Thursday, January 26, 2017


My first five years at school had so much English and an Anglo flavour to it. If it was something else, I believe I would have genuinely felt the loss of having really missed something precious. My teachers, right through those five years were Anglo Indians. My music teacher too was an Anglo Indian and for the first two of these five years, our Headmistress was an Anglo Indian too. This had a bearing on almost everything that happened in a day at school, be it the way the classes were conducted, the disciplinary aspects, the way the interactions with the teachers happened, the exposure to the language that we gained through the Anglo Indian syllabus taught by these teachers, the music sessions and then the Christmas celebrations and the stage plays during the annual day meets every year. This to me, is the biggest gift I got during my school years.

The neighbourhood surrounding the school, also had a British tinge in it. The road where the Railway Mixed Higher Secondary School was located in Perambur, was studded with so many Anglo Indian families. Besides this bunch, there were those on the Foxen Street too that lay next to this road. Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine that stands on the Paper Mills Road was where many of us students went either during our lunch breaks or after school and we always got to see a large Anglo Indian population flock there. There are two other churches adjacent to our school and one of them is just beside the playground. This is where we went when we had a free period, either to play or to sit and chat. Some teachers even took classes under the tree shades, close to this church.

Christmas parties were special and it happened just before the school closed for the Christmas holidays. Each student brought cakes, pasteries and decorations. We had Christmas trees decorated in our classes. I can still feel the hard pinch on my nose, given by one Santa Clause, while he went around distributing gifts. I am still not sure who it was. Annual day every year came with it's own colour and grandeur. We had lots of stage plays and singing and each of these had so many rehearsals at the Railway auditorium that stood opposite to our school. I still recall the feeling of having lip stick smudged all over my lips and cheeks, just before stepping on to the stage for the different plays. Quite a number of them set the tracks on fire and came out in flying colours in the field events too, during the annual sports competitions.

Many of my Anglo Indian classmates had their homes very close to the school and I had the opportunity to visit some of their homes. My immediate neighbour at the Railway Quarters where I spent my childhood, was an Anglo Indian. Kevin Geer, the eldest of the three sons in that family, was my playmate during those years. I got to hear a lot of English music from his home. Hid dad was a saxophonist. I am in touch with many of these friends even now. My dad had an Anglo Indian friend Duncan who gave him so many English music cassettes. He even screened Biblical movies for our prayer group's annual gatherings. If it was not for Duncan Uncle, I would never have had a tryst with so much English music at that age.

A life without this flavour would certainly have been bland. I really cherish those days when I lived in the middle of an Anglo Indian world.


John MV said...

Yes this community did a lot for Chennai. If we could speak English with a difference from other malayalees it was this Madras education where the primary teachers were mostly Anglo Indian in Christian schools that made a lot of difference to our education. I value their contribution to music , sports , plays , playing musical instruments , the concept of parties and dance and lively birthdays and most of all the attractive smiles and plain honest friendship. This community has diminished and gradually merged into the rest while many migrated to places like Australia& Canada . We are proud of their contribution to our early childhood that you have brought out well in your article.

Roy Cherian Cherukarayil said...

Thnx very much Cha. As you very rightly said, their concept of parties and liveliness took off inhibitions in a big way and they were natural at sports and with musical instruments too, especially with playing English country music.

Anonymous said...

Yes Roy I miss that life too free full of fun with little inhibitions caste ,creed did not matter now when I visit schools I feel soo sad to see the way children are being taught its soo routine like and no humour and wit we laughed at the mischief we were told that the Anglo children did in class but had to put on a worried face and check the kids ,we miss the Christmas spirit that filled the gears of every kid ,I remember the plays we used to put up ,now everything is so stereotyped .When I visited Chennai for my nieces wedding in 20013 ,Mrs Menezies stayed by my side the whole reception and was recalling the school days and All The Anglo Kids of yester years . But Roy we needed a boost and Australia by opening its doors have made a community prosperous in every way . Even in Bangalore there are few of them but when we meet with joy and pride we talk about how well they are all doing abroad .Thank you for that article . 😘🤔😳😱😉

Roy Cherian Cherukarayil said...

@Miss: Thnx very much for reading through. Yes, I am really happy to see my friends doing well there.


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