Monday, 30 June 2014

OLPS High School - The good old days






The principal of the boy’s school was an Irish priest Rev Father McGrath, hailing from Dublin, and the teachers were mainly Goan with a few from Mangalore, Maharastra, South and North. And major part of the students hailed from Goa. So football was the main sport. Cricket was reduced to a secondary sport. OLPS produced good footballers, some of whom went on to play for the state and popular clubs......

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I studied in a convent school, Our Lady of Perpetual High School (OLPS for short) in Chembur, a suburb of Mumbai. My two siblings junior to me also studied here. And my only sister studied in the adjacent St Anthony’s Girls High School. Those were really fun and carefree days. Later my son and daughter too passed out from OLPS and St Anthony’s. Two generations passed out from these reputed schools. So these schools have a special place in my life. I firmly believe, I am what I am today because of my education here under the able teachers. And credit should go to my mother who was keen and insistent that we all siblings study in these schools. The environment around the school was quiet and peaceful, very much suitable for the schools located there.


The principal of the boy’s school was an Irish priest Rev Father McGrath, hailing from Dublin, and the teachers were mainly Goan with a few from Mangalore, Maharastra, South and North. And major part of the catholic students hailed from Goa. So football was the main sport. Cricket was reduced to a secondary sport. OLPS produced good footballers, some of whom went on to play for the state and popular clubs. Just next to OLPS is St Anthony’s School for girls, is managed by nuns.

St Anthony's Girls High School
A common compound wall separated the two schools and the playground attached to the respective schools. Boys will be boys. Some of the mischievous boys would tease the girls on the other side or throw stones on the trees across to fell and steal the ripe tamarinds. Apart from this, there was a continuous feud between the boys and girls of the two schools. The girls called the boys school – ‘cardboard’ and the boys retaliated by calling the girls school – ‘tabela’; though this was all said in fun. 



I still remember the two bulky books, the boys would hate to carry to school, the red English grammar book, Wren & Martin, some boys would jokingly call it China's Mao's red book; and the Blue Dondo, the French text book, considered to be the ‘blue French bible.’ Now they are not to be seen.


OLPS playground
I also remember the French sir, one of the few male teachers. He was an old Parsi gentleman called Dorabjee, wearing white starched coat and pants, who would use two spectacles, one of distance and one for reading. He was so good he had literally memorized Dondo and was even familiar with the page numbers and the contents in those pages of a nearly 400 pages book.

I studied French for 3 years. But now my French is limited to – Bonjure, La Gason, La fee, Quez ke liya, etc. it was here we brushed up the languages – English, Hindi and Marathi, along with other subjects. I get sentimental whenever I think of my teachers or happen to see the photograph of the school building. My foundation was laid here by my teachers. Generation after generation, children have passed out from here to occupy top positions and make a name for themselves. Full credit goes to the school and the teachers for the good foundation in life.

OLPS Church
I remember them with fondness. In school, you are close knit and cared for, you are scolded and encouraged to study and participate in sports. The annual class picnic, the sports day and the annual day were great events all the students looked forward to. In college nobody bothers whether you study or not, you are just one of the students there. You are literally on your own. The school bonding among friends and class mates remain when you grow up and it is always a pleasure to meet your class mates anywhere, in India or abroad. It immediately strikes a special chord and you tend to get nostalgic. I also remember the church we used to occasionally go to pray.

I will be accused of leaking a secret! The naughty boys had funny nick names for their favourite teachers - the fast walking and talking slim Hindi teacher with glasses was called 'railgadi', after the Hindi poem on the same subject. Mr Dorabji, the French sir was called 'Dondo' after the famous thick blue French text book. Mrs Periera was known as 'Honda', as her husband would drop in a Honda bike, very rare those days. Mrs Athaide was known as the 'Sleeping Beauty' for her relaxed approach. Mr Chaturvedi was fondly called 'Bhaiya'. Another young pretty teacher, I am not sure, named Jude teaching 5th or 6th standard in the late sixties was called 'Dolly'. And the best of all, Father Fonseca who took charge after Rev Father McGrath in 1969-70 was popularly known as 'Baap', meaning father or big bully!

And some of the teachers whom I remember - Mrs D'Costa teaching fourth standard and her her son Godwin happened to be my classmate. Mrs Almeida teaching in sixth standard and residing in a building near St Anthonys school. Mr Victor, the PT sir. Mrs Saldhana teaching us Science. Mrs Fernandes, the tall lady with glasses teaching English; and her husband happened to be my Professor teaching English in college. Mr Kunder, the Hindi sir, Mr Acharya, the maths sir, Mr Wad, Mrs Gupte, Mrs Deshpande, all teaching Marathi. And Mr Verghese teaching science. Apart from them, Mr Saldhana, husband of our Science teacher from the school office and the fair, tall, smiling Robert who started as a peon in the school and continued for many years.


I also remember somewhere in 1969-70, my small reputation of playing cricket for a local team in Chembur as an opening bat and pace bowler reached the ears of some boys in school. I was asked to captain and select the school cricket team to play a match against the ex-students who had passed out a couple of years earlier. The match was played on a matting wicket in the dusty school ground. I don't remember the scores or the result, but many were impressed with my pace bowling and yorkers. And the boys in the stand would shout, Ajit Pai (after the lanky pace bowler Ajit Pai of the then Bombay Ranji team who bowled in tandem with Ismail) while running in to bowl at the ex-student batsmen.  And the name stuck for sometime till I was in school. I went on to play for a couple of years in college, and then got more interested in Journalism and advertising copy.


If I remember correctly in 1970, for the first time, the boys had a joint farewell party with the girls of St Anthonys girls school; as was the custom those days, students of the tenth standard would organise and host a farewell party for the eleventh standard students. And it was also a farewell to Mr Dorabji, the French sir who retired from teaching after a long tenure with OLPS. It was a very sentimental moment for all. Also remember the loud, big, smoking school bus owner Silver Pinto, staying opposite the school, was an active member during the annual sports day and other activities of the school.


Childhood and school days are real fun and care free days you miss when you grow up when you get busy with the responsibility and practicalities of everyday life. But it brings happiness when you look back at those carefree and playful days. I am proud that I was a student of Our Lady Perpetual Succour High School, like many others who have passed out and are doing well for themselves. 


However as time changes, things change. A lot of changes have happened in the school and surrounding areas. But I hope the spirit remains the same.








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2 comments:

  1. I was googling Father McGrath and found your blog. I graduated from OLPS in 1971. I identified with all you said, tabela and the rest of it. And Dorabji. I met Father McGrath in about 2000 when he visited OLPS. He was the about same. I am a big success due to him and the school. Yes, I did not have much fun on the way (due to the guilt) but I went far. So, I fully endorse your write-up.

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  2. Try my blog at dailytelos.WordPress.com

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