1964 to 1976
23456! I am sure all those who have been students of MIS know what it stands for.
I joined the school way back in 1964, when I was 5 and the school barely 8 years old. My late father knew Chachaji – Shri Surendra Nath Jauhar and that is how I landed up here. It was then called ‘The Mothers School’, the ‘International’ came later in 1970. The road too was called Mehrauli Road. It became Shri Aurobindo Marg later. I have studied in no other school, no other section (only ‘B’) and passed out in 1976. It is my great lament that none of my children have studied here because Indian Railways never gave me a posting at Delhi.
The school had huge playgrounds towards the Hauz Khas end. Beyond that were fields, now usurped by the present school building. The fields were separated by small water canals. During the recess, we would play with paper boats on the canal and pluck a radish or two from the fields.
The campus had many trees and there was so much to explore! The four mulberry trees in front of the assembly hall used to start giving fruit in late March, a reminder that the annual examinations were not far off. Climbing them after school hours and plucking the juiciest ones was a passion.
I remember: Mr Bhola, Mr Madhok and Mr Shekhar joined the school almost simultaneously. While Mr Bhola taught maths, Mr Madhok taught physics. Mr Shekhar, ‘looked after’ the students besides teaching maths. They have now become legendary for the latter day students. Mr Madhok’s signatures looked like ‘less’, though they were only the initials ‘k.m’, for Kiran Madhok.
Mr R.P. Sharma was our physics teacher in the 9th class. He used to pronounce ‘b’ as ‘v’. So we went to the lavaratory’ and not ‘laboratory’ for experiments. Dr Raghubir Sharan, taught us Maths. He was a simple man and students played pranks in his class, yet it is also a fact that he really cleared our maths fundas, especially calculus.
Other notables were Ms Anima Chandra, Ms Vibha Raizada, and Ms Surinder Sharma. We also had a legendary Hindi poet Omprakash Aditya as our Hindi teacher. I also would mention our Arts teacher Mr Lal Chand. Those were the times when our school did very well in the Shankar’s on the spot painting competition. I too had my painting selected once. As they say, we grew up in front of them.
Mr Pradhan did not teach us but was very fond of cricket. Those days there was no live telecast of test matches on Doordarshan- the only channel. Running commentary on radio was the only ‘live’ telecast. ‘Asia 72’ brand of pocket transistors had been introduced in the market and Mr Pradhan had one. He often got away from the classrooms to hear the latest score on his ‘Asia 72’. Some student always managed to trace him and ask him the latest score, much to his embarrassment.
Shahid Kapur became famous in the film Kaminey by talking with an f accent, but the real one was our P.T. teacher – Mifter Karim! When our class went to the field to play football, he used to say “fab ke fab chafe aate ho. Difipline naam ki cheez nahi hai. Mifter Fekhar ko report karunga”. Later a Ramayana play was staged in the school in which Mifter Karim played the role of Raavan. “Ram our Feeta kahaan hain?” he asked playing the role.
The School Uniform
When I joined the school, the uniform was all white, a cloth belt with two blue and one white middle strip with a silver colored buckle with the school name on it. We also had a school badge, with a blue background. It displayed a bird with Mother’s symbol and ‘more true more true for ever written on it.
Afterwards for a short period there was no school uniform. However, this experiment failed as nobody liked it. Then another idea was imposed. Instead of an all white uniform round the week, we had to wear shorts/trousers/skirts of the house colour with belt too of the same colour. There were 4 houses — Aspiration (Grey), Gratitude (Blue), Sincerity (Maroon) and Perfection (Green). I hope I got the colours right!
Later, we reverted to the all-white uniform with Modella Grey Trousers and Blue Blazer for the winter. That is what we wore for our Group photograph when we passed out of Higher Secondary (XI Standard) in 1976. Amitabh Bacchhan type hairstyle with ears covered was the rage along with bell bottoms.
The Morning Assembly is how our day began. The Assembly hall had a sort of sanctum sanctorum in which two big framed photographs of Shri Aurobindo and the Mother were placed. Students sat on the floor on coir mattresses class wise, while the teachers sat on chairs. A row in the middle with the sanctum sanctorum at one end separated the assembly into two. Those with assembly recitation duty had to wait outside
After the 2 prayer songs, initiated by Annadidi, and sung by all, came the time for recitations. One by one, those nominated for the day had to walk in, recite the quotations from the works of Shri Aurobindo and the Mother, and sit on the front row. Recitations in the morning assembly made us get over the fear of public speaking.
December 5th, 1950 was the day when Shri Aurobindo took mahasamadhi. This was observed as
the mahasamadhi divas, when there was a long prayer and bhajan session in the Samadhi lawns. In the end of we offered flowers on the samadhi moving in rows, class wise. It was something we looked forward to. Sitting in the lawns in the mild December sun, away from classes was a pleasure.
A unique feature of MIS was the trip to Pondicherry (in Class VI) and to Nainital (in Class VIII).
We went to Pondicherry by the Grand Trunk Express to Chennai and beyond that by road. It was my first train journey and that too without parents. We carried a princely sum of Rs 105 for the almost month long trip. It is here that I had the unforgettable experience of touching feet of THE MOTHER. We spent almost 15 minutes with her. We also visited Auroville, then in its infancy with construction of Matri Mandir just having begun. We stayed just on the beach enjoying a sea bath every day.
And believe it or not, we returned to Delhi by the School Bus. The night halts were at Cuddapah, Hyderabad, Adilabad, Nagpur, Jabalpur, Satna….What an experience!
In Nainital, we stayed in an old bungalow called Ben Nevis. We did shramdaan in the mornings and went for walks in the various mountains. There was so much to do in that lovely weather. Some learnt rock climbing also.
School picnics meant a walk to Qutub Minar with our lunch boxes. Qutub Minar was much more accessible these days as the colonies of Saket and beyond had not come up and the Mehrauli Road was not teeming with traffic as today. We returned in time to catch the School buses hired from DTC. The bus routes were A, A-1, A-2, A-3 and B.
Apart from the annual day, we also had inter-house competitions in sports, folk dances, debates, declamation and quizzing. Then as now, I loved quizzing. Bournvita Quiz Contest (BQC) in those days was a radio programme hosted by Late Hamid Sayani, the elder brother of the legendary Amin Sayani. A four member team was selected for the BQC. I was the 4th member (12th man!) and the youngest, being in Class VIII, while the other 3 were from Class X. We went to a recording studio in Daryaganj in taxis accompanied by our teacher Smt. Gopal. We lost in the 2nd round. All of us received a can of Bounvita as gift.
In the final of a GK quiz in 1975, the finalists were Aspiration and Gratitude (my house). The decider question was ‘Who was the Prime Minister of Britain when India gained Independence?” I gave the wrong reply-“Winston Churchill”. Rohini Dua from Aspiration seized the opportunity and they won with Clement Attlee.
Participating in KBC in 2007, it was again the British who foxed me. This time I was not sure who had inaugurated the Gateway of India in December 1925. So, I quit with the prize of Rs 50 lakhs, of which one third went as TDS. Yet it is a matter of pride that in its junior version in 2001, it was yet another Mother’s Blossom Siddharth Kothari who won Rs 25 lakhs.
Though I have never attended a single Alumni meet, since I passed out, and not seen the school in last 25 years, I remain a great admirer of MIS, the school which gave me values and skills that have helped me in my life. What I have written above may not be interesting to the newer students, but to those of my vintage, I am sure it will evoke some nostalgia at least.