DOWN MEMORY LANE!!!!!Mr.Bherathen, (remember his first day at Sports,how can one forget??!!!) He was wearing a “Kerala Police” pair of shorts, after hearing a hundred sniggers, realised something was amiss, he looked to the right of him,Suave Reddy in tight shorts(Hot pants??!!) and Selva(Brrrr!!!)Result,the next day,he was sporting hot pants himself, a great guy, really!!!!
As for Commie, Where do I Begin???” Shut up your bloody mouth,I say,I will slap you up and down five times!!!!!!”I met this Cool Cat in 1991,when I went to admit my sons,Gone was the “Clint Commie” of Old,a rather laid back CAT,introducing me around,”My First student!!”,turtle neck pullover and cream slacks looking rather dashing!!!! And “Bursar” to boot,I had attended his wedding at Cochin with K.I.Varkey in 1973,well,for 15 minutes,their(Brahmanic!) weddings go on and on and on(!!),was pleased to meet him and Goldie Hawn,with their little “Fawn”!!I forget her name now but she was an absolute DOLL !! Wonder what she looks like ,now!!
Hmmm,I got to attend to the bevy of beauties I have around me so “Tata” (and I dont mean Ronnie’s company!!) and all that!!!!The Rt.Rev.W of L!!
Dear Kumar – you’ve done it again – revived old memories vividly and vibrantly.Your mail also brought back great memories of Geeth doing a fantastic take on Commie Venkitachalam saying, “Rice a/c detttaaar To Potttato” – a memory that had come back to me a few decades ago when i was studying Journal Entries or whatever for my CAIIB exam! But on a more sober note – were we too snooty and harsh on some of our teachers? Perhaps we judged them unfairly on the basis of their dress sense or their accent? Some of us may recall Mr. Balram taking his first Physics class for us: after putting up with sporadic giggles and sniggers, I remember he threw down the chalk and said, “I’ve some to teach you Physics, not English and I didn’t go to a school like this.” [or words to that effect].The again, maybe it was just our youth…Somewhat guiltily,
May I also contribute .I don’t know if you would remember, but Commie in his chaste back water Malayalam accent used to say Commeeeerce instead of commerce.I once imitated him not so discretely , and this was his retort.“Rooonie Dishaaavala I will slap you a kick on the face.Message sent 1st for the exclusive reading of my dearest Mallu friends who have somehow abandoned the quintessential Mallu accent somewhere, somehow. Except the Reverend Pastor who once in a way lets down his guard.As for Geeth, she could be mistaken for one of the last Anglos from Fort Cochin (not bloody Kochi for Gods sake.)Over the years I’ve realized that Malayalam is probably the easiest language to master, and also understand the nuances of rubber cultivation and Parish squabbles, given the number of Mallus we have in the office.. Two Mintos in the cheek and speak Yaddish.No one will know the difference.Keep the faith.
Here is an incident that probably changed my life!If you remember we were the first batch of HSC students so though we had to choose Arts or Science in 9th class, we had one more opportunity in 10th to choose Commeeerce as Commie used to say.I had chosen Science in 9th and continued in science in 10th also…..till one fateful physics class.
As was the rule in Gary’s kingdom, we all had to stand and wish him ‘good morning’ when he walked into the class, which we all did. Somehow the noise of our shoes scraping the sand on the floor irritated him and he asked us to stand up and sitdown without scraping our soles. This we did quite successfully except for one or two who purposely made the noise…. of course no one would reveal who it was and many of us had a smile on our face , being happy to know that there were brave souls (or soles) among us to challenge Gary’s dictatorial ways.Apparently, Cyrus Kapadia and I were among those who were smiling and unfortunately noticed by Gary, who made us stand on the the two tables on either side in front of the physics class room. While it seemed to Gary as a punishment to us, we were enjoying the stand/sit exercise that continued without much change in the noise levels and Gary determined to reduce it to his satisfaction.
The whole scene changed when Sudhir Raina let go one long loud stinking baritone fart, reflecting the amout of good kashmiri dhal that his mother had fed him with that morning, which made the whole class burst out in laughter much to Gary’s embarrasment which took his anger through the ceiling. Unable to figure out who was the real culprit for this fiasco and with no one owning up, he used all his ‘sound’ knowledge to zero in on Brian, Sudhir and Thomas Abraham and with added glee claimed he had nailed 3 out of the 4 Thomas’s in class. I think the 4th was Ajith. Anyway the 3 suspected culprits responsible for the bedlam were made to kneel in front of the class and the sit/stand exercise resumed.
With no reduction in the noise level, he decided to make the whole class kneel, to Kapadia’s and my happiness, because the class was laughing at us when we were made to stand on the table and now we had the whole class kneeling before us. Kapadia and I were sniggering at all those now kneeling before us and making all sorts of signs with our hands and fingers when Gary , who was facing the class with his back to us ,turned around and caught us both making, what must have looked to him, impertinent gestures and he felt it was directed at him. Infuriated even more, he asked us to join the rest of the class and kneel.
Many minutes later and probably half the period over in his disciplining bout, he decided to finally resume his duty as the physics teacher much to our relief. But mine was short lived as he must have been thinking that the lewd gestures we were making at the class were directed against him. He suddenly strode up the steps (I was sitting in the 4th row) took some of my books and banged it on my head. Unable to satiate his anger, he took the rest of my books and my compass box and a few books of kapadia and it was all raining on my head.
I was totally unprepared for this blast of anger and could not figure out what I had done to deserve this ‘exemplary treatment’. Gary resumed his physics lecture and I slowly gathered all my books and contents of my compass box now scattered under the tables and between many soles, neatly stacked my books, the long note books underneath like we all did and the compass box on top, with my mind reeling in disbelief, anger, sorrow and confusion. I got up and walked down the steps, slowly like a cowboy in a wild west movie whose temper had been tested to the limit. Gary turned around from whatever he was writing on the blackboard and looked at me with a scowl on his face.I was so angry and upset I could have punched it to make it look more presentable. Any way, I gave him a long hard firey stare and walked out of the class. I walked straight to the Senior Master’s office. Hari was crouched over his desk looking like he was reading something seriously under the blob of light that beamed from his green coloured enamled table lamp.. I had walked into his office without even knocking and was standing in front of his table. He looked at me questioningly through his reading glasses, a bit annoyed, his spectacle holding straps dangling down from behind his ears. I blurted out, a bit loudly, unmindful of his projected displeasure, I WANT TO DO COMMERCE. I dont think he had a clue whether I was doing Arts or Science. He looked at me for some time and I stared back at him for a long time. Surprisingly he didnt ask any questions and after what seemed like eternity, he got up and stooping even more than usual, (he had that though guy stoop) like a mother hen protecting her chicks, walked around tothe front of his table where i was standing, caught hold of my arm, led me to the commerce class which was very close to his office and told Commie, ‘this boy will be taking commerce, I will talk to you later.’ (I dont think he even knew my name. Either he was too preoccupied or my look must have told him some story.)
And thats how I became a Lawyer instead of an engineer!!!!! Probably for the better …. with my marks I dont think I would be eligible to even see the gates of an engineering college. Really crazy. I dont know whether I should attribute it to my ego, Gary’s temper, Sudhir Raina’s fart or the class shuffling their feet.How do I end.. commerce!!!!! never give in…..?
Ahhhh…JK! wish I had had the guts to walk out of Gary’s (Tufty as we girls called him) class!! I do believe he was driven by some private furies n complexes which he used to vent on poor undeserving us everyday!!I used to get brilliant marks in Sciences till he came into our lives. I remember we had to make a rough copy and get his approval signature before we wrote in our Physics Record Book..(Permission Granted Write Ricooooooord..was what he used to call it) if we made any mistake he used to scratch deep lines right across tearing the paper and we were terrified to ask him for help n clarification!!!..( Annie Thomas’71 batch was slapped around by him when she asked some very reasonable doubt in class) …and he was the TEACHER for Godsakes!!
Mr.Kailasam (Chemistry) had another kind of temper.. and absolutely no patience to explain anything! .though to be fair he was nothing compared to Gary and his anger was all verbal only! Both of them together made me lose all interest in Sciences n I chose Arts in college.The lucky other section who were taught by Mr.Balram n Mr.Iyengar.! ( But thank u Mr. Justin Anthony of Biology! )And how nice of Mr.Hariharan (maybe u know he’s Harry now n in Australia) not to read u the Riot Act n send u right back to Gary’s class!! PHEW!!…………. .Geetha
Good stories. I really don’t recall much of Gary–hadn’t realized he was also called ‘Tufty’–but remember Kailasam well. He got very mad at me because in a chem test we had been asked to name two acids commonly used in households and I answered ‘coca-colic acid’ and something equally idiotic. So he ordered me out of the class–and Reji Chacko who had been day-dreaming (and I dont know what he was thinking) asked if he could leave as well. Kailasam barked at him to get out too. Then he wouldn’t let us back into the class which was fine by me but Reji’s housemaster–maybe it was Gary–prohibited him from going out of school on the weekends till Kailasam let him back into class. Kailasam was ready to let me back in once I had apologised but if I recall correctly, he was more reluctant to let Reji back in as he felt Reji had somehow insulted him more
Altho so many years separate us from the incidents all of u hv shared, they must hv been intensely difficult and even traumatic at the time. (JK, ur narrative was so well crafted that my first reaction was laughter – only a little later did it dawn on me that u had undergone horrible moments that probably changed the course of ur life that morning. And thank heaven for Mr Hariharan’s calm good sense )I wonder what it was abt School that we survived such experiences and continued our lives emotionally unscarred? Was it that there were so many of us sailing together in the same boat and there was so much unspoken empathy? Was it that our lives were so packed with so much to do that we cd take such incidents in our stride as just one of many things? Was it that the unarticulated code was different then? As parents, wd we accept such treatment of our children? If Gari was this way in class, how was he as Housemaster? And I wonder how he was as a parent? His poor kids!!Thank God on balance we turned out ok.God bless us everyone.