Diana Edulji recalls her fun time at Mumbai’s Jai Hind College and how her college days offered her the platform to pursue table tennis, and thereafter cricket
Those were wonderful days, part of growing up with sports as the main focus. It was not easy. Not because there was little for women in sports but the fact that the facilities were inadequate. Even at my college which was not the sports type.
Academics were the main attraction for those who went to Jai Hind College at Churchgate, Bombay. Well, for me, more than sports or academics, it was the proximity to my alma mater. It meant a lot in a city (Mumbai) where people spend hours in commuting to their work place or school or college. I could reach my college at a leisurely pace. I have lived at Cuffe Parade all my life and Jai Hind College was hardly any distance for me, barely three km. I could jog my way to college.
Believe me, for all the proximity that I enjoyed to my college, I rarely reported on time. If my memory serves me right, I was never present for the first lecture. My friends knew I would be invariably late and then it became part of my routine. The first lecture did not exist in my schedule. Not that I missed much really.
The college hours were 7 to 9 a.m.. Yes, just two hours for us because it was meant for those who worked and pursued their studies at the same time. For me, it facilitated my pursuit in sports even as I opted to study Arts. It was a regular college after 9 a.m. and you could make out the difference between the set of students who attended college in these two segments.
The canteen was our hangout. I have heard of many students and friends raving about their college and school canteen but this was one was simple. It was popular no doubt because it offered good stuff at a reasonable price. I believe it still does even though I have not been to the college canteen for years.
I don’t remember my first and last day at college though. They were the same. I never liked studies, never. For me, college was a gateway to chase my table tennis dreams. I competed with the likes of Kashmira Patel, Naria Mowla and Nandini Kulkarni, but could never progress beyond the quarterfinal stage. Table tennis at college level was highly competitive and university sports those days was big. I vividly remember the table tennis tournaments organised by various gymkhanas.
Cricket for women actually took off in the mid ‘70s and I opted for it to say goodbye to table tennis. I saw a future in cricket and plunged into it. College time was busy time for me. Two hours of presence at the college and then training or competing. The Cricket Club of India (CCI) offered us the facility to conduct ‘nets’ because there was no cricket in the college. We could practice twice a week at CCI and that was very helpful.
I may not have been good at studies but I am proud of my achievements as a cricketer. I did get noticed at college because of cricket and table tennis and the experience contributed towards my career. I joined the Western Railway as a clerk and am now a senior sports officer looking after recruitment of players, their training, participations and promotions in 37 disciplines. I was never tempted to return to college but the days at Jai Hind are part of my fond memories of time well spent.