Meatless day on 25th November

This month has been a momentous one for me. For starters my very good friend Shamita Deshpande (nee Karnik) delivered a baby boy (Dhruv). Secondly it was my birthday :). Thirdly I got a new cell phone. Fourthly I got a new bike. Fifthly tomorrow is my best friend Ambu’s son’s first birthday and Sixthly another very good friend of mine Saroj is getting married (tomorrow) in Mumbai, Ulhasnagar to be precise. So many nice things happening within a month….. I am totally exhilarated.

More to come…….. 25th November is Meatless Day. It is Sadhu T.L Vaswani’s birthday. I know people roll their eyes when I say this but honestly guys I spent 5 years in St. Mira’s under the Mira Foundation and they were the most glorious years of my life. Some people might think that the Miraites are crazy women and that everybody should go to a coed college/school but I missed nothing in Miras. In fact some of my stories at college can people eating their hearts out.

Since it was an only girls college we used to have all sorts of eccentricities going on there. As for me I was totally at home there. Fresh out of a convent school, St Mira’s was just an extension of school….. (we did not have nuns here who kept telling us that MEN WERE BAD PEOPLE) in fact here we were encouraged to get married and be good mothers and good wives….. sounds boring na!!! I no it does but believe me contrary to what people think we did well in our careers. We were given an all round development here. We were not only schooled into the mysteries of education, sports, music, dance, dramatics but also into spirituality and awareness into social issues like thalassemia, HIV, women’s empowerment, cruelty to animals, dowry etc etc. I do not only mean educated but I mean we were actually exposed to these things by experts, stalwarts, professionals and people top in their fields. I think every woman should be socially and legally aware of herself. When there, we even walked the streets of Pune creating awareness of the above issues.

It was at Mira’s that I met spiritual leaders like Dalai Lama….. I even got to touch his feet…. (One of the landmarks of my life). Of course there were also others like Dada J.P.Vaswani. This is one place where we had to mandatorily pray for 45 minutes everyday. I used to sooooo hate sanctuary then. I used to play every prank – legal or illegal to not go to sanctuary. For non-believers it was a place where they could just sit and give their brain the break it deserves. I think, that schooling has made me more organised and when ever I go into depression…. I manage to come out of it on my own.

In sanctuary I used to do is sit right in the back and either do mehendis on the palms of all my friends or complete notes of lectures that I had bunked the previous days. Oh yeah !!! that is the place where I became a pro at cross and knots. At times I used to tie up the hair of two people (long hair) sitting in front of me and braid it together without their knowing it so they took a long time to excruciate from it. Sometimes I used to tie up the duppattas (stole) with some other dupatta. At times when there was complete silence in the prayer hall…. we used to pull back some body’s bra and then leave it making a loud sound and then duck. Having an all women staff (even the peons and gate keeper were women… except for three male professors all professors were female) assured no raised eyebrows or embarrassed sighs!!! Sometimes we used to climb the wall which divided the college from inlaks hospital and jump on the other side and then go off to Nala gardens till it was lecture time. When I left Mira’s after my graduation for my post graduation in management, I was appalled by the professionalism and no personal touch of the staff with the students….. took me a while to digest that. Sanctuary was the one thing that I hated about St. Mira’s but when I left college for professional college, Sanctuary was the first thing that I missed…. I missed it a lot…. even the bhajans and all the paraphernalia that happened in sanctuary.

Lectures was more fun….. we used to jump off the windows after giving our attendance….. more than never it was always proxy while we spent all our time in the canteen talking about boys!!! Attendance was compulsory and you had to have at least 80% attendance to fill the forms for the exams…… I always fell short and used to have love letters sent to my house by the principal. I was also working then so it was very easy to convince my parents….. then I got smarter and kept the keys of the letter box with me and destroyed the letters before it reached my parents. If some errant letter did reach my parents I cooked up some really cheesy excuse and convinced them otherwise.

Sometimes we used to spend the lectures reading M&B’s or listening to music…. or in my case writing poetry. The greatest joke of it all was that I was actually inspired to write a love poem in my Business Administration lecture…. (we had nicknamed the professor…. Dragon). Believe me you can find inspiration in the weirdest of places. The time between lectures was spent either doing facials or waxing or threading eyebrows. We learnt all of it in college….. and we did not even have to look for a Ladies room for it….. classrooms were fine!!! Yeah at times carrying the wax heater was a pain but then some enterprising student had left one in the Common room so we did not have to look far.

I think my all time favorite was in the Mercantile law class. It was the first lecture in the morning……. 7:30 am. I had got my driving license then and used to drive down to college….. but I am not a morning person so I used to never get up in time and it took 20 to 30 minutes at the speed of 50kmph to reach college. I always reached late and never could attend it. In the end of the year when we had to submit our submissions for business entrepreneurship, I went early to college. I was completing my journals in the classroom when this man walked in…. I was totally aghast and I started to leave the class thinking that somebody else was having their lecture here. He stopped my friend who was also completing her journal and asked her to sit back for the lecture. I was totally tangent and told Mehnaaz in front of the professor…. “who is this man!!!”…… She told me “this is the Mlaw professor”. I don’t even want to mention his remark at that and the expression on his face. At the end of the academic year I was actually meeting my Mlaw professor. I did not have problems with the attendance in his class because my friend saw to that….. but I dont think that I will ever forget him!!!

My friends who attended other colleges used to call us Mirabai’s/Bhajan Mandalis/T.L.Vaswani’s widows etc etc (our P.T uniform was a white salwar kameez and white dupatta and white canvas shoes). They would tell us that we were frustrated because we did not have boys in our college and things of the sort. Quite the reverse actually…. At St. Mira’s they let us be ourselves and never curbed any of our instincts however bad they were…… rather guided them in the right direction. We had a lot of restrictions like we had to wear the aforementioned P.T uniform and shoes on one day in the week,(in the rains it was a disaster and very often when we travelled by local people used to look at us as though we were from another planet) we were not allowed to wear skirts above the knees, no sleeveless dresses, no big earrings, etc etc…. we hated it but always found a way around it…. the college management knew of it…. they didn’t mind it… but when in college you have to follow rules….. I was ok with that. We used to wear wrap arounds on top of small skirts, jackets over sleeveless dresses, and earrings….. take it off when in college and then put it back on.

St. Mira’s was founded by Dada T.L.Vaswani and he was an advocate of non killing of animals….. I was already a vegetarian so I had no qualms and agreed to his views. Every year on this day we used to pledge not eating meat for one day of the year!!! I don’t think that it is something impossible….. in fact I pledged a lifetime commitment of not eating meat on this day of the year….. my family did it too!!! For me it is also a day when I look back and revel in the glorious years that I spent at St Mira’s !!!


3 Responses

  1. Happy Birthday 😀


  2. how can girls college be any fun???? i m all for co-ed… girls colleges should be banned… eee hooo


  3. Dhir !!! you r just jealous…. I no that given the chance you would give all your teeth and hair to be there for just one teeny-meeny day even hour!!!


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