About this Page
An ongoing story about my life in High School. Decided to do it as a separate page rather than do it between regular posts.
Didn’t have a great time in primary school. Too many school changes. But I made up for all that in high school (8,9, 10th Grades) at Vijaya High School and Pre-Univ at National College, Basavangudi.
Vijaya High School was great. Our Headmaster K.S. Chandrashekariah was a benevolent dictator. Someone we all feared but at the same time respected as a father figure. He inspired, threatened, and punished us. At the same time he gave us enough rope to have fun. According to me he is the educationists educationist.
Everytime I think of High School, I think of two suffering friends who I used to torment a lot. First of all being left handed, I had to sit in the left most corner of the bench (in our school a bench/table would seat 5 people). So anytime the teacher made me sit in the middle the other guys would be totally out of sync when we wrote because my left hand would clash with their right hand. Of course I would NOT make the adjustment so it was my poor friends who would have to either cramp themselves or write using their laps as the table top (ok.. so I was the bully.. but these guys were much bigger than me).
Madan, and Mubi (Mubasheer) were the two who were most affected by this. We still reminisce about those days and laugh about the fun times (yes they still talk to me after all the torture they went through).
Our 3 years at Vijaya High School still give us enough fodder talk about when we get together (there are about 10 of us who meet fairly regularly).
Cast of Characters
When we joined VHS in 8th Grade, all of us (yes all of us) came from different schools. So initially we bunched together with people from our own schools. The whole year was spent finding new friends, new groups.
Our class teacher was P. Manjula (PM) for short. She was to be our guardian angel for the 3 years we spent at VHS. She was all in one, our mentor, our major source of terror, and someone who’d spring up to support us if anything went wrong. It was a different approach from today where each year they have different class teachers. Over the next 3 years we would traumatize here, drive her to despair, be driven out of her class, but she was always there to support us. She would endearingly call me “Class Advisor” because I always had a suggestion when there was a problem (whether it was asked for or not). I last saw her 3 years ago. Really need to keep in touch with her.
Madan and Mubasheer (Mubi) were my closest friends and to this remain so. Poor battered guys. They took a lot of crap from me. I still remember beating them up because they couldn’t learn Sanskrit Shubhashithas (yes, I was their “teacher”). They were my comrades in arms.
I have already talked about K.S.Chandrashekariah our Head Master. In addition to being a very good administrator, he was an excellent motivator. It was he who made it fashionable to study for long hours. In other words it was cool to be a “kudumi”.
The teachers at VHS were each a character in their own right. We will talk about them as times goes on. Their names will be changed to “protect” them
A question of Chemistry
VHR was our chemistry teacher and joined our school when we were in 9th grade. He was understandably nervous in teaching a class of 80 with 40 odd hooligans (boys). For us a new teacher was always a chance to have fun. I still remember VHR’s first class, the poor man was trembling and was finding it hard to even complete sentences. He went around the class and asked our names and not one boy gave his right name. The entire class would answer “Yes Sir” when he called out attendance. In all it was a nightmare for him. I do feel sorry now but it was fun and I would do the same thing all over again
That year VHR’s classes were what legends are made of and once again I seemed to be in the middle of it all.
One chemistry class, I was bored. I looked at Mubi and he was watching HVR with rapt attention trying not to fall asleep. VHR was on the dias (a stage) explaining atoms.Mubi was very ticklish, so I took my wooden scale and poked him in the solar plexus. Imagine a quiet class, Mubi in the 3rd bench, the teacher explaining things in earnest, as soon as I did this, Mubi let out a spine chilling Oiiiiiiyoooo !!!! and jumped up. VHR dropped the text book he had and almost fell off the dias. There was a minute of silence, VHR was shaking with the shock and could not speak coherently. Still trembling,he motioned for Mubi to come up to the dias. When Mubi got there, he was asked what happened. Mubi then pointed to me and said “Saar Viji scale thogondu chucch bitta saar”… while he said it Mubi could not control his laughter, that angered VHR even more who then took a swing at Mubi who easily avoided it leading to VHR going completely out of balance. He still landed a couple of blows but did not do much damage to Mubi who was still laughing. Now the entire class was laughing which infuriated VHR who stormed out of the class and went to fetch our class teacher. Now P.M was someone we truly feared. Last thing we wanted was for her to come because she would have killed us. So Mubi and I run after VHR aplologize to him.. “Sir, Sir.. sorry saar.. we wont do it again saar.. one time excuse maadi saar…”. After 10 minutes of pleading he seemed to be satisfied and let us off with a warning. Whew…we escaped that round.
But there was plenty more action to come that year….
Ok.. time for me to head back to the school days. Lunch time at VHS was a one hour affair and all of us used to quickly finish off our respective boxes and head out to the front of the school where the hawkers sold their fares.
Shetty’s Churumuri gaadi (cart) was one of our favorites. For five paisa we would get a puri (of the pani puri fame) stuffed with sweet and khara chutney and a vile mixture of carrots and onions (yum, yum). That done we would spend another 5 paisa at the ice cream candy cart. This type of ice cream leaves your mouth with its color. The more affluent used to have an “account” with the kulfi guy. The cost of kulfi was a princely 25 paisa. Unfortunately 10 or 15 paisa was all we used to have in our pocket.
Of course there were seasonal vendors like the guy who sold sugarcane. The “meese” game was a favorite. You take a small stick of sugarcane, the vendor makes a light cut around the middle. Two contestants hold the cane at either end and yank it so it breaks into two. The fibres stick out like a “meese” (mustache). Whoever has the one with the longer “meese” wins the sugarcane and the loser pays for it. I remember once going home with about 20 plus pieces and struggling to explain to my mom where things came from.
One of the main challenges for all the vendors was to stay alert to the sudden popping of an unwanted hand in the middle of a crowd where someone was trying to take things without paying. Shetty was the most vulnerable to this because he had the largest gaadi and the largest crowd around it as well. He used to be very alert and had a wooden scale that would greet any hand that was not accompanied by a face and was “feeling around” for things to steal. But it was always a losing battle for him. I have a feeling that he accounted for some amount of pilferage in his business plan.
All of these vendors were frowned upon by our Principal K.S. Chandrashekariah. He was of the opinion that all food sold there was vile and there was a continuous war of attrition between him and the vendors. Every morning after prayers he would exhort us among other things to stay away from these “bacteria infested food” as he used to call them. But it was an exercise in futility because at lunchtime we all headed to the front (including some of the teachers).
What would high school be without NCC?
Getting up on cold Bangalore mornings and heading out to school at 6 AM to get yelled at by the instructor in Hindi. We only understood the swear words anyway.
We WOULD NOT wear sweaters as that would be a sign of weakness. The chaddis were of the “bell bottom” kind allowing for all kinds of air-conditioning to happen. To top it all we had to get it starched, so it was like wearing sharp asbestos. Of course who can forget those heavy shoes. Some of us would put in nails or a horseshoe at the heel to get that “tak tak” sound when we walked.
But the thing that made us go day in and day out was… THE FREE TOKENS… for those “wonderful” (or so we thought) khali (rubber) doses at Triveni hotel that used to be located at South End Circle (theres a flower shop there now).
Getting anything for free even if it was rubber dose was a great thrill.
Then there was the 10 days of NCC camp … oh the pain… stay tuned for more.
My Marks are Incorrect Sir…
Has been a while since I put something out on Vijaya High.
This happened when we were in 8th grade. Our arithmetic teacher was M. Venkatachaliah (MV). MV was a very senior member of the staff and a good teacher as well. Of course being in the 8th standard we were at the bottom of the pile (meaning juniormost in the school).
We used to sit in the “seminar hall”. A huge room with a large stage. You literally had to “look up” to your teacher
So we had just had our VERY FIRST maths test and MV was giving out the marks. He had been very generous and ALL of the class had got full marks… except for Yogesha. He had gotten one mark less than the rest.
So he gathers up the courage to go up to the stage. MV is sitting at the desk, his head bent down entering marks. Once he is on stage, Yogi gets braver.. goes right to the desk and says “Saar neevu nange ondu mark kadime kottidheera” (Sir you have given me one mark less).
For a split second MV does nothing, then he pounces off his chair, grabs his test paper and throws it outside the class…. “Yeno Marks beka??? (You want Marks??)” he screams at him… “Go to the high court I say… Go to the Supreme court I say”… as he is saying it, he advances towards Yogi trying to slap him… Yogi is stuck between trying to escape and looking for his paper which is now lying in the corridor…
By now Yogi has lost all fear (Dying men have no fear). He actually starts arguing with MV about how the sum is correct… This infuriates MV even further… “Yeno baddi magane… marksu nimm appana mane asthi antha ankondiya… baro illi…” (loose translation… Do you think your marks are your personal property?)… by now Yogi is tethering at the end of the stage.. he jumps off at the last instant (just as MV’s hand swooshed by where his face was)…
By now the entire class was watching this episode (we were hoping for some blood)… but then the anticlimax of all anticlimaxes… the bell rang…
Amazingly enough both MV and Yogi forgot that incident and life went on normally the very next day…
Wheres your paper?
Staying with the “marks” concept, this incident happened when we were in 9th. In VHS when we got our marks,it was customary for the teacher to give out the paper and then sit at his desk, call out names by order and the students would say their marks aloud while the teacher entered the marks in his or her register.
For unit tests, some guys would lie about their marks. So if you got 3 or 4, you’d actually say 13 or 14. It was seen as a fun thing to do. One day, I decided to do it. Our chemistry marks came out and mine were woefully low. So, I added some marks in order to make the marks look better. I was assured by the “professionals” in the class, that there would be no problems at all… ya right !!!
Somehow the teacher got wind of this. So next day, he comes into class and before he starts teaching, says “Vijay, where is your test paper?”. I say something to the effect of “Sir I think its at home”… he sternly reminds me to bring it the next day with the warning “You have given me wrong marks”… gulp!!!
I am petrified. I had never lied like this. My mom would bury me alive if she got wind of this (she will now when she reads this post).
So next day, I go to school… without the paper of course. As soon as he comes in the teacher thunders. “VIJAY WHERE IS THE PAPER????”. To which I mumble something like “Sir my brother has misplaced it” (Aditya was about 2 years old at that time). Again there was the threat to either bring it the next day or face the consequences. I dont know how I managed but then I kept this up for almost 2 weeks. Things were getting pretty dicey.
So, I decided to take the plunge. Walked into the staff room one day (when he was alone) and confessed. I told him straight that I had lied and I didnt want to show him my paper in front of the class. For a minute it looked like he would slap me. Then his face broke into a smile and he said “Don’t do it again. Bring your paper tomorrow.” The next day he looked at my paper (in the staff room)… and put in the extra marks !!!!!
Running back to class at that time, I didn’t understand the significance. Now I do. He was being magnanimous.
The Marks Part 2
We never learnt from previous mistakes.
I guess the logic was, “It could happen to others but can’t happen to me”
The next chemistry test, the guys were at it again. As before the teacher gave us the answer sheets and then would call out the name at which point we would tell him our marks. This test was no different, the “professionals” glibly lied.
Along the way, M’s name comes up and he decides to take the plunge. He says “15 saar”… HVR looks up, for some reason he suspects foul play. “Are you sure?” he asks… M says “Yyyyyyes saar” (he had gotten 3). HVR then says “Show me your paper” and heads towards him.. M is caught. “THUMP…” HVRs hand thudded on his back. M starts running with HVR chasing him around the class, throwing dusters, chalk pieces, and books at him which M evaded beautifully. He was then made to go to Chandrashekariah, who asked him to bring his father (after a few slaps of course).
Then it was my turn. Remember I had lied in the last test and wasn’t about to do it. So I blurted out my real marks which actually was good this time. He looked at me and said “BRING PAPER HERE… LAST TIME YOU DID LIAR’ING”… so I show him my marks. Hes palpably disappointed that I am not lying. I am relieved that I am not…. lying that is.
It was a narrow escape.
Was chatting with a few school mates some time ago and the topic of “beatings” in schools came up. When we were in school, it seemed to be perfectly normal to get thrashed especially for the boys. One thing was for sure, it was a form of discipline and most of it was mild (unlike what you hear of today). Each teacher has his/her own method:
TSM: Our science teacher loved to tweak the ear lobe. He’d close his eyes and “pinch” a very tiny area (to maximize pain). It was almost as if he was savouring every moment.
PSC: Our Geometry teacher would use small bits of chalk to hit his target with deadly precision. He could reach any point in the class and rarely missed.
HVR: Our chemistry teacher usually threw a duster at the offending party. It always ended up hitting the wrong person. Occasionally he would try and go after the person but rarely landed a blow (he was too slow).
YVN: Our beleaguerd English teacher usually targetted the door or the wall (never hit a student directly). His class was always chaotic. He would get so mad that he’d throw his duster at the wall and then just sit down in his chair and let the class do whatever it wanted. He would then walk out at the end of the period.
PAK: Was the king of the “No look slap”. He’d be talking to one guy and whack the guy next to him. This element of surprise ensured that the offending party could not take evasive action.
KNB: Would make the guy stand up on the bench and would target the thigh for a nice meaty pinch. Many times the poor victim would double up to avoid the pinch and get pinched in the nuggies…. ouch !!!
And before your judge these teachers let me say… We were no angels
Morning shows in Bangalore theaters were essentially meant for those folks who were missing classes. They usually started at 10:30 AM and ended around 12:30 or 1… just in time for lunch…Later on came the “noon” shows to accomodate students wanting to take advantage of the post lunch session.
Nanda and Shanthi theaters in Jayanagar (and later Swagath) were favorite haunts. The only drawback was that you’d probably run into someone you know… the tactic was to enter the movie hall after the lights dimmed and leave just before the end.
So decide to bunk classes and go to the movies… for the very first time… I had this nasty feeling that I was going to get caught.
Two Rupees and Fifty Paisa later we snuck into the hall where the Ads had just begun. Once we got settled down, I did a quiet survey of the place (in the dim light) just to ensure that no one I knew was in sight…
As my eyes surveyed the landscape, I met another that was doing the same…it was my neighbour !!!! Right behind where I was sitting. For an instant both of us looked at each other and then turned away.. I was supposed to be in school.. BUT .. HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AT WORK !!! (he worked for one of those Public Sectors)… here he was at the movie theater..lunch bag and all. He was playing traunt from work !!!!
It worked out well.. he did not tell my parents and I did not tell his family.. it was one of those mutual blackmailing things…like a silent truce.. we never talked about it…EVER…but every now and then I’d ask “Yenu uncle…Hosadagi yavudaadru picture nodiDraa?” (Saw any movies recently?)…the response was nervous laughter followed by a quick glance around to see whether his wife heard it.
There were two ways of missing class in VHS. The “official” way was to offer to help someone like our PE teacher MNR in “cleaning” the NCC room.. what this would mean was hours of officially sanctioned “missed time” spent in activities such as indoor cricket, volleyball and football all behind closed doors and windows. If anyone complained about the noise emanating, the standard answer would be “Hey we were asked to clean this room.. we are only doing our job”. Its a different matter that the room ended up being messier that it was when we started but I guess the way MNR saw it, at least he got someone who was willing to clean the place up.
Of course the “unofficial” way was to just walk out of class and spend the hour hiding somewhere. Somehow this was always more exciting because of the dangers involved.
Our Headmaster Chandrashekariah (KSC) would always be prowling around the school looking for anything that was amiss. Getting caught by him was to be avoided at all costs and that was part of the excitement. In addition KSC used to send the office attenders to the playgrounds behind the school to check. Retribution was severe but that did not stop us from trying.
Right behind the school building was a temple (Patalamma Temple) whose grounds were the unofficial playgrounds for the school (today most of that ground is occupied by a marraige hall). In addition there was a mechanic in the area who used to park cars in a corner of the ground while he repaired them.
The problem with missing classes was that if a few of us absconded, then no one noticed. But that day about 20 of us decided to take off and head in different directions. So our group (about 11 or so) is sitting in the Patalamma playground next to a parked car when one of us notices an attender called Chowdiah coming out via the back entrance to do a check. All of us scramble inside the car (11 guys inside an old Fiat car). We are scared to look our for fear of making “eye contact” and getting caught.
About 10 long (and smelly) minutes later we decide that it was probably safe to peer out. We open the door and what do we see… Chowdiah, KSC and RP (whose class we had bunked) waiting right outside the car. Apparently alarmed at the LARGE number of absentees, RP had raised an alarm and a manhunt was underway to round us up.
We were made to march in a single file to the HM’s office and made to wait outside while the others were rounded up. Other students stared at with a look that said “Thank God we are not in your shoes”.
Anyway only our group was rounded up that day. The rest had gone home. Next was the session with the HM. In addition to being called Donkeys, we were extolled on the virtues of attending class along with a strict order to bring in our parents the next day. Several God and Mother Promises later we were let off but with warning that if this EVER happened again…. then God help us.
You’d think that this event made us change our way… you are right.. till the next time it happened. Oh ya and we never did take our parents.. whew !!!