BACK TO SCHOOL ~ FUN TIMES!
Mohit Goyal sent this spontaneous comment accompanied by a set of photographs
“What a great reunion, ending with the School song sung after dinner with great gusto by the class of ’62 in close huddle with the entire upper 6th form on the 1st flat! We took that party late into the night in the hotel and needed (at least I did!) most of the next day to recover. But it was all well worth it and many thanks to everyone for making this such a memorable trip. In particular thanks to Neel, D. Singh, Mamik who went out of their way to help with the planning & logistics. Also to the wives who, I think – and hope – have an appreciation of a close bond that has lasted 55+ years.
Here are some photos.
And another lot [EDITOR: added on 20 Nov]
Great memories and best wishes to all!
Mohit’s comments grasp the essence of an event that was certainly an experience of a life time. Preparations began in earnest almost a year earlier. The fact of just getting together was a pleasure that was repeated with “warm up” dinners hosted by:
Peeku & Manjit Kochhar
Neelam & Ruby Kohli
Bunty & Toti Agarwal
Jyoti & R S Sodhi.
These evenings generated sufficient enthusiasm with each dinner actually being an event. Bunty and Toti distributed mementos and Neelam & Ruby adding to the gift box. They even did the entrance of their house to represent the School,and boy, was that an evening !!
I have recalled and mentioned these exceptional dinners but need to give credit to Ranjana Dutta, Umesh‘s wife, for the house scarves that she knitted for each one of us. Thank you.
The numbers of guys committing themselves for the reunion in Simla held strong for a long time until the drop outs at the last minute some for good reasons but the others were exceptional for the excuses they offered, imaginative by any standard!! The numbers were still significant.
Most of us took the train from Delhi to Chandigarh while RS Sodhi and Manjit Kochhar drove all the way up to Simla. The experience was different with those going by train getting the benefit of being met at Chandigarh station by Suksham, Davinder Singh Jaaj‘s lovely wife. She presented each of us chocolates and a warm hug at the station.
From Chandigarh, we were packed into the cars of Davinder Singh and H S Mamik. The latter, savvy as always with tremendous foresight to boot, brought in any extra car. Both these guys did an excellent job of organising the logistics and hospitality. So this team from Chandigarh consisted of :
Suksham & D Singh
Ritu & Neel Mehra
Mala & Mohit Goyal
Ranjana & Umesh Dutta
H S Mamik and
Ravi Inder Singh
We assembled at the Eastbourne Hotel on September 28, 2012.
That first evening, at our request, the Headmaster, Mr Roy Robinson, arranged for the boys of lower and upper 6th Form to meet with us at 6.30 p.m. He was there on the first flat to receive us and escorted us to the meeting over which he presided. Each of us introduced ourselves to the boys, briefly informing them about our time in school, mentioning our particular achievements and then giving them an account of what we had done after leaving school. Thereafter, Mohit, Umesh and D Singh interacted with the boys wanting to know about their aspirations, their ideas of their areas of interest and their possible career plans. Surprisingly, these boys knew so much more about the opportunities available than we did at their age !!
The boys were also encouraged to ask questions, which they did. It was a good interaction and it went on for more than an hour.
Later that evening we hosted a dinner for Dorothy, the Headmaster’s wife, Mr Roy Robinson and the Housemasters at our hotel. It was a splendid day and we all felt that it had been good, informed and educative.
Next morning, much against the wishes of most, we were requested to attend a special service in the Chapel at 8.30 a.m. You must remember that the effects of the previous night’s drinking had not quite worn off and most of us were, initially, reluctant to attend. However, we were all there in our blazers, ties and presented ourselves as pretty specimens of well turned out Cottonians. Most of us are natty dressers. Justice R S Sodhi read out that famous passage from the Romans leading to our motto. Mohit, who is an excellent extempore speaker, spoke about career choices that the boys could consider. Both delivered their messages with confident ease. Mohit’s talk was wide ranging and informative. The School will want him again when career choices becomes a whole new subject.
September 29, 2012 turned out to be a long and eventful day. We were taken around to view some of the excellent work at the arts and craft exhibition. The standards are just as good as they were but there was more creativity on display with the use of newer techniques. This was followed by lunch, with each of sitting down at our respective house tables. It felt awkwardly familiar!!
After lunch, we were invited as the group to be the Chief Guests for the annual athletic meet, the sports day. Two smartly turned out NCC cadets escorted the Headmaster, his and our group to the podium to inaugurate the event. Justice R S Sodhi led our team by releasing a pigeon as a symbolic gesture. Each of us was then requested to repeat in releasing a beautiful white bird. It felt different to be the guest of honour. Very nice.
The entire afternoon we watched the athletics activity culminating in the tug-o-war. Sitting in pavilion gave us a lovely view of the activity with tea and snacks being delivered from time to time. We were feted and we were treated exceptionally well. At the prize giving function we were requested, one by one, to come forward and award the prize to the winner of an event. The honour for the best athlete of the event, the Victor Lodorum prize was given away by Toti Agarwal who was the best athlete and had won the same prize 50 years ago.! Very fitting. Most of the records that stood in our time now stand demolished. The boys who finish school are just a wee bit older at 17 or 18. Besides our finishing school at an earlier age, we observed the diet and the food was of a higher standard. This is no reflection on Mrs Murphy, who was the head of the School kitchen when I joined in 1953. Her Irish stew and bread and butter pudding are still the best that I have ever had!! Justice Sodhi declared the meet closed.
That day’s dinner was hosted by Dorothy and Roy Robinson in the lawns outside the Headmaster’s Lodge with staff and senior boys being present. By now the familiarity had begun to float in to our interactions with the staff and the boys. They were not inhibited. They spoke to our wives and seeing youth in those conditions, rearing to go and feeling infallible is infectious. You do not advise them, you gently guide and direct them in any small way that you can. Some of the impressions they carry, as we do know, last for a life time. N K Mehra put it best in his very disarming manner, ” I think this was fantastic. We always apprehensive about the wives participating and here it was going great guns”
N K Mehra goes on to add, “After the dinner the boys from 6th form gathered on the 1st flat made a circle, in which we all joined and sang the school song. it was an indescribable event, full of emotions. I think I may have shed a tear.
The night didn’t end there. After we went back to hotel Manjit Kochhar pulled out a bottle of Chivas regal, the party continued in Mamik’s room till 1.30 a.m. although Toti continued till 4 a.m.”
It was a memorable event, even magical! They all felt that should have spent another day in School and Simla. The writer feels that this was just right. A high is a HIGH, do not blow it !!
—— Letter to the Headmaster ——
Dear Mr Robinson,
We left School at the beginning of December 1962 after the House “chews” with feelings of sadness. Most of us choked on our emotions unable to respond to the farewell speeches that were delivered in our honour at that time. Tearful good byes completed the evening since we knew that most of us, unless we failed, would never return to BCS. Some never did. We turned our backs with relief only when the Senior Cambridge results arrived in March the following year. So, we left with feelings of deep regret and then with apprehension into a newer world that took away a great deal of the comforts and security that BCS represented. BCS had been home to so many of us for 10 complete years
To almost all of us the idea of coming back 50 years later would have been unthinkable in 1962. It did even seem absurd at that time. So when we returned to Simla to celebrate our reunion, the walk from the hotel to the Main School gate, past the Linlithgow dormitory, the Chapel, the tennis court and on to the view of the Main building, a flood of feelings overwhelmed us. In those few minutes, a thousand memories returned – names, faces, places and events that represented some of the best years of our lives.
We were also apprehensive of the reception that would be accorded to us but on that score you left no doubt. Dorothy, your wife, and you were impeccable hosts as was the rest of the staff. The graciousness, the splendid organisation, the attention to detail and the way in which we were welcomed was amazing. It was nice to feel that we still belonged to the place that had once been our own!! You have our grateful thanks.
That feeling of sadness of 50 years ago was replaced so fully by a sense of pride that even our wives knew that they were on a journey that spoke of a strong bond. The School displayed all the values and the systems we were taught would hold us in good stead in the world outside. You gave us honour, respect and warmth, emotions that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives. This was a rare moment in any life. You just made it different and memorable in a very special kind of way.
Our thanks, once again.
Our best wishes
N K Mehra
On behalf of the Class of 1962 and their wives