What? Another Reunion??

It’s the season of reunions. Everybody and their bosses are having one. What? You haven’t had one yet?? Please see a doctor immediately, you may be sick. Better still, install WhatsApp on your phone. Chances are, by end of the year you will be hunted down by somebody from your ‘old boys’, ‘Batch of **’, cycling, marathon or some or other random group and – voila! We have a reunion!

For us, it all started eight months back with a regular ‘WhatsApp seminar’ where at the end of a long day we share our bag of woes and indulge in some community bitching – a kind of (un) holy communion. Among other gloomy things like falling price of crude, impending prohibition in Bihar etc, we bemoaned the fact that while everyone around seemed to be having reunions, we – the ‘Ocean’s Best’, haven’t had one. Almost three decades of being together and not even a reunion? How uncool is that! Something had to be done immediately to correct this grave lapse. Since today no activity involving Homo sapiens can be undertaken without fiddling with a green & white blurb, our indefatigable ‘Admin’ beeped in with that golden tool in his arsenal – a ‘Silver Jubilee’ WhatsApp group!

Thus, what started as an innocuous “guys, I propose a course reunion next year” soon snowballed into an event of gargantuan proportions. Fiery debates ensued for days on end, firstly about venue and then the theme. All ‘species’ described in WhatsApp Groupism crawled out of their smartphones (Yes, the ‘old monks’, ‘think tanks’, ‘pseudo busybees’, ‘non-vegans’ ‘bouncers’ and all!) In the hot debates that followed, there were some spectacular walkouts and ‘ghar waapsis’ (homecoming) too. Venue was soon out of the way. To be sure, we did vote, but without the model code of conduct! Up against the sunny beaches of Goa & promises of belly dancers, all  doyens of time, tide & exalted traditions capitulated. And why not? Here’s where Ocean’s Best started their journey back in 1987.

An organizing committee soon formed through the mechanics of WhatsApp voting. Collection of funds was next, facilitated by Netbanking and daily threats by ‘vasooli annas’ (recovery agents). A list of those who have paid / not paid was put out on the group. Soon, these updates started refreshing by the hour. Herd behaviour underpinning such groups was brilliantly harnessed to pull funds while a sweetheart deal with a resort was brokered by our Goa chapter in double quick time.

A Coffee Table Book (CTB) is usually reserved for higher order reunions (ahem…like ours?:-)). Designed to ignite conversations, ours is a delightful amalgamation of past, present and future sprinkled with nostalgia, grainy pictures from an era gone by, some lofty prose and rib-tickling anecdotes from a decidedly ‘shady’ past. Initially, making people dig out quarter century old photographs and weave it through a short write up on their lives seemed harder than bringing back black money stashed abroad. Again, ‘WhatsApp bullying’ helped. Another defaulters list was pinned up on the group and soon people  started falling in line (with some noble exceptions, of course).

Things were going fine till a late bloomer proposed procuring T-shirts for all gentlemen and ladies to be worn in a special reunion photoshoot. Along came another friggin’ list of ‘T-shirt sizes for self & spouse’ to which everyone dutifully kept adding & reposting. Now, it is one thing to smugly underestimate your own Tee size and an altogether different blunder to succumb to peer pressure & contrive the wifey’s Tee size when 76 pairs of eyes are reading everything between the lines. All hell broke loose with M & F sizes, chest size versus midriff size, S-M-L-XL versus EUR/UK/US/MEX sizes, own size versus wife’s size, careless copy-paste by tech-challenged guys knocking off others’ Tees etc. Polite warning – Hell hath no fury like a lady whose Tee size has been wrongly estimated. The smart ones started revising their size(s) after seeing the general trend, afraid their choice might start resembling a tank top on judgment day! To further complicate matters, T-shirts were to be of different colour for gents and ladies, so no mutual adjustment within the family was possible. Such sadism!

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Ocean’s Best with the wind beneath our wings – 28 May 2016

To the credit of our organisers, we did manage a close fit, metaphorically speaking! That the Tees shrunk to resemble a blouse after the first dip in water is hardly relevant in hindsight.

After walking a tightrope for months, Guru delivered a CTB worthy of a proud perch in our living rooms…and hearts! For those of you who didn’t bring out a CTB on the last reunion, here’s reason to plan the next one. Our trio of Editor-in-Chief ‘Guru’, graphics legend ‘Nirbhay’ and ace humourist ‘Roby’ are ready to provide consultancy!

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After several months of planning, coordination and many heartburns, we finally hit the shores of Goa. What to say of a plan where the Bar is open from 11AM to 11PM and then some! It was three days of unadulterated fun & frolic punctuated by fireside chats and a copious intake of fluids. A visit to our alma mater, old Naval Academy at INS Mandovi made for a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Middle aged folks with their expanding waistlines and heads surmounted with tufts of ‘salt n peppa’ lumbered around like teenagers in the quadrangle and rushed to get one-up on the ropes in gymnasium while amused ladies & children looked on & applauded.

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Dormitory mates crowded around their old dorms for ‘groupfies’ with the added lustre of our beautiful ladies. Our dear departed coursemates Unforgettable Dutta, Gaaru and Sahai were remembered most fondly, memories from their brief lives indelibly etched in the rocky terrain of Mandovi. A few decades got whittled off our lives that day as we regaled each other with ‘ol’ academy tales built around the bulwarks of what was once a bustling cradle of leadership. As observed by Madhuri, thankfully the wheels of time cannot be reversed or else the boys would have gladly traded-in their families and gone back to the dorms!

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Evenings were reserved for recounting old escapades over food & wine, and shuffling around with two left feet – some adventurists even trying to match the belly dancers step for step! In the ‘Masquerade Ball’ – our closing event, some masqueraded as ‘khooni chudail’ (blood thirsty witch), some as ‘gentlemen’, while few like me who are still under the delusion that we can sing masqueraded as singers. Old musicians among us made way for guitar-wielding rockstars from Gen Next – a coming of age thing. As the party wore on into wee hours of the morning, some exposed their beer bellies and called it ‘Oceans Burst!’

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Selfie with ‘Khooni Chudail’

Everybody went home smiling. Such evenings come but rarely.

Circumspect that i was about this reunion fever that has caught up with masses of late, with this trip to Goa, I am converted. We live in the age of hundreds of Facebook friends and thousands of LinkedIn connections, many of whom we either haven’t met for ages or not met at all. Geographical boundaries have melted into networks spanning continents. Virtual connections & friendship over social media have their place, but too much or too long and things turn impersonal and an aura of artificiality creeps in. Real bonds are strengthened only when we meet face to face. An invisible yet perceptible energy field is kindled when old friends meet. We bask in each other’s reflected splendour. We felt it in Goa. You will too.

So go mark that calendar for the next reunion! And don’t be surprised if the dates clash with your boss’s ‘golden jubilee’ or your wife’s ‘let’s connect’ reunion. Like I said, it’s the season of reunions – go get the early mover’s advantage and reserve your dates. You will come back with new friends, refreshed friendships, a phone full of photographs & memories of a lifetime.

Don’t miss it for anything.

While you think about it, I am toying with the idea of the next big one…a reunion of 40ICC* – now that’s a Perfect Storm. Please wear your life jackets, this one will hit an exotic shore soon!

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*40th Integrated Cadets Course (40ICC) represents the joint batch of ‘Ocean’s Best’ and our illustrious naval coursemates from 78th Course of National Defence Academy. This phenomenon hit the training ships in June 1990.

40 thoughts on “What? Another Reunion??

    1. Very gracious remarks Angel Leader! Appreciate the sentiment but miles to go before i can be mentioned on the same line as the God of words!

  1. Kp …very well written. Rewind of the last year events towards reunion in only 2000 words …. Wow

  2. Dear KPS, your flair for words has been a joy for all readers of your blog’s…. Another amazing read…. And cheers…. to Ocean’s Best…..

  3. Fantastic kps. I think the flow of unadultered drinks is the source of inspiration for this wonderfully worded blog. Keep writing and of course 40th ICC SJ reunion is yet to be conducted.

  4. For those who didn’t make it to the reunion, this write up will make them wish they had. For the others, well, our faces are creased in smiles as we relive that weekend and the 25 years before it.

  5. KP on the mark yet again. Each and every word is true to the core. Had a blast and the memories of reunion shall be cherished by one and all forever. We really connected there….

  6. Very well written. Loved the articulation. I probably don’t know you …. and being “on pension” for the last 5 years had further eroded my memories of associations in the “Uniform White”. But have become a fan of your writing. Super and Congrats for organising this reunion …. Callsign Kaypius.

  7. Awesomely well written KPS, as always. The reunion magic just so beautifully articulated. As one has already said, you have a certain way with words which leaves no doubt about the subjects you pen about. Pleasure to read your literary pieces.
    40 ICC Reunion idea👍

  8. 1. Sir , As always it’s a pleasure to read your write ups on varied subjects… They evince genuine reader interest…

    2. This article of course reflects the spirit of human love for belongingness. The naval academy has been the bedrock for turning many a boys to men of steely resolve.. And your course “ocean’s best” is the guiding beacon and example in that sense. The article also is philosophical in its own way if you like since it somewhere reflects the spirit of the now debunked but nonetheless well expressed “last words of Steve Jobs”.

    3. Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down.

    4. Treasure Love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends.

    Treat yourself well. Cherish others.”

    5. Regards sir…

    P.S. that one sortie with you in Bangalore has multiplied my love for the machine that we fly manifold… Keep inspiring and keep them (write ups) coming.

    1. Well said rohit! I couldn’t have put it better! Thanks a million for being part of our best memories, ALH being a common factor in many stories! Best wishes, enjoy life!

  9. KP unfortunately I missed all the fun sitting in good ole Burma but your write up connected me to the event fabulously, although I am now salivating for more juicy stories, of which there must have been plenty during the four days of merry making. Keep writing my friend and leave a worthy trail of words behind you.

    Regards,

    1. Thanks bandy…you were missed too! This write up was precisely meant to bring you up to date with all our escapades! Thanks and come back soon from Rangoon:-)

  10. Thanks Pisha for putting our collective thoughts into perspective…

    oh yes the Ocean’s Best …a band of merry mariners bonded by a common thread…to do as they please and excel wherever they choose to go

    we are still young …so what if a little more rounded and balding

  11. Reunions.. Well seriously we 7 are still friends and have been friends since 24 years. We all met in school and under a common interest of football. We formed a team of khulla sands. Though we 7 were never in the same class as 5 were elder than us but we are buddies. At least me n Gullu were in same class. Trust me over these years post our passing school in 2001 and their in passing in various years we still meet and met even before whatsapp existed and mobiles had just arrived. Landline calls, pager etc. Now still we are not on whatsapp but ever second week we meet and live. Friends n reunions.

  12. Read today, Ocean’s best, remembering Dutta & Another reunion. As Iam not good with words, I’ll simply say “SUPERB “.

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