A pink taxi

A pink taxi

September 16, 2010

Boarding School Indulgences

The other day, I couldn't resist taking a sip from my son's Ovomaltine. I hadn't drank one in years. It is a Swiss chocolate malt powder drink that my parents used to encourage us to drink because it allegedly has 13 vitamins! They used to order it for breakfast at their hotel when they visited us in Geneva,where we were at boarding school. We used to sneak a few extra sachets to enhance our otherwise boring cafeteria breakfasts. Today's Ovomaltine sip reminded me of those small indulgences in boarding school.

Another one was going to the corner grocer on fridays, on our way from the dorms to school, to buy a sandwich of Tomme. Tomme is a Swiss type of Brie. Those sandwiches replaced the mandatory fish that was served on fridays in a Catholic school. These tomme sandwiches also made for a good iftar, hidden beneath our desk in study period when we looked at our watches that finally indicated sunset. On the way to the corner grocer was a residence with a garden and a dog. The big dog was always locked up behind the gates and would always bark at us. I would bark back and tease him, till the random day the gate was open and I ran for my life in the snow, the dog coming right after me.

Indulgences were not always food related. Throughout my three years there, and long before I read Le Monde voluntarily (my economics professor used to quizz us on distributed articles taken from Le Monde), my father subscribed me to Paris Match. I was very adamant about being the first one to read the weekly gossip. My girlfriends would snatch it  from me right after I finished.

It was these little pleasures that made living far away from family more pleasant. Sharing them with close friends was what brought us more intimate in our very first experience of independence.

1 comment:

  1. I literally ran away from Bromsgrove boarding school,located in one of the British shires.It was 1960,I was 15,and have never been away from home,not to imagine a British Public school with all it resrictions and traditions.
    The alternative was Brummana Highschool,a Quakers school of high repute,nestled in a beautiful Lebanese mountain village!This was a compromise solution made in heaven for a 15- year old boy.Being close to home,but getting an experience of being at a strict British school offering British education at its best.
    The food was medicore as in all institutions like schools and hospitals.So the alternative was the little sandwich shop of Maurice behind the high wall of the school,where boys needed to step on each other's shoulder to get the order.There was also the seller of the delicious"ka'akeh" and "mankaeesh" who used to come in during the morning break.
    Some of my friends were lucky in that their parents used to visit them every Wedensday with so many home delicious goodies.Our parents were austere,they wanted us to experience hardships.So the minute the parent -visit day would end,we used to attack, like viscious locusts, the goodies of our friends,who would generously offer(not that they had much choice)!