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The class reunion

In December, 15 of us met at a friend’s house for planning a trip to a nearby resort to commemorate the 50th year of leaving school. We could contact three of our teachers, all in their 80s, and invited them for lunch as we thought they would not travel to the resort. The pandemic put brakes on our trip, but we had a great time together.

We have been able to track 24 of the 30 of us from the first batch of our government school in Chandigarh and nearly everybody agreed to be back in the city a month later. The three teachers were thrilled to know that we had two doctors, two chief engineers, two professors, a leading lawyer, a marine engineer, an IAS, an IPS and an Army officer, a politician, a cricketer, a senior Microsoft functionary and a couple of businessmen among us. As a doctor, I had stayed back in the city in a teaching institute and so was the lawyer friend. Over the past five decades, we had kept in touch with others, sometimes to offer our services or expertise to whoever asked for.

What separates your school mates from your later-life friends and colleagues? School life creates the ultimate bonding, which is based upon purity of thought, selflessness and a unique camaraderie. When you meet your old mates, you are transported back in time as if in a time machine. You are Chotu, or Pinky or Napoleon. You still remember the pranks you played and the excursions you made, the school plays and sports, the inter-school competitions and the quirks of your teachers. We talked of our school canteen and how we still remembered the flavours of the snacks we were served by its owner, Fauja Singh.

We met as what we were five decades ago, children of middle income parents in the 1960s when life was so simple — no cars, no TV, no malls and above all, no pretensions. We met with the same warmth as we had then, unmindful of how well we performed later in life — whether it was as a secretary to the Union government or a top entrepreneur or a humble office superintendent.

Our teachers too shared their stories, including who were their favourites and who were on their “hit list”. It was fun for them to know we had nicknames for some of them and how we used to hoodwink them at times.

The gathering ended with formation of a WhatsApp group. In a month, it has become the most active group on our smartphones. And guess what are the commonest messages being exchanged? They are riddles, quizzes and links to online games!

dr_kochhar@hotmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 5:07:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-class-reunion/article33536100.ece

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