The Golden Rendezvous: a School Reunion


[Prologue: This is a recount of the School Reunion of Montfort Anglo-Indian High School, Yercaud (a full-time Boarding School, run by the Christian Montfort Brothers of St.Gabriel, nestled in beautiful Shevaroy Hills, near Salem, in Tamil Nadu State, India) when Boys-now Men, who passed out in two Batches: 1978 growing into the 1980 Batch- with some new boys joining in 1978 – return for a first ever three-day long get-together, called the ‘Golden Rendezvous’, at the place where it all started.

I first wrote this in the year 2002, in two-part emails, posting in the Yahoo Groups Montfort Class of 78&80, which ‘groups’ to this day!  We planned to re-group in 2010, but it happened only this year, 2016 along with the Centenary Celebrations of Montfort School. Read on…]

The ‘Golden Rendezvous’ of July 2002 was truly golden. Like trees turn to lignite to coal to diamond over millions of years, that’s where we are all heading! The guys have been piling up expletives like ‘one big hangover’, ‘great fun’ etc. I would, like King Cole sang long ago, simply say, ‘UNFORGETTABLE’.

For guys who missed out the unforgettable, here is an attempt to recreate that magic of the ‘Wonder Years’ of the Montfort Class of 1978 & 1980, at Yercaud, in the Summer of the year 2002.

Yercaud was mesmerising when it welcomed us warmly, with an all-embracing white blanket; most of us did not expect Yercaud to be so cold, after all these years! The evergreen Padma Stores Owner knew better, and the Class trooped to Padma to inspect his Spring – Winter collection’. He even had ‘models’ and bared all! Some sales, I guess!

The Class of 78&80 registrations at Sterling Resort, Yercaud, brought the potbellies and receding hairlines together, the beautiful wives and naughty kids, coyly looking at ‘their master creations’ from behind…with pride! The nick-names were all dug out and thrown around, but some like ‘crotch’ (Satyanarayana) faced sudden death (respecting the wife’s sentiments). Others like ‘homo’ (D. Mohan) ‘machaan’ (R. Manoharan) and ‘Chew’ (Ramesh Babu) scored, won great applause and would perhaps live to see 2010. ‘Are-you fame’ Rajkumar topped the hairline charts, came clean on top with LOC borders, followed by Chew – watch this space, needs a wife shine! Ponni (Pon Rathnam) offered stiff competition, showed great promise! Potbellies? Ponni was unbeatable in this area and had the biggest of them all!

Small & short Sabu Ganesan showed that he is made of real big stuff (which we never seemed to notice at School, or did we?) when he displayed his ‘one-shot’ triplets!!! Two daughters and a son! He appeared with a ‘bushed’ down Bin Laden beard! His wife helps him tear down tower teeth in Dubai. Watch out for the Sabu’s they are armed-to-the-teeth with genuine Indian made (population) exploding ‘trishul’ missiles! He is our ‘Top-Gun’.

Muscleman ‘Blunder’ (V.Suresh) came, stripped off his great muscle (Arnie stole them for Terminator-3?). He was one guy who was a pale imitation (physically) of his former self: otherwise, he ‘looked great’. Remember, I was his side-kick, trying to add muscle to my all-bone figure!

That evening, the arranged interaction with the Leaving Batch of Montfort, showed that that Montfort boys are still girl-starved. Montfort was gradually going co-ed, and the boys were concerned (actually thrilled) about the ‘purity levels’. Sudharkar preached IBM (he is being paid well). Rajiv spoke about ‘virtue & labour’ and Venkatachalam about ‘education’ (he is a University Chancellor!). I had to intervene to steer the interaction back to the girls (the tradition continues – old boys too are girl-starved?) and told them that the girls in Montfort would ultimately help them ‘become men’ sooner (The boys-being well read, gleefully applauded).

The informal dinner at Sekar’s Estate, saw the Class of 78&80 unplugging in MTV style. This created the perfect ambience for greater things to come! Non-smokers & Non-boozers emerged from the unbelievable (past) shadows to ‘down the spirits of Scotland & Ireland’. The wives too warmed-up, and the kids filled in the gaps with game & dance! Lala (Ravichandran) put up a ‘spirited’ show and showed the world he could also dance!

The show-piece and most unforgettable was the Reception the Class of 78&80 received at the Assembly of Montfort School, the next day. This was a master-piece painted by Principal ‘Fuse’. It was as if a doting mother had come out in all her splendour to welcome her long gone sons. The entire school had uniformed and assembled to sing hosannas to one of the best batches ever – they said so (a gathering of Chancellors, Vice-Chancellors, Scientists, Lawyers, Doctors Engineers & Businessmen…said Fuse). Ponni fulfilled his long-time ambition of addressing the school Assembly – a wonderful speech in ‘chaste English’. Joseph Kodianthara too addressed and enthralled with plain lawyer stuff (no wonder he is a damn good lawyer). This was followed by a ‘Fuse-guided-tour’ of the school, for the wives & kids. Daddy sat here…’slept there’ – the wives could be heard ‘explaining’ to the kids! With the hunger thus generated, we all explored the culinary delights of the school kitchen: a Buffet which served almost everything except ‘humming-bird tongues’.

After a splendid 1st Day at School, we had to recoup at Sterling Resorts for a while. Later, guys like Rajiv, Lala & Selvi had the right buoyancy to lap in the swimming pool while the Class of 78&80 cricket team warmed up under ‘Casku’ Ashok Rajan Thomas to ‘world-cup’ the School Team (we ‘fixed-up’ with Azhar & Sangeeta at their new Gymn at Hyderabad on the work-out regime, what is their mobile number?) We batted first and walloped about 125 runs in ten overs. Indrajit (karuppi / blackie) was the scorer. Gee… he is a wiz at mathematics! ‘Casku junior’ was voted the best cheerleader-he swore it was impossible for his Dad to get out – the senior lived up to that! Sudharkar ‘moused the ball’ well, Rajiv tried in vain to knock his wife, Shalini, off the boundary wall…almost did it once! The school team did not get to bat as they were ‘Fused-off the field’- study time, said the boss! Casku swore he smelt bowling talent and even offered bowling tips. Meanwhile, we won effortlessly. “Match-Fixed” screamed the bookies! Oh Azhar!

The kids, then played football with the fathers: Shyam with his ‘walrus moustache’ as cross-hair aim ‘pele-d’ the ball-he is a natural ball player: guys would recall that he was a great Table Tennis Champ at School-imagine him seeing ping-pong balls the size of footballs!

We waited to hear the school siren yell the end of the day/school study hours, to treat the boys to a spectacular fireworks display on First Field, touched-off by Veera-led experts – ‘dil maange’ more, the boys demanded! Rajiv finally remembered his cricket and managed to edge a ‘sparkling-fire googly’ to an unsuspecting Shalini-almost burnt her for ‘Delhi dowry’ but we (like the heroes in the movies) saved her-reality bites! The white blanket mist-of my 1st day recount – came alive again and we could not ‘maange more’ honour the pepsi slogan!

15 years (remember, I was a ‘SHY girl’ for three) of counting the ‘PWD holes’ on the Yercaud roads helped, as I led a Class of ‘blind guys’ back to Sterling Resorts, with my ‘eyes wide shut’: the mist was so awfully thick that one could barely see beyond the car bonnet!

We then ‘helped our wives get dressed’ for the formal dinner at Sterling! ‘Chew’ displayed ‘great shine’ as the master of ceremonies with his elegant wit & timed repartee. Lord-of-the-rings (Bro. Lawrence) gave us mind-boggling statistics of our excellent record at School (did we do all that?). Muruga-of-the-cows (Bro. Joseph) could not keep his strict bearing any longer and ‘cowed’ down, spreading the ‘milk of goodness’ all over! Principal Fuse spoke again-bored us to death this time, well almost! Then it was a return to ‘the spirits of Scotland & Ireland’. The kids and wives ‘V channeled’ on the dance floor…into the night. Tunku’s wife was a ‘High-Court hit’ so were Sampath’s sweet-sixteen daughter and Ponni’s going-on-fourteen son (they made a ‘sound of music’ pair – sorry he’s not seventeen!) and the Sabu trishul-missile-launched triplets! Meanwhile, many sneaked out…visited haunted houses, probably saw ghosts…and they have their own stories to tell! Go get them from the horses’ mouth!

We woke up the next day (3rd Day) to Picnic at Fir Tree Estate-some walked their legs, others their cars! This spot is on the way to Aeroplane-Stream and belongs to an Uncle of R.M Narayanan, who has a daughter studying in a Business School and has high hopes of becoming the first Class 78&80 ‘official’ grandfather, but only after good old Appuswamy. Incidentally Appuswamy appeared during the cricket match, the day before: Appu left after Class VIII and married the very next year – I remember he had the nerve to send us a wedding photo! In that part of the country, near Salem, where he lives they call him “Vairamudi Gounder” (the Landlord with diamond hair). He left the same day and we could not get to pluck any ‘diamonds’ off him! Appu has ‘grandfathered’ many grandchildren (he is ‘western cool’ and quick on the draw).

The food and ‘spirits’ were simply outstanding at the picnic and throughout the re-union. For the first time in my life I noticed, I had a growing soon-to-be-pot-belly! At last, I had something before me! Can’t wait to ‘explode’ in 2010?

Suddenly it was all over….and the goodbyes began. We recorded on video and still photograph, gave our best smiles-showed ‘wonderfully polished’ teeth, standing among the potbellies, receding hairlines, beautiful wives and kids-who looked liked mom plus dad (I swear!) and sang…must we now part for ever…

Must we?

[Epilogue: The entire show was beautifully threaded by Venkat, Tunku & others of the Organizing Committee. The best part of the re-union was the ease with which we could connect with one another – a smile, a simple nod of the head, a tooth here (sometimes toothless!) a ‘Hi’ there was all that was needed to get a conversation going. We just talked and laughed as if we had known and been together all along…amazing! If we had kept all this among ourselves, there would have been no beauty to show off…many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its fragrance on the desert sand…(Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard – Thomas Gray, Class X, I think!) Now, the wives and kids, by participating have become a part of the Class of 78&80 and have witnessed the beauty of Re-Union. They will help us keep these precious memories and thoughts alive…and that’s how we keep ‘evolving’ (please do ‘grow’ grandchildren and bring them along in 2010 Ha!)]



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