The 87-91 batch of Karunya alumni had our get-together at Forest Meadows Resort in Salem. The place boasted manicured greenery just beneath a towering rugged hillock and featured a world-class cricket ground with a circumference of half a kilometer. It was an excellent selection by Selva, who arranged the event.

The early birds to the event were the two migratory birds, Binu and Suseela, who flew from God’s own country a day earlier, completely unaware of the surprises awaiting them regarding their return flight. They were picked up from the airport by an undesignated volunteer, Prof. Sarathy, who took leave from his university and graciously hosted them along with his wife. They generously gifted each of us a box of Baklava. Hats off to the Sarathys, also for their welcoming banner.

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The Coimbatore and Tirupur contingent arrived in the evening for dinner, driven by the spirited driver Balaji, accompanied by the eternal bachelor Guna, my mentor and guide Sreeni, and Siva, who generously sponsored the men’s and women’s T-shirts specially made for this gathering. The second evening was spent on the lawns singing songs led by Selva, Suseela, Richard Thomas, Regi – Inbaraj’s wife, and his daughter, with a memory game organized by Arul and prizes sponsored by him. The winners were Kishore’s wife, Vinodh, Selva, and Inbaraj’s daughter.

On February 2nd, almost the entire group arrived for lunch at Selvi Mess, renowned for its biryani. The majority of the crowd was chauffeured by the colorful ‘Thunderball,’ while those arriving from the airport were once again greeted by Sarathy with garlands. The solo driver Rathish made the journey all the way from Bangalore.

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The Nagarcoil and Tirunelveli group, led by the finance controller Mech Naga, along with Kadhar, Jebaresh, and Emerson, arrived on the morning of the 3rd, driving through the night and immediately taking a dip in the swimming pool with others. By mid-morning, the resort was filled after everyone arrived.

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By then, Selva was feeling like a fish out of water, his hands itching. Only when he gave orders for the van to start for Yercaud did his itching cease. We traveled all the way to Yercaud to enjoy a splendid lunch – the menu handpicked by Selva and brought from Salem.

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After lunch, we traveled uphill to the topmost point of Yercaud – Shevarayan Hills. Our expert shooters (identified by their stance) tried their hands at shooting, showing great kindness to all the balloons – not one was harmed.

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After freshening up, we assembled around 7 p.m. on the lawns for a game of Tambola organized by Arul, with cash prizes of 500, 750 & 1000 sponsored by Naga, Balaji, Guna, and Rosy. The game appeared rigged, as all the winners were from the first row and among the sponsors – an occurrence beyond probability theory, serving as consolation for the losers. The lucky ones who won Rs. 500 each were Inbaraj’s wife, Richard Thomas, his wife, Naga, Rosy’s son, Arul’s wife, Kishore’s wife, and Sarathy, but the luckiest ones who took home Rs. 1000 were Suseela and Inbaraj. The game was followed by a group photo and a session of karaoke singing. The subsequent dinner was one of the best meals at the resort. Then the large group split into smaller ones, with early sleepers trickling into their rooms, while the Casino remained lively past midnight.

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The 4th morning began with some early risers like Guna and Balaji hitting the ground, even Mohanraj, an avid walker, ran half a kilometer, deciding to start running upon returning home.

After breakfast, as those who arrived by car began departing – Mohanraj to Pondy, Rathish to Bangalore, Richard Thomas to Chennai, Mech Naga’s group to Nagercoil, Balaji’s group to Tirupur, and Naga to Coimbatore – it was only after Naga left that others could speak and listen.

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That’s when the mother of all crises occurred. Binu and Suseela realized that their flight to Cochin was cancelled. Nevertheless, they managed to secure tickets for a bus. The best part was that they remained cheerful throughout, displaying a remarkable spirit. Arranger Selva drove me like Schumacher to catch my train at 2.50 and then drove home.

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After Balaji and Richard Thomas reached home…

Settling the bills revealed a deficit of Rs. 50,000, which was immediately paid by Arul, who bailed out the situation. But even before that, Mech Naga, the finance controller, and Selva, the arranger, sensed that the collection was not up to the mark, contributing more than Rs. 30,000 and Rs. 40,000 respectively. You will find the details when the financial statement is published.

There are some gestures worth mentioning. Just as we bring back many goodies after meeting our parents, we had the same experience after our gathering. Arul’s wife ensured that all the women received a saree. Sreeni brought Coimbatore’s famous chips, Mech Naga brought Nagercoil’s famous boli, Arranger Selva his trademark varki and Kannavarai tea, Sarathy brought Aswins’s Baklava sweets, and Siva continued to clothe us at every gathering. Additionally, Arul bought hampers for the first day’s games, Binu brought chips for snacking, and others supplied the needs of the casino to keep it running all night. All these individuals went out of their way to bring cheer to the gathering..

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Looking forward to the next Mega Get-together


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