This is part 2 of the reunion series; click here to read part -1.
Meeting the faculty
This was easily the highlight of the whole reunion.
Sitting in those plush blue chairs, dressed in the pink/turquoise sweatshirts adorned with college logos, and listening to the teachers brought a surge of emotions.
Many of us were left misty-eyed when Dr. Savita Mehendale. Professor of Emeritus, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, embraced us back into the brood by saying, “Welcome to your Home.”
A remark about the growing width and receding hairline of the boys in our batch by Dr. Girija Wagh in her inimitable style left the gathering in splits.
Dr. Karmarkar, Principal & Professor, Forensic Medicine & Toxicology, was modesty-personified and won all hearts through his quick wit and affable charm.
Dr. Mrs. Pandit, Dr. Mrs. Sahasrabudhe, Dr. Mrs. Anuradha Joshi, Dr. Arundhati Diwan, and Dr. Bhonsle, once again engaged their former students with their calming presence and cheerful disposition. Dr. Shinde regaled the crowd by reciting anecdotes from the past.
I found myself nodding at every word by Dr. Garud (Professor and HOD Anatomy) and Dr. Sapre (Professor and HOD Forensic Medicine).
It seemed like intervening decades vanished with a snap of their fingers. And I was back behind those grainy desks of the lecture halls, attentive and beady-eyed—not letting a word slip unnoticed.
Universally admired Dr. Deshmukh, and Dr. Kharat left the crowd spellbound. The buzz of conversation quelled, and it seemed like the people were hanging on every word and drinking it all in. The crowning strokes were Dr. Deshmukh’s oh-so-dashing walk and the jaunty, flamboyant swagger.
Dr. Ketkar’s elegant personality and ever-so-graceful rendition of the melody “Baatein bhool jaati hain. Yaadein yaad aati hain” sprinkled fairy dust, tinting the entire experience with a magical sheen.
These teachers, mind you, hadn’t aged a day in decades; their forever-young looks were enough to give anyone from our ’97 batch a run for the money.
Dr. Asmita Kadam Jagtap, the Executive Director of Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical Foundation, our classmate in 1997, voiced the yearning for the alma mater that was now rippling in each of our hearts. I couldn’t be more proud of her—even after juggling many hats, shouldering the tremendous responsibility, and carrying her family legacy forward in the most proficient manner, she has kept her gentle, modest, amiable temperament.
Dr. Lalwani (Professor and HOD of Pediatrics) condensed the entire drill of the reunion into a handful of sentences. “Don’t sleep for a minute, and boys, please maintain normal sensorium to enjoy to the fullest,” he said. A few hours later, we realized truer words had not been spoken.
These teachers deserve our deepest gratitude. Like expert sailors, they guided us, the unfledged crew, through turbulent waters called MBBS, tucking life lessons into that incredible adventure with expert ease.
Some teachers were deeply missed and fondly remembered. For me, it was one of my favorite teachers, Dr. Barve, the Anatomy professor in my 1st year. If, by the stroke of my good luck, you read this, sir, then consider this my Pranāma (a virtual bowing down and touching your feet.) You made me fall in love with anatomy, the affair that survived the piling years with remarkable aplomb.
Walking down the college corridors
I remembered being nervous as hell as I climbed up those steps and tottered towards the lecture hall after crossing the wide corridor as a first-year student on a summer morning in 1997.
Over two decades later, a similar feeling came to the fore. But only for a split second. A tangle of emotions — a blend of homesickness, nostalgia, and longing quickly replaced it. The lemony yellow walls pulled at my heartstrings, murmuring the wistful songs of yesteryears. The concrete corridors, curvy staircases, and granular walls had seen everything, stowing away millions of moments that troubled my young heart.
It was as if the hallways wanted to talk too—I could see us pacing up and down their lengths, waiting for Viva exams with fear and worry gnawing at our bellies. Once again, I could tune into the myriads of sounds that echoed across its lengths decades ago—the hurried gallop after getting late for a lecture, the distinct drag after being rejected by a love interest, the jaunt in the footstep after finishing exams.
The mini tour of the lecture hall and dissection hall brought the madness alive. The batch of 1997 officially went cuckoo.
We clicked hundreds of photographs around dissection tables and blackboards, with people posing with the withered, woody skeletons that seemed more than pleased to oblige us.
Finding my name in the college’s records
It may not matter to most, but this was a different sort of high for someone like me, who was academically oriented and slogged tirelessly to achieve promising results.
Finding my name displayed on a signboard listing the name of the gold medalist at the college entrance would keep me grinning in the coming decades. These photos are for keeps.
The missing library building
As we strolled down the tarmac, I kept looking for the missing towering scarlet edifice we called the library.
The building was taken down a few years back and replaced by a reading room inside the college premises. Though the construction of an improved library was underway, for former students, it would never fill in for the beloved building that stood before it.
The old structure wasn’t bolstered only by brick and mortar; it was also braced by the sparkly layer of memories tiled along the floor. Those sturdy mahogany long tables, the old bookshelves, the water cooler station, and the bustling reading room witnessed countless friendships being formed.
Many dreams brewed, fanned by the sweet smells of highlighter pens, the musty smells of books, and the rustle of lecture notes. A few courtships saw the road to success. They exited the library through the pathways bordered by bougainvillea hedges that turned bright purple in the summers. The not-so-lucky succumbed to academic pressure before their time.
The white-washed interiors saw the strongest people broken, the most outstanding minds crumbling under pressure, and people crying and laughing at the same time.
This is part 2 of the ongoing series:
Click here to read part -1.