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Sachin sixes, Father sundries at Xaverian 3D reunion

I have to confiscate a lot of mobile phones. So it’s common parlance among students that I sell them in a mobile shop I own in the evenings

Father Benny Thomas
(The principal speaks at the alumni reunion)

Sachin Tendulkar had a field day in Sourav Ganguly’s backyard and a straight-faced Father showed how to deliver clean stand-up googlies to split your sides.

The Master Blaster hit sixes off Shoaib Akhtar and Lasith Malinga on the “big field” of St. Xavier’s School, Calcutta.

The old boys of the Park Street school played Sachin and Shoaib — in wigs and sunscreen — as they enacted a game of ramp cricket on Saturday evening to liven up the 36th reunion of their association Alumnorum Societas (Alsoc).

Sourav, an alumnus, was “present” too: his profile projected through 3D mapping on the school building along with other illustrious alumni — Jagadis Chandra Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, Jyoti Basu and Raj Kapoor.

The stage darkened when Sachin’s name was announced. Many in the audience gulped in anticipation. “For a moment, I thought Sachin himself had come,” said Auyon Chowdhury of the 1995 batch who had come with wife Sanghamitra.

In succession ran the images of Pele, Princess Diana, Neil Armstrong, Michael Jackson and Nelson Mandela.

Walk of Life, the first 3D mapping show in eastern India, paid tribute to the Belgian founding fathers of the school and the inspirational headmasters since 1860, the year it was founded.

The 3D mapping floored Dipen Dutta, a 1962-batch Xaverian: “This was the best part of the evening. It’s lovely to see how we are getting better each year.”

Principal Father Benny Thomas set the tone for the evening with his welcome speech. He went to the lectern placed on the stage and barked at the assembly: “Keep quite. You there, shut up!”

He teleported the gathering to their school days with a series of side-splitting anecdotes, especially the comments behind his back from students of the primary section where he takes classes.

“One day, when I reached a class a little late, it was said, “Father is signing the TC (transfer certificate) of a teacher’,” he said.

Old boys masquerade (top) as Sachin, Shoaib and... (below) Mandela projected via 3D mapping on the St. Xavier’s School facade. (Sanat Kr Sinha)

Before the hoho-haha could die down, he added: “I have to confiscate a lot of mobile phones. So it’s common parlance among students that I sell them in a mobile shop I own in the evenings.”

Then came the parting shot: “I had occasion to confiscate a pair of shoes for some reason recently. The boy whose shoes I took said to a friend, ‘Father will polish them and give them back’.” At this, even Father Thomas could not maintain a straight face and let go the laughter bubbling in his stomach.

From spicy snippets, Father Thomas along with Father Boris D’Santos — for whom the loudest cheers were reserved — and Father Peter Arockiasamy transported the crowd to a scene that left many eyes moist. They slowly walked the ramp holding the hands of primary school kids.

Vatsal Kajaria, at his first Alsoc reunion, reached for a tissue. “That was very touching,” said the BBA student at St. Xavier’s College on the same campus.

The show ended with DJ Harish’s music, portmanteau dance, tinkling of glasses, huddles and hugs, selfies — reminiscing the bygone days.