During 50’s & 60’s going to Municipal or Government schools in Madhya Pradesh by walk was a fun as there were no school buses or shared cycle rickshaws those days. School classes had no table chair but only gunny mats spread on the floor where we used to sit. Ball pens were never heard of. We used to write on a slate with a white a chalk pencil and used to clean the slate with wet cloth once a lesson or problem is solved. Later on, the slate was replaced by note books and we started writing with the help of ink & nib Holder but no pens. Bottle of ink and nib holders were carried in person along with the school bag or tin box. The nib used to be very important tool in improving the handwriting. Better the quality of nib better would be handwriting!
Studying in dim lights of kerosene lantern and subsequently brighter ‘Patromax’ had its own charm which can not even be imagined now. Those were the days when teachers used to be strict and corporal punishment was a normal feature. Despite the practice of corporal punishment, neither student used to get depressed nor parents used to get upset over the punishment meted out to the student. Committing suicide over such trivial issues was unheard of.
Pocket money was strictly No... No. but sometimes we do used to get few paisa on request from our parents. Otherwise we had to be contended with our own home made eatables which used to be carried in small Tiffin box. Bottled water was unheard of and we never used to fall sick even after drinking water from any tap, well or earthen pots kept in school premises.
Republic Day & Independence Day in all the schools used to be a big affair. Those days the whole atmosphere used to get charged with patriotism. We used to assemble in the school, and after unfurling the National flag and singing national anthem , all the students along with teachers used to go round the town in procession called “Prabhat Pheri”(in Hindi) in an orderly manner waiving the national flag and shouting ‘Vande Matram’ , ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ or singing patriotic songs. At all the strategic points of the town, patriotic film songs used to be played on gramophone over the loud speaker. After gong round the town, we used to re-assemble at the school to collect our sweet packet and to run for cinema theatre where any Children or Patriotic movie used to be screened free of cost exclusively for the school children.
(Published on 19/9/08 in 'Deccan Herald' newspaper)