I remember the day when I shifted to the new address: A-1-16, Priyadarshini Nagar, Makarpura Road, Baroda, a four room house with a small garden that grew roses, papaya, jasmine, pomegranate, passion fruit. I had finished my 5th standard when we shifted. I remember the tempo that carried our household items from 108, Vithlesh apartment. I enjoyed my childhood days Vithlesh. We lived in Priyadarshinini for 17 years, from 1988 until 2005, until my parents moved to Kottayam.
I remember the construction work at Priyadarshini Nagar. Ashish, Vivek, and I used to visit the place to see the building of our new house. It was a picnic for us to travel all the way from Vithlesh apartment. I used to sit on Ashish’s cycle as he rode. We used to have samosas from the Gopal store.
Near to our colony were Don Bosco, Auxilium Convent, Bhavan’s school, Mother Teresa’s Ashram, Mount Carmel Church, Sussen Textile Mills, Novina Batteries, GIDC industrial estate.
After shifting to Priyadarshini Nagar, we had a Parsi and Bengali neighbors for the first two years. Occasionally, we used to go to the Jacobite Church at the Don Bosco school since it was near to our house. It was torture for me to attend the prayer service without being able to understand the meaning.
I remember an incident while playing cricket with a neighboring friend; I broke the car headlights. After that incident, I stopped playing cricket in front of the house. I liked the Parsi’s food preparation; it was unique and tasty. After a year or more, they left Baroda, never to be seen again.
After they had left, Uthup Uncle and family lived there. We used to play cards, carroms, and monopoly during the holidays.
In the evening, I used to play cricket with the colony friends.
Occasionally, mom and I used to visit the Vithlesh apartment while Dolly’s family were still there. It was fun to be with my old friends – Kunjan, Jigar, and Nilesh. We played cricket whenever we got a chance.
During my 6th std, I got a new bicycle. Ashish rode it from the shop. The tyre got punctured when it reached home. Dad and I took the cycle next day evening to repair the tyre.
My school was bit far from our new house. A private auto rickshaw used to take my brother and me every morning along with other kids. I think there were about eight school kids in that rickshaw.
Change of School
After 7th, I moved to Shreyas Vidyalaya, Samarpan at the Manjalpur road. The new school was near to our house. I used to take a public bus and sometimes bicycle to school. The Bengali neighbors left, and new neighbors came in – all Keralites.
I remember my first day in the 8th std. It was a different environment with new friends, new teachers, and new location. When the teachers were absent or didn’t show up for teaching, we used to go down and play cricket.
It was in 1990 when I was studying in the eighth standard; the school was impacted by the Mandal Commission. The newspapers carried reports of self-immolation in protest against the Mandal Commission implemented by the V.P Singh government. We had long holidays. Deepak and I used to do combine study during that time.
English was my favorite subject. I remember my struggle with the chemical equations. Sussen chechi helped me understand the molecular formulas. She stayed in the hostel and used to visit us during the weekends. I remember playing cards with our neighbors during Diwali holidays. Mom and ladies from the neighborhood gathered every evening. During Christmas, our house was flooded with guests. Mom prepared cakes and other eateries before Christmas. During Good Friday, we used to go Jacobite/OrthodoxChurch at the Basil School, Old Padra Road.
I remember watching Ramayana, Mahabharata, Tipu Sultan on Doordarshan, on the Sunday mornings.
We had a house maid who used to come daily for cleaning and washing. The vegetable sellers would pass by our house in the morning. We used to buy rice, dals, masala powders, and snacks from the Gopal store.
During the eighth standard school vacation, 1991 we went to Kerala. It was during that time; Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. I was at my dad’s place when this happened.
In the 9th std, I had maths tuition. At school, Navle madam taught maths, English by P.G. Bhatt, Sanskrit by Kalpana madam.
We had to speak on some topic during our English class. I talked on “Empowering Women at the Work Place”. We also had Drawing as one of the subjects. Gaekwad sir used to take the Drawing class.
In X, I enrolled at the Vinayak tuition in the Anandbaug society. We had Typing as one of the subjects. I used to practice on a Remington typewriter. Life in X was all about attending school, tuitions, and study.
In the first term exam, I scored well but in the second term, my rank slipped. During the last few months before the board exam, dad helped me prepare exams. He used to take tests.
During this time, P.V. Narasimha Rao was the prime minister of India. I remember the news on Babri Masjid demolition during his tenure.
I remember the day I appeared for the X board exam. The first paper was English, which I did well. The second paper was Maths; it was difficult for me. The rest of the papers were relatively easy. After the examination, we went for the vacation to Kottayam. After our holidays, when we returned Baroda, the results were declared. I scored 75% by God’s grace.
In XI, we had Hussein sir who taught English; Saffi madam taught Chemistry, Maths by Pandya sir. I used to go on cycle for Maths tuition at Pandya sir’s place. I remember attending the physics, chemistry and biology laboratory in the school. We had to submit practical books every week.
Sarah chechi stayed with us for her MA during my XI and XII. Biju Chetan also stayed with us during my XI. After his marriage, they rented a flat at Mangal Murthi. I loved Renu Aunty’s biryani.
In XII, life was chaotic. Every day I had one or two tuitions – Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Biology, all at different places. On Sunday early morning, I had practical tuitions for Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. I used to go on bicycle everywhere. After tuitions, I would be dozing off during the study time. Some days, I would leave the school early to prepare for the tuition exams. Time was precious.
In spite of my efforts, I did not perform well in the school and tuition exams. Biju Chetan helped me in the Biology practicals by taking the effort to draw diagrams for me.
During the board exam, Appa used to come with me to the examination venue. By God’s favor, I performed better at the board exam than during my tuition or preliminary school exams. It’s a miracle that I scored 62%, although I was disappointed for not able to secure a seat in Engineering or Medicine.
To be continued..