The fun loving school days
N J Ravi Chander
The platinum jubilee celebrations of my alma mater, Seventh-Day Adventist High School, Bengaluru, unfolded memories. My siblings four and I enjoyed a long stint as students in this school, journeying through primary, middle and matriculation classes.
My brother, N J Prasanna Kumar, a year younger to me, and I had the unique experience of sharing the same classroom and textbooks – but not the same bench – right from the primary level to standard X. We parted ways only after high school to choose fresh streams matching personal interests.
Bengaluru which earned the moniker, ‘pensioners’ paradise’, and the ‘garden city’ saw kids either plod or ferried to school via the humble cycle rickshaws or bicycles in days of yore. Students seldom came on bikes, and we looked at those proud owners with envy.
My brothers and I loved running to school, lugging our cargo of books, and seldom allowed other pedestrians to steal a march over us. We played pranks on fellow students during the Holi festival, foisting blue ink from our fountain pens on their crisp white shirts and soiling them. An episode even had a high schooler plucking out a fruit bat which hung near the principal’s window, holding the frightened creature in his hands before setting it free. The famous Jyothi Nivas College for women was a stone’s throw away from our school, and the young brats among us had the cheek to pull the legs of the ‘pretty ones’ and implore, “Time please”. Giggles would accompany the response. One fruit vendor who frequented the school always loved posing with the college girls for the camera.
I recall students made to line up before the classroom post-lunch and marched off to the school kitchen for a drink of a tall glass of warm milk. Everybody loved the freebie. Corporal punishment was in vogue, and the maths tutor named Mr Rasalam scared the living daylights out of us, training his cane on wrongdoers and mercilessly thrashing them.
The sports day was a gala affair, and we put our best foot forward to make it to the podium. Champions in the senior category had their pictures splashed on the sports page of local dailies. My brother number three, J Gokul Nath, was second to none in essay writing and oratory and bagged prizes galore. A debating contest on temperance saw him walking away with the top award; the effort earning him a special mention in a local tabloid. Baseball was a popular sport, and the keenly contested inter-house competitions drew a full house. We went ecstatic when the ball sailed over the low wall of the school grounds, and the batter scampered a home run!
One of our most thrilling moment came in 1974 when the mighty West Indians led by the ‘Big Cat’, Clive Lloyd, locked horns with the ‘Tiger’ Pataudi led Indian side in a Test match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. For the first time, the magic of television was brought to us by the school as students and teachers sat glued to the box watching live-action.
We looked forward to the monsoon to make a splash or sail our paper boats in the streams. A chill permeated the rainy and winter seasons, and students sported sweaters of different hues – something which is rare today. How nice would it be to traverse that road again?
(The writer is a former banker. He contributes regularly to Kashmir Vision)