Meeting Old Friends and Missing Some

IITians in Bangalore / South are holding the Golden Jubilee Meet of the 1961 batch Alumni in Bangalore on 4th November, 2011. OP Khanna has invited me and I am going to join them on the day.

However, while I shall meet some after many years, the very thought of IIT, Kharagpur 1961 batch mates and many with whom I got acquainted and developed friendship, are no more among us, makes me sad too. They played their destined innings and left for the final abode a little premature.

RP Dhingra had joined Hindustan Motors. For initial years before the marriage, we lived together. Even after he moved to Delhi, I was in touch with him. Every time I visited Delhi, I talked to him or met him. Either I would go to his place or call him in my hotel He had once visited us in Hind Motors too along with a friend and stayed with us for a night while going to Assam for some official work. We came to Noida in 1997, and as usual I called him. I was shocked to hear that he was ill and succumbed to some illness few months ago.

I was surprised one day, when I saw AK Mukherji in Bansal’s chamber in Hind Motor. Mr. Bansal was from the first batch of IIT, Kharagpur. We didn’t talk much on the day. Later on, Bansal told me that Mukharji was working in CK Birla’s Nigeria unit. One day after many years, KM Agrawal who was a senior from IIT itself and had worked in Nigeria with Mukherji and had returned, informed me that Mukherji was killed in Africa by the local police mistakenly when a group of burglars had attacked the colony where the Indians lived.

Ravi Mukherji and Nazimuddin Ahmed from electrical worked for TELCO Jamshedpur. I met Ravi in some conference in Calcutta. He was unhappy about the company promotion policy. Thereafter, I kept information about him through some friends in TELCO. Lastly, he headed the important department of industrial engineering and was happy. And then one day I heard that he was no more.

I met Nazimuddin when he had called me without knowing that I was from his own batch for conducting a two days training course on gear manufacturing for the managers and supervisors. And later on I heard the sad news of his demise one day.
Shrikant Singh and I had one thing in common. Maternal uncles of both practiced in the Sasaram court when we were in IIT, Kharagpur. He was in mining and RK Hall. Sometimes we used to meet and talk. For his rural background and simplicity, I liked him. One day I heard from someone that he was no more. It really shocked me.

PK Singh was also from mining, but a little snobbish. He was from a place near Arrah. In Rajesh’s marriage he was an invitee of Janardan Sharma, Rajesh’s father-in-law in Sitarampur near Asansol. I met him for the first time after the IIT days. Interestingly, Janardan was also in mining. One day Janardan informed me that he was no more.

Deshbir Singh invited me to work for Harig Crankshafts after I retired from Hindustan Motors. During IIT days, he always used to be in our group because of the proximity of letters in our surnames. After my by-pass surgery I left Harig, I started living between Noida and Salt Lake. And then one day a colleague at Harig came and told me about his untimely death.

And yesterday when I was going through Times of India- Crest, I came to know that Praveen Chaudhry who was from metallurgy and did brilliantly at IBM, USA, is no more.

I have not been great in maintaining the contacts with my friends, acquaintances and even relatives. But I loved their company whenever it was possible. TR Mulrlidhar visited us early this year with his wife and so did Dr. Kailash Narayan Singh of Agriculture department. I keep on talking with Dr. BB Pandey of Civil who is still with IIT, Kharagpur. Pandey lost his wife this year. Jialall Sharma, GR Gupta and Shikhar Jain are in Delhi, but we hardly talk or meet. It has become so difficult to move out at this age.
Deshbir, Shikhar, Kailash and GR Gupta tried to get into business and succeeded to a great extent. Dr. Pandey got the Distinguished Alumnus Award 2011. But many just worked in private or public sectors and have settled down for a retired life.

We know so little about our friends. How many of us know the pioneering work done by some such as Dr. Praveen Chaudhari who engineered the rewritable compact disc (CD), but wrote out the patent for IBM for a fraction of the billions Big Blue, Sony, Phillips and other corporations got from the invention.

We were told to believe in ‘Yogah Karmashu Kaushalam’ and we did our karma following the Bhagavad Gita’s advice karmanyevadhikaraste, maa phaleshu kadaachana (do your duty without regard to rewards).

Can’t we think some way to keep the memories of 1961 batch mates alive for the future generations?

But the memory of the four years at IIT, Kharagpur is still one of sweetest. One can’t just relive it again.

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1 Response to Meeting Old Friends and Missing Some

  1. Dawn DeLong says:

    I just read your account – was great friends of Deshbir and Manju at IIT. Was saddened to hear of his passing. Do you know how I can get in tough with Manju? Am going to India this fall for several months and would love to see her again. Dawn DeLong (My husband was Alton (Al) DeLong and studied architecture and psychology.) We were members of the International Club there. Also were friends with Deep Dhaliwal. If you know of him, would love information. Thanking you in advance.

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