Recently, I visited Hymamshu Jyothi Kala Peetha (formerly Hymamshu Shishu Vihara) between April 1-22 to attend the Sampoorna Ramayana lectures by Sri KS Narayanacharya. I saw a tremendous change in the building although there were hints of the past. Sitting in the auditorium, nostalgic memories came to me of the place where I studied from Kindergarten to Second Standard (and a few days of Third Standard). When I studied, we used to have prayer sessions and lunch in this auditorium.
Sharing some HJKP (that’s what we wrote on the book labels) memories with you all:
Kindergarten to 2nd standard
- Cried when I went to school on the first day of Kindergarten class. It seems my sister stood near the gate and watched my plight with glee!
- My friend (who stayed a few houses down the road) came to the same school but for Montessori class. Heard his mother telling my sister that he does not have any homework. I overheard it and have ever since wanted to study in Montessori class. (Even today I have this desire to sit in a Montessori class.)
- Would wait to play in the sand and a huge cement pipe (would sit in it with some friends and chat what game to play).
- I had a pony-tail till I was in U-KG. Sometime in the middle of the academic year, I had my first hair cut. And when I went to school the next day with a crop cut, friends and teachers failed to recognise yours truly!
- My mother or sister would get me pencil and rubber from a nearby ‘Devi Stores’ every week. The shopkeeper’s face is still etched in my memory (He had Chandana on his forehead everytime I saw him – morning or noon.) I always wanted red-black striped Nataraj pencil and green coloured ink rubber. Hated those scent rubbers (which dirtied the page). Occasionally, I would get a notebook with boxes (for Maths) and double lined book for Kannada.
- There was ‘Ashwattha Vriksha’ in my school. During a particular month (must have been Dhanurmasa), my mother and a few of my friend’s mothers would go around it after dropping us to our classes.
- When I was in First Standard, I had taken part in a fancy dress competition (dressed as Netaji). I still have the snap that my friend’s mom gave me.
- Again, when I was in First Standard, there was a total solar eclipse and my father picked me up midway during school hours so that I could have food before ‘Grahana’ started. And I loved coming home earlier than my classmates!
- There was this guy called Jagadhish who suddenly slept on the floor one afternoon because his nose was bleeding. Thanks to him, there was no teaching the whole of afternoon. An Ayah was summoned and a wet hanky was placed on Jaggu’s nose. Some of us sat next to him thinking those were Jaggu’s last moments.
- When I was in Second Standard, had a black and white version of Kannada text book (Ravi Hodhanu; Ajjana Mane; Onake Obavva; Swatantrya Dinacharane…nenapidya?) After a few months, one day some classmate showed that she had a coloured version of the same. I pestered my parents to get me the coloured text book. They kept telling it was not available at VR Book Sellers or that they would get me one when they went towards Malleswaram Circle or when they went to watch ‘Bhakta Prahlada’ (VR Book Sellers was very close to Geethanjali where the film was playing). I waited till December and one fine day coloured the whole Kannada text book in and out. I showed it to my classmates and boasted that in their textbooks, only pictures had colour while mine had the full page in colour!
- In both First and Second Standards, our class teacher was Vimala Miss. She was very friendly and hardly scolded any of us. And she was the first lady that I saw with a ‘top-knot’.
- Krishnan and Mangala were the class leaders. Vimala Miss would always ask these two to show their home-works to the whole class. And these two were the darling of the masses.
- In Second Standard, some of us had acted in a play ‘Tenali Ramakrishna’ where Krishnan played the title role and Mangala was goddess Kali. I acted as a minister in Krishnadevaraya’s court. (And my dialogue was ‘Bahuparakh, Bahuparakh’ at the start of the play and at the end of the play: Yes, your majesty. And these were chorus dialogues where a few of us shouted these words in unison).
- There was a student in my class (unable to recall her name) whose mother (Shyamantakamani Miss) was a teacher in our school. Whenever there was a few minutes left for the final bell, a teacher would ask: Who would like to tell a story? There would be a lot of noise in the class. Finally, this girl would be called by the teacher. And everytime she would come and announce: Today I will tell ‘The never-ending story’ and start: Once upon a time, in a far off country, there lived a farmer with his two cows, a dog…BELL rings and we all runaway. This was a regular feature.
- Some of my friends (seniors) used to take a short cut through a gully next to Santhosh Baby Care Centre (now called Shishu Santhosh). I accompanied them just once and loved jumping in to the backyard of someone’s house and entering the school in a jiffy!
- For picnic, we had been to Cubbon Park in our Second Standard. We all sat in the Toy train, had cup cakes, chips, biscuits and Joy Ice cream. While coming back from the picnic, saw for the first time the Violin shaped building (Chowdaiah Hall) from the bus and was thrilled that such a building existed!
- One afternoon, the class teacher told us that there would be a medical checkup. When the doctor saw my weight, he told I needed to eat eggs. I thought for the rest of my life, I would be eating only eggs. When I came home and announced what the doctor told, I got chastised by all elders.
- In Second Standard, the whole class walked till Malleswaram Sri Rama Mandira to watch a magic show. The whole hall was full with students from various schools. I remember seeing a ball travel from one box to another just as the magician waved his hand. And he selected my classmate Krishnamurthy (because he was wearing a red cap) for one particular trick. Krishnamurthy sat in a gunny bag and the magician told ‘Abracadabra’ and Krishnamurthy vanished in a second. But the magician had Krishnamurthy’s red cap in his hand. Some of us, out of anxiety, shouted “Krishnamurthy! Krishnamurthy!” only to be told by the teacher to sit silently.
- My teacher told me that she had selected me and a few others to compete in Camlin Colour Contest to be held at Glass House one Sunday. An evening before the contest, my second elder sister (who draws really well) showed me how and what to draw. She drew a swan, a river, mountains, sun, trees… and made me draw likewise. After the training, my eldest sister (who is so-so in drawing) came and drew a small ‘r’ and told me: That’s how you draw a flying bird!
- And courtesy Camlin, it was in this training that I painted a picture (until then it was only colour pencils, crayons and sketch pens). I felt so proud to have a palette, paintbrush, a small cloth, drawing board, water in a small tumbler, pins and getting all the attention…
- I remember doing ‘combined study’ with the same ‘Magic boy’ Krishnamurthy in my second standard. He stayed in Malleswaram 19th cross (BWSSB Quarters) while I stayed (still do) three roads behind. We had Maths exam on the first day. But we wanted to prepare ourselves for the holidays. Me and Krishnamurthy must have atleast ran a minimum ten times from my house to his that afternoon on some silly pretext (tennis ball yaav brand; bat grip change maadbeku; powdering the carrom board, check the volume number of Amar Chitra Katha’s ‘Bheema and Hanuman’…)
- And of the few days in Third Standard, I clearly remember Vimala Miss coming to our class on the first day of school and telling: “Children from now on, you need to take down whatever is written on the board in that particular period itself. You need to be quick and you must not waste time in sharpening the pencils during the class. I want your nails to be cut every fortnight. From this class onwards, you will wear uniform from Monday to Friday. Saturday will be white dress. You are all big boys and girls now. Everyone must get Handkerchief. No fighting in class. I expect discipline from all of you. I will see you in the afternoon.” And we all stood up and said, ” Thank you miss”.
I studied Third Standard in 4 schools. A few days into the class, my father got transferred to Kerala. So from HJKP, I went to Anglo Indian Public School in Ernakulam. It was a Malayalam medium school but teachers used to pinch students badly (I lost my skin many times) for not doing home work and stuff. Since I took time to pick up the local tongue, my arms were full of pinch marks. Just as I picked up Malayalam, my father got me admitted to Kendriya Vidyalaya Naval Base, Cochin. And just before the final exams, my mother’s health deteriorated and we were forced to come back to Bangalore and I joined Kendriya Vidyalaya Malleswaram, where I studied till Plus Two. Glorious years!