Thursday, December 5, 2019

Nagarjuna Sagar - A Trip Down Memory Lane

So the rebellious Aruna Manyam studied in Nagarjuna Sagar from her 5th class to her 12th class. When she came from the US recently with her son Varun and husband Sunnie, she wanted to visit her alma mater. I was not doing much that day so I joined them. Aruna was my junior at Engineering college and Sunnie was my classmate at the Management college and there's some reason to suspect that they might have met thanks to me and Shobha (whom I met at the management college and married!) According to hazy recollections, it was when Shobha and I visited Sunnie at Bangalore post our honeymoon, that Aruna had come to visit us and they kind of hit it off. The rest, as they say, is history.
Pic by professional photographer hanging around the bridge - Krishna river downstream
Anyway fast forward 25 years and here they are from Atlanta where she is a senior IT officer at Delta Airlines and Varun is a 6 foot 3 inch sixteen year old who is coping with his juvenile diabetes wonderfully well supported by Sunnie who has devoted his life to that. So off we went in an Innova to Nagarjuna Sagar where I had been a few years ago. Never saw the gates open though.
Aruna with Sister Prabhavati, Principal
I know Aruna from 1985. She is one year junior to me and was in the famous Electrical Engineering batch which had som 20 girls or so. Now Engineering colleges those days had four of five girls here and there at best and we were not used to seeing so many girls. It was a spirited lot and many of them did very well after their studies. Aruna was part of a troika with Shobha Meera and Aparna being the other two, all hostellers, and they were quite popular. I did not know them personally till my final year by which time Shobha Meera was seeing another friend and junior Aqueel, and Aparna was seeing the inimitable Prasanna. Aruna was not seeing anyone, being the rebel she always was. However we all had some good times those days - the juniors treated us seniors to some Chinese food and we treated them to some home parties. They'd come to watch cricket matches, maybe we saw the odd movie. Then we graduated and moved on. However Aruna somehow stayed in touch through all these years, became good friends with my wife Shobha Nargundkar, married our good friend Sunnie and now some 30 odd years later, is still in touch. Always the rebel, straight-talking, good-natured, good for a laugh, good sport, adventure-loving, something going on deep inside her that only she seems to know, some dilemmas that only she wants to handle herself, Aruna remains a loveable enigma. Varun's juvenile diabetes took a toll on her as she coped with her job and her only son's condition. Yoga, hapkido, Jaggi Vasudev, she seems to have found her peace now. But you can count on her. She will gamely wade into a noisy rock music party because we are all having a good time though she may not like rock music, take on any argument however strong the opposition and definitely takes the trouble to stay in touch. Once Sanjay wrote a letter completely in chaste Telugu when she had gone home for holidays. A week later he received a reply from her - in chaste Telugu! She is one of those few with whom you feel you share a lot, without anything being said.
At her Junior College, huge campus, run down
Sunnie was the baby of the class when we joined the MBA course. Shobha was in the A section while Sunnie and I were in the B section. The three of us put together a sort of an editorial board and got a newsletter and a book about the batch called 'Memories' with brief sketches of everyone in class. Sunnie played cricket with me for the college team, the three of us played table tennis, watched movies. When Sunnie moved to Bangalore and set up a successful advertising agency called Spur we visited him and the three of us went on a long trip to the Karwar coast in a hired car - just took off with no agenda. It remains my best trip so far - none of us were married then. We did another couple of trips - Goa, Salem. Sunnie visited us in Pune later that year.

Then Shobha and I got married and then Sunnie and Aruna got married and ever since they have been in the USA. Sunnie taught at the Georgia State Univ, taught hapkido, wrote. He is always one to share a laugh with, have an intelligent conversation, one of the few people you can trust with your life. Once Sunnie and I did a biryani evaluation trip and tasted all the popular biryanis in Hyderabad - we voted Mohini as the best then. Varun's juvenile diabetes has kept Sunnie on a parallel life - he does voluntary work for the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Reseach Foundation) and raises funds through grueling 100 km cycling fundraisers every year. Some info about JDRF for those who wish to contribute.
The house where she lived perhaps
While we sped down to Nagarjuna Sagar in the Innova, I realised how careful they need to be with Varu's blood sugar levels even though he is hooked up with some monitor in his arm that sends signals about his levels, another contraption that releases insulin when required. All three get updates on their mobiles and there is continuous monitoring of what to eat and how much. Varun puts up nonchalantly with all this - a few years ago he had to prick himself every now and then to check blood sugar levels which he would do stoically, but now he does not need to. As a thirteen-year-old he came for cricket coaching with me, and learned all he could gamely. Now he has shot up and is taller than I am, an inch easily, jokes with his father and mother in a semi-adult manner. He is smart, has a great sense of humour and is a transparent, good kid. Someone you can talk to.

We visited Aruna's school first, St. Joseph's High School which is on the Telangana side. It was well maintained, they welcomed us warmly. We walked around, met the Principal Prabhavati who was remarkably patient and loving with all the children, and some other teachers. The school was maintained very well and they were looking for funds to do some more work. One of the teachers somehow got us permission to go over the dam which is otherwise not permitted so that was a plus. Across the dam in Andhra Pradesh we grabbed some lunch at the  AP Tourism hotel, checked out her old house and then her junior college, crumbling down.  The town seems frozen in time, almost as it was then I guess.

We saw the theatre where they would watch movies the headed out. We stopped on the bridge where an enterprising photographer coaxed us to pose for a picture with the river in the background. Then we headed back chatting away about this and that. Glad I made the trip.


G S Prasad said...

Brilliant post cutting across timelines. Evoked a sense of nostalgia. Glad that I have read this.

legalmind said...

i studied in St Joseph High School Hill Colony Nagarjuna Sagar from UKG to 4th class. Due to transfer to my father I left the school in June 1972. We stayed in Qr No AE 79 opp to Club.
My contact number 9246375635

Rao Bala said...

Old memories are always great.I also studied 9th and 10th in the same school in 1984. You can WhatsApp me on 8897234980.
- Balagangadhara rao