Writings 14 April 2019
When friends become FAMILY
(by a certain Lefroyian from the Class of 1970)
It’s the 14th of April 2019 0945hrs Swedish summer time up in the cloudless blue as I fly between Stockholm and Helsinki on a Finnair Flight…
I suddenly have this explosive surge to write a few lines that have formed after a rapid juxtaposition of words… I try to find a Doric pen, a Bic biro or even a blunt 2B pencil (that I can gnaw off the end with my jagged teeth to find the lead within) ..desperation is the key here as I fumble through my bag but no .. there ain’t no ‘Ship Ahoy’ no ‘Eureka’ moment as a fresh flow is melting.. finally from my frozen brain now thawing with a warm breeze, just as pure coconut oil turns dusky and then transparent from its white snow.. when the heat descends from above.
.. and talking about white, I need parchment to ink my flow of words. My brain is unable to keep those thoughts secure as it’s losing the blotting paper, it’s sponge in my memory bank. Be it a fistful of dollars or the code to my account, the need to ink it all; then if possible memorise, then if possible enact them with highs and lows, speaking loud with conviction, with the right emphasis on punctuation, exclamations and emotions.. like an actor who comes under the spot light, plays his part and soon fades in to oblivion of sunsets; the lights fade, the curtain falls ( sing Greta van Fleet) and he is back in that smoke filled cafe in the third arrondissement where strugglers still burn Gauloises hoping to crack the stage of perfection.
I don’t trust iCloud, never really did…just as the plane encounters turbulence hitting a powerful jet stream and every one is rattled sick ..
… but soon smooth air sailing ..
..too soon as a calm prevails and then tinkering of glasses. Of course this Japanese Samurai sitting in front has bagzed two seats;massive he is yet nimble on his toes he does a pirouette taking a video of the entire length of passengers with his iPad bowing and smiling through his Oriental eyes..
Yet I stay desperado-hungry searching with arms flaying ..my words, my words …
The young blue eye’d blonde air hostess questions my worried look as I whisper “ I need ink.. please I need ink..” Smiling she retrieves a Finnair Biro and handing it to me, words spilling out of my ears, I thank her “Tack så mycket” in Swedish and try to stay focused.
I look around for a blank page but all I find are white spaces above and below today’s “i-paper” from London; a day old sheaf crumbled in the chair pocket .. that’s enough I sing to myself and pour it all out..
When the coffee is hot, even a few empty spaces are enough to spill my writer’s beans. But the cup will soon turn cold and the light brown froth will freeze on to the sides leaving little holes like a fading wave on a beach, the waters gone and little crabs appear ..my words will get lost… until the next high tide…
at our age folks ..the next high may be a long time coming ..
Yet now I write..
Having entered the Linlithgow dorms as a 3 foot 6 inch and a fag paper tall shy shivering little boy of five with ears sticking out like a baby elephant… I was taught the Lord’s prayer, brushed my teeth as the dorm bearer Kanhaiya Lal splattered my cheeks with a blob of Vaseline sold in the Hutties below; rumour had it the local Pandit in residence at White Temple beyond Buffalo pond used to collect slime snails which he made into an awful grimy paste, throwing in some black pepper, basil and putrid water of that from that stagnation ..
Indeed ! This concoction was trumpeted as a sure cure for dried cheeks and lips. KL as I shorten the bearer’s name was the middle man who brokered the deal to get fresh turnips in exchange for a sale to the Hutti wullah who purchased this from Panditji in huge cardboard boxes passing the absolutely disgusting no-brand over to my matron Mrs Goss (anyone could throw the wool over her pretty eyes). The grime stuck in my hair too and stained my pillow with rotten smells; awful is a soft word.
Oh yes, there was Red Lifebuoy soap too that Mum sent along with my tuck so I could wash my hands after taking a crap (you mean you never have soap over the sink Baba? Little did I tell her there was no water too… and sometimes the shit really hit the fan..).
They say family is forever, friends are chums, chums later are mates and then when realisation dawns and one gets taller most of those “partners in crime” drift away across time zones, across waters and beyond the peaks and valleys of the great Himalaya..until the final roll call.
I solemnly believe friends become family and as fifty years go by the friend – family connection is a bond beyond blood .. it’s a bond that suddenly strengthens and reunites as if yesterday never happened… the moment of 30 November 1970 has looped around and comes swooshing in for a soft landing …at the School Gates. We have waited long enough. It’s time to stop the world rushing by and return.. return to our ABC and 123…and BCS.
Sukhdev Rai was fascinated about my Pa being a Hooghly River Pilot, the guy built the first high rise on Lal Dora land … eventually, pushing his young Cottonian protege to hit the decks ..
Jeet was an expert at making traps.. of all frikin sorts. He had a fertile mind; reports state he was a wild child and now a slightly more stable dude thanks to his Missus.
Anil Chops always screwed his face in defiant agony and walked the Lefroy Dorms “el nonchalante”.. he smashed his Dad’s Embassy Transistor Radio factory into history ..thanks to Embassy one could see the Black Brothers with their Boom-Boom Boxes moonwalking at Times Square. The fad started by Indian “ locals” carrying the Embassy on their shoulders and twisting like Shammi the Kapoor.
Homer always called me “ a Mamma’s boy” his clothes from England formed a new word in my vocab :
S A R T O R I A L
He managed to come across for my 50th and now his accent is stooped with Punjabiness..
Aku played a cool mouth organ, a versatile tenor he lead the school choir and could sing anything from the Beatles to Cliff Richard.. “A” once told me I could pull a mega liner across the water with a shoe string …easy-peazy..
Anil Adu was a stubborn dude and gave a rat’s ass to Goldie’s orders .. .. the bugger maintained shoulder length hair ..the Rock of BCS.. diehard Soldier, Lenswizard and Master-Crafter-Baker… Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey hate his guts.. so do many others (tough luck as he just doesn’t G.A.F !) …his sister was maha cute! And Salutations to Mum “ Ma’am” my Nature Study teacher .. that’s why I still look for Ferns in Mashobra and Sweden..🙏
PK Singh.. this guy wanted to read my hand and jammed it down .. hard on the desk where a broken point of a divider has scarred my middle finger of my left paw ..the man has now sobered and took an early retirement from the jungle .. settling down in UK.. I mean Uttrakhand. His sister was slim trim and a proper Chelsea lass..Hugs PK! The Bond grows…
Krit loved his gymnastics, was a lithe boxer who met his match from Shiv Kapoor. I first got the taste of Jintan from K..and yes that monk from Tibet.. K was a philanthropist and I remember the good times in Las Vegas .. R.I.P🙏
Father was born six feet tall the day he was born.. he was focused on researching the female atomic body and was seen (and heard) walking around Scandal Point after lights out..after placing a dummy in his bed … Bakku never cuffed on ..
JSB’s sister looked a doll!
Joel was the only God fearing chap who went to Sunday School praying for all our sins ..Bless You Dr. JAM!
Himesh and Mastu were up to “ purple passages “ and whilst Led Zeppelin hit the charts with Ramble on .. M opened the first drive in at CP aptly naming it Rambles. His Brother was Mr India and came to visit School now and then lifting the end of the Amby (no Jack) so the Driver could change the flat ..!phew…!Himesh became a Travel Agent and ensured Shanker Basu missed his flight and hence was deep soul angry having had to renegade the Deutsche Bank conference in Colombo too!
Raghu was a straight faced devil of a great guy who was working on nominating the Commerce prize..he also knew the dates of the three battles of Panipat by heart ..
Anil M came from an exotic place known for the largest species of butterflies.. Tittlagarh. Another Shakespeare in the making..
Avnesh was a cool hand dude .. he had a game plan.. Rivaz cool hand dude now Luke, “Thighs and Thailand” were his destined destination ..
Abhai was the sharpest back flipper in the world and blasted my ass catching me sliding down the out-of-bounds Anderson staircase. His hockey skills even had Gyan Chand in awe… Abhai converted his dreams and became a mountaineer. Udechee huts with Swarnima up in pure pristine Dharamsala… he knows Richard Gere intimately…Hail School Capitano🙏
Dilip had the Italian connect and hence the Milano name “ Tinani”.. a pizza is named after him and sold off Fontana de Trevi..
Harry was special … asleep awake or walking sleeping he thought of sex every 9.5 secs …that’s the reason his pug was so perfect …he has written his desertion on the subject
“How to spank the old Monkey” to raving reviews in the NY Times..
Mohinderjit was the special one .. this Ibbetson dude was an all rounder in mischief and inspite of his name on no boards ( for which the heat is on) the writer has nominated MJ’s name for an Oscar for the lead act in the “Academy of Rascals”..MJ (aka Billa) could see in the dark and that’s why Bats zing and ping in dark places …his fiery temper has since subsided thanks to heavy snow falls in Minneapolis.. his Limousine service was linked to Rock Star Prince. Often seen on tip toe looking at OzzzeeTuli’s house ( all cloak and dagger tucked below..!)
Karan was the Ghost Whisperer… Goldie once called him to the lodge to connect with the departed soul of his beloved departed cocker spaniel … it is established that JK Rawling snatched away the book of ghosting logarithms from Karan, and Shakespeare still rolls laughingly in his grave ..
Shanker was a Hongkong Bong wise and wide chested with a mischievous smile that could charm and melt one and all .. the dude was a great gymnast..a hockey player and knew where he was headed after Calcutta, Bombay and Delhi..getting a first div was not the problem .. getting five points was..
Smuggler Bill was charting another course of history … the guy knew which window was open; he had that great ability to sniff out the History paper and later made grand plans to derail trams plying in Calcutta … he vanished as an Arab and was last seen riding a camel sitting backwards on the sand dunes of Dubai…
Anil P worked his unique story .. the dude once found a rusty nail in his chicken curry and some jelly like blob in his ice cream .. he vowed to go up to the Artic circle .. another Lothario no one knows how many kids follow him like a Pied Piper .. …with a memory of an Indian Haathi he has Ganesha statues placed in every room and loves Penny Loafers .. (I like Dexter’s) .. innocent? My sorry ass…😁
Rajiv P Shams …likes biology as this was the only way to enter Mrs Kumar’s mind body and soul tactfully, sinfully and with great sensual reality …he flew in from Accra Ghana and after concluding the plot with Mrs VK invented unisex boxer shorts that can dry in two minutes flat, Rolex vouch for that; later NASA took over his patent.. all US Astronauts wear the RPS brand , Donald T is also interested .. The White House want to see the snug fit and if the tights really protect the family’s jewels ..
Amar Rana was another blighter whose family hailed from Nepal but with great foresight acquired entire Mashobra Hills. .. he was often seen on a moped careening past Park Street and driving the two-wheeler in frenzied laughter into the gates of St. Xavier’s Calcutta…He had a fabulous sister Durgi who my cousin Mountain (R.I.P) was totally madly and crazily in love with… Amar ..remains A M A R🙏
Bhupi Singh another Curzon stalwart was seen running down the steps with his turban half -tied.. and tucking in his shirt with laces ablaze .. in time for the Breakfast line.. what a good hearted soul was he… R.I.P🙏
Pradeep Pando.. RPS’s giant brother had massive hands and stacking six quarter plates could pick them up with one hand fingers only ..his laughter was louder than the howler monkey and he loved to throw in pearls of wisdom at inter-school debates “ it’s a jargon , where revisionism is a betrayal to the ideas of revolution, where dogmatism is criminal obscurantism and where fractionalism is a mortal sin”…Let uncut diamonds stay safe as they peer across the Bay of Bengala..
.. and there is Kirit Shah… who flies in to London in his private Lear Jet calling me from the skies above BCS… inviting me to Lunch … “ just bringing my wife across to Harrods for Shopping”.. shipping magnate, rice mills, hotels and a host of others …. he was the quiet one with a naughty interior… loved the Khuds as he saw Khadu belles cutting grass… and ??!!!.. Matka was another favourite pastime and Rivaz was his haven …
Deepu was another serious hard working rascal who always played fair in tug-o-war. The man was a determined anchor who joked when it was time to get serious. Guts, Glory and Sports the man had an insane stamina and could stand sleeping with his eyes wide open.. his opinion of the world then and now was never questioned … dare not.
Gaddi the cool handsome Surd from Curzon.. and another super asset to our Class of 1970.. he was polished and sparkled the virtues of a true Cottonian…was it Jasbir and later Vikram pray may I ask…you have been a noble gentleman, a shining example as you left trails of perfection..
Chachi always won the prize of a plate of hot samosas and a occasional basin ladoo from Farhat “fat” Paul.The more horse manure Paula churned having nailed a crocodile in Jagadri, the more Chachi improved his calligraphy.. perfect flair of the nob.. thanks to Doric and Paula (who had the hots for Missus Shah..she probably rode his “white pony”)
Chachi was that smiley dude and I remember he sold Saddam Hussain his first platinum plated Audemars Piaget from Nath Watch Magazine in Basra. As a young kid Chachi did resemble the Thief of Baghdad.. no?
Arthur was what Red Royal apples are all about .. what great looks, cunning charmer, snake charmer and ladies charmer.. the Banon boy was fabulous. Rivaz’s precious son who hiked trekked fished and enjoyed the wild outdoors… soul stirring dude whose elders came across from Ireland and the US…. “ only the good die young …” R. I. P🙏
Chun-Chun was that quiet melancholic soul who has left the Ibbetson dorms whispering between cubicles of this gentleman and a scholar … Washington DC beckoned … always , unfailingly coming out on top of our unruly pile Goldie often wished to get in to ChunChun’s brain (like Einstein, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms).. to see what brilliance he had… he and the Itaian “tinani”were thick ..like minds think alike …
The Chief was another firebrand of the Clan. Nagu is part of tribes Cherokee and Mohican.. and rumour goes a major share holder of Hard Rock cafe..his fork tailed tongue can spit a Cobra dead and he takes no prisoners.. either it’s my way or the highway dude… either you have a straight neck or I will wring your neck … don’t try to schmooze your way to a free frikin aloo tak at Chipu’s you piece of wretchedness..
Behave Okay …?!
…. it doesn’t matter…
I have arrived at the Gates now ..walking at a slow pace past boundary stone … will we all emerge from different compass points,some clambering up the hill, some descending from Council Rock, some landing at Simla’s airport …some sliding down trees and others on horse back ..? We must arrive… We NEED to arrive…
Do we take roll call and walk in silently past the tennis courts … shedding Rivers of Babylon, hearts beating as we look at each other and step on the sacred grounds… will they be an eerie of quietness as we stand around the fountain and look at the porch as the dining hall doors open… will the Bugler sound the bell as we stand side by side in our house lines …will we hear the echoes of Bharpur Singh’s punishment squad struggling as he shouts “ last three had it .!” As the clock strikes over the war memorial the whirlpool of memories spins like a tornado coming back to life; will we look at the turf on the second flat and shout “ Light Blue Dark Blue Colours of ours, c’mon Cottonians, show them stars”?
Or will we just look at each other as we shrink in size into that time machine that will bring us back to November 1970?
Friends to Family to Friends .. now Family again…
Dedicated to The Class of 1970
Bishop Cotton School
(the only friends i made were in BCS … a few later were Cottonians too… My Young Bro a Lefroyan and one Chilean Bro… and a handful on my path to Santiago de Campostela…loads of others I did befriend but converted them into mere acquaintances…).. for me that is life .. even as I walk in the eternal city … heading towards the Vatican …
15th April 2019