Changed yet unchanged

Last week I was traveling to Goa for my college re-union,  a place where it all began 20 years ago. On the flight was a small group of people in their 50s, who were also headed for a re-union. They were loud and boisterous, laughing at seemingly innocuous things, teasing each other and discussing about others who were to land later. Looking at them, I wondered what this re-union would be like. Would the 18 years that have passed since I last met many, have any bearing on how we feel? Would there be any awkwardness? Would some of them even recognize me, given that I had changed a lot? What about my short hair and new look, will that confuse a few? Would we relate to each other the same way?  These were the questions in my mind as I dozed off on the flight.

But the moment we met, it seemed like the time in between had not existed. The 18 years since we passed out of college, seemed to have vanished and we were back to our hostel days.  The drive from the airport reminded us that Goa had changed very little, it was still the same lush green, abundant and inviting, in a way reflecting our bonds formed 20 years ago in this special place.

Staying in a large house like a family, cooking, eating and drinking together, made one forget that we had families and kids back home. That we were parents to someone, a boss at workplace, a business to worry about etc, were forgotten for those brief few days. We were just plain college mates, where it didn’t take much effort to laugh or sing or dance. New collective memories were being formed, words were taking new meaning based on the funny incidents around, a “towel” could send us in ruptures and protecting from the “bee” was an unusual chivalry! Banter that only you could understand in that milieu. It was indeed a heady concoction as my friend here wrote

Time truly seemed to have melted. All the things we experienced in the 18 years, marriage and kids for some, getting back to being single for some, major job changes, victories and failures in things we tried, the good and bad life changing experiences some of us had, all those things that had made us what we are today, the things that had changed within each of us over the years in some way, were there, yet not there.

It seemed like we had not aged, even though we couldn’t stay up all night dancing and drinking as planned. Conversations were peppered with phrases like “need to detox”, “exercise”, “getting back to routine”. etc showing glimpses of the life that we would have to go back to, yet it did not matter. In that moment we were just like it was 20 years ago, just that the connection seemed much deeper this time.

As we looked back at our time together, we all realized that we had changed, yet remained unchanged. We all had different life experiences and we had our unique way of looking at the world, yet in each of us, a part of us had not changed. That part which was at home with unstructured schedules and simple pleasures. At home with just being with each other without agendas and enjoying the moment without any expectations.  And getting back in touch with that unchanged self is what made this reunion so special.


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