Sunday, September 9, 2007


ORIGINALLY from Ba, Rishi Ram attended St Teresa's Primary School and then Khalsa Secondary School.
"My school was very close to my home and I remember walking home after school with my friends because we spent our bus fare home on bun and ice blocks," he said.
Coming from a family of seven brothers and eight sisters, Mr Ram had to learn to work for his expenses from an early age.
Reminiscing about his school days in Ba, Mr Ram said he used to return home from school everyday and start working in his vegetable garden so he could sell the fruit of labour and earn some pocket money.
"Gardening has been my hobby and it used to give me some income during my school days," he said.
"I remember planting vegetables like dhania, tomatoes, bean, cabbages and other vegetables and I would come back from school and bundle them and take them out to the villages and settlements in my area and sell them.
"Even today I have the habit and I have grown all kinds of vegetables in my garden at home," he said.
Compared to the life he led, Mr Ram said kids today had an easy life.
"I think life has changed so much because the luxury that kids these days have is so different from the life we had.
"We were given bus fares and my school was six kilometres from my home.
"We used to catch the bus to school but from the other side we would use our bus fare to buy bun and ice-block and we used to walk back home.
"Then there was the kind of school bags that we used to have and we didn't have shoes to wear to school."
Mr Ram said when he thought back about the time when he was at school and the life his grandchildren were leading, he felt children these days "have everything but they do not appreciate it".
"Then, there was so much discipline both at home and in school. "After school we used to come home and work in the gardens, tether the animals and feed the chickens but these days the children just come back from school and sit in front of the television till 7pm.
"My grandson, who is 10 years, comes back from school and just sits in front of the TV until 6 or 7pm and if we tell them to do anything, they will just say no.
"In those days if our parents asked us to do a task and we refused, we were disciplined," he said.
But Mr Ram said it was not all about discipline but about respect as well because if children respected their parents and their elders, they would learn to listen to them and behave.
Mr Ram said his three children had an easy life but they were and are respectful to their elders and to him and that is one legacy he is very proud of.
"These days living in an extended family is hard because when a lot of people live together quarrels are bound to happen and then families don't talk to each other.
"But I have been very lucky in the sense that my son and his family live with us and we get along so well.
"My son shares the same interests as me and we go fishing together and we play golf together.
"My grandchildren are so attached to me and my grandson Nikhil always fights with me to tag along with me everywhere and I keep chasing him to go home but he just keeps coming back to me," he said.
Mr Ram and his wife Sarla have three children — two daughters and a son, all of whom are now married.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online