The other day my wife broached upon the subject of school re-unions. She said, hers is likely to happen on the New Year eve 2024.
‘Great Idea’!, I said.
‘But this time it is going to be with spouse, I mean you have to join me’, she retorted
‘With Me? Naa... I am not interested to meet your classmates! Neither would they be’, I muttered.
‘No, no, you should attend this one, my friends would be happy to meet you’, she said.
‘Let me think it over’, I replied.
Social media, especially watsapp, facebook, Instagram have added a new dimension to human connections. A decade ago few schools and colleges had alumini meets but rarely did entire bunch of classmates or batchmates decided to meet up to relive old times through re-unions so frequently as now. While human brains seek reassurance and bonding in social terms, studies indicate that social connections and support forms a critical space for physical and emotional well being of human beings. Such responses are often triggered by neurotransmitters present in the human body in form of hormones. Re-unions are occasions when nostalgia is evoked. Past experiences and present circumstances conjoin to bring out new set of emotions. These are triggered on meeting long lost friends and mates with whom a significant phase of adolescence is spent during school or college times. Nostalgia often plays an important aspect on people seeking to meet over re-unions. According to a study published in Journal of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, such re-unions trigger important neurotransmitters such and dopamine and Oxytocin during social bonding. Oxytocin which is also called the ‘love hormone’ perhaps justifies the urge of human minds to repeatedly seek opportunities to kindle past memories that are joy through such get together.
It is not necessary that each person enjoys the same set of emotions during re-unions. There may be many who may not enjoy reunions and may feel anxious during such occasions. This could be due to trauma or pain experienced with individuals or occasions in the past that they fear may get re-kindled during such occasions. On such occasions people who struggle with social anxiety may in fact end up triggering their stress hormones such as Cortisol which may make them more stressful and uncomfortable.
Present is as much an excitement as the past. However, I find that each phase of life takes mood and temperament of a person to different directions during different points in time. A mood of an individual may vary depending upon his personal well being and social status. Someone who has not performed well professionally or financially in his life may not be keen to meet up his/her old mates fearing adverse reaction from them. On the contrary a highly successful person may be more than happy to share his success story with his long lost friends.
I on my part have been part of numerous reunions and gettogethers. My observation as to the mode, venue, time, season and size of the gathering has impelled me to write this piece. I have discovered that joy of meeting long lost friends is indeed a joy filled experience however if the reunion is organised over dinner or lunch most attendees end up being one to one with select few friends and over a period of a hour or two and the entire group gets scattered. Primary focus invariably gets into food and drinks than any worthwhile discussion or deliberation. Common interests do not persist and few from the group try to snatch away the discussion towards their own comfort and direction. Those specializing in sales and marketing over do it to such an extent that many feel that their voices are stymied or muffled and they suffer in silence.
In the Indian context, I have observed that persons who volunteer and perform any acts are treated as a character from the Hindi Movie from ‘Bheja Fry’! I am reminded of an experience during a get-together, when the host/compare went on stage to announce, “While some of our dear friends will entertain us with their songs and music, let us (meaning the rest) head towards the dinner table to splurge on some delicious dishes that have specially been ordered for the occasion’. I to may dismay found the entire bunch of around 100 persons lunged towards the dinner area deserting the poor performers on stage and their voices deluged under sounds of clanking crockery, laughs and loud harangues!
Food is another issue during such get-togethers in the Indian context. While there is never a final agreement on choice of dishes, Vegan over Non Veg., Chinese over continental, North over South etc. spats continue much after the meetups without compromise. If the get-together are laced with drinks then the situation often witnesses dramatic turn around. The social drinkers get on a high and past friendships are rekindled in unknown ways. This is the occasion when names of old flames catch flight and mingle with the fragrance in the air, secret stories from the past are laid bare making many faces change hues. It takes a sober leader from the crowd to rise up on such occasions to calm nerves.
At this juncture, I am reminded of another story, when spouse of a class mate (a celebrity settled abroad) decided to throw a surprise party to all the batch mates on the occasion of birthday of her husband. While all the batch mates knew each other, none ever had met this lady. The invitation was extended to entire families and a large group of friends including their spouses and children landed up at the designated restaurant on the designated day at around 7pm. It was a reunion of sorts, as it was two decades after passing out from school that the batch mates were meeting up! Birthday boy (meaning our friend) had not arrived but his wife was all dressed up for the occasion waiting at the foyer with her set of relatives beckoning all the invitees to join them. She announced that the bar was open and the group may kick off the evening with Cocktails and snacks, while her husband was enroute. When our friend finally arrived at 9pm, I noticed the colour on his face change on witnessing a large group of known faces (his school mates) revving up the party. The party had kicked off around 7.30 pm and all went on fine till 11pm. However, it was time when the resto manager was pleading with guests to start off dinner. Though the cake was cut, the boisterous male members who were already high would not keep their glasses away and kept on requesting for repeats. It was 12 at night when some female members got tizzy and the party mood changed colours. Few kids were already asleep having guzzled up soft drinks and juices. Food was yet to be served! The resort was to close at 1am and like fait accompli at the insistence of Resto Manger few brave spouses announced dinner open. However it was a shock to see few male members threatening the hotel management to keep the Bar open till dawn!
Alas! There never was news of any other party or reunion thrown in by this lady thereafter!
So much about reunions. It is time to attend one. Are you game for it?
I am certainly planning to join my wife on her next school reunion.