A school reunion

Posted: February 24, 2007 in alumni, reunion, school

Some of my classmates from school, over the last 3-4 years, have been working hard, to get the schoolmates together again. They have had a few meetings in this time, with increasing attendance each time. I had not managed to attend a single one of them till date, until a couple of days back, when I attended my first one.

It was awesome. Planned at short notice, there were still some 20 families that turned up on a weekday evening. I met at least 6-7 of these guys, for the very first time, after 26 years, i.e. after school days! Yes, I know, this revelation gives out my age, but, it is necessary to be mentioned to appreciate the length of time that has gone by. It is a sad commentary, in a way, that we did not bother to get in touch all these years. But we met up finally.

Some random thoughts coming out of this:

1. Is it something about being 40+ that we suddenly feel lonely again, and want to reach out to our old friends?? Its not just this school reunion. In the last 2-3 years, we have also managed to revive our engineering college classmates (mostly over email, but occasional personal meetings too), and which has found increasing involvement. I know for sure, several of the guys who are participating in these forum now (both, the school one and the engg college one) who would have almost wanted to be left alone. Because they were on a fast paced career path, and did not think it worth their time, to indulge old classmates. And yet the same guys today, are embracing these groups, and participating wholeheartedly. Is it the age factor, finally?? Or are we finally seeking a release from the fast paced society that we are in, and want options of this nature?

2. Any revival of alumni groups needs leadership. Some 2-3 persons at the minimum, who choose to give time and effort, no matter what. They do not get discouraged if the others do not respond fast, or as much. They chug away. I have seen this in both the groups. The college group is very email oriented. There were the few amongst us, who kept posting messages on a varied range of subjects. Subjects that generated debate and discussion. Subjects where different people had opinions. Something for everyone. Whether it is the China-India comparison, Bollywood, Sports, old college days, children issues, buying a TV, etc. etc. And once you start communicating and share thoughts, even on a medium as impersonal as email, you feel the distances and time shrink. You feel, you are once again in that same college canteen where you spent four years, with these chaps, and where you laughed together, fought bitter fights, planned college programs and picnics, and in short, did not care too much about each other’s backgrounds or reputations. In the school group, when I went for this meeting, the ‘leaders’ had made several copies of old class photos. I am sure most of us have our own copies, hidden away somewhere in our cupboards. But seeing these pics together was so much fun. Trying to recognise everyone, their names, their school tie colours, etc. The effort taken to bring those multiple copies of the photos was very commendable. Of course, the gathering itself took a lot of effort. In a matter of 2-3 days, to call up people, get them to respond, get them to come, did not happen by remote control. These guys worked on it. That is the sacrifice required to revive such groups.

3. What do you see at alumni groups? At a fundamental level, a person does not change. When you see someone or interact with the person over email too, the character of the person comes out strongly, and you realise that after 20+ years, the person is still the same, at the core. Someone comes out strongly on a subject and wants to assert his opinion, someone wants to come out looking bigger than he really is, someone with an innate sense of insecurity, someone very composed and internally confident, etc. These kind of character traits rarely change or change much, over the years. Its amazing to discover these as you relate to the person immediately, at the same old level that you knew the person years back.

4. And yet, there are surprises. And mind blowing ones. Fundamentally with regards to what a person has done with his life. Guys who were at the bottom of the class in school have become amongst the most successful. Guys who struggled at a simple computer program in college, are now bigtime software techies! And there are others who promised a lot, but have not quite made it, to that extent. It may make for interesting analysis, if ever time permits anyone, to understand how and what happened in this interim – that someone who was struggling in school-college could overcome those hurdles and make it big, and another who had apparently, everything going for him, found some roadblocks.

5. One big difference that I saw between the school and college groups. And I am not sure if it was because of the larger fundamental difference in the intellect levels in the two cases. I mean, at school, the spectrum is much wider – from those who may have repeated class, barely managed to pass, to those who were the toppers – at school level! While at the college group, a base level was already established where everyone was in engineering school, and had made that fundamental grade. And the intellect spectrum was less wide. Perhaps this, or perhaps an assertion by a few to say that even though I was not considered to be so great at school level, here I am, as successful or more successful, than many of you! Yes, what I saw or felt (and it could be just a feeling, in which case, I stand to correction) at the school reunion was that a few of the chaps, wanted somehow or the other, to let everyone know, just how successful (read ‘rich’) they are. Did not bother me much, as it did not come out to be very gross really. Just an observation. In the college group, one does not see this almost at all! Even the one or two chaps who have been phenomenally successful in the group, tend to play down their success, as somehow, they perceive the group at that great leveller. Where all are the same?!

Come what may, I enjoy these reunions and would love to be present or involved where I can. Looking forward to the next one.

P.S. At this reunion, I discovered that one of my schoolmates stays across the road from where I stay. And I did not know it so far! Well, I have moved to my current home only a few months back. Having said that, I am not sure, if it was not for this reunion, I would have discovered this classmate living across the road, even in the next 5 years!

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