I am a part of the early eighties having been born during that time which makes me a Generation X and this was followed by the Millennials who constitute a different story altogether. Now with Perke being born just like any other parent, my trials and tribulations have started with my imagination running riot thinking about how best I can provide for him in education as a priority and then look at comforts. Being a proud Dipsite having completed my schooling from Delhi Public School, R.K Puram obviously I want my son to follow my footsteps which makes me reminisce about what happened on the last day of school when we left.
It was a time honored tradition in those days that the outgoing batch would have a no holds barred march from the school premises to Priya cinema which is a distance of 3.6 kms or 2.2 miles and we were anticipating this as the culmination of fourteen years of schooling. The last half of the day had been left for the festivities to begin and something that each and everyone of us identifies with because we had sections till “S” with approximately 40 students in Sciences, Commerce and Humanities with 760 students, give or take, left by themselves in the school football grounds to spoil themselves silly with graffiti on each others uniforms. Girls writing their phone numbers, making explicit designs, innuendo, uniforms never looked so good. In fact, I took it out the other day while resetting the almirah. After everybody had had their fair share of laughs, we were let out for the march before the last period.
Around 100 yards away from the school is Sangam cinema and a few eateries or snack joints for students and the cine goers alike. Now the notorious lot camped in those joints and as soon as the buses started leaving, started pelting them with noodles, eggs, tomatoes by snatching these items from the shop keepers and shouted obscenities against the principal and the rest of the teachers. The looks of astonishment on the ones who were still young and impressionable is something that I still remember.
Another 50 yards further, we were joined by dhol wallahs from the adjoining slum cluster and it was an impromptu street dance in the middle of the road. There was a traffic policeman check post in the middle of the crossing for him to carry out the duties which was an elevated, cylindrical metal structure with a shed. Now, five or six guys climbed on top of it to accentuate that “high” but unfortunately the structure came crashing down on one of the students, Praghav. He went to a nearby doctor for five stitches and rejoined the revelry.
We reached the back of Priya(now PVR Priya) commercial complex without further addition to the happenings but little did we know about what “lay in store” There was a Pepsi truck right in front of the crowd and Delhi is known for two things:-
1. We are a city of freeloaders and that means anything under the sun and it is free of cost, we will grab it by both hands. To nail this point, seldom will you come across cricket matches or concerts in the city precisely for this reason. Complimentary passes outnumber the gentry who actually paid for them.
2. We believe in “jugaad” and that is getting things done by hook or crook. Jugaad is a Mumbai expression but that is the only common thing with it. We are laid back in our approach but if it is about getting over the finish line then as much as the sun rises in the east, it will happen in Delhi. Example: I can have a beef biryani for Rs 120 or a beef stake for Rs 1,500 without batting an eyelid.
Needless to add, carrying the above theme forward, in those days Pepsi came in glass bottles, boys and girls picked up a bottle, bottles or an entire crate depending on what caught their fancy. Abhinav had a bottle in hand so I asked him how would he drink it? The reply was to hold the bottle against the footpath at an incline and he cracked the bottle from the top and drank it. McDonalds had opened recently and the entire batch got inside with no place to fall over and started shouting in front of the customers that they were hungry and wanted to eat. Went in the loo when I met good samaritans who were obviously in shock and I added to their startled expression by saying that we were from the same planet.
The year was 2000 and that was the last time that the march happened. My brother who is younger to me by an year and passed out from the same school “celebrated” in the sports complex with a DJ, soft drinks and snacks. Tsk Tsk