The driveway that led to the main college building was of great renown. Two curved paths originated from two tall, wrought iron gates that fenced the baseball and basketball courts, leading to the principal’s office and the auditorium, which oddly enough faced each other. If you moved ahead you faced a few interesting choices. First, the Physics Department nestling among lush canopies of trees on the right while straight ahead lay the second trail that moved winding, past the frogs croaking in a covered tank for the zoology students to cut up someday, to a stone structure that was the Electronics department. Turning to the left and then past the Student office to the right, were the newer buildings housing the Math, Literature and Chemistry departments. And, if one chose to take an immediate right at the end of the driveway before the Principal’s office, Fatima Hall gleamed in resplendent pink.
Before we meander through these hallowed halls and walkways, the nuns cloister and the secret garden beside the college chapel, let me stop and traipse back to the driveways. A scene of bustling activity before and after college hours, they were witness to gossip, debates and assignments (sometimes, of the academic kind, too), while the trees eavesdropped and a lovely breeze animated our stoles, dupattas and saree pallus.
Perched at a higher incline than the main road, we ‘inmates’ (once allowed inside, we could not step out of the gates unless we had a “pass” issued) could view the steady stream of moving vehicles and watch the BTS bus conductors’ evil grins as they roared past our bus stop without stopping. Of more interest, though, were the arduous lads who sat on bikes and cars, playing music while they pretended not to catch the attention of a certain lass.
My first encounter with this famous driveway came about on the Day One of 12th grade when I walked it excited but nervously and clip-clopping with my high-heeled shoes only to hear a bunch of girls, seated on the low parapet, singing in chorus to the beats of my new shoes. They usually sat there lying in wait for the innocent fresher to snare and rage, and rarely missed, beating even the predators of Serengeti. We were made to perform and display a range of acrobatics – from simple jumping, skipping and dancing to shirsasanas–all amidst feverish whistling (where else on earth can one get such a response when doing this asana), run errands for them and propose marriage to the security guards (the few male members in the campus) in many creative ways.
When classes were going on, the driveway stood empty except for the sound of cars that some of the girls drove into college in. It then turned into a desolate place with only the tall eucalyptus trees left swaying to the breeze. The loiterers on the road dwindled for these few hours except for the odd, brave chap who lay in wait for his lady love to join him in the hope that she would step out of class and successfully bribe the guards at the gate to let her out.