What was wrong with the system - II

A lot of things seem strange, when you think about it at a point of time 10 years later. The trouble with this way of chewing the cud is that you didn't learn how to tell apart the straw from the gold then.

One of the bigger things that come to mind as I think about the days at the hostel there was the food. A good way of looking at it is that given the kind of food I used to have there, the food at any other place after that has seemed heavenly. People lost 5-10 kilos as soon as they joined our engineering college in the first year. I, on the other hand, gained a kilo or two. The reason was I had seen so much bad food while I was in my first boarding school that the food at the college tasted heavenly. I'll explain why. All curries in the school tasted the same -- you had to ask what was cooked when: you wouldn't know until you were told. We used to wonder how someone could cut fish into such small pieces, how 2 tiny pieces of chicken once a week was supposed to be enough, and why the yellow colored water served on each table was called 'dal'. And if you were going to be late by even 2 minutes on the chicken night (which was conveniently kept to the Tuesdays or Thursdays), you will not get to see your pieces. The fun part, of course, was the regularity with which broken pieces of glass, nails, etc used to turn up in the curry or the rice: we used to keep count who was winning in the current season. Our lunch on every school day was served at 9:30-10:00 in the morning: you could eat your full at that time. Afternoon snack would be one slice of pineapple or one guava, around 1:30. Then another little snack consisting of 2 pieces of bread around 5:00 before playtime. And god help you if you were caught stealing an extra slice of bread at this time -- no matter how hungry you were. Dinner was served at 8:30 or 9:00, with the same indiscernible food. Endless speeches by monks and other dignitaries during the special days regularly saw some or the other student fainting off and dropping on the pavement due to the sun and under-nutrition. We accepted this as part of life: hehe, funny it was. Of course the monks there had nice clean white rice, 2-3 large pieces of fish, good thick dal, etc. at every meal. They sat at a different table right in front of us during mealtimes. Who were we to complain?

Something else that has been strikingly curious about Vidyapith is the number of students who developed Appendicitis or Epilepsy every year. Take any random school in West Bengal. In 2-3 years, at most maybe one student will develop Appendicitis and be taken away for an appendectomy (although I really doubt that). How many would have epilepsy? Maybe one in every 2-3 years again? Among all students from Vidyapith, at least 10 students developed Appendicitis every year, and at least 2 students fell down frothing from their mouths with epilepsy every year or two. It seems strange, how none of us bothered to think why this rate was so high in the school. What was wrong with the diet? We used to have vague rumours about why you shouldn't eat the fish's head -- it can cause epilepsy. Or that eating the half-boiled unpeeled potatoes could cause appendicitis. But it would be all rumours -- no official bothered to find out why the rates of these were so high in this school.

Finally, some random stuff were very confusing. Special coaching was arranged for the top 20 students of each batch after the pre-board exams were over, in order to enhance the chances of the school securing better ranks at the final board exams. And this was way earlier than the last 3 months of special coaching was arranged for the rest of the students. I never understood why the top 20 students needed special coaching ahead of the other students. Prize distribution ceremonies had a lot of money, courtesy the alumni. However, all the money was used to give away books preaching the gospel of the Holy Trinity or some books about them. I understand that they all had good words in them... but I refuse to believe that they should be the limit of imagination and outside knowledge of teenagers. What about the classics of Bengali literature, English literature, etc? What about books of puzzles? What about books exploring the wild? About different countries? Rare, very rare -- if any at all. There was this one brilliant boy in our batch who had open disdain for all these books and preachings. He was kinda isolated by the rest of us -- he seemed to be violating everything sacred taught there. In retrospect, I think he was one of the best examples I've seen of someone living by the ideals of Swami Vivekananda, although he rarely read any of his books.


  1. I never could fathom how someone could treat kids badly. Such behaviour in colleges, I still can stomach, but boarding school malnourishing boys of growing age just sounds inhuman. It's not like they are doing charity, they charge a lot from the parents. You can't really call them 'monks' if they burp down nice rice and fish while boys around them long for morsel of meat.


  2. i do not know what to say, to this or to the previous post. it is simply unbelievable that such systems exist in this day and age and in a so-called democracy such as ours, there is not value for life. i must commend you for having emerged healthy and successful after going through all that. :)

  3. god, i just realized the tremendous typos in the previous comment. it should be ...democracy such as ours, where there is no value for life.

  4. Sudipta, that is deeply disturbing. It really must have took years to shake off the degenerative activities of the school authorities. How they were taught to behave with girls? Were those monks born of some male species?

  5. "We used to have vague rumours about why you shouldn't eat the fish's head -- it can cause epilepsy. Or that eating the half-boiled unpeeled potatoes could cause appendicitis."

    That true? You done the research?

    And that IS rather an interesting question.... WERE those monks born of some male species? You could ask one of them, you know, if you're still in touch.. ;-)

  6. I just read your two posts and I'm glad you thought of covering such a topic. I've been raised in boarding schools since I was 5 years old - the ones I went to were ideologically different from yours but similar when it came to the food and recreation part. I can vividly remember being punished in the 5th standard for looking at postcards of Aamir Khan after the release of QSQT (oops, did I just reveal my age here??? ;)

  7. Speak about stirring a hornet's nest! :) Very true!

  8. Sky, well... such is life. For the record, the prices have gone up only recently. It was still cheap while I was there.

    Galadriel, loads of us have emerged from there, pretty healthy and successful. :) But thanks, anyway, compliment taken.

    P.S. - About they typo, for a second I thought you went poetic mode. :D

    Alka, well, I have the highest respect for some of the monks, but no -- not for all.

    Wonderful person, I don't know if those rumours were true. They were just that -- rumours. And I'm not in touch with any of them.

    Mala, since you were 5 years old?! :( Postcards of Aamir Khan when you were in 5th Standard? Hmm.... never mind, your age is of no importance to me and therefore I will not bother taxing my already overused neurons into that.

    Kiran, yeah... possibly. But I don't care -- some things need to be exposed.


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