It’s been 25 years since we first met – the 20-odd of us. It was on May 6, 1985 that we officially joined United India Insurance Company, but it was a day earlier, on a Sunday, that we all trooped in one after the other from various parts of India, to the company’s Learning Centre down Nungambakkam’s Fourth Lane.
We were all direct recruit administrative officers – the next best thing to getting a job in the civil services, we were told by the Learning Centre manager, Mr Saikat Guha, one of the best managers we have ever seen and who we presume is in Santhiniketan now.
As I completed formalities at the reception that day 25 years ago, I hardly knew what to expect, but, yes, I was damn excited. Being an officer was a big thing.
The first group I bumped into comprised guys from Delhi – Sanjay, Vilok, Thomas… Then there was Rajeev and Ashok from Kanpur; Baba, Ramalakshmi and Kumar from Hyderabad joined us later as did Mohanty from Bhubaneswar; Parvati, Tommy, Viswanathan from Kerala followed; Atish from Hissar (Haryana); Rajni from Delhi; and the girls from Madras – Anita, Parvati, Soundarya and Sudha soon made up the numbers. Not to forget Manivasagam from Kovilpatti (Tamil Nadu) and Balaji from Madras. And the two Saurabhs – Saurabh Singh from Delhi and Saurabh Varma from Ranchi… and Vivek from Jaipur and Vijay from Vijayawada. There was Raja as well… but he left in a month or so to join State Bank of India. You couldn’t have found a more cosmopolitan batch, a more ‘United Indian’ batch if ever there was one.
Today was that day we first met 25 years ago – May 5. And there is excitement in all of us. Because we are going to be together again, for the first time after two decades and a half. Tonight we meet at Chennai Central station and board a train to Yercaud where we plan to spend two days catching up with each other’s lives and old times.
The closeness in our batch has been unique in way. It spawned two successful marriages – between batch mates. We’ve also had several trips together during those halcyon days – to Vizag, Hyderabad, Kochi, Pondicherry, Kodaikanal and Tirupati…
In Yercaud, we will unwind and rewind to the past. Old memories will come alive. And it is a holiday I am looking forward to.
Sadly, very sadly, two of batch mates are no more. Ashok and Manivasagam left us for good a few years ago. We will remember them especially today and the days we spend in Yercaud. Rajni and Vivek will not be there due to pressing engagements, and their absence will be sorely missed.