I studied till fourth Class at the Good Shepherd school. It was considered as one of the good English medium schools in Ramanthapur. This school was about one km distance from our home. We used to walk all the way. As there were few houses and lots of open spaces, we always went walking by the shortcut path.
This place was where the Brindhavan park came up later; it was an open area with lots of exposed pieces of quartz rocks. These rocks were sharp. In those days mostly we were wearing slippers to the school. One of my classmate’s younger brother got hurt while going to the school. The first toe of one of his foot got cut with the quartz stones. He was profusely bleeding, one of the friends told that by pissing on the wound, it would get healed quickly. So my friend and I pissed on his foot targeting the first toe. He cried a lot with the pain. Later in life learned that fresh urine is sterile, it has ammonia which has therapeutic properties. Someone suggested applying the juice from the leaves of tatha tatha thai. This plant has a yellow color flower with a long stalk. We used to break the flower from the stalk with a snap and say “tatha tatha thai”. In Telugu Tatha means grandfather. It was fun playing with these flowers on the way to school.
It was interesting to see the millions of Velvet Mites in the same place appearing in the rainy season. Out of curiosity we often collected some of them in our hands and observed. Thier legs gave a tinkling sensation to the hand while they crawled. Sometimes we caught Jinganna, a beautiful rainbow colored beetle. Sternocera aequisignata is a species of beetles belonging to the Buprestidae family. The green color bugs were common which gave very unpleasant smell when caught; they are called Jewel Bug or Shield Backed Bug in the family Scutelleridae.
There were many guava trees near our schools. During the season the fruits hanged from the compound walls. On the way home, we friends used to pluck them or hit with stones. Although they are so small and not yet ripened, we ate them with interest. In the process sometimes we got scoldings from the owners.
I was in the third class and poor in Mathematics subject. My father and elder sister sometimes taught me. Remembering tables was the most difficult part. Tried my best till fourth class to remember up to Table 12. My elder sister told a secret that is to add the same number to get to the next one. I was saved from memorizing the tables. I always remembered few things like number x five and same number x same number. My elder sister was anxious too, tried her best to teach mathematics by scolding, threatening and beating. During the annual exam, I did not write my math exam well. It was Saturday, and my father was at home. He would ask how I wrote the examination. I would get the scolding. I was frightened. On the way, I stopped for urinating and slowly released the question paper in it. Pretend that it fell by chance. After reaching home, my father asked me where is the question paper. I said it fell while passing the urine and got drenched, so I did not get it. He was furious and asked me to get the question paper immediately. All the way, I returned and collected the question paper, by the time it was dry. Shown the question paper to my father. I got the beating with a wooden scale on the backside of my hand for two reasons, throwing the question paper and also for not doing well in the exam.
On the way home near the school, there were a group of Palm trees. There were also many local breed pigs. These pigs were pitch dark and were eating all sorts of things. Below the palm trees, there was always a small pool of domestic waste water with lots of mud. The pigs always loved to play and sit in the puddle. The fruits from these trees were sweet. During the season when the fruits fell, the pigs consumed all the juicy sweet part of the fruit and leaving behind the hard nuts or seeds. After a few days, these nuts would become dry and found strewn all around the base of the palm trees. We often collected them. They were very hard, so by throwing the granite stones we break them open to collect the hard nut inside (when fresh it is very soft and slippery called Munjalu). By washing with water, rubbed the exterior brown color fibrous material against the rough cement walls. Finally, this turned into a white color hard nut. It took few days to consume it bit by bit. Eat the same thing again and again.
Also, there was a Sapodilla (or locally called Sapota) orchard near our school. The unripened Sapota’s we often collected by throwing stones at the trees. They were tough. By rubbing the brown outer layer on the roughened cement walls, the inner milky brown color fruit was exposed. This was not sweet, but we ate it with so much interest.
I had and intuition that I would become a scientist during the third and fourth class. I enrolled my friend Venkat. I brought a few old toys; these were mechanical toys with spring action. He also brought some of them. Imagined that would make a new machine. We both have chosen the tall Cheema Chintakaya (Sp. Pithecellobium dulce) plants near the school. During the lunch time went there and broke them into parts and we tried to make something which we don’t know.
One in school, I found a small piece of steel wire. In our classroom, there was a switchboard with a facility for plugs. I wanted to know if there was current on the board or not. Two of my friends were sitting next to me. They also encouraged me to test. I pushed one end into one of the holes; nothing happened, probably it was neutral. I pushed another end into the next whole. With a spark and shock to me, the wire broke into two pieces. In the process, it generated lots of heat, and one of my forefingers also got burnt. It was by chance that, I escaped the shock, and also this incident made me conscious of not meddling with electricity in life again.
One of my friends Mr. Srinivas was very enterprising. He started a small poultry at home on his own. He told the story of how to become rich from a pair of hens, they would lay eggs and make the eggs incubate and chicks would emerge and so could multiply them thereon. It was fascinating to me. I went to his home to see myself his poultry shed. Later in life, he was involved in the real estate business and made enough money. This was my first exposure to entrepreneurship by a friend.
My father bought once a cigarette lighter. By pressing the button, I could see the fire. It was curious to know how the fire was created through the spark. I took the lighter to a friends house without informing anyone at home. There I tried to open the components to see myself. I could not open it, tried using hands and mouth. Finally, I decided to open it using a granite stone. It got crushed, but lastly, I could see the cotton soaked in petrol inside. As I was immersed in my experiment, my mother came searching for me. She found that I have completely broken the lighter beyond repair. I remember the day because she started beating me all the way home for damaging the lighter. I also got the name at home as a person who destroys the things. In life sometimes destroying something is to understand and strive for creating something new. Probably my curiosity in exploring things lead me to pursue Doctor of Philosophy and continue the research in life.