The 360º Project | A School Auditorium and Pigeon Shit at 23º

VK Krishna Menon Auditorium, SSKZM

VK Krishna Menon Auditorium, SSKZM | Pic Credit and Rights : Pradeep TT

There is an urban legend that the Sainik School auditorium and the long corridors leading from it to the main block were modeled on the lines of a ship. Ship or no ship, the magnificence of the building lies in the first impression it makes on a cadet when he reports for admission in VI standard. Named after VK Krishna Menon, this is where you arrive, along with other wistful and hesitant freshers, all of 11 years old and your little palm wrapped around your father’s.

As is normal with any reputed public school, you arrive with your belongings for the year–new shirts, trousers, shorts, shoes, Blanco, Cherry shoe-polish, hair-oil, rain-coat, soldier’s housewife(containing the sewing kit) – all of it stuffed into a black metal trunk.

In June 1984, I remember standing in front of the auditorium, the sheer height of it un-nerving, distracted to a degree by the giant casuarinas trees that hummed as the breeze from the Arabian Sea knifed through them. If you turned around, you had a panoramic view of the ‘houses’, the student dormitories, set in well-defined compounds hemmed in by tarred roads, finally merging with the central point, the Cadet’s Mess.

And, then, you had to walk into the auditorium, where the Office Superintendent, his black rimmed glasses perched on his nose, would look up your name in the list, give you that examining glance reserved for fresh meat and then go through the admission formalities toting up tick marks on his check-list.

Once you were in and settled in your fate, the auditorium was where you would converge for the morning assemblies, inter-house competitions, house-days, Annual Day and similar functions. In the morning assembly, where most of us were groggy with sleep anyways, I would keep my eyes peeled on the antics of the pigeons, high up in the ceiling which they had made their home. They were not as groggy as us, taking liberty to send down loads of ashen shit as they went about procreating wantonly.

The trick was in finding seats that were not cushioned with dry shit, and even if you managed to end up in a soiled seat, it was all about parking your posterior strategically to avoid it. Most of us looked like Ben Johnson, prickly and ‘in the zone’, raring to break away from the starting blocks.

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8 Responses to The 360º Project | A School Auditorium and Pigeon Shit at 23º

  1. Premanand June 22, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Great to follow your 360 deg project… Auditorium is magnificient piece of a building in our school. May be you can add that a Dance scene in the Sibi Malayil movie ‘FLASH’ was shot in our Auditorium.

    Great Going Soni. When will u arrange me a Good Holidays stay at Kovalam?

    • Soni Somarajan June 22, 2011 at 11:45 am #

      You are welcome anytime to Kovalam, Prem Sir! The “FLASH” is news to me, of course. Thank you for coming by.

  2. Prasanth June 24, 2011 at 4:49 pm #


    Today after reading your poignant write up, i still feel that 10-11 years is too tender to join the SS. A 9th Class entry is definitely better for the soft soul hidden beneath the small frame.


    • Soni Somarajan June 26, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

      Interesting perspective, Prasanth 🙂 Thank you for coming by.

  3. Rajesh Sugathan June 27, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    Everyone always forgets to mention the mandatory “hockey Stick” when you come for admissions. I, even now have no idea why that was required.

    • Soni Somarajan June 28, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

      Yours truly went on to become the school hockey goal keeper 🙂 The defeats outnumbered the wins of course. My hockey stick was the “Maharadja” brand and I still love the and follow the game. Of course, India lets you down most of the time.

  4. Rajeesh July 9, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    rajesh, i agree, ‘why the hockey stick was required to bring’? i think, ‘Vampire’ was a famous one. And i remember some friends who never like to play hockey, oil it and kept under the bed as a treasure. They were shining under the coat. Soni, me too was the Tagore goal keeper in both football and hockey when we were in 6th and 7th. I have a big baggage to get rid of on hockey memories, may be, i will do some other day.

    Great going Soni. I read you when i get time, but, go through all in detail.

    • Soni Somarajan July 9, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

      Thx Rajeesh! The goal keeper’s angst is something most people can’t read and, as always, he is forgotten in wins but remembered in defeats.

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