My batch from IHM Mumbai had a reunion in Goa recently and what an amazing time we had catching up from where we left; for some, it was good 22 years! Whereas others were meeting after 5 years, that’s since our last reunion at our alma mater.
The idea reckoned with a batchmate who specialises in planning reunions for us, and we are thankful to her for her perseverance as reunions are herculean tasks. She shared a couple of dates on the group, the class of 97. We shared our preferred ones and as per the majority rule the dates, as well as the venue, was closed; so it was 19-21 October 2019, Goa, India. We had about 3 months to make travel arrangements, responsibilities were shared and a beautiful reunion shaped up. People traveled from around the globe to a part of the celebration called ‘Friends for 25 years’!
All of us were excited and looking forward to the reunion. The college days are the best days of one’s life- uncomplicated, fun-filled, carrying many hopes and aspirations, ready to reach for the stars. All never goes smooth though, hiccups are a part and parcel of anything that’s going to be mind-blowing! When it comes to people, there are some who are the initiators, they just initiate and then take a walk and watch all the fun. Some are leaders, who take charge of the situation and make it a success and there are some who push the others who cannot decide. All these roles were well played, many international calls made and finally, we started inching closer to the date. One realisation that all of us had by then was, ‘it was easier to get older than it is to get any wiser’.
I had everything going against me, both on personal and work fronts and I was weighing options; praying hard that everything falls in place. I had to be there at the reunion, didn’t want to miss the opportunity of meeting college buddies after more than two decades. In my heart, I knew all was going to be the way I wanted it. ‘The Secret’ worked and my being at the reunion became possible.
My travel buddies were a roommate and another hostel mate. It was great catching up on the good old times; didn’t realise how time flew, delayed flight and bad weather didn’t mean anything at all. While we were on our way, most of the batchmates were already at the hotel from the morning itself. We reached in the evening, checked into the hotel and rushed straight to the venue for the welcome party. It was an amazing feeling, meeting friends after so long. No words can ever describe that emotion. We were all teenagers again; it felt as if April’ 97 was just the previous day. There was so much to talk, have fun, pull some legs and also share some serious thoughts. Remembering the classmates who couldn’t make it and missing them.
Over the next two days didn’t realise how morning turned to noon and noon to night over bonding with the buddies. Walking down the memory lane is so relative it was actually living those beautiful moments. Our careers, families, children and the universe just conspired to make this happen, as Paulo Coelho would have said. Less philosophically, we all cherish it and it’ll be etched in our memories forever. In fact the plans of the next reunion are already underway! After all, the best antiques to collect are old friends!
My takeaways and discoveries
Since it wasn’t a very large group we got time to talk and that’s what most people in their 40s want to do! We talked about the last 22 years- how life and situations treated us, challenged us and moulded us. Listening to everyone actually made me their fan and I am not exaggerating! Each one had an inspirational journey, a path that wasn’t smooth; going through personal or professionals upheavals but emerging triumphant nevertheless. I had my eyes and heart swelled up listening to them. Each one is a Hero to me – every girl, every boy present there. Got to know that ragging –uh let’s call it personality development sessions by the seniors, the boy hostellers hadn’t shared with us though we lived on the same campus and studied in the same class. That also speaks of what happens in the hostels remains there but then someone can let the cat out of the bag after 22 years! We laughed at the fun things that they did; I am certain they weren’t exactly that then, replays are fun whereas action may not be!
I also learned that 1997 wasn’t a great year for campus placements, not many got good job offers from hotels but that opened other avenues for them such as BPOs. So the ones who joined them became the first set of employees to set up BPOs in India and the same applied to the retail sector. The ones who started off in these allied sectors did well and made great careers rising to the levels of directors and VPs at a young age. It was the time when we didn’t have international hotel chains so only a few Indian hotel brands were the ones who gave good placements. Some went for higher studies, mostly to the US as that was another option, that group too is successful having great careers there. The lot that joined hotels; some have continued whereas others have moved to retail or FMCGs having completed their MBAs.
People shared the early experiences in their careers, setting up lives and then settling down. They spoke of their struggles and things probably not shared with many; as some things are meant only for the batch mates. I felt like telling each one how proud we all were of them and what an incredible journey they‘ve had; in fact, I did tell many. Each one also shared the ‘Gyan’ as to what was important to them now, things that they valued and what should be left in vain! Wisdom can also come with the greys you see! Most of them are at a stage in their lives where they are following their passions or making time for them along with their professions. It was wonderful connecting with each one minus their designations or social statuses; each one just being himself or herself in the truest sense. Got to listen to the singing or witness the dancing from the ones who were good at them; in fact, now they’ve mastered their skills! The icing on the cake was sharing the room with the hostel roommates and the non- stop chatting I couldn’t keep up beyond 2 am but the roomies had the energy to call it a day at 4 am and be up again by 7 for a fresh talkathon! This is what old friends do – talk nonstop and talk things probably that don’t make sense to the outside world.
21st October 2019 and the group started leaving one after the other to meet again at the airport lounge as our flights were few minutes apart. All good things come to an end but somethings make way for others that are even better- the cherished memories of the wonderful time spent with friends.
To all of my friends, the BomCats 97, “You are young only once but you can stay immature indefinitely, so carry on!”