Wednesday, June 27, 2007

At the Sarada Vilas High School

School Uniform: Cream shirt and Olive green Chaddi. Some had trousers. But it was optional.

[Words have followed my thoughts - please bear with the flow!]

We got scattered to different schools for our 8th. It was May 1970. Passing out 7th for me was an adventure. That incident with the “pickled star gooseberry” which played its role has been narrated in a separate place. Well, it was time for us 12-year old boys to get relieved from the Convent. At times we disliked, for no valid reason, being under the tutelage of Sisters and sitting with ‘sisters’. But afterthought tells that they were as affectionate as one can get. But the best memories are from the convent for all the good things that formed the basis of our education. We boys no longer needed answering the attendance as “present sister” or “present miss”, much to our relief!

In high school, all teachers were “Sirs”. I was admitted to Sarada Vilas Boys High School. It was also equidistant [and close by] from my home, just a 10-minute walk. I could now go on the bicycle alone. That was a Robin Hood which my late uncle was using and later a cousin who was using it also went on a heavenly journey. It had become mine. I had learnt riding the bicycle as early as my 7th year from my other small blue cycle on which I must have covered many miles in street itself!

I do not remember about bringing application forms and all formalities involved in admission. I had a first class marks in 7th, which was good given the ‘adventure’ just before the exams. My grandfather knew the Head Master Sri M.N Lakshminarasimhaih (MNL). Knowing was not that important because cut-throat competition was relatively absent as there was no mad rush as it is now. It was a reputed school where my father and uncle had studied and there was still that old generation teachers on its rolls, with that traditional dresses typical of Mysore. Close-collared coat and ‘kacche panche’ with a stiff cap as head gear. The HM also wore this costume. It was the last year in office for him.

So, the first day of school arrived, I attended. It was a Saturday. The next working day was Monday with a gap of Sunday. To prevent a ‘Dviteeya vighna' my grandmother asked me to at least step on the class room’s doorframe – it was a Sunday and none was there, the gate was open – which instruction I dutifully followed. I remember how funny I felt at that time. I had gone riding the Robin Hood.

MNL took English grammar and composition. He had that typical entry into the class. The very moment he stepped into the class room he used to begin the class with the words “In the last class, we were ….” The most silent class was that of Maths which the well-built annd much dreaded KRK took. He was notorious for hitting the boys black and blue and pinched the thighs when someone did a mistake [sometimes to the entire class!] which was very painful. Equally painful were his blows from his huge palm on our cheeks. And a ‘back handed stroke’ on the right cheek. How much the boys hated his strictness! He stretched it too long. He came to school on a green Raleigh bicycle. The very sight of him was chilling. What a great relief it was to all the boys, without exception probably, when he was sent away for one-year training while we were in 9th. KRK stood for "Krishnamurthypuram Rotti Kalla".

We had AVR who took English Prose. Short man, white hair, always spoke English, renowned chain smoker. His class was a bit noisy. He had a smoker’s cough that troubled him in between and he had always a cough lozenge “Peps” as that brand was known. When he passed by, that smell mixed with cigarette smoke odour emanated! Boys used to tease him from a distance esp. for his typical gait. AVR - "Ardha Vade Ranganna".

NS Seetharam used to take Algebra. His writing on the board was a pleasure to see. Equal sized, equal intensity and very neat. Hardly any chalk dust! Even his erasing was meticulously done. Soft-spoken, good teacher clad in kacche panche and always ash coloured coat, with a black headgear. Became HM when MNL retired. "NSS - Nona Saiso Shoora"

The name “MRK” used to give us chills in the spine, somewhat like KRK’s. Because he always carried that black rosewood ruler meant for hitting the boys with. Any mistake and we would get a blow from that. Very painful! He used to take Science –Physics. He wore thick ‘soda’ glasses. MRK - "Madhya Raatri Kalla"

For Biology, one SNC [Chakravarthy] took. He was very short tempered. One incident in the 9th stays in memory. There was one Jagannatha who did nothing wrong. Someone else teased him as ‘godamotte’ [he was a bit fat] during a class and he came chasing Jagga in the class and Jagga ran over the benches and he got cornered. He got some blows.

Chemistry was taken by BN. B.Narasingha Rao. He had that typical jump while he pedaled his bicycle which the boys waited to see! Slim, simple dressed and bespectacled. His son also was in our class. BN Ramesh. There was another BN Ramesh also! When someone came in search of Ramesh, we had a problem – there were six of them. BN - "Beedhi Naayi"

There was that old wrinkle-faced man Jogi, the attender having a slow gait who took back the attendance register and also rung the school bell.

Sanskrit was my opted language and there was the one and only Anantha Somayaji. The noisiest class! He did his job and the boys just had their own ways. His shouts “stop talking” just got drowned in the noise and never seemed to reach any ear! Traditional dress with vibhuti – sandal paste marks on forehead.

CVR took ‘non-detailed’ English. Soft –spoken, his teaching was interesting and had us all listening. For, he had that knack of making funny gestures relating to his explanations to the lessons.

We had that PT master VK who came on his always glittering bicycle. During the Games period which was just before the lunch break, most of the boys would run home from the open ground just behind the classrooms. We were supposed to play games like cricket, kabaddi, kho-kho volley ball or whatever. PT was always one period we disliked to attend. Some lazybones used to come with false bandages and plasters to show an injury to sit out! A few complained of fever. VK - "Vadkal Kundi"

N Lakshminarasimhaiya was my father’s classmate. He took Geography. His class was much looked after as he was very jovial, cutting jokes to make the class interesting. Sometimes a bit indecent jokes too. NL - "Naayi Laddhi"

History and Civics were taken by BMPV, strict but good teacher. Not an interesting class due to the dull nature of the subjects. I was to meet this teacher after 35 years and visit his house. He has a great impression on me because of an incident which has been narrated separately, concerning ‘bad English’.

AVR, a short teacher again with the traditional dress of kacche panche took Geography. He also had a great sense of humour. His speed of dictating notes was too fast for hour hands to cope up with. And he used to give notes in pages! Writing it was a very tiring exercise. After many years I used to see the sad sight of him selling incense sticks in the streets after retirement, most likely driven by poverty. Here was another case to prove the old saying that the school master never gets rich. The mischievous boys used to tease him by pulling the tucked kacche panche.

Then there was the Urdu teacher MSK who was asked to come to “take care” of the class during the “work experience” period, which was a great time for all the boys to make merry. MSK reluctantly would try to silence the class but always in vain. He would simply sit clearing his nose for 45 minutes till the bell rung.

MKG, a tall and fair man, clad trimly in kurta-pyjama would come during one of the WE periods and teach us stitching, hemming etc. It has come in handy in my later life.

NSV came to take Physics in our 8th class. "Nona Saiso Veera"

There were VSS, KGB, SR, DVN, who did not take our “C” section in all three years.

Nicknaming teachers was a great fancy among the boys. Many nicknames to teachers’ initials were carried forward to coming batches. Some of them were humourous some were childish. But they were done for the heck of it. Here are some of the Kannadized names. KRK- Krishnamurthypuram Rotti Kalla; MRK- Madhya Ratri Kalla; AVR- Ardha Vade Ranganna; NSS- Nona Saiso Shoora; NSV- Nona Saiso Veera; VK- Vadkal Kundi; SNC- Godamotte, NL-Naayi Laddi, BN- Beedhi Naayi, DVN- Donku Veene Narada.

There was one S.Suresh who, if at all came to class, was found sleeping on the desk often. Noor Ahmed always sat in the last bench. KRK used to call his name in the attendance as “hundred Ahmed”. One ‘Koli’ Ramesh whose house was opposite the gate of the school and he would start from home when he heard the bell! We envied such nearness! Very mischievous little fellow – he would sometimes climb the toilet wall and escape home!

There was no cycle stand in those days. We used to park our bicycles in front of our classes and hardly there were 10-12 of us that came on them. Latecomers got the treatment from KRK who used to hover around the gate looking for victims at the time of the morning assembly and a short while after. The iron gate was closed later, but somehow one or two would climb over it and silently enter.

After classes, some boys used to play cricket in the school enclosure. Being shy, I remember just once making use of the facility. Instead, I used to dash home to have my own cricket with street boys. Annual day functions – I never took part.

One Shankar Nadig used to carve erasers with a blade into rubber stamp to print his name on books. I had copied this art and had become adept at it!

Cariappa was a talented fellow. He used to get his books bound using cardboard from soap powder packing. It was amazing to me. He had made to his Raleigh Bicycle a switch to operate the ‘brake light’. I copied the idea from him and did it to mine much to his delight! He had made a motor bus using a plastic box (which I never found) and a toy motor. I made my crude model! Both of us exhibited in the Science Exhibition. Venue was the old Dasara Exhibition Building [now Medical College]. This was in our 10th in 1972-73. One Jaipal had his bicycle fitted with a dynamo in the front axle.

There was a ventilator below the window to bring in fresh air. There was an outlet pipe below it in every class that opened towards the open ground outside. Suddenly, someone would shout through the pipe and that sudden loud echoing sound would rattle everybody. When the teacher ran to the window to look for the culprit, it would always be too late. It seemed to provide a good break to the lessons for a couple of minutes!
There was one teacher who wore a 'naama' on his forehead. MC Chokkanna. We came to know that he was a poet having composed many poems when he used to tell some poems in the class and later had even sold us his compositions in the form of a little booklet for twenty five paise each.

This blog was posted sometime ago. Now, in August 2010, I've started an exclusive group for SVBHS on Facebook. The widget is shown on the right corner of this blogpage. There are more photos there. Please join there.


Recollection of school days

[The following lines have been documented as and when thoughts have come and so it needs lot of sharpening which will be done when time permits. So kindly bear with it]

The Christ the King Convent (popularly, "CKC"), is a prominent landmark on the Jhansi Lakshmi Bai Road [see its picture and more in my web album here]. Behind it was the famous Ganesha Picture House (now demolished). Many of us may not know that the CKC was earlier housed in a small rented building (now houses the Adm. Office of the Karnataka State Adult Education Council) next to the Govt. Dispensary on the Viceroy Road (now renamed Ambedkar Road) till the allotted 3-acre land was used to construct the school buildings in 1954. Earlier, the Carmelite Sisters of St.Theresa had come to Mysore to promote education of girls in 1944. Mother Mary, Mother General of the religious congregation came to Ernakulam from Madras and made the town her headquarters. She sent Mother Benigna and Sr.Elias to Mysore to launch the mission of literacy among Mysore girls. So, they started a high school, viz., CKC High School. There was a 100% result in the SSLC exams with the mere six girls. Who can forget Sister Margaret? She was also instrumental in putting up the school buildings, where Mother Euphrasia opened the nursery, primary and middle school classes. CKC celebrated its Golden Jubilee on January 29th and 30th, 1994. It was one of the first four exclusive schools for girls in Mysore and the other three being the Maharani's, Good shepherd and St. Mary's. Boys also were admitted since 1954 (but stopped doing so in 1985). I think, Mr.Thiruvengada Mudaliar was the civil contractor who constructed the school buildings. It was a school perfectly suited to the middle and lower middle class children without any compromise on the quality of education. It was our good fortune and the privilege to have studied there in this wonderful school.

I can never forget the day when I was taken to meet someone there before joining the school. I cannot remember who it was. My grandfather's client was Mr.Mudaliar and I think it was through his contact with the school that I was admitted. I can remember vividly the scene of the teacher (name forgotten - was it Miss Rosy?) who welcomed me, standing outside the classroom, saying "Come, good boy". It is unforgettable! It was in front of the Ist standard, "A" section. My aunt had taken me to school that first day. She had been a student too at CKC, in the late 1940s. There were about 80 students comprising of both boys and girls. The year was 1963 and my classmates, many of them had joined there before me for the Nursery. I was at the Jagadamba Shishuvihar for some time and later at the Bhagini Seva Samaj before that. Something like the kindergartens!


A couple of incidents in my first year still remain in my memory. There was a chapter in Science on the "Sun". There is a sentence called "the sun is a big ball of fire". I used to repeat the sentence and read it in the class, as “the sun is a big ball of ‘fayah’, which was the way the teacher pronounced. Perhaps I was exaggerating! The teacher used to send words to my home about it. After many attempts, it got rectified, I think. My mother who was not knowing much English before also did not know it was a weird way to pronounce that word! I still preserve that book! Here is the page from that very book (Book of Knowledge Part 1).

In the 2nd std., (1964) they had taken a group photo of all the children. It was on our classmate JV Raman's birthday (he is wearing a suit in the picture). One Madhukar is missing in the picture because he was a frequent absentee. The boys group photo was framed by my grandfather and was a cherished thing till my friend GR Srinivas (who lived closeby, but had moved to Bangalore/Delhi in the 1970s) came and borrowed it and never returned it. I later was able to get hold of a copy of it from another classmate PL Jothindra. MR Pradeep too has a copy. The girls group picture is only with KR Mangala. This seems to be the only copy available with anyone. This Srinivas, his relative Sreelatha(now in Singapore) and I used to go to school together. It was about ten minutes by walk. We walked past the Ballal Hotel (Nilgiri's shop has occupied now) and the Ganesha Talkies. My mother used to bring lunch to me from home and we would sit beneath a coconut tree opposite the school gate (where the Aya tower now is). That was a place where we later used to play cricket in between those coconut trees, mostly on Saturdays after the morning classes. There was one R.Srinivasan who once or twice came first in the class tests. He used to wear brown shoes, polished with black. That was once noticed and he was punished, rather unduly - perhaps his parents could not afford to buy a new pair for him. There was another boy who was "double-promoted" to the 4th straight away - reasons for that is out of the memory. Probably he was very intelligent or over-aged for our class.

This is the picture I referred above. The boys group picture belongs to M.R.Pradeep and the girls picture belongs to Rohini. Both were kind enough to lend me their prized possesions for this purpose. I have made copies of this with the intention of giving one to whoever is in this picture.

Inoculations ---- how we were all afraid of it! Because, it was compulsory. In Class three, there was the cholera inoculation being done in front of the verandah, where the mass prayer was held. Children were crying while some were trying to run away. Vaccination was another dreaded day for all of us. There was one girl Manjula in our class. We were shocked to hear about her death due to diphtheria. There was one Gayathri. She had copied all the questions in the test book from the black-board and she did not know the answers at all. We used to keep our bags in the shelf below our desk. There were five of us in one bench. Boy-girl alternating, which, as we grew up, proved to be a nuisance!! There was one Dayananda (now sits in his provision store at the Agrahara Circle). One day he had brought a ten-rupee note to the class. That big note - it was big money those days! He had brought it to pay fees. But you know what he did? He took a few boys (myself, Manohar, Srinivas and one or two others) that afternoon after our lunch to a shop near Ballal Hotel, "New Corner". He asked us to take anything there besides the newly arrived "Scent Rubber" (white and green with a printed picture). We all bought one rubber (Fifty paise each) and some chocolates. By the time we returned for the afternoon session, it was late! All of us were made to stand outside the class and asked to explain. The next day, Dayananda's father was summoned. The fear in us that afternoon is indescribable.

By class four, many of us had become friends. There was one Rajagopal who used to live in Bajjanna's lane. I used to go to his house and then we would go together to school. I was taking lunch at the school itself. The carrier was a little vessel with a lid and a handle, where usually "Sajjige" and sometimes "Saaranna" were put. A lunch-shed had been newly built for that purpose. Then, after eating, we would play. The school used to begin at quarter past ten in the morning and end at quarter past four in the evening -- a time which most of us waited! In this class, I remember throwing a silly abuse at one of the Sister-teacher as she entered the class - luckily she could not hear (probably in the noise which children make at the period-breaks). That was the first and last time I ventured at such a silly act. When a girl between two boys was absent, that was the day of celebration and we felt very happy! So, Rajgopal and me were sitting next to each other in the 3rd or 4th bench. It was the English period. We had beautiful books from "Sunshine Readers" (I still preserve this too).

We had learnt to play with our books. We used to alternate the pages of our books, keep it up in such a way that the arranged pages fall alternately one by one and it was a pleasure to watch, of course the lessons were on! We did this frequently, even secretly making that girl to swap seats! Around this time, there was a Hillman car parked in the quadrangle one evening. Cars were scarce those days and playing around it was fun. When I tried to remove the petrol tank cap, it came off! I took it home to play with. But at the same time I got guilty and afraid. The next day, luckily for me, the car was there. I silently removed it from my schoolbag and replaced it.

The fee we paid up to the fourth was Rupees five, which our unforgettable Janabai used to collect and even remind the student for the same in case of delay. She used to sit in the verandah using a wooden chair and table, pen and the receipt book handy. The mass prayer was conducted by the HM, Sister Margaret. (If it was one person everyone feared, it was she, a short lady, strict, having a commanding voice -- which she still has, even at her old age -- now in Avila Convent). The prayer went something like … Old man…… had a fall…. Eeeya Eeeya O… I don't remember the lyrics.

Physical Training was another period we hated. There were two masters. One PT master was a regular staff (elderly) and it was the other who was invited occasionally worried us. Suddenly they would call everybody out because he had come. It was a surprise PT session. He was called the "Koli Master", tall bald, strict and having a military voice, his left arm handicapped (forgot his name). He used to repeatedly tell the story how it was damaged due to an accident that happened during one of his visits to the forests with the Maharaja for 'tiger-hunting'. Going with the Maharaja… it thrilled us! He used to spot anyone not doing the exercise and punish him/her. There was one B.Rajan of our class. Short little fella…. He was a mischievous lad. He used to come and virtually lift this boy with his ears!!! His PT periods were usually on 'surprise', though occasionally.

From time to time, they used to collect some funds by selling 'small paper flags' for various things and it was fun to ask ten paise from home for that purpose.

Lunch breaks were times when we played a variety of games, depending on the fancy of the season. Sometimes, we used t catch the grasshoppers and putting them in our pockets. Then punishment for not wearing proper attire/uniform was to clean the premises of paper - it was a job everyone disliked. Punishments inside the class for not doing the homework were usually through "impositions". I was never one to stand up and answer (though I knew it!) to the questions asked in the class - for which I have got little punishments[This is a page from Gulliver's Travels, which was a very interesting chapter in VI]

Mother's Day. It was a holiday and we were supposed to meet the Mother with fruits. You know what once what Rajgopal and I did? By the time we could reach the school for that purpose, the paper cover was the only thing left! It was not compulsory to take!

There were many "peacock flower" trees lined near the wall. We used to pluck the flowers and keep them in our books. Why? Because someone had told that it would give rise to kitten after a few days! We never failed to believe in old wives’ tales – it thrilled!

We had reached the Middle school. Teasing had increased and we tended to get jealous of others, and sometimes hatred, usually of the opposite sex. So, many of us were keeping our bags in between as a partition, as if to keep some 'evil' at bay! The notes while being written were pushed by the neighbour to spoil the script! How we hated that boy-girl-sandwiching! We envied the one who was at the corner of the bench because he (not she!!) had only one side where the 'trouble' could come! It is time to remember AK Lakshmi. She used to sit next to me in the 5th or 6th std. She used to give me a painful pinch for silly little things, much to my annoyment and I rarely gave her back! It was a constant complaint, which I carried to my mother. There was one BM Shylaja who sat next to me and she remembers that once she had hit me with her book on my wounded hand. But I do not remember this incident which she says had taken place in the 6th std or so. I used to go to this girl's house (or rather my mother sent me there) to borrow notes when I was absent to class. What I would do? I would shyly call her name at the door and run back home which was just a stone's throw away. They used to come out and wonder who called. They later found out who it was and they used to come to our house to ask the reason! Shyness was my trademark!

In 1969 or so [we had entered the 7th class], there was a film that was shot at the School premises. We were in a scene where the children were entering the school through that big gate. One of the young actors was, I think Rishi Kapoor. That was the first time I saw a film camera. Later we were served with a couple of biscuits (in the high school area, an area we rarely went) for our efforts in the few 'takes' for that scene. The school wore a festive look. The name of that film was "Devi". I wonder how many heard about it later.

There was one old lady "Thathee" who used to sell many little snacks. She used to sit in front of the car shed right opposite the main gate. I still remember the "amla in brine" taste, very unique.

For the school day, there was a function. Being shy, I never took part in any item. But I remember how the girls’ hairs were done (to make curls), making it to look like cockroaches. A funny and weird sight to me! I do not remember what were the items that took place that evening. But I remember the magic show that was held in that newly built auditorium. Sometimes, some film shows were shown to us in another building, the same place where I was sent for morning tuitions on many occasions - the teachers used to come early and teach us.

Sister Prudentia was the HM of the middle school and she used to take English and Maths to our class. She used to paint our cheeks with her red ink pen if we did a sum wrong. We were afraid of her. She taught well too. Who can forget the gramophone, which was hand wound and the National Anthem would be played at the mass prayer. Sometimes the spring in it used to slow down and it made a funny sound and none of us could resist in laughing out at that. Then there was a time when each student was supposed to sing a song in front of all others at the 'mass'. I hated the day when my turn had come. I stood on the steps, hung my head and sang (from a popular kannada film song of that time) only the words "Aha, rickshaw gaadi mister, ee roadige naane master" Full stop. Climb down, run and join the line!! What courage and boldness! That was in the 7th Std. In the 6th, after the classes, they used to organize 'group studies', which we hated so much because that meant there was no play that evening! Sometimes, we were supposed to do some painting with the watercolour. We envied the ones who brought 'camel brand tube paints'.

I hated to wear shoes because it affected my comfort. Many times, I used to remove them in the first period and wear them again while going for lunch. By middle school, I had started to go home for lunch. Sometimes, we used to come for the afternoon session in slippers so that there was less chance of being noticed. There was one Ponnumudi in our class (I heard that he died in 2001) who had become famous for his antics. He was not one who was studious. He was the School van driver's son. I remember his antics like making a somersault, drinking ink…. And to top them all, he was very mischievous.

Seventh Standard was the time for public exams. As we neared it, I was playing on a Sunday near my house with a gooseberry pickle in my mouth. That got stuck in my gullet and had to be removed by a simple operation at the KR Hospital. It has a small story, which will be a bit out of place here, and so I am not getting into its details. I had become sick after that and could not attend classes for many days. My classmates, a few of them, used to visit me from school to cheer me up. Rajgopal was one who did so (even though he had become my 'enemy' temporarily), Zakir Hussain visited me because it seems that in my sub-consciousness, I called his name once or twice. [We still meet!] That incident made Rajgopal, and me friends again. The teachers were helpful in giving me courage and confidence to take the exam. I did so and secured a first class, much to my elders' satisfaction and delight. There was one old man [Sri Krishnappa methinks] known to my grandfather from Rajaram Agrahara appointed to teach me a few subjects in the evenings at home during my indisposition. It was time for the boys to leave the school. We collected autographs at the school. Unfortunately, I have lost that precious book (after my SSLC) where many had written "forget me not" and so on. Sujaya’s was more valued because she was the class topper for many years and we felt a great honour to have hers! The memories of the great school will remain in memory for a long time. Indeed, those were golden days where many friendships developed.

Here is the picture of the last payment of fees I paid to CKC - somehow got preserved. That wrong spelling by Sr.Prudentia was carried over through the TC and later into my SSLC marks card, through to my employers. People looking at that spelling were confused! I was fed up of answering them and so to put an end to all controversies, I legally modified it the way I had always wanted and it cost me some money! The funny spelling troubled me for 19 years!

Thirty years later
Thirty years is a long, long time. Many of the CKC classmates had got scattered all over the world looking for their livelihoods. But I remained where I was -- the circumstances turned out to be like that. I had met Sujaya somewhere in 1996 or so and I was now bold enough to go up to her and speak to her. Much to my amazement, she did identify me! Again after a month I was in Bangalore. There was Sujaya again! So, this time, she took my family and me to her nearby home for a few minutes. It was about 1997 when I had been to a Bonsai show, which Maya (from Kannada medium, same class) had organized. There was our classmate Meera. Though she lived close by our house, somehow, we were shy of speaking to each other - some sort of inexplicable inhibition. It was Meera who began the conversation. Knowing it was ‘Dinakar’, she wanted to know from me if it was really me!! My meeting Sujaya earlier had given me enough boldness to speak to Meera. That set the ball rolling. I wanted to meet more and more of our CKC classmates. But finding out where they all are was the big problem. 45 of the 80 odd have been located across the world and finding each one has a little story behind it. I did collect all the addresses and other contact channels and circulated to them all. Some others also have helped the list grow. That has reunited many of us, but with reading glasses, children and families to top.

I used to be dropped at school by my mother or aunt and also taken back after school, I think up to class 2. Sometimes, I, Srinivas and Latha who were closeby, went together. For lunch, since I was a fussy eater, used to carry ‘sajjige’ very frequently which also had earned me that very nickname. It was a very tiny container not only in smaller classes. The container grew in size much later for this poor eater.

When in 6th or 7th, I remember playing a cricket match in between those coconut trees opposite the main gate where now some buildings belonging to Aravinda Parimala Works have come up. Leaning my back to one of those coconut tree trunks, I remember having lunch where my mother came with the lunch box to supervise and also take the empty box back. This was in my smaller classes.

There were those fallen exploded Spathodia fruit pods which resembled a canoe which I collected and brought home. If I found any on my way to school, I would hide them in a tree hole on the way and fill them up in my schoolbag and bring home to play. In summer there was that sweet-scented fruit pods of the rain tree available to us in plenty. I used to bring them home, smash them up and make a ball which became hard on drying. Numerous cycle tube rubber bands were put on top of it to make the impact a bit softer. But I was afraid to play with it as it had a hard nature. But I enjoyed making it because others too did!

When a heavy rain had just stopped or if it was still raining, I would return home barefooted, shoes and socks in my schoolbag(!!!), walking all along the side of the road where storm water gushed along on its way to the clean storm water drain. [Clean, because there was no clogging because there was no plastic!]. Sometimes I’d make a paper boat and let it float in the current and follow it up as long as it went down the sloppy road. Before long it would get wet and get stuck.

George was my whistle master. He taught me how to hold the fingers on the tongue and how to blow air to make the sound! He was talented with marbles with a fine aim. He used to win against me those match labels and marbles. I used to go early to play with him. He had a long thumbnail with which he pushed the marble in a game with great accuracy. He also taught how to whistle using the two palms. It was popular in those days.