Friday, October 7, 2016

Meeting Old Friends And New York City.

Our batch of first year BDS at the Govt Dental College, Bangalore,in 1974, consisted of about twenty students. It was a mixed group of students from Karnataka, Andhra, Haryana, Punjab, J&K, Sri Lanka, Malaysia so on and so forth. Our classes started at eight in the morning and by the time we were done with our clinical and laboratory work, it was usually six or seven in the evening. Even those who did not have work of their own stayed back in the college helping friends or playing table tennis or badminton. As a result we spent most of our waking hours together and we turned out to be a very cohesive group.

Most of our teachers were helpful and kind but we had our share of nasty teachers with high egos and cheap minds who used students as weapons while settling scores thereby making our life miserable. Handling the situation required collective planning and action and it brought us even closer. Barring such incidents our student life in Dental College was an enjoyable one and we had a good time. At the time of our exams, many of my batch mates made the boy’s common room their home and virtually stayed in the college sharing their food, notes and knowledge. And all they had to do to get away from the stress of excessive study was to jump over the college compound into the premises of the ‘Apsara’ theater next door, for a late night movie show!

Yes. We were a jolly group. Too very jolly sometimes for people around us to bear. For example, our co passengers, when we took a bus or  train for our picnics. We enjoyed the picnics a lot and in the process, sometimes missed the last bus and/or the deadlines given by the girl student’s families. Once, we had to hitch a ride on the back of a tractor carrying sand but we made ourselves comfortable in the sand and sang all the way back to the city. On another occasion we had to include our professor in plotting a picnic and make him assure the unconvinced father of one of the girls that we had really been called on a holiday for extra work!

We also converted many of our trips to small towns around Bangalore, part of our social dentistry curriculum, into picnics.  I particularly remember one such overnight trip where we spent most of the moonlit night on a hillock near the traveller’s bungalow, our designated accommodation, singing and listening to old songs on a tape recorder. One of our classmate’s family owned the tape recorder and all of us contributed towards the cost of batteries! Similarly, by sharing the cost of films and processing we could record the good times and I am grateful to my friends who have still retained those B&W photographs with them.

I fail to think of an explanation as to how such a group of friends lost contact with each other soon after completing our graduation. But for a few who lived in Bangalore I had no idea about the whereabouts of my other batch mates. We had unsubstantiated information about some working in gulf countries, some having migrated to UK and US and so on but no concrete information. Thanks to whatsapp and the sincere efforts of some very good souls, we have regained contacts and I am very happy to say that the old bond has remained strong even after forty years. Unfortunately we still have about half a dozen to be traced.

Recently I came to know that two of my classmates are in New Jersey and decided to make a trip to NJ to meet them during my present visit to the US. And that is how I ended up in New York City. I met them after a gap of thirty eight years  and it was a picnic. Though we rode on top of a hop on hop off bus and not on the back of a tractor carrying sand, the fun and feelings were the same!

The story explaining my presence in NYC turned out to be longer than anticipated. Now, I shall allow the pictures to take over.
My Classmate and gracious host in NJ  Hema with her husband  Bharat. 
They went to great lengths to make my visit to NYC a memorable one. Three old classmates on a picnic in New York. Not in our twenties anymore but it almost felt the same. And I did not even had to contribute towards food and fare! Uma, self and Hema. 
New York is not complete with out the empire state building, which remained the tallest for more than half s century.
While walking in NY watch out for the (in)famous yellow taxis. Traffic rules do not apply to them. Seen here parked right on the zebra crossing. 
It is people like him who make the NY sight seeing very interesting. Rob Greenfield, adventurer, and environmentalist in the course of one of his projects on sustainable life. Here he is trying to create awareness regarding  the quantity of trash generated by an average american, by wearing all the trash he generated on his body. It is a 30 day project and it was the 16th day when we visited NYC. 
New York provides a stage to all kinds. A group at Union Square, protesting against the practice of circumcision! Look out for white dressed people holding placards, with red paint on their crotches.
The grand City Hall.
On top of the hop on - hop off bus, after walking most of the bus route. The lady next to me is my wife Latha and the girl next to Uma is my niece Sushma, my guide to New York.
All street junctions are places to whileaway your time. . Take your choice between the street dancer, musician or the acrobatist. sit and relax if you could keep away the peddlers of tour and theater tickets. 


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