My dad did his Bachelor of Engineering degree in Metallurgy from VRCE (now VNIT, I’ll end up using both so I wanted to warn you). VNIT stands for Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology which is in Nagpur named after Sir Visvesvaraya who is considered the father of engineering in India. We had to go there for his 25th batch reunion and it was an experience and a half. I’m only twelve (almost thirteen) so I obviously haven’t really considered university yet, but this trip showed me that thought was required.
The journey started with a train from CSTM to Nagpur. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai (CSTM) is actually a National Heritage site but still an active train station used by almost 1000 trains daily. This began his nostalgic trip down memory lane. We were going on the trip with one of my father’s friends from VRCE, who was also the only one college friend I had met until that week. On the train there were other families going from Mumbai travelling for the very same event. The train ride was quite nice, and we had a fine time on the train, mostly sleeping. We reached Nagpur fresh and relatively early and after reaching Radisson Blu we checked in and went straight for a brilliant breakfast. The chicken sausages were great but the grilled tomatoes weren’t as tasty as they looked. At breakfast we got a chance to meet and catch-up with a number of my father’s batch-mates who were staying at the same hotel. After breakfast I took a short nap before we left for our first excursion to the Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology campus.
We caught an UBER to the campus but along the way my father couldn’t recognize a single thing, he said Nagpur has changed a lot! Even on the campus he didn’t recognize the library or the sports complex. It turned out they had been recently re-constructed thanks to donations by past batches. My father’s batch hadn’t contributed yet, but before we could admonish him about this, we were pounced upon by his old college friends. I do suppose that spending 4 years together will help you make good friends but the clarity of the memories they had from 25 years ago was ridiculous. I can hardly remember things I did last year forget when I was 5.
It was an interesting experience because I later did the math and worked out that to get into that college for Metallurgy like my father did you had to be 1 in thousands of students applying for that seat. I had never really considered the struggles of getting into a good college and it properly opened my eyes. I had a vague plan for the rest of my life, but this made me reconsider things. Anyways back to the story.
It was a very interesting excursion watching my father take me through the labs and classrooms that he used to frequent in his department building. The classrooms had changed a lot as it had been properly redone with modern technology. There were some test papers on the beam projector but I decided against quizzing the ex-students. While exploring the campus we looked at a new EV wireless charging station that had been developed by one of the departments. We had some food at the cafeteria while they reminisced about Chandrama who was their midnight snack-provider. We visited the college hostels and my father showed me the room he used to stay in during his 4th year in college. We also took a ride around campus on a large chariot like vehicle which had been arranged for this occasion. 2020 also happened to be the Diamond Jubilee year for VNIT (due to covid, celebrations were postponed to 2022) so there were several other events going on. There was an exhibition setup by the current batch of students, and we had fun visiting some of the exhibition stalls. The Chemistry and the Mathematics team had created puzzles which we had a lot of fun solving.
The next day was the official celebrations for the batch including a day at campus and a gala dinner. We had breakfast at the campus, attended a felicitation and then had lunch. During the felicitation all the batch-mates went on stage in departmental groups to click pictures with the attending dignitaries and professors.
Our next event was a gala dinner party back at the hotel and this was where I learnt something for sure. College friends are best friends and being with best friends makes you do funny things. All of them acted like they were 18-years-olds all evening, running around and dancing their hearts out. It was fun to watch them dance with no consciousness of what they were doing.
This experience really made me think about the future and how well-connected I will be with my friends 25 years from now. There is no way that by 2048 I’ll know them as well as I do now, or will I? To be honest I can’t picture 2048, it seems so far away but to the people I met there it was barely a second since they had been on campus back in 1993-97. Even after 25 years apart they were the best of friends and there is a lesson in there somewhere.