Friday, March 5, 2010

High School nostalgia


While writing that blog about inflation yesterday, I remembered an event that occurred when I was in 10Th standard, might be 1958 or 59.

There was no high school in our small town and the nearest was in Bantwal on the other side of river Nethravathi. We, high school going boys (about 15-20 in all from 8Th to SSLC -11Th standard, not tenth, and there were only a handful of girls but none in my batch) used to walk the distance of two miles crossing the bridge over the river. We used to have our lunch at the school hostel dining room about one mile away from the school further in the depth of of forest bordering a village. There was no proper road to the village and we had to walk the foot path crossing quite a few paddy field in the scorching sun in summer and heavy rains in monsoon season. It was real fun for the boys in those days teasing and lampooning and sometimes even quarreling with each other on the way.

Here I would like to mention about the prevailing currency system those days. It was in line with the British monetary system of Pound, Shilling and Pence. A rupee was split into 16 parts called 'Annas' and each anna into 12 Pies. So a rupee was equivalent to 192 pies. The decimal system of Rupee = 100 Paisa came into force in 1960.

Now the school hostel was rum by a Kannada Pundit (Kannada and Hindi Language
teachers are called Pundits) on contract with the school management. The hostel (only four rooms!) was actually his guest house situated near his dwelling house. Those days teaching in a school, whether elementary, higher elementary or High School was not a main occupation. Almost all the teachers had ancestral lands - mostly paddy fields and some cashew orchards. This Kannada Pundit had both, - paddy fields as well as cashew & mango orchards. So the in-come from hostel was his third source apart from agriculture and teaching job.

Unlike the hostel inmates (there were only eight of them in four rooms), we went there only for lunch. Though the meal was simple, it was tasty and sumptuous, without quantity limits. The Pundit charged us Rs. 0-2-6 (means two and a half annas) equivalent to today's 15 paisa! The total monthly bill would not cross a good four rupees!

As I said in the first line, the Pundit raised the meal charge by a quarter anna quoting price rise of provisions, when I was in 10Th standard (Also known as High School Vth form). Almost 100% of mid-day mealers are we from Panemangalore, my native town and we made a flash strike in protest of raise in meal price. For one week, our elders gave us 6 annas to eat out. And quite a few of us fish eaters used the golden opportunity to eat in a fish hotel in the town, again a kilometer away on the other side of the school. For fish meals the regular rate was 8 annas and for students it was a concessional 6 annas. Quantity was limitless except fish pieces. Fried fish was charged extra depending on the variety of fish. Soon the pundit reverted to old rates and the routine of walking to the dining room resumed after a week.

Got any idea how much High School education cost in those days? The fees were around
four rupees per term! School days were real fun for us walking for an hour. And in summer we would cross the river by foot avoiding the bridge. Water level in the river wouldn't be above our knees where the river bed was wide.


  1. Very good post. Brought back nostalgic moments of my school too. Life was very simple and fees for the entire term was Rs 15 during my time. I think the fees my parents paid from KG to 11th std total probably is lesser than the payment I have done for my boys in any one single term. What a change. Frightening thoughts await us in the coming future.

  2. nice post..enjoyed reading..eagerly waiting for many more to come..

  3. great post...
    loved reading it..
    but don't you think that one rupee in 1950's had a lot of value[way back then 1 US dollar was equivalent to 6 rupees .[today its almost 50].and the earnings have gone up.really people earn a lot a lot more.
    my maid has a savings account in a nationalised bank(indian banks were nationalised much later from the point of time referred to in the story).
    1 rupee meant a lot but ppl would struggle to earn that..things are different now..
    what a discourse has this been.i'm can delete it later but just read it once(for all the effort that i put. i'm 66 and thought could comment on this post);)