Part 3: A passionate affair begins
The MGD School is located at Sawai Ram Singh Road on 26 acres of land, you cannot miss it. It houses separate buildings for the senior and junior schools, has two large playing grounds, a big stadium, a rose garden, a swimming pool, two basketball courts, a music and art room, five hostels for different ages, and a hostel for female faculty, several labs, an extremely well stocked library and an infirmary for the unwell girls. It still remains a girl school, a sanctuary for many.
MGD has produced doctors, engineers, artists, writers, poets, musicians, designers, journalists, photographers, chartered accountants, leaders in hospitality and tourism sectors, lawyers, bankers, psychiatrists, financial advisors, policy makers of state and central government, a former speaker to the Lok Sabha, sports personalities who win Arjuna Awards to women entrepreneurs, Padma award winners, even women government policy makers in US and Europe. We continue to explore new avenues for ourselves and make our mark ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
Most importantly, MGD produced some of the finest homemakers for India, who, as wives and mothers have taught and practiced equality, liberty and fraternity to the families they married into. Mind you, it still requires guts for a family to bring in an MGDian as a daughter in-law and it required a man of strong mettle to marry her as she would have an opinion and voice it. Crude display of wealth or titles could not win her over! You had to respect her to marry her – a term that Jaipur was beginning to understand, value and associate with women with Rajmata and MGDians! That’s a HUGE contribution of our Rajmata through the MGD School – respect for women, for themselves and from others.
Women were not seen in ‘purdah’ in Jaipur about two decades after MGD was founded!!!!!!!!!!!! Women still practice in different parts of Rajasthan even now, not Jaipur. At Jaipur, you can bet that any household where there is no ‘purdah’ has MGDian in it 😍
We were taught to hold our heads high, stand ramrod straight, not flinch or blink in the face of any adversity that life threw at us or we chose. As girls, we were never taught we were princesses (though some really were), we were never pampered but loved a lot. We were taught to never publicly show our fears and pains, never bawl or beg for pity, never whimper or whine, never play the victim card, not suffer from low self-esteem or self-respect, never bow down to patriarchy and regressive traditions but to fight and win our battles without being mean, harmful or negative.
We had to win but not at any cost, we had to weigh our battles and win for everyone especially the downtrodden and those forgotten by society. We were taught to always remember those who stood by us at the time of our suffering and never forget them, empthasise and be compassionate and be full of love and respect. In case we forgot, there was Rajmata before us as an example 😍
Read our school song and you will understand:
Oh come let’s sing of MGD, shout till the rafters ring.
Stand and shout and cheer once again, let every MGDian sing.
Then sing of all the happy hours.
Sing of the carefree days.
Sing of all who may be absent, yet linger in our hearts always.
Of the trees, of the lawns.
Of the pool in its glorious loveliness.
Of our staff, of our Head.
Of Her Highness who started this School for us.
Of the games, of the chums.
Of the Council that upholds the rights for us.
Of the Red, of the Blue. Of the Green and the Orange always.
Then sing of all the happy hours, and of the carefree days,
Sing of all who may be absent, yet linger in our hearts always.
Written By:- Late Miss H.Prabhu (our first English Teacher)
She brought the world to MGD
At MGD, we were taught Kabaddi, Hockey, Volleyball, Basketball, Football, Cricket, Tennis, Badminton, and, hold your breath, Baseball. Girls could opt for Girls’ Guide and NCC – stuff usually for boys. During my 12 years there, the swimming pool wasn’t in working condition but was an excellent hiding place during March Past practice! I was one of those girls who would nimbly climb a tree, get on the tin roof of the guard’s cabin, jump from it over the high wall of the pool (it was made on a mound) and quickly open the door from inside to let in a group of girls who were together bunking 😛 the challenging part was lying to teachers but we were girls made of tough mettle so we sailed through…
A Vision called Rajmata
Our Rajmata was fearless and undaunted. For us, she was never a widow who spent her days wallowing in self-pity pining for the love of her life in sorrow. We have seen her laugh out loud, smile mischievously, joke, tease and oooohhhh we have seen her get angry and admonish those who did not match her level of quality and standards. She wrote the prettiest of saris at school, knowing well that she was setting an example for our young minds. There are several instances of young MGDians trying to touch her sari and breath in her perfume as she walked past 💋
When she visited MGD, which was quite regular, nothing would miss Rajmata’s eye. She hated clumsiness, sloppiness and litter. She would quietly observe us while we were playing or in the art cottage getting our hands all messy. Thankfully, we did measure up to her ❤️ she loved us unconditionally. No one recalls where she ever humiliated a student or teacher! We were never ever scared of her and adored her and she loved us back, each one of us knew we mattered to her, sometimes even more than to our own families. As a girl child, some girls were unwanted and neglected in their own homes but loved, accepted and respected at MGD. We were taught to call our seniors ‘Jija’ a term used by Rajputs to address their elder sisters at home. After all, the MGD School was, is and will remain HOME ❤️
What made the MGD School so special?
She had handpicked Miss Lutter, a Burmse lady, as the school’s founding Principal, and rarely questioned her decisions. They were always seen together, planning the best for the school and the students and teachers. They were co – conspirators, working extremely hard and hatching the best futuristic plans for making MGDians shine. Miss Lutter received the Padma Sri in 1970 and the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1976. She left us in 1980, her mortal remains are in the Quite Corner in the school, a place where the whole school assembles to pay her homage on her birth and death anniversaries. If Rajmata was the spirit, then Miss Lutter was the soul of MGD. Our school motto – “Our Utmost for the Highest” – was coined by her.
MGD teachers were all specially selected from all over India. Our art teacher was from Tagore’s Santiniketan, our sports teachers were former athletes, our arts and science teachers were gems of their times. Each teacher had her task laid out for her, their objective was not to make the students secure grades and accolades but make us good, responsible, caring human beings who were useful to society and the country. Remember Rajmata’s vision for MGD written earlier?
Our teachers were amazing, most of us still remember what we were taught at school! We had few male teachers and they were popular and dedicated. For the female teachers who did not marry, MGD was home, lovingly taken care of even in their old age, post retirement, by their students. If the teachers and staff had grudges or requests with the admin, it would be amicably settled, no one would recall any shouting or abusing when these were discussed. Rajmata never yelled, she just put her point across in her heavy stern voice and things would get done, not necessarily magically but eventually. We learnt by observation how to treat our superiors, colleagues and subordinates – no yelling ever involved.
Rajmata never differentiated between any school student. In the uniform, we were all the same for her. Albeit we had to have our uniform in place, our shoes shining, nails cut, not a hair out of place and our badges perfectly worn. The entire school practiced marching for the Sports Day, it was difficult to escape it though one tried and failed. During those days, in the scorching heat, we were all the same, princesses or commoners, rich or middle class, tanned or not, we all hated marching practices. But on Sports Day, we all were excited as our school band would strike their best chord and it was time for tough competition between the houses – green, orange, blue and red for Florence Nightingale, Sarojini Naidu, Hellen Keller and Madam Curie. Our school band has been part of the Republic Day parade on 26th January at Delhi several times – an amazing feat for girls whose families still had older women in ‘purdah’!
MGD is one big family and we have been taught to look out for each other, help and nurture. We don’t really understand how women ill-treat other women, we were made true feminists, without knowing that word. As MGDians, any batch, we always go out of our way to help the other. There are few negative instances! Some boarders hated the day scholars as they felt we had a home to go back to and would eat good homemade food, we envied them of their freedom. But once we left schools, these boundaries dissolved and some friendships have continued over generations.
I had posted this photograph last week, writing:
“The incredible journey of this mother – daughter duo (queen and princess) from the erstwhile Dhenkanal royal family in preservation of textiles and crafts of Orissa? They personally connected the crafts communities to their global network and succeeded in the sale of most of the dead stock and ensuring a steady flow of new orders, during the entire pandemic.”
Meenal Jhala Singh Deo replied:
“Poulomi you touched my heart! Thank you so much for this recognition it’s only a small drop in the ocean though but here in this space it’s that much more special ! MGD has shaped my personality , brought out my talents and instilled my values. It’s part of who I am! Was lovely meeting you even for those few minutes. I had worn this very saree 32 years ago to receive my Best All Round Student Gold Medal from Rajmata. I can’t believe it myself!”
It goes without saying that all of us girls were crazily in awe of Rajmata. She was present at all the Sports and Annual Days, at the School Fete on the School’s Birthday on 12th August, and when any dignitary visited. I have seen Shakuntala Devi, Amitabh Bacchan, Saira Banu and Dilip Kumar, Suresh Oberoi (who’s daughter briefly studied there), watched Kelucharan Mahapatra and Madhavi Mudgal, Birju Maharaj perform and my seniors have seen Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi (before the Emergency), Vijaylaksmi Pandit, scientist Raja Ramanna, and Jacqueline Kennedy.
A famous male author had once written that Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister of India hated Maharani Gayatri Devi in the Opposition Party at Lok Sabha as the latter was so beautiful that it made the former jealous. They probably harboured some childhood hatred as batchmates from Santiniketan! What nonsense! Women are nothing more than beautiful people? They have no ambitions and personalities? This banal quote is found all over the internet and social media loves digging up such cheap sensationalism.
These two brilliant ladies had major ideological differences, played out professionally at a political arena and not in their personal salons! Yes, Rajmata was sentenced to imprisonment at the Tihar Jail during Emergency but there she tried to help educate children of the women inmates. Once out, at Jaipur, she tried to do even more for women’s and children’s welfare. At the political battlefield, she had won her seat with the largest majority ever of nearly 2 lakh votes in 1962, which secured her a place in the Guiness Book of World Records. Her beauty or pearls did not win her this election, she personally visited her constituency and sat down with poor people and listened to their woes – no Maharani in India had the aura, positive presence or magnetic personality like she her.
Yes, this is who our Rajmata is – a true leader, fighting from the front and winning ❤️
Tbc… Part 4: Rajmata’s other love: the City Palace Museum, Jaipur
Black and white photographs courtesy: Neela Awasthi, Neerja Singh, Pallavi Yadav, Pranati Lunia, Vandana Gupta, Sadhna Bohra Khumbhat Jijas (taken from the FB MGD Alumni page). Colour photographs courtesy: Anjali Katju, Shweta Chaudhary and Vinita Bajaj (1992 MGD batch).
This five post series is a tribute to the Rajmata, written to share with the world her immense grit, determination, strength of purpose and unconditional love for us ❤️ what she still represents for little girls from Rajasthan, a western desert of India, recognised for its valour, colour and cultural heritage.
This series is dedicated to our beloved MGD – all students, teachers and staff – especially the batch of 1992 and our departed friends Swati Pareek and Aparajita Chauhan 🙏🏾
Thank you Dharmendra Kanwar Jija for your help and Sadhna Bohra Jija for encouraging me ❤️
Forever in deep gratitude to the family of Aarti Gupta Jija for starting the scholarship in her memory of which I was one of the first recipients, I would not have been able to complete my education at MGD without it. RIP Jija 🙏🏾