Monday, March 24, 2008


St. Francis De Sales (SFS) was my school from my 5th to 10th grade. Whenever you meet an ex-SFSian, be assured of one thing. Loads and loads of "those glorious years" talk

I am going to take a detour. I actually have mixed feelings for the school. I think SFS was OK. It was good in some areas and bad in some. So it basically evened out. It was definitely not "geeky" and academically inclined and failed miserably compared to other illustrious schools of Nagpur as far as State Board rankings was concerned.

A good comparison would be - only a very few students could score more than 80% marks in the Xth board exams in SFS. While there were schools in Nagpur where scoring 80% was a norm and not an exception. There was huge performance gap between SFS and other schools as far as "scoring marks in exams" was concerned. But i guess SFS made up for that loss by focusing on different aspect of student development something that i won't venture into right now.

There are a few things that were a little different about SFS. And i will talk about that.

All Boyz

For starters it was an ALL BOYS school. Meaning no physical trashing was off limits. Now b'cos there were only boys to interact with, let's just say we were a little more "curious" at a certain age then our contemporaries in other schools. Sometimes this excitable state of boys would manifest itself into unsavory incidents.

One such incident happened when i was in my IXth grade. There was this new teacher in our school. She must be in her early 20s then. I am not going to go into too much details but she was one of those kinds who had the right mix of things about her that would make all boys a little stirred up.

Let's call her "Miss Dusky Petite". Now she was really a very decent teacher. May be a little too decent to handle boys. And she paid for it.

It was one of those autograph/farewell days, where students go to teachers with their autograph books and get it signed. Our senior batch was about to go for the exam preparation leave and was in that farewell phase. Boys from a particular section of the Xth grade, surrounded Miss Dusky to seek her autograph. It was a well planned ambush. That day some of the boys "crossed the line". The next thing we knew, Miss Dusky went on an indefinite "leave of absence" and the entire class of Xth grade was SUSPENDED. The principal came to us IXth graders and warned us of the same consequence if we did not mend our ways.

There were some boys in our class who had made a career out of harassing Miss Dusky Petite. And we were all warned. She had actually cried in our class a few times because of one Mr. Pandey, an obnoxious personality of our student life, who's notion of a school life was sticking to same grade for a minimum of 3 years.

Miss Dusky did come back and i don't remember but i think we were made to apologize to her.Point is ALL BOYS school do have such incidents to live with. I am not sure, if this wouldn't happen in a co-ed school though.


The second different thing i thought about SFS was it's truly cosmopolitan and secular nature. There were a very small %age of Maharashtrians in school. There was a substantial North Indian population, along with Catholics and Christians and also good Muslim population in the school. But SFS did not make a big fuss about being Secular. And that is what i liked. It was NATURAL. We got exposed to different streams of society at a very young age. In my 7th grade, my best friends were Aniz and Viji - one Muslim and other Christian. But it never occurred to me. In my larger lunch group, there were two Marwaris, one Bengali, one Rajput, one Sindhi and two Marathis. And yet it was a natural thing. The camaraderie was for real.

Majority of my school teachers were non-Hindus actually. In a sense what i am trying to get is, it was a "given" and not a topic of discussion or anything to be fussy about. It was simple and easy.

Extra Curricular

School Sports Annual day was a big thing. We were made to prepare for it for almost a month in advance. The march-past, the drill and all. The Annual day was one big Super Bowl for us. It was a spectacular show casing of the school in general.

I was in the Green house and during my school time, Green house won the Annual Trophy twice. I contributed only once to the Green house by winning a silver medal in slow cycling. My only tangible contribution ever. :)

I noted the above point, because representing your House was an honor. The spirit was imbibed in us. We had arguments and fights over our "houses". Now a days i think most schools have this notion, but back then as far as i remember, my friends from the other schools were not so excited about "belonging" to a certain house. It was a big deal in SFS; just to be a part of that belonging to a House thingy.


Another thing different about S.F.S was it's soccer tradition. We had annual soccer competition, again, between Red,Blue and Green houses where we lustily cheered our teams. It was an honor for the House to win the school soccer championship. Soccer was the "natural" sport of SFS school. SFS had its own soccer legends. School celebrities, if you will. These heroes were looked upon as they carried hopes of their teams. From what i remember Green house never won the soccer championship while i was there. Red house was the strongest soccer team.
Since some of our teachers also part timed as referees for these matches, there were often tongue in cheek comments of how the referee "favored" one team over the other as even the teachers (and hence the referees) had their own houses. I remember Sir Wilson was always the referee for the final match and he was i think from Blue house.
But Red would usually beat Blue :)

As i said in the beginning. It was a mixed bag. I did not want to go into what was good and bad. But there were certainly things that were different in SFS.


nikjoshi said...

Very interesting portrayal of what transpired in those days. Thanks for the nostalgia.
The school made sure one had a very well rounded personality when you passed out of the doors. I still remember the school anthem... Dare to be wise....
I remember my participation in the school elocution, debate and quiz teams and the orchestra.
Another thing to note was that though the school wasn't too well known for our academic achievements, the ex students form a significant part of the city's commercial elite - be it politics, luxury, trade, hoteling, transport, amongst others.

Amit Shesh said...

Nice post! I especially agree with the "Cosmo" part of it--I haven't had a similarly natural experience since I left SFS, definitely one of the memories worth cherishing. I wouldn't be so forgiving on the boys' escapades in SFS :-), but I guess it is bound to happen in an all-boys school.

Rathchakra said...

Very nice post! The "Cosmo" part was truly cool. In that age, somehow it never sticks out, you don't choose your friends based on anything - you are around them and you become friends - cast,creed - doesn't matter. "Dusky petite" - LMAO. And boy, it needs courage for a 20 something "Dusky Petite" to be a teacher in an all-lusty-boys school. You should probably find out if she is still around. :-) Good post.

Kaunteya said...

@nikjoshi: thanks for your comments. Yea i remember "Dare to be wise..." but not all of it. Your "well rounded point" is well taken. I was looking for some information on SFS alumni and some famous personalities but could not get that information. But i am sure there are some really highly successful folks out there. I know Rajkumar Hirani was our Senior :)

@amit shesh : Thanks. Yea, hard to be forgiving for boyz stunts, no? :)
Yea, i think "cosmo" was the best thing for me too.

@rathchkra : Thanks dude. I got a mail from one friend from junior batch who does not remember Miss Dusky, so may be she left soon after:(

Couldn't handle it i guess:)