Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Homecoming

Many years ago, I went to a b-school in Jamshedpur. One of their traditions is to have a weekend  in November when all alumni are invited to visit the campus with friends and family. This is - quite beautifully - called The Homecoming. 
The Homecoming Weekend is on right now. The following piece was meant for the souvenir printed on this occasion. Some of the names may be a little personal but I am hoping many people who want to go back to their alma maters some time in the future will identify with this.

When the auto had turned the bend, you had tried to peep out and take a look at the tree-lined campus that had been your home for the past two years. Blame it on the three others who crammed into the same auto and their embarrassingly large backpacks, you couldn’t do it. Oh, what’s the big deal, you thought. You will be coming back every once in a while. Every time you come home to Calcutta for a holiday, you can squeeze in a day trip to Jamshedpur. The Bombay-Delhi guys will not be able to do this. But you can easily… 
You were not alone among the alumni who made these highly optimistic ‘return’ plans and failed miserably. Even the guilt gave way after the first three-four years.

Every once in a while on a business trip to Bombay (or Bangalore or Delhi), you postponed the evening flight out and landed up at a batchmate’s place. He would always have the dregs of an Old Monk bottle left. Chatting animatedly with the couple of other friends, you would again make elaborate plans. Hey, did you know Kingfisher flies to Ranchi now? It is even easier now. Just fly and drive down in three hours. All objections about the bad Jharkhand roads would get lost in the nostalgic high. For the Jubilee Batch (or Jalebi, as you call yourselves unselfconsciously), the campus had changed the maximum since your departure. It would be so cool to go back, you thought as you downed the Old Monk. 

These plans became more and more difficult to make as you grew older. Many of you have moved abroad. Some had multi-locational teams reporting into them. Some had started their own business. It was bloody difficult to get away from work for 4-5 days. On top of that, this recession was not making anybody’s work-life easier. (Yaar, yeh recession ko postpone karao koi. You postponed project submissions with impunity. How difficult can this be?)

Then you had children and their schools, class tests to contend with. As you grew even older, too many of your earlier generation seemed to be going in and out of hospitals. Planning with friends became nearly impossible. Instead of shacking up with a friend in a different city, it felt right that you came back hoping to catch your daughter about to fall asleep.

But you must plan again – right from scratch.
You now want to take your son along. He knows what colleges are. He has heard of these good colleges called IIM. He has to be shown the difference between the good and the best. He has to be shown those tree-lined paths. He has to be shown where the computer centre used to be (You used desktops, dad?). You had to tell him about Jesu, Gango and Sarin. You also need to prepare an answer for when he asks, “Mom, what are they shouting? What’s the next line after Ek do teen chaar?”
He has seen all his ancestral homes. It is time to show him this one as well.  

1 comment:

OrangeJammies said...

Loved this. :) The best of the season to you and the family!