The Long Ride to School …

July 10, 2009

A few days ago, I chanced upon Savitha’s post on Ganapathy Akka. Her touching account reminded me of some Β people who played a big role in my life. Its been years since I thought of Velayudha Chettan (Chettan means brother, also used to refer older people). When my sis and I were starting school, he had just bought an old auto. He had seen my dad take us and two other kids to school on his motorcycle -Yezdi, may I add? πŸ˜‰ He approached my dad and askedΒ whether my dad would allow him to take us to school for a small fee? My dad was obviously relieved. So began our life long relationship with Velayudhan Chettan- Β short guy with long curly locks and a funny shuffling type of running style! In the early days, Pinks and I did not speak Malayalam (being Konkani speakers) so he would try his best to talk us in Konkani after asking my mom for the right words. He was a good person, fun to be with and treated us to ice lollies/ice creams after every exam concluded. And on days that we got stuck in traffic, his magnanimity was evident when he bought snacks for every child to appease the hunger pangs. (No, he did not collect money for this from our parents later. )

During our early school years, we lived in an apartment on the 1st floor. Our school begins at 7 30am and so VC comes to our home to pick us up at 6 45am. With my mom Β yelling Β “Cookie, Pinky get ready soon. Uncle is waiting” day after day, we scamper down the stairs and then get settled in the auto and be off for another day at school. My mom’s “Cookie and Pinky” call must have sounded like “Kuppy and Puppy” to VC’s ears I think – why else did he start calling us that? In Malalyalam Kuppy translates to a bottle. Puppy as in a baby dog. My sis liked her new name. As for me, tell me who would like to be called a bottle?? I cringed when he yelled across the school grounds “Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupppyyy, vandiyileke irrikku!!” (Bottle,Β Sit in the vehicle) Soon all my primary schoolmates knew I was the “Kuppy” – the horror of it all. πŸ™‚ There was this boy, XY in our auto group. He was a nuisance then but is a sweetheart now. Thanks to his fussy ways, he was stuck with VC’s special name for him –Pandaram (Nuisance in Malayalam). Poor chap sobered down soon enough hoping that his new name would be dropped – no chance of that happening, not even now! πŸ˜€ Pandaram XY, if you happen to read this, please take it lightly and remember it is coming from a Kuppy! πŸ˜‰

I was diagnosed with Myopia when I was in the 5th standard and was advised to wear correction glasses. I felt so embarassed about wearing glasses – nobody else had one in my class. I often told my folks I could manage without it. Nonetheless the specs would shoved on my ears before I left. Soon, I started hiding my glasses when I got into the auto and my folks were never the wiser. That is until they saw my notebooks incomplete. They told VC to ensure that I wore my glasses and couple of teachers too. For the next one year VC Β always checked on me Β to keep his word? πŸ™‚

By this time, every parents wanted VC to take their kids to school. And thats when he got his auto driver buddies involved. Soon there were route maps laid out, which buddy would take which kids, what would happen if one of them goes on leave? All that ensued was a big mess. The other drivers weren’t as fun as VC and they had no attachment towards us, neither we to them. Besides, they also took kids from other schools which would leave us waiting at our school grounds for couple of hours after school. Thats when VC, decided to hire a van.His wife too joined him as a gatelady.Yay!! The fun and games began all over again. πŸ™‚

Then our school dropped a bomb – they are moving to a better location with bigger grounds and all that. And another important announcement – school buses. Our school’s lack of school bus was the reason for VC’s thriving business. His business did sober down a bit and he started looking at other options. Entered Mani Chettan – he asked dad to help him start his school drop business by entrusting us with him. He was a young man and was pretty desperate. We along with a couple of nearby kids joined his bandwagon. In no time, MC too was getting offers from parents to drive their kids to school. Β We didnt take too much to MC in the early days. I regret some of the things we told him in our foolishness. If there was a way to take it back, I sure would. Those were my teen years and I pointed out to my folks that one of the school buses pass our house everyday. I checked with the bus driver and he said he can pick and drop us off Β at our gate. Irked with all my pestering to join the hip bus club, my folks soon gave up and I started going to my school on the bus. Pinks wanted to be on the auto but my folks insisted we be together, so she too was forced to “bus” to school.

I am never late for the bus. Not my sis – she is a sleepyhead. She will sleep till the last 10 minutes and then scramble to get ready. Her friend Harsha, who lived on the road behind our house, was also like her. I get in the bus and scornfully wait for these lazybuns to join me. In the meanwhile our driver uncle would rave and rant – why cant you teach your sister to be like you? why cant you give her a good shake when you wake up and all that. Inside the house, my mom and Harsha’s mummy would be on the phone discussing how much more “readiness” is left for the 2 brats. My sis almost always gets Β ready before her but will hang on till Harsha comes shooting through the back road, jumping over all the hedges – Β otherwise the driver uncle will leave without picking her up likr it happened days earlier!! πŸ˜‰ The bus was like a big promotion for me – many of my classmates travelled on the same and we had a ball. Juicy gossips, finishing forgotten home work, group studies, weekend plans – all that happened here.

With the end of 12th standard, my Wonder Years came to an end and the Magical years began – with me moving to Mangalore. Years later, reading Savitha’s post brought the memories of these wonderful people flooding back and I had to share them with you. Velayudha Chetta, Mani Chetta and Driver Uncle (I am ashamed to say, I dont know his name *hanging my head in shame*) – thanks a million*infinity for your lovely and smooth rides to school and back. for all the invaluable lessons (with emphasis on punctuality and discipline), for all the laughs and lovely memories and for introducing us to lovely friends.

PS: From recent times there is increasing antagonism towards auto driverss ferrying kids to school. Understandably so – packing too many kids in such a little space is horrifying. Our chettas were very careful back then and wouldnt even think of extra bucks by endagering children. To end on a funny note :

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46 Responses to “The Long Ride to School …”

  1. Sachin said

    This is one experience I have never had. With dad being in the armed forces, school was always a cycle ride away. But I can imagine little kuppy running to the auto early in the morning …. Feel like I was right there with you .. πŸ™‚

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      You had a lot of cycle adventures, dint you? Maybe should get you to do a confession of sorts on my blog! πŸ˜‰ You were right there, sweetheart!!

  2. LOL……. briiliant article as i also used to go to school in such manner up to my 8 std…..

    btw, which city were you in ??? I am pretty sure that you must have been in cochin…..
    cochin has a thriving konkani population…. my moms’ closests frds are konkanis from cochin………

    great read kuppy…….. ROFL!!!!!!!!

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      πŸ˜€ Yes, you are right. I am from Cochin! If your mom has a bunch of Konkani friends, then my guess is that she is based in either Fort Kochi or on TD Road! πŸ˜‰

  3. OMG!!!!!!! hahahaha!!!!!!
    since i cannot ask you how old you are, let me tell you that passed out from 12th in 2001…….. πŸ˜›
    what about you????????

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      Then you must be my sis’ classmate … A N .. ring any bells?

      • thethoughtfultrain said

        I am ’99 batch

      • I very vaguely remember that name but cannot place a “face” to the name…..
        She must not have been in comp-sci right? maybe, bio…..
        I really cannot recollect…….
        damn my memory is bad………

        99 batch?? hmmm……. πŸ˜› πŸ˜›
        OMG, this world is a small place….. seriously!!!!!!!1

        • thethoughtfultrain said

          She was in the commerce section – Aravalli sprinter and long jumper. Chatterbox to the core. Anyways, its good if you keep a distance from her else you ll find your ears suddenly missing! πŸ˜‰
          Yep .. I was so amazed. What are the chances that folks from Cochin should meet this way!! πŸ˜‰

          • yeah….. now i think i know your sister………… yeah…. aravalli sprinter……. LOL……..

            I am sure, she will not know me either πŸ˜› πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

  4. btw, do you remember teachers from that school??
    my mom and aunt were both teachers……. in our school……. πŸ˜›

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      You are S miss’ son? And M’s bro?? OMG!!

      • I am k miss’s son…. her sister and M’s bro….
        can you please remove full names from your comment please……………..

        btw, how do you know M??? OMG!!!! seriously!!!!

        this is weird!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • thethoughtfultrain said

          I think she used to come in our bus (Bus no 4) or maybe we were in the same auto?? I cant remember really. But she was very cute, like a doll and talks well too. πŸ™‚ She may not rem me cos she was too little then – maybe 3rd or 4th.
          Yeah weird … but a nice type of weird! πŸ™‚

          • πŸ˜› πŸ˜› πŸ˜› πŸ˜›
            let me tell my sister that there is a blogger who remembers her name after all these years…….

            good to know you TFT………
            yes, do you remember my mom “K”… or is it just “S” you remember? ROFL…

            ahahahahahahahaha…. seriously, I cannot believe this…..

            • thethoughtfultrain said

              Of coz I rem K… Neither of the sisters haven’t taught me. My sis always praises K to the skies.
              And how is dear M?? She was such a doll. I still rem her sweet way of talking. πŸ™‚

              • πŸ˜› πŸ˜›
                M is grown up now and doing college in chennai, second year…….

                we all have moved back to chennai…….. where we are from originally…….
                “S” is still in cochin….

  5. and thanks for removing names…… πŸ˜›

  6. Savitha said

    Oh!Oh!Oh!!Bringing back fond memories also brought back good childhood schoolmates back??
    By the way, A nice post, nice tribute to all the auto uncles!Glad to know my post reminded you of fond memories….
    Smiles
    Savitha

  7. Ramesh said

    Lovely post. These are the stuff childhood memories are made of. Like Sachin I was the cycle variety; so did not have this priceless experience.

    Lovely to see you connect with the Ordinary Guy. It truly is a small world.

  8. narayan nayak said

    Thinking and talking about the very past is always very sweet .More often we rem the good part and have a tendency to glorify it, and forget bad exp unless they are so bitter that they are dissolved into or blood and we elive it every time somebody mentions it.
    It is very nice you rem those people esp the VC.People like those do ,silently ,a lot of service to the society and go into oblivion in our memory.
    afew years ago there was a feature in alocal daily aout “school auto people’ and VC was very prominently written about .
    I used to thing that present gen people don’t care much about such people , but I am ery proud today that you have provedme wrong.
    ,

  9. Kuppy …. you walked right into it …lol….heaaahahahahahahaa ….. great detailed post Kuppy …. how was school Kuppy … did you get your Cuppy of Coffee today Kuppy …. heaahaahahahaha ….VC sounds like the Cochin version of Creasy from Man on Fire ….I am sure you would agree with me Kuppy ….lol !!!

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      With commentators such as you what else can I expect?? πŸ™‚ I am glad you got the essence of this Malluish post!
      Pssst – You just solved which-movie-to-order dilemma too. I ll get Man on Fire just to check out this Creasy you are talking about. πŸ™‚
      Cheers,
      Kuppy πŸ˜‰
      PS: Just a lil coinicidence – I m a tea person, since I ran out of tea leaves, making do with black coffee and I see a coffee comment from ya!! Cool!!

  10. Tastemaster said

    haha…kuppy.. rofl.. hilarious post btw.. πŸ˜‰

  11. My school was very near home so I always walked to school on my own. i did envy the kids who came in school buses or pool cabs. they seem to have so much fun always. VC was very entrepreneurial i must say

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      What an irony! I used to envy kids who lived near enough that they could walk to school. πŸ™‚

  12. ajcl said

    lovely post ash! i never had this experience and from what i read from urs and savitha’s it does bring back fond old memories..

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      I realized my blog is mostly in Nostalgia mode. πŸ˜€ Got to find something nice about the present days. πŸ™‚

  13. manchitra said

    I was in splits when i read your post. I could not chk early as i was on a small trip. TM told that “chan raspathi”. ok i enjoyed it.

  14. Archana said

    I wish I had a chance to experience that! I never had the opportunity since I didn’t study in India. I always wished I had that experience as a kid though. πŸ™‚ I remember seeing my cousins leave to school when I used to come visit on vacation. Heh, anyway, was very interesting to read. Hope that XY comes across your blog. πŸ˜›

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      Hi Archana! Welcome to my blog. At the time it was so much fun but looking back it does bring back the giggles! πŸ˜€

  15. theishu said

    Good one, because we usually overlook all the ‘little people’ that made tiny differences in our lives.

    Kudos for being different πŸ™‚

  16. Boyofbow said

    I loved this story and it shows how much pampering kids today get with one huge 4×4 for each child to go to school. Thanks again for a great story.

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      Welcome to my blog and thanks for the lovely comment!! πŸ™‚ Took a sneak peek at your blog, looks really interesting πŸ™‚

  17. thethoughtfultrain said

    VC never stopped with puppy, kuppy, pandaram. There was Jeevitham meaning life. To date i don’t know this boy’s real name, Michellle who became masala dosa and many more i’m sure which at the moment i’m not able to recollect. [:)]

  18. mercerd said

    interesting material, where such topics do you find? I will often go

    Welcome to my blog. Thank you. I find such topics from my life! πŸ™‚
    TFT

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