We hear of reunions all the time. But, ever heard of one that happens 10 times a year?
Don Bosco's 1965 batch knows how to stay in touch. Their reunions are so regular — 10 times a year — that they shun the term. Reunions signify renewal of old ties, and the bonding among these old boys is as fresh as the day they passed out of school. Distance and careers have not come in the way of their friendship. Not even their families. The hall at the Harrisons Hotel resonates with their laughter, and the 1965 DB boys are not alone. Their wives and children have tagged along, as they always have.
The most remarkable testimony to this batch being a close-knit unit comes from mighty juniors. At the recent get-together, Ashok Chelliah (1968 batch) explains what makes this batch one of the most popular. “The fun-filled get-togethers of this batch help me re-live my days at the school,” says Ashok. “It's incredible how they manage to meet so regularly — our (1968) batch has not met for years.”
Lachu from the 1979 batch says: “The 1965 batch has many personalities, and they make time for these meetings.” The presence of Y. Gee Mahendra and Hanu Reddy — both from the 1965 batch — illustrates this fact. “Hanu, who lives in the U.S. was on a visit to Chennai and he did not want to miss the get-together,” says P.D. Leelaram, and adds that whenever the regular cycle of meetings gets broken, these boys are close to despair. These get-togethers energise them.
For good times, and the bad
It's not always good times that bring these batch mates together. Says Iqbal Hajee Abdul Kareem of the 1965 batch: “In 1998, I had a brain haemorrhage. We were facing financial difficulties at that point of time, and my batch mates collected Rs. 2 lakh for my treatment. As we had arranged for the money elsewhere, they wanted to help in other ways. They visited me like clockwork and ensured I took the medicines punctiliously.”
There is always eagerness to help a suffering friend on to his feet, but friendship is not used to leverage businesses or careers. “As a matter of fact, we don't pry into each other's careers. We always meet as DB boys,” says Ashok Jairam. Playful jibes directed at Y. Gee Mahendra — who tries to play conductor to singers, drawn from the 1965 DB batch and their families — seems to validate Ashok's observation.
Some point out that Mahendra was a good student and that he got a State rank. Among other achievements that are merrily broadcasted is Arun Thambuswamy's (from the 1965) fiery spell that powered Don Bosco to its first championship victory in the MCA Silver Jubilee Cricket Tournament.
When anyone speaks about another's success, he exudes a personal sense of pride: which probably is the hallmark of true friendship.