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Friday, August 12, 2016

Chp 622. Reunion - Day 4

Previous posts - Reunion - Day 1 & 2 | Reunion - Day 3

So after another night of great fun and emotional reunion at our private resort, the cold and misty Yercaud morning welcomed us back to the sober world.

I must admit I was quite surprised the Kraken Spiced Dark Rum that Ashwini gifted me the previous night was all over. The taste was so good that almost everybody had a drink or two from it, and just like that, it was all gone.

We all changed into our Sports Day uniform (Alumni shirt) and then had breakfast.

As you might have noticed, the previous day, we were all wearing our batch T-shirt. We were the Men In Red. Like I mentioned in my previous post, it was a really good call to wear red because we could easily identify our batchmates from a sea of 2000+ registered old boys swarming across the school campus. We really stood out.

But for the main School Centenary Sports Day that day, we wore the Alumni T-shirt that came with the registration kit. We became the Men In Blue.

As we waited for everybody to get ready and assemble near the resort gate, John Paul brought out his guitar and harmonica.

And then we all got into this nostalgic over-drive as we sang our batch's farewell song along with our school's official farewell song.

Turned out, none of us remembered the complete lyrics of our batch's farewell song, but kudos to Lincoln for remembering most of it, and due to him, many of us continued to join in. If only the composers like Lova, Paul, Byron, Zuala etc had been there too, it would have been much merrier, but sadly, Stephen was the only one from Mizoram who could make it.

And then when we sang our school's official farewell song, we all remembered most of the lyrics, because after all, we used to sing it every year for every out-going batch. Plus, the song is sung to the tune of "Auld Land Syne", so it was easy to remember.

But when we sang our School Song, all of us remembered each and every single word. The Blue and the Gold, shall be every our pride. Ah, what an emotional flashback we all had while waiting for the others to assemble. We took a few group photos as well.

Some of the amazing wives above, without whom our reunion would have definitely been quite drab.

We moved to our school again in a convoy of vehicles. Parking was a BIG issue because the main sports day was not just for the alumni but all the parents of the current students. Most of us couldn't park inside and were instructed to park outside around the school complex by the many cops posted everywhere.

By the time we were able to find a place to park, the main school march past competition and Chief Guest inspection were already over.

We reached just in time for the Old Boys march-past.

We were all instructed to assemble batch-wise, in order of our year of graduation.

Every year, on every school sports day, the old boys march-past would take place right after the main inter-house march-past competition. But the number of alumni participating always used to be around 200 only. This time, more than 2000 old boys turned up, and we could see many of our former teachers and wardens and retired mentors sitting on the podium, moved to tears. Damn, what an amazing feeling that was.

Some of the school girls that you can see above, are students from nearby schools in Yercaud. It is our school's custom to invite them on our sports day.

I had to take the above photo while we were marching because that guy in the middle above is the current Patrick House captain. Back when I was the Patrick House captain, we never had any of those fancy whatever you call that thingie he's wearing. And I can bet my captaincy badge that those other guys standing next to him are the current Patrick House Vice-captain and the House prefects :)

And as we marched past all three Houses, their captains and students saluted us with their unique House slogans. Mannnn, we never had those either! :(

Our march around the field continued, only to be interrupted by a few selfies and group photos. I just want to put in here that every batch has a name, and it is usually related to farewell/goodbye. For example, when I first joined in '93, the outgoing batch was called "Arrivederci". Then came the "Sayonara" batch, the "Aloha" batch and so on. Our batch was called "Talofa", which is a salutation or greeting in Samoan language, meaning you bid somebody a good and prosperous long life, pretty similar to aloha which can be used for both hello and goodbye.

Took a couple of pics with our senior batch in front of us, the "Slone" batch. Funny thing about their batch name - I don't think it means goodbye or farewell in any language! :D A quick google search online reveals that it means "warrior" in Irish (or Gaelic depending on the spelling). :D

But then, you can't blame them, after all, back in '98, internet was almost unheard of. There was no google search or wiki back then. And so, all those times they cried and hugged each as they bid their final farewell with "Slone to you", they were actually saying, "You're a warrior" with tears-filled eyes :D That's pretty much like having a Chinese tattoo on your arm thinking it means something cool like "Fate" or "Karma" when in fact it actually means "Chicken noodles soup". :D

I had a long chat with AJ, my closest friend from the Slone batch regarding this, and he tried his best to justify why they named themselves "Slone". Finally, he sent me a Google Translate link showing "Slán" which means goodbye in Irish. And I was like, but you're not "Slán", you're "Slone" :D

Behind our group, you can see our immediate junior batch, the "Kenavo" (which means goodbye in Breton, a Celtic language), wearing their batch T-shirt in bright orange. I guess they didn't get the memo that alumni were supposed to wear their batch T-shirt only on the previous day's old boys sports day, and not on the main sports day :P

Overall, our batch was really close to both the Kenavos and the Slones, just as how most other batches were attached to their immediate junior and senior batches. It was indeed great seeing them all once again.

Back at the VIP podium, we passed all the important guests again, including our Chief Guest Vikram, batch of '83 and Montfort House captain. He's a very popular actor in the Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam film industry, and yes, a lot of students and junior alumni members were busy taking selfies with him.

Bro Varghese, as I mentioned in my previous post, the current Principal and my all-time favourite brother.

One person I really missed was Bro Monty. Monty is my second favourite bro, and he had a really close connection with our batch. I was really sad when I heard the news about his medical condition and that he wasn't going to attend the sports day because of it. I really hope to meet him again soon, whenever it is possible :(

Of course I have been talking about all my favourite brothers and teachers, not just in this post but the previous posts as well, but that doesn't mean everybody was nice to us. For example...


Now I'm not saying he was bad or anything... let's just say, our batch didn't have pleasant memories of him :) And hey, the past is the past, I'm not going to speak negative about him, he did what he had to do. After all, there must be a good cop and bad cop in every scenario. Bro Susai played the bad cop part in almost every scenario, and some of those actions affected us positively, helping us become better men today.

And with that, we were done with the old boys march-past.

Our batch decided to walk towards the hostel area because the field and other places were all crowded. We headed towards our old XIIth std dormitory.

Surprisingly, the dorm upstairs was not locked, and even more surprisingly, nobody stopped us. There were no wardens around.

I still remember back when we were students, old boys were forbidden from entering the dormitories during sports day. Things have changed.

Also, all of us were extremely disappointed with the conditions of the dorm. The beds were all untidy and messy, and clothes were strewn everywhere. The stench of dirty socks lingered in the passageway. Back during our days, Monty or any of the brothers would have whacked our sorry asses with a long cane if we ever maintained our beds that way! Sheeesh, it was really disappointing :(

The bathroom had been extended as well, and by extended, I meant a huge extension. Back during our time, it was just the small stretch of corridor where the showers were fitted, and around 2-3 boys had to share one shower. Currently, the bathroom was humongous.

And of course we had to take the traditional peeing photos!

Once we got down to the classrooms below, Thalavai and Alexander re-enacted their favourite and most regular pose during class hours :D

And then it was time for another batch group photo...

Tony looked like he just farted :D

The facial expressions from the other guys behind him made it even funnier...

We then moved towards our Chapel...

To me, frankly speaking, I didn't have that much fond memories of our Chapel. Even though I'm not a Catholic, Princi (our Principal back then, Bro Joseph) told me to attend every morning Mass whenever I didn't have a morning basketball coaching session because as a Christian House Captain, I needed to set an example to the juniors.

Back during our time, it was compulsory for the Protestants to attend Sunday service only, whereas the Catholics had a hard time as they had to attend both the Sunday and Saturday morning services compulsorily, along with one of the weekday morning masses as well, depending on which batch they belonged to, not to mention the many different important "Feasts" as well. So, as a Protestant, I was supposed to have an easy life, but there I was, reluctantly attending mass almost every morning whenever we didn't have basketball practice and doing the last reading of the Liturgy and then going around the Chapel with a long stick for the collection. I bet none of you (my regular blog readers) pictured me doing that. :P

In fact, in our Mizo Presbyterian and Baptist Churches, women are in charge of the collections (thawhlawm khawn), and I can bet that, I have played the role of collecting offerings during a Church service more times than any Mizo women out there :P

We moved towards our school gate after that. During our time, there used to be a statue of St. Louis de Montfort, founder of the Brothers of Saint Gabriel, right at that spot. Today, that statue had been elevated way up above!

Guys having fun with the new structure :P

Batch photo...

Meanwhile Nikhil and the others visited our nurse, and she looked at C.Sara's legs, though we're not sure if he was just making an excuse… :P

Took a few more group photos before heading for lunch…

At lunch time, some of our guys headed to the refectory again…

While the rest of us decided to have kothu paratha at Muruga bhavan. But the place was completely packed, and so we decided to buy it from another shop and have it back at the resort. Chilled with some beer on the way…

So finally, we reached another famous road-side restaurant near Big Lake that makes good kothu paratha. For those of you who had never tasted kothu paratha, here is how the awesome dish is prepared…

Yummmmm! So awesome. We hogged it all down back at our resort.

The others too eventually came back to the resort. While some of us relaxed and chatted, others went back to take rest.

Finally it was time for our alumni socials dinner. We all changed into something formal, and those of us who bought suits for this occasion wore them.

A quick swig of Laphroaig and we were good to go…

The drive towards school was misty and drizzling…

Surprisingly, our batch was one of the firsts to arrive. That was because of the rain and fog.

Various events were taking place on the big screen. Here's one such video show, where the names of all the teachers, past and present, were displayed.

A couple of speeches were made…

We also had the ceremonial birthday cake cutting, where senior and former brothers and principals did the honors of cutting the cake while all of us sang a birthday song :)

Followed by more speeches from renowned alumni like MLAs, MPs etc.

I love our wristband. The blue and the gold…

…shall be ever our pride.

There was this really touching moment when all of us stood up to sing our School Song. From old to young, we all joined in and sang together, moving many of us to tears, especially at that last line - "Montfort boys shall aye be men!" People shouted out that last line, and I think it also had to do with the fact that many old boys weren't comfortable or accepting to the fact that our alma mater had become a co-ed institution now…. But I'll write more on that later… :)

While listening to the many speeches and live-band playing, food was served continuously to our tables, and we ate so much appetizers that most of us were full and didn't feel like having the awesome dinner waiting for us. Check out this mango ice-cream below, served from an actual mango!!!

After some time, we headed towards the parking area because alcohol was strictly prohibited at the function, after all, it was still a school, run by the Brothers of St. Gabriel. :)

And after that, we decided to head back to our resort.

We had one last camp fire hangout together.

Lincoln bought two crates of liquor from Goa and distributed them to each of us. They were really good.

And with that, our last night together at the reunion ended…

Everybody promised to make it for the next reunion, as we all bid good night to each other.

It felt really sad knowing this epic reunion was coming to an end… :(