Today's Reunions

Late last year, several of my class mates from my college days along with their families, gathered for a reunion over two days. It had been almost 25 years since we first entered the hallowed halls of our Alma Mater.

The event was proposed almost an year in advance, during the course of a social media group discussion. I had been in touch with very few of my 210 or so class mates since graduating. The cyberspace gathering created a buzz of excitement. As the first concrete step of the rather long preparations, a few of us met for a Sunday brunch in a restaurant, very close to where we spent over 4 years of our young lives. It was a spur of the moment decision to do so. It was informal, unrehearsed and spontaneous. It was a morning full of nostalgia and very little else. No one spoke much about what we had been up to. In fact, we didn’t spend much time talking about the planning for the main event itself. Subsequently, we met online frequently. Two extrovert personalities from my college days took on the responsibility to streamline the planning for the reunion. Yes, we were ready for more.

However, over the course of next several months, my enthusiasm waned, and not just because the nostalgia was fading.

First, we received a notification to give our personal ‘details’ so that we could ‘know’ more about everyone involved. Besides our name and age, we were all expected to submit what degrees we had collected over the years, what we did for a living, what designations and posts we held, where we worked, and where we lived. As I went down the elaborate form, my heart started racing. I was relieved a bit to know that they did not ask for the make and model of the car I drove or whether I lived in a flat or a villa. No questions about whether I vacationed internationally, locally or none at all. They did ask for our marriage anniversary dates and the number of kids. Thankfully, no divorce dates required. By the time I was done with the form, I already knew who might skip. However, I was still determined to make it to the meeting. And I tried to convince myself that it was all done in good faith. After all, alumni gatherings often open up new avenues for struggling careers and lonely personal lives.

As we neared the big day, the organizing committee moved into top gear. A few sparks flew as the organizers struggled to agree on who should be on various committees. Registration committee, accommodation committee, travel committee, food committee and so on but judging from the sidelines, none more sought after than the core committee. And no function more desired than a welcome speech for the invited professors and deans. After some haggling, the ‘consensus’ was that alumni that were locally based would make ideal organizers for logistics reasons but that a few ‘outsiders’ should be included from out of state and even out of country to not make it all look parochial.

By now, I was skeptical. I decided to not sign up for the event in a jiffy. However, I did not rule out the possibility of dropping in at the last minute. With the latest organizing hurdle cleared, I told myself that the worst was behind all of us.

Then came the final blow. During my college days, politics and religion had strong influence on the mindset of young students as would be expected. We already had aspiring young leaders siding with various political parties, Congress and BJP being the more influential ones in the area. It was inevitable that this was going to resurface. More divisions and disagreements followed though they were mostly hushed.

Reunion was meant to be a unifying experience but appeared to segregate more. I dropped out, sent a polite ‘unable to attend’ note and thoroughly enjoyed the digital visuals minus the audio subsequently.

(The events and their chronology have been modified to better reflect the usual agenda of today’s typical reunions)

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