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!