Bob Amore's (1957) UK Reunion, 2000

Back, one weekend in May 1999, five of us Abu Old Boys,  (Sikander Khan Malik, Reggie DeMellow, James Valladeres, Brian Jansen and self, Bob Amore,  from 1957 and 1958 era), met in Manchester for a small but very happy and enjoyable reunion.  The two and a half days we spent together with our host, Sikander, brought back several nostalgic memories.  One of our episodes was to  phone our old Class Master, Bro Richard Dermott Barrett, in Shillong, India.  We all had a chat with him and even after over 41 years he remembered us and our families.  It was then that Bro Barrett mentioned that  in the following year, 2000, he would be visiting the UK, Ireland, and perhaps a couple of other places.  That information gave birth to the idea of an Old Boys' 2000 reunion.

After mooting the idea with some other Old Boys from about the mid 1950's era, there was a general feeling that when Bro Barrett visited, that would be the catalyst for a sizeable reunion.  Thanks to emails, telephone calls post and word of mouth, I was contacted by and made contact with, a lot of Old Boys anxious to come to the reunion.  From being just the contact person, I had become the organiser.  Bro Barrett had agreed to spend 6 days with me in Southampton and was prepared to meet with and enjoy memories of the old days with the dozen or so who would meet here.  The reunion was set for June 6th to 11th.  Gradually,  dates were confirmed, hotels booked, lunches /dinners arranged and outings organised.  The numbers of  Old Boys arriving had risen from 12  to 22 and several were to bring their partners.  Several others would have made it but business and other commitments prevented their joining the fun. The arrivals and departures were spread from 3rd to 11th June and four O.Bs were flying in from the USA and Canada.  The length of stay varied from 5 hours to 9 days.

It is worth mentioning the names and the year of those attending.

Sadly Rajendra Patel (1957) had died in 1999, but his wife Vanita and daughters Rekha and Falguni, attended.

From the very first day,  the reunion was a success.  Meeting old chums and classmates after over 40 years was such a delight.  Time had taken its toll.  No longer were we 15 to 18 years but, with the spread of classes from 1952 to 1959,  the age range was now 57 to 64 years.  Bro Barrett was 73 and still very fit.  All of us were overweight, grey-haired, balding,  some wrinkles were appearing, most wore spectacles.  The changes were so vast that we could have passed each other in the street and not recognised our own fellow classmates.  Several reintroductions had to be made.  Stories of old were related, hockey and football games relived. Memories of walks to Plummy, down in the Valley, Town trips, etc discussed.  Old friends were remembered and sad to say some had died during the intervening years.  Stories were told and retold as the group got bigger. At any one time there were from just three to at one point 27 people.  We spent happy hours together and everyone felt the years drift away.  We were all young again, 15, 16, 17 and 18 years in spirit at least.

Outings were arranged to Stonehenge and surrounding countryside, the Isle of Wight, and Winchester.  Cars were in abundance for the trips.  Everyone seemed to bring a camera or Video or Digital Camera to record our reunion.  The days were most enjoyable but passed too quickly.  Several of the guys brought gifts for all to enjoy, cashew nuts and almonds, bajyas, mango and guava drinks, chocolates,  lagers and whisky, flowers, salmon,  chura, etc etc. In fact, such a lot was left over that I could hold another reunion without spending a penny!

We dined out every night at different places.  The first two night saw just three at the table, then every night it increased, 5, 7,  9, 11, 14,  20 and finally 26.  We had great merriment every night good food, good conversation and  good company.  At the last two nights, there were speeches by Bro Barrett and a few words from various old boys,  photographic sessions and much nostalgia.  All of us were grateful for the education we received in Abu.  From the conversations, we Abuites have had more than our fair share of success.  We had a collection for Bro Barrett.  He was most grateful and after our reunion has spent the proceeds on a trip to the Holy Land. The ladies who graced our reunion must be congratulated for their patience and forbearance.  They seemed happy for us.  We jabbered on and on and on throughout each day and late into the nights.  We laughed and tittered, sang songs and even remembered most of the words, if not the meaning, to Indian National Anthem.  Old photoghaphs were shown and memory banks were tested to identify old faces.

The entire reunion was a success.  The last day,11th of June,  was one of the saddest days for all of us.  The group was splitting up.  No, we were not just a group of Old Boys.  It was if we were a family which had been reunited after over 40 years and now were departing.  There were lots of sad , tearful faces. Addresses,  telephone numbers, emails were exchanged.  Promises, almost vows, were made to keep in touch. Neville and Louise Rodricks have volunteered to host the next reunion in Canada.  Hopefully, this will be held at their farm next year. I wish that there will be as good a turnout in Canada as there was for this reunion of June 2000.  I hope others Old Boys will join  us next year. Bro Barrett has said that he would like to attend.  Long live memories of St. Mary's High School, Mt Abu.

PS.  Since the reunion, I report, sadly, that Brian Jansen has died.  We enjoyed his company  and humour.  None of us are getting younger, so lets meet again in 2001 before it is too late.

Bob Amore, 1957