And It’s Graduation Time !


It’s graduation time across the US so there is a sense of celebration and yes, some trepidation. It is a big deal here and universities go all out with the pomp and ceremony. It is fun to see the pictures posted on facebook of proud parents with their cap and gown clad kids. I have attended four graduations over the years; my own, my brother’s, my older son’s and a few days ago, my youngest son from NYU. There is a vast difference in organization and mood between the smaller schools and the larger ones. My vote goes to small schools any day. New York universities generally have two ceremonies; one for the entire university and one for the individual schools. The large one was at Yankee stadium. It felt like I was in India. Not only was it a scorcher of a day, it was a pointless exercise almost like being at Gahunje stadium, watching my team lose a cricket match.

NYU has a large student body so I understand the logistic difficulties of the commencement exercises. Graduation is all about students but somewhere along the way NYU missed that point. The onus was less on students and more on ceremony and the people on the dais! The students were left on the stands to sweat it out without giving them a chance to parade in the stadium or even stand and get recognized.

Their only role was to cheer. The key note speaker, Pharrel Williams did not make us ‘happy.’ He focused on acknowledging all the dignitaries and honorees on the dais with him and the only take back from his speech was his advice to the Class of 2017 to work towards uplifting women and making education affordable.

He predicted the Class would throw up a future president who would not be red or blue but purple like the NYU colours!! I think NYU should have thrown a googly and invited Shahrukh Khan. He would have been a hit with the graduating class of 2017 just like he vowed audiences at his recent Ted talk in Vancouver.

Attendees were initially clueless about this ‘nobody’, only to leave raving about Bollywood’s Badshah. SRK would have been inspiring changing the mood of the sweltering students and their drooping families.

At least in India, we have fans and coolers if the stands are not shaded. AT Yankee stadium there was no such arrangement. The only concession stand in my area was trying to cater to the hordes, sweating in the long lines for a bottle of barely cool water. I truly feel India is better organized when it comes to service!! We later decided to take the subway back because getting a cab would have been a nightmare.

The journey reminded me of Churchgate locals during rush hour complete with howling child and smelly compartments !! I plan to avoid huge stadium ceremonies in future.

The ‘smaller’ ceremony was at Radio City Music Hall. Not an intimate venue by any standard! But it was a smaller venue than Madison Square Garden where the Stern and Law school ceremonies were being held! The Radio City commencement ceremony was more personal and the kids got to walk to the stage and shake hands!! The diploma comes in the post. Later, I attended a Parsons graduation ceremony, which was only for 100 students and the sense of intimacy and informality made that ceremony more special. Of course, Parsons has its big one at Arthur Ashe stadium. I overheard an NYU student grumbling about a sense of rejection during commencement because they felt side-lined. Maybe if the weather had been cooler, moods may have been different.

Though the weather has changed suddenly, with a cold wave a few days ago and now a heat wave; it was perfect for the New York launch of Sujata Bajaj’s book on her Ganpati artwork. I had attended it in Pune and was glad I had a chance to be at the New York launch. It was held on the rooftop of a Tribeca loft. Sujata was her usual warm and hospitable self and mingled with all the invitees, greeting, hugging and slipping into her preferred Hindi. There was a sense of bonhomie for sure but what I am unsure about is if people came more for the food and wine and less for the actual art show. I think she is a fabulous artist and I hope the guests took the time to see the amazing video of her work and admire her art and portfolio that was on display.

Display of affection is predominant on all minds on the second Sunday of May. Mother’s day is a Hallmark created marketing gimmick. You cannot walk into any store or past shop windows without being assaulted with mother’s day reminders and gift ideas. From grocery stores, to drug stores, the big department stores to smaller boutiques and even roadside vendors, everyone cashes in on mother’s day specials. It is one of America’s biggest celebrations.

Celebration of another sort was on my mind when Rising Pune Supergiants thrashed Mumbai Indians decisively. What a match and what euphoria. Considering we started the tournament with losses, this was quite a recovery especially with MVP Stokes and Imran Tahir gone. As a KKR supporter and as a former Bombayite, the finals will be a dilemma for me. My city vs my team or my city vs my former city.
Sunday cannot come quick enough.

Monique Patel

Monique Patel

Monika Patel – Monique to her friends – is now a permanent resident of New York City, but her heart is permanently in Pune, her home for 28 years.
Monique Patel

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