I still don’t know why was it called Fancy Fair? In fact, unlike city schools we never even had a fancy dress competition. Following the British rules and regulations, students were not allowed to even keep civilian clothes in their custody. For every formal occasion we were supposed to wear our cleanest, smartest and the same old maroon school uniform! The British while leaving the country had passed on this school to be run by Indian Railways. What a coincidence! Our school colour was maroon. No prizes for guessing, we were famous by the name “rail ka dibba” school. Well, back to the Fair.
It sure was the day of the fairer sex. Everyone knew you could not do much with the way you looked. Everyone had to wear a white shirt, grey trousers, maroon school tie, a maroon blazer and black leather shoes. But it had to have something fancy, to get its name, right? So, some boys had fanciful double breasted blazers. I don’t remember any girl wearing one of those. Girls too had almost the same combination of colours to experiment, with white shirts, navy blue tunics, maroon school tie and maroon blazers with black leather shoes. Now that I recollect, I think most girls used to keep it low profile by wearing a navy blue pair of socks while the more bold babes used to match their navy blue tunics with white socks.
Was there anything more innovative? Oh, there were few bolder than the rest. There was at least one Rahul Roy hair style flaunting “chap” in each batch and one Pooja Bhatt hair style flaunting mushroom cut “dame”. Yeah, yeah, these style icons used to date, sometimes changing partners in quick succession. My guess would be because deodorants not being very popular back then. I did see some boys using hanky perfumes as deodorants though.
Anyways, just like any school annual fete, enthusiastic teachers and the simple, stupid but studious kind of students used to make teams to run stalls. Every student used to get about Rs. 100/- worth coupons to spend in the whole day. Some boys used to sneak in currency and buy coupons from others though. There would be about 30 stalls with variety of offerings. Food stalls were the most popular because this was the only day when you could eat as much junk food as you can be sold by the same teacher who would have handed you “one tight slap” across your face yesterday. It was followed by sporting stalls especially the Russian Roulette. The least favoured were the toy selling stalls with kids from Junior School spending most of their coupons there again and again. Toys were of the worst quality with one toy being bought at least thrice to see it through the day.
It’s hilarious getting reminded. Hot Dogs were the hottest selling item despite it being sold by a Junior School teacher who was dreaded even by Class XII students. She was the only teacher who would hit a girl as hard as she would hit a boy and hit a boy as hard as she would hit a fourth class staff. Russian Roulette was run by a Boys School teacher whom very few in their entire 12 years of life in School had seen smiling. I passed out 12 years back. He still resides there. Latest news coming in still says he barely smiles.
How I can I forget the “Juke Box”? This was our Dance Floor. You got few minutes to dance with girls on the songs of your choice. This was one of the very few avenues to interact with girls. We used to hear steamy stories of what used to happen inside this stall. Best part was, it was covered from all sides. Hence, whatever happened inside were stories turned into epics being passed on from batch to batch. The first time I went in, I was becoming part of history. I remember the looks on others faces when I walked out. The ones who had never been inside the Juke Box had exclamation marks. The ones, who were there before, had a question mark. The former still believing the epic, the latter as if asking did we do anything what the epic says? I was in a dilemma. I did not know whether keep smiling because I had been in such close proximity with the “dame” or to curse myself blue and black. She had said, “dance…, the music blasted and I started dancing, unmindful of her presence.
She completed the sentence standing alone.
– Kanishka Mallick (1996 Batch)
1990s Fancy Fair Juke Box Kanishka Mallick