coming together after few decades/ This was the reunion of one of the class Xth board from the early eighties of Kendriya Vidyalaya in central India.
Three things made it possible for them to meet. One of them Prakash Vaidya based at Nagpur dedicated himself to chase and trace his batch mates. The new technology did not disappoint him. Whatsapp became the way to connect and share thoughts, idea and jokes, including the naughty ones. In a way, they were back in the 10th class.
On a Clarian call to not waste time, pick a date and show commitment to meet, they transferred money over PatTM to Kishor Sharma based in Mumbai. It was now a matter of time to sort out logistics and home on to a neutral venue. Unfortunately, Prakash Vaidya credited for getting the group together backed out on some flimsy grounds, and like the Xth graders, no one thought of persuading him to change his mind. In the reunion, in addition to abusing him for many things his contribution was appreciated.
Finally, on the D-day Binal Saraswat, busy transporting his son’s bags from engineering college somewhere in South Indian was first to reach the destination at Lonavala. The most studious and the topper of their batch Pratap Verma now with Indian Airforce post his short trip abroad stopped at Delhi only to pick an early-morning jittery flight through the monsoon clouds to land at Mumbai.
Kishor Sharma, the independent marketing brand advisor, a facilitator and coach was at the airport to welcome him. To avoiding steep airport parking fee Srinivas Ramachandran, a petroleum man waited outside at the petrol pump. On getting the signal from Kishore, he zipped into the pick-up point, and the trip was officially on.
On the way to Lonavala, the group picked up Bipul Vishesh at the Aerolli check post. He is now enjoying a semi-retired life and is a consultant to few of the companies for process designing and quality audits.
Passing the check-post on the Mumbai=pune highway, the beer cans came out. Srinivas Ramachandran the non-drinker in the group followed his companies guidelines on safe driving. He insisted on not crossing 80 kmph and on wearing the seat belts, even on the back seat.
The google map helped to ease them into the Mist Bungalows at Lonavala. The required calls and WhatsApp messages were sent to the respective spouse, and they were again free like the eighties. There was a lot to catch up.
The help at Mist Bungalow showed the inability to cook the lunch as they were late to check in and that helped decide to eat out. They zeroed on to Kinara Dhabha on the old Pune-Mumbai highway. It came highly recommended by Kishore. It is unfortunate that the new rule of not serving liquor within 500m of the highway ensured no beer is served.
The food was excellent but as usual, there was crib at the high price charged for the ambience. The discussion revived memories of school days. And that is all the group needed to get into the mood.
On the way back to Villa, the group remained focused on completing one crucial assignment. Find a liquor shop and pick-up the quota for the evening. It is known to facilitate easy talk and break barriers.
Surprisingly, even after decades, every name and face from the class is alive in mind.
The tall Rajshree, only Pratap Verma could not place. He continued to confuse her with someone else. Krishna who walked as if there was a table tied to her back. Mandakani the Bengali beauty who was on the plump side but a genuine person. Beena the lady from Karnataka and her brother who was senior to them. The plump identical twins Amita, Anita, who were too tough to differentiate.
Anita K Hos, the centre of attraction, the first love of one of them and if the school kept records, the first one to get a love letter at the school. Oh, what big scandal it was.
Manish Srivastava, the one with good bowling action. Mahavir Singh and Balbir Singh the brothers. The children of war veterans who joined in class xth. Sunil Nair who was okay in studies but a great athlete winning many medals for the school. If one is to believe the rumour, he is a senior IPS officer in Karnataka or Andhra a zonal races. Anil Sharma who lived near the school and seems is in Chennai now. Jacob who came from COD. Anil Venkat now in Ontario and Sudharshan Sharma in Newyork. Uttam Dey is Merchant navy. Vakul Nigam who is busy coaching students in the city.
Amit Rai, who joined AFMC and is rumoured to be in Delhi. Uday Vijayan who is in Mumbai and could not join the gang. Sunil Kohli has a shop in Sadar Bazar and Sunil Wadera who lived near the school. Ashim Sharma, Harmeet Ahuja and Kuldeep Singh, one a bully and another soft-hearted. Nitin Srivastav still in the city. Satish Nayak the smart, cool dude of the class.
Ruchira Agarwal, who once helped Kishore out of a situation during the only one excursion the school went on. Kishore with his Hindi upbringing said Biscoot and Dhanvinder Kaur, the busty star attraction of the batch corrected saying it is the biscuit. Ruchira came to help of Ajay Mehra and Kishore in that small cramped Gurudwaras room at Dadar, Mumbai, in Hindi, it is Biscoot. Wow, Kishore remembers it.
Then stories started coming out. Kishore also recalled how after many years, he saw someone like Ruchira at Dussehra, met her and followed her home. She was on vacation and staying with her sister who is a psychologist. Binal Saraswat and Kishore decided to visit her. Ruchira was not at home, but the sister met them. While they were leaving, the sister, who remember is a psychologist enquired how they have come. On the bike was the quick answer. And then she asked a million-dollar question: Does your bike has a light? They knew when they were checkmated. They left embarrassed with tail between their legs.
Stories flowed uninterrupted. The teachers got special love and attention. In some cases some undue attention that young 10th class students flowing with the hormonal shifts could give. Sarkar Madam taught English, and you had to stand next to her in class while she checked your copy. It’s different, the student’s attention gravitated towards the deep cleavage than the subject. Or watching the floral print of the bra would be so much of excitement.
Srivastava Madan who taught Hindi. Rajguru Sir, a great principal. His son was in the class too. Gosai sir, taught SPW (socially productive work) with Adlakha madam.
Srivastava sir who taught Biology and he is still the same. He once sent Binal Saraswat and Kishor Sharma to scientific equipment shop some 15 km away to collect frog for dissection. While the obedient highly disciplined duo was coming back, the box slipped out of the cycle carrier. The frogs were on the road and the two on their knees trying to catch them.
Nigam Sir, who taught Physics. One class test he failed most of the class and Kishore got 16 out of 50. 17 were needed to pass. Each one was to get the copies signed by the parents. Kishore instead of doing the needful burnt the copy and held to his statement that he has submitted after getting checked. On class demand, Nigam sir gave borderline cases grace marks. Now when Kishore, whose original copy was missing was asked how much marks he got, he remained the same disciplined non-greedy person. He could have said 20, maybe even 22, but he told 17 only.
Patel sir, who lived on the campus and taught chemistry. The PT sir, who as usual was the strictest of the lot. Rooplai madam who taught us to draw.
Nainamalai, the mathematics sir who will be surprised how his good for nothing students have done in life. He took extra pleasure in making Bimal and Kishore target for their English. One day he asked them ‘What city has eccentricity’ and till date, they are searching the answer.
It’s not just the studies that the group remembered. The rumours and the grapevine came alive as if they were back in the class. How innovative they were in finding ways to look under the skirt and bet what was the colour of undergarment the girls were wearing. Pencils would drop in the class, and the guys would innocently look up the stairs and under the skirt. Equally agile alert girls in skirts would ensure that they failed. What charm was a glimpse of it?
The day the whole section bunked classes and went to the microwave tower at the hill. They were late and were collectively punished. How in one class, as much the PT sir could try, none of the class was willing to squeal the name of the prankster. The whole section including girls was kneeling on the ground but no one said anything.
The time Kishore won a drawing competition, or tried for School Badminton selection with Ajay Mehra, just because Beena was going to the regionals. Or how Dhano was trying her best to maro line on another guy from Cantt, think it was Bhanu Pratap Singh.
The stories were many and time really short. Many of the rumoured got confirmed over drinks. A few who remain in maybe area. The stories were far more interesting than the life-update each one shared.
In time, the bottle too finished. There was no more supply possible. The group broke for the dinner at 2 A.m.
Next day, they left for their destinations with a promise to meet again. With a hope to have a bigger get together the next year. Will they or won’t they is something only the time can answer. Hopefully, they will have one with many new members of the group.
There must be many more stories to keep the fire burning and drinks coming.