The much awaited event when Old Boys from far and near- some old, some not so old and some young - get together to reminisce about old times at SJBHS has finally arrived, the first of the calendar year 2016.
The date is 21 May, 2016 (Saturday) and the venue is the Marari Beach Resort in the pretty Mararikulam area in Alleppey district, Kerala. The drive from Kochi airport is long, over 3 hours, punctuated by a food stop and heavy traffic jams in the Edapally area. The welcome is warm, and the high ceiling makes the reception area quite comfortable.
The unpolluted air by the sea side along with the thick vegetation adds to the comfortable atmosphere. The afternoon does not feel like it is actually over 30 C.
The rooms in the resort are exceptionally well appointed.
The toilet is open to sky, terrific for the Summer, however, it gets a bit wet during the Monsoons, I was told. An interesting conversation overheard the next morning during breakfast. Old Boy 1 asks Old Boy 2: So, did you wake up in time for the service this morning? Old Boy 2 responds: No, I did not need to, I heard it sitting in the loo.
A fan is strategically placed overhead, as can be seen in the photograph.
The grounds of the resort are well tended to by ever smiling staff. They never fail to greet guests as they go about their daily cleaning tasks.
Late afternoon is tea time, served in the traditional way on the lush lawns. The boys are glad to see each other, after all.
Marari Beach adjoining the Resort is fairly quiet in May, being the monsoon season. The seas are rather rough, while the clouds appear to lie heavy and low on top of the water.
The sand stretches away several kilometres in either direction, very few visitors are visible.
Fishermen have tied up their boats to the trees since it is the season of rest for the boats and for fishing. The 'no-fishing' period allows the fish to spawn, allowing for a rich harvest when fishing resumes during the month of August.
The venue for the Annual General Body Meeting of the OBA Kerala Chapter is all set up, ready to welcome the visitors.
Loud rendition of the School Song, the President's welcome address and a summary of the year's activities are completed efficiently.
Our Grand Old Man 'Widdy' - an honorary Old Boy who has seen more years in the School than many of us put together - and who is reputed to have supported several Boarders through his humble Tuck Shop, is a guest every year.
Refreshments and music follow, carrying the night away as Old Boys and families participate happily in the merry making.
The Batch of 1975 is fairly well represented.
The Fancy Dress competition has a few supporters, as well.
The dinner is lavish, consisting of several courses spanning local Kerala food and Continental cuisine, as well as a rich spread of Desert and Fruits.
Our thanks to the three musicians who helped make it a memorable evening.
The musical evening continues well into the wee hours in the room, led by the perennial night owl Toddy who never seems to feel sleepy.
The sun comes up a few hours later, and most of us congregate for a typically heavy breakfast. While some are packed up to leave, most others have half a day to go.
The Beach Hut is a perfect setting for refreshments, stories and continuing laughs.
Some of us are drawn into games of Beach Volleyball, as lunch time draws near, yet another lavish affair of local and international cuisine.
Another SJBHS OBA Connect winds down as the Old Boys and families make their way back to their respective homes. Some of us take a short detour to visit the home of a local Old Boy by the backwaters.
A large ancestral family mansion, Ayanat House is set on several acres of grounds overlooks the serene backwaters.
As the sun begins to set, it's time for us to say good bye and head back to Kochi airport.
It's been a grand reunion. We look forward to meeting up at the next SJBHS OBA Connect in Goa in August, followed by the subsequent one in Coorg in October.
Until then, in Faith and Toil!
SJBHS OBA Connect Goa 2015 (August 2015)
SJBHS OBA Day 2015 (Sept 2015)
SJBHS OBA Connect Goa 2014 (August 2014)
SJBHS OBA Day 2014 (Sept 2014)