THE 35TH REUNION-REPORT-SIR RONNIE!!The 1972 Batch Re Union( May be read in 3 to 4 sessions)I begin with thanks and gratitude:No correspondence connected with the 1972 batch re union can start other than with our sincere gratitude and love for the Pastor for his unstinting and dogged efforts to trace, track down and bind the flock. Arrange for the meeting at Lovedale, and unfortunately bless the flock from Kollam. A pity indeed but in our journey of life, we need to accept disappointments. As Swamy Vivekananda said, “ A journey would never be remembered if it were not eventful”Pastor we understand your predicament , anguish and your anger , but illness never comes with an appointment, doctors do. You were missed and fondly remembered. Suffice to say your efforts were not wasted, rather cherished and remembered with gratitude and love for the one who tends the flock. Your rightful and special place is in our hearts and you have a place of prestige in the batch. Lets all agree in unison that the September bash was only a dress rehearsal for the MOTHER OF ALL RE UNIONS . The next re union must be outstanding and blanche the brilliant re union we had. Pastor your stuartship is hard to replace , get going for the next re union, probably to be somewhere in the Far East. Let the travel expert Selvi do what is necessary.

Gifts:-The re union commenced with exchange of gifts. The gifts of love , caring and genuine feeling for each one flowed in abundance. Hugs and kisses were only a physical expression of what lay dormant in each ones heart , the last 35 years.

Day 1 :- The 1st evening was spent recognizing 50 year olds. Some withered, some bald some not so sober. Gautan and Balls Bhalla took over the sacred duties of the Postor in absentia, yet not without the divine intervention and guidance of the Pastor in bed, hopefully with his chosen Single Malt of the Day.

Day 2:- Trip to the alma mater through some of the most scenic spots that we took for granted, now valued so much. A common comment” Hell where is the Pastor, wish he were with us, this is all so incomplete”
Sir Henry Lawrence:- Met the main man and thanked him for his foresight and benevolence.

Head master:- Met the man. Sans Gown and demur of a the Headmaster. Kit’s overbearing personality like a rare jewel comes once in a millennium. Probably we expect too much, but what the heck, I personally believe that standards should never be compromised .

Soap Box:- The old soap box is gone except for the railing. I do recall my dear friend Malani give off a few of her speeches. She’s so mellowed and so lady like. Malani where has all the fire breathing head girl gone. More of you later.

Senior School:-,The dormitories are much the same. Impersonal ,cold and ill ventilated. The metal pipe beds and ply wood cupboards have given way to sturdier metal beds and steel cupboards. Gone are the wooden cupboards whose rear portion hid many an underwear on old rusty nails. Memories of being ragged and bullied came back in a flourish. I did recall the spot where the ironing table used to be and my escapade with Gary Baldi. That one escapade and what resulted after that escapade virtually changed my life.

Large hall:- –Just the same, with a few inexpensive and acoustically ill matched speakers scattered around. Memories of hymns being sung, and charge for the girls during the Easter and Founders socials were vivid in each ones memories. The tap daces were the most annoying. You couldn’t hold on to a girl for more than 2 seconds. The guys hated it, the girls loved all the attention. Call it the Lovedale gender bias if you like.

Large hall:- –Just the same, with a few inexpensive and acoustically ill matched speakers scattered around. Memories of hymns being sung, and charge for the girls during the Easter and Founders socials were vivid in each ones memories. The tap daces were the most annoying. You couldn’t hold on to a girl for more than 2 seconds. The guys hated it, the girls loved all the attention. Call it the Lovedale gender bias if you like.

Big bogs :- The Mecca of smokers and alter of initiation to the delights of clean tobacco.

Prep school:- Received by the Head mistress who has been in service with the Prep School for 18 years. Memories of Bull Mukaj’s came back to each of us in a torrent. His trade mark mnemonics. Karakul cap and walking stick. Most recalled was the manner in which we used to be lifted up with his little finger. A strong man with a heart of a child that was Bull Mukaj. Today an old and feeble man, unwell in Allahabad. A shame to see a gentle giant waste away.

Children:- The children were absolutely adorable, and seemed happy. Mischief in their eyes and disbelief that we were in school 35 years ago.

Uniforms:- The girls looked lovely . High collar sweaters, and black trousers. They looked like real ladies. But how will the nasty guys look up skirts and keep a well thumbed record detailing colour and frequency of change. The boys sadly wear an apology of a battle jacket. The good woolen Battlers have given way to a more commercially viable material, which I doubt would keep the cold howling Lovedale winds from freezing their bones. The unique buckle has lost place to a button. . Fortunately the tie is more in sync with the school standard but a white shirt, presumable changed twice a week is a sad choice.

Dining room:- Merely re arranged, with the bearers loosing much of the old world charm dignity. Gone are the turbans and cummer bunds. The Joe , Baliga and Xavier of old were true blue blooded bearers in their all their finery.

Food:- Seemed to have improved , and hopefully tastes better than the Tom Sawyer era slop that we received thanks to the largess of the Steward, “Stuey”, who was the only who gained weight from eating scampies.

School structure:- Redone in parts and sans taste for the old world charm. The terracotta tiles, replaced with machine formed tin sheets, with an attempt to cleverly disguise them as tiles. Sad Sad Sad.

The Clock Tower:- Under repair. I only hope in desperation to herald in the 150th anniversary they don’t force fit a cheap Chinese made Cookoo clock.

Cemetery:- Neglected and an affront to the dead. Graves breaking down, and the undergrowth and Scottish broom weed taking over every inch of ground. A historic place for many a generation, albeit none of our near and known lie there in eternal neglect.

Girls school:- The forbidden citadel of every hopeful guy. A place so sought after and cherished that friendships formed, depending on the age and facial features of that friends sister. A visit to the girls School at last demystified our childhood fantasies which bordered on the imagination that the girls school was in some way similar to a Pashas harem.

Shinkows:- School visit done, tears wiped away, and off to the Michelin 5 rated fine dining spot Shiunkows. A watering hole that has stood the test of time, palates and generations of students, most home sick ,and parents hoping thet a treat at Shinkows was the ultimate panacea for home sickness. Shinkows will forever be etched in my mind. It was in this very same restaurant ( the Zodiac Room) that my dearest late father gave me a lesson in life and growing up. Agnostic as I am , I must confess that a prayer came to my lips for that wonderful human. My father.

The Dinner Meet:- The grand dinner where Maa Enos, and Makkar and Mrs Mukherjee were invited to share in our joys and frolic. Balls Bhalla did the honours with his Toast Master skills( probably learnt from the many Lodge meetings he attends) ” The school song sung in Hindi and English, Mrs Enos’s very “propah “ addressed us, and the lovely lady cried. Tears of joy and gratitude not just for the fellowship , but for being remembered, and the Love that as shown to her in abundance.

The Pastor:- The Pastor remembered and toasted, thanked for his services to the parish, and for his continued tending of the flock. Chikengunia cursed till Kingdom come!

Day 3:- Palani hosted the remaining of us to a sumptuous lunch at the Golf club, panic since Popat had interchanged passports with his traveling companions, taxis commandeered to meet for the exchange of passports on the Mettapalyum road. A late evening visit to a family friend in Coonoor, with Popat, and then to visit yet another icon of Lovedale. Ma Guppu. Sharp and with a sharper wit .Gautam has very kindly offered his good offices to deal with Ma Gupus predicament. We need to support his initiative. I for one stand to be counted. Quite evening with the last of the flock with JK( Yohan) joining us for a drink in spite of his very busy schedule as the outgoing president of UPASI. Thanks Yohan you standout amongst men.

Those who came and the memories they left back

1. Gautam Rao and Mini :- Stepped in to take over the mantle of the Pastor, with his wife dutifully playing Mother Hen and ensuring that all were fed . looked after and cared for. Thanks so much for your concern.

2. Varkey George and Lali :- My good friend from Bangalore , always with that boyish smile.

3. Palani and Shanti :- Land lord, industrialist and Bar tender par excellence, with a heart as large as his ability to drink anyone under the table. The man is something. Shanti thanks for tolerating Palani, the man that he is, and the good friend he will always be.

4. Susheel Bhalla and Nita :- Bhalla who ?The centre piece of the party, and entertainer par excellence. Balls Balls and Balls that’s what he is to be known as . Balls had us in splits of laughter. Jokes and anecdotes about himself and the entire Balls ancestry. Rather depressing to hear the later part of Ma balls life.

5. Mohan G and Zarina :- In his cups most of the time and quintessential stare. Thanks for hosting the drinks, even though you had the best part of the cellar. Thanks brother for your hospitality.

6. JK and Susan :- Yohan, the outgoing president of UPASI who spent quality time with the flock , and even kept the ntire UPASI waiting till he spent some valuable time with us. Susan his better half , as usual immaculately attired and the epitome of grace. A lovely couple, seemed so much in understanding of each other.

7. Commander Shyam and Sri :- My good friend and traveling companion from Bangalore. Sri kept us amused with her intelligent quips when ever we stopped for refreshments.

# VC Pradeep and Rema :- The good rubber planter hasn’t aged and made it a point to bring along enough invites for his daughters wedding. VCP the same VC that we know , quiet and sincere.

# Dr, P.K. Kuruvilla and Grace :- The good dignified Doctor on call for all psychiatric related matters. House calls and issues of the broken heart not on the menu.

# Ronnie, Yasmin and Nazneen :- No comment, Wife and Daughter Surprised with the camaraderie, and how fast 50 year olds transformed to 16 year old pranksters.

# Shaker Nagarajan and Anita :- Our very own coffee planter from Kodaikanal. As always Cool well mannered just a bit grey.

# Col Sunil Venugopal and Anita :- The dyed in the wool fauji sahib immaculately attired and ram rod straight. The country is in good hands. I pity the recruits of MRC. They must be having a bloody hard stint with the no nonsense Officer and Gentleman

# Rema and Capt Deepak :- Rema the epitome of grace the very propah propah lady of the batch. Would do best if she started a finishing school to bring out ladies into society not the crude loud mouthed Page 3 crowd of today. Her husband Capt Deepak a Lawrence School Sanavar graduate well out gunned, had to publicly acknowledge that Lovedale is unique and produced the prettiest girls East of the Suez. Good man, we are all paper tigers before our wives. A sure sign of a good marriage happening.

# Malini and Vinod :- Another lady far different from the aggressive head Girl of ’72. I only confided in Rema and Shyams wife Sri what I told her during one of the School Counsel meetings . I was very insulting and apologize albeit a bit late. Rema and Sri have been sworn to secrecy. Vinod, her very devoted husband was awe struck with the manner of bonding .He has an entirely refreshed view of the batch.

# Selvi :- The never age wonder. Tamalian Brahmin girl straight out of Vogue or Cosmopolitan . Style baby you have style. Keep the re bonded designer hair. You look good.

16. Geeth Gopi( nee Nair) My dear and good friend whose friendship is so unique and genuine. Commerce Queen of the batch, and who I regard as my definition of a the woman of substance

17. Chaitan Popat:- The Gujarati from the dark continent who combined business and pleasure .Trust a Gujju to write of holiday expenses to business travel. Without him no reunion complete. The man got back into form , three stripes on his shoulders, issuing orders, reminded us more often than necessary who he was , yet fell in love with my 18 year old. His offer of adoption stands rejected . A remarkable man of all seasons. Made it big, lost it all twice over and recovered. Had to endure his tobacco chewing all the way to Bangalore from Ooty. A man transformed beyond recognition, but the voice give it away. The Sand paper beard has now turned to Emery. Good Guy Popat thanks for your blanket offer to host us in London. Will take you up on your offer.

18. Aryama Sundaram :- The man oozes confidence and a regal bearing. The Legal Eagle has finally arrived with his trade mark , cigar and swagger. I believe the feeling that the Supreme court Judges have when he makes his grand entrance is best described by the Dhobis at home by members of the bench.

19. K.I. Varkey :- Lost without the one woman who meant the world to him Roysen. Thanks for the Vanilla pods . They certainly livened up our lives.

20. Pattu Venugopal Rao :- The incredible human mind, the incredible memory for detail. Absolutely awesome. The mannerisms just the same, Pattu , just the same lovely guy, the guy with a heart maybe two.

21. Ashok Mulloth :-Little boy blue come blow your horn. The Boy who never grew up. Just the same quiet Mulloth seldom heard , yet ever smiling.

22. Commodore Brian Thomas and Rebecca :- Ageless wonder, still looks like the cadet out of NDA. Refuses to reveal the secret of eternal youth, made a very concerning, and thought provoking speech about the changed Lovedale. Rebecca his charming wife, charmed us all with her demure and grace. A lovely couple truly “ Made for Each Other”

23. V Dev Bajji. The evasive man finally caught up with us at the Ooty Gymkhana for Lunch. Thanks for making all the effort to look us up.

24. Manoharan ( Pista) The humble farmer of Pollachi man with clout, but made no demonstration of it. Thanks Pista of your offer to spend time at your farm. Will certainly take you up on your offer.

Missed all thise who didn’t come,, more those who were suppose to come.

1. The Pastor and First Lady

2. Devs and wife

3. CRV and wife

4. Nina Pillai

5. David Samson

6. Kannu

7. Deepak Pandya and wife

8. Rajmohan and wife

9. Ganesh Sarin and wife

10. Sugun and husband

The Kids of the batch:- Many married , all doing well, professionally outstanding, and doing their parents proud.

Special Thanks:- Palani for hosting the lunch at Shinkows and at the Golf club. Mohan G for sponsoring the beverages of cheer.

The Next Time :- Selvi, and balls need to work out an off shore rendezvous. Make it soon before we all gather with walkers, and become incontinent.

To the Pastor, good dress rehearsal, the final show should be outstanding. Your job starts now.

Keep the faith



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