Friday, December 23, 2011

When 20yrs passed by

It must have been the scorching and so famous summer when I met Delhi the first time, because all I remember of the initial days was the nice taste of RoohAfza and me waiting for my Mom to finish off the daily house chores so I could play snakes & ladder to pass my time in the day. 
It was 1985 and I was a five year old kid. My Father was just transferred to Delhi from Jaipur. With me being the smallest of my siblings, I was allowed to accompany my parents. 'Lucky' as far my siblings, who were left with my Grand Parents, were concerned. Not sure what fascinated them about the city, especially when it was dealing with the aftermaths of the country' PM's death. My first feeling wasn't that good. Especially when I wasn't allowed to leave the house too much and there weren't any children my age in the neighborhood. All I had is the top floor heater house and some occasional visits to market in safe company of my parents. It took a few months for my parents to have us shifted from that house and move to a place south of Delhi. Mehrauli. A city within the capital city. The place where we were to spend the next 13yrs of our lives, later joined in by my siblings.
My parent's next mission..getting me in to a school. The search ended with the only convent in the area. St. Johns'.
I don't remember the initial feeling about the school. As I was from a Hindi medium so far, the transition was going to be just a bit tough. I don't think I had any idea how to go about it. A problem indeed, as it is even today and I think will continue to be as is with all kids who land up being in that situation. As my luck determined it to be..the next thing I knew, I was in the company of some fantastic Teachers. From then on the next years that I were to be there, were one of the best era of my life.
I think I was enjoying it the city more with new friends and an awesome family out of my initial habitat. How quickly the years went by, was a mesmerizing surprise. My Parents were keen on getting me in to a new School for some time. They finally decided it was time. Seven yrs later the winters were just moving out and so was I. The year was 1992 and I wasn't liking it. The thought of leaving the School never crossed my mind till that time. It was hard to say no to Parent' in those years. So, practically I had no choice but...obey. 
My Father arranged for a person to pick me up to visit another reputed School in South-Delhi, out of Mehrauli. I got it that from now on my means of travel were going to be another specialty of Delhi, the DTC buses. I guess my seat was already arranged for in this school, since all the time that visit looked nothing more than a mere formality meeting with the Principal there. I..wasn't amazed. I somehow was able to convince my Parents for another School' admission test. How did I do that and what happened in that test is a different story, may be another post :) ..back to my first School' story!
The parting with the School didn't hurt much. Or at least that' what I thought at that time. From my then Principal shifting his base back to America and a couple of small advancements in the School, there were very few updates that rested on my ears for the years after I left. My closest of friends left the town..some for boarding Schools and some because their family decided to move. Very rarely I would meet a few of my old Teachers on my way back to home from my new School. Moving out of that School, I just had a couple of friends who later joined me in my new School and a sound foundation of values/virtues and etiquette. The latter still accompanying me as of the day of writing this post and I am sure will continue the journey with me.
Why I never visited the School later is still a surprise to me. If there was any particular reason, I surely do not remember. A few more years down the line, my Father was provided with a Govt. residence..and we moved out of Mehrauli! Any visits that I had to the place were either at odd hours or on holidays, so there was no chance of visiting the School anyway. All I could do on a couple of instance was have a view from the outside. By all means the infrastructure seemed like changing. Expanding or just being within itself, I didn't know.
All these visits were in the last century. The 19 hundreds.....
The current century saw me grow first as a Graduate and then a Post Graduate in Computers, later to be what I am now..a Software Engineer. The wish to visit the School and meet the Teachers growing stronger and stronger each passing year.
I didn't know but the wish was to be true, soon...
Just a few days before, I had to meet a Friend for some work. We decided to meet at the Qutub Minar, which also happens to be at the outskirts of Mehrauli. How I couldn't be in Mehrauli if I was this close. Qutub parking was the best place for my car to rest as my legs started covering the distance to the inside of the place. "Nothing has changed", I told myself. Its been years so I wanted to visit a few places in there, especially all the houses I resided in once and the famous markets. But, it had to be the School first.
I decided to take the back route which goes trough the bus terminal. The bus terminal hasn't changed a bit. The first turn and I see the Temple in there. Still there since as far as I could remember. I remember visiting the same on numerous occasions with my friends while at School. The back of this Temple touched my School' boundary wall. I bowed my head in front of the temple and with crossed fingers I took the turn to move closer to the School' entrance. It was a Saturday, and I just wasn't sure if it would be open. It never has been whenever I visited it last times. But hey, that was some 12+ years back.
St John' Mehrauli

Hoping my prayers would be answered, I took the next turn to see the small mosque still there. I think the only place where I see both religion exist..peacefully and quietly. Moving some 20 steps I was in front of the School main gate.
"Lucky day" was my next expression within. Seems my prayers were answered. The School was well open..it was rather crowded. Upon inquiring I was told there is some campaign. Campaign?? The only external visits I knew of in my time were some docs who just for fun used to inject us with some precautionary meds in our times. Anyway, the good news for me was that the School was open and there was still time before it will close for the week.
I decided I will take a small tour around Mehrauli on foot till the staff finishes up with the Campaign..or what ever it was. I looked at my watch and off. I think I went around for an hour and a half before deciding to arrive back at the School, just in time. The visiting Bus and cabs were leaving, the main door/gate of the School was bigger than I could remember. I could peek a boo of the inside of the School as the bus was coming out of the main entrance. For whatever I could see behind the bus there a moment when I was a kid in the backyard.
The School was a complete change to what I imagined in all these years. Before I could realize I was walking within the School premises.
March 1992 was the last time I was inside the Schools. The number of years since then was reflecting the way the School was portrayed now. A complete change to the what ever I could recollect. The security guard was smart enough to notice my presence in between all the movement and before I could digest the look in front of my eyes, he was there asking me of what I wanted. I asked him if i could meet a person who used to be in the admin staff during my time in School. He didn't answer me, but headed straight back in to the building. I could imagine he didn't know anyone by the name I just told him. It was 20yrs and I didn't expect any Teachers I was once so familiar with. I turned my back to the way he went to and started starring at the four floor building, remembering the 4-5 rooms view I was so used to. I realized I was standing on a concrete floor. It used to be full of sand and if I was imaging correctly, from where I stood I could touch the then stationed swing which me and my friends were so fond of. We always made sure no one apart from use cold be on it during the lunch break. Any extension of arms in the present would only have fetched me some funny glances in case some was looking at me. 
I was completely lost when the security guard I had almost forgotten about, fetched a man from the inside. I just turned back on the sound, but it seemed like I turned back 20 yrs in time. The man was one of my Teacher way back then. He still looked the same. A mere introduction to him by my name was enough to tell him who I was. It was surprising he still remembered me, by the name at least if not by my face, which was rather obvious. I talked to him for around half an hour on where I was these years. He took me around the School to let me see how much it has changed. Finally taking me to a lady Teacher who taught me in my initial days in the School. It was hard she could remember me, but was surprised when I told her I remember her. On telling her a bit of details about me, she could recollect me and my then friends group.
The next thing I felt like I was still a kid in her class. She took my hand to take me to meet all the new Teachers exclaiming 'He is Milind, one of the fellows I taught very early in this School some 20+ yrs back..he has grown much taller to me and is a Software Engineer now...'
During all this introduction time all I could do was stand there speechless...unaware of the expressions I was wearing and looking at one of the first Teachers, who taught me, be proud in introducing me. It was that moment I realized how much I missed this School. She is just the same as all Teachers were back then...caring like Mothers and taking the utmost care required of each of the pupil.
Thought of the day..still there

The School, as was evident, changed completely for the exteriors. What existed inside in the roots is still the same. The boundaries still encompasses in them the same virtues and high values that people like me carry out with them in the outer world.
I wasn't lucky to meet more Teachers that day but a couple of whom I met were surprised that I still remember the names of all the Teachers who taught me. For Students to remember and recognize their Teachers is a common thing. For Teachers to be able to remember some students is a miracle. I witnessed one that day and was rather fortunate to have done so!!
The rest of the couple of hours till I got back to my car were like I was still in the School, a kid of old times.

4 comments:

  1. Nice...now even I wanna visit my school...I felt I was standing there with u at your school Milind...beautifully written...Keep writing...

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Monika Thanks for the lovely appreciation! I am glad the post could involve you :)
    Thanks for dropping by!

    ReplyDelete
  3. nice write up Milind and very touchy.

    ReplyDelete

Get widget

Twitter Bird Gadget