I visited my alma mater in an auto rickshaw today. Yep.
The lack of transport from my house is becoming a more apparent problem as days pass by so here I am. A 25km auto ride. Honestly, who needs those all-body massage chairs when these kind of rides exist? All you need is a high frequency of the auto rides and you’ll be golden. (not literally of course)
This was my first visit back to school in two and a half years. I spent a really good 5 years at the place, and in my first years of college, I visited every time I was back in Bangalore. I was in touch with what was happening around the school, I kept in touch with my faculty, and I ensured that I attempted to be a proactive alumni – as best as I could with a base outside of the city. But as the years went by and my internships took me to other parts of the country, the visits became few and far between, and moreover, a lot of the people I wanted to visit in school stopped being there. It didn’t make any sense to me to be going back. Soon the last batch of juniors I had an actual connection with, graduated – so it didn’t feel like we’d have any purpose traveling all the way there. And well, we planned meet-ups with our faculty outside of school, and those plans always worked just fine. We got all the nostalgic feels we needed in those short doses you need them in.
So this time my friend and I thought it was worth going back – because of the time-gap, and because we had heard a lot had changed. The only way to measure that was by visiting. And thus the trek began.
Sitting in the auto, a wave of nostalgia swept across me as I saw foam flying across and out of Varthur Lake. That was the very same thing that had entered our buses when we were children: the pollutants from industries close by, and the very same smell that disrupted my slumber for 3 minutes as we crossed the bridge each day. Every day before we left school I said a silent prayer for there to be no traffic on the bridge specifically, because every extra minute we spent stuck there meant an extra minute my siesta was disturbed by – and that wasn’t a cost I was comfortable with.
The security guard stopped us at the gate – because it was so uncanny to let an auto into campus, but he smiled and let me in as soon as I said I was an alumni who wanted to visit. After that, once my friend arrived, the nostalgia really kicked in.
Cosmetically, a lot has changed. There are fewer open spaces than I remembered, and there are a lot more people. Children somehow look smaller than I thought they would, and a lot of my faculty have aged (time is a wondrous thing). My time at school now adorns the walls – telling stories of batches gone by and the legacy they’ve left, and the present set of kids don’t know anything about who we are and what this space means to us. But as my friend and I took steps around school, all we could recount was the memories we had at each individual location – whether it was peeing in a particular washroom, or throwing water at people outside classes, finding weird stuff in lockers, or even hiding tennis balls in CPUs. Every place in school was special for some reason, and seeing others having the opportunity to make their own set of memories at those very same spots, was wondrous.
What was fantastic was spending time with the people who taught us – and what’s left of that lot, in the same place they taught us at. Meeting up outside of school doesn’t give you that effect.
And well, the joy of meeting the administrative staff you interacted with everyday and the people who made the school tick: the mess head, the IT head, the lab technicians. Those were the best times.
Most of all, what hit my friend and I today was how much we missed the third idiot who was stuck with us – who formed a little trio collective of our own. Who is now sitting in a timezone far away and sending us photos of beaches as we prepare for exams.
Apart from the trip to school I met up with a friend over ghee roast: the coastal Gods’ gift to mankind.
Today’s been another fun day.