Monday, December 17, 2007

Rolla; Graduation walk and Nostalgia

Pic: Graduation ceremony at Recreation Center
Life is rife with little expectations; the little things that can spruce and spice up your life in equal measure. In today's highly global world, it is not unusual to find friends in even the remotest part of the world. United States may be the largest country in the world with vast space, but every state in the US is filled with a known face. It is truly heartening to know that there is nothing to worry when you land up in a new place, because you just can't be devoid of friends. The flip side is that, with so many people in different areas, it has become increasingly difficult to find a common meet-up place. So, when you get a chance to meet up for the right occasion, we just have to make use of it totally. These little expectations may not change your life, but this fleeting passage of a quick time out together leaves you lingering for more.

Pic: Graduates seated!

So, last weekend was a great way to break the norms of life by getting together for a weekend break at Rolla, the place which can be called as the first home for all of us who graduated from UMR. Shubhika and I had booked the tickets a month ago to witness the graduation walk of some of the closest people we had studied with. Graduation ceremony may not mean much for some, but to me and many others, we view it as the highlight of the course completion program. Studying abroad, masking out whatever is happening back home, fighting out those bouts of depression that can leave you with a very troubled feeling without actually knowing the reason; the uncertainty of the future gradually transforms to something really meaningful and these moments leave you with an emotional high when you are proclaimed as a Master of Science graduate in your area of discipline. The final moment is the result of having spent the best part of your stay here with the people who matter the most; in short, friends have become your lifeline as you reach and hope for the best.

Pic: 1300, #7 once upon a time

Pic: Electrical/Computer Engineers

Boston was going through a stormy weather, not that this was infrequent, but the fact was that, this almost coincided with the time of travel. Thursday was rough, with a terrible snow storm doing the rounds, but luckily, Boston was back to normal on Friday with the sun peeping out and so, our flight was perfectly on time. The anticipation was there at both ends, for the travelers as well as for those who were at Rolla. It is easy to plan anything, but the planning from St. Louis to Rolla is something that can drive even the best Project Manager crazy. We hardly slept during the flight journey, thanks to my traveling companion. We reached the airport perfectly on time, and it was good to see the known faces from Rolla, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Chicago and Florida. We would soon catch up with the Kansas City guys later in the evening. Later, off we went in three cars to Rolla. It was the familiar stretch starting from Lambert International airport, connecting 270 and I44 interstate with Rolla. The drive on I44 brought back old memories, and as if there was no change, I helped myself with food from Gokul. It all seemed as usual; a perfect feeling of "I know everything". Exit 186 marked the home stretch to reach 101 West. It was the time to meet everyone; hugs and wishes were exchanged like never before. There were some of them whom I really wanted to meet, and it was just great to spend time with them. Friday night was very much devoid of sleep with talks extending well into the morning; the boys had so much to share.

Pic: Fun @ Graduation

The morning of the graduation ceremony witnessed a frenzy of activities with ten people clamoring all out for a single bathroom to complete the morning ablutions. Thankfully, Yadu got up early and finished up with his long process; well, I mean really long. The remaining members of the gang were ready; the time taken by Yadu and the rest of us seemed to be close! It snowed badly in Rolla, but that did not deter anyone from reaching the Multipurpose recreation center on time. It was a pleasant sight to see the hall packed, and as the graduates walked into the hall, I could sense the emotions that must be going through them. I was in exactly the same situation about eight months ago. It was great to relive the highly emotional feelings of nostalgia. We cheered loudly as one by one, the known faces went to receive the awards. It was wonderful to see Asif bestowed with the Phd degree; we roared as we saw Dr. Grant hood Asif for his efforts. It was heartening to see Pravin's and Karthik Sadanandam's parents make it to the graduation ceremony. What a proud feeling for them to see their sons walk upto the dias and receive the felicitation. It was great to spend some time with them, and it truly reminded me of my parents. It was a proud feeling for the audience to see their kith and kin, and friends, getting the right recognition for their wonderful efforts. It was also a great feeling for us (Yadu, Pavan Shivaram, Shubhika and I) to relive the graduation walk thanks to our friends.

Friends, Hearty Congratulations!!!!!

Pic: The Sadanandams, family & friends

Pic: The Dhakes

After a terrific session of post ceremony photo shoot, we went back to 101 West enroute Panera; Chai Tea Latte, black bean soup and veggie sandwiches had never tasted better before. The best way to relive Rolla days is to get involved in mass cooking, and that's exactly what we did in the evening. All of us joined in with a helping hand as Rama took up the task of making upma, Shankrannaaoww made bondas, while Chaitanya Emani got involved in making fried rice and gobi manchurian. Like the previous night, we stayed up well into the night, but my eyelids just refused to open after 4 in the morning, and so, we had to call it a day, much to the annoyance of the KCs (Karthik Chandramouli and Krishna Chaitanya Emani). Karthik Sadanandam was more worried about his flight early next morning. As always, it was great to have a heart to heart talk with him.

Pic: Venka and his sister with friends

Next day had more to do with getting ready to leave. As such Sundays are bad, and with the goodbye process in mind, the Sunday couldn't have been worse. All of us headed back to our respective destinations. The return journey was killing and depressing. It is just too tough to accept the fact that at the end of the day, all that remains are memories. Memories are the only things that remain forever, and everything else, is transient.

Photos: Rama and KC's camera

PS: Please upload your photos in Picasa and send me the link so that I can include the links here


  1. you know what..When I had my grad walk..i thought I wud never feel so special again...but I was May, it was you and a few more who made me feel the same as i felt in dec 06'..and then again last weekend all those emotions came back when I saw my guys doing what I had done exactly 1 year back. You are right...Memories just stay on for ever and ever...I don't think I have ever in my life felt so proud of my Amit, Pravin ,Jerry and Ravan and all the others too.I just wan to thank you for writing this one...because every time I want to relive it, I will come back and read this....

  2. thanks a lot dude..first of all for making it to our grad walk and for writing this....donno when we will be able to see rolla again but all the wonderful memories will always remain fresh in our minds.....for me personally rolla and UMR have given me plenty...gr88 education and gr888 you..:)

  3. cool blog gk..and nice pic of teh dhakes....i m sure the dhakes were really proud (infact they told me)....since i might end up giving u heart attack (dont read heart ache) if i write something emotional this already nostalgic north indian (as per u) thnx u for this blog...

  4. excellent feeling man....graduation was HUGE....and walking with close friends felt even superlatives can describe back in rolla whoever asks me.."oh you graduated when are you leaving rolla...."
    i either end up swearing at that guy or avoid that query totally...:):)...

  5. GK,

    Nice article again. Some of the names sound familiar (I picked up a few during my 4 day stay in Boston)...he he...Yes...its a special feeling to be awarded the degree....and if parents can make it....Wow!!! and isn't Baasha one of them who graduated???

  6. Shubhika,
    Yup, it was a great time to get together with friends, and what a moment! It was truly nostalgic.

    Yes, UMR has been a great hunting ground for all of us. Now that we are out of UMR, we realize how much we miss it.

    Pravin Dhake,
    Can't imagine how such a senseless fool was born to such good parents :-) Don't get going with that PJ of yours :-)

    I can truly understand how you feel when somebody comes and asks you that question :-) I had to go through that and whenever somebody came up with that, I was like

    I know about your knowledge of Rolla :-) I think you should get your parents for graduation. You will feel wonderful. And yes, you are right, Baasha did graduate :-) Not bad, you remember the faces!!!!

  7. This is Karthik chandramouli's parents:

    Thanks GK for having given us a wonderful
    picture of the graduation ceremony.
    Even we could not make it we enjoyed
    thoroughly reading and viewing all these pictures.

    Thanks a million da !!

    As promised by you you had sent all the photos. We are pround parents now after seeing the photos - our son KARTHIK CHANDRAMOULI IS B.E. M.S (USA)

    We also thank Yadu for having made it all the way to be with karthi and others on this big day.

    We also thank all the others.



  8. Krishna Chaitanya Emani's parents:

    Thanks Praveen for giving us a fair idea on the graduation ceremony at Rolla. Though we could not make it to attend the event, by going thro' your comprehensive blog with pictures, we could visualize and see the event, where our son has walked on to the dias and taken his M.S. degree.

    Our son often says about the nice environment at UMR and the way he enjoys with his friends there. We have seen that through your writings. We really feel proud about our boys getting eastablished well there.

    We wish that all of you bring good laurels to our country and keep our flag flying high.

    Wish all of you a bright future and all the best.

    Mrs.E Uma Devi & Mr. E Siva Rama Krishna

  9. Krishna Chaitanya EmaniDecember 18, 2007 at 10:49 AM

    My parents comments on your blog shows the memories you are leaving through this wonderful art of writing... I never expected my dad to reply back and leave comments but I guess he was truly inspired by the blog to write a comment back. And ofcoz the situation might have also demanded him to write a comment. Thanks a lot from my side to Praveen, even if I wrote a blog may be my parents would not have enjoyed it so much... thanks a lot for the wonderful memories you leave in every single word that you pen...

    Your presence in the ceremony made it even more special and I would never forget this in my life. Try to upload the cooking pics also to give a complete picture of the fun we had...

    I am still in that depression that you all left this place. The two days will never come back in our lives and hence these words and blogs are always to remember and cherish.

    Love you,
    Chaitanya Emani.

  10. Last Dec was honestly the first time I attended the commencement; when Shubhika and some others walked. It was a great feeling. I envisioned what it would be like in May for me. May was special with all those cheering for me. I had goose-bumps all over; I actually lived it! This Dec was great re-living what I had, vicariously. It is, like you say a special feeling everytime.

    Rolla itself has been like home; a lot more to me than to you for obvious reasons. There are many memories from there, some good some not so much, but every one of them special. The walk away from Rolla this time though was different, knowing that it was probably my last time. All the hugs made it very special. On my way out, I looked up and realised, it is the same sky everywhere, it's the same old Sun up in the sky and yet, nowhere else does it all feel the same.
    And as I write this, if my eye is moist, it is not because I have a fly in my eye....! I will never be able to write about it.

  11. Uncle & Aunty (Karthik's parents),
    I am glad that you enjoyed reading the writeup. Yes, definitely it was a proud moment for Karthik as well as to all of us. You are definitely the source of inspiration to all of us and it would have been great to have both of you here. We definitely missed you here. I am touched by your comment. Inime enna aunty, payyanukku dum dum dum dhan :-) Of course, please keep the good wishes coming. Nandri to both of you, uncle and aunty!!!!

    Uncle & Aunty (Chaitanya's parents),
    First of all, I am really touched by your comment. I am really glad that you enjoyed the account of the graduation ceremony. As I said to Karthik's parents, you are the source of inspiration in our pursuit of happiness. It gives me great joy to know how proud you must be of your son. My parents went through a similar thing in May, and now, it is your turn. I am lucky to have made some great friends in Rolla and your son is definitely one among them. So, there was no way of missing the graduation ceremony. Thanks a lot for the good wishes, and your blessings!!!! We really value them a lot.

  12. Chaitanya Emani,
    I am really glad that you forwarded the blog to your parents. I am seriously touched by their comments. It means a lot to me, rather all of us. It was great two days that we had back in Rolla. I will never forget these two days. It was so much fun going back in time and discussing the good old things!!! All the very best for your future!!!

    You just hit the nail on the head. Everything was same, but there was an unspeakable void within me. It was a feeling of Will I ever come back to Rolla again?. The thought really pained me to no end.

    I am lucky to have made it to all the graduation ceremonies in Rolla. There was always someone for whom I had to go, and everytime, there was a feeling of pride to see your friends hooded. All in all, it was a wonderful feeling.

    And finally, I don't know about the fly!!!

  13. Dei Praveenaaa,

    Stop propagating misinformation. I was in and out of bath room in flat 15-20 mins. I know it can not be compared to your time of 2 minutes but atleast I am clean after I come out.

    Nice blog, but why I am not seeing the expected pic in your blog?


  14. Dear KC's parents,

    It was my duty to attend the graduation ceremony of my first student (KC ;-)) in Rolla. We had lots of friends who were walking this time. It is impossible to meet everybody in one place after we start working but this was one exception.

    It was lot of fun and we enjoyed it.


  15. Mr. Yadu,
    Don't ever tell anyone that you come out in 15-20 mins. People will kill you and kill themselves :-) I always believe in being quick, after all you must have heard about Be Quik somewhere :-) Just can't figure out how it doesn't apply to your life!!!!!!

  16. Wonderful blog gk. Eventhough I was not present for the grad ceremony, I got the full picture of it. I envy u guys. I have to wait for few more long years to wear that wonderful dress.

  17. Raju,
    Thanks man!! I am sure it is a matter of time before we witness your graduation :-)