|1998: when I first revisited my alma mater in Jaipur with Rita|
|I celebrate my 35h birthday in Delhi, at a surprise party organised by my classmates Rita, Mrinal, Kalpana, Betty and their precious young ones. That's what being friends 24/7, 365, did for us.|
WHAT does my old school mean to me? A school where I spent eight years from 1963 to 1970, when our batch took the I.S.C. exam. Beyond textbooks and teachers, beyond P.T. and performances, beyond inter-house competitions and a uniform we were proud of, what did it all add up to?
Looking back, M.G.D. proves to be a way of life, a mélange of memories, a distilled spirit that impacted each of us. How would I sing of M.G.D. today? Here are some off-the-cuff impressions ~
~ MGD is… Her Highness Gayatri Devi, perfect in peach chiffon and pearls, a gracious image we all sought to emulate ever since. Our first saris ever were usually chiffons in rose-tinted hues!
~ MGD is… Miss L.G. Lutter, a woman who never scolded a student, a teacher, a matron or a bai ever. Or not within my hearing. A principal who was, unusually, personally interested in each child. That mattered more to us than the Padma Shri she later received.
~ MGD is… Miss Emma, who fed us on pooris and aloo curry, roast mutton and Russian salad, vanilla ice-cream out of a wooden churn (as much as we could put away). And the unforgettable handful of sweets or the lollipop we could help ourselves to from a great big tin, when there were no oranges after lunch.
|I was 8, a little older than this child, when I first stepped into Prep House hostel|
|Sprinting barefoot in a 100 metre dash, at about 13.|
~ MGD is… a school that sought out the special talent in each student, and nurtured it with care. It’s a vital reason why I became a journalist and a writer. And why it didn’t leave me speechless when I met Ute Krauze, a best-selling German children’s author, in Berlin ~ to find she had her old MGD rough notebook with her first tentative stories between its covers!
~ MGD is… celebrating Janamastami with a cradle scene and going caroling from house to house. And never discriminating against your classmates because of their religion.
~ MGD is… the weekly Application and Merit Medal that recognized that the class-toppers did not necessarily try the hardest.
~ MGD is… about feeling proud when our head girl, Betty Thomas, made it to the Rajasthan hockey team. And learning that merit matters more than money.
|It was on a bed like these that I slept that first night away from my parents|
|As part of a folk dance group to welcome Miss Lutter home, at 10|
|With my classmates in Std. 6 or J3, with our class teachers, Mrs Baury and Miss Rizvi|
~ MGD is… about a superb production of ‘Hiawatha’ to mark the school’s silver jubilee, with my future Indira Bhavan room-mate, Neelam Deshpande, as the child hero. Every time school talk surfaces, I miss her deeply, now that she is no more.
~ MGD is… about Dussehra excursions to Bikaner, Jodhpur, Beawar, Udaipur, sharing mattresses on the floor with friends and glasses of hot badam milk in palaces we never dreamt we would step into.
~ MGD is… about arriving at Jaipur station past midnight with the Bombay party (it wasn’t Mumbai then!), and finding steaming cups of coffee or cocoa awaiting us, before a bus took us to our hostels.
~ MGD is… the staff in funny costumes and make-up, performing at assembly after their outing on Teacher’s Day. And the thrill of being a head girl or teacher for that transient space in time.
|The central courtyard at MGD, where we attended assembly and played games|
|With our favourite English teacher, Bibby Jay, in front of the House of Science|
~ MGD is… being a library prefect in Std. 9 or S3, helping to select books, and reading through as many as I could before they were officially loaned out.
~ MGD is… about reading my fragile first poems out at assembly, knock-kneed with nervousness… and being commissioned to write one for a decorated scroll when Padmini Devi married Bhavani Singh in the distant past!
~ MGD is… about winning the sub-junior athletics trophy because I was tinier and lighter than my classmates.
|With Miss Nanda and Mrs Mathews in the staff room, when I returned to school 28 years after we left|
|Rita and I spend a sentimental moment in front of a bust of Miss Lutter in 1998|
~ MGD is… meeting up with Jyotsna in London, Kumkum, Indu and Rita in Jaipur, Renuka in Bangalore ~ and knowing we belong to the same family of feeling.
~ MGD is… a little silver badge that brings tears to my eyes because of all that it evokes in my life.
~ MGD is… about reaching out to a group of young MGD-ians in Bangalore, who’ve just relocated to college here (including Kumkum’s daughter Alankrita) ~ and singing the school song together!