Wednesday, July 11, 2007

On the subject of fight

All that talk about 'fight' in the Steve Waugh post reminded me about an old English lesson from CBSE class X prose. So I looked up the book from which the lesson was sourced. Class X CBSE English text was the best in the line of English text books that CBSE syllabus put out. Many lessons and poems, especially the lesson under question, majorly inspired me. The name of the lesson was 'In the Grip of Prejudice' - which is an excerpt from a book called 'To Sir With Love' by E.R.Braithewaite. The extent to which the particular paragraph quoted below impressed me is reflected by my enduring memory of that text book many years after I read it. I (think I) remember that English text book so well - Lesson 1 was 'The Gumdrop Affair' (The I-am-not-Addison-Barnaby-I-am-Frank-Guthrie story), Lesson 2 was 'In Celebration of Being Alive' (By Dr. Christian Barnard) and Lesson 3 was 'In the Grip of Prejudice', which was essentially chapter 5 of 'To Sir With Love'. It is an autobiography of a black man, an ex-army person, trying to get a job in London. He, in is his own words, is "too qualified for small jobs and too black for all the good jobs." During one of his despondent moods and strolls in Hyde park, a stranger in a park gives him the following advise on 'fight'. This advise changes Braithwaite's life. And if I am not mistaken, the 'Existence Vs Survival' came in the X Std Public exam in ERC.
"A great city is a battlefield. You need to be a fighter to live in it, not exist, mark you, live. Anybody can exist, dragging his soul around behind him like a worn-out coat; but living is different. It can be hard, but it can also be fun; there is so much going on all the time that's new and exciting"


Anonymous said...

Batch of 1996 - 10th std:

I recall the first lesson in Class X CBSE book being "The Tribute" by Dash Benhur. But this is in the Literature reader text book.

Karthik Sriram said...

1999 10th Passout

I also remember it to be The Tribute two brothers trying to partition the properties....

Anonymous said...

My memory is rather poor, but I can still recollect these names clearly after reading your post.

Although, One small question, Was this a part of the so called "Non-Detailed" or the "regular" text book.

I also remember a story about gungaram and stuff.Was this also in the X STD.

I always used to think what a waste, those 1 mark questions were kind of stupid, what was the pistol used by barnaby in the gumdrop affair. I thought these kind of questions were treat to those stupid class toppers who would just mug up and vomit


MLC said...

sorry hawkeye, konjam off topic badhil ... neenga innum-a m'ras leya irukeenga? (jst read yr 'saravana' post, so the q). if u're still there, u shd try 'sanjeevana' restrnt . they hv branches and i went to the nungambakkam one. ippo adha pathi onnum sollaley, exceptng tt its VERY diffrnt. poyitu vandhu yeppadi irundhadhu nu sollunga. i thnk i'll put a post on tt soon!
btw, i liked their concept and "surprisingly", the food too!

In Want of Being Me said...

Hello Bharath,

I'v been a religious reader of your blog from the times you used to work in Bangalore. I remember one '' - another interesting MBA blog.

I am unable to locate her blog now..? Any idea ?

Anonymous said...

Oh, 'The Gumdrop Affair' was part of the old-format 10th std. syllabus too?

It was part of the 8th std. syllabus for me. That was the first year when the new format -- with three sections, Main Course Book, Literature Reader and Grammar Book -- was introduced.
[That said, I remember all the chapters that were there in the 8th std. old format as well ('Tempest I' and 'Tempest II'), since I used to read them a year before!]

-- '98 10th passout

Dushti said...

I do remember reading ER Braithwaite and Dr Christian Bernard , but not quite in X std.

-Batch of 98

Dushti said...

Anybody from XI & XII CBSE ? I remember quite a few good ones from the English reader !

Karthik Sriram said...

@ Dushti

Braith... and the heart transplant was in the book, "We the People" in 11th and 12th.


99 10th Passout
01 12th passout (obvious aint it?)

Hawkeye said...


dash enhur rings a bell.

karthik, zero, dushti,

all this is too over. 98/99 Xth pass out'a?

i was standing in visa queue when you guys were picking up your X certificates.


so you've 3 years work ex. maybe we should renew the email conv we had.


did he use a .55 thompson :-) ?

i am not first rank but i like trivia.


will try sanjeevana. do put a post on it too would love tsoo hear your thoughts on it.

in want of being me,

attagirl did her MBA in duke. I lost touch with her after 1st year. I understand very well - her not updating her blog - it was some crazy 2 years.

Anonymous said...


The unsinkable leviathan finally sank, hit by no more substance than frozen water...

any other fan there?!

Anonymous said...

Hi Barath,

I have been reading your blogs for quite sometime and the entries are quite informative and equally entertaining :)

I am an MBA aspirant and have few queries in that regard. Could you please share ur email, if possible


Hawkeye said...


yes! i am a fan


Saravanan said...

I really like the story much. I still remember the lesson which was taught by our beloved & honoured teacher Ms. Mary Evelyne.

I was a CBSE student passed out X- Std in 1993 from MGCV. I liked the lessons like "In the grip of prejudice", "Locomotive 38" etc.

I like the way the englishman advices the blackman not to mention his colour in the application and the steps to win.

He really thanks him after succeeding.

Anonymous said...

I also remember the story of 17 oranges where the person eats all oranges with peels and pips leaving no evidence behind. Also story of the man who hated watches where the smuggled watches go off in armistice day when there is 2 minute silence in memory of war soldiers.Also a play where there is snowfall outside and a family invites a person to their home who turns out to be a crook when they listen to radio broadcast in their home .I think it was by writer Saki/
HH munro

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Pbraju said...

Dont forget 'A face in the dark'.

आदित्य प्रताप वन्देमातरम said...

Yes, I remember "The Gumdrop Affair". It was one of my favourites. The other one was about a brother and sister duo, who are travelling by car at night. They give lift to a shady person who turns out to be a spy. The story was about how they bring the spy to the nearest airforce base, where their father awaits then with reinforcement. Does anyone remember this? I forget the name of the story!