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College reunions are always a great idea. Especially if they held in Goa, they are FAB! Meeting old friends, catching up, “I’m excited,” says the author!
The idea of a college reunion for the girls in our batch started suddenly, out of nowhere. A quick online poll, an even quicker decision and before anyone could find excuses to skip, most had found reasons to make it.
We decided to have 2 reunions — one in the USA and one in India at about the same time. This took care of the biggest hindrance. One that emerged in all our previous reunion plans – the difficulty of planning an overseas trip without family and committing to a date in advance. Two reunions in two countries around the same date sounded like a great workaround.
Those of us in India shortlisted Goa, on a weekend in August. Goa is a destination that is hard to say no to, no matter what the season or the reason. The flight connections are convenient from all across India.
Monsoons didn’t seem like a problem, after all this wasn’t a sightseeing trip. It was a meet-up of girls who parted ways decades ago with stars in their eyes and a whole lot of heart. For the world, they also had a solid label on their resume — BITS Pilani. But each one of them knew that it was so much more than a label — a preparation, a shield, an exploration prelude, a dive board, a runway for take-off.
It was a period of time that they would never forget, a place that they had worked hard to be at. When we said our goodbyes we had no idea when we would meet again.
But here was an opportunity…we could meet in Goa. It will be just two nights trip, so that our absence from our regular lives and responsibilities was not felt . Just one weekend, how bad can it be!
Sunset at Candolim Beach, Goa. Pic Credit: Author
The enthu cutlets in the group made it sound like a simple weekend getaway with girlfriends. Two days of — Talk, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. In BITSian Lingo — Lachcha, Grub, Crash, Repeat! Just one weekend of our life.
It’s worth a try. How bad can it be!
The workaround of having 2 reunions in 2 countries at about the same time was turning into blessing-in-disguise. Seeing the enthusiasm of US team, us in India also had to volunteer as organisers to make it happen.
The US girls had a larger geographical spread across time zones and were still willing to travel. We should also give it a try.
After all it is Goa, how bad can it be!
And so the planning started. Fun, Food and no Fuss — was the guideline we adhered to. Given the uncertainty of rains and the off-season time, we did not want complicated logistics.
Nothing should distract us from the core agenda of “Talk till you Drop”! With that in mind, we booked one of the best hotels. Just the kind of location and all the facilities we wanted. Once the basics were taken care of, the tickets were quickly booked and then there was no looking back.
Some of us had been good friends in BITS but had lost touch over the years. Some of us had hardly interacted earlier. In college, we had separate groups. Sometimes defined by our field of study, by the regions we belonged to, because of room allocation such that we became “roomies” and “wingies”.
There was some awkwardness though — of meeting people after decades, many whom we knew very little about. And here we were, travelling all the way to meet one another.
But it is just a weekend, and it is Goa, how bad can it be!
If the group that had confirmed and committed to attending the reunion was diverse, the ones who volunteered as organisers were equally diverse. Over the course of the planning we discovered things about one another that we wondered why we hadn’t asked or known all these years.
From “Oh you did that”, “You lived there?” to “How did you manage that” to “Can’t you do this” to “That’s BS!”, we felt the unadulterated joy of finding a long lost friend.
And realised this is what reunions are meant to be — to rediscover the friends who are bound to you because of a common shared identity, with whom you have shared the most vulnerable part of your life. The part when as a teenager you left your home, to live among strangers who were either different from you.
That bond is stronger than we realise — it comes without pretensions, it stays even when we don’t meet or talk for years, and is rarer than most other connects we form over a lifetime. A college reunion is great way to rekindle that bond, to use the positive vibes to rev up the spirits and to recharge for the adventure that is life.
That was when we made a switch from “How bad can it be” to “How fab can it be”.
Our focus shifted to how much awesomeness can we pack in those 2 days for each of us who is going to be there!
Life doesn’t always turn out the way one thinks it would. Not that it makes one less capable of achieving what one wanted to…sometimes it is just the realization that what truly matters to you is different from what you imagined it to be.
For 16 years of school and then college life, we are conditioned to believe that the results we get are directly proportional to the efforts we put in. Practice maths, learn science, cram history, swallow hindi, ace the exams, do more and you’ll get more, guaranteed. It is only later that we truly discover life where there are no guarantees.
Like Bhooma said, there are hundreds who have similar skill set. However, not all would have climbed the highest rung of the ladder because of their circumstances, situations or simply their personal choices.
And as Shubha says, it is the grace with which we handle the challenges, opportunities, leaning in, leaning out, or anything that life throws at us that makes us the person we are.
That’s the person we look forward to celebrating at the reunion. So let’s bring along the strengths, that grit, the kickass attitude — we are going to shine it some more and bask in glory, reflected and otherwise. Also bring in the weaknesses, those insecurities, that sadness — we are going to thank those for making us who we are, tell them their job is done and then bury them at the beach.
From just thinking of it as a quick weekend getaway, we went about crafting it as a gathering for women who would always hold a special place in one another’s lives — a weekend where we revel in our shared identity; let our grey, black or coloured hair down; live it up, and rejuvenate our spirits to ensure that we continue to be the perennials that we are!
We added a little this and a little that to the reunion agenda. Egged on and cheered by all the fellow attendees who were totally excited, despite not knowing what awaits them at the venue — whether they’ll get specially designed T-Shirts to wear or hankies to hold!
Together we all fretted about the T-Shirt sizes and the kgs added since graduation. We kept our faith in the latest selfie cameras that would erase the wrinkles, wipe the flaws and clear the skin with a simple touch.
Before we knew we had an agenda worked out for the two days…loaded with craziness of my fellow organisers Shoma and Gigs. One weekend seemed too short to do all that we wanted to do!
As we close in on the D day — I am super excited! I am sure there will be many occasions when I’ll exclaim like my illad batchmates do “Deivame Kaal enge”!
Pic Credit: Lavanya Devarajan, BITS Pilani
I’ll remember to put my feet forward, like Jaya did in the WhatsApp group! We have been exchanging some crazy messages in the run-up to the reunion — about catchy kerchiefs and shiny gifts, the blue worm and the merman, power yoga and candid pics.
Like that giggly teenager who had landed at Meera Bhawan, BITS Pilani 333031 one rainy morning in August, this August I am again all giggles.
Que será, será
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que será, será
What will be, will be
Me, with all those extra pounds, the tyres and the curves. With those wrinkles and blotches. Me the perpetual learner on a jungle gym, sometimes a proud multi-pod, sometimes an insecure drifter. With all the regrets and joys, a chipped-but-steady-heart, and a never say die spirit. Me, perfect with all my imperfections.
I so so so look forward to this reunion weekend getaway with my BITS Pilani girlfriends in Goa.
How fab can it be!
Picture credits: Screenshot from the movie Angry Indian Goddesses.
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