We should have been called the Magnificent Seven. I thought of this 40 years later. There were seven of us; one died; one didn’t come. So we were left with the Infamous Five last weekend. Not to bore you or anything but aside of me there were Harry, Brave, Chua and Mirchi, (forgive me guys for using the given names), who were inseparable at Baroda’s MS University’s Faculty of Technology. Harry came from Perth in Western Australia, Chua came from Singapore and Brave and Mirchi came from Bombay for the reunion.
Before anything else, I can only say that it was an amazing feat for busy people in their sixties; not that anyone behaved that old. The guards were down and the conversation was not that different than the ones we had sitting together on the wall of the MSU hostels. Except there was a lot more depth, given the 40 years of experience since we last met together. We talked about our lives and our time together in Baroda. And the swear words!So Harry has a respected career in the oil business and is still the innocent; Mirchi runs a successful engineering business and still remains the best standup comic I have known; Brave actually runs the world with his phenomenal perspective on the human condition; Chua, the genius, virtually ran Citibank globally and now plays golf.
When we knew each other in Baroda, we were mostly broke and way behind the academic curriculum. We had dreams. And one way or the other, we may have realized them. Chua, aka Venky, put the whole thing in perspective: “We are normal people, married to the same woman for all these years, with wonderful children and now grandchildren.” And Venky, being Chua, asked: “Are we really boring people?”
This whole business of the reunion began when I sent my friends a reminder of the fabulous stuff we did in Baroda as mere kids. We were in the Shakespeare Society; we ran a newspaper called Implosion; we set up Beaux Esprit, an event management unit that held several rock concerts. Plus most of all, we went to almost every night show in the local theater, regardless of the movie. We even saw a South Indian move called “Danger Biscuit,” which Venky says he uses to screw everyone’s happiness in the charade game.
In the two days we spent together, we felt connected. Yes, the connection was engineering school and the hostels; but there seemed to be more: why would anyone come from all over the world to have dinner? Clearly, we all liked each other, never mind that we may have had differences. What was obvious we enjoyed each other and admired what we had done in the 40 years that had passed. Actually, the relationship now was more civil and fond than we ever experienced in Baroda. Most of us had met individually over the years but never together.
The reunion was unique: we all realized it was a special occasion. The chances of this ever happening again are remote. My view, echoed by Venky, is we should meet again; life has raced past and it is wonderful to put a brake on it and catch up with friends who influenced it in ways we just now begin to realize. We all got along in fabulous way. Plus we had better food and drinks since we last met together in some dhaba in Baroda.
Our reunion got me thinking. When we last met together, we had the world ahead of us in which to make a mark. Forty years later, we’ve done what we can in many different ways. The general take among us was we’ve all not done too badly. My take on this is we can do much more. Regardless of what I may or may not have achieved, my trip in life has been to reach out to friends who have influenced my life. Turns out they are all high achievers.It is more satisfying than any professional or financial achievement.
The post Diwali weekend with old friends endorsed two things: one, all my friends have done well for themselves; two, all our wings have roots in our undergraduate days of a basic life that may be difficult for us to live today. All I can hope is this reunion will lead to new relationships and that we can meet again and explore beyond hellos the ties that bind us.
For me, Marcel Proust said it: Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
What a wonderful weekend after the triumph of good over evil!
This article appeared on Times of India website on November 21, 2012