On 21st January, the hallowed halls of the Convent of Jesus and Mary, St. Anne’s High School, Pune rang out with the sounds of girlish peals of laughter, music, dancing and much merriment. It sounded like any All Girls’ party (or Socials as they were called), but with a small difference. The ladies meeting up were from the Class of ’67 and were celebrating a grand Golden Reunion after 50 Years.
It was as if all the years in between had just melted away and they were back at school, having the time of their lives. 50 years ago, there had been a similar Farewell Social, where the girls couldn’t wait to get out into the world of college crushes, makeup and fashionable dresses, after spending 12 years of their lives, leading a cloistered existence within the four walls of the Convent – prim, proper little girls, following the strict code of conduct laid down by the Nuns (though none could lay claims to being saints. Many in fact were naughty little devils, always up to some mischief).
Now, 50 years later, we couldn’t wait to get back into the Convent and meet up with all the dear friends who had scattered to every part of the globe. Almost a year of feverish preparation went into the organization of this grand Reunion, the major part of the work being handled by those who were still based in Pune. No stone was left unturned to make this the best Reunion ever – every single little detail was carefully planned and impeccably executed, through various Whatsapp groups. Before the event, it was all Anticipation and Planning and afterwards, it was Remembrance and Reminiscing of all the fun we had, during those memorable, fun-filled days of the Reunion, where we forgot that we were grandmothers and were transformed into young schoolgirls again.
The celebrations lasted over a period of four days and kicked off with a lavish dinner organized by eight NRI girls at the Royal Connaught Boat Club on 20th January. They had come from all corners of the world – from the Philippines, Norway, Australia, Germany, Spain and the US. Many of us met for the first time after 50 years. Some we recognized instantly, others were a bit difficult to place, but everyone embraced each other whole-heartedly.
The next day, on 21st January, all the festivities took place in the School Chapel and Hall. A Mass was held and all the girls were dressed in their House Colours. It was a beautiful, solemn ceremony, with hymns being sung and all the ladies walking down the aisle in their colourful sarees, holding little lamps in their palms. After the ceremony, everyone trooped downstairs for a hearty meal. Anecdotes of school days were shared and the School Anthem – Alma Mater was sung, very soulfully as also a revised version of ‘Those Were the Days, My friend.’ The girls gathered once again in the evening at the School Hall for Dinner, Dancing, Games and some lusty singing.
On Day 3, we were off to Khandala, by a specially arranged Bus, to stay at the Retreat House of the Convent. It was a pleasure meeting Sister Prudence who had taught us several years ago, as a young French teacher and who later became a Nun. In the evening a wonderful dinner was arranged by one of the girls at her home in Lonavala, the dress code being – ‘Dress as funkly as you can’. Some of the girls really outdid themselves. There was a Barbecue, a live band and a bonfire. Not content with all the fun we had at the Barbecue, the whole lot of us got together at midnight in one of the rooms and had a Cake and wine Feast, in the style of Enid Blyton, whose books were our staple diet during those unforgettable schooldays.
It was back to Pune the next and last day and the celebrations were rounded off by another lovely dinner, with games, fun and singing, arranged by another girl and her entire family, at her home. Gifts were exchanged during the Reunion, Memento cups, Pens, Place Mats and the Group Photo were handed out and everything went off beautifully, thanks to the impeccable organization by all concerned.
The Reunion may have ended but our love for each other will last a lifetime and it has only whetted our appetite to meet more often and stay in touch in our golden years. Many among us have been denied this privilege and we remember them with sorrow. We are indeed truly blessed to have experienced this joyous Reunion of the Class of ‘67.
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