Decoding the Martinian code

Kantaap! Gend Taadi! Bloody Swine! Force On! Bun Tac! Bun Samosa! Bun Shaami! Laat! Mart! Dame Mart! Podo! Capu! Rafu! Fundu! PD! Bogs! Haunches! Social! These were some of the words Siddhartha Goel tried to comprehend and make sense of when he joined La Martiniere in 1987! It did not take long before his DNA was overwritten by the Martinian Code! What’s the “Martinian Code” you might ask! Well read on…

One of my first experiences after joining Mart in 1987 was under the guidance of seven-footer Mr Agnihotri, who taught us Hindi. I did not realize there could ever be so much Geometry and English that could go into demystifying Hindi for us. Mr Agnihotri took the pains to highlight to us the “angles of the matras” with strokes of his long and lithe arms and fingers across the blackboard. He was in the habit of invariably breaking into English to explain what a particular word of Hindi meant and that the “matra” should be at a 45 or 90 degrees angle! Being new to Mart, it was a bit of an enigma for me how a Hindi teacher could be so scientifically inclined and have a pen that looked more like an ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile), as Mr Agnihotri liked to describe it?

Well, it was all unraveled for me, as part of our SUPW (Socially Useful and Productive Work) Project, wherein Mr Agnihotri actually built a Triumph motorcycle from parts he had sourced over the years and had some select few students (I felt proud to be among them) and assigned us the responsibility to articulate how a motorcycle engine worked to people visiting the exhibition stall.

The other key lesson from Mr Agnihotri was how to turn up smartly in our NCC Air Wing uniform and keep the brassware and shoes shiny.

The experiences I gained from Mr Agnihotri put in place the “Code” that got me closer to automobiles and enabled me to aspire and set certain goals in life, which I’m happy to say I’ve been able to achieve today.

La Martiniere College

I can recall countless other instances, one of them being how to defend one’s tiffin from the boarders. Simple tactic: eat it before the lunch break! Then head to the Tuck Shop for lunch. Or sneak out of the rear door of the class and get some samosas back to the class. How to dodge PD or stand up to bullying monitors and prefects etc.

The Martinian Code for me was about learning “Life Skills” that steered me successfully through life’s challenges. And I was keen on having my son, too, experience studying at Mart. For me, the proud moment came when my son Samarth joined La Martiniere College this year in Class 5B and wears the Cornwallis House belt!

One of the major considerations in having Samarth aspire to gain admission at La Martiniere has been all of the wonderful positive initiatives taken by the current principal, Mr Carlyle McFarland, towards restoring Mart to its former glory.

Walk into Mart these days and one is wonderstruck to see the ongoing work towards restoration of the Constantia and the Lat, the manicured school grounds, the renovated Teacher’s accommodation, the upgraded facilities for day scholars and boarders, the inclusion of new activities such as shooting and riding, the Media Club, to name a few, and most significantly the La Martiniere Alumini which has facilitated an effective working partnership between the school and the Old Boys.

When I walk into Mart these days to drop off my son, I sincerely wish I could be a student again! Vive La Martiniere!

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