OCA (UK) Winter News letter
Capt. Vivek C.Bhasin
Greetings from the OCA (UK) Chapter
Greetings Dear Old Cottonians here in the UK and those across the Channel in Europe, those across the pond in the Americas both South, Central and North, those in the Middle East, in the great African Continent, the Indian ,Pakistan and Bangladesh Sub-Continent, SE Asia, The Far East and Oz and New Zealand.. ( I guess I have covered the Globe!)
We are in the third week of December 2011 and its still beach weather here in Surrey….!! Though the trees have turned in to solid gold, red and pink and come raining down as I take my walks along the Thames here off Weybridge. The mercury is languishing on its hammock and it’s a mild 10C, though the weather Gods predict, the milder it stays for a longer period the harder the on coming winter will be. Yes it just snowed in the North and Scotland.
The year is rapidly passing by. …I have been admonished by Peter Stringer Sahib for running late with the newsletter and so its pen to paper.
Our Summer Luncheon on the last Saturday of June 2011 was a grand success and the congregation of Old Cottonians was indeed an amazing and welcome sight at the Bombay Brasserie. The diehards continue to make it across from the US, Australia, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Pakistan and India. We remain ever grateful to all who made it; especially D.C Anand, Anil and Lena Mehra, Ronny and Mrs Das, ALL our Seniors and Juniors, AND Anil Bhasin, Homer Gill and Kuljinder Bahia( it requires tact and diplomacy to coax these three dudes to attend!) Also young Charanji, who is doing his Hotel Management in Switzerland. Special tributes were paid to the Ladies by yours truly; these sweet and gentle wives of us OC’s who have endured and tolerated us through the ages… without them we would still be in shorts, house shirts, gym shoes and holes in our socks, forgetting to brush our teeth and apply Vaseline on our faces!
Our committee has not met that often but I appreciate the constant contact with Gursant Sandhu Secretary and Puneet Singh Treasurer. Sam Grewal another die-hard OC has set up the OCA (UK) Face Book page where all are welcome to become friends!!
I know for a fact that both Senior Committee members Raj Lamba and Vinod Nanda are always at our beck and call whenever we need them. Many young OC’s were invited by Senior OC Dr Daljit Jaijee and his wife Mohinder Pal to the Hounslow Gurdwara in October 2011 to spend some very divine moments in the midst of prayer and song. Daljit’s Son and daughter-in-law were visiting from Australia and it was a wonderful evening spending time with the family. Daljit’s beautiful and gentle daughter too did a great job in organizing the event. OCs who attended were Raj Mohinder Singh from Delhi, Rana Datar, Sam Grewal, Gursant Sandhu, Puneet Singh.
On Friday 02 December 2011 I drove down to Whyteleafe to meet Maggie and Peter Saheb. We spent a few hours enjoying each other’s company and I relished the samosas and the ‘Gaajar ka halwa’ that Peter had made especially for the occasion. Que Rico!!
Honorary Life President Allan Gay Niblett continues to be a pillar of great strength to the fraternity. He has taken upon himself the task of strengthening ties between BCS and Marlborough College.
LETTERS from Old Cottonians:
So what I now wish to do is leave ample space for Allan Gay Niblett Esq., as he writes to me; his letter has great significance and is please be taken as addressed to ALL of us:
Gay Allan Niblett Esq.,
Honorary Life President
I write as one of the older members with a mention of the Old Boys whom I have seen, been with and heard about since just before the Reunion Lunch in June.
My wife and I were invited down to Somerset to stay with Bob Myers and his wife Gillie, prior to coming up to the lunch. Their hospitality is well known and Dr Humayun Khan was there to enjoy every minute of it too.
We all travelled up on the morning of the lunch in a very comfortable coach to be at the Bombay Brasserie well on time. Humayun, with Hashim Khan, Deep C. Anand and Anil Mehra added to the Indian contingent.
Earlier in the year there was the annual gathering of Old Boys at the home of Sheila Reed, who has kept up the tradition set by her late husband Bobby. “Sirvamus” as they say in Rivaz House – and served we were with a delicious curry and all the accoutrements. John and Catherine Phillips brought me and others present were Peter and Maggie Stringer, Arthur Jones, Lance Jones, ‘Bambi’ Maljumdar, Clive and Margaret Hardie and Jugat Aulakh. John Whitmarsh Knight ‘A life long friend of BCS’ was also present; he came down with Vivek Bhasin. Dear Ken Merton-Richards was not too well when I visited him in Marlborough.
Meanwhile I keep contact with John and Helen McLaughlin from Chicago and Peter and Elisabeth Evans in Amsterdam. Peter has had a rough time, medically, recently but like other octogenarian OCs has pulled through. Others of his ilk – Clive and Margaret Hardie, the Phillips and the Baptys also battle through. Peter and Catherine Johans are over from Switzerland quite often. Of course, there is a wonderful contingent in Australia and though we have recently lost a couple of the greats – Peter Rollo and Reg Button, Malcolm Petters’ widow attended the 2011 Reunion. I still keep contact via Joyce Westrip of B.C.S. Bangalore, who knows and sees the Western Australian members like Dick D’Abreu, George West and Peter Maidment. There’s certainly life in us old dogs yet!
Our bonds with Marlborough College grow stronger, as 2 pupils from Marlborough go over in the New Year for a term and a half at BCS and we await a reciprocal arrangements at Marlborough in 2013. The OCA(UK) is going to lose its Chairman Vivek Bhasin and Hon. Treasurer Puneet Singh. Both, from the younger and young set have done wonders for the Association – bringing in younger members and giving big chunks of their busy business lives to the OCA. Vivek has plans to set up a Finishing Academy in Chandigarh, dedicated to preparing young Indian school leavers for higher education and business outside their great country of India. Puneet is furthering his career as an international financier, starting n MBA in Paris. We urgently need a new team to take up the baton and Gursant Sandhu must encourage his younger colleagues and try to get our great UK benefactor, Kuljinder Singh Bahia to pull everyone together. Raj Lamba and Vinod Nanda are there to add their experience. For now my best wishes to all for a HAPPY CHRISTMAS and a healthy, prosperous NEW YEAR – when we forge ahead to a bright, young and growing Association.
Hon. Life President
Peter Stringer Esq.,
Always Standing Tall!
News from an Old Cottonian …….. Peter Stringer (Lefroy 1943-47)
Wherever: Whenever this reaches you I send you greetings and cordial good wishes with Our Season’s Greetings and for a bright, prosperous Happy New Year.
As 2011 leaves us with Arab unrest and tumult in the world of finance we devote our prayers to Peace in our time, and am hoping this is accepted in time for the Winter Newsletter.
OCA(UK) Annual Reunion Luncheon at our well chosen venue – The Bombay Brasserie on Saturday 25th June was another superb occasion. The weather, the khana the good company refreshed the Spirit of BCS enjoyed by everyone. A rewarding tribute to the new Chairman and Committee bringing in a host of younger Old Cottonians that I hope will repeat their presence and support always. Remember it is your Association with dear Patina, sharing experiences up in Simla and tales of life in Indiaaah that bonds our Fraternity.
I do not know who is the oldest OC alive; I am sure he does not know either – what matters – it is the young heart that survives. While we can let us try to keep in touch and meet whenever possible extending the goodwill we have all inherited.
A short record from my diary of contact with OCs –
In the middle of August I spent a week with Arthur Jones (L42-48). Picking him up from his home near Cambridge, Maggie and I drove him down to his late wife’s nephew’s house in Lowestoft on the Norfolk coast. We spent three gorgeous days with them. We then drove up to Briston Melton Constable to Arthur’s cousin’s bungalow, truly a builder’s masterpiece. Coincidentally Bruce was a contemporary of mine when sitting for my Senior Cambridge Certificate at Bishop Westcott, Nankum Bihar 1949. Wow what a relay of mixed boyhood stories and memorable exchanges.
Around the 3rd week of September Chairman Vivek Bhasin (L61-70) and John Whitmarsh-Knight came to visit. Later in the afternoon three of us called on Chris & Pat Krishnan – Chris is ex-LaMartiner Lucknow – great exchanges.
22nd September 2011: I attended a lecture by Mark Tully at Chatham House about his new book and signing “INDIA The Road Ahead” – a good read. Gay Niblett (R 42-47) invited Vivek Bhasin, Chris and I as his special guests. Coincidentally interesting to note Gay’s eldest son Robin is Director of Chatham House, and Gay and Mark Tully finished their education together here in the UK.
Saturday 24th September the Gora Gali function at the Indian Gymkhana at Osterley:
Arthur Jones persuaded me to attend together with Chris Kishanan ex-La-Martinea, who lives uphill from us. Bigger encouragement came with the actual GG Newsletter from Johnny Walker (the organizer). Made mention about a lady that has connections at the BBC and would be interested to promote a documentary of British founded Schools and education in India. Hilary Thompson and her associate Sushma Puri attended and I made a point to covey my indulging fascination and offered friendly advice and assistance. I did imply not to dally to start, as we older veterans are soon approaching the final departure lounge!! It was another good afternoon attended by many of the older seniors and surprisingly with lots of much younger Gallians.
Just passed the middle of October we had a surprise visit from Elisabeth & Peter Johans (I 44-48) before they flew off to Bermuda to bask in autumn sunshine. Reminds me we in the UK have enjoyed some most unusual late glorious Indian Summer and very mild weather.
Kuljinder Singh Bahia (L82-89) and his charming wife Donna invited Maggie and I to join their Diwali celebrations in Buckinghamshire. I missed out last year – detest night driving, more so now since I have had one eye cataract operation. A splendid idea came to me! I rang Daljit Singh Jaijee (School Captain 1954) who lives in Hounslow asked if he was attending could I sleep the night over. Yes – he and Mohinderpal his wife agreed. So I drove over in the afternoon and in the evening off we all went accompanied by Ranar Data Singh and his dear wife.
Wow what a show Kuljinder had for all of us and over 350 other people – friends and business associates and including five more younger Old Cottonians. We drove into the grounds and our vehicle taken over by valet service and then we were ferried across the huge lawn in front of this super rambling modern building in one of several golf buggies. We were deposited at the front reception entrance of a mammoth marquee. Warmly greeted we moved into the beautifully decorated venue laid out with numbered round tables seating 10. The tables tastefully displayed centre carousal laden with glass bowls filled with roses and candle lights, many tasty dips and bottles of fine wines. There was a DJ, loud mixture of music, several dancing floor shows Latin and a group of Indian dancers who had specially flown to the UK after featuring in a Bollywood musical. As for the khana – a feast – too much to detail and send your mouth off watering! A spectacular fireworks display followed and we watched in awe for a good half hour non-stop. We pulled away, saying our goodbyes long after 1:am. The music still throbbing and the dance floor full of revellers.
Boy! All this took me back to my childhood when Diwali was close on Guy Fawkes. My father would bring home fireworks with rocket heads about 6 to 8 inches long and 2” around – light the fuse and off they went high up to replace the stars; and then finishing off with a few Chinese lanterns drifting off into the night sky. Our servants loved us for it.
Now that is what I mean connecting with the BCS SPIRIT
Throughout the months I am in contact with fraternal OCs by phone and correspondence here and abroad. There is always something to hear and something to tell ………….
Note from Gursant Sandhu
As always, it was a pleasure to attend the OCA(UK) Annual Reunion Luncheon held in June 2011 at the Bombay Brassiere. I eagerly look forward to the next annual reunion.
Peter Stinger has mentioned earlier of the Diwali Celebrations at Kuljinder’s house in Iver. It was also a golden opportunity to meet many Old Cottonians who attended the celebration party. The fireworks were on an industrial scale and they were remarkable. The feast (plus drinks) and entertainment could not have been better. Thank you Kuljinder!
The OCA (UK) Chapter was only beginning to benefit from dynamic enthusiasm and leadership of Vivek, however, due to his personal circumstances he is returning to India. I am sure Vivek will do remarkably well with his plans of establishing a finishing school in Chandigarh. The bigger picture is that Vivek will be contributing something back to the Indian society, by guiding youngsters to achieve their dreams.
Puneet will be pursing his further education in France and I hope that he achieves great success. He has been committed to the OCA (UK) from the very day he arrived in England. I am most grateful to Gay Niblett and Peter Stringer for their guidance on many issues including how to get the younger Old Cottonians involved and participating in OCA (UK) alive.
Wishing all of you a merry Christmas, happy and prosperous New Year!!
Many Thanks, Gay, Peter, Gursant and Puneet
However coming to this conclusion, I need to write something extremely important. Gay Niblett has already mentioned this in his letter:
My time in the UK is fast coming to an end; so too our young treasurer Puneet Singh who heads to INSEAD Business School in Paris. It’s time to search for another Captain, another Banker to steer the OCA (UK) onwards…
I will be leaving the shores of England in early March 2011 and am looking towards setting up our Academy in Chandigarh with a group of OCs. It will be in this Academy the youth of India will find and cement their footing to face the world and its myriad challenges. It is in this Academy young Ladies and Gentlemen will discover their strengths to become Global Ambassadors of India. Shall keep you all posted.
Our Richest Cottonian, ranked 372 in the Times Rich List of individuals in the UK Kuljinder Bahia assured me the OCA (United Kingdom) will continue and reign from strength to strength. It will be the combined efforts of Kuljinder, Rana Datar, Gursant Sandhu, Sam Grewal to support Raj Lamba, Vinod Nanda and our two Pillars Allan Gay Niblett and Peter Stringer. To harness the energies and enthusiasm of the young OCs who are sprinkled all over the UK to continue this great brotherhood.
Never should it crumble, Never should it fail.
I also take this opportunity to Wish All of You and your families Seasons Greetings and All Good Wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year.
I wish to dedicate this poem in remembrance to our Senior Old Cottonians now past and gone who lived their lives to the fullest having had such a great foundation from Bishop Cotton School, Simla.
by Christina Rosetti
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Captain Vivek Bhasin:
Chairman Old Cottonians (United Kingdom)
21st December 2011
Details of Committee members:
Chairman: Capt. Vivek C.Bhasin, 4 Southlands, 40 Queens Road, Weybridge Surrey KT13 0AR Tel: + 44 1932 841614 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Committee Member: Raj Lamba 12, Western Court, Huntley Drive, London N3 1NX Tel:+44 20 8349 1041
Senior Committee Member: Vinod Nanda, 37 Melbury Avenue, Norwood Green, Southall, Middlesex UB2 4HS Tel: + 44 20 8843 0027 e:email@example.com
Secretary: Gursant Sandhu 86 Cranbrook Rise, Illford Essex IG1 4PD Tel: + 44 7788 716525 e:firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Treasurer: Puneet Singh e:firstname.lastname@example.org