KOCHI: Walls have ears. Albeit, if walls could speak, they would recite decade-old tales of boys, rowdy yet respectful, who roamed the halls, not knowing that they would create history someday.
The school in question is the Sree Rama Varma Govt Model High School, popularly known as the SRV High School.
Accessible on the western side through the MG Road, southern side via the Karakkat Crossroad and on the eastern side by the Chittoor Road, Cochin's first school lies in the heart of the city.
Replete with buildings dating all the way to 1845, and founded by the Cochin Royal family in 1843, SRV is Kochi's first school.
Post-independence, the school was handed over to the government. To celebrate 175 years since it's founding, the Old Students' Association(OSA) gathered steam and tracked alumni down. And they discovered treasure.
"Finding our batch mates from the 1960s and 1970s was an arduous task. There were no records, unlike today. We found out that almost every student who had passed out of SRV in its early years has either retired from higher positions or currently hold high ranks," said Ramachandran P K, class of 1969 and current vice-president of the OSA. He then went to list alumni, "Swami Chinmayananda, founder of Chinmaya Mission; Krishnaswami Kasturirangan, former chairman, ISRO; A K Sheshadri, former Kochi Mayor..." One can see that the school has indeed churned out valuables.
A day before their 175th-year celebrations, members of the OSA narrated tales from their school days. A K Sabapathy, president of the OSA, who passed out in the 1950s, and the oldest among them, spoke about the respect for teachers. "Unlike today, we were scared of teachers. Classes would begin at 9 am so we would arrive much before time," he said.
K Kasturirangan fondly remembered his SRV years as the most eventful. "In our class, a few tables were kept apart for the members of the Cochin Royal family. These boys used to come in a limousine, and enter the class just a minute before the lessons. This was to keep a level of separation between the children of Royal family and commoners," he says.
He goes on to speak about meeting the Cochin Maharaja at a function during his stint as the chairman of ISRO. "He was also a student around that time when I was in SRVHS. We exchanged some very pleasant experiences of sharing the same class between Royalty and commoners," Kasturirangan said. He has also played an enormous role in the school's growth.
Director Amal Neerad who passed out in 1990 reminisced his schooling days. "I passed out in 1990. The school was nicknamed 'Sakala Rowdy Vidyalayam'. We used to have brilliant teachers who dealt issues with a sense of humour. Also, my first tryst with theatre was at SRV," he says.
Nevertheless, the alumni feel the school has lost its shine. "We intend to reclaim its lost glory. The school has immense facilities with exceptional teachers. The entry of CBSE sure has taken away most students, along with the lack of ambience. The school falls under the Corporation. Together, SRV could attract students like how it used to," says Aravindakshan, joint secretary of the OSA, class of 1967.