Growing up

I envy a lot of bloggers who write (and remember) so much about their growing up years. It’s amazing how they remember so many incidents from their childhood as though it had just happened a few days back. I envy them for their capacity to notice things and remember them after so many years. Either I was a dud or early Alzheimer’s has set in. I just can’t seem to remember either those funny, sad or weird incidents that happened while in school/college. The main incident I remember with visuals is this one, about which I have blogged about here – where I almost lost my life. Tragic eh? 😦

So, let me rack my brains and go down memory lane. Since my parents were working, my sis and me were taught to be independent right from our young days. I only remember mom sitting with us and helping us with our homework till I was about 6-7yrs. After that it was all on my own. An occasional dictation and checking on maths was done. But otherwise we were on our own. Be it Quarterly, Half yearly, Finals or even the Public exams in the 10th and 12th we were on our own and my parents have never sat with us or prepared midnight tea to keep us awake. Looking at the tension parents and kids go through nowadays I feel so blessed to have been born in the 70’s and I think life was so much simpler and better.

Summer vacation mom used to ask us to read the newspaper and write 2-3 paras to improve our handwriting. Mark large words, look for its meaning in the dictionary and memorize them. Once that was done we had the whole house to ourselves and TV was all ours. But with only DD channel in the 80’s, life was so dull like the programs on the channel. Luckily dad was one of the first ones to buy the Color TV when they first came out in the late 70’s. So were the proud owners of the Weston Color TV. Some of the eagerly awaited shows were Chitramala on Mondays, Chitrahaar on Wednesdays, Oliyum Oliyum on Fridays, Hindi movies on Saturdays and Tamil movies on Sundays and for the Mallu/Tamil movies which were telecast on rotation at 1pm on Sundays in the Regional  movies category. Rajesh Khanna was the undisputed hero and charmer. Seeing,listening to Hindi songs and Hindi movies was considered hep then in Chennai (then Madras). DD did not have tear jerker serials..actually they had more of comedy serials, cartoons for kids. Miss those Barbapappa, He-Man, Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Duck Tales, Star Trek, English Detective serials (of the 80’s from USA), Didi’s Comedy Show, Different Strokes (loved those kids), Giant Robot, Street Hawk, Knight Rider, Remington Steele (me and my sis used to drool at Pierce Brosnon and David Hasselhoff). There were some awesome serials from Transtel Television Germany with English subtitles. Oh My..I really miss those days!

In school I was a typical tom-boy. Right from my 1st std I was made the class leader and this continued right till the 10th std. I was a bit of a bully during those 6-8yrs of age and my classmates I guess were scared of me 👿 :-). That could be the reason teachers made me the class leader. Having a voice which sounded like I always had a mike stuck in my throat only helped I guess. :-). But as I grew up the bullying trait left me and I was always surrounded by friends.

I don’t know how I got the courage to enrol myself in almost all activities in it singing, acting, sports, debates, speeches etc. I participated in everything and won. Mom and dad never used to push me for anything or enrol me for all these things. Every year I would be selected as one of the 3 Kings for the Christmas play which would be staged on the last day our Half yearly exam just before the Christmas Vacation.

From the 6th std onwards my Tamil and English teachers recognized I could deliver dialogues and speeches without any stage fear. Fear was something I did not know. Being shy was weird for me. I became an all rounder in sports too-from 100m dash, relay, basketball, throwball, kho-kho, badminton-you name it, I was in it.

We had 3 houses in school – Pink, Blue and Gold. I remember being in the Pink House for most of my school years. Our PT Teacher always had a soft corner for the Blue House. Since the Pink and Blue house teams were always neck and neck in winning all the games, she moved me to the Gold House when I was in the 7th or so. The Gold House was already strong with some very good players and after I moved we romped home with all the medals in all the games and individual events. My seniors and good friends VKK and DJ – we 3 were the undisputed champions. Gosh! those were the days!!

8th std was the first time I faced Elections in school. I was selected to stand for the Asst Games Captain for the next year and won with a thumping margin. Only 6th stand to 9th std students could vote for the school captains. We had to go to each class and give a small speech asking for votes and inform the students what we would do for them if selected. We all felt like mini-politicians :-). In the 9th std I stood for the post of Games Captain for the next year and won that too hands down. That was my 2nd victory in Elections.

I studied in a Convent, it was run by the “Salesian sisters” and we were a group of 3 schools. In 1990, when I was in the 10th std, our Head of schools decided to  celebrate “Parents Day” for all 3 schools together to mark the centenary celebrations of a Saint. I was selected to give a speech on the Saint for a full 3.5 minutes. Most of my close friends were selected for the group singing and dances. The day dawned and my Sister Principal (Nun) who was a strict non-smiling woman came upto me, patted me, smoothed my hair, smoothed out my Captain scarf and wished me the very best for my speech and gave me a thumps up and a bigggg smile. That actually made me nervous instead of calming me down! It was time for my speech, the curtains opened and as I went over to the mike, I was astounded to see the crowd. Students of all 3 schools, their parents and teachers in the huge auditorium and here I was standing in front of such a big crowd!!!. I had to keep up my school’s name and do justice to the faith my teachers had in me. I started and went on in full flow. I finished my speech and all I could hear were the claps and it was a standing ovation. As I walked down the stage and towards my seat to where my mom was sitting I could see parents turning to see whose daughter I was and my mom was  very proud-but as usual she din’t make too much out of it. Too much appreciation was never shown, lest I got carried away. The next day my friends told me what their parents told them “see your friend, she did something on her own in front of such a big crowd. What is the use of you participating in the song/dance, we couldn’t even spot you”. Those are compliments I still treasure in my mind. Priceless I say!!!

Since my school had classes only till the 10th, I had to move to a new school for my 11th and 12th. Once school started and just after 2 months again came election time for the Asst Captains to be selected from the 11th std. I was a new comer into that school and most of the 11th students were those who had passed over from 10th. Inspite of that, my classmates egged me on and in the next half hour I realised I was voted for and appointed the Asst Head Girl of my school. My friends teased me saying though I was a newcomer I was famous among the school girls within just 2 months of joining the school. Here too medals and certificates continued to come my way for elocutions, dramatics, sports etc. in 12th I was elected unopposed as the Head Girl of the school as my opponent withdrew her candidature in the last minute. It was a mini “Pothuvaaga en manasu thangam, Oru potiyinnu vandu vitta singam” sort of celebration among my friends :-). I also directed, acted as the Hero and put up an S.Ve.Shekar’s comedy drama with my friends while in the 11th std for my senior’s farewell party. Rehearsals was such fun and even the shy-est of my friends found out they could act, with a good director around 😛 .

It was in both my schools that I experienced the “fan” syndrome. Well let me clarify..both my schools were “All girls” schools and I had juniors and classmates who were my “fans” ..a girly crush on me…it was called “being a fan of so and so” then :-). I’m sure most of you would have experienced this. I think it was more common in girls schools. In boys schools it was more of “Hero worship” where juniors/classmates would “Hero worship” the most popular boy in school. I had my fans leave me roses on my class bench everyday and 1 of them was my classmate in 11th and 12th. My best friend K would be so jealous of those “fans” and we used to have fights as she did not like other girls giving me roses. :-).  I din’t have a clue why those girls would gimme roses. Hmmm the price for being famous I guess :-). No, please don’t let your thoughts had nothing to do with being “L”. We kids those days did not even know what “L” and being “G” meant. This kind of craze was pure adulation and admiration.

Rounds were made in the various colleges with friends, applications were bought, filled and submitted by myself. I got into a college of my choice and those 3 years were the 2nd best days of my life-the first best being school in the 80’s. I found some of my best friends for life here. Four of us were a team and we called ourselves “PALS” as each of our names started with one of the alphabet. Then there were 3 more girls who became close to us in the 2nd year and the 7 of us had a blast. Our get togethers, sleep overs, visits to the beach, movies, restaurant visits with all the chilrai kaasu (change in coins and few notes) we could gather and pool in – Sigh! I miss those days.

After college, I got my first job after my 1st interview! Phew.. its was great earning my own salary, though it started with a paltry Rs.3500/-. I worked for 8 years with all the MNC Banks in Chennai and then quit because marriage brought me to Hyderabad. I wanted to take a break and that still continues. K left it to me to decide whether I wanted to go back to work or stay at home-I opted for the latter and now my primary job is to drive him up the wall everyday :-).

This post would be incomplete if I did not thank the other P who joined my group later in the 2nd year. In the 1st year of college I did not even know she existed. Just 2 years in college as thick friends and I consider her to be my closest soul mate till date. She is the one who turned me from being a person who was interested in music to a die hard Ilayaraja fan. She with her wonderful voice and timid nature was a total contrast to my chatterbox, out going tomboyish self. We became close very soon and I am glad she is my dearest pal. I have many lovely friends, but somehow she stands out. I know I can talk to her about anything and she wouldn’t judge me for anything in the world. Thank you P for being a part of my life.

Life was so simple and sweet then. Now IIT, Engineering, Medicine coaching starts for kids from 3rd std!!!! Gulp! 😯

Well well, this has turned out to be a “ME, MYSELF” post. Hasn’t it?