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Here’s a little ode to my alma mater, keeping in tune with the nostalgia-flooded posts that I’ve been coming up with of late. It’s been over four years since I passed out, and the visits to my school (despite living just a couple of hours away) have been thinning down. I’d read Amrutha write about how Chennai had changed over the years, and my primary school memories were rekindled.

Yes yes, we all wish we went back to those toddler days of primary schools, when all we had to worry about was passing the next tamizh tervu (Tamil test) or finishing that Hydrilla experiment without breaking the glassware borrowed from the Quest lab or the School day rehersals. No career driven plans, no worries on earning, no issues on being single, no need to drive anything but the bicycle with side wheels ensuring I don’t fall, no need to blog! 😛

And I’m dedicating this post to a particular aspect of my school days – music! Vidya Mandir was one of the finest schools in the city (no this isn’t open to debate, and any libels in the comment section will be deleted: a warning to P.S. products), and a considerable amount of importance was given to extracurricular activities. In the undying words of K.S.R.,

Vidya mandir students are allowed to grow. PS students are made to grow. DAV paththi sollave venam.

Now, coming back to praising extracurriculars, learning music – both Indian and Western was an integral part of our school-life. The Indian music classes were invariably praises to several Hindu Gods on the likes of Muruga muruga thirumaal maruga neatly printed on a book titled Gaanamanjari, and were never enjoyed as much as the Western music classes were.

No, we didn’t have rock bands playing or Bryan Adams singing, but what we had was priceless – a nice big piano and a dedicated teacher whose name was Meena miss (often confused by parents with another teacher with the same name, but the kids knew who’s who). There were so many songs I still remember: some Christmas carols, some romantic, some just plain funny! The class was invariably split gender-wise (almost was an unsaid rule – we just never interacted until we came of a certain age, if I might put it that way), and the girls usually almost always were annoyed with the boys singing Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling, Clementine (varying the extended e at the end of Clementine making it sound more like a donkey’s bray). Another favourite was the Twelve days of Christmas, counting down to a partridge on a pear tree.

Hole in my bucket

And the hole in my bucket in the title is with reference to this infinite-loop song, which usually involved the whole class being split into two – the boys playing Henry in chorus, and the girls becoming Liza. I still remember one instance when we sang it twice in series, almost like film buffs screaming “once more, once more” on seeing their favourite numbers. And here’s the lyrics for those of you who have been in that room and sung that song:

There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
Then fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, fix it.
With what shall I fix it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I fix it, dear Liza, with what?
With some straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With some straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, some straw.
The straw is too long, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The straw is too long, dear Liza, too long,
Then cut it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then cut it, dear Henry, dear Henry, cut it.
With what shall I cut it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I cut it, dear Liza, with what?
With an axe, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With an axe, dear Henry, dear Henry, an axe.
The axe is too dull, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The axe is too dull, dear Liza, too dull.
Then whet it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then whet it, dear Henry, dear Henry, whet it.
With what shall I whet it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I whet it, dear Liza, with what?
With a stone, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With a stone, dear Henry, dear Henry, a stone.
The stone is too dry, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The stone is too dry, dear Liza, too dry.
Then moisten it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then moisten it, dear Henry, dear Henry, moisten it.
With what shall I moisten, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I moisten, dear Liza, with what?
Try water, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Try water, dear Henry, dear Henry, try water.
From where shall I get it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
From where shall I get it, dear Liza, from where?
From the well, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
From the well, dear Henry, dear Henry, the well.
In what shall I fetch it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
In what shall I fetch it, dear Liza, in what?
In a bucket dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
In a bucket dear Henry, dear Henry, in a bucket.
There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole.

*Book picture courtesy Boyds Mills Press.

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Aangilam again

School days make us nostalgic in more than one way – innocent infatuations, ruthless running around campus without meaning, and the list goes on. One thing that makes us laugh every time we think of school is the language used by most physical education trainers, who’re more fondly called PT sirs. I’ve even enjoyed discussing some of the quotes my trainer with peers from other schools. I present to you some of the ones I’ve cherished – I’m sure you’d have heard many of them yourself.

  • Sit together separately
  • I saw you three going doubles last evening
  • I have two daughters – both girls
  • Stand in a straight circle
  • Open the window, let the atmosphere come in (or for that matter, let the air force in would fit in just as much) – and for those of you wondering when the trainers come inside classrooms, they do so when they act as proxies for other teachers

And I had Nikhil add some more to glorify the list

  • Boys, come in! (to call us to attention)
  • Tell 1,2 da! (to split the class into two lines)
  • Principal is passing away (when they mean to say passing-by)
  • There is no wind in the ball, da! (priceless)
  • She talking, me talking – middle middle why you talking?

… and that brings us to my all time favorite: “boys stand to my left, girls to my right, and others in the middle.”

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