…Amigos, Familia y Hermanos de Bishop Cotton School, Simla y Nuestra Ecclesia…
There are friends,
who you befriend when the shyness overcomes; perhaps you encounter another person who too is shy and as you make that eye contact the vibrational link makes the connection. You slowly shuffle and slide, and approach one another. Standing side by side looking at Samson and Delilah at the National Gallery it is perhaps the best place to meet a shy person to befriend. It’s a quiet zone and all one needs is to appreciate the seductiveness of Delilah with her breast exposed leaving Samson in such a trance and stupor that wine and pleasures of the flesh make him buckle. All it took was for Delilah to shave his seven locks of hair and he was terribly weakened…the Philistines snared him… the powerfulness of the painting, the enormity of the room, the many visitors and yet there was a quiet stillness…Finally the two turned towards each other and stumbling with words, grammar and awkward movements acknowledged each other in whispers…the start of a Beautiful Friendship that never waned but constantly waxed.. Nos somos Amigos*
And there is family.
The young girl the only child in her family has enjoyed her kinder garden years and now steps into skirts, stockings, monk shoes. With her long pony tails she starts another journey of eleven years at a Boarding School. Her Father has chalked her life, her Mother more genteel but knowing there is no option after Oxford or Radcliffe and a MBA from Stockholm Business School she needs to work her way back to the country where the source of the Ganges, the confluence of many rivers, the Kumbh mela, a billion souls, the heat and the dust are part of the corporate world where she would start as an apprentice getting to know the ground reality before final lift off. She will at a certain point of time join as a Director on the Board of her father’s conglomerate, one day becoming the CEO. The relationship of Business may also mean a relationship of Business Matrimony to keep alive the name of her founding Great Great Grand Mother who started it all…from a small postal delivery service as back up to the Post Office, today the business is global and huge jets fly across the heavens their bellies packed with super expensive parcels that are guaranteed to arrive at Tierra Del Fuego, or Hammerfest or Cairn Island or Madagascar. Where at the end of the journey when the Jumbo Jet lands and the concrete runway ends, the lush tropical jungle emerges, her company has trained Chimpanzees to carry small packs on their backs swinging through trees and hopping over rocks in meandering brooks to reach Chieftain Zukalu Madunga; he has heard of Serrano ham from the Iberian Peninsula and is willing to pay by way of the rarest plants that are needed by the Chinese in Beijing. More than just aphrodisiacs but for a reversal of Alzheimer’s. The Young Girl now a Business Woman, a shrewd one at that controls the world of logistics. Alas, she has no real friends, mere acquaintances but sometimes it is family that sets the rules… You cannot breakaway when there is lineage to preserve…Mi familia sacrada**
And then there are You and I. Cottonians who lived, argued, competed, mugged, played, hiked, screamed and formed our cores at this greatest of institutions. Each a steadfast brick that dislodges itself from the main frame work of BCS (just as another younger brick lodges in to keep the institution erect and proud) and goes out into the world, sometimes as far as Quito in Ecuador. To face life’s challenges and duck against pelting rocks, analyzing, thinking intelligently and logically, finally striking back with our motto on our backs ‘Overcome Evil with Good’ knowing all along that a Cottonian will never ever forget his roots, his lineage, his teachers, his bearers and the sacred ground of Bishop Cotton School, up in the Greens of Simla. He will never forget those with him he spend over a decade of his life; how can he forget? It is the connection of souls at Bishop Cotton my true true friends that in many ways leaves everything else truly pedestrian. The Cedars around our school have seen all of us grow from young little men to big little men and men with courage and fortitude. Where ever a Cottonian may be on this planet of ours, he is protected by the School Chapel; wherever he may in the galaxy when departed his soul floats free over the Chapel, his dormitory, the First Flat, the Irwin Hall, The School Gate and then meanders down to Remove-Man does he enjoy the view from the top; his focus is on his School, its periphery, he glides like an albatross. Only we Cottonians can see him up there….
Next time you walk the sacred grounds of Bishop Cotton School, pause on the First Flat and look up towards the Heavens..You will see him! I have…a flutter and a cool rush of mountain air as he glides past and banking heavily stoops low to Salute You.
TRUE COTTONIANS. Mis hermanos de BCS y Nuestra Ecclesia***
*We are friends.
**My sacred family.
***My Brothers’ at BCS and our Chapel.
31 August 2016
The Great Equaliser….. and a jog down the oceans of memory-a Cottonian hits specific lines of his Blog-Bloggers and all.. Confused .com ( Truthful Lies)
Someone’s loss is the other one’s gain…Someone’s death is someone’s bread.
As Heady said, it doesn’t mean if you do not hurt the lion and smile at him, he will hug you…It means in this Big Mean Selfish World, that Lion will get to you and eat you…even if you shake hands with him.
..and the Great Mahatma said, an eye for an eye makes you both blind. Or gently you can shake the world.
Everyone is lighting his own demons-even at Yoga Class or on the banks of the Ganga….everything is a fad from those artificial nails that are filed down to perfection or procuring a fake ass to look like an Afro-Bro-Ho! And some tinkle they do a whole firkin week of work just lying in bed…and then preach as if….yes they earned their MBA sleeping..Horse manure I say old chap. Tally Ho and Pip-Pip.
The genre of Rock is one where I cannot kid myself when I tell you and myself that this stuff does really enter into my veins and Rocks my chickens…from Jethro Tull, to Deep Purple, to Van Halen, Rage against the Machine, Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry and the Guru’s of Rock….Plant and Page and Jones and Bonham.
..Hamilton Bermuda-the Lady Guard at the gate eating shark meat and inviting me in to coozy woozy, I said no…she said yes. After all at the Forty Thieves , Mike Jackon was singing ‘don’t stop till you get enuf’.
…or was it to the two Red Indian Pilots taking my vessel the ‘HIBISCUS’ up Rio Plata from Buenos Aires drinking mate….a local herb tea laced with strains of Cocoa..or was it Coc followed with a-i-n-e?
–that stow away from Cartagena Colombia trying his damnest to get back on my boat and smuggle out at Jacksonville; the guy was lean, muscular and mean. We needed 5 filipino sailors to pin that mother down and splice that bugger on the monkey island, manacle him and bring him back to the land of La Escollera…I requested him never to find me again, ever..find another Boat dude…leave me to do my boring stuff-like romancing flying fish.
…or that Pilot at Valencia who docked the ‘Lontue’ and discreetly passed me an envelope!! Mullah? Plata? Money? Shit three dollars to make a phone call..( those days we had no mobiles no..)
..or on that thick foggy night as we approached Ambrose Light and Sandy Hook Pilots on the ‘Copiapo’ ..I saw a loom…a bright bright loom coming down on my port bow…my Radar showed a blob- a huge bugger…and then the loom crystalised into sparks and shards and a thousand twinklers…it was Cunard’s ‘QE-2’ the world’s biggest at that time….sailing out of New York. As I exchanged pleasantries with the Master. The Rockefellers had chartered the Big Boat for a wedding and yes we passed so close I saw the lovely ladies in ballroom dresses and their amours in black tail coats gliding with ‘the River flows in you’ ( or in today’s world…’the one that got away’and yes again..Champagne ‘Gout de diamants’..Taste of Diamonds at American Three Thousand Dollars a Pop! I swear I could even get the whiff of Clive Christian’s Imperial Majesty the most expensive parfum in the world. This was luxury, opulence, sophisticated indulgence in the rarest. ( Yet as we continued after Red Hook Brooklyn and negotiated the bend of the East River you past Riker’s Island, one of the hardest core prisons for the naughty boys in America. ( I wondered what these poor souls were having for Dinner…..)
..and that Captain who knew I was from Bishop Cotton School always tried to tone me down and stop my shore leave at Port Louis Mauritius or Bombay or Calcutta where my parents lived ( all forgiven)… and the other…..Capt. Hosang Boatwall…A Gentleman and a Navigator, a Mentor…RESPECT Sir.
Or eating Amadillo Meat one evening at Adriana Montenegro’s pit stop at Miraflores Lima.
Driving with Juan Manuel Carvacho from Los Andes through the Cordillera towards Mendoza, part of the Ruto del Vino..( The Argentine Wine Route) with ice grapes being harvested in snow.
..Yes Nights in white satin, never meaning to end, letters are written , never meaning to send…( The Moody Blues)
Young and Old Cottonian,
Maintain a fertile mind
Go into the world with honour
Help as many,
But laugh and rejoice
As the World is still beautiful
and where ever you may be…
Bishop Cotton School, is always there.
Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas and May the World be more Beautiful in 2016.
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 ( 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.
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…)
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.