In 1959, a motley bunch of teenagers, 100 odd in number, from all over India, were selected by IIT Bombay to populate its second batch of undergrads. Four years later, confident and competent adults emerged to march into the world of Academics, Corporations and Entrepreneurs. The next five decades we had the inevitable successes and failures, in our chosen careers and in life, until, finally, in the evening of our lives, Buddha dawned – we are but mere mortals born to die. And in the interim, Nature, through our egos, makes us do the possible and attempt the impossible for reasons unknown, some call it destiny. Having been there and done that, we, in the year of our Golden Jubilee, decided to launch our festivities from our campus – a most appropriate decision if there ever was one.
They call it the breaking of ice when people in an assemblage start talking and mingling with each other. For us, as we checked in at the IIT guest house, in the forenoon of November 24, 2013, the ice did not just break, it melted away, awash in a flood of warmth of bonhomie among buddies.
At the lunch, the noise of incessant chatter and of peals of laughter was not irksome but strangely soothing, a salve to hitherto tired bodies, frayed nerves, and over taxed brains. The ancients of an era gone by were transported back in time to their days of youth. They renewed old acquaintances, reminisced of days gone by, laughed at their follies and foibles, savoured the good life they’ve had with nary a thought for the future. It was hail-fellow-well-met abandonment all through; and, the spouses were left gaping in amazement at the transformation in their mates.
We soared in euphoria, even sans spirits induced stimuli, to peaks of extreme pleasure when body and soul merge in integrated unmitigated bliss.
In the two evenings at IIT, we emerged from the campus of serendipity to an outside world of chaos and cacophony, to forage for liquid spirits in the pretentious settings of 5-star banquets. As befits a genteel lot, we ate and drank with restraint, chatted and laughed at low decibel levels, lest we disturb the other guests of the hotels.
The days at the campus evoked memories – the splendid isolation of the great Institute of learning far from the madding crowd, in the pastoral hillock of Powai, on the banks of Lake Powai and the forest behind; the lake remains, a bit of forest too, but the rest gone for ever.
The days at the campus evoked memories – the splendid isolation of the great Institute of learning far from the madding crowd, in the pastoral hillock of Powai, on the banks of Lake Powai and the forest behind; the lake remains, a bit of forest too, but the rest gone for ever. Instead a township housing hundreds has come up and our campus is virtually in the midst of the steel and concrete jungle. The campus has developed – lovely tree lined avenues, great facilities in the form of modern labs, the additional departments of science and technology, the sports and cultural facilities, the magnificent Victor Menezes Convention Centre – all make us proud. However, the pride is tinged with grief as we saw the deterioration in the architecture of new hostels (after hostel 3) and poor maintenance, and, of course the unsightly township outside. The campus seems overcrowded for lack of space. We lost out – the Institute should have had the whole of the original hillock with many more labs, “tinkering labs”, and research centres, hostels that exude style and architecture. But then if wishes were horses beggars would ride and pigs might fly!!
Flibbertigibbets – they were indeed! Tongues loosened, memories sharpened and hearts warmed by liquor and the company, anecdotes followed in an unending stream evoking mirth and comments, all of it maintaining an ear-splitting decibel level.
We left our campus for two days at a resort, 150 km or so distant from IIT, and it was another story. Daytime went in comparative sobriety – eating, drinking, and bird-watching and the usual jabbering. Evenings, glorious evenings were altogether different – come the designated Happy Hour and, a score of men and women packed one of the rooms with a twin bed and the usual hotel room furniture, made themselves comfortable – impossible? – but then you weren’t there. Men and women sat around or lounged on the beds uninhibited and relaxed. Flibbertigibbets – they were indeed! Tongues loosened, memories sharpened and hearts warmed by liquor and the company, anecdotes followed in an unending stream evoking mirth and comments, all of it maintaining an ear-splitting decibel level.
The raucousness accompanying the anecdotes was thankfully, intermittently mellowed by the punctuation of the songs by our own dulcet voiced singing couple, and, by the poetry – composed by our own poet laureate at the spur of the moment, always risqué and profane, yet relished by the mixed audience.
Shakespeare said “Parting is such sweet sorrow”. For the gentlemen of the Class of 1963 and their ladies, parting on the forenoon of November 28, 2013 was indeed sorrowful and heart wrenching; their beings and souls parted refreshed, rejuvenated and with a new born fervor for life, good life, good living in anticipation of another few days of total bliss of the jubilee days gone by, somewhere, sometime. Until then, Au Revoir, Phir Milenge.