The old school tie

It was a great sight watching the oldies trying various knots to get the tie.

Last week I attended the golden jubilee celebrations of my batch at my alma mater in Delhi. The school is a rather elite boys’ institution run by Irish Christian Brothers. As name dropping goes, one  Shahrukh Khan, now residing in Mumbai also studied there, though much after my time.

Nostalgia-wise, this was a memorable event and classmates had arrived in strength from various parts of the world. The organising committee had instructed us to come in white shirts and dark trousers. Everyone, as true alumni,obeyed instructions and also agreed to buy the good old yellow and green striped school tie. It was a great sight watching all the oldies trying various knots to get the tie to the correct length.

The first sighting of my batchmates was a bit unsettling. It took a while to recognise that the gentleman with a generous waist and receding hairline was our fastest bowler 50 years back. The skinny, perpetually running nose, front -bencher had transformed into a still fighting fit army colonel and a helicopter pilot, to boot. What to say about the then plump, serious looking guy with thick black-framed spectacles. He was now a nattily dressed hotshot lawyer in Canada. I am sure the other chaps had an unflattering opinion about my present physique, too.

After about 15 minutes the congregation was in its element. Someone also traced out the old school gong and the familiar sound rang out. It was as if we had passed out recently. Then just as we did 50 years back we jostled for a vantage place for the group photograph. As I was one of the shorter ones I managed to stand in the first row.  The icing on the cake was the counter where we could gorge on the snacks that were the norm in our school days. It was a sight to see that the same chaps who would now not venture to eat street food tucking into samosas and cream rolls served from a steel trunk. Not to forget the aam papad and chooran.

After a walk-through of the school we sat in our old classroom and tried to recall our respective seats. A batchmate pretended to be a teacher and called out the attendance imitating our physics master. Discussion then veered towards the quirkiness of our various teachers and their methods to mete out punishment to erring students. I was a regular recipient of caning as I was quite a delinquent where homework was concerned. (This served me in good stead in later years when I became my college wicket-keeper and my palms were pretty tough.)

Though ours was a boys-only school, we had the advantage of sharing a compound wall with a well known girls’ school. As any interaction was a no-no, we had to crane our necks to peek across a hedge to spy on activity on the other side.

At the end of an invigorating three hours it was time to bid au revoir to the school till the next occasion, hopefully soon.

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