The Mitre, issues from 1956

A letter from Vijay Khurana, and some of the email exchanges as a result of :

Dear All

Our mother passed away about two months ago and that process of clearing her belongings is still in progress. Among her papers is a small treasure of letters and other bits which were seemingly inconsequential but have now taken on a whole new meaning. They pertain to the School. The file has correspondence confirming my admission as a boarder, my first evaluation by my class teacher who judged me to be a slow learner and poor at spelling, school bills, circulars / notifications and the like which may not possibly hold wider interest. There is one note from Mr F M Brown inflicting on our parents a monthly sum of Rs 10 as charges for the new hobby of carpentry which was introduced in 1956. That would probably revive memories of Mr Johnson with our dear friend Al Stokes !!
What I felt was historically interesting were issues of The Mitre for that year. They did not possess the printing technology that exists today so printed sheets with the mast head of The Mitre in blue were used and the text cyclostyled on to them. These accompany this mail as attachments.
This, cyclostyling, was also the method in which the examination papers were printed for larger circulation resulting in a hunt for discarded carbons from the waste paper basket that stood in the school office near the cyclostyling apparatus. The exam papers greatest in demand were for the subjects of hindi and mathematics. Those who had access to such question papers often huddled in small groups on the benches outside the Headmaster’s office (of all the places!!) trying to solve the complex questions but invariably giving themselves away by their surreptitious manner and odd behaviour. In executing such endeavours, even the greatest enemies became chums glued for the briefest period of time that demanded huge discretion. However, boys can never keep secrets and most of class knew the contents of the question paper before they entered the examination hall. The ones who never got to know were the brightest sparks of the class because every body else felt that intellectual calibre had a natural and somewhat unfair advantage and must therefore be excluded !! If such advance information were disseminated to them then it would affect the handicap on offer. Besides, the carbons had been paid for from a limited pocket money allowance and could not be allowed to further boost or encourage the more intelligent student’s results!! Some of these nerds could not be trusted to report a leaked examination paper to the school authority or the teacher concerned !! They were wisely abandoned in all such a dishonourable ventures!!
So much for obsolete technology and its application about 60 years ago but let me come back to these valuable copies of The Mitre – and history. These issues are in excellent condition having faded but a wee bit. The paper does not tear easily and has almost retained its original quality. Our mother was a gifted keeper and I often told her that she would have been an asset to any museum !! She preserved so much and she did it in the most extraordinary manner that books on embalming, pickling, and salting may have to be written again !!
The contents of these issues offer an interesting insight in to the changes that were beginning to occur and of which we had not the slightest inkling. For example, Rev Dustan visited the School in April / May 1956 though he became Headmaster only much later in 1958. He did scout the place !! (read issue of May 1956!!) Raja Virbhadra’s daughter was born in 1956!! These issues of The Mitre are more informative and intimate. The carried news about OC’s and their progress in the world outside unlike the issues that currently emerge from the School!!
Parents were more involved with the School and their donations were recorded. A lot of familiar but forgotten names came alive. The changes in the class rooms and the general surroundings were noted to give BCS a “new” look! Arun Basak will remember his Bruce Reading Prize and little did we know that A S Dulat was a religious scholar having won the Irwin Divinity Prize !! Gosh, God must have felt spooked!!
One of the issues mentions Mr Carter’s birthday but the editors must have been more prescient (and polite!), even though wished him on that occasion, because his innings at BCS were rather short. Does any body remember Miss Roberts, the piano teacher or Mr J Asrani, who left that year to go to the UK ?  Mr Asrani finally and eventually left BCS forever a few years after returning to the School, offering his school badge after dinner one evening (Mickey – Kapurthala family promptly collected it!! ) What about the tough Mr S C Cowell, who taught mathematics with a bite and a bark ? So we gave him a nick name!
There is lots more to read about and you will also recall that we saw Alfred Hitchcock’s “I Confess” that year. I recall 1956 as a good year and it brought back lovely memories again. I suggest you read these issues. You will be amused and nostalgic just as much as any one of us!! “Life is about the acquisition of memories” !!
Curzon won the Cock House Shield that year!
Cheers
Vijay

Responses
Ravi Rikhye:

Miss Roberts was attacked one year by a robber outside the school gate. She was of diminutive size but she refused to give up anything. He then grabbed her small gold earing and despite her struggle he ripped it off, tearing her earlobe. That didn’t stop her from giving her usual lessons that day. 
 
I took tuition from her and though she did her best I didn’t have any real talent compared to Tara Hall, Auckland House, and St. Bede’s girls. I made it through some London exam or the other, proctored by Ms. Roberts and a couple of stern English ladies, one from England if I recall right. That was the end of my piano endeavors.
 
Miss Roberts lived with a friend, another English lady, in a Tudor half-timbered house between Chaura Maidan (Cecil Hotel) and Ballygunge. This style was, of course ideally suited to our earthquake prone zone because it resembled local construction, i.e, wood beam cross framed walls filled in between with rubble and faced with plaster. The house was amazing because it had a typical English garden, masses and masses of flowers from one end to the other. I visited Miss Roberts for tea in June, I think, so the garden was spectacular. 

Neel Mehra:

Vijay, you’ve done it again brought back so many memories. I was in lower two in 1956 but still remember many of the events. I recollect most of the seniors some of them were heroes to us. Carter and his hunch back. These are certainly priceless. I also recollect Rikhyes accoount of Mrs. Roberts incident. I wish we could have more of such archives of the time when BCS was at the zenith.

Billy Gill:

I wish we could clone you and send one Vijay to all the OCA chapters all over the world.
I am reading mitres month by month..!
All I can say at the end is bless you.

Warmest Regards to all who are reading this.

GILL 1 CURZON 1961.

Bittu Sahgal:

God! I hated the damn marathon! I was a cricketer, not a runner and the Green Garages slopes were my undoing! All these memories and more come flooding back… including the ignominy of being nabbed by Paulie at 11.30 at night as three of us were trying to sneak back into school after seeing Tees Saal Baad, with fffing ‘Solan No. 1’ pints in hand.

How about the 1960 onward Mitres?

Bittu

Gill:

Bittu marathon!!!
In our last year Marathon started from Sanjauli. We started with heads held high chests out …!!! As we passed St.Bedes…woosh! !!!
Green garages. …nightmare..!! Passed Sukhis and then Aruna it Rai ‘s houses half bent over (where was that inflated chest seen at the gates of St.Bedes..!!)
REGARDS TO ALL
GILL 1
Bittu:

Of course those two other reasons for running slower than normal marathons: 1. Peering longingly to catch sight of a St. Bedes girl, and those hot Matti Ka Kujjas of milk with dipped jalebis at the Green Garages.

Bittu

BM Singh:

Great to see old memories come flooding back at the initiative of Vijay Khurana sending copies of old Mitres. I propose to take an initiative on behalf of OCA(India) to get these copies (or copies of copies) retained and archived for future observation. We have to request others who may have interesting and valuable contributions to contact us and ideas regarding their storage and upkeep would be most welcome. In this effort I think there would be no better person than Vijay to be the point man for this project. Awaiting your inputs,  BM Singh

Badal:

Hi BM …….. Who would … or …..  could have more material than the School itself …… Or do they burn and  Destroy all the records ,pics, and diaries ….. all evidence of screwing our brains up during our helpless yrs at BCS …. Instead of looking for point men …. and awaiting INPUTS  for this Great and arduous PROJECT  …… Maybe you who have the capacity to do so ……. should ask the Camp commandant at auswitz ……. to provide you with this info …. And if they don’t have it ….. May be CHIPPU can fill you in ….Also there was a PHOTO STUDIO on the MALL run by the Suds …….. They took thousands of photos thru the yrs  …. VR sud studied in our school for 25 yrs  (as a Student)   ….He might Still be there…..Find Him…… He can help you ….. Also ask Ravi how she maintains her schools historical records ……. You Were in CURZON HOUSE  Right ?? That explains your being so Slow ……………… Cmon khurana ….. Help this guy …..

Baldev Singh:

This is dynamite. Pour out your hearts. BCS was not that idyll that we now the lions in winter will remember.
Did BCS make us, or fake us???
Jai Joshi:
I could not agree more with Badal (Ref our classmate BM Singh)

instead of looking for point men and awaiting INPUTS  for this Great and arduous PROJECT  …… Maybe you who has the capacity to do so …….

All of us in your class, BM, had such great expectations of you when you were appointed to your preasnt position, but all we have seen you do so far is get in bed with the current Headmaster with plans to issue OC’s admission visas to visit. Like the Sheikh of Qater, King Juan Carlos of Spain and Pope Benedict …. you should adbicate your throne to Vijay Khurana
Jai Joshi MD

Milo Dhanoa:

I don’t think you will remember the mid 50′ when we had the greats of Amar Singh,Dulip .Singh,Jal Boga,The Murphy Brothers,they made us proud with their school spirit & sportsmanship.Nanavati(L)son of Mrs.Nanavati taught me to a great athlete & boxer.In 1959 finals,Podgy TKO’d me then started to cry.Great courage!!Remember getting caught making eggs the dorm by Mr.Curzen (Lefroy House Master).Instead of punishment ,we got away with a warning .I met Panwar in 2009 Chandigarh reunion.More later.Thanks

Vijay:

I just missed those names by a year or two. I joined School in 1954 but they were legends when I arrived at BCS. I recall the Murphy brothers visiting school and got to see Mr Jal Boga only very much later.
I remember the boxing incident rather vaguely though Badal, whose memory is sharp, referred to it in one of his interventions and these are always welcome!!
Eggs in the dorms. We continued to do that well after you guys left. On once occasion, Mr Surinder Singh, I think (not sure) caught us preparing the meal and then sat down to join us for a feast of eggs, burnt bread and much butter!! Robin Aurora was the cook and keeper of the stuff. He was a lovely person and one of the most gentle people that I can recall. It is a shame we met only once after school.
In 1959, my bed was next to Podgy’s and that was quite a neighbour to have. He was a house prefect as well. So, I had to assist, being the dog’s body, in keeping his bed tidy. I refrained from touching his locker. It contained sweat ridden stinky underwear, jogs, house jerseys, shorts and the most offensive smelling green stockings. Thinking of the smell that emanated from that locker makes me want to puke even today!!
Podgy was deeply embarrassed when Mr Varughese who was handing over to Mr Goss as housemaster and showing him the general surroundings of the dorm, stopped near my bed instructed me to pull out the locker from under Podgy’s bed. Mr Varughese was showing Mr Goss the wooden container in which boys kept their kit. I happily pulled out Podgy’s locker and promptly lifted the lid. Offensive odours permeated the surroundings in quick seconds Mr Varughese signalled immediately that the lid be promptly placed back – pronto.  Podgy, standing behind both these gentleman, bleached under that beard with his forehead wreathed in wrinkles! He was unhappy, very unhappy. “Why did you pull that dam thing out?” he howled. “I was just following instructions,” I responded with a bit of delight and more in my mind.  However, Podgy generous hearted as always, forgave my infarction very quickly!!
Being Podgy’s neighbour in the dorm also resulted in my sitting next him in the dining room that year. So, it was often my chore to go and fetch a cup of ghee from his cupboard. In return for this labour I was, and a few of the those who surrounded him at the table, offered a table spoon each of this fabulous ghee. The remaining ghee, which still was almost up to the lip of the cup, because Podgy distributed very little, was then mixed with solid chunks of meat. Podgy picked the choicest pieces of mutton, systematically squashed each bit till the fibres were separated, mixed the ghee and sent a large full soup plate back to the kitchen for further treatment. The mutton came back garnished and tender. The smell of the ghee moved with the plate from the kitchen door past the Ibbetson table and was then firmly placed in front of Podgy. He eat it with delight and not a morsel was ever shared!! We watched with envy but then the ghee was his and he was, of course, a prefect !!
I remained in Podgy’s good books for a while only because he believed that I had a svelte looking cousin at St Bede’s. Where he extracted that information from I do not know but I did have a cousin who finished from St Bede’s in 1956. I led Podgy to believe she was still there and never did I tell him that my cousin did not possess any good looks that could arouse an iota of passion in him. However, he continued to believe otherwise and there was a regular exchange with him begging for her name and I declining to divulge any such secret. This went exchange went on for quite a while and I discovered that I could extract two table spoons of ghee by promising each time to give him her name. I never did because she was never existed in Simla any more !! This went on for a while until Podgy reduced the disbursement to that limited one table spoon!!
In my mind Podgy remains a delightful character though I very much doubt if would remember me or my tale. His attention span on all such mundane matters was much too short and he delighted in being a sporting person, soccer being his favourite game !!
I also know that Podgy and you are related.
Gurpratap Sahi:
My apologies for this delayed response to your wonderful initiative and effort. First things first, let me convey my deepest condolences on the recent loss of your mother. That is,without doubt,ones biggest loss upon earth. She deserves a special salute from us Patina fellows for her devoted preservation of the very valuable school material you have been able so easily to access and then disseminate onward to us. God rest her soul in peace.
Now,as presumably dear Aunty Khurana would have put away bundles of Mitre issues of your time, I’m personally grateful to you for picking out,for first review and action, the ones concerning the Class of 1956. That being the year our Batch graduated from BCS, memories were awakened,both General and the Particular. Two performances could claim comparison with the “Brightest of all time” :
1. Four Open Prizes in one Year, plus Soccer & Hockey colours, won by my very dear friend ,
    Inderjit Singh – 56  ( August and other issues )
2. The Sanawar ( Ist XI ) Cricket Match ( May issue ). This shot me into local fame with the
    best Batting & Bowling average for either side, the name figuring in all the four innings.Pity
    the Man of the Match concept had not taken birth ! There is a temptation to get gassy !!
    Freddie Brown introduced me to some visitor as the “boy who won the Sanawar Match for us
    Single handed”. The HM ( Mr Carter ) had me called one evening from Prep.to his house to
    show me to his visiting friend from Sanawar as “the boy who was responsible for Sanawar’s
    Humiliation”. Mr. Cuzen our Cricket coach noted in the Cricket column in the 1956 Cottonian
    Magazine that “…………….. might one day yet do for India what Laker has done for England”!!!??
    Same summer, Jim Laker had set his fabulous world Test record of 19 wickets which still
    stands.All of this is certainly memorable,and followed up with the Open History Prize,enabled
    my name going up in both the Big Halls of the School.
All the guys,please forgive the Gassing!! You do know it’s in short supply !
    Yes, Vijay, if you are parting with the originals, I would like to have the May & August issues. If.
    not ( may be needed for the Archives ) I would be quite happy with photo copies. Just as you
    wish. By the way, can you help with the “Cottonian” of 1956 ?
    Also,unfortunately,your “Attachment Mail” has vanished somehow; please repeat this for saving.
    More again. With renewed thanks and all the best.
    GP
Vijay:
Thank you for your mail.
Thank you for the kind words about our mother, Mrs Bhumitra (my parents dropped the surname “Khurana” and so did my younger brothers! Good reasons but long story!!) She would have loved to know that she received so much mention on any exchange involving BCS. I only wish the circumstances had been entirely different and that she had been alive to have known about it!
I will certainly retain the copies you requested and have them delivered to you soonest. I am currently out of Delhi and will only get back at the end of the week. I will also send the mail that you refer to when I am back home.
The original file began in 1954 and seems to have petered out in 1956 when my father, after the initial enthusiasm of sending a son to a boarding school, felt drained by the constantly large sized bills !! My mother had a historical bent but more of an instinct to preserve just kept the papers even after our father died 50 years ago !! So much for the origin and care of these papers!!
Your narration of your achievements in that year are there in my mind but your account of the details now explains why you were such a favourite with both Mr E A Cuzen and Mr F M Brown, more so the latters since he was also your housemaster. Both very fair minded people. None of them were spectacular scholars but excellent at moulding and nuturing talent.
I recall your were a spin bowler and a very steady bat. I think you came up early in the order. The other person I recall is A S Dulat kitted in his blazer and that lovely cricket scarf. Believe it or not I can even recall P S Nat on the cricket field because his batting stance was an unusual one. He never grounded his bat and held it high over his shoulder while waiting for the ball to arrive. Wendy Dewan was another person who was an excellent wicket keeper and whose injury on the nose I recall. His game in 1954 against Sanawar did not go too well and that was unfortunate !!
Human memory is selective but I am informed that recall is also greatest for the early events in your life. That appears to be the case with me. Some events are like a photograph in my mind covered with warmth and emotion!!

 

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1 thought on “The Mitre, issues from 1956

  1. Editor Post author

    There are a few more email exchanges that got missed out in the post above.
    Here they are:

    Jai Joshi wrote:

    Vijay:

    I am bedazzled by what you say about examination papers- that most of class knew the questions before they entered the examination hall. Really? And you are only now telling me? Only the nerds who could not be trusted to report a leaked examination paper were excluded, you say. I for one had no idea this was happening, and now wish I had (especially for the Hindi exams in the SPECIAL ELEMENTARY HINDI group that I was in. I was no nerd, that’s for sure, so this is all very revealing to me, fifty years later.

    Can you elaborate, please

    Jai Joshi MD

    Badal Singh wrote:

    I knew nothing of any papers being leaked ……….. IM so frickin clever I passed All my classes including my boards becos i did what everyone is doing today …….. i bribed my way through school …… As for Krishen Sikand going down the chimney and back up again ……… I also believe in Santa clause but this really takes the cake …. I know Stokes had an underground hide out …… where Among all his other treasures was also a stamp collection that belonged to the governors son …….. Arunjit Rai was the biggest asset to every class …… every time we wanted to miss a class he used to fake a fit …. and the teacher would run out of the class like his ass was on fire …. Remember the boxing match that never materialized between Sunder Singh and Montford …….. Also remember the sportsmanship of Podgy carrying Milo out of the boxing ring with tears in his eyes …… I was in BCS So frickin long that i could go on and on ….. but am afraid of boring everyone who might not have been there for some of these events …………..Cheers

    Bittu Sahgal wrote:

    Vijay add me to the list of deprived. I had a seriously rough time getting into St. Xaviers because my Cambridge marks were simply put, “adequate”. All through I think I was only tolerated because I played cricket, hockey and football. But how I remember school, you guys, and how I miss those hills.

    Bittu

    Vijay Khurana wrote:

    My dear Jai,

    You sound more indignant than bedazzled !! Neither you nor I benefitted from these endeavours and we were not geeks by any standard. Matter of fact, members of our class rarely gained from this scheme. However, I do recall one year – I think it was in Shell – when three of our peers sat at the bench I referred to in my initial mail. No names! Their results were not, however, spectacular for that paper or so I recall.

    One of the pioneers of this business was Krishen Sikand and he was no nerd!! The other person, I recall, was H S Sekhon (Huttie) whose father happened to the head of the police service based in Chandigarh. Mr Tiwari, the hindi teacher, had the opportunity to comment on Huttie’s exceptional results in a hindi paper one year. The teacher knew exactly the capacity and capability of his student! Both Krishen and H S are, unfortunately, no longer alive but there are sufficiently enough collaborators around to verify my account. Billy has my thanks.

    The only time when our class had the hindi paper in our hands approximately 30 minutes before we entered the exam hall was when we appeared for the Board exams. Fat lot that did anything for any of us inspite of Pompey’s excellent tutoring !!

    Finally, you were exceptional not to have dropped a class from 1954 to 1963, a considerable feat by the standards that then existed !! I think you missed nothing and may have reason to feel proud!!

    Warmly,

    Vijay

    Billy Gill wrote:

    Gudmng all!
    It was left to daring boys like Krishen Sikand to enter the Head masters office through the fireplace pick up the discarded cycostyled papers AND the stencils then come up the fireplace..!! Can anyone remember that…!!
    Without likes of Krishen Sikand I would have been doing Matric in some govt.school….!!

    Reply

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