It took me a couple of years to get back here to complete this. I thought I’d leave it half the way, but then, as this school and the people out there are an integral part of my life, I couldn’t leave it like that forever.
So we’re at the mess (I mean mess hall) right now. Before that, let me tell you, the speed at which we go to the breakfast is inversely proportional to our class level. Higher the class level, lower the speed. For instance, students from class 6 and 7 would take this as a 100 meter sprint where as class 10-12 would consider this as a marathon walking. It’s absolutely fine for a hungry human being to run towards food, it won’t hurt your dignity especially when the whole world around you is equally hungry.
Once you in the mess hall, you fall in line. Another example of discipline of hungry stomach. Fall in line, get the plates/glasses, wash them (please note, they’re already washed but we’re kinda obsessed with cleanliness) and fall in line again. There is a MENU board right next to the queue which is maintained by the respective ‘House’ who is in duty for that week. While, you’re ‘in the queue’, let me give you a little background on this weekly duty. As I mentioned earlier, there are 4 houses and all the student functions are around these 4 houses. Each of these houses will get their turn of 1 week to handle the assembly programs as well as the duty at the mess hall.
Assembly responsibilities include, getting the news from ‘the previous day’ and reading it at the assembly, ‘finding students’ (yes it’s a TASK – else ask the house captains) to present ‘thought for the day’, ‘poem’, ‘speech’ ‘quiz’ etc for each day, etc. We belong to a ‘less social networking world’ where your fan followers aren’t counted from your FB/Twitter account, it all happens at the MP hall – the better you’re at such extra curricular activities, more the fans you may have. Let me warn you, don’t take the twisted meaning of extra curricular activities like we do in colleges, because we, Navodayans do not mean it that way!
Mess hall duties include – serving food, making sure the plates are clean (I mean extra clean), making sure people aren’t wasting food, cleaning the tables after everyone leaves the mess hall. Now don’t raise your eyebrow – we do everything I just listed down, yes! We’re self-maintained people and we take care of everything ourselves. Serving food to everyone including your own friends without partiality would teach you the basics of corruption-less politics (deep thinking huh..sorry!)
OK so, keeping the menu board updated is another duty of the respective house and this board is right next to the queue. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to show some creativity. As the board is written with normal black-board chalk, it easy to rub off a word or two to make it more ‘creative’. Do you need an example, ah no, that’s OK, I know you’ve figured it already! Actually, none of us need a MENU board because we all know the dishes meant for each day and there would be hardly any surprises. Dosa, Idly, Upma (Salt Mango Tree – as we used to call it) and bread – are the ‘rotating dishes’ for our breakfast. Rice, rasam, sambar, chicken/egg/fish are the items ruling the lunch world. Ah No, not everything on the same day – one item a day, because we don’t believe in extravaganza! Similar terms with dinner – rice, curd curry and 1/2 side dishes.
Evening snacks (we call it refreshments) is the most exciting item on the menu – this comes with a little surprise at times. We have many items starting from biscuits to kesari. (I know what you’re thinking – no not everything on the same day, note – extravaganza!). No comments on the taste of the food, because we tend to find the free food tasteless. So I believe whatever we were offered in our mess hall was the best!
Sorry, I have spoken a lot about mess hall and the food, and you know it happens because it’s food!
After breakfast, we’ll have 3 more periods before a small ‘break’ for 10-15 min and another 3 periods before the lunch. Coming back to the academic block, it’s a 2 storied building where the cream of the districts “go in to learn and come out to serve”. We all live up to that reputation and we make sure the life in Navodaya is worth the fame.
For all the subjects we learn there, we don’t have just teachers, we have the best teachers. Each of them are experts in their own subjects that you don’t need a Wikipedia to answer a question – they know it all! Someone once compared teachers to candles, who burn themselves to spread light in others’ lives. And this is at its best in a Navodaya campus. During board exams, our teachers forget their family and stay up late in the night, just to make sure they are around if we need any help. You just can’t fail in JNV; they won’t let you fail. If you see a high percentage in our certificates, credits go to these brilliant teachers and for all the low percentages, we’d take the blame!
After lunch, we would go back to our hostels (dormitories) and comeback to the academic block by 2.30 for ‘study time’. As the entire campus is your ‘home’, you’d do your homework in the classroom itself. These are the times for some brilliant power napping techniques – you’d see humans adapting to fish’s style of sleeping, sleeping with a smile etc. After 1.30 hrs of power nap, woops study time, we would go to the mess for the refreshment. Please note, same theories on our speed to the mess hall are applicable here as well.
Actually this would be the most awaited time of the day – GAMES! We play till the last bit of our energy, we play as if it’s the last day in the campus and we love each second of the ‘Games Time’. However, there is an interesting point – if you were smart enough to avoid the morning PT by falling sick (only during the morning PT time), you can’t play. Come on, that’s not fair if you get to play in the evening, only to fall sick again in the next morning. So please go and stay on the side of the ground and watch others play.
You’d definitely feel bad when you’ve to do all the damn exercise in the morning when all you need in the world is sleep. But during the games time, you can definitely have some sadistic pleasure in seeing those sick-smart-asses sitting without playing anything! PT sir would blow a whistle at sharp 5.30 and this is another thing that we hate. You ask any Navodayan, they’d hate the whistle sound – especially if it’s at 5 in the morning!!
Once the games time is over, we would dawdle back to our hostels to get ready and come back again for another study time. Evening study time starts at 6.30 and ends after 1.30hrs for dinner. Believe me, this is the most serene time for a student to indulge in studies. Oh if you were/are a day scholar, you mayn’t understand as most probably you’d be in a jam-packed school bus back to your home at this time.
Dinner marks the end of the ‘official’ day. After reaching our rooms, wardens of the respective ‘houses’ would come for ‘roll call’ (you’d know this term by now) and that’s the last ‘item’ in our day and we’re done.
I could write for days or even months if I’m to write everything in detail. But let me be selfish and keep few stories for ourselves to cherish.
It’s sad that at least few people think of this school as a ‘jail’. But let me tell you, if this school, which is based on ‘gurukul’ concept can be considered as jail, even Lord Krishna has been in jail for many years. You’ll have no idea how much we all love this school – those 7 years have definitely helped all of us to mould our lives in a better way. All of us, the navodayans, are always thankful to everyone and everything in this campus for whatever or wherever we may have reached. This school, taught me to be independent and it taught me to be myself..