Our Respected Teacher Series ! Mrs Asha Das
Head of Home Science Deptt ! 1972 – 1997
(Her 25 Golden Years at AFBBS in her own words)
I have a vivid memory from around 1958 of waiting at the Nizamuddin bus stop on my way to Lady Irwin College. I would see a young dynamic lady cycling to her barracks-wala school somewhere on Lodi Road. After I completed my MSc in Nutrition and Home Science, I married an Air Force Officer. We came to Delhi after being away on a few postings when he joined Air Head Quarters.
I joined Bal Bharti Air Force School as a Home Science Teacher in 1972, and to my surprise, I came face to face with that same dynamic cycling lady – Mrs. H. Baxi.
My quarter dozen children also joined the school at the same time. BBAFS as it was then called, had a very pleasant atmosphere to study and to grow in. Studies were as important as extracurricular activities like swimming, sailing, cricket and others. Home Science embodies this ideal of being an all-rounder since it instills a sense of balance and equilibrium at home and at your workplace.
The School had a small canteen which used to serve daily meals to the students. The menu was simple – milk and biscuits, rajma rice, puri aloo, puri chhole – but the bread pakoras have been an all time hit over the decades. Chota mota injuries used to be attended to in the Home Science department till a Sick Room was established. I taught Home Science to classes eleventh and twelfth and also Health Education to classes ninth and tenth. Together with my colleagues Mrs. Mehta, Mrs. Sengupta, and Mrs. Harbir Singh we also taught SUPW (Socially Useful Productive Work). I still fondly remember Veena and Amravati our hard-working Lab Assistants.
Over the years, as the school expanded and the new building was coming up, a Girls’ Hostel also came along. Home Science teachers were involved in planning the hostel menu, keeping in mind food preferences of hostellers without compromising on their nutritional requirements. Home Science teachers organized competitions for baking and preserve-making (jams, jellies, pickles etc) that our own school Principal and teachers attended and judged. We were actively involved in planning and organising the welcome refreshments for prestigious school guests and school functions. We made a wholesome menu that was prepared by school canteen for students who were staying for after school activities.
The Home Science department curated a project outlining the role of working parents, school-going children and showing a busy home. One of our teachers portrayed the father, our then Principal portrayed the mother, and three students of varying ages were the children. The Photography Department helped document their healthy home and their routine. One other time, our Home Science students highlighted the nutritional requirements of adolescents via a puppet show at Teen Murti Bhavan. India’s Prime Minister at the time, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, visited and appreciated our display booth.
I had the opportunity of attending a workshop organized by the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) at Lady Irwin College (my alma mater) for the newly designed Home Science curriculum. This was my introduction to a core group of academicians whom I joined in writing the Home Science textbook. From the 1980s onward, this Home Science book has been prescribed for all schools who follow the CBSE syllabus. To this day, I am involved in additions and updates for this textbook. These periodic revisions ensure that I am still in touch with my subject.
Vivid memories remain of many school Annual Day preparations, Sports Day celebrations, Health and Science Fairs, and Parent-Teacher Meetings, but none are as vivid as my interactions with my students – some naughty, some studious, some disruptive, and some oh-so-obedient – but all very alive and deserving of my full attention.
Considered a strict teacher, I was often the class teacher for a naughty bunch of students. I still recall one incident — three of my students were suspended during class XII preparatory holidays because they scaled the school boundary wall. The trio came to my home in the evening and requested me to speak to the principal on their behalf. Next morning, I requested Mrs. Baxi not to hold their admit cards for Board examinations. I even stood guarantee for them — lo and behold, within minutes, they had done the boundary wall scaling again!
During my teaching career, I had the honour of working with different Principals and colleagues. Staff room tea-break was always pleasant with my fellow teachers. These friendships remain dear to me.
The school spirit and energy was palpable at all times. All the teachers and students were purposefully focused on building and maintaining a positive space for everyone. A personal rule I established was to ensure that I was never Class Teacher for either of my three children. Little did I realize that every student in every class I taught would become my child.
Ritu Ranjan Gupta
was Captain of Kanchi Sadan. My son,
, to his chagrin spent many a class answering to the name ‘Ritu’. The School would accommodate
, my youngest, in all sorts of activities for her extra one-hour every morning and every afternoon when she was still in Junior School. My three children thrived at AFBBS and I am a proud mother. They joked that they had passed out (graduated) from School but I had not.
Reading the posts of my fellow teachers and students has been a lovely nostalgic experience. It has been like being back at school. I realise that at heart I still remain a teacher.
God Bless our School and the Alumni.
Asha Das (Retd. Head H Sc Dept)
Thank you Ma’am for your lovely note. Thank you for teaching us and being our Guru !
With Respect & Gratitude !
Team OSA & Alumni