Tag Archives: Articles by OCs

School stories of the 1940s era

School stories  of the 1940 era, by: Peter Maidment. Rivaz 89 years  /  Jim Lee. Curzon 90 years / Dick D’Abreu. Curzon 88 years.

Peter Maidment:-

I have some very precious memories of my years at BCS Simla between 1941 and 1943. I was in Rivaz House when Peter Rollo was House Captain. We became very good friends, so much so that I was relocated to a bed adjoining the Captains cubicle in our dormitory overlooking the tennis courts. Our mutual friends Andy, Ken and Jim would often meet in  the dormitory. Andy and Ken are now deceased, but Jim and I still correspond and talk with Dick D’Abreu (a later mutual friend) on Skype. Jim, Dick and I recently resolved that we had some good cause to be included in the Old Cottonian news that is still forwarded to members past and present, hence this account.

One of the regular incidents that occurred in those halcyon days was the surreptitious and sneaky nocturnal visits to the Pictures after lights out. The four good friends would get dressed up in Indian garb and walk all the way to the City to see the chosen film. On one occasion we were half way to our destination, when coming towards us were two House Masters who somehow recognised we were not the locals. To forestall this surprise discovery I involuntarily spoke a few garbled Hindustani words to make us seem authentic. It so happened that my House Master was one of the staff who recognised me and reprimanded me for setting a bad example as the then House Captain. I was given a firm lecture the next day and promised I would not commit the act again.

Jim Lee:-

As a child being lead along the beach on the back of a pony was the only time I had ever been in a saddle. Pete, Ken and Andy desperately wanted to go horseback riding and persuaded me to join them one weekend. From a stable in Simla we rented the horses, and my request was for a small gentle horse because of my lack of experience. When the groom and his assistant brought the four horses into the courtyard, all saddled up, he walked over to me with an animal that must have been well over 16 hands. It was huge compared to the other three horses. He overcame my protests by telling me, that despite its size, the horse that he had picked for me was an old animal, very gentle, well trained and not a fast runner. My buddies assured me they would walk their horses alongside me to make sure I was alright, which they did until we got to a straight stretch of road known as “Ladies Mile.”It was the only area where a rider could gallop his mount. As we approached Ladies Mile  my friends suggested that I let my hoprse graze on the shoulder of the road while they went around the corner and galloped to the end and back. That was fine with me because I was certainly not comfortable or confident to gallop on ‘the giant’I was astride. Away they went assuring that I would be ok until they returned. Well, it did not quite work out that way. When my horse heard the thunder of galloping hooves it raised its head, put its ears forward, and turned the corner in hot pursuit of the others. I was not prepared for the sudden burst of speed, and tried to stay in the saddle as best I could, pulling down on the reins and calling for help. I didn’t make it. I seemed to slide forward in the saddle and rolled to the ground off the horses neck. The horse stopped and just stood over me. The three ahead heard my desperate cries and turned to help. It was an embarrassing long walk back to school after returning the horses. I was shaken and bruised, but what hurt the most was my pride.

It was 36 years before I mounted another horse, my daughter Jennifer’s horse Quinn, and wouldn’t you know, I was bucked off even before Quinn took a step. After this second indignity I resolved I would confine my horsey activities to feeding the horse and cleaning the barn!.

Dick D’Abreu:-

As Peter in Sydney Australia, Jim in Langley Canada and I in Perth Western Australia chat for an hour once a week on Skype, we thought it would be nice to write a few lines on our interesting and happy days at Bishop Cotton School Simla in the 1940ies era.

From an early age of five years old my parents gave me a horse to ride of which I was able to manage very well. I used to ride the horse to my kindergarten classes on week days before I was sent to BCS as a boarder in 1936 in class Lower 1. My father worked on the Great Indian Peninsular Railway as a senior Interlocking Engineer while we lived in Jhansi. My parents would drum into my sister Grace and myself that they were making big sacrifices to send me to BCS and my sister to Auckland House so as to have the best of education. I took a while to adjust to boarding school in those early days as I could hardly dress myself, or tie up my shoelaces. A very kind servant that cleaned our shoes every morning saw my plight and used to assist me in getting dressed for class every day. Many a time I would cry on his shoulder. It never took me long to make friends, as our PT instructor Baby Hawkes taught me the finer points of boxing. At four stone in weight I was one of the flee weights.

In my latter years in school while in the senior classes I became good friends with Derek Blewett  who also loved horse riding . Together we would go down to the stables at the Lower Bazaar on a Sunday to hire horses which we rode out to Auckland house to visit our sisters.  My pocket money was a generous Rs 3.00  a week, the cost of hiring the horse was 8 Annas for two hours. The rest of the pocket money would be spent on Kurram’s tuck shop to buy peg tops and paper kites. We also used to spend it at Kurram’s sons place adjacent to tuck shop eating samousas and cups of tea. Freddy Brown who was a Cottonian in my early days at school returned after he left school as my Curzon House Master. He was a great person.

One Sunday on our visit to Auckland House on the horses, my horse that was tied up to the bench overlooking the girls playground came loose. It ran on to the playground, despite the girls and teachers chasing it the horse eluded capture. It was over an hour after which I took out some of my gelabbies to eat, (Indian sweets) which I had bought wrapped in brown paper, when to our surprise the horse came trotting up to see what I had. I was able to ride it back to the Lower Bazaar and promise to pay the syce the extra 4 Annas the following  week.

———————-

Editor: Here are some earlier stories by this trio

Mirrored Reflections and Reflections of the Soul

Mirrored Reflections and Reflections of the Soul

From the very instant I arrived in this world way way back, yesterday felt like yesterday.
Many I met along the road were mere travelers and others with whom I cemented relationships; at least I tried to, but heavy landings on the runway did bring cracks which again need repair, patience and hard work to bind together.
Reflections do sharpen the Brain as now you would capture the essence on your iPhone but during those misty years, the camera roll stayed within your head and now the urge to speak out..

  • From chipping rust on rotten decks off at Tripoli Libya and the scorching sun 52 C.
  • Hiding behind curtains –something like a stick in the school dining hall with Mum in panic.
  • Eating Shark Meat with that lady Security Guard on a full moon at Hamilton Bermuda
  • Obliged to a Vietnam veteran who saved my ass at Brooklyn
  • Stunned at the flash of green at a Caribbean sunset.
  • Dancing the Salsa at El Rodadero Colombia
  • Watching Van Halen Rocking the House at Madison City Gardens
  • Taking the Greyhound from Baltimore to Washington with a sneak at the White House
  • Feeling the house shake and tremble at San Jose Costa Rica
  • And later sitting under a Guanacaste Tree at Guanacaste
  • Sampling vino at Los Andes Chile
  • Buying my first pair of Levi’s in Las Palmas
  • Hearing the sound of Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy that made me a Rocker.
  • Negotiating the Panama Canal and anchoring at Gatun Lake in transit.
  • Meeting the High End executives at World Trade Centre NYC with my wife
  • Slipping through and attempted mugging at Rotterdam
  • And another at Defence Colony Delhi
  • Visiting our small plot of land at Bishnupur with my Dad-abound with coconuts
  • Smelling the smoke fires at Bursa Turkey
  • Dancing with Russian Devooshkasa on a summer’s evening at Kherson USSR
  • Hearing Michael Jackson’s ‘Don’t stop till you get enuf’ at the 40 Thieves Club
  • Taking the Children to grill sausages in off the Vanern Lake Karlstad
  • Buying my First Opel Ascona and visting Bunty Bhullar at Cardiff.
  • Breaking my first golf club at the Golf Course in Jamshedpur
  • And watching 2 elks staring at us as I played gold at 0100 with my Father in law on Midsummer Sweden
  • Going Fishing off the Coast of Sudan
  • My first cufflinks at Aden
  • Eating Shrimp at Maputo with a rich Indian Dude whose sister had to escape from the clutches of Adi Amin
  • Having Dinner with the Joud Brothers at their palace in Lattakia Syria
  • Reaching Nagarkot with 2 Swedish damsels and my Mum!
  • Seeing the biggest biggest sunflower fields on the train from Buenos Aires to Rosario, Argentina
  • Safely making the Valhalla exchange between Guatemala and El Salvador
  • Taking refuge south of Nisos Psara as my ship was getting hammered by tumultuous waves and swell.
  • My Mum teaching me to drive in my Dad’s immaculate Fiat 1100
  • Watching my Dad ship handling mine as we worked our way from Sandheads
  • Walking from Southlands to Weybridge Station, Surrey
  • Sailing over London on the London Eye
  • Eating the best bread, cheese and ham at Burrough’s market, London
  • Walking with Sam Aas through Hempstead Heath.
  • Watching my daughter releasing white pigeons at Neemrana
  • They found their way back to Bishop Cotton School.
  • The Albatross guiding me like a sentinel through the Straits of Magellan
  • Getting even more inclined towards Hard Rock
  • Having a Picnic with my Brother and our Grand Mum at Council Rock
  • Taking my Mum to Wagah Border
  • Buying 3-dimensional stamps at in Bhutan
  • Having the best grub at a family stall in Singapore
  • Buying my first Italian jacket in Genoa, Italia
  • Walking marble sidewalks in Marina de Carrara, Italia
  • A tricky situation in the Straits of Messina, Sicily
  • Watching my daughter performing in a Midsummer’s Night Dream, Karlstad Sweden
  • Sweden teaching me respect, tolerance, organization and genuine nobel peace
  • Watching the monsoon clouds rushing into the valley at Mashobra
  • Looking at West Berlin from East Berlin and the Berlin Wall
  • Taking a stroll with the family in Barcelona, Esopana
  • Enjoying Lamb Chops with Gay Niblett at Valdemossa, Mallorca
  • Getting a compliment from 3 ladies off the Imperial War Museum London
  • Handing over the realms of the OCA (UK) to TOP DUDE Kuljinder Bahia
  • Getting hammered on my left outer thigh by mad golf ball at Naldhera
  • As that lost intoxicated Lover played his flute amongst the pines
  • Walking through Tea Plantations at Sangsua, Assam
  • And helping Senor Marino Urena with his coffee cosecha at Santa Maria de Dota, Costa Rica
  • White water rafting at Reventazon Costa Rica
  • A flying kiss to M.V Santa Marta from my M.V.Cartagena off Guantanamo Cuba

I THINK I WILL CONTINUE WITH MY REFLECTIONS …AS I ENJOY THE COMPANY OF MY TWO YEAR OLD GRAND DAUGHTER.

As Mr Bob Marley said:
‘’..don’t gain the world and lose your soul
Wisdom is better than silver or gold..’’

I thanked my Mother for giving birth to me as I turned 60 yesterday.

Vivek Bhasin
Lefroy 1961-1970

….the treasure hunt to find my lost cufflink* (The Mitre)

Vivek Bhasin ( Class of 1970)

Back after a leave of absence on past recollective mode

….the treasure hunt to find my lost cufflink* (The Mitre)

Being a wanderer, a Ziginare all my life, it’s been rather difficult for me to peg my tent into a concrete block of cement and stay fixed in one place. Now I have to wait patiently for the change in weather and do not have the liberty to take wings and ‘ like a Bat outta Hell’ when the sweat trickles down my back.

Having packed my stuff from Weybridge I flew back to Sweden reuniting with the family. It felt rather easy to just leave the old country after 13 years though I knew the need to come back would always be poking me in the ribs. Dropping off my rental car at T:5 and nonchalantly entering departures. For mereflecting on the past sees a rapid fire of stills that click past my eyes as they come in waves rising to crests then dipping down to troughs and making a swooshing sound as they fly over my head. I the gypsy had made England my temporary home where I kept some of my belongings but most of the time I changed memories that I could hold in my hands placing them in Gurgaon, sometimes in Mashobra, sometimes in the ‘Old Swimming Pool’ where I park myself in Karlstad, and sometimes bringing them right back to Weybridge.

Being a loner I kept busy within myself. Even if I walked into Borroughs Market at London Bridge on a heaving Saturday, I had the ability to shut the noise and in complete silence watch the world walk by. The crowds that came by were weekenders wanting to taste fresh produce be it iceberg lettuce or a mince tart, country cheese from Devon or Dover sole with a glass of Pinot Griogio from the Tuscan region. They were enjoying the weekend. The directions to Borroughs Market are very simple from my point of view. The SW 0624 from Weybrige via Clapham Junction brings me in to London Waterloo at 0702. I step on to platform 3 and make a run for the exit gate my radar homing in to the Jubilee Line (it’s the grey one). Taking the escalator and continuing to walk down at a rapid pace I head for the platform with its final destination Stratford; you jump off at London Bridge.

Just as the SW train is rolling in….damp sweet sophisticated and trendy London beckons to me, demon of the blues, my blood is lined with Rock’s heaviest genre and my heart thuds to the sounds of Entwhistle, Page, Myles Kennedy, Slash , Foo Fighters and The Answer…this never ending little place off Shaftsbury Ave where I used to slime in and purr over vinyl and music that sweetened my soul with flashes of the peaceful and silent walk of Mashobra! a sudden flash right there ( a micro jolt), then nowhere and then back here…whilst that dude in dreadlocks and heavy black leather with heavy chains stared at me as I picked stuff that only a few knew…just him and I. All in complete silence except the smoke of Cuban Cigars. We knew each’s space. He controlled the shots, I paid for the stuff and rolled outtowards the Mean Fiddler..Henry Rollins.

On that particular Saturday I felt in the mood to shed my gypsy attire and dress more like a dandy with all the accessories of a gentleman. The London Met Office called for partly cloudy skies, a southwesterly wind at 5 miles an hour and a very comfortable 24C. And that called for me to dress in an off- white pair of cotton trousers, a striped maroon , white and green double cuffs shirt and a gabardine slim fit coat that bespoke outfitter Sanjay had formed around my wide shouldered physique even if my gut was a state-in-gaunt. And my Italian sued and leather boots from Livorno.

Jumping off at London Bridge. Looking a bit out-of-place within the motley crowds I nonetheless squeezed past to a stall that grabbed my attention. My attention of them. Yes it really wasn’t the fare of cheeses , radishes and celery looking so fresh, and rolls of Yorkshire ham, English Mustard, Strawberries and Cream, but this young couple tending to their stall dressed in fandangled colours, beads, nose rings, sky blue velvet, bottle green silk and orange satin, leather boots, tassles , long hats with pheasant feathers and the lot that attracted me to them. Their little daughter with beautiful long hair all plaited, with green eyes, a long soft yellow summer dress and boots with her teddy bear clutched under her arm, the other outstretched with a plate of sampling cheese and olives…. . The sounds of Jesus Jones ‘Right here Right Now, is where I want to be’ completed that total ambience. A flash on the ocean hit my optic nerve and then it was gone.

”Would you like to try some Sir, its free” said the little lady and I reckoned she would have barely been five and a shade more. She looked straight up at me as I looked down at this lovely little child and flushes of home sickness invaded me. Maintaining a straight face I reached towards the plate and spiked a piece of Cheddar..’Thank you so much’ before tasting the same. Masticating the piece ever so slowly I turned towards the couple who were now staring at me quite intently and smiling. The must have been in their 20’s late-ish I suppose and with the crowds mulling around with a cacophony of sounds I had to pitch up to get them heard… ”You the Captain who picked us up on our drifting boat in the Sea of Marmara, right?”

I stop right there, my memory had stopped playing tricks, and for once focused…

Did it matter then, now does it matter? all questions asked do not need answers
for days that were,  seemed clear and vivid  to give an answer now is to fool one self.

I smiled and reaching out, touched that Lady’s hand looking at her fingers…soft gentle and the soil of the earth in them, knowing just then that I had to enjoy that moment, savour every second, every little note of a song, the melancholic gush put aside. Concentrate on just being there amongst the melee, be part of the wave and absorb the enduring notes of that lover’s ballad, the closeness of this divine couple and their little one offering another…’Would you like to try some Sir, its free’.

It was time to move on.
And walk a path less travelled…

On the South Bank, London England.
Reflections
The Summer of 2014

Note: *The cufflink with ‘The Mitre’ of BCS was finally discovered deep down in the right pocket of my trench coat, six months hence.

(I was going to miss the genius of those bands that rocked my soul and kept me aligned in Virgo…)

Politics and the Works, alongside our Love for Bishop Cotton School

Dear OCs,

Another winter in the plains of India is now past and gone, but the crispy winter freeze still holds its grip up in Simla. Today being the 28th of February. Every year at this time my Mum and Pa led us to their old 1100 Fiat in Calcutta and slowly drove us to Howrah Station. The Howrah -Kalka Mail awaited as we unloaded our Trunk, Bedding Roll and Attache Case. Cottonians travelled FIRST CLASS on that prestigious train.

Three months just flew by and at the age of 6 it was too fast in one sense and the 9 months ahead a bit too slow for a young boy. The 2 day journey a blur of sorts.

But what we​ surely reminisce is our end of year.

How the trunks were all packed in the corridors and Choru the tailor painstakingly sewed cloth around the locks sealing them with wax( the poor chap could hardly see through the broken rims, yet he diligently went on with the task) did we not take him for granted as he mended our shorts designing new lands in different colours of patches and threads on the worn out bottoms!

The trunks were sent ahead in advance of our School Party,  Sharat and mine to Calcutta. A shiver ran down our spines as we knew we were heading home from the hills to leave ‘Goldie/ Goldstein’ to his own thoughts as he sat on his private bench near the Grand Oak tree with his cocker spaniel gleaning hard at the tara devi gap seeing our train entering the last tunnel before we vanished on to the other side for three months. What do you think he did during those dark  empty and freezing days? Did he still stand on the First Flat with his immaculate self and hear the echoes of our screams and shouts? Did the Bugler still sound his sentinel, our School Flag flying with Rivaz and Ibbetson colours and the Mitre or did he too yearn for his Lady Love whom he never married? Did the gong hammer the bell ? Did he go to Chapel all by himself , walking to the alter and speaking to all of us down in the dusty plains and far away? Once I did  press my  ears against the Chapel Walls a few years ago and heard his talk of that hand of brass gripping the bolt on those doors- to remain steadfast in your life!

It is when I am rushing through airports or stuck in an incredible traffic jam in Delhi with my driver Ram Bahadur at the wheel I sometimes close my eyes and reflect upon that Sanctuary of ours .. Bishop Cotton School .. And as another OC said ‘ I have seen many mountain ranges, be it the Rockies, the Alps, the Andes.. It is The Himalaya that conquers all with it’s immense power and strength, cradling with constant care our Alma mater’.

So its not a political stage that I wish to stand on but to take in the best of those fantastic years and give back more than I received.

Vivek Bhasin
Lefroy House
1961-1970

A Very Biased Christmas Letter from a Cottonian to the family of Cottonians

A Very Biased Christmas Letter from a Cottonian to the family of Cottonians

                                                ‘In transition… with a package*’

..Good Day ye family of Cottonians, new, old and those who are yearning and may be privileged to become…

Through raging storms whilst crossing the tempestuous Atlantic Ocean, working  his way from the Ivory Coast to Walvis Bay Namibia, shooting past Singapore, rolling hard in the South China sea on ships from various lands, this Cottonian started compiling his thoughts and realised with absolute no compulsion, with no external influences, no pressure, no artificiality, no pain killers, no hypnotic trance that  Cottonians are Numero Uno! Yes we singly, individually and collectively are simply the BEST and that is what we offer India and the whole world.  We just are!

It is time to sing from the Roof Tops of the dorms, from the Ridge, from the spires of Christ Church and Jakoo temple, ‘Yes we are the Best’….be it in discipline, in etiquette, in soft skills, in knowledge, in the way we walk, talk, dress and  RESPECT…. A Cottonian stands apart from the rest and this has been established by this Cottonian who soon hits a score  times three.  There is a way of proving the same ( but that is for another time…)

It did not start in the Chem or the Bio lab but in a far distant land called Argentina where on his search for the perfect vineyard he hit upon a wonderful group of tourists**. They hailed from Canada, the United States, England, Australia, New Zealand , Brazil and the Windward Islands.

The Canadian couple worked with Bombardier, the aircraft company that specialises in Lear Jets whizzing billionaires from New York to Patagonia.

The Americans were related to the Rockefellers-old money, old wisdom and very profound. They not only owned the Chase Bank but also a huge fleet of container ships trading between China and Europe.

The English Lady and Gentlemen owned fifty six percent of  Burberry Clothing and spent the summer on their private yacht with Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson; well the need to locate wines to complement the food whilst docked at San Tropez.

The Australian pair lived on a sheep ranch outside Sydney and were part of Broken Hill, a mining consortium, wishing to compare their own Cabernet and Syrah against the Mendozan Malbec. Sharp distinct noses that preached more than the just the Gospel, but the Gospel of Wine.

The New Zealanders were rich bankers too, having financed the movies ‘Lord of the Rings’ comparing their New World with the New World of Mendoza.

The Windward Islanders were real estate developers and had built the home of Sir Richard Branson, Sir Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen.

…and then there was he, the Cottonian, without huge sums of money nor fame nor fortune of these souls, just part of the entourage. Oh, he forgot to mention the Brazilian, the owner of an iron ore mine  near Sepitiba having a ranch the size of Portugal.

The wine tour lasted 90 minutes followed by vine tasting; there was a certain way to sit, a certain way to conduct and a certain body language…this was a walk in the park for this Cottonian because this comes naturally to one who has spent his founding years at the Great School.  Whether he discussed the stock market, the changing economies of the world or a rock concert at Madison square garden he did it with style and flair, experienced knowledge ; the basics he learned at Bishop Cotton School and the rest he picked up along the way. On the Big Ships, when on shore leave, when walking down Pall Mall, when understanding the customs of the local Red Indians at ChiChi Castenago, when at Chatham House and with his peers. He developed fast and absorbed the best customs, the confidence and ability to sit within a motley crew, laugh his hat off and then give them a serious discourse on searching for the Belt of Orion and the Great Bear in the Sky. He could sit in an orphanage with complete humility and play with suffering children and then later discuss the changing face of India or the origins of Alfred Nobel, walk past miners on the sands of Antofagasta; he developed the tact to barter with local head hunters off the Isla de Eden when anchored at the Straits of Magellan,  as his crew lowered coffee and sugar and heaved up the Big Centolla-the King Crabs in fair exchange ( yes avoiding them taking his scalp as a memento). A lesson from 106 countries and still counting.

At this time of Christmas our Beautiful Bishop Cotton School having gone past its 155th year history, this humble Cottonian wants to expend some energy towards his brethren, his family of Cottonians and urge them to stay tall, stay united , help each other and remain proud of their heritage. A Cottonian needs no badge on his chest, nor a swagger, nor the need to boast…His presence would be enough for others to acknowledge, that this wise gentleman hails from the Best. An institution up in the hills of Simla: Bishop Cotton School.

….As another year rolled by and the world grasps with some horrible events that unfolded and some that made the world cheer, this Cottonian Wishes Ye all…a Merry Christmas and a Fabulous New Year.

So with the Christmas Cake laced with Jameson Whisky, almonds and cherries Light up that flame…!

Vivek Bhasin-Old Cottonian, Class of 1970

* The package…was an oil painting of wild rushes and flowers this Cottonian picked up -now hanging on his wall at Garden Estate. Gurgaon.

**The group he met at the wine tour  had studied the subject and knew the history behind Robert Parker’s wine advocate rating system, the points he gives for example 96-100:
An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety. Wines of this caliber are worth a special effort to find, purchase, and consume. However, there can never be any substitute for your own palate nor any better education than tasting the wine yourself.  Just as a Cottonian needs to taste life on his own terms.

The Private Wine Estate of Vina San Esteban

in the pure of the purest Los Andes Valley, Chile