Contributed by Mr P V Sreenath (Batch Coordinator)
The PGP’90 batch had its 30th Reunion on Dec 12 & 13, 2020. The dates were decided nearly a year in advance to allow batch mates to plan their travel to Ahmedabad well in advance… but, as they say, the best laid out plans of mice and men often go awry. With Covid-19 hitting the world, we waited patiently for the pandemic to go away to enable the Reunion to be held as planned. Towards the end of October, we finally decided that the options available to us were to either postpone the Physical Reunion or to have the Reunion in an Online format. With Covid-19 showing no signs of abating and uncertainty about if & when we would be able to have a Physical Reunion, the Organizing Team decided to go ahead with an Online Reunion.
Thus began a journey which ultimately resulted in a Reunion with 142 batch mates, constituting 80% of the Batch, participating – the highest ever participation in a Batch Reunion. The 20th and 25th Reunions on campus had seen around 70-80 batch mates participate, so Covid19 actually facilitated many more people to participate in the Online Reunion than would have been possible otherwise! For many in the batch, who had not attended the earlier 20th & 25th Reunions, the 30th Online Reunion provided them an opportunity to attend and connect with the batch after 30 long years.
The Inaugural Session saw the Director and Dean join online and interact with the batch about the plans of the Institute and how we as alumni could give back to the Institute. It was interesting to see that the Institute wanted us alumni to give back in terms of time and efforts – whether it be in teaching, case writing or some other form. With the Endowment Fund at IIMA taking shape, our batch has taken the initiative to be the 1st Batch to contribute to the IIMA Endowment Fund, with batch contributions already underway.
The key part of a Batch Reunion is the opportunity to reconnect, meet & interact with batch mates.
Hence, one of the challenges of an Online Reunion was to ensure that we were able to do this – the Reunion thus had multiple sessions for online interactions amongst batch mates – some interactions section-wise, some in which all participated, a theme-based experience sharing session as well as some free-flowing unstructured interactions. There was also a Batch Trivia Quiz which triggered nostalgia and laughs. At past Reunions on campus, there have been instances of some people failing to recognize fellow batch mates; however, there has never been a case where someone has been unable to recognize himself or herself!! Well, this happened in the Face Mashups segment during the Reunion Quiz, in which Saurabh and Ghoshi failed to recognize themselves from their Yearbook pics from 30 years earlier, although one must concede that the faces were mashed up!!
There was an air of poignancy at the Memorial Session for Departed Batch mates. With 10 of our good friends no more, it was a session which touched many hearts and brought back memories of these wonderful souls. Being an Online Reunion, we invited the families of departed batch mates to join us live for this session – spouses, kids, brothers and even some mothers of departed batch mates joined online and the families were touched that they had been invited to participate. The families saw & heard the touching tributes paid to their loved ones by fellow batch mates and also shared their thoughts on the occasion.
30 years since campus and some of those who taught us are no more, some are no more in Ahmedabad and some have aged & unable to attend a Reunion at Ahmedabad. The Online Reunion provided an opportunity for a large number of faculty to attend and we are truly honoured that 17 faculty members who taught us attended the Online Reunion from the comfort of their homes. While responding to the invitation to join the Online Faculty Tribute Session, Prof AK Jain, in his inimitable style, wrote “I will try to join early otherwise you and your batch mates may not allow me to join the session, which is what I used to do when you were around!” And, true to their sense of enthusiasm, love and affection for us, all the faculty members joined online ahead of the scheduled time.
It was hilarious & wonderful to watch the faculty pulling each other’s legs and having their own mini-Reunion before the formal Faculty Session commenced. Many of them were seeing each other after many years, so the 30th Batch Reunion served as a Faculty Reunion too for many of the faculty. Prof TV Rao fondly remembered his term as PGP Chair when we joined and requested that batch mates share their specific experiences for the benefit of the batches to come. At the end of the Faculty Tribute Session, several faculty members were so touched that they expressed a desire to join the batch for the rest of the Reunion and actually did so, joining the batch for the online sessions that followed.
The batch is indeed fortunate to have had a professional stage director direct an Online Play at the Reunion – as with most other events during the 30th Reunion, we didn’t have to do look far – talent seems to be in abundance in the batch and families.
Amit Gupta’s wife Gauri, an accomplished stage director, gladly agreed to direct an Online Play for the Reunion, with batch mates as actors, based on an IIMA theme. So, in a tribute to Prof SP Singh and his highly popular SFI course on campus, was born the play titled ‘Love in the Times of SFI’ – the play starred Hari & Shefali, with Amit in an ‘unfriendly appearance’. Seeing Shefali’s Singapore Dollars change to US Dollars as it changed hands online to Hari (based in the US) during the play highlighted how easy ‘online money laundering’ has become these days!!
In the spirit of trying to embrace events suitable to an Online Format, we had an Online Bridge Tournament in the days leading to the Reunion, which saw bridge enthusiasts participate actively in bridge sessions on an online platform managed by …. yes, you guessed it right …. managed by yet another IIMA alumnus Sukrit. Saurabh and Parag took the lead in organizing this tournament, which had participants from the US to India & China.
Then, of course, our own batchmate and Yoga Guru Achal taught us the importance of being fit in mind and body through a session on Yoga, which was attended by many family members too.
In what was possibly one of the highlights of the Reunion, Harsha Bhogle, one of IIMA’s most famous and popular alumni, was interviewed by two IIMA Team cricketers from our batch, Satish Shankar and Prasan Kumar. Harsha was at his candid best, on topics ranging from his cricketing career to becoming the most admired cricket commentator in the world and also shared his views on various aspects of cricket, cricketing formats and cricketers.
It was indeed a frank and fascinating interview which was appreciated by all – an interview conducted during the Indian cricket team’s recent tour of Australia.
The Reunion had an interesting talk by another IIMA alumnus Prakash Iyer on a topic of great relevance ‘Transitioning to an Alternate Career’. Many of Prakash’s thoughts resonated with our batch mates at a time when many are contemplating retirement and looking at meaningful & satisfying options to pursue.
The only external performance at the Reunion was a stand-up comedy performance by Jeeveshu Ahluwalia, who is one of those who has himself transitioned to an alternate career as a standup comedian after a corporate career in well-known multinationals.
Music and Bollywood music is something that always strengthens bonds. We had 2 wonderful music sessions during the Reunion – one in the Inaugural Session and one in the Concluding Session of the 2-Day Reunion. In the Inaugural Session, Rachit Bhatia, the son of our batchmate Rajesh Bhatia and a professional performer in New Zealand these days, regaled the online audience with his wonderful selection & rendition of songs.
It was indeed a happy coincidence that the 30th Batch Reunion was also Rachit’s 30th Reunion with his dad’s batch mates – Rachit, as a toddler, had attended the batch convocation way back in 1990 and it was only fitting that, after 30 years, he performed at the 30th Batch Reunion!
The Reunion ended on a high note with a spirited musical evening by the talented and versatile singers and musicians of the batch and family members. The evening never seemed to end with request after request by batch mates being honoured in great style by the musical family of the batch – the family comprising Pushkar, Apurvi, Balaji, Venky, Anupam Pandey, Hari, Revathi, Anil Sharma, Shekhar, Gandhi, Dongre, Ramu’s wife Radha, DP’s wife/daughter Rashmi/ Inakshi and Balaji’s daughter Nikita. While one missed out on hearing Prasad the flutist, Prasad the Music Producer played a key role in making the musical evening a memorable one.
The musical evening was a fitting end to a unique Online Reunion which saw record participation by batch mates and brought back nostalgic memories of the wonderful days spent together on campus. Thanks to Balaji, Ghoshi, Srinivasaraghavan, Hari and Amit, the comperes who did a fabulous job of stringing the various parts of the Reunion together and making it an event to remember.