This post for a change, is not about Calcutta. It is however, dedicated to my Alma Mater – Julien Day School, Ganganagar - a small non-descript town on the north-eastern outskirts of the city. Not to sound formulaic, but I among others spent 10 years at JDS. Among a few other things I still vividly remember myself as a little kid holding on to my dad’s arms with both my hands and not wanting to let go, on the my first day of school at JDS. It was going to be my first day in the first grade at a new school. All dads need to be salesmen to their children. I remember my dad whispering some reassuring words into my ears as we stood outside the school. Finally I let go of his arm and walked into the wide expanse of the school field and walked what then seemed like a mile, into the cocoon of the school building. Never to look back !
Cut to present day. February, 2011. The same little kid has lost all his head hair (no regrets though), has two of his own. An 8 yr old boy and just over 2 month old girl ! 20 years is a long long time. Wars have been fought, regimes have changed, liberalization rolled in and we have all grown older and hopefully wiser.
I cannot, but extend gratitude and thanks to Facebook, which has shrunk the world and brought some of us from the JDS – Class of 1990 together. With some concerted effort and a selfish desire to devour on nostalgia, few of us got together on a perfect and windy spring afternoon (after what has been Calcutta’s best winter in recent memory), a day before Valentine’s day. So shall we say ‘Love was in the air ?’
Venue was BBQ Nation, a buffet restaurant in Salt Lake City, serving unlimited food for a fixed price. For the record, would like to add that the original venue was to be Mocambo, a landmark eatery on the evergreen Park Street. Little did we know, as we made our plans. Our political masters were planning a social networking of a different kind. Surprise, surprise – a huge political show of strength was in the works and what better timing for them to show their ‘love’, on Valentine eve. Now then, we had little choice but to relocate.
Even though, it ain’t always about the food, but then it sort of is. We were to find out BBQ Nation, a first of it’s kind - ‘on your table bbq’ buffet, has nosedived in terms of food. The succulence has been taken out of the Kebabs !
The gathering didn’t quite feature the who’s who of the Class of 1990, it was still quite an ensemble cast of 5 boys (men) and 2 girls (ladies) The more successful ones among us have left the Indian shores and were either busy vacationing in Hawaii or working in downtown, Manhattan ! But then again as they say life’s a leveler !
Feature in the pic. above are Manish Kr. Mantry and Pinki Sarkar. Manish was the tallest in our class, towering at 6 feet 3 inches. He has grown ‘up’ to be a soft spoken giant. Manish is self-employed and runs his own small business of print media. He still lives in Lake Town. Seated to his right is Pinki Sarkar. Pinki is a mother of 5 year old son and helps her husband who is a professional photographer! Pinki and her husband are happily married and live in Sodepur.
From left to right: Yours truly, Arun Agarwal known to some as ‘Doodh-wallah’, a mnemonic he despises. Trust me to reproduce it here, for those very sinister reasons. I can’t quite remember, how earned his nick, though ! We all have nametags in school, don’t we ? I had one too, something I wasn’t particularly thrilled about. Curious to know what it was ? Here it comes ‘Glaxo Baby’. I am sure you will not embarrass me by asking why that name. Now then, moving on :)
Arun is owns an ad/print company and lives and operates from Salt Lake as well. On your far right is Rajdeep Dutta, with his angry young man look and an overgrown stubble ! I envy his head and facial hair. I have no choice apropos head hair, and for facial hair, I just don’t have the patience ! Rajdeep has the Wanderlust. He runs the show in Eastern India for a leading travel company called Via.com. He has travelled far and wide, and was previously with MakeMyTrip.com in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Until recently, when he made the call to relocate back to his roots here in CoolKata !
You have already been introduced to Pink (extreme left) and Arun (extreme right). Now featuring the girl in the center – she is Rupa Majumdar. She looked as pretty and spunky, as I recalled her from our hey days. Rupa also lives in Salt Lake. She is a travel specialist and works with American Express Travels and takes care of all travel needs of the big blue chip – IBM ! Rupa was always Dabangg and has retained her charm. Don’t go messing with this girl, for this soccer mom packs quite a punch !
(Excuse the bad picture above) Last but, never the least. Featured above in the centre-spread is the debonair Dinesh Shaw ! Dinesh still has the nutty sense of humor and can crack you up with his fiery one-liners ! Dinesh lives in Salt Lake, and is a father to two young lads. He too has managed to maintain his hairline and still exudes that boyish charm. He has that elegant gait and is not that far from having a six pack :)
Like I said, food was just above average, but it didn’t matter for we had a blast from the past, talking about the water under the bridge, past love interests, old flames, games we played, our favorite teachers and how we managed to have a crush on them. So on and so forth. Life goes on.
Below are some more pictures of the gala luncheon.
We ‘packed up’ with a tentative date for our next meet in June, this year. Wherever you are, if you are reading this and care to join the band, find me on facebook and welcome aboard the ship INS, JDS :)
We also recorded a short video. Here, take a look and hear me stutter and stammer. And you thought George W. was bad ? Public speaking lessons anyone ?