So I was at the bank running an errand ... and I hear my name being called out. "Is that you?" I turn around, and it's two classmates of mine from when I was in Pune ... gosh ... thirteen years ago! Wow!
Now, I spent a year in Pune (before moving to the US), back in ... 1993? I was enrolled in classes at the Univ. there while studying hard for the GRE (a standard tactic, since college in India is only three years, and normally one needs the extra year of classes to have a "4 year degree" for US schools). It was a trying time, initially. First time I was living away from home. I missed my friends in Bombay tremendously and would take the train down to the metropolis every weekend. As I've often said, the move to Pune from hip, Westernized Bombay was a much bigger culture shock than moving to the US.
The department seemed to consist largely of young women who were enrolled to increase their status in the matrimonial market. No one seemed to be interested in the subject matter itself, and the faculty was riven by some awful politics. I loathed it intensely. I stood out like a sore thumb. "Why the heck are you here?" Eventually (after a long lectures from my best friend from college. "Make friends there! You can't come to Bombay every weekend!"), I did make friends with my classmates, and we had some great times. I was the wild, wine (and beer. and liquour)-drinking, dance-loving, city-slicker Bombayite in a sea of provnincial backwardness. I organized outings and picnics, and did a lot of the legwork for our big field-trip, out to the boonies of MP. Which totally rocked (no pun intended). One of my fondest memories was having everyone over to my place on Easter Sunday afternoon for a party, where I taught the ladies how to jive (that awesome dance I picked up from my Bandra friends. Kinda like the [South Carolina] shag. Much faster).
Sadly, I didn't really stay in touch with that crowd (or the folks from the youth group either). Email hadn't yet made its debut in the early nineties. Not in a big way, and not in India. In fact, while I recognized my former classmates' faces, I couldn't recall their names! They obviously knew mine ... whoops!
"I thought it was you -- especially given that you were wearing your standard outfit. Jeans and a kurta." The "standard outfit" that I somehow picked up from the Jesuits of the Bombay province, and was pretty much my uniform during college. And still is, when I'm in des.
So, now for some catching up (the two classmates in question -- married to each other some 10 years ago -- moved to Baroda for work about a year back). We exchanged phone numbers and will be meeting up soon. And it's nice to know that my Marathi (which I don't get to use too often) isn't that rusty!
Wow. How random is this?