Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Zest of St Thomas' - You and Me

Hello dear Thomasite, 

My dad tells me - "whenever you feel low, remember that you are a Thomasite."Trust me, it works. 
This is an open letter to all of you. All the proud woman, who once adorned the STS badge. 

I am sure, all of you today, are independent and strong woman. You have your own identity. You may or may not yet be successful, but each of you strive hard towards achieving the best which your heart wants, and you mind says.Creating one's own identity is a task. You need to explore your potential and your interests, and follow the path of desire. You have to tread a difficult path, and then you create yourself. St Thomas' enables this. She helps us realize who we are, and what we can do. And through this, she has spread the light. Like her motto says, "Light to Lighten", she enlightened us, so that we can take it forward. 

There comes a pause. 

Through this post, I ask all of you - how many of you have spread the light it further? I can hear a lot of ayes. Feel proud of this fact. I can hear some "can't say/ don't know". Think about it again. You spread it in your profession and personal life, amidst family and friends, amongst colleagues and clients. So, now is it an "aye"? Excellent!! 

Read more. 

Woman in India are oppressed. There is no doubt about it. We are treated as second class citizens. The much talked about divide amongst rich and poor makes it worse. India is definitely a country of extremes. Indian woman faces challenges at every stage in her life. Be it professional, personal or social life. Gender inequality, female foeticide, illetracy, child marriage, sexual assault, non marital and marital rape, harassment at work, oppression at home within the family, and the list goes on. 

I do not know how to solve this ad sort this. But there definitely is a way to reduce this, to an extent possible. As a fellow Thomasite, I appeal to you all. If each of us pledge, to help a woman in need, a woman who cannot help herself, who doesn't have enough support, guidance or education: our country will be a better place. 
So, are you with me? How many "ayes"? 

Let's spread the zest, the zest of STS!! 

Oh yes, and all NRIs and PIOs (me included) - there are several ways to help Indian woman, especially in the virtual world. I have started to be a part of the MILAAP community, and trying to do my bit. I encourage you to do the same. Milaap helps woman, who are partially independent, and are in need. For more details visit -, and be the change. 

My memories of my alma mater are evergreen. I thank fellow blogger Arlee Bird to seed the thought of this challenge, was back in 2010. And I thank indiblogeshwaris for giving the right push, and land me into this. Once I was in, there was no way out. And from April 1st, started the journey of my most cherished memories of my life, the memories of school days. 

This post is dedicated to the A-to-Z blogging challenge - the largest Blog Challenge in the history of Blogkind. My selected theme is "memories of St. Thomas' "- my Alma mater. This is the twenty sixth and the last post of the challenge 2014, and is linked to the letter Z: Zest of STS. 

Linking this post to UBC too. 

Yonder are the bricks of red

Yonder are  the bricks of red
Girding our dreams and hopes
Alma Mater so dear and old
Whose motto we do uphold
Light!! Light!! Light to lighten!!
Keep it glowing till the end of the world
Light!! Light!! Light to lighten!!
Keep the light of life aglow.

Cherished and taught by her
We are sent out into the world
To break the fetters of pain
And to lift up the weak ad slain
Live!! Live!! Don't just exist!!
Conquer the fold, and lead the whole world
Live!! Live!! Don't just exist!!
Is the silent plea of her soul.

Oh STS how may we
Try to be worthy of thee
Now standing of life's threshold
We pay our homage to thee
Reach!! Reach!! Reach for the heights!!
And when you get there, Reach for the next star
Reach!! Reach!! Reach for the heights!!
Is the challenge that we must take. 

Some things in life are never to be forgotten, never erased. Some words are by heart. So is my school song. Trust me, I typed it in one go, word by word. I sometimes sing the last paragraph. It gives me energy to go on. To live by the promise. To never give up, keep going, even when it gets tough. 

Life maybe really cruel, or maybe so is what you think!! 

This post is dedicated to the A-to-Z blogging challenge - the largest Blog Challenge in the history of Blogkind. My selected theme is "memories of St. Thomas' "- my Alma mater. This is the twenty fifth  post of the challenge, and is linked to the letter Y: Yonder are the bricks of red. 

Linking this post to UBC too. 

Xmas parties @STS

Christmas. The best time of the year. And christmas parties. Ask any Thomasite, and she will swear. The Xmas party day, used to be the best day of the year. 

The venue of the dhol tamasha, DJ and dancing (its bigger than what it looks in the picture)

The Xmas party was an annual event. It was held a day after the christmas play. Class decorations, informal dresses were allowed, non stop music in the class and in the big quadrangle, Dhol, a Delhi must (a double headed drum) and food. That day STS was not a school. I am not sure when did this all start. But God bless the soul. Sheer fun. It started from shopping for dresses. Everyone had to look the best. It was like a fashion parade for the senior school. Of a different kind. No ramp, no careful walk. Just self controlled rampage. Teachers not far behind, enjoyed it all as well. For junior school, it was more like a competition of class decoration, which was done a day before. Our classroom had to look the best. 

When I was in Class 10, a distasteful incident within the school, led to a stern decision by my then pricipal, Mrs Manoharan. The informal dressing was banned. Since then, the parties were in school uniforms. It did dampen the spirit, for a while. but nothing could stop the "Indian style" christmas party!! 

Much love to my alma mater!! 

This post is dedicated to the 
A-to-Z blogging challenge - the largest Blog Challenge in the history of Blogkind. My selected theme is "memories of St. Thomas' "- my Alma mater. This is the twenty fourth post of the challenge, and is linked to the letter X: Xmas Parties @ STS. 

Linking this post to UBC too. 

Ma'am, may I go to drink water?

Sprite bujhaye pyaas
Baaki sab bakwaas..

No way. It had always been the water. Then, today and forever. After surds, trigonometry and quadratic equations, the water cooler used to be the escape.

"Ma'am, may I go to drink water?"

Teachers used to think twice before saying a yes. After each period, the bell rang, and the queue at the water coolers grew longer. The big green water cooler. Taps had to be either pressed, or lifted up for the water to flow, and the gush of cold H2O would chill our dry throats. Dry of chattering away to glory, be merely standing in the queue - admiring the teachers and seniors (sometimes a little bit of loose talk as well - do not kill me for this), ragging the juniors, or envying the talented batchmates. 

In the world of purifiers and RO systems, I wonder how many of us would drink water from the old refrigerated school coolers. I have a gut feel, the coolers must be fitted with such systems now, just for their survival. I need to cross check this. 

Water reminds me of this: 
I carried it till class 7, and lost it umpteen number of times. Finally, totally abandoned it, out of embarrassment. Seniors do not carry water bottles and lunch boxes. Well, they just manage. Fool's thought. Who leaves home without water, that too at 45 degrees? Oh, yes, it was me. 

Water reminds me of the monsoons. The rains. Puddles of water to splash around. Slip in the puddle while accepting a challenge to walk across, and then beg Sister Thomas, for extra skirt, to change. (This is truth, experienced truth). 
Once, when it was raining hard, my Hindi teacher, Mrs Vinod, ordered samosas for all of us. Peter, the canteen guy, was thrilled. It was me and my friend Anjana, who had the responsibility to get the samosas to the classroom. While going down the stairs, we slipped. Both of us, together, hand in hand. And the first thing came in our mind. Thank god, we didnt slip while going back with the yummilicious samosas. We would have wasted the delicacies. Up we stood, and ran to the canteen, getting drenched. Thank god, it was the last period of the day. 

This post is dedicated to the 
A-to-Z blogging challenge - the largest Blog Challenge in the history of Blogkind. My selected theme is "memories of St. Thomas' "- my Alma mater. This is the twenty third  post of the challenge, and is linked to the letter W: Water bottles and water coolers 

Linking this post to UBC too. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Victories, virtues and virginity


Board Results, debates, admads, quiz, modelling competitions, dramatics, dance, street plays, basketball, athletics, kho-kho (yes, trust me) - STS participated in all sorts of competitions, and won many, not all. Victories were celebrated with vigour. Defeats were taken in stride. I don't recall any nagging n ragging of girls who lost the competitions. Participating amongst India's top students is enough to earn respect, isn't it?

School's board results are always good. Students stand amongst top CBSE scorers.
But this post is not about singing laurels of STS. That's not the only objective. My memories attached with them is what I want you all to know.

In the fall, STS holds a week long celebration. My memory says it's known as book week. Each day is celebrated as a subject day. So we had English day, Hindi day, Mathematics day, Science day and Social science day. Each day full of activities related to the subject. Quiz, debates, street plays, skits  and various other competitions. Learning Shaw, Premchand, Einstein and Algebra, all in a week, was memorable and cherished. So many students from all different schools participated in the events. How can I forget to mention, those were times when we used to have boys in our school, for a refreshing change. Wins and losses, all were celebrated. The much awaited STS book week was a success every year.

I recall attending a 2 day science fest at St. Columba's. Our school won the quiz and the science modelling competition. Some cold drink company was the sponsor, therefore the first phase of the quiz was - drinking a cola as soon as possible. Fastest was the winner of that round. Yes, we did win. :) Dear friend, Prarthana Dhameja, did it for us. The liberalization phase had gripped the economy by then. So had the Cola war. 
Along with ours, we used to cheer and celebrate for other schools as well. The school needs to be our favorites. A lot of "yay yay Modern!!" was heard on the basketball courts. Fun times!! 


Quite recently, my cousin brother, who has completed his year 10 (Class 10) from a extremely renowned public school in Delhi, moved to St Columba's in Delhi. He noticed a lot of difference in both the schools. I jot down a couple of them: 
1. When the teacher is taking a lesson, the students remains calm and quiet. 
2. All Students get back to their classes after lunch. 
3. Teachers are given full respect. There is no leg pulling or sorts. 
4. Football is played only during the games periods. Students do not bunk the classes to play football in the school field. 
5. No one uses foul language in school, even though  they are aware of the vocabulary. 

I am not sure how much is true. But what I am sure of is that my brother will be a better human being once he graduates from Columba's. Most of the convent schools focus on virtues. 

At the school, we learnt the seven virtues for life - Chastity, Abstinence, Liberality, Diligence, Patience, Kindness and Humility. When you meet a Thomasite, you will get the feel of all seven, almost in similar proportions. I pray to God to help me achieve the same. I may not have learnt it all as yet. 


Well, well, well. All my feminism comes from STS. I am grateful to thee. 
It was a girls school. No boys. And trust me, amongst Danielle Steel, Sydney Sheldon and Nicholas Sparks, we all were strong feminists. Strong headed females. We didn't care who will loose "it" and when.  Being a virgin or not; having a boyfriend or not, having a valentine date or not - were the NOT HOT topics. We were a world of our own - virgin or non virgin. 

And that is how I still am. Mother, wife, sister, friend, daughter - but above all, I am important for myself. I love and respect myself, as a woman. 

This post is dedicated to the A-to-Z blogging challenge - the largest Blog Challenge in the history of Blogkind. My selected theme is "memories of St. Thomas' "- my Alma mater. This is the twenty second  post of the challenge, and is linked to the letter V: Victories, Virtues and Virginity. 

Linking this post to UBC too. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Anandaloke Mongolaloke

Living in a foreign land, is, strange!!

Vihaan and I are participating in a Indian Festival, here in Stockholm, Sweden. Somani di is leading the singing group, with kids from the age of 4 to 10 years, and their mums. The program has a set of songs, one of which is Rabindranath Tagore song - "Anandaloke Mongolaloke".

What a wonderful song. Takes me back to my school, yes, once again. Being a part of the choir, I must have sung this song atleast 50 times. And now, after so many years, I sing it as a mom of the little performer.

Sheer Nostalgia grips me today. 

Linking this post to UBC, April 2014 

The green checkered skirts - STS uniform

In India, uniforms are mandatory in school. All students follow a uniform dress code till high school (Year 12/ Class 12). Each school has its own uniform dress. Every morning, I wore my dress with pride, almost like an army soldier, ready to collect the Paramvir Chakra (as my senior Seema Saluja used to say).

We had seperate set of uniforms for summers and winters. The summer dress was light green divided skirt, white shirt, with school motto on its pocket, white socks and brown leather shoes. Nursery till Class 5 used to wear a green tunic instead of a skirt. Due to this, there was extreme excitement to reach class 6. Seniors in divided skirts. What an achievement it was. 

A couple of students accepting RGICS Debate trophy from Mrs Sonia Gandhi

The winter uniform was a little different, a little unique. Scottish green skirts, rust coats, green socks, and brown shoes. 

School Choir singing the school song

I have a set of both resting in my almirah at my mum's. The brown shoes have been replaced by black shoes in the STS uniform now. The mochi uncle (school cobbler) probably left the job (god bless his noble and old soul). 

Showcasing fellow blogger, and writer, Srilakshmi Indrasenan who blogs at I am S(t)ri, Her ongoing story at the AtoZ challenge is a must read. Just a click away!! 

This post is dedicated to the A-to-Z blogging challenge - the largest Blog Challenge in the history of Blogkind. My selected theme is "memories of St. Thomas' "- my Alma mater. This is the twenty first  post of the challenge, and is linked to the letter U: U for uniform at STS.. 
Linking this post to UBC too. 

Teachers - always in my thoughts

Guru govind dou khade kake lagu pau
Balihari guru aapne govind diyo batae

~ Sant Kabir

Kabir couldn't be more correct. If it wasn't your teacher, you would be a mere living being - without knowledge or virtue. I am indebted to my teachers, who have made me what I am - as a person, as a human, as a professional, as a student, as a daughter, as a wife, as a mother, as an Indian.I was three years old when I started my schooling. I have a few memories engraved, distinct ones, which I will share here.

Padma Sri Mrs Joy Michael was my first principal. She was the one who interviewed me. After recognizing the "blue" coloured small ball in a box of colorful boxes, I was handed over a toffee. Mum says I loved Mrs.Michael's chair and kept swinging on it. She smiled, and made me sit in the book corner while she discussed some parent teacher stuff with my mom. When Mrs Michael left school, there was a vacuum. Mrs Cynthia Manoharan, the next principal, could be one of the most awesome principals. I have been really blessed, I know!! :) 

My English teacher's have been incredible. And so are a few anecdotes. 

Mrs Seema Narayan (Ma'am, Love you!!), used to be my English teacher in middle school. Epitome of knowledge plus style.
 "You come here and wash your hair".. I never forget how different is the pronunciation of "here" and "hair". 
"Can I come in ma'am?"... Seema ma'am says - "You can, but you may not".. and the use of "may" and "can" is perfectly clear to me till date.
Seema ma'am was, and still is very young at heart. I recall spending one full lunch break teaching her, and other teachers how to play "CONCENTRATION".. ConCenTraTion, ConCenTraTion are you ready, ConCenTraTion let'sbegin.. Memories, cherishable. 

Mrs Rowena Gideon (I adore you ma'am), is the sweetest teacher I have come across in my whole life. She was my English teacher in high school. She says - if you think in a language, you master it. When my son thinks in Svenska, I realize how much he loves Swedish language. On many days, while teaching us, she made me realize what dedication is. 

Let's talk a little about Maths. 

Mrs Shringi (respect!!!) was my teacher in Class 11 and Class 12. I would have never sailed through Calculus and Trigonometry without her. She used to say - "I would love to see my students excel, be more knowledgeable than me. My profession is such. If you know more than me, it will be my win".. Well, these words were polite sarcasm when we didn't pay attention during her classes. 

Mrs Simmi Bhatia taught me Maths from class 7 till 10. I never needed any home tuition, all these years. She encouraged me in a unique way, by challenging me, being a strict, very strict marker, atleast on my answer sheets. I recall a lunch hour one day, in Grade 9, when ma'am called me - "Arpita, you are being notorious, mind your behaviour". Yes, I was drifting away from my studious self, getting into all sorts of stuff which were totally unrelated to studies. The first thing I did when I came back to class, was check the dictionary, check the meaning of "notorious". Like a sting, I still feel the pain. I did mend my ways. Ma'am will vouch for me. :) 

Not that I don't have memories of Science, Hindi and Social Studies teachers. I have lots of them. And I may wrote 15 more posts on you all awesome ladies. I may do so, some day. Inshallah!! 

Showcasing poet, author and avid blogger, and my idol in the blogging world - Janaki Nagaraj. He blog is a must visit. Just a click away, she blogs at Memoirs of a Homemamker.  

This post is dedicated to the A-to-Z blogging challenge - the largest Blog Challenge in the history of Blogkind. My selected theme is "memories of St. Thomas' "- my Alma mater. This is the twentieth  post of the challenge, and is linked to the letter T: T for teachers at STS.. 
Linking this post to UBC too. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Social responsibilities towards our society - What I learnt at STS

St Thomas School, New Delhi, has been actively participating in social services since many years. As an Indian citizen, and a human, Thomasites are taught about working for the society, and for the people in need, is of utmost importance in a person's life. I have had a few personal experiences, which have played a pivotal role in my personality development. I will pen down a few of them here. 

1. National Literacy Mission (NLM)

NLM as a Government of India initiative has involed a lot of social groups, and education institutons to attain the goal of 100% literacy. Read more about National Literacy Mission Programme. the middle year students of STS used to follow  "Each one teach one". I helped Jyoti, daughter of my maid, in attaining reading and writing skills. Jyoti used to wash utensils, and help Geetha aunty (my maid). Sometimes she used to sit with me, and ask about school, teachers and friends. I used to give her some books. She used to love the pictures, and make up her own stories, because she did not know how to read. In class 8, when I was handed over the NLM kit, I got the opportunity I was looking for. I used to teach Jyoti every Wednesday and Saturday. She completed her basic reading an writing in around 6 months. STS held a special convocation for all the kids/ adults who had completed the books and workbooks provided by NLM. Jyoti accompanied me to shcool that day. She received a certificate of literacy. I was a proud teacher, a proud Thoamsite. 

TV advert promoting NLM

2. Social Service every week - Class XI

When I was in class XI (I think I need a reference here, this could be class IX or X as well. I will confirm and correct if needed), we used to go to a nearby slum to teach the kids. One daunting task, trust me, this was. I recall going door to door in the slums, the small jhuggis, sitting there, talking to the ladies, trying to get the kids out twice very week for an hour, to study simple reading and writing. This is not a movie scene, sometimes I faced doors shut on my face, sometimes parents with folded hands. Any how we did manage to gather 50 kids, and started teaching them. We used to sit in a Janta Flats park, and hold the classes there.  

A morning in a Delhi slum

We held a celebration on the final day of the program. I can never forget the shine I saw in the yes of the proud parents. Amidst laddus and samosas, there was cheering for STS girls. :) 

3. Tamana School 

As a tradition, class 12 students service the society for a week. I am not sure how it happens now. In my years, a couple of sections used to go to the blind school, located at Lodhi Road in Delhi. A couple of sections used to visit the old age home. And the Science section got the opportunity be be at Tamana School. (Tamana is a non-profit voluntary organization registered in March 1984, created solely with the purpose of helping the cause of mentally challenged, multiply disabled and autistic.) It was a life changing experience for me (year 1996). I spent 3 days with the students, learning how to love the sunlight, learning the colors all over again, learning to eat, learning to love. They were around 8 - 10 years of age. I met a few of their proud parents as well. I went out with them to play. I recall loosing in the balance game. What innocent fun it was. 

Back in 2007, I went to watch Taarein Zamein Par, with my husband. The movie is about a dyslexic child, and his art teacher, who volunteered in a special school as well. The song I present below, could be one of the closest to my heart. It brings tears to me, whenever I watch it, or listen to it.  

My mind meanders into thoughts. Is it really difficult to have a heart? 

Title song: Movie Taare Zameein Par (2007)

This post is dedicated to the A-to-Z blogging challenge - the largest Blog Challenge in the history of Blogkind. My selected theme is "memories of St. Thomas' "- my Alma mater. This is the nineteenth post of the challenge, and is linked to the letter S: S for social responsibilities: learnings at STS.. 
Linking this post to UBC too.