Reflections On A 40 – Year High School Reunion In Mangalore, South India

Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.

I was so excited when my class of 1974 decided to have a reunion in Mangalore in October 2017.  I made up my mind to be there and meet all my school friends.  I am so glad I made it and today the bond between us is stronger than ever.

To My Class- we will always look like we did 40 years ago. Old friendships can shape us for a lifetime. At 40-year reunions, we tend to see our classmates and friends with our hearts, not just our eyes. Strangers may laugh as we talk about times and places that no longer exist. But they did, during this very special weekend.

This is the place where we played, made our mistakes, and grew up.  This is our spiritual home. This is the place where we felt safe.  This is the ground where the seeds of later life were sowed.  These were the people who were the anvils upon which we forged who we were and what we would become. This is St. Ann’s Higher Secondary School, Mangalore. It’s where “our” story began — and it’s where it continues till the end of time.

Good friends are like stars, you don’t always see them, but you know they are always there.

Reminiscing our Grand Reunion

14-15 October 2017

by

Reena Fernandes

The winding Mangalore roads witnessed major traffic jams as 44 “sweet sixteen” girls, and 12 of their spouses streamed in at different times of the preceding week from seven countries of the world and thirteen cities of India to celebrate a Grand REUNION. It’s an event that sure makes or breaks any existing reunion records.

40 out of 55 (apart from 1 who is no  more ) of our Class X 1974 batch of St Ann’s school came together on the 14th and 15th of October 2017. We were accompanied by 12 spouses, 2 children and 5 teachers.

The morning of Saturday the 14th, you could see us in our pink and white school colors /uniforms at our alma mater St Ann’s .

Two of us Reena Fernandes and Geanette (nee) Lobo  were requested to address the current students telling them about our life in school back then and the journey of the last two years

Following a round of hugs and kisses, we started with a regular class reunion assembly, addressed by the current principal, who affectionately christened us ANNETS in her opening address at this Assembly.

Geanette, who anchored the program, fondly retraced the journey of our joys,  challenges and struggles of finding each other over the last two years. ( It all began with Rekha nee Attavar posting our class IX photograph on Face book with a request to identify  names of the girls) Subsequently,  one of our girls Dr Susan D’Souza, went out of her way to identify and trace all the class  girls.

Five of our teachers of yore who were also equally thrilled to join the reunion were warmly felicitated at the Assembly.

We then posed for a class photograph standing in the exact same positions as we did in 1974, along with the same teacher Ms Leila Menezes nee Lobo who made her way from Mumbai to be present with us on this occasion. By the end of the day, the old class photo printed alongside our current photo, was churned into a nostalgic memento that will always help jog our memory of this special occasion even through our dementing years of the not so distant future.

Then we had a guided campus walk, keenly observing the good old portals that still stood strong amidst some new blocks. Every tree on the campus and every brick in the wall brought back a memory, so dear. We paid our respects to our then Headmistress as we walked through the convent cemetery.

We enjoyed the opportunity to sit in one of our classrooms and have our teachers Sr Dionetta, Upendra Bhat and Ms Leila address us either walking us down memory lane or challenging us with teasers in the subjects they taught us back then.

Then our good old games teacher Ms Sarojini conducted a friendly throw ball match witnessed by all the staff and students of the school amidst cheer and laughter. Believe me, we still had the same sporting skills and spirit! Including Ms Marie teacher who joined the match.

 

By then we were ready to gobble up an appetizing well packed lunch, Ideal Cafe’s jumbo combo of all the mangy delicacies including the world famous Gadbad ice cream.

Post lunch we proceeded in six cars and a mini bus to River Roost a beautiful resort by the Phalguni River in Pilikula where we spent the better part of the weekend nurturing our bonds old and new.  Walking down the ramp, talent shows, “natural” walk in the rain, swimming, badminton, yoga, eating, drinking, singing, dancing, chit chatting like good old times, posing with funny photo props, playing the famous antakshari, tambola, and other brain teasing games such as bing bang bong,  1,2,3 shoot and the the rib tickling How’s Yours!. All this and more filled our weekend until Sunday afternoon.

Yes, our reunion could never be considered complete without reading out excerpts from our school autographs and scrap books which sent us into peals of laughter that left us with a stitch in our sides.

After a delicious Sunday lunch, we took our time to say our warm goodbyes.

As we had more than 50 mini reunions in different parts of India and the globe over the last two years, the ANNETS are sure to keep this fire burning to help us plan more mini and mega reunions in the future that lies bright before us. And we are determined to put our shoulders to the wheel to find the only two girls left to be found to lead us to the historic 55/55 mark, when we can say, Guiness, here we come!

To mark this special occasion of our grand reunion 2017 , the ANNETS were pleased to raise a generous contribution  to the St Ann’s School Education Fund that supports economically deserving students. Its our hope that the values instilled in us by our Alma mater will continue to inspire the generations of students that will pass through its portals.

The working committee that made all this possible consisted of

Susan D’Souza

Jayashri Pai

Gladys Vasani

Reena Fernandes and

Cynthia D’Souza

Cheers to us ANNETS today and always!

Source:

Reena Fernandes

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