Passing the Baton

Passing the Baton

The Olympics in Beijing seem to have broken all records….be it in the absolute spectacular opening, the number of countries participating, the number of new records in Swimming and Track & Field or simply the meticulous way the entire event is being handled.

The way the teams have passed the Baton.

Blood, Sweat & Tears is what it takes. For they say with no pain there is no gain.
Blood Sweat & Tears was also the name of a Band in the 60’s…that’s when we the Class of 1970 were at School, our Bishop Cotton School.  The song that hit the charts was ‘Spinning Wheel’….What goes up, must come down, spinning wheel gotta go  round, ride a painted pony let the spinning wheel spin…! The wheels of life are always moving, in  motion we were born and then through crab and crawl we stood up and trundled and walked..then jumped and skipped and ran…short, hard, the mile, the marathon…..The Life. 
The years just keep moving on. Nothing waits..the only thing permanent is change…

Correction! Some things do stay the same…..possibly a little worn a little more soft and smooth, a little more polished but still the same.   The stone corridors to the left and right of the Dining Hall. A zillion footsteps have passed them over….crawling, pounding, hammering, running…..from the halls to the lockers…..from the dorms to the box rooms, from the class to ‘Choru the darzi…’  …(as your shorts caught caught on a sharp point of the divider from Satish Kashyap’s Globe Geometry Boxes….yes this sly gang had placed it so that your best Sunday Suit Trouser too got caught)…..from the halls to chapel,  from the  first flat to the Linlithgow dorms….and then on to Chipu’s halwai shop and on to the short cut, to town.   And so when I go back home, to School I need to transit the corridors and feel the stone, yes feel the stone and wonder where the foot steps of our brothers have taken them…? From there to the town of Simla, then the Railway Station and through 103 tunnels to the far reaches of India, Australia, Canada, South Africa….and God knows where else!!!

But new younger souls  keep entering and walking though those corridors……the seniors moved away, the juniors moved in….the young ones just arrived……polishing those beautiful stones….never perfected but always working towards it.

The last time I was there… a few weeks ago…..walking on the first flat and admiring the beauty and tranquility of the late afternoon monsoon rain, I moved towards those corridors….Outside the Lefroy House Boxroom, I felt the floor on to my knees…stooping lower I placed my better ear right against the polished stone and holding my breath I listened….yes I just listened. I could hear it all….Those voices of my class…..the voice of Goldie, the voice of Mr Paul, the voice of Mrs Malvea, the singing in the bogs, the singing of hymns in the chapel…..the school song……   It was only then I understood how important it was to move on through all this stillness.

-To move through life
-To enter a new world
-To remember the old world
-To remember my Class of 1970
-To remember the days that were…..

And through all of this, my esteemed Father passed away on the 20th of May 2008. He was a Bengal Tiger, a Pilot on the Hoogly River…never could he understand why all this meant so much to me. Was it not just a school? A place to study and move on?
Just like all the other schools in the mountains, in the plains and far away? So one day I did make him understand…. The uniqueness of Bishop Cotton School has no comparisons, no place for debate and no competition. We do not need to boast, nor shout nor scream, nor say anything.

My Father looked on glassy eyed as I whispered all this to him a few weeks before he departed. And just as he passed over the Baton to me…he nodded, smiled and understood.

We were there.

Vivek Bhasin

20th August 2008