Saturday, August 28, 2010

Break Ke Baad*

I was on a holiday that took 25 years to plan.

It all began in a small town called Kharagpur. There, a few boys barely out of their teens, regularly discussed their aspirations and plans. They were all students of an engineering institute that was "Dedicated to the service of the Nation". Through the years, the 'ser' of the word 'service' had worn off, inspiring laughter and jokes. The college building was rather ordinary. The hostels were even more spartan. In one of those hostels, named after the first President of Independent India, these boys shared their notes, shared their tea, shared their limited wardrobe before a big interview and shared their dreams. Just before their graduation, they made a promise. They vowed to meet again, after 25 years. Rather like 3 Idiots, right? But unlike the reunion in the movie, this meeting after 25 years would be to celebrate life. It would be to celebrate their successes, their marriages, their kids. It would be to celebrate everlasting friendship. Most important, it would be to celebrate the institute that would ultimately change their lives forever.

This celebration happened in August this year. And that is where I was. In Orlando, Florida to be a part of this big event that was planned almost 25 years ago, on the fourth floor of a nondescript hostel. As you might have guessed, my husband was one of the planners.

Why USA? Simple. Most of the ex-students were now settled there. A fact that continues to sadden me. As we were the only ones from India, (two others from here had to change their plans for some reason) it made more sense to meet them there than to fly all of them here. Although the party was for the kids as well, I had to leave mine behind. My children had school. I really hated leaving them here but there was nothing much I could do about the situation. The American kids had holidays in August and this was a suitable time for all of them. Majority, after all, always wins in a democracy.

The seven days that we spent in Orlando were amazing. There were unlimited fun and laughter, plenty of impromptu songs and dances and many anecdotes to share from the past. Of course the splendid view of the Atlantic did not hurt. Early morning the pelicans would dive to the ocean for their breakfast and the dolphins would perform synchronized jumps. As the ad says, it was priceless.

Florida was hot and steamy but as Mumbai has a very similar weather, it was hardly a bother to us. What surprised me though was the temperature of the water. I guess I was used to the warm Arabian sea. The cold water of the Atlantic came as a shock to me. But you get used to it after a while. The kids went crazy trying to surf and I missed my older daughter so much. She is a water baby. She would have loved it.

In the last 25 years, there have been some changes in the institute. The 'ser' in the 'services' has been restored to its rightful place. There are more girls to be found there, making the place less drab. There are some new wings, new buildings. Modern technology has made the lives of the students easier. But the boys still dream. They still study hard and make plans. They still talk about reunions. I just hope the reunions they talk about, happen in India. It would be so wonderful then.

                                               The view from the place where we stayed

                                       Just some ordinary birds, trying to make a living

Shopping for breakfast

The planners, they may have lost some hair and found some weight but the twinkle in their eyes remain the same

                                       Not all of us are there, but you get the picture. I'm the woman in red!

America was beautiful but every time I go away from India, I realize how tied I am to this place. It may be maddening, it may be chaotic but this is a place I call home. 

And it feels so good to be back.

* After the break.


Ire said...

What a lovely post!

Nona said...

Nice pictures! The water in either side of USA is cold unlike our oceans and seas! Swimming there is quite a feat???? :)

Tomz said...

A very haunting one is the way how you begin the article. Just like the way how 3 idiots begin..In Kerala, we have a movie classmates, that too has a similar kind of opening.

Hope you have a wonderful time at USA. And the taglines o the photographs too were catchy. Thanks for being back. We realy missed your inspiring posts

Kavita Saharia said...

Welcome back ! Lovely post,beautiful pictures.And what a !

The Panorama said...

Welcome back, Aparna! Very nice post! And I love the pictures.
I wish I could feel the same way about India but everytime I visit I only find out how much I miss Oslo. I guess this is "home" now.

Nupur said...

Lo! Just yesterday I was wondering where were you and today you tell us about your break :)

I'm glad you enjoyed and the reunion was fab...meeting after 25 years is something..hope every batch of any institute realize the importance of the reunions :)

Ms.Chitchat said...

Very well written post. Straight from the heart. Clicks are beautiful too. Truly said, wherever we are, we find solace only in our homeland :):)

Anonymous said...

That was a beautiful tribute to the hard work and brains behind the reunion.Loved the pics and the captions

I think I must cut paste and keep this post of yours for future use in case I am invited to the 25th year celebration of my spouse (I give it a 50% of chance)

Ps: I see you are the one who has brought some colour to the all in white photo theme ;)

Anonymous said...

I am keeping this pics for future reference too. I need to see the US of A badly! I want to know what is it that attracts so many people. I just jope I make it before they ban the entire Asian population from entering it! :)

The Holy Lama said...

Was wondering where you disappeared to. Beginning to think you were too tied up with different chores with dragon slayer in China.:D

Onkar said...

Lovely pictures. True, the feeling of returning to the nest is great.

pradipwritenow said...

IIT ka Tempo high hai and Rajendra prasad Hall(RP)always kept the tempo high including enjoying a good food without being invited at Prof Menons daughter's marriage or invading the bunglow of Sur on Holi and many more... Were these forgotten by them.
A nice posy by you,

R. Ramesh said...

home sweet home....good post and nice pixs...n like kavita says..what a

Kavi said...

Nice pictures and nice post too ! Inspiring !

That after so many years, people do get together !

There there is life after the break !!

Thanks for sharing

Rama Ananth said...

Nice post. So you got the chance to visit US for the reunion, that is great.
What you say is correct , US may be wonderful with lovely roads etc, but still many of us like you, still prefer India. Even I was in the US for last 25 days seeing places and really loved and enjoyed every bit of it, but nothing to beat home sweet home.

RGB said...

25 years...and they kept their promise. It would have been great for them to catch-up! And good you got to see a new place and meet new people. The beach view looks great:)

Aparna said...

@ Nikita, thanks!

@ Nona,didn't try to swim, but waded a bit!

@Tomz,thank you so much, it feels good to be back.

@ Kavita, it was a fun reunion, there were lovely places to see and good food to eat :)

@ Panorama, I love travelling but there's no place like home!

@ Nu, I saw your comment on my previous post. I was jet-lagged for a while and didn't feel like writing but now I'm back. And yes, every institute should plan such a get-together every once in a while.

@ Ms Chitchat, thanks a lot.

@ Sakshi, you get ready for the reunion now, it will be fun. And you are great with the camera. My efforts are rather amateurish. And my red tee does stand out na?

@Jyothi, USA is a great country with breathtaking view, however the Indians settled there(not all) are another story. Some were downright funny with their put-on accents.

@The Holy Lama, so now you know where I was. We thought we might as well take the opportunity to see the country a bit and went around touring a bit.

@ Onkar, thank you so much.

@ Pradeepda, the RP Hall guys still enjoy a meal, and once there was even an attempt to serve bun-omlette, Chhedi style, for breakfast.

@ Ramesh, thank you.

@ Kavi, there are always some informal get together happening somewhere, but this one was special as it was the 25th.

@ Rama, it was beautiful indeed,so peaceful and calm. But India is in my DNA!

@ RGB, it was terrific and enjoyed a lot. The vast ocean took my breath away.

BK Chowla, said...

Very nice pictures.Isnt it a pleasure getting back home?It is.

sujata sengupta said...

I loved the Tshirts the planners planned and made. Welcome back!!

Anonymous said...

"Some were downright funny with their put-on accents." err you meant my Malayalish accent when I spoke with you no? sobs sobs

Aparna said...

@ BK Chowla, it is great to be back on home turf.

@ Sujata, keeeping in mind the possible weight gain, all the t-shirts made were extra-large!

@ Sakshi, I did not detect any malayali accent, but that would be better than a fake US one!

Destiny's child... said...

Wow! 25 long years and all of them remembered the promise. That's something in itself...the pics look great. :)

Unknown said...


lovely lovely photography....iam bad in photography!!!!


Samvedna said...

Nice post and Kharagput IIT brought many memories to me,my BIl was there and we were also there in 80's.

Anonymous said...

Woah! Lovely pictures. Reunions are always fun! I wish half of such 10- 25 year old promises were kept! Some get so busy with life, they forget that they were ever young once!

Rachna said...

wow, nice to read about your reunion. And, the pics are great too.

ani_aset said...

i like the new template :) and i can imagine all the fun you must have had :D

ZB said...

wow, you went to US of A, thats cool.I just returned from holidays...went to Srianka, en route to malluland....It was great...Srilanka is amazing beautiful, though very much like kerala yet strikingly different.....TC.

Dewdrop said...

Lovely post and pictures. So happy to read the story because I studied in the same institute :)