The time spent at Mumbai’s Mithibai College moulded me into a responsible citizen, says cricketer Pravin Amre
We were special students at Mumbai’s Mithibai College. We were not scholars but we, 15 in all, earned the affection of one and all with our sporting achievements for the college. It will remain the most significant period of our career because it moulded us into responsible citizens. As cricketers, we brought laurels to the college and I have many fond memories of it.
It was not a financially sound college during my time. I was responsible for taking 15 students from Shardashram School to Mithibai College because we were to form a cricket team. We were promised free education by Major Vyas, who was the sports in-charge then and most of us were happy to grab the chance since we came from middle-class families. I give a lot of credit to Major Vyas for convincing the college authorities to relax the admission criteria and accommodate us.
Mithibai College is located in Ville Parle and it attracts students from affluent background. It was no different then. The location of the college was superb but it was not known for sporting conquests. We changed that trend. Before we represented Mithibai, college cricket was dominated by Podar, Ruparel and St. Xavier’s.
Having earned the privilege of studying free of cost, I did feel the responsibility of excelling at cricket. I had come with a reputation and was keen that I live up to it. I did by scoring a century in each of the six matches that took us to the inter-college title. It was the first time Mithibai had achieved this feat, a big departure from the first-round exit it had suffered for years.
I vividly remember the felicitation for the cricket team. We came to be recognised by almost everyone as we were honoured on the stage. It was an unforgettable experience. We made friends from the lot that had come to envy us because we were allowed leave from the classes. Attendance was not an issue at all because our job was to play cricket and bring fame to the college. I am happy the cricket team could do that in the first year itself. Mithibai beat Poddar in the final and I hit a century in each innings.
Sometimes, I yearn to relive my college days, to take the bus or the train from Dadar to Ville Parle with the group of cricketers that we were known as. Our coach was Anna Vaidya, who would conduct ‘nets’ at Shivaji Park. He would be happier than us whenever we won, just as our college Principal (C. D. Bastana), who took great pride in our cricket. He ordered specially made sweat shirts for the cricket team, a first for the college.
Mithibai had a superb canteen, our favourite hangout place. We did attend some (Commerce, his stream of study) lectures but honestly, it was never a priority. For good measure, I attended private classes in Dadar because I wanted to ensure I became a graduate and got a job. Cricket did not offer job security then.
A lasting memory from the college days was the magnificent library that it had. I picked up the habit of reading biographies from mycollege days and I can never forget the stern look the librarian had every time we entered the hall. She would sternly point to the ‘Silence Please’ board at the first sight. I did not mind because I did not have this habit of raising my voice.
There was an incident which I regretted a lot. During an inter-college final, I was on 98 when Jitu Thakre came up to silly-point to put pressure. My shot struck him on the ankle. It was a severe blow and he never played cricket thereafter. Some of my batch mates were Kavita Sood, a noted swimmer, and Bhagyashree Patwardhan, who later became a rage after her debut movie Maine Pyar Kiya with Salman Khan.
I have visited the college after passing out. It has grown into an eight-floor building from the humble two-floor beginning. I am proud I studied at Mithibai.
(As told to Vijay Lokapally)