Monday, January 10, 2011

For Tvisha – Age 15, 1981

Dear Tvisha,

1981 was a new beginning for me – it was the year I went to college. Don’t be confused. In India we start college (higher secondary as it is known) after secondary school that lasts from grade 6 till grade 10.

I joined the science stream (remember the famous wish of parents during that time? – doctor or engineer as a future career? :-)). Moreover, Krish was also in Science, so why not me too was the thought.

College was totally new after school – no more uniforms, the flexibility of not attending class when you didn’t feel like (at least that’s the way I thought, which wasn’t a good thing to do ha ha), and for me I was coming from a boys only school to a co-ed college.

So, first of all, I had to now deal with girls! Ha ha, problem was I was so shy with girls, I had no girls with whom I talked at all for almost my whole college life. The most I would do was smile at a few girls in my class. That was the extent of my friendship with them. It wasn’t the same with the boys. I had lots and lots of friends in college who were boys. The college had a gym with all kinds of games, and a canteen that were my two favorite places to hang out, apart from hanging outside the college with my friends, and friends from near our apartment, and friends of Krish. By the way the college was one block from our apartment building.

We had quite a personality who was our principal at the time, Mr. Ramaswamy. He used to be a chain smoker and would always take a walk around the college a few times during the day seeking out students who had bunked lectures and were in the canteen or in the gym. Whenever you saw some students suddenly run away from the corridor, you knew he was around and we would go and hide wherever we could :-). The problem was that I had been caught a few times by him and I had to be a little careful. I was more visible than others in college as I was out most of the time, and very rarely did attend lectures, and my attendance went from good to very poor. So my studies suffered, and what went up was my carom playing skills and my debt with the canteen guy for all the food and coffee I would go through on a daily basis.

In the meanwhile thaatha got an offer from the bank to move to one of the apartments the bank rented where we could, till the end of his tenure with the bank, live in a bigger 2 bedroom apartment in Bandra, a town around 10 miles away from Sion.

Krish and I hated the idea of moving from Sion. All our friends were there, moreover we would have to travel daily by bus to reach our college in Sion whereas now it was a half a minute walk. Bandra was an upscale town where all the rich people lived. So we branded all of them as snobs. Thaatha was adamant that he wanted to live there. So although we shifted all our stuff to the bank’s apartment, Krish and I continued to spend the day and almost all nights in Sion.

Now in Sion, since there was no adult with us, the apartment became a den with any of our friends walking in when they chose, and there always used to be some guys there. It got so bad that at times, even we wouldn’t know who was in our house when we would go there. All this was because we had spare keys to the apartment out to some of our friends. We knew this had to stop.

We lived in Pali Hill, Bandra. It is a place where a lot of film actors lived, and very rich individuals. It is a very affluent part of Bombay, with the sea nearby and has a lot of clubs and gymkhanas to cater to these folks. Each family in the apartment building had at least one car. Initially there were not many people to be seen at all, and even if we did see them, most of the time they would be getting into or out of their cars.

Krish and I formed a very false impression about the building we moved to, as we would find out in some months. Aided by this perception, there was shyness as well that stopped us from really approaching the guys our age whom we did see there to become friends with. Until then we would live in Sion, and commute once or twice a week to be with thaatha.

- Appa

No comments: