Tuesday, June 10, 2014

About Cleanliness and Cluelessness.

My convent school memories are like a sepia tinted beautiful musical. All that I look back and laugh has something to do with the disciplinary methods of the school and how we managed to break the rules and regularly ended up in the Principal’s office. The phrases ‘Pin drop silence’, ‘Do not eat with your hands’ and ‘Shoes should be so clean you should see your face on it’ ring in my ears whenever my mind takes me back to my school days.

 I am sure they went a tad too much with that shoe thing. I have never seen my face on my shoes. However some teachers tried to see their reflection on my shoes and failed miserably, in turn subjecting me to their wrath. Logically speaking, this cannot be a judging factor for adherence of school rule number 2, Cleanliness. They also said that Cleanliness was Godliness, and my school shoes just kept proving that I was not God.

In my terms, a clean black school shoe is one that is NOT brown.  I've had my share of brown shoe days (it was a magical time when bad hair days were unheard of) along with many others and on such days our Principal decided that we were unfit to be in class for the first hour. Which means the first hour is basically for shoes and not people? What does that make of those kids who were allowed to attend the first hour class? Theoretically they should feel offended. However they were seen hopping away to the class with much glee and pride. Seriously I still don’t understand certain things which everyone else seems to get.

And then came the eating with hands part. Even when a fork or spoon is used we are still using our hands right? So what is the point in saying ‘Do not eat using your hands’? This can only be possible if Mummy came and fed me during lunch hour, so that I will not be using my hands, but hers. Being pure non vegetarians, our lunch consisted of fish on a daily basis. How are we supposed to eat fried dish from a deep round steel lunch box using a fork and a spoon? The chance of the fish taking off and landing somewhere else was very high. We also had vegetarians in our class and someone complaining ‘Ma’am she threw a fish into my lunch box ewwww’ was the last and only complaint left to be registered in my file. Also I am not ready to part with my fish. Same was the case with all my pure non vegetarian friends and not once in our school days did we use forks and spoons.  

And then one afternoon, I was happily sharing pending stories from the weekend to my friends. The clocked ticked its way towards the end of recess and the bell rang. I hadn't eaten much, my fingers still dipped in a tub of rice, sambar and fish. There was no way I could reach the wash room and be back before the teacher came. And I dint believe in carrying napkins my Mom gave me along with the lunch box every day, I just kept wondering why they even existed. I was caught in a pickle. Suddenly a brilliant idea struck me. I took my water bottle, put my hand out of the window and washed it. The water fell on the sun shade.

The teacher walked in watching me do the dirtiest thing that could ever happen in a convent school. And then she made me write ‘Henceforth I will not wash my hands through the window' in my school diary and asked me to get it signed from my father.

Papa was NOT a terror in our school days, but any failure in following discipline can irk him real bad. Even if I failed an academic year he would not be too bothered. However he does not tolerate bad behavior. That whole day I’d been thinking how to face him and then bring up that diary which could change my life forever. I had no excuse. I had no one to support me. Mummy was like ‘WHAT? Unbelievable! How could you…’. Our house was a complete setting for an intense drama. I ended up looking like a kid who did drugs in school. And that sun shade would have dried up already. It’s not like I drank whiskey and threw the bottle there. Whatever it is even if I say that my friend ALSO washed her hands through the window(which is my most commonly used excuse) he’d just say he dint care about anyone else. Well if he cared about me then he should have just signed that diary!

What happened next is history. Papa refused to sign, there was a lot of angry gyaan, I cried some crocodile tears and then there were talks about how my last name was also his first name and that it was shameful. The next day Papa escorted me to school.  He met the teacher, she was mighty pleased, they spoke and occasionally looked at me, and I stood there facing my shoes.


Papa was very satisfied with how seriously the school took its rules, the teacher happy that someone took her seriously, and I still couldn't see my face on the shoes.

30 comments:

  1. ay yai yai... in some ways, I guess I was lucky. I mean Chinmaya had its own set of rules and dos-and-donts but I doubt if it was as military strict as this. Definitely nothing like this whole "wash my hands out d window' bit. I actually loved my school life.. it was a joyous wondrous time.. then came medical life :((

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    1. I so loved my school life and wish I were a school girl again...most of my closes friends are the ones I met at this school, and the days I spent there are incomparable ! Military strict and all was on one side..and actually we enjoyed it more than anything else ! I LOVE MY SCHOOL !

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  2. Lol! I remember the "you are all junglees" and "what is this? A fish market?" and "This is the worst batch I've ever taught in my life". The last comment being said to ALL the batches!

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  3. Oh this post open a floodgate of schooldays memories! We used to have special dress code on Wednesdays which included white canvas shoes, which, in due course of time, would have turned into brown! After getting home, the shoe is dumped in a corner and not taken out until the next Tuesday, late into the night. By then, there's no away of washing them. So, we apply another coat of white polish with the spongy applier from the Cherry Blossom can, occasionally taking in a whiff of the polish! This goes on for weeks until the coats of polish would be thicker than the original canvas after which my mother ensured that the shoe saw water!

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    1. Canvas shoes were and still is so high maintenance and I used to hate to polish them ! And it always turns out to be a mess and whatever we do after a coat of Cherry Blossom it looks patchy !

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  4. From North to South... alll teachers use the same phrases!! My school shoes were more grey than black. And I remember wiping them often with my socks. I clearly don't remember polishing them! I think my school was more chilled out yet I am a disciplined person. Don't know how that worked out!

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    1. Our school was super strict about discipline and chilled out the rest of the time. We had extra curricular activities, music and sports all through the year, house days and inter school competitions and we had the best choir in all of Trivandrum schools !
      Somehow all my batch mates grew up to be independent and disciplined young ladies and our combined wish is to go back to school !

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  5. Hi Anita,usually i read your wonderful posts with all smiles( accidentally hit your blog some months back) ,but this particular post made me to comment. The missionary schools are really all over the same, the phrases like 'fish market' ,'junglees', 'pin drop silence' all got me nostalgic about the school days. We also use to rub chalk on the white canvas shoes in the monsoons :D

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    1. Im glad the blog brought some smiles !

      Yes everyone has their own memories of school days and convent educated ones have similar stories to tell ! :D

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  6. oops my bad, spelled your name wrong..my apologies ANEETA :)

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    1. My name is Anita, and you said it right the first time. Aneeta is just for the blog web link and of course thats how it is pronounced.

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  7. Oh I come from a convent too and I have heard these exact phrases. Gosh, I was in a school ruled by nuns and they used to check us like we carry guns. Nails had to be kept short and chopped fine. They even used to check the color of the socks. Anything less than 'Tide' white were asked to run two rounds in the ground. The shoes was another story altogether. Like Nisha, I used to wipe my shoes on my socks too and get reprimanded for the same. Sigh, school life has wonderful memories indeed. :D

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    1. Yep I know exactly what you say! But I love my school and the days I spent there were the best days of my life !

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  8. ബി ഹി ഹി ഹി .. അങ്ങനെ തന്നെ വേണം


    ഒരു സര്‍ക്കാര്‍ സ്കൂള്‍ കുട്ടി (ഒപ്പ് )

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  9. hahahah the ending!! THE MIGHTY ENDING...HHAHAHAHAHAH!!
    And seriously how can you not use your hands while eating food. You need them to hold the fork and spoon right!!!

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    1. CORRECT! Noone understands that, except us .

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  10. Once you look back, you can't help but wonder the kind of joy the Nuns derived by imposing their tyrannical idea of what's right and what's wrong!

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  11. Hahaha my mom went to a convent school and I have heard such stories from her. She made very sure that I did not have to go through the same and did not put me in a convent :D

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    1. Really? I'd put my son in a convent if I could.. ! I am just sad there are no convent schools here !

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  12. Don't use your hands to eat but using the fork or the spoon....maybe they wanted you to use your feet to hold the fork? Of course that would have lead to many children with a fork in the eye.
    Fun post! It also demonstrated that majoring in the minors is not useful or productive. And, what about the spirit of the law vs the letter of the law - there is where the small people are found.
    It is really great childhood is fairly short...

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    1. Yeah Grayquill. The best phase of our lives gets over so soon we end up reminiscing those days like forever and this forever doesnt end.

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  13. Fork to eat mathi fry.. Nunsensical. :) Great post Anita..:D

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    1. Thank you ! And Mathi fry was exactly what I meant ..I just dint mention it hahaha :D

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  14. I for one have never been within a range of ten metres from convent schools....but I know them from movies and this incident makes it even more clear that I should stay away :P

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    1. Hey hey convent schools are not bad, we also get to have a lot of fun...and contrary to general perception about nuns, they are sweet and loving people. Its just they want us to follow some rules which we may find irritating at that age but it goes a long way.

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