Lunch time @ School!

April 20, 2013


Photos: RK/ Rambling with Bellur

Lunch time in school meant loads of fun. Lunch was between 12.10 to 12.40PM. While in Third Standard, myself, Arvind and Suresh Mani ate sitting on a small yellow stone, inside the ground, slightly away from the Back gate. Invariably there would be only two stones. Arvind and Mani would sit on them and I would have to sit on the fine red mud. That meant my navy blue shorts would become partly light blue shorts!

In Fourth standard, I don’t remember going out to eat. Most of us ate sitting in our designated places. Studious thy name was Yours truly!

In Fifth standard, our class was on the first floor. We still ate inside the class, looking out of the window. This was mainly because three teachers – Noor Fathima, Deena Ram Singh and Anwarunnissa came to our class and ate. The aroma from their huge lunch boxes were awesome! Biriyani, Palak Paneer, Veg Kurma…. All three teachers shouted at us when they ate, and felt we were BADMAASH LADKE! The reason for our noise was we played lot of BOOK CRICKET back then!

Sixth and Seventh standards were terrible. For others. Myself and Hanuman were notorious in pulling the chairs JUST before some one sat. We exchanged pencil box contents and ate from others’ lunch boxes. If we had PT period before the lunch break, that was it. We would be playing and suddenly vanish from the ground and enter the empty class. We would know who brought delicious lunch and opened their boxes. Mahim’s round steel carrier was our first target. He would bring yummy Chapati with Alu Matar, Idly Chutney, Palaav! Palaav in a lunch box those days was something very rare.

Priyankaraj was another guy whose lunch was much in demand. The presentation was what attracted us to open his box. Salad, cream biscuits, cakes, and juice in colourful plastic bottles…we loved it!

Chirag, Vinay and Ramadas would give a spoonful of Sweet Avalakki or Rice Bhaath. A spoonful of good food would only make us want more of it!

Myself and Hanuman would fight while eating others’ lunch boxes, as if it was ours. We would leave just a little hoping that we would not be caught, and ALSO out of humanity.


Arvind’s mom used to bring piping hot food for him everyday just before lunch break. Some of us, foodies in the making, envied this. We already knew the value of hot food! She would always take him to one corner of the Stage (on the Back Ground), and spread a pink towel on the floor. Arvind would be ready with hands washed. She would hand him the Happala and open the first steel container with Anna, next with Saaru, and third with either Majjigehuli / Kootu. Curd rice would be ready in a separate box topped with pickles. We would be playing nearby, and keep an eye on Arvind’s progress. We would only wish we were as fortunate as K. Arvind!

Some boys and girls from north would ALWAYS bring thick Chapati with alu/ baingan. One or two from the neighbouring naadu would only bring curd rice with pickle. Some would bring food wrapped in an aluminium foil. Sometimes, they would force us to have a bite, seeing our food fetish. We would ask for another bite, and they would start giving gaalis! Some would be very tough and not share even a morsel with anyone, nor would they ask for a bite.  They would be despised by the foodie group.

Sometimes, some of our classmates would be ill, and sit inside the class during PT period (before lunch break). We would hate it. We would try to send him/her to play or threaten the person of dire consequences if he/she complained. Later we would forcibly give them a small bite, so that they would keep mum.

So lunch time in Sixth and Seventh meant more of play time, as we would have finished lunch. My lunch depended on my mother’s health. She was a class apart in whatever she made! (that’s another post)



L-R (kneeling): Parashuram, Gopal, Vinay, Arvind, myself, Praveen, Vijay
L-R (standing): Kalyan Srinivas, Preetham, Sridhar, Ramesh, Vivekananda, Priyankaraj, Mahim, Chirag, Hanuman, Manalan, Suresh Mani

Eighth standard was when we ate sitting on the 18th cross Bus stand Wall. Once, while sitting and eating Dose, an eagle snatched away my green plastic box, only to be dropped empty minutes later.

In Eighth, we would also go out once a while for JB Bakery Bread toast (75 paise each), Agarwal Bhavan Masale Dose and Krishna Stores Pickles/ Nimbehuli peppermint (5 paise). Everyday after the school at 3.10pm, we would haggle with the guy selling Guavas and Mangoes. When we didn’t have money, we would act as assistants to the Guava guy in smearing salt. We hoped he would be impressed with our services, and give a guava/mango piece for FREE!

The Kulfi selling guy was dark and lean, always with a blue checked lungi. 25 paise for Kulfi and a Bread toast was too costly for us. Those days, to collect 1 rupee, it took days.

By Ninth and Tenth standards, some guys had lost the thrill of lunch time, as they had already started worrying about Life after 10th, +2, LIFE after SCHOOL! But some of us still were as bindaas and careless! We used to start having lunch right from the first period. And the entire row would be partners in crime.

Once during Vijayal’s class, she caught me chewing gum. She always addressed me (quiet correctly) as Paramahimsa! The reason she caught me was, she sat on the teacher’s table, and had a good view, (moving her neck  like the jimmy jib camera) of the ongoings ‘under-the table’!

Well it’s lunch time now! Got to go and have lunch from MY box!

Would be fun to know your lunch time stories!


14 Responses to “Lunch time @ School!”

  1. sam Says:

    Hi RK
    Nostalgia again. We too enjoyed lunch standing near the wall that faces 18th Cross bus stand. Our classmates Srinath, Srinagesh, Suman, Badri, BS Srinivas, my brothers Ram, Kanth and me used to eat together. Free exchange of food and savouring the taste first from each tiffin box was how we started lunch time. Dont remember fighting but we enjoyed seeing the buses come in and show off as they sped up, turned and halted with the break that sent the bus jerking front and back, We used to be thrilled by the accuracy of the stop. We loved when the double decker and trailer buses rolled in. Those days when we saw our bus, yes we labelled them as our bus, because after school finished we boarded the same ones. Drivers and conductors were our friends. After lunch walked back through the volleyball court, looking up to reach the net. We could all tell which bus would jet out black diesel smoke. Drivers used to show off pumping the pedal hard, Then we hear right right. On hot days we went to the back gate, ice cream walla used to be there. 10 paise ice cream mango, pineapple, milk and rose ice creams went quickly. Prabhakara stores used to supply rusks, biscuits, burfi. We just went up, opened the jar we wanted to take out of, no stopping at all. Shop owner knew each one of us and such was the rapport back then. Fantastic memories. Thanks again.

    • rk Says:

      dear sam,
      i loved reading your short and sweet narrative!

      Shop owner knew each one of us and such was the rapport back then. Fantastic memories.

      we miss this connection and rapport in today’s age, isn’t it?

      thank you for taking me back to the trailer bus days! used to travel in the trailer bus no.11! once it so happened that my grandma got into the front bus, and grandpa into the one trailing behind…grandpa got down at some stop in the middle of the route…grandma did’t know where to get down and went till the depot…hilarious story! 🙂

      keep dropping by and please share your stories here. would love to read them.

      tk care

  2. Uma Suresh Says:

    Hi Bellur,
    Really enjoyed reading your post.You have a very good memory I must say & you are still young too!
    I loved tasting some of my friend’s lunch too when we shared! As you said some dishes were very tempting as there used to be great variety each day unlike mine.
    As I grew up in the big joint family my dear ajji would definitely prepare yummy food by school time,office time.But it would always be rice with huli,kootu & I did not like anna (oota) as much as ‘thidi’In our house thindi sometimes would be in the evening.My friends loved my home made huliyanna,Kootanna!
    The thing was even though their lunch looked attractive I would not like the taste so much & would enjoy & appreciate my own lunch.
    Once my friend Pushpa had Tonsil’s operation & she was advised not to eat spicy food & was bringing cake,biscuits & this time I thouroughly enjoyed swapping my entire lunch with her as she loved eating hot & spicy food & didn’t like the bakery food very much.Lucky she got better soon.
    And I also had a nice change for a few days!!!
    Thanks Bellur for taking us DTML!
    Have a great day mate.

    • rk Says:

      hi uma,
      LOL! you were lucky to have exchanged the whole box! i rarely got a chance to do that. completely enjoyed reading your comment. truly u took me DTML! TFS!

  3. Harsha Says:

    About in ’93 or ’94 they stopped letting students go out of the school for lunch. One of the student was hit a bus when he was on his way home for lunch on his cycle. They started a canteen, the food was outrageously bad.
    Talking about spots, sitting in middle of the ground (front or back) was always a risk, partly because of the overflying kites and mostly because of students playing in the ground. You would invariably eat dust with your food, like it or not. Sitting in the garden (opposite to Principal’s office) was kind of tricky because the fumes from Chemistry lab would rob the aroma from your food. Also, in ’99 they built a compost pit over there, needless to say, the under maintained pit was competing with the Chemistry lab on what would smell bad. But the lunch sessions were always interesting, especially whenever we got to know our test/exam marks. And on days we had two tests on the same day, the lunch break seemed pretty short.

    • rk Says:

      that was a nice review, harsha!
      lot of useful info for the school, parents, teachers, and above all to all the students.
      reading your comment, students will feel classroom is the best place to have lunch. 😉

      keep dropping by!

      tk care

  4. Rajalakshmi Madabhushi Says:

    Fantastic, Aww, Lunch time at KVM, I guess what went on in late 70’s to early 80’s ( left X in 1982) continued. We were allowed to go out to buy lunch and I think the Bakery ( ? Iyengar or JB) on the main road would bake hot vegetable puffs which were a treat . But I must admit sharing friends food( we girls always shared you see never stole ) was a must. Mala’s punjabi alooparatha, Ani’s Kerala’s special Dosa, Sapna’s mysore avalakki bath are still on my mind after all these years , thanks RK for refreshing our memories. God bless you! Keep writing

  5. C.K. Niranjan Kumar Says:

    Hi RK, Great piece. Brings back fond memories.
    I had penned this ditty a while back that you will enjoy –


    If you ever wondered what that large school-bag that weighed us down comprised of, the contents could be broken down into three zones:
    The Book Zone – comprising of bulky texts for each subject and the respective class-work / home-work books (60% of Volume)
    The Instrument Zone – Intially comprising of pencils and rubbers (aka erasers) and then later with compass, divider and scented rubbers (aka scented erasers) (5% of Volume)
    The Food Zone – the unsung matinee hero: the venerable Lunch Dabba (Priceless)
    Lunch, was and is still, a key social, mid-day event that holds the promise of a day getting better. With modern civilization and modern work hours thrust upon them, Indians have refused to give in and lo behold, the Lunch Dabba was invented. Also known as the tiffin-carrier, it came in myriad forms. There was the ubiquitous, indestructible round, steel, lunch box. Another was a rectangular, aluminum box with clips on the side to hold the precious contents in. Some lunch boxes had a smaller boxes that would sit within each other like a babushka doll. Other lunch boxes came in 2, 3 or magnificient 4 tiers which were efficiently held in place by an aluminum/ steel straps. And for some who were paranoid, these multi-tiered carriers of carbs could be securely locked.

    Whether moms worked or stayed at home, they were not delinquent in showering their love for their children. More often than not, the size of this unrequited love equated the amount packed into the lunch box. They firmly believed that a growing child should not be denied the lunch (s)he would have had if they were at home. As there was never a lunch box large enough for mom, the laws of physics would be severly tested as food was slowly compressed into the uncomplaining lunch boxes. As the taste of food fought with the shape of food, the lunch boxes would diligently hold the contents until lunch time. There were occasional mini-disasters when the seams of an over-worked lunch dabba gave way and the delicious food would complete its lifecycle prematurely. One kid’s tragedy would serve as a relief for several others to shower their mothers’ love on this hapless kid.

    The transportation of the lunch-dabba from home to school may seem trivial, mundane activity but I believe it taught many a kid important life-lessons such as awareness and applied physics. Some kids tried to optimize the load of carrying their schoolbags by putting the lunch box inside the schoolbag. If one was not aware of the contents of the lunch box or familiar with the laws of fluid dynamics, (s)he would be learn it by the time (s)he opened the bag in the class. Not only would you be horrified by the fluid seepage from the lunch dabba, so would be your teachers as they see the beautifully wrapped assignment books now soaked with mom’s culinary creations. Sometimes, horizontal is the best position for the lunch dabba. Sometimes, horizontal is the best position for you.

    Like it or hate it, the lunch dabba was an integral part of the school bag and of growing up. Whether the dabbas, in a subtle way, indicated the social status of the student was never a question. We learnt,very early, not to judge by the carrier but by the contents. Little did we know that grudging evaluation of our mom’s cooking would be of great help in maintaining marital harmony many decades later. Lunch Dabbas were not only carriers of culinary delights, they were instructional in the value of planning and of delayed gratification. They helped teach that while you could always enjoy what you have, the pleasure is greatly enhanced by just sharing a little.

    All this wonderous emotions and experiences, brought to you by the unsung, venerable, Lunch Dabba.

    • rk Says:

      hi niranjan,
      you have written a mini-thesis out there on the dabbas!
      you have observed such minute details, and written it wonderfully!

      dabbas with clips were easy too open. some round steel dabbas could be opened easily too. but some round steel dabbas HAD to be hit, holding it horizontally, to the edge of the table, in order to open. and it was a skill to not spill the contents!

      keep dropping by and take care

  6. Aparna Says:

    Have lots of memories of this school…lunch time minus the eagles was a fun time. I was there for few years 1981-83, in 2-4th std. Must say the teachers and discipline was remarkable. Don’t remember the names of the teacher, but our class teacher Mrs. Vedavalli. Hope to see some pictures if that time.
    Thanks to all of you for taking me don the memory lane.


  7. pk preetham Says:

    those were truly like malgudi days .after so many years .. old childhood friends .. tears in my eyes as I read through the blog

    • rk Says:

      great to see you here preetham!
      hope to see you at the yearly alumni meet on jan.26th at KVM next year!

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