Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The DAV experience

Many people are in awe of the fact that I am from DAV Girls, Gopalapuram. Before joining the school, even I had a lot of pre-conceived notions. They were the elite, untouchable and a thing of reverence and obviously, scorn.

The entrance examination is a routine picnic from our school. Every 10th grader wrote the exam. Every. Statistically two people would get selected and by some strange whim of fate, I was selected. (Believe me, I had no intention to!). Now, personally the idea of shifting schools was repugnant to me. I knew that the reason why I am the way I am, different yet the same was because of my school. How could I leave my home?

Then, most of my friends were also leaving and I was on the edge. To leave or not to leave? And then...

We had a meeting. All the selected candidates. Possibly my future class. It was just a routine class. The Principal was standing there and lecturing, interacting with the crowd. I was used to general awe with Principal, here they were chatting and answering. And I do not know what hit me, but in that class, I just felt this vibe, this energy, this total Dragon-Ball-Z-ball-of-fire just hit me. I felt the pulse of forty-odd girls sitting there, so powerful and special in their own way. I can't explain what I felt. I was already friends with four of them in IIT class. I just felt this class was special.

So I took the decision that changed my life. I decided to change schools and join DAV.

The first morning I was impressed that they actually welcomed the new students. The introductory Havan followed. Accursed are people like me who couldn't comprehend anything except 'idan na mama' and 'svaha'. I had a nice nap for fifteen minutes. Then, the new school prayer. Then, Javdev ji, an impressionable man who was famous for his "my beloved daughters" and his ability to command respect. Speaking of respect,  we said "Namaste" just like at my old school. Soon, I found the teachers as caring as the ones in my old school. Slowly, I found myself in a home away from home.

I still remember my first class. I was sent to get the books from the Art room. I had no clue where it was, but I think the teacher assumed I knew because I seemed very comfortable and seemed to belong there. I made friends with quite a few people already. And my Chemistry teacher suddenly asked me to define "Element". I think I told the answer, I remember being surprised being asked a question first thing in the morning.  In my old school, I was this shy person who never spoke until spoken to in front of new faces. I was already on the precipice of change.

And as Purnima Padmanabhan eloquently puts it, "We turned a sane person into an insane nut!"

I became far more extroverted. And I shocked everyone on Teacher's day, speaking in front of all those people with so much emotion and thanking them. Because, I saw the same sort of faces I respected in my old school.

And, inspired by this, I was put down for debate. Where I completely flopped, got stuck in the middle. I was like that. After the first cycle test, I was applauded for getting first in math and computer science and at the same time, so low in physics. I existed in extreme roles. I was a bundle of confusing and conflicting stuff, unsteady yet dependable. And I loved every minute of it.

And the teachers? Well, they were exactly like those I had in my old school, all caring and nice. Any student who has taken computer science will worship UT ma'am. She is THE best.  But what made DAV most memorable were not the marks or the teachers.

It was the 40-odd students in my class, each of whom I can proudly call my dear friend.

I've already mentioned I was a very shy person, I'm also, even today, very choosy about choosing my close friends. But over there, I felt I met 40 mirror images of me (enantiomers ;-) All dedicated, independent girls, girls the society can lean on, sound and trustable, as they say in Malory Towers.

One striking feature in this school was, a huge level of transparency. You could leave your stuff behind, however expensive, and you'll find it, even if you came to school after a week. And you'd get selected for your merit. No one thought twice before selecting me for shotput or for poetry or for march-past. It didn't matter I was a new student, everyone had selections, fair-and-square within school hours. Every Saturday two hours were for inter-house activities. I was in Shivaji house, and a more enthusiastic participant you couldn't have met (never mind I wasn't always successful, I distinctly remember injuring an innocent guy with a discus and tripping spectacularly over the high jump) No stereotypes existed. Zero. And we hated being called nerds. We just love to study yes, but that isn't the only thing we can do.

I had the roughest luck possible, I seriously missed a lot of fun with my class. Including the two trips. Still, truer friendships never existed.

Now, I can't see everything through rose-tinted glasses. There were a few downsides. It was an intense period. There were a few rainy days. If it were not for my friends, Rashmi Sampath and Purnima Padmanabhan and the encouragement of Nisha Chandramoorthy, I would have been completely miserable. And I returned the favour when they were down. I think in eleventh standard, all of us experienced all sorts of ups and downs but being together made it bearable. On a lighter side, I could never get used to all the noise, girls can talk! And we kept getting advice on topics I felt were completely unnecessary. But then, who likes advice?

Speaking of rain, I think the view outside our window was simply tranquil and beautiful. Especially downright ecstatic on rainy days. It was a forest-like square adjacent to our school. I still remember, Nisha nearly got her head stuck in the window looking at it! Lunch breaks were fun, unless Princi took it for chemistry class. I'd rant on and on about French Revolution, Shakespeare, Russian Revolution, Joan of Arc, Scarlet Pimpernel,  Zitkala Sa to my faithful audience of Saru Lakshmi, Anjana Easwar and at times, Hamsini Krishnakumar and Nisha Chandramoorthy. My best friend, Rashmi Sampath would mysteriously disappear at these jucntures, she couldn't stand my stories. And Saru and your Twinkle Head Twinkle Twinkle, honestly?!! Namratha Divakaran, I really pity you for being christened THTT, but you will always be our NON, which by the way, I think it stands for Nerdy Owl of Nanganalllur. Or was Megha from Nanganallur? Anyway, Megha Subramanium, who else but our class could christen you Pico after dear Sindhu Ma'am s  pronunciation. And christening names, God, Vardhnee was named Cassowari. She actually googled to find what it was and was annoyed to find that it was one of the weirdest birds in existence. Srinidhi and Vardhnee were quite the double act, you couldn't see one without the other. We became fast friends right from IIT class, sometimes having lunch with them in the huge circle in the corridor.  If I remember right, Alagu Alagappan, N Divya, A Nivetha, Raji Chandrasekaran, perhaps Preethi Rajasekaran? I forget the details. Of course, you could never see Preethi without Niveditha Raveendran, who by some strange sarcasm of God ended up going for physics tuition from the very person I ran away from my school and we had loads of fun laughing over that.  And how could I forget the two names that completely stuck - Bunny for Gayatri Viswanathan, probably the only sensible nickname, and Moonji for Vandhanaa (I forgot the origins :-P ). Varuna, did you have any nickname? You definitely were one of the most expressive people I've met. I remember all you guys so clearly, Pari the sports star, Pavi her best friend, Sushruthi Ramesh, the mostu helpful person when I fell ill (yes yes I know, quite a lot of times :-P ), and yes, finally I have to come to my own universal nickname, Dodo, after my bulbing efficacy by the shortest and youngest and the most fun Vidhya Abirami Iyer. Yes, I didn't have many friends from the bio section, but we did get on capitally. Who can forget our egg-head Surbhi Sharma? Sad, you had to leave in twelfth. We all missed you. Siddhi, I wrote the entrance with you, I don't know if you remember. Quiet Shriya Prasad, Induja Kannan and the diametrically opposite Jyotsna Rane. Jayavarshini Jothivel, Gayathri Ramachandran. Oh, and how can I miss you out? Shivani Patel the I-will-eat-Lays-everyday-and-not-on-put-a-gram-of-fat and Srijani Dutta, I can never forget your voice when you'd complain. And the stark opposite voice of Avi Singh. I was her first partner and she was like, am glad I came here, its so quiet and noise gives me migraines. If that's the case, then I think her old school should come with soundproof systems. And finally, our director Iffat Shakeel.

The farewell we gave, Tassavur was legend. The auditorium was an authentic scene from Arabian Nights. The lights, the food, the candles, it was so exquisite. The painstaking backdrop painting. Our class was absorbed in the "Alibaba and the Forty Wives", a play that involved a polygamist Ali Baba (Avi) , Alagu as a Powerpuff girl, Bunny and I don't remember the other one was - Shriya? , and Rapunzel as Iffat and Megha - Cindrella and a host of other characters. The dance for Mayya is still etched in my mind. I was part of mock awards - sync with shakespeare and monocotyledolls and what not? It was a beautiful day.

I also remember playing basketball. I learnt what Harry Potter has been telling me all the time, size is no guarantee of power, our star players being Pari and Alagu. And mind you its Alagu and Azhagu.

That Chemistry Project! I have extensively covered it here.

Yoga was another interesting thing. Whether you liked it or not, we had lots to discuss about (homework?!) . We were a really helpful class. I never felt any rough spots in the class. No egos or clashes. Every opportunity was discussed. Nowhere else could I say I don't like Tamil movies or cricket and get away with it. I remember Srinidhi brought Narnia for me to see when the three of us met.

All too soon, it was time for our farewell on 14 February 2009. I was ill, but I was determined to come and I did just in the nick of time. It was such a blur, the music, the food, the dance. I remember the few days preceding everyone looked so studious - filling out scrap books!

Quoting Charles Dickens, it was the best of times and the worst of times but it definitely is the most memorable of times. I miss you girls so much. Especially the ones who are in my college itself, we hardly ever meet :-/ Still, I wanted to finish this post on the third anniversary of our farewell, here it is finally.


  1. How come an emotional recounting of school days after so long?
    I feel glad to get a mention in this blog post !

  2. I wanted to release it on anniversary of farewell day :)

  3. "Many people are in awe of the fact that I am from DAV Girls, Gopalapuram." - such an accidentally pithy statement for what is wrong with education in this country.

  4. Hi, thank you very much for help. I am going to test that in the near future. Cheers.

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