When I gave my entrance examination for Navodaya Vidyalaya, there were no expectations from my parents or my primary school teachers. There were at least half a dozen of bright students ahead of me who were pretty confident of getting selected. I think I was a surprise package in the lot.
On a beautiful dusty day in the evening, I was busy doing my daily rituals of playing “hedepente” bat (bat made up of coconut branch) cricket with few kids of my age in the middle of a muddy wet “gedde bayalu” (paddy field). There came this news from my aunt who was also a teacher at my school informing that I got selected for Navodaya!! “Nammane Gappati Navodaya select aayja” was the main news headline for all the neighbours and relatives. Well, the decision was not that complicated. As responsible parents, my mom and dad obviously asked my opinion first. I never really thought about the consequence of leaving home, going to a faraway place at that stage but I was very happy to get away from my current school and explore the new place. From my mother’s perspective, she had one less boy to handle as both I and my brother used to fight a lot at home and always we used to bring our mother as the mediator.
First week of Shettigeri
Shettigeri, a beautiful place near to Ankola is where I started my journey of Navodaya Vidyalaya. I still remember the first day of my Navodaya! In fact, I was the first student to enrol. Everything was new to me. My first friend at the JNV was Vinay Vernekar. The first week away from home was the most unforgettable moments of my Navodaya life. Every face in the dormitory was unknown. We had new teachers, new routine, and brand new double decker cots in the dormitory. We all spoke the same language but there was one fellow Rajendra Shekawat who could hardly speak Kannada. There were loads of things to explore in the school. I just somehow went through the first week of JNV. I was eagerly waiting for my parents to visit me on a sunny Sunday, Feb 7th 1988!! The eagerness busted into tears when I saw my parents after a gap of one week. Believe or not, we had one girl called Suchitra Nayak who actually hails from a nearby village of Ankola. She was crying like mad even though her house was a stone throw away from the Shettigeri School!! The rest all is part of the history!!
Shakthi House Leader
I don’t know why, but I was made the house leader for the newly formed “Shakthi” house. My favourite PE Teacher Mr Bharshetty sir was my housemaster and our music madam was our housemistress. Once we had a visit from our Uttara Kannada district commissioner coming to our school for a special visit and we had to do a march fast from the shettigeri school gate to the school entrance. I was chosen as one of the “sainik” along with the school leader Vinod Shanbag, Shrinivas Naik, Manjunath Naik (we call him Logi for is enormous reflux while fielding) and Vivek Borkar! Those initial days taught us discipline, patience and the core values, which I still try to follow as a routine. I remember we had the first half term vacation to start, on that day our parents were supposed to come to the school and pick us for 10 days of break. I was sitting in the classroom thinking and looking somewhere. Unfortunately, that was our Hindi madam’s class and she immediately sent me out of the class asking me to sit as “Murga” for indefinite time. Our beloved housemaster and the PET sir were passing through and asked me in a worried tone, “Yen aaythappa GM”! I was just crying without controlling my emotions! I still remember Mr Bharshetty sir taking a bit of fight with Hindi madam telling that the punishment was bit harsh on his “shishya”. All was fair and good at the end!! More than mourning about the punishment we learnt good discipline during our early part of our Navodaya.
Shakthi house was full of drama and fun, we did well as a team in many of the inter house competition! We had some talented individuals in our house. Shakthi, Bhakthi, Keerthi were the initial houses which many of us from Shettigeri days relate to each other and adding to our excitement we had TKK Tatacharya sir as he principal who always tried to infuse the Sainik School culture into the Navodaya!
The Infamous Hair Cut
We had a very interesting person by name Mukund from the local hair saloon in Kumta. He was a contracted Barber for all our JNV boys. He was instructed by our Sri. Suresh Suligavi sir (PET sir) to make sure that every student gets the same type of hair cut which meant that we were not allowed to keep even a little bit longer hair compared to others!! It was more challenging job for this guy Mukund. Since I was a local boy hailing nearby place
, Mukund used to be bit lenient with me when it comes to the hairstyle! All I remember Mukund telling me “GM Bhat, this hairstyle looks great!” Not to forget, those were the days we were trying to be smart and look nice with“iStyle”, may of you know why!! Whether you call it as my fate, our PET sir found out during the evening assembly count that my haircut was not done as per the specification. “Ye GM Bhat B@@d S@!!£ M%^&£ Yenle… THAAAAD” well, the rest is as we say history. Once again the discipline, consistency and equality is what we had great pride to take away from our school days!
Finally – The graduation day!
It is indeed hard task to describe on a page about how those six years of JNV life was spent. We were at times notorious but quite often brilliant!! We had lot of things to share between us. Each one of us lived, breathed, ate, played and relaxed together. If someone asks me to quote a best example on the teamwork and team ethics, I would quote our JNV life without any hesitation. We had number of migrated students from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, but there were no language barrier between the students. We took the entire social studies examination in Hindi medium in our class X curriculum. Writing an examination in Hindi medium was not perceived as a challenge at all. Thankfully, we managed to pass by a good margin. I believe the hardest thing for any of our JNV Alumni is to pick and quote the best and the most unforgettable moment of the school, because every moment was so brilliant and fantastic. We had seen many teachers join us in the journey for a brief time but every one of them has left their own unique mark in our heart and soul.
We had seen some lows and highs of JNV and our fellow students. One of my colleagues here in the United Kingdom asked me very politely after looking our old pictures, “Oh! You guys were on bare feet”, I answered her smiling “yes we were in bare foot, that’s how our life was”! (that was for the time when we used to loose our sandals given by the school). The key thing is that today, when we reflect back, everything looks so nice.
I still remember the last Morning Prayer session where we presented a “Dias” as a token of our remembrance after a lot of deliberation among our classmates! Today, there are 1500+ students have successfully completed their Navodaya life but I guess the only thing that is common among us is those quality days we spent together throughout our golden journey of JNV life! I have only one message to those young and bright children currently studying in the Navodaya – “Please enjoy what you do. Think about the good things you have done in your life and always keep motivated to succeed”. I think we all owe to our childhood and I am sure the friendship, laugh and cry we had together will always lasts long and we can never ever forget those golden moments of our childhood.
If you want to know more about my school Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya experience, please feel free to write to me on firstname.lastname@example.org