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!
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!
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.
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!
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!’
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!