The Best Years Of My Life:
My parents settled in Lahore decided to try for my admission at B.C.S where a nephew of my Late Father, Rustom Boga studied in the late 20’s. I was admitted to the Preparatory School situated at Chota Simla in March 1945 and recall Boarding a train at Lahore on around the 10th March,1945 and it was part of the Frontier Mail carrying fellow school mates who were travelling from Peshawar to Kalka via Lahore, Amritsar, Jullundar and Ludhiana to Kalka. We had a short stop at Kalka before Boarding the train around 6 AM to Simla which was about a 6 hour journey with numerous stops. It was an experience travelling on a mountain train which passed through about 100 tunnels. The main attraction was Jetoog/Behrogh where we had a short stop to fill the belly and thereafter I recall the stop at Tara Devi where Kevinter had their farm. We were escorted to the school around 2PM and after a tiring journey were moved to our Dormitory. I was admitted to Cotton House and my house Master was Mr. Shalom and later Mr.Murray. The Headmaster was Mr. Priestly with his wife in attendance to look after us. This was the first time I had left home and the first week was tough for most of the new faces. However, we were very comfortably looked after and fed and soon settled down to a very well organized and settled life. My first friend was Ramesh Bhasin who assisted me in settling down and finding my feet and as time went on the group of mates increased with Derek Crowl, Durrani, Ali Afridi, Niaz-ul-Haq, Persis, Ifti Malik, Mcdowell, Edrich etc.
Among the staff the name of a Mr.Shalom and Jones comes to mind who assisted us in our development and Dunda Hawkes-the Physical Training Instructor who had retired from the Army and was a boxing Champion in his day. I was at the Prep School for 2 years-1945 and 1946. In early 1946 Mr. Priestly left and an Old Cottonian Col. A.E.R Bruce took over as the Head Master. These 2 years at the School played a significant part in my development as the Staff were committed in assisting the country in producing men of character who would take the country and World forward. Apart from taking us for outings regularly to Chota Simla they also took us to some beautiful spots and the one I still recall is Brockhurst. We also visited the Main School on various occasions and they were mainly to view the Inter School fixtures between B.C.S. and Sanawar and we followed the path through the woods to the main school and entered where there was a Birds House in which a variety of birds were held. We watched the School’s matches against Sanawar from the 1st Flat which was covered and was the entrance to the Swimming Pool and the Gymnasium.
I moved to the Main School in 1947 and the year brought new challenges which added to my vision of the outside World as I witnessed the School go through a very traumatic and upsetting period. The School went through a very trying and difficult year in August 1947 at the time of Partition of India when a very large segment of our mates departed for their homes in Pakistan. The Head Master Mr. Drake and Staff at the time Mr. & Mrs. Fisher, Mr. & Mrs. Brown, Mr. Papworth, Mr. & Mrs. Murrey assisted us greatly in settling down. At the end of term a few of us who were settled in Pakistan were taken from Simla by train to the Combined Military Hospital in Ludhiana from where were joined a convoy of buses carrying school children who were studying in India to meet with join their parents settled Pakistan. We left Ludhiana for Lahore by Bus at 3 AM and arrived at Lahore at 1 AM the following morning and most of us were unable to locate our parents who were informed that the convoy would arrive the following afternoon. I got home in a Tonga at 4 AM with a couple from Simla who ran a music shop-the Lobo’s who asked me to join them as they had an apartment on the Mall close to my residence on Temple Road. The cost of the 60 minute ride was Rs.5 and I was home at around 3 AM. Before going further I recall the visit to the School by the Viceroy of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten and his family and I still have the photograph taken of the occasion before the August separation. Simla was the summer capital of the Government and was very well equipped to handle the affairs of the State. The guys who were my role models at the time were Hassan Agha, Humayun Khan, Jesse Pudwell the Curzon House Prefect the house I was proud to have joined. Hassan Agha was the School Captain and Humayun Khan apart from being an outstanding student was also an outstanding Sportsmen who represented the School in all Sports. The
other outstanding students were the Kirshner brothers, Plunkett the outstanding Cricketer at the time who scored a double century against Sanawar. My House Master Mr. Murray and later Rev Bentick and the supporting Staff instilled in all of us Honesty, Tolerance, Understanding and Compassion.
I returned to School in 1948 and there were about 4 of us (the Waughray brothers, P.K.Kapur and myself) who were collected by Mr.Barker and at the end of 1948, I was the only boy from Pakistan who continued my studies till December 1953 and I will never forget the kindness of the Chief Secretary East Punjab a Mr. Gyan Singh and an officer of the Indian Police, Mr. Ashwani Kumar and an uncle of mine Rusi Boga and family who also assisted me with border crossing from Lahore to Amritsar which enabled me to complete my studies. The School was second to none both on the Education front and Sports field regularly out doing our friends from Sanawar on the playing field.I would like to recall the period from 1945 to 1953 where I spent the most memorable years of my life. I may sound emotional but the School with the Headmaster and his excellent team were responsible for all that I achieved in life and my particular thanks go to Mr. T.M. Whitmarsh Knight who was the Senior Master, and who guided and looked after me throughout which assisted me greatly in my development and achievements. I also recall that it was here where we learnt to respect each ones religious faith as it was a multicultural society and the common meeting ground was the daily service at the Chapel which taught us to be tolerant and to respect each others faith. I have since leaving B.C.S devoted a few minutes daily to prayers and recite daily the Lord’s Prayer and the School prayer each Sunday. I will never forget our Motto “Over Come Evil With Good” which appears in the 12th Chapter of the 9th verse of the Epistle of Paul the apostle to the Romans. I have a long list of friends and among those I shall always remember are the Late Ramesh Bhasin and Late R.K. Simha. The others are D.C.and K.C.Anand, Vir Bhadra Singh, Dulip Singh, Amar Singh, Feroze Vakharia, Keki Nanavati, Brijesh Narain, Behram Irani, Omar Marwah, the Bahl brothers, Aurora, Wendy, Chaddha, Sarda, Joginder Singh, Narpinder Singh, Ron Plunkett, Ruskin Bond, Peter Stringer, Arthur Jones, Les Homer, P.K. Kaul, Baljit Singh, Daljit Singh and P.K. Kapur and the list goes on. The last memorable outing was in June, 1953 when our Headmaster Mr.Frank Fisher with Ted Cuzen, the Lefroy House Master took Simha and me to Choir where we climbed the peak around 9am which was at a height of around 10,000 feet and it took us about 5 days to walk to our target from the School and the trip was made during the 10 day hols in June. When we got to the top we felt we were on top of the World as if we had conquered mount Everest. Before closing I would like to recall the trips to town and we passed Knolls Wood, before going up a very steep incline we called Sudden Death and after a furlong were at Oak Over the Summer residence of the Maharaja of Patiala and then on our entry to town passing Clarke’s Hotel.
I joined Pakistan Tobacco Limited Karachi an Associate of British American Tobacco towards the end of 1955 and was with them for 38 years and retired as the Head of their Commercial Operations in 1993. I continued service thereafter and joined Ravi Chemicals an associate of the Hoechst group in Lahore till early 1996 and assisted them in setting up in organizing their Commercial operations for the Chemical plant they established outside Lahore. Thereafter I returned to Karachi and joined Green Star Social Marketing, an N.G.O. associated with Population Services International Washington who provided the necessary support services and arranged the required funds to meet the organizations requirements on Family Health and Family Planning. I assisted them in setting up and organizing their Commercial Operations throughout Pakistan and retired after a most rewarding 6.5 years. In order to keep myself active I am currently a volunteer with The Citizens Foundation at Karachi and the project is to educate the poorer sections of our society, particularly girls located in the rural areas where adequate facilities for education are not available. To-date we have established over 800 schools throughout the country and the monthly fees are in the region of Rs 25 which is inclusive of books and a fully equipped Library and in house Computer facilities.
God Bless all of you and I wish Bishop Cotton School the very best in the years ahead and look forward to visiting the school in the not to distant future and guys always remember our motto “OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD”.