College Reunion @ 25… In Anticipation the Reflections!!!
“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.” — Charles Dickens
We have collectively created a collaborative world of luminous alumnus for the campus.
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The holy place and historical space of Punjab is a confluence of heritage. A profusely fertile land blessed with great gurus, saints and spirituality. The more we delve deep into the culture, custom and cuisine the more we comprehend the charm of the place. A foodie or not fond of food, doesn’t matter. The food in dhaba (roadside restaurant) continues to haunt our food for thought…the street cafes still steals our heart through the path of our stomach.
Jalandhar is a city of great antiquity is the oldest city in Punjab. The city earned a mythological name after Jalandhara, a demon king who lived in Jal (water) and Andhara (in). There was an analogy. We lived in the campus and the NIT campus became our “AADHAAR” for learning those baby steps to working, the word literally means foundation or base. We are what we are today to the outside world primarily to the foundation that was firmly led inside this wonderful campus…
“Happiness is being with an old friend after a long time and feeling like nothing has changed.” — Unknown
25 years has gone by…today it so appears that such long time has passed in a jiffy but those days each semester was much like an imposter. The period always pretended as a prolonged time. The months were counted in years. Those days time took its sweet time to test our bitter taste. We kept counting the days before the exam and it never ended. And the day exams were over; time gravitated into a turbocharged mode; the same clock but different clicks.
We never really digested the Einstein Theory of Relativity, the erudite concept of time dilation…though our mind was to work with the speed of light for things other than study.
It is an irony to discount the long count of 25 years on a fly in few fleeting seconds. Indeed it is a long time in the life of an individual. Today in the life of an institution it is a much longer time, as then the institution was a toddler less than a year old. The child within the campus was playful and joyful.
Life is relative and the age comparison does make it absolutely profound, the stage was set between us…the individual and the institution.
To put things in a proper perspective, 1990 was the year when Microsoft launched its first Windows 3.0 Operating System and the Microsoft Office. Things have changed tectonically thereafter; as we virtually open the windows to the digital world we literally close the doors to the real world…a fascinating irony of today’s two intersecting worlds. Microsoft window redefined our life. Our learning, working, living and thinking has radically changed with a rapid growth of a new breed of technology brigades spearheaded by three Musketeers of Amazon to Google to Facebook.
Essentially, change is the essence of life…
It is not any more the question of change that has transferred in us but the transformation within the campus. It is this quantum of change that is of qualitative consequence. We were fortunate to be the harbinger of those formative changes. We were the early cause of foundational change. And the subsequent fundamental changes have set the campus in Newtonian motion. There are dramatic emotions from Shakespearean plays are unfolding with dramatic passion. It so with the thoughts of returning back to our roots.
Of course there is a change within us and much more around us , the change is creatively comprehensive. It is holistic. It is universal. It has been transformative. There is a crafted change in us. Gone is the youthful exuberance. Gone is the childlike hubris.
We are graduated.
We are grounded.
We are apparently seasoned with age but our childlike nature remains in stage…the age has set a new stage for us. We have signs of prosperity amply being flaunted around our waistline. We have become wise and wisdom is directly proportion to our receding hairline. There is an unhealthy competition between the waist and the hair. We have grown older. There is physical change in the campus. It has become greener with the seeds that we planted. It has grown in size and stature. As we plan to be back in the campus, it seems nothing has changed in us…we get the same old childlike feeling. The feelings are etched in golden words.
It is indeed nostalgic!!!
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” — Nelson Mandela
In a way everything has changed and in another way nothing has changed. It is an intriguing paradox to ponder. How can the event with same actors happen at two different places at the same time? Perplexing!!! It is so much like Schrodinger’s Cat experiment…the cat is alive and dead at the same time. The campus is the same place from outside but we feel the same from inside even after 25 long years. We have grown older but the child within feels the same in the campus. It is the soul of the campus that deftly taught us how to walk the talk in every walk of our life. We have all engineered our way into the competitive world outside the campus. Though, we doctored the challenges that we confronted inside the campus. In the ultimate analysis, in our own little ways we have made the big difference in our chosen sphere of work.
Initial days in the college…
Those good old college days were filled with emotions and excitements. The emotions of moving away from family. It is the palpable excitement of experiencing the limited freedom. Life outside home. Life inside hostel. We all missed our families. We were all in reflection. We needed the anchor. Nothing can be more emotional than forming friendship with opposite gender. Though the initial relationships were not real but the feelings were surreal. Friends became our new family. The emotions of growing friendship. The fluttering hearts. Love at first sight. Those were initial insights about nurturing cupid love. The fleeting romance. Those were transitory. It was all in anticipation on the loving expectations…
We were joyous in anticipation that the engineering degree shall give us a passport to world of working. We will get multiple visas to the corporate world. It was the childlike excitement of standing on our feet. We were feeling like French Painter Henri Rousseau whose childlike painting changed the way people looked at the canvas. It was the tussle between the child within and the man to be in action for the outside world. It was the expectation of stepping into the business world and experiencing the joy of full financial freedom. All those thoughts were in deep anticipation.
There was no physical divide…
In between these two world of reflection and anticipation we were all competing with our friends and judging their progress and performance. We were happy when our friends got good marks in semester…we congratulated them. It was always a momentary act of momentous acting. We hugged our friends and lifted them if they were the toppers. But deep within we felt the simmering envy how they are managing to get better mark than me. They were parting the whole weekend and we are slogging on the mechanics of the subject and look how they have managed to have the cake and eat it too. We felt like deprived soul and soul searching was what we were left with. We were initially very envious but developed the crafty art of acting and kept our decorated smile and cheerfulness on our face. We used to profusely console ourselves and feel good by remembering Shakespeare the great, after all, we are all actors and the world is a stage.
“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” — Elisabeth Foley
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It is back to school again though we all have graduated and grown in life. We have to introduce ourselves the way we had introduced when we were asked for the introduction by our seniors. We had lovely seniors though less experienced in the art of taking introduction, quite understandable as they were the first batch and they didn’t have the mentor. As we learned they also learned the art of taking the sophisticated form of introduction which we technically term it as ragging. There was no bragging. We learned together…
Imperfection in little things mattered…
We were not perfect then. We are not perfect now either. We fought for perfection. Nothing has changed. In the frantic fight for perfection, there was bargains and we gained nothing. In fact we lost artistic shades of beauty that were crafted in our colourful friendship.
We fought for every little thing. Sharing few class notes to parting with few pennies to borrowing a shoe or a jacket to sharing the food stuff that we brought back from home after vacation…and who talked with whom and how much.
It was those little things that mattered to us. We were living in that little cozy world ensconced in the campus. The look mattered. The talk mattered. The style mattered. The dress mattered. In those days personal economy was highly regulated, money that matter the most…we were operating in shoe string budget. There were few privileged ones for whom budget was perfunctory. It was their cat walks that raised eyebrows in the corridors of campus. It was owner’s pride but other’s envy. They were cynosure of all eyes not eye shores. In those discounted landscapes of fashion divide there were friends who made friendship count. Winter was tough those places. They shared fashionable jackets with lesser privileged friends like us with passion.
It added that zing to the fizz of our friendship.
Many say reality is everything but many other feel perception is everything. We didn’t know in our early twenties that the grass is most definitely not always greener on the other side. We are now in our late forties and we see the grass and we are reflecting on the colors…not the hues and shades of green we had perceived.
The fag end of college days…
It literally reached a crescendo when it was time for placement. The business end of the course was where the end result mattered much more than the beginning. What really mattered was do we have a job in hand. Those were the initial days not in our life but in the life of college itself, though it had quickly learned to stand and walk firmly. The engagement with the corporate world was yet to commence. There were none to say about the new age companies…those few were mere toddlers.
To put those times in perspective, it was the year of 1994 when Jeff Bezos started Amazon as an online bookstore in a home garage in Washington. Other megastars were not yet born…Google started later in 1998 and Facebook much later in 2004.
College was putting its best foot forward…not much taker then. It needed the initial push. It needed wider collaboration. We were the budding supporters and college relied heavily on our performance and progress. We then realized that we should have studied bit harder and marks that counted in getting through the first gate to growth…the screening rounds were on mark. College managed to invite couple of companies; it was not easy post insurgency in Punjab and infrastructure in Campus was at its infancy. It was placement time came once gain the litmus test for our friendship.
“Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.” — Ally Condie
It was question of family over friendship…
It was the choice of career and concern for job…that mattered. It was the question of return on investment. The family had put all its hard earned money on us. It was family over friendship. The family was constantly in dialogue with us, how is the placement scene, how many companies have come, did you get any job offer, what is the plan after the degree if you don’t get a job, see to it that you get some offer before you leave the college. The pressure from family that was there before joining engineering was back with reinforced vigor. This time the vitality was added by family friends and even distant relatives not to talk of those close ones. The parents were in spot. They kept taunting our parents, you said your son has joined a very good college and why hasn’t he been placed yet. Four years has gone by. They were frantically looking for those elusive answers and we were the scapegoat than and we are still escaping them though now perhaps with much more impunity.
There is no digital divide…
Everyone has a place in the wonderful memories we made there and just that memory has got corrupted with the connect to the world outside the campus. Though the digital has disconnected us from the real world, there is a paradox; it is same digital that has helped us connect with our good old friends. The credit goes to Mark Zuckerberg. It is he who provided us with a book, a virtual alternative to the conventional face-to-face encounter. And then there are these “Instagram” to “Whatsapp” that have been sumptuously gobbled by Facebook. We are all part of this extended family of social network.
We are popular social animals, we love to interact , we like to engage and mingle with members of our community. The paradox is that we have become unsociable with obsessive engagement with the so called revolutionary movement of Social Medias.
In the virtual space we can faintly relate to our friend’s faces. We may not now remember every face and every name. The moment we see those familiar faces and hear those recognizable names everything changes. There is a burst of sentiments. We have a different feeling and emotion that erupts with volcanic gusto and we are all emotionally charged up…the particles start flying. The excitement in the air, it is visibly palpable.
It is fulfilling to know, how each one of us have chosen our path of choice and crafted our own destiny.
We have created our own space. There is a pace that we have all moved ahead in life. In between the space and the pace, we ran a race that we learned while residing in the campus. The race to compete. The race to contest. The race to win. The race to face the ruthless realities of life…
We are digitally squeezed between the idiot box and the smart pad. Gadgets are becoming smarter and we are becoming stupid. Gadgets are becoming slimmer and we are becoming fatter. Gadgets are becoming inter-dependent and we are becoming dependent.
We are digitally hooked…
In reflection, we realize how life has shown us ultimately what matters are the real things… the root, the relationship and the collaboration and the connection that shaped our life during those formative four years. We humbly owe it all to our wonderful professors and lovely staffs of the NIT campus in Jalandhar that shaped our future…
“In the end, you always go back to the people that were there in the beginning.” — Unknown
In the end…nothing matters!!!
Reunion is a moment in time in our life and it is these momentous moments of time we realize how much we miss those good old days.
“Sometimes, even when you’re having a good time, you can’t help but stop and think about how much you miss the old times.” — Unknown
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Nihar R Pradhan