Monday, June 19, 2023

My Gokhale College Days

My Gokhale College Days From school I graduated to college. Since the college was walking distance from my house, along with a sikh neighbor Baljit Kaur's daughter Pinky, I went to the college to get my admission for BA (Hons') English. It was a women's college. The recruiter looked at Pinky and asked if she was my sisiter. When I answered in the negative, he said she resembled me. The fact was no one ever thought I was a Malayali. It was either a North Indian, a Bengali or a Kashmiri. My sibling Paddu menon and my son too don't look like Malayalees. Going through my board result, I was asked to take up pyschology as I had scored good marks in the subject. But I was insistent that I wanted to take English. It was then I realized the there was a test for all those who had opted for English (Hons.) I managed to scrape through. There were students too who were not lucky enough to pursue their English (Hons) I was lucky to scrape through with a warning. The college was just across the famous SSKM Hospital called PG Hospital those days. Our college gates used to be kept locked as a story went around that a student had run off with a hospital staff. We had uniform sarees. White with coloured border. I had a pleasant surprise when my mother gave a voile white sari with a red printed border with a printed red pallu. It was a beautiful saree. Then there were many sarees bought for my college sojourn. I had later given my sarees to printing shops that were all over the area and nearby places. Now such shops are hardly seen. I used to go to college with Jassbir, a sikh friend, my neighbour from my previous house. I got a chance to visit The Gurudwara near the college. Used to go not with ant regigious fervour but to get the Kada prasad a wheat halwa. Till today my fav prasad. I always had to go past her house. Somehow her mother trusted me, so waited for me to pick up her daughter. But the moment we reached college, she used to go away with her boyfriend. Her father was a goon and everyone feared him. My friend had even married the Begali boy on the sly. Later I came to know that her father had beaten up the boy and taken awaay his daughter. Don't know what happenedd to her. When we usedd to walk to college, there was a wood furniture shop and a staff used to keep looking at us as we went past the shop. It got too much, so I told my friend that in future, we would walk on the opposite side. Don't know whether it was providence, as we were walking on the opposite side, the huge lampost near the shop toppled and fell, I shuddr to think what wwould have happenedd if we had taken that way and not taken the opposite footpath? I made some wonderful Bengali friends. All had thought I was a Bengali. It was then that I saw my old school teacher Paromita and she turned out to be one of my professors. A professor Mrs Sinha once was explaining a Shakespearean tale and came out with a word asking to be translated to Hindi. Though I was good at Hindi, I wasn't able to place it, so did the other students. Finally, she came out with the word DIwana. All my professors were vry good in their teaching. We had women's scout. My friend who used to come to college after her visit to her boyfriend and I used to skip the class and go to see movies. Had gone to see Rafoo Chakkar when the whole college had gon to watch WTT (Word Table Tennis). The movies I had seen with my friens were Yadon KI Baraat, Julie, Agni Rekha to name a few. Used to frolic arounf Parkstreet and at Chinese restaurants. Mrs. Sinha used to take us to British Counsil to watch classics like Shakesperean plays made into movies, charles Dicken's and Oliver Gold Smith stories made into movies. I used to take my younger brother with me, Two sisters studied with me. Their house was in the suburbs and people all over knew it as Gol Badi. It was because of the design. A beautiful palatial house. Enjoyed lovely Bong dishes at all my friends houses. A friend soon got married while in college. She was very pretty but slightly overweight. My father had provied us with his company car as her house was quite far. The house was an independant and beautiful sprawling house. The marriage was held in the open illuminated premises. My friend was fully decked up in her bridal finery and looked heavenly. A small boy was staring at her. She chanced to ask him how she lookeed. The boy immediately said in Bengali, Gonesh Thakur. People around were shell shocked not knowing how to react. After the graduation test I was whisked off by my paternal uncle to kerala saying I needed a good rest. Stayed with my cousinn sister In Alleppey for 3 months. Had even gone with her for the inaugural opening Of Chinmaya Vidhyalaya. All the high and mighty of Kerala were present. Bhima Jewellery owner too had presided over the meeting. He was quite aged in the year 1976. Saw a lot of movies and had a wonderful stay with my cousin's maternal cousin in Ernakulam. It was there at a theatre called Little Shenoys, we saw the Hindi movie Charas, a dharam Hema starrer. At my aunts house in Alleppy, it was mathi or Sardine everyday. Relished the simple dishes she made. Learned to make plastic wicker bags from my cousin. One day my aunt said whoever came and stayed there got married soon. Infact left Allepy in September 1976 and got married in May 1977, It was a memorable 3 month stay. Once a family was having a Devi Puja in their house. We had all gone. It was a very friendly neighourhood. Every family knew each other. Mostly teachers from Thiruvam badi High school. The Thirumbadi Sree Krishna temple was ancient and beautiful. A huge temple. The appams given as pradad were hevenly. It was on a Krisha Janmashtami we had got the appams, big sized. Coming back to Devi Puja. As the priest was chanting the slogas, a a telegaram meant for me was delivered. It was from my father saying I had graduated. The pujari noticed this and asked to see the girl who had graduated. Truly God;s grace to be blessed by him. Even had gone to the famous Ambalaapuzha Sree Krishna temple and had got a container full of the famous payasam. as fortunate to see The Indra Gandhi trophy VallmKali or boar race on Onam day. A memorable experience. After returning to Kolkatta my father handed me the MA admission fomm.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Memories of school life

South Point School is an English-medium and co-educational school which was founded on 1 April 1954 at 16 Mandeville Gardens, Kolkata. All students had collected on 1st April but it was a pleaseant shock for all as it was the day it was founded but not open. We all felt we were made April Fool. Founded when I was 2 days old. My memories of South Point High School, a co ed school My sibling and I got admission in South Point in the early 60s. It was my maternal uncle who got us the admission. I don't have much memory of my class 1 to 4. Remember in class 5, a rich marwari boy had invited the whole class for his birthday. It was celebrated in the premises of The famous Lighthouse Theatre. After the fun and frolic, we were shown a fairy tale movie and handed over fairy tale wooden jig jaw puzzles as return gifts. My paternal uncle too used to gift us such jig jaw puzzles. My sis and I loved spending time placing the pieces on the alloted slots. Wonderful past time unlike the modern time. In class 6, we had a teacher right out of a fairy tale. A witch in the tales. She was rude, haughty and wicked. She used to teach us history. The history book was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's Letters from a Father to His Daughter. Truly a wonderful history book. Though a good teacher, her vicious behaviour made the students dislike her. There was a mentally challanged girl sitting on the front bench. The moment the teacher walked in, she used to show repulsion and make sure the child sat away from her. Once she was boxing a boy student's ear for such a long time that he had to free himself in pain and anger. Our class teacher used to be a very affectionate and friendly lady. The class used to look forward to the surprise party she used to give. In class 7, the English teacher used to be the beautiful fairy look alike from the fairy tales. She was very beautiful with her hair tied in a bun on her head. As soon as she left class, the boys used to say- sadhu gachati. It was indeed a ssurprise when she turned out to be my professor at college. Then came to know she was also working in bengali movies. her name was Paromita. In class 8, the school used to have rows of classes on either side on the first floor. The class opposite class 8 used to be a dissection class. The stench emanating was unbearable. But we had to suffer for 1 year. The boys had craft classes and the girls embroidery and knitting. In the drawing class somehow the boys were sidelined. The master always appreciated the girl student's paintings., mine included. My painting was even framed and hung on the classroom wall. The boys felt cheated and had decided not to have anything with the drawing class and used to indulge in their own activities when it was the drawing period. Another past time was discussing latest movies. I used to be an ardent fan of Rajesh Khanna and there were other fans in class. We used to drool over him and his movies. I had the hobby of writing letters to the famous stars and receiving their signed autographed postcard size photos. Nothing preserved. While in class nine, other than Rajesh Khanna, there was a very handsome student whom all girls including me adored.. Girls used to be bewitched including me. He was seen going around with a very beautiful girl student. The George Bernard Shaw comedy, Arms and the man was staged in the school auditorium. The handsome boy and beautiful girl were the main actors. In class nine in my English class, we were asked to write a story by our master. I managed to translate a Malayalam story told by my mother. The master liked it so much that he told me he is keeping it himself. Then it was shifting to a new school building in Ballygunge Place. Then it was shifting of old school to a new school in Ballygunge place. It still is a beautiful building taken over by Birlas. Another memory is of my Konkani friend who once confided in me that a female student had a crush on her father. When I saw him, I knew the reason. He was tall and handsome. Those days he used to be the director of T Board. My friend was the second among 6 siblings. Had gone to her sprawling house and had a delicious Konkoni lunch. Her mother was a very homely lady. My friend had even presented her friends with bru botttles. In West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBSE), the board exam was after class 11. The students had to choose their stream from Science, Humanities and Commerce. The syllabus used to be from class 9 to 11. 3 years syllabus. I was a Humanities student.My subjects were Hindi, English, Psychology, Sanskrit and Home Science. My friends had sanskrit tuition. I managed to get marks in the 50s without any tuition. pass mark was 35. Home science class was interesting. It was on cooking and house keeping. It was 2 papers for each subject and the total marks were 1200. There was arts and craft class. The students had to make Alpana, a Bengali Rangoli with white designs on black chart. There was also clay vase painting with beautiful designs made by students and later varnished for the sleek look. I had taken Hindi as my first language along with English. It was beacause, with English as 1st language, it was Bengali as second language. We used to have 4 teachers to teach English and Hindi. Separate teachers for prose, poetry, grammar and composition. Same thing with Hindi. One of our Hindi teachers, a ,male, used to look very stern. We used to call him Ringmaster. There was a Hindi test taken by him. On the day of the result, I was absent. My friends had told me how he had praised me on my work. My Hindi teachers were Mrs Vijayalakshmi, Mr Tripathi (the ring master) Mr Mishta and Mr pandey. Don't remember the English teachers. In class 11 at the fag end, we had a new psychology master. He was very handsome. Though I admired him, I did not go to the length of the other girls who made a beeling to the wash room to freshen and beautify themselves. It was a pleasant surprise when he recogized me at college where he had come on a visit. I had once gone to pick up my son from school, he was in LKG. A person approached me saying he recognized me. On looking closely, I realized he was my drawing master. Happy people recognize me but I rarely do. In the humanities stream a boy used to be a bookworm whereas his brother in the science stream used to be very carefree. When board results were out, the brother in the science stream had come state first. Missing those glorious school days. Happy to have studied in a school which always was among the top 10.