Reunion, that was the flavour of the last one month.
It all started when an ex-colleague came home with his mother to invite us to his wedding. We were very happy, and messages and phone calls started flying between other colleagues, most of whom have left the jobs too, and me to plan and go to the wedding reception at Injambakkam, outside the city.
It was wonderful to meet one another at the reception, with a buffet on the lawns. (I loved the sensation of the crunchy, crisp grass under my feet.) It was almost like old times, when we used to have annual get-togethers and let our hair down. We then always had a lot to talk about, but now, I found that we were really a motley disjointed group, without the common bond of work to hold us together. But it was great to catch up with one another and make promises to meet again soon – which we will when another young ex-colleague gets married this month. We took a keepsake picture, all of us with JP and his bride, and our editor Vincent, with photographer Saravanan also rushing up to join the group and pose on his knee.
The next one was with my Trivandrum friends of my Pre-University days, with whom I have managed to keep in touch. Lakshmi, who lives there, and I have been in constant touch, and do get to meet often, mostly when she visits Chennai. This time her daughter-in-law Gopika wanted to surprise her with a get-together of her friends for lunch. She arranged the rendezvous at a very nice place in Gopalapuram, called Amethyst. Apart from me, whom Lakshmi knew was coming, there were two other friends, Kanthi and Vijayam. It was rewarding to see the jaw-dropping amazement on Lakshmi’s face when they turned up.
The ambience was lovely at Sundar Mahal, the old summer palace of the Raja of Jeyapore, with its colonial style architecture amid a lot of greenery. Tables were laid in the huge verandahs, shaded by various plants and creepers, and in the open air too. The place is an art gallery and boutique as well, and there are many tourists from abroad patronising it. The food is aimed to cater to their tastes, and, though we stumbled when it came to ordering, because Lakshmi avoids onions and garlic, the final order was satisfactory.
But food was only secondary that day to us, the years just fell off and to us it seemed that we were back in the grounds of Women’s College in Trivandrum, in the 1960s. Old stories were told and retold, memories rekindled, absent friends remembered and laughter prevailed. We chattered and giggled, and felt like the teenagers we used to be, not in the least like respectable women this side of sixty. We were on a high!
The exercise was so successful that we decided to do it again, with more friends.
Then last week came a card by courier post. And the handwriting on the cover thrilled me, it was from Judy. Here was the friend whom I had been trying to locate for the last six years – she had simply disappeared from the face of the earth, or so it seemed to me, after coming to Chennai from Hyderabad for my son’s wedding. We had studied together in Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, and been in touch over the years after we graduated in 1966. She had misplaced my address when she moved, and so we lost one another. My daughter-in-law’s mother who then lived in Hyderabad had done her utmost to trace her, but without success. Now fortunately Judy found my address (helps when you live at the same place for 40 years) and sent me the invitation to her son’s wedding this week. I called her and after exchanging the latest, promised not to lose one another again.
And a couple of days after that, a call from Nalini, the third member of our group, completed the circle. Nalini, living in the US for the last 40 years was visiting India, and calling me from Delhi. She is not coming to Chennai this time, she said, but is going to Hyderabad. Surely she will meet Judy – will I too? Watch this space. The three of us met last at my wedding!
Now I am wondering if my horoscope last month might have read, among other things, “Meeting old friends is on the cards”. Old is the key word – one doesn’t get them that old nowadays, as Bob Hope said of his best friend Bing Crosby.