Reunion in IIT Kanpur: Jan 12-13 2008

Every batch organizes a reunion in IIT Kanpur in the 25th year of their graduation. Our batch is, of course, different from the rest. We feel that admission to IIT Kanpur was a defining moment in our lives. Once we got in, getting out was easier. Well, may be not for all. Some people just loved studying, and they also fell in love with IIT Kanpur. And they left it much after everyone else was gone.

So we decided that we will have a reunion in IIT Kanpur to celebrate the completion of 25 years of our admission to IITK. The dates were: January 12-13, 2008. This was the second weekend of January.

Lodging and Boarding was arranged on IITK campus. The guest house (that we call Visitors Hostel) is a beautiful place to stay, and provides excellent hospitality. Most families were given double rooms, while couples were given single rooms. Those who came as singles were paired up and put up in one room each. We tried to pair up those who were roommates in the hostels.

A few people reached on 11th January, and we had organized the welcome dinner in Red Rose now known as Campus Restaurant. A few students had also been invited since they had expressed their desire to interview alumni for the campus publications. (They never really published anything.)

Most people came on 12th morning. A breakfast was organized in the dining hall of the Visitors' Hostel. They had done an excellent job, and everyone was happy that the reunion started wih good food.

A lot of activities were planned.

A tour of the campus was obviously important, not just to impress the family members, but to reconnect oneself with one's alma mater. The tour was in two parts. In the first part, a bus took people around the campus, to the old places like nursery, air strip, stadium, older hostels, swimming pool, etc., and also to new buildings like Wind Tunnel, Aerospace department, new hostels, SIDBI center, and so on. Unfortunately, only one bus was available, even though two had been booked for the purpose. So a few persons were accommodated in personal cars, and a few decided to enjoy the winter sun in the VH lawns.

The second part of the campus tour was to visit the academic area on foot. Some people visited central library for the first time, while some others decided to miss it once again. (If we didn't go there for four years, why go there now was the logic.) But people who came with family wanted to brag about the library, and they mostly did go to not just the library but also the lecture hall complex, and all those buildings where some muggoo types used to go in their earlier avatar. Most people felt that the campus was much better maintained now than in our times.

For those who wanted to experience a lecture in L7, or rather wanted their kids to have a feel for IITK lectures, we had a guest lecture by Manindra. Not many followed, but that was ok. If they had followed the lectures 25 years ago, they probably wouldn't be so successful today.

After the campus tour, the lunch was served by Sargam Caterers in the side lawn of VH. Again, some excellent food, and people would have liked to take some rest between lunch and the next event, but the local media was keen to take interviews of the bakaits of the batch, and know what great things they have been doing all these years.

After all those interviews were over, we moved to the Outreach building, which is a new building on campus, jointly funded by 1969 an 1980 batches. This has a nice mini-auditorium (about 200 capacity), and also hosts the Alumni Association office.

Here we first remembered our batchmates who are no longer with us. Unfortunately, within this short period, we have lost five batchmates. They are: Arun Pratap (ME), Devashish Das (ME), Pattabhi Ram (CHE), Ravi Thummalapalli (META), and Vivek Kumar (CE).

Then, we started with the introductions whereby each one of us had to tell what we have been doing since graduation, and introduce our family as well. With so many of us being present, this went on for a fairly long time. To make it even longer, we had a presentation by Dean of Alumni Relations on various institute initiatives involing alumni. We also had a small presentation by Ranjan on IITians for ITIs. At the end of it all, we desperately wanted a cup of tea.

Of course, the highlight of our stay in IITK was SFS, and our mission to relive the experience of those magic years wouldn't be complete, unless we had a movie show. It was logistically difficult to hold the movie show in L7, so we had it in the Outreach itself. The movie chosen was Rajkumar, the all-time favorite of the batch. It was edited by Manindra to ensure that it would last only about 1.5 hours, but had all the important song sequences. Unfortunately, there were no demands for repeating any scene, nor did anyone throw a slipper at the screen.

After, the movie, there was a short break for the Music Club volunteers to set all the equipment. The Cultural Evening was a very enjoyable part of the program. The wives of Kanpur gang presented a dance program. Bijoor recreated that old magic with drums. But the highlight of the evening was the Aarti by Manoj Nair. That he remembered all the words a quarter century later was absolutely remarkable.

We were running hugely late by now, and everyone was herded back to VH for the Reunion Dinner. But it wasn't just dinner. It was an experience. Not just because the liquids were in ample amount (and for a change, we had legal permit for serving that), and Manoj did not have to go out in the middle of the party to buy more liquids. But it was the ambience. The caterer had decorated the whole place beautifully. The careful selection of starters and mocktails was very much appreciated. And there were Sigris to keep you warm on a cold winter night. We had also invited graduates of 1985 and 1987 who live on campus.

And then there was a DJ. Everyone was dancing. It was quite apparent in some cases that it was their first time on the dance stage, but it did not matter. We had debated a whole lot on whether to have a DJ or not, and indeed decided on not to have it. We wanted to have a karaoke system, but we couldn't arrange that, and at the last minute decided to have a DJ. But in retrospect it was the best thing that happend, because dancing there broke all inhibitions, particularly of the family members, and the mood became perfact for such a reunion.

While music and dance continued, some people slowly trickled towards the dinner area, where once again, the ladies of tha Kanpur gang had crafted an exquisite menu for everyone's taste. And for those who hadn't gained enough weight in the 25 years, there were several options for the dessert. The dinner was served till midnight to allow people to dance to their heart's content, before attacking food.

The post-midnight bulla session was one of the highlights that family members were encouraged to miss. What all was said and discussed there cannot be reported in any public forum. But Manoj and Kala Tendua were in their elements. The session lasted till 04:00 AM, and the caterer held on to his promise of providing tea/coffee to anyone till the last person leaves the dinner area. He even managed to provide peanuts on demand at a very short notice.

On the second day, a breakfast was organized in Hall 1 mess. People noted that it was a private mess, much better than what we used to experience. The infrastructure is much better, thanks to alumni contributions towards hostel improvements. The menu was very extensive. For those who wanted to relive the experience of Aloo Parathas dripping with oil, it was there. For others, we had Jalebi, French toast, bread with butter and jam, etc. For a change (since we assumed people had changed), we also had South Indian variety. And since people hopefully did not want to have heavy stuff in all the meals, we had sprouted beans, cut fruits, and other simpler things in life.

After the breakfast, people visited the rooms where they had stayed in various years, both in Hall 1, as well as in Halls 2 and 3. Some people also wanted to visit the new Girls Hostel, and it was arranged. Enquiring minds could never find out their motivation for going to GH at this age.

Since, we had forgotten to take the reunion photograph on the previous day, everyone was requested to reach Outreach building at a specific time. Only about half the people reached, and we had separate photographs for alumni and spouses. This could have been planned better.

A meeting with the Institute's who's who was scheduled over lunch of Kadhi and Rice, besides lots of other stuff, of course. Director had invited everyone to his residence for the lunch, and it was catered by one of the finest caterer of the city. Director went around meeting all the alumni. He then gave away the momentoes to all those who were present.

Soon after the lunch, people started leaving. Some were going back by Shatabdi Express. Some, who had driven to Kanpur, wanted to reach back home in time to recoupe and go to office next day. Some wanted to check out the city, what changes, if any, had happened in the last quarter century. I am sure they didn't find much. And we strongly discouraged people from getting tempo experience.

The Public Relations Officer of IIT Kanpur was able to get copies of a photograph, which was taken in the morning of the group. Everyone was given a copy. The weather in January is just beautiful for a lazy afternoon bull bull session in the quad. And those who were not leaving, decided to park themselves in the lawns of VH. Some went to Alumni Association office to purchase some IITK memorabilia.

In parallel to all of this, we had also organized a glider ride for family members. Unfortunately, the weather did not allow glider rides for much of the time, but still some people were able to do it, and I am sure this will be one thing that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

For those of us, who still had some energy left, we had a game of phatta cricket. Violating the rules of the Institute, the game was played in the side lawn of VH. The two teams were largely decided on the basis of original hostels that we had joined in 1982. We had two TV cameras monitoring every ball, and some of the run out decisions were indeed referred to them. DT and KJ did not get a chance to show their wizardry at the hockey field.

After the phatta match was over, people wanted to go to the shops near MT section, where they wanted to meet their old dhobis, had chai in the same shop, called the old shop owners, and generally rekindled nostalgia.

The final event of the reunion was dinner. All important things in life should start with food, and end with food. We had decided to use the huge lawns of Manindra's residence as the venue for this dinner. The caterer, once again, decorated the venue as if it was someone's wedding. Once again, he excelled himself in providing a wonderful multi-course meal. Those who were to leave a bit early were given packed dinners.

During the dinner, the old ceremony of drinking from the bucket was carried out. Manoj Nair was the priest, who served drinks by a mug to everyone who would take it. And slowly, it was time for people to leave. One train at a time - Pushpak, Rajdhani, Shramshakti, and so on.

If anyone had any stress in life, a 2-day fun-packed vacation at a resort called IIT Kanpur was exactly what the doctor had ordered. It was a memorable event, I am sure even more enjoyable than the original four to five years at IITK.

The following batchmates had participated:

  1. Manindra Agarwal, Kanpur
  2. Dheeraj Sanghi
  3. Ajit Chaturvedi
  4. Pankaj Agarwal
  5. R P Singh
  6. Rajeev Rungta
  7. Sudhiraj Verma, Lucknow
  8. Alok Agarwal
  9. Deepak Sinha
  10. Rakesh Mahana
  11. Sharad Agarwal, Delhi and NCR
  12. Pramath Raj Sinha
  13. Sujit Guha
  14. Sanjay Khandelwal
  15. Swapan Johri
  16. Sanjay Taneja
  17. V K Sinha
  18. Animesh Thakur
  19. Sanjay Khare
  20. Deepika
  21. Sanjai Rai
  22. CD Singh
  23. Siddhartha Ghosh
  24. CS Prakash
  25. Devesh Chaturvedi
  26. Ravi Agarwal
  27. Ashutosh Bijoor, Mumbai
  28. Sanjay Bhargava
  29. Anupam Srivastava
  30. Bir Kapoor
  31. Rajnish Karki
  32. Sandeep Fuller
  33. Sanjay Agrawal
  34. Amitabh Satyam, Bangalore
  35. Manoj Nair
  36. Neeraj Kumar
  37. Uttara Gupta
  38. Suhas Nerurkar
  39. K J Singh
  40. Kumar Sanjeev Ranjan
  41. Dhirendra Tripathi, Ahmedabad
  42. Manoj Agarwal
  43. Arvind Sahay
  44. Ranjan Kumar, Pune
  45. Mohan Dedhe
  46. Vijay Pratap Singh, Allahabad
  47. Himanshu Kumar
  48. Kaushlendra K Ojha, Patna
  49. Jyoti Swarup, Chennai
  50. Narayan Behera, Bhubaneshwar
  51. S S Kulkarni, Nasik
  52. Vivek Srivastava, Kolkata
  53. Prashant Sagar, Jaipur
  54. Dhananjay Mohan, Dehradun
  55. Sanjay Karkhanis, Kolhapur
  56. Shyamlesh Khan, Ranchi
  57. Anurag Singh, USA
  58. Kulwant Singh Lall
  59. Bhuwan Srivastava
  60. Salil Dave
  61. Rajiv Jain
  62. Udayan Guha, UK

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