Ode to Bishop Cotton School – Gerald Godinho

From Gerald Godinho’s blog :

Ode to Bishop Cotton School


No. I am not learning to count. It is the number of lashes with a cane that I am getting from the headmaster for heading into town without permission.

This was the very Spartan but strict disciplined environment that produced Ratan Tata,

Editor: Kindly take note that Mr. Ratan Tata [Industrialist and Ex Chairman of TATA Group] was not a student of Bishop Cotton School Simla.

the head of RAW, Benjamin Gilani, Fali Nariman, Ruskin Bond, the King of Bhutan and various ambassadors and Generals and two present members of the federal cabinet.

Ok … I do have rights…ha. The only rule is that the headmaster rules. There is a pecking order here. You see the war memorial and the fountain. Only seniors can enter.

Jerry I think it is time for you to spend some time in a boys boarding school so said my mom. Mom come on I want to go to university. I want to go to that big city…Bombay. I have some friends in Breach Candy, Malabar Hill. It is time for me to party. Well we know who won.

What was I doing in a British boarding school, ensconced by this testosterone, machismo and bravado? What was a 15-year-old Catholic boy doing in a 125-year-old protestant institution? Do I have to go to church on Sundays? Yes, all Christian boys have to. However, you people take the bread in your hand. The Pope is not your boss….

Ok so where are the chicks. I mean girls. We do have socials with CJM and Auckland House.

Therefore, you will be in Lefroy House and this will be your number. It has been the number one house for the last couple of years, in sports and academics. I am sure they see something in me.

I meet my fellow classmates, Ash, Ajoy, Tan, Skinny, and Girish. A total of 11. We are the first batch of grade 11 students. It was the beginning of a life long friendship.

The bell rang too early for me. The bed and cupboard check up was always a scare.

Different ties for different occasions. Different sports throughout the year. The focus was just not on education but making you into a well-rounded person. I do have a round face. I will fit in perfectly.

It has been more than a quarter century since I left BCS. Nevertheless, the truth is that it never left me. It was here that the seeds of multiculturalism were sowed inside me. This coming Sunday, I will be reading at my local church. I learned that at school. It was here that I was taught about Bernard Shaw and read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead”. The right wing thinking and capitalism was tattooed on my conscience. I had never written before. However, here I was challenged to write for the high school yearbook.

I am what BCS made me. A love for God, respect for authority, laws, loyalty to one another. Spiritual, mental, physical and financial discipline was de rigueur.

Debbie is always amazed how I can be friends with Shiv Narang who is half my age and John Mclaughlin who is twice my age. Why does John drive 7 hours from Michigan to have a meal with us? Why do we bond so easily? It was the Cottonian experience.

In two weeks, Cottonians from all over the world will be descending at my alma mater to celebrate 150 years. A stamp is being issued. Dignitaries will be coming. I will be drinking a glass to you people.

I had a tryst with destiny. It was ephemeral. But it changed me.

Did the caning hurt. Yes, especially the person giving it was 6’2’’ and all 200 pounds. I never broke a rule or a law in my life again. I had learned my lesson.

Gerald Godinho
Lefroy 81 83