25 February, 2016

The school kids who never grew up!

It’s a human fallibility – hankering after Gold.  The lure of the yellow metal has been irresistible since the dawn of civilisation. It’s one of the three major lures, for which man had fought wars, since time immemorial ( the other two being women & territory!)

It’s hence a tribute to this emperor among metals when we talk in glowing terms about golden chances, golden age, golden melodies or golden jubilee.

Golden Jubilee, in my case, has a near term connection… I have personally seen the passage of fifty summers & winters.  And so have my friends from school.

We decided to renew the bonds at Chennai ( last time, it was Kochi ), the land of thalaiva, marina beach & lip smacking idli-dosa.  Oflate, Chennai has made a name for itself for it’s resilience & for the large heartedness of it’s citizens.

When I landed in Chennai I first had a Kaapi at a stall outside the Airport.  I was instantly transported to filter-coffee heaven. 

 It was Cheeni  ( aka Srinivasan ) who asked me to take a train from Trisoolam to Guindy.  It was a fairly empty train at 8.00 am, with it’s empty aisles and concourses.  I met Cheeni  at Guindy & we headed for – you guessed it – for another cup of the same invigorating pick-me-up!

After the Caffeine fix, we met Vinod & headed for the Rendezvous at Old Mahabalipuram Road ( OMR ). I thought that the place would be very far…but the city has swallowed the place called Green Meadows.

It’s a nice property set amid a comforting green expanse. At the entrance itself, there was a place for the citizenry to let their hair down. And they had the first right of way! See pic J

The place was beautiful. There were ducks waddling around, turkeys pecking in the lawn, cats lazing in the under growth – in a nutshell, a picture of peace & serenity.

We were the first to arrive.  In time others arrived, one by one. Many of us were meeting for the first time after more than 30 years.   There was a lot of hugging & backslapping.  Most of us had majestically aged or so we complimented ourselves!  

Some like Shekar had defied the ravages of time. He can enter a college & be counted among the students, no questions asked – like Shahrukh Khan tried in Main Hoon Na! Maybe they use Olay anti-ageing cream…or is it that they were born with ageless, youthful good looks ? J

 The bonhomie was electric!  We went for lunch where we continued the gup-shup.   With a stomach filled to capacity, we moved to the lawn.  There was a place in the lawn to play badminton. It was beckoning  us, virtually!  Myself, Sivakumar went to play badminton. We hit the shuttle around for a while. When we joined back the group we were all expected to give a brief intro & convey what we have been doing in the past 30 years.  We have had varied pasts, we gathered. We had chosen such different paths!

The organisers of this get together, codenamed GASS ( to denote Gulnaz, Arun, Srinivasan & Sashi ) had engaged a professional photographer.  After tea, it time for a photo session!  We had group photos, in sitting, standing positions… in smaller groups, only the ladies etc. 

The ladies infact had a special photo taken ! ( See pic ). All five ladies are doctors – four are medical doctors & one a Doctor of Philosophy. A bunch of achievers – our ladies!

The photo session sucked up a lot of time indeed. We dispersed to freshen up and come back for the revelry, which was ahead of us that night.

The room in which our party was to happen, had a small music station with speakers.  There was a table set with liquid energy in bottles! People were trickling in slowly. The momentum was building up.

I had come in early and belted out a couple of songs. Once there was quorum, we started off in real earnest. The notable nightingale amongst us was Mano ( of cochin Kozhi fame ) who has a great voice & crooned away into the night. The rest of us pitched in too. Before the revelry was in full swing, I suggested that I finish my talk on personal finance, which was one of the items on agenda. I stuck to Retirement planning & Real estate investments this time. Happy to report that people did not nod off!

After this, under the influence of liquid stimulants coursing through the veins & the uplift it affords, dancing started. The music that was played aided in loosening people and to shake their leg. Even the most taciturn did a jig that day. There were some notable dance performances worth mentioning.

Akila did some rocking moves, Prabhudeva would have been proud of! Bhuvana & Mano were burning the dance floor with their matkas & jahtkas!

The two who had original & inimitable dance moves were Anthony & Vinod.  Vinod was in form – his dances can only be described as inimitable & original!

Anthony’s performance was superlative…he was moving forward on half bended knees & was shaking his head from side to side with his tongue sticking out. Wow – that was original! Jyotika could have taken tuitions from him for her performance in Chandramukhi! 

Anthony was an Athelete in School – he still represents his zone in GAIL in 200 meters event. Quite a feat, you would agree!

Dinner was announced. It was arranged for us in the lawns outside. After dinner, it was more song & dance. We dispersed well after midnight that day. After the night had restored our tissues, we were back together for breakfast. And there was more gup shup & back slapping. A couple of them, who were unable to come the previous day, had joined the next day. There was no agenda for that day. We again were on the lawns after breakfast.  More impromptu photo sessions followed.  We had a note-worthy event that morning…

We have an eligible bachelor in our midst – Siva – who has evaded the institution of marriage and has remained footloose & fancy free till date. To endow him with the skills to break the spell, we had suggested that he learn the art of proposing.  He took the nearest sprig to propose to the ladies in attendance…  see ( pic ) !

Oh, Siva… women need to be serenaded with flowers. Only cows and goats fancy leafy twigs.  It isn’t too late even now. Make amends… we are waiting to see the result in the next get together!

We were all getting ready to leave. Bhuvana was saying her round of good byes for the third time… the parting was indeed leaden. But we needed to move on. After a bit more lingering around, I also left the place with Mukand, who graciously dropped me off at Adayar, at my relatives place.

Another meeting of friends…another communion of minds... It was such fun to meet school mates…they are from the times when we were mere boys & girls…when we played & fought and called each other names. We were able to tap into that youthful bliss – a bliss that is difficult to get or experience in life as it exists today.  A golden period in one’s life – which we were able to recapture & relive!

Experienced & set on paper by Suresh Sadagopan

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