Short clip done by Jeri
I am still raving and ranting, as my son put it, even after two days, resurrected and feeling forever young after our TSM reunion.
The reconnect just happened with no precursors or heralds, but a meagre 100 messages on the Whats app and the grand homecoming had begun with a bang and like the big bang theory, the genesis can never be explained in plain simple terms!
I rehearsed and rehearsed on how to talk, smile, laugh, shake and hold hands, hug and act civilized, cultured and well mannered when I would meet them but despite all the dry runs to tweak the expressions and habits, all the practice sessions went for a toss and the reactions were all spontaneous, instinctive, uncontrolled and unsophisticated and I realized that the ‘antiques’, in the form of old friends are the best collections that are priceless and immortal and the biggest blessing is when you shed all your inhibitions and still be stupid with them all.
And when did meet after 25 glorious years at Madurai last weekend, at the fancied Taj Gateway at Pasumalai , an exotic hotel, atop a hillock, overlooking the temple town, with the magnificent gopurams, an affair that I expected to be one of fine dining with refined folks and mellowed conversations , turned out to be uproarious and downright boisterous , a cacophony of excited voices with expressions to match that brought the house down !
Mind you this sound effect was created with just 12 out of a class of 24 making it to the mega bash , hey, that is 50%, well I just realized that!
Everything about the town, and the campus had changed, a metamorphosis of sorts, except for the dry Vaigai, the magnificent Meenakshi temple and the class of 1992, back together after quarter of a century with the very same looks, the labelled characteristic smile and the trademark walk, the cohesiveness and the bonhomie and the friendly banter intact, the informal gang dressed in casuals, pulling each others’ legs with no holds barred action!
I was buzzing with excitement from the time the tickets were booked for my journey towards nostalgia, in fact the elation was two -fold as I was visiting my paternal uncle and aunt after the same gap of time.
The virtual chats veered on this subject and the readers will have the joy to partake in some of the snapshots recalled at the end of the post from them!
On the previous day to my date of departure, as I packed my clothes, I was engulfed with emotions and hullabaloo and the mind was a potpourri of reflections and ruminations!
I boarded the Tuticorin express and travelling alongside, was a train load of memories revisited, to keep me company and when the train chugged into the beautiful station at Madurai, my patience of Job had virtually vanished! The joy and happiness were writ large on my uncle, aunt, cousin and nephew’s faces as they beckoned me into the new look home, yes that too had transformed bearing no resemblance to the house that I called home for two long years.
But my fairy God parents were the same albeit older and frailer, armed with the goodies that took me back in time and I quickly wiped away a tear! You would love to go back to that post which will give you a glimpse of my benefactor. A homely breakfast of idli and rasam brought back the aromatic essence of yesterday!
The clock too ticked at the same frenzied pitch and soon it was time to hop into an Ola cab to Taj gateway, the venue for the luncheon get together. I sighted Alfred, Srinivasan, Joseph and Ruben at the balcony of the enchanting lobby, and they looked exactly the same as I left them in the summer of 1992 with warm farewell hugs and handshakes and umpteen au revoirs and good luck greetings. Beneath the thick glasses, heavy rears, greying and balding hair, all of us were quintessentially the same, with the spark and twinkle of 20 year olds!
The thawing of ice happened in a jiffy with the congeniality and the warmth of the meeting along with a cup of tea brewed by Alfy with all affection. The conversation started with the present – fortunes, fame and family, and the miracle that brought our dear friend Alfy back from the jaws of death much to the relief of his lovely family and friends, but soon it was yesterday once again by which time Uma and her husband joined the repartee. More pleasant banters followed with sentiments of hearts and flowers!
Amidst the animated conversation, our thoughts travelled to and fro from the past to the present and vice versa and we woefully missed our sidekicks Ahmed, Sujee, Preetha, and others who could not make it due to geographical distances and personal commitments and the ones that were untraceable despite the help rendered by Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Mark Zuckerberg!
The manicured lawns with colourful peacocks, well groomed attenders and the wonderful ambience of the Taj was a perfect setting to let our hair down in style and Ruben’s arrangements were splendid and impeccable to perfection! Girish and Satish were the next to join the gilded clique, and we all soon became the photographer’s delight with our unconventional, off the cuff disposition. The countless clicks of the lenses in candid, free spirited and unpretentious poses as well as the unreal arranged photo ops were happening in tandem and these photographs are treasures to cherish for a lifetime.
Then we had the unassuming Rengarajan blending into the mix and the teasing, bashing and joshing made our tummies to growl and we headed to the magnificent spread. However, feasting at the banquet hall did not call for any table etiquette and the chatter only grew louder and happier. The selfies and the groupfies accompanied the banter and suddenly there was a roar of jubilation – Our friend Ahmed had messaged that he was at the Madurai airport and would soon join us, Uma fell hook, line and sinker and influenced us to believe that he was capable of these surprises and we started making plans to outwit him only to realize that he had pulled a fast one on us!
The next hour or two was spent in taking a stroll down memory lane in the lawns, alongside the swimming pool or rather a blast from the past replete with anecdotes that were churned up by the minute. Ganesh, the quietest in the class tagged on but I was truly taken aback by the transformation in his disposition – he was no longer the quiet guy but a talkative and articulate person, the surprise package of the day! Srini was in his elements, evoking the laughter quotient in all of us and the good old days was back again with Satish’s one lined punched dialogues and Ruben’s rhetoric!
The next agenda was the much awaited meeting with the Director, Principal and students of our Alma Mater which was planned very meticulously by our director madam Uma!
Squeezed in Ruben’s abominable Benz and Uma’s grand I10, the drive to our Alma Mater, TSM in an all new alluring sprawling campus spread over 17 acres of greenery at Thirupparamkundram and home to exotic birds nesting in 9000 varieties of trees was a virtual treat to our eyes!
Mageshwar and Gerald came aboard the TSM reconnect caravan, with the former jetlagged and tired after his father’s grand 80th birthday celebration held earlier in the day but that did not deter his spirits and the smiles in the photographs are ample proof of that. Jeri in his true inimitable style appeared with a twinkle in his eyes and a smile that was reminiscent of the nineties! The man we called Elvis Presley with his flaming orange and luminescent green trousers and the R’s rolled in his English!
Further photograph sessions followed with the full house flaunting their prosperity and the facial muscles working overnight to try and reach the ears on either side. The jaws were working full steam but never exhausted and tired!
TSM got relocated to this new lush green environ in 1998 with a grandiose and imposing building that is easily one of the best in B school categories. Our minds briefly went back to our very own ramshackle campus that was once a mill, where as young eager- to- be management graduates, on the threshold of success and achievements, spent two lovely years blowing away our cobwebs and had the time of our lives!
5PM and time for the interaction session with the director Prof. Gautam Ghosh , the Principal Dr. M. Selvalakshmi, Prof Sathyamurthy and some handpicked students in the seminar hall. The self introduction round made me to swell with pride, as TSM stood before us in a new avatar, now as an autonomous institution and we were back as self made entrepreneurs, business men and women, corporate honchos, directors and professors of educational institutions, bankers and financial experts, marathon and long distance runners, advertising and media gurus, farm owners, writers and nature enthusiasts! The photographer was making merry with shots of awe inspired students, who without any doubt would have transformed themselves into our chairs and gloated in the glory of success and felt inspired to make their dreams to realities!
We were served high tea with great warmth and after an hour of tete a tete, went on a guided tour around the campus that was replete with hostels, in house quarters for teachers, tennis and badminton courts, recreational hubs, food courts (run by students also), library and class rooms.
My eventful day ended quick as lightning that super charged me with a torrent of memories flooding as a deluge that followed thereafter! A quick farewell with an oath to meet more often and my Cindrella time was over even before it began! Uma, Srini and Joseph were magnanimous to drop me back home and we caught up with more insights on the life and times that whizzed by, and I was in time to spend couple of hours with my folks with the latest add on in the form of my cousin! A round up of the day was presented like in the olden times to my uncle and aunt and then it was time to bid adieu until of course the next time.
The others had the good fortune to carry on with the partying and the next day, ventured to Ruben’s farms laden with banana and coconut trees and Uma invited them over for a lip smacking lunch and the coterie made merry as her twin daughters sat bemused!
I journeyed back home, enriched with the flashback of the nineties, reflecting and in silent retrospection and recollecting the gigantic volume of conversations, with frequent notification buzzes on the phone from the friends who missed out but partook in the fun and frolic through snaps and chats!
I have copied below some of the reactions of my friends here after the reunion wing- ding (without their permission of course!)
From the archives dug out ….the album of the nineties…courtesy Mageshwar …as Ruben rightly put it …the Bharatiraja era unfolded