Monthly Archives: August 2020

Congratulations: Vijay [Kuttu] Singh – new President OCA Delhi Chapter

Vijay Singh [Lefroy House.1958-66]

CONGRATULATIONS Vijay on your appointment as the President of OCA Delhi/NCR Chapter!

K. Vijay Singh – popularly known as Kuttu – [Lefroy House.1958-66] has been a active and prominent member of the OCA and the Executive Committee.

Here’s wishing you and your team much success as President OCA Delhi!


New Committee for OCA Delhi [NCR] Chapter

Dear OCs
The new committee for OCA Delhi Chapter was formed and confirmed on 26th August 2020. The meeting could not be held earlier due to covid precautions.

  • K.Vijay Singh – President
  • Ashwini Virk – Vice President
  • Jaspinder Kochar – Secretary
  • Gurvinder Kochar – Jt.Secretary
  • Anurag Batra – Treasurer
  • Dr.Romesh Lal – Member
  • Ashwani Nanda – Member
  • Jaspal Sawhney – Ex President
  • Harpreet Khatkar – Ex.Secretary
  • Chetan Singh – Co-opted Member
  • Anil Soni – Co-opted Member
  • Rajesh Bhalla – Co-opted Member

President OCA Delhi Chapter.

The Hump on the Road – by Indi Khanna

I’m terrible with dates. While I need to shovel loads of fish down my gullet to simply remember even my date of birth date, the one date which is firmly etched in my memory is the 1st of January 1978. I was a young pudian (green horn) SD on Panniar Estate in the High Ranges in Kerala. An area teeming with elephants so that hardly a day went by when one, while going around the estate, didn’t bump into at least a couple of the pachyderms. The SOP was straightforward, you see a fellow, you simply swivel your bike 1800 and head post-haste in the opposite direction. Workers, whenever they encountered elephants, which was a regular feature, either turned on their heels or else ducked under the nearest tea bush and stayed put till the gentle giant(s) had ambled across. Perfect harmony and cohabitation. The man/animal conflict tale was, in those days, unknown and waiting in the wings to be played out many decades later.         

Back in the day the High Range Club was always buzzing and VERY active. With the district encompassing 26 estates, 23 Tata Finlay (now KDHP) properties and 3 belonging to Malayalam Plantations (of which company, I as an Assistant Superintendent, was a  teeny-weeny cog in the machinery) the strength of covenanted staff in the district was enough to ensure that the club was always alive and kicking. Never more so than on New Year’s eve. Which ‘evening’ traditionally ended the next morning with an early 0500 Hrs breakfast of dosas, leaving one just about enough time for us to get back to the estate in time for muster. The club on new year’s eve (besides other big bashes and inter-district meets through the year) was very pucca. Ladies resplendent in their best saris and all the men in formal attire – dinner jackets or ‘bandh gala coats’.

The accepted form back in the day was that, following the  New Years dance and dinner, on the 1st of January one attended muster, allocated the day’s work and could then take it somewhat easy through the day. I digress. So back to 1978 and the first day of the new year.

Leaving the club post a hearty dosa breakfast, still in my formal dinner attire, I rode into Panniar just in time for my morning muster at 7 a.m. As the workers trickled in, they were assigned their work for the day and headed off to the allocated fields. Around 0800 Hrs, by which time normally all the workers should have reported for work, my conductor Mr Balia (Incidentally NEVER Balia – always Mr Balia) remarked that he found it rather strange that not a single worker from the No.5 line had come in for work. Odd indeed. So I got on to my bike and heading off towards the lines. Nearing the lines I noticed a whole lot of workers and kids sitting on the roofs of their houses. Seeing me they started shouting that I shouldn’t come any further since there was an elephant sitting in the middle of road.

Did a quick about turn and drove up instead to the main office which was on the hillock opposite the No.5 lines, from where I could also sight the road leading up to the lines. Sure enough, there it was – this huge fellow sprawled across the road with his massive head slightly raised off the ground, resting on his tusks. On being asked, the workers shouted back that he had been there since midnight in exactly the same position. As to why everyone was perched on their rooftops, was told that they were scared to come down. By which time Mr Balia having also arrived on the scene, explained to me that the elephant on the road was the same one which had been visiting the lines regularly to raid their kitchen garden plots for banana and sugar cane which the workers had planted. Whenever the workers would hear or see him heading their way they would scramble up on to the roof and would start banging on the CI sheets to drive the fellow away from their homes.

This particular time, probably fed up of being chased off all the time and being robbed off the juicy cane, the tusker had trumpeted and raising his trunk to its full height, had charged towards the lines and had likely tripped and fallen over to end up sitting on the road in the position he was in. In all the pandemonium and egged on by Mr Balia, one of the workers finally picked up courage, clambered down from the roof and approached the elephant with a large rock in his hand, got close enough and threw the rock which simply bounced off the elephants back with not so much as a twitch from the mastodon. That gave all the others, including me, the guts to approach the fellow. Which is when we saw the high tension cable firmly lodged, running across through his mouth above his lower lip and him obviously dead!

By this time Rajah Pooviah (red arrow) who was the acting Superintendent  since Abid was away on leave, had also arrived on the scene. After much discussion we concluded that when the big fellow charged the lines, his trunk which was very high up in the air, had probably hit the electric cable dragging it into his mouth. And there it stayed with the electric poles on either side of the sagging cable bent inwards and leaning towards our poor dead pachyderm.

The matter being reported to the Divisional Forest Officer resulted in almost all the government functionaries in the district descending upon Panniar leading to two days of a merry-go-round with Rajah being threatened with arrest for having wilfully electrocuted the elephant. Two days of tension before the DFO finally accepted that the death was the result of an accident. Which led to a formal permission from the district authorities to the estate management to dispose of the carcass.

Ever tried to dispose off a 4 ton carcass? Easier said than done I assure you. 600 litres of diesel was brought in from the factory and poured over the poor fellow and from a very safe distance a burning rag was tossed on. Whoosh! A cloud of dense black smoke and a massive flame which died away as quickly as it had erupted. The smoke having cleared we saw that, barring only the hair on the elephants hide which had disappeared, the carcass itself was totally unaffected. After much deliberation and logistical planning a massive pit was dug across the road just behind the carcass. The estate tractor fitted with a winch cable and our two lorries were pressed into service to pull the elephant, dragging it into the pit. Following which the workers paid their respects to the tusker and conducted a Puja before the grave was covered over, leaving a massive hump in the middle of the road. Which mound, as the days went by, started settling down.

Fast forward to 2018. I had to visit Munnar for some work with KDHP and decided to pay a visit to my first estate. Went up to the office and looked down into the valley. Yup! Not quite as prominent as when we’d buried the hapless soul, but there it was – the hump in the middle of the road!

– Gurrinder [Indi] Khanna





The Walkers – by Vivek Bhasin

The Walkers
… when he walks across
roads, pastures, mires, hills, slopes, valleys, ravines …
on small narrow paths he walks over roots of trees standing erect swaying to the wind ..
He trods on pine cones, green moss, slippery grass and sharp stones
passing small bushes of blueberries..
that taste of yesterday..
He hears the sound of crickets
but it is his mind he hears..
and much more…
He sees much more…
seeing passing pictures
some diverge yet many merge
to tell him stories of another.
He sees another world
a world-view
a world gone by too soon..
He did learn one fast lesson
many many years ago..
That nearly always..when he walks with others.. he walks alone…
It’s better that way…
‘Cause life organises him
and he guides himself
be it the Straits of Magellan
or on some dusty midnight road ..
He formats… He does things
things differently
standing away, standing apart.
he seeks no fortune
he seeks no praise
as that back broken farmer
toils and tills
until ….
He walks He talks
He thinks he sees his dreams
within himself.
Strange? Possibly …
it’s too late to cross tracks
and shunt his wagon to hitch on
to that long slow train..
as there are flocks of sheep
all moving in great panic..
but there is one
who will stand his ground
and that may be that one sheep
The Black Sheep..
As he walks alone..
He knows..
it’s better that way..
The Bold Black Sheep
The Lone Black Sheep
The Aloof Black Sheep
The Captain Black Sheep
Yes He Knows..
that Black Sheep.
Even with..
The Beautiful Goddess…
He respects her distance
her soft breath and her many thoughts
Forgotten steps over others
the wind and dust has many covers
They both walked alone
yet the canvass weaves their pictures
…those are not for tell nor sell
For often Black Sheep..
…they walk alone..

Vivek [Bonnie] Bhasin

What are Old* Old Cottonians are up to these days?

They ZOOM!
Here is an excerpt from one of the emails

Over the last few weeks we have been, at the initiative of Anupam Sachdev, holding a few chat sessions over Zoom. The first one had just about the four of us and the second one three weeks later saw the number of participants rise to five, which included Arun Kochhar. Yesterday, there were many more as the accompanying picture testifies. Not included in the screenshot by KS Dugal were Guljit Kochhar, who left early and Param Inder Singh who somehow went missing when this shot was taken. 
The last session was held yesterday, Sunday 16th Aug at 8:00PM (IST), which is the time for drinks in India and coffee time for most in the US. It was that time of the day when Arun Jolly in LA is usually in his night gear having just woken up to his first cup of tea but bright and sparkling. Ken Singh & Param in Colorado were up and cheerful. Those in India faithfully exhibited their brand of alcohol and settled down to a lovely evening. 
We did try to rope in Rishi in Adelaide and when it would have been mid-night but he sent a message of apology that due to age and aging considerations he went to bed at 9:30PM. Had he joined in can you imagine our conversation would have encompassed a huge part of the globe!! Modern technology, we never imagined, is available over such a large geographical sweep. 
Last evening turned out to be truly enjoyable with eminently interesting speakers like BM and Bittu.
Vijay [Khurana]

* “Old Old Cottonian / Aging Cottonian” = Old fart, young at Heart 😂

PRESS RELEASE / Bishop Cotton School Shimla, children celebrate Independence Day virtually


17 August 2020

Independence Day celebrated virtually at Bishop Cotton School, Shimla

Bishop Cotton School, Shimla (BCS) celebrated the 74th Independence Day last Saturday (15 August 2020) but this year, for the first time in history, it was celebrated virtually with the school community contributing remotely online from home (see BCS video links below to the YouTube video celebrations).

After a few days of mist and rain, the sun came out for the ceremony as residential staff gathered at the Shimla site for the flag raising and National Anthem ceremony.  The Indian flag could be seen for miles flying high on the BCS flagpole (of 106 feet high) in the blue sky across the Shimla area.

BCS is one of the oldest residential schools in Asia and has played a big part in shaping the development of public schools and education in India as well as producing a host of well-known and successful alumni.

The online ceremony (links below) included heartfelt messages from the BCS students about why they love their country and the meaning for them of Independence Day.

The students were very clear in expressing their ideas that we must mark the day and respect those freedom fighters who gave their lives for their country.

The Cottonian family wishes all Cottonians a very happy Independence Day. Here are the highlights of the celebrations at Bishop Cotton School, Shimla, with video contributions from the boys expressing their love for India and the values it stands for.

Bishop Cotton School, Shimla, Independence Day 2020 – Video highlights duration: 5’27”

1) Independence Day 2020 celebrations from Bishop Cotton School, Shimla

2) BCS Facebook link – Independence Day 2020:

The school has operated a full academic curriculum with online classes since March.  Parents have reported that the children have been missing playing sport and being with their friends and are yearning to get back on campus in Shimla.

Director Simon Weale together with the Headmaster Mathew John and BCS Staff gathered for the Flag raising ceremony.


Further information from BISHOP COTTON SCHOOL, Shimla – 171002 (H.P.) India.

Phone : 0177 – 2620880

We bid farewell sadly to Peter Stringer / Lefroy 1943-47

Peter Arthur Stringer
18 February 1933 – 10 August 2020.

It is with the greatest sadness that I write to tell you that Peter Stringer died peacefully in hospital early on Monday 10th August. > We pass our deepest sympathies and condolences to all his family and pray for their strength and fortitude in these coming days. We shall miss him terribly.

I really only got to know Peter after coming back to England, though we feature in a photograph of the BCS Choir alongside each other – he is the one with the bow tie askew!

Peter was the beating heart of OCA(UK) during his more than 25 years as Hon. Secretary. His dedication was complete, and Maggie was by his side in support, always.  OCs came from all over the world to call on him, or to stay with him and Maggie when visiting England. They had an Open House for all OC s.  The highlight, prior to the Annual OCA(UK) Lunch in London on the last Saturday in June, was Peter and Maggie’s Lunch, held in their beautiful garden. Now, a treasured memory.
Peter was loved and knew so many OCs and could recount names and incidents across the large spectrum of life and times in BCS and if you wanted to know of or about BCS, or anyone from there, you could always turn to him for an answer.

Peter was also a consummate water colour artist, with beautiful paintings of birds and animals, which he sent out with his Christmas cards. An Exhibition of his work would be a joy to see.

This a cruel loss for his family and for OCs  around the world. But a man is not the Association. It is his work, dedication and enthusiasm, which he leaves behind as his legacy for all Old Cottonians – marked by the motto of the Founder of  BCS, Bishop George Edward Lynch Cotton – Overcome Evil with Good.

Allan Gay Niblett

SPOTLIGHT on Sabu Singh [and his Short films on Nature]

Sarbjit [SABU as he’s known by] Singh (Rivaz 1957-65), after 47 years in the corporate world, started a second career in 2018 as a maker of short films on birds and nature. His love for nature and the environment are abundantly clear from the myriad of films that he has done.

What became an interest in the mid-80s after meeting a German couple visiting India for bird-watching, has grown into a passion for Sabu. He has been visiting Himachal regularly for the past 10 years and probably has one of the biggest video databases of birds of the lower Himalayas in the world, especially the Indian Paradise Flycatcher.

He also visits parks and sanctuaries as far apart as Dachigam in Kashmir to Vedanthangal in Tamil Nadu and from Kolkata to the Little Rann of Kutch. The rich diversity of the North-East is on his bucket list, he tells us.

Sabu has a active YouTube channel where his work is documented and available to view. Do visit his channel and SUBSCRIBE  – we OCs can assist promote his viewership greatly. Thank you! He is currently a one-man band and does his own shooting , editing, music selection and voice overs. Amazing talent.

Sabu Singh has also written articles on whatever takes his fancy, including excerpts of school life, which are at, for those interested.

Here are a couple of his videos, hope these whet your appetite to go explore his other videos on YouTube as well!

More than anger – Vivek Bhasin

More than anger – such is life mate.. huh??
Our Year of 2020

… as we entered 2020
rumours were initial
yet we celebrated keeping everything aside
not knowing that we would be robbed
blown away…
.. you might say such is life ..
it’s the second time coming
and we were caught in the whirlpool..
reaching towards a drifting log
that slipped through our hands
we are still being carried away to
God knows where..
If we were carried on to the ocean..
at least your Captain would have
hauled you up with his anchor..
but no..
we are spinning in circles..
in a pool of tears..
some laugh
some grieve
many will brush this time aside
..let no one set us asunder..
for when I walk in silence
amongst the fallen cones..alone
when I should have been walking with a very close one..
I have been betrayed…
Yeah .. who gives a flying fcuk
what I think and dream and scheme…
..deeds steeped from history long inked…
let’s look at the big picture they say…
But listen you cousins of Chengez Khan
the next time there will be no goats head soup…
with my rage all spent
my mind will paint
another Guernica…
and Picasso will smile
at me..
and whisper..
sometimes you just have to let go..
of unfinished business..
but recharge your ammo
to strike again…
As long as finger point, green garages, the climb, first bridge and boundary stone wait ..
You will arrive..

Vivek ( Bonnie ) Bhasin