Category Archives: Articles

Gurmit S. Sehmbey’s 1950-61 BCS photo archive

Sending you some pics from 1950 something to 1961 my Dads pics [Gurmit Singh Sehmbey]… more will send later. I think one of them is a wedding at Woodville palace
Sukhminder S. Sehmbey

The photos are from a personal collection, sent by Sukhminder via Arun Sawhney but without details of the year in which taken or the people who appear in these photos. Anyone who can help identify, please leave a comment below [please indicate the photo number so we can add the details/caption to the appropriate pic. Many thanks! OCA Webmaster]. Click the photos below for a larger view. There are 8 separate “gallery” sections:

Just one drink – by Gurrinder [Indi] Khanna

In 1983 working with Warren Tea Limited, I was the Garden Assistant on Dhoedaam Estate in   Upper Assam in the DoomDooma area. Regardless of the age difference and the disparity in our seniority levels, Himmat Singh many years my senior and a Senior Manager on Tara, another one of the Warren Estates in the district, had become one of my very close friends. One of the many  friends whose bungalow we would happily drop in to unannounced.

This being well before not just mobile services, but also any other form of telephony, our normal mode of communication was dependent upon letters delivered to each other via the estate ‘mail service’ (a messenger who would carry official and unofficial letters and the like between estates) our terrestrial alternative to pigeon mail. Received a letter one day mid-week from Himmat telling me that his wife Krishna was away on holiday in Jaipur and that since my wife was also away on a jaunt, would I like to drop in that evening for a drink. Never one to refuse a good offer, come the evening I headed off to Tara. It was one of those lovely Assam evenings when nature would routinely open all the sluice gates and send down enough rain to put the Niagara Falls to shame, all the while lighting up the sky with millions of volts of electricity and an equal amount of decibels of thunder. In short, just the sort of conditions which would have made Shakespeare rub his hands in glee and call on the three witches to make their appearance.

Drove into Tara around 2030 Hrs to find Himmat waiting for me in his ‘Jalli Kamra’, enjoying the lovely weather. Being almost par for the course, the thin spray of rain hanging over ones heads akin to a personal cloud accompanied by the occasional wisp of mist finding its way into the Jalli Kamra  was never taken cognisance of. Settling down, my first statement to Himmat was that I wanted an early evening since I had a very early start (when was it ever not an early start for us?) and needed to get my beauty sleep before facing the formidable Bahadur Singh (my boss) in the morning and to be well in time for my Kamjari. Almost knocked the socks off me when Himmat tells me that “we’ll have just one drink before khana” and then shouts “Jannu, saab ka aur mera drink lao”. In toddles his faithful Jaanu with two VERY large brandy snifters and two bottles of our favoured tipple, Beehive brandy. 

Quite obviously having been instructed in advance of what he was required to do when faced with this strange order, Jannu very nonchalantly unscrews the tops of the two bottles to break the seal and proceeds to pour the contents into the two snifters. To say I was aghast would be an understatement. My “Himmat, what the hell is this?” was met by an almost angelic smile and a “Well, it is only ONE drink”, following which statement Himmat decided to become stone deaf and took on the majestic appearance of Mount Rushmore! By 2200 Hrs, one small sip at a time I had managed to bring the level of the brandy down just below the rim. “Himmat, can we eat”, “Don’t be silly, we have to finish our one drink!” And then back to being Mount Rushmore.

2400 Hrs my “Himmat, I need to get back and am bloody hungry” was met by a glare which made me decide to shut my mouth for a mite longer. 0200 Hrs my next request for dinner met the same fate as did the one an hour later. Finally at 4 in the morning, in total exasperation I was left with no option but to say to Mr Stone Deaf that this was it and that I simply HAD to leave. And what does my host do, “Jannu, Saab is not finishing his drink so cover his glass and keep it in the fridge for him as he’ll be coming back tomorrow to finish it and have his dinner!”

Cold, very hungry and somewhat miserable Mr Khanna drives back to Dhoedaam. Got to my bungalow, wolfed down a packet of biscuits, changed into my shorts and dragged myself to my Kamjari office.

Oh yes, during the day Himmat received a letter from me by way of the terrestrial pigeon post thanking him for his hospitality and the “ONE DRINK”!

Gurrinder [Indi] Khanna

Through Fantasy and Gold… The Cottonian who never made it

As he sits at home
now many scores of years
by gone…
in humbleness..
in sometime sad solitary space as it so surrounds
whispering to his feeble heart beat..
“ I never really made it..
nor did I shine bright Venus nor flaming Mars..
I never really excelled nor did well..
as I woke at dawn ..
donning my games kit
as the bugler flung his notes across buffalo pond, white temple and Tara Devi beyond..
I struggled to keep my stockings up…
nor did i forge ahead..
only waiting for the jam of strawberries
that arrived too late… I never..
only the last lick was I granted ..
Nor was I that smart to stand on stage in the Irwin Hall..
no Headmaster’s prize did I win and baffled my senses
at Speech Day…
My roll number was a simple 123
nor was I a swimmer,
nor the great marathon runner…
with nose bleed in the boxing ring
but I stood my ground all three rounds ..
kept my head down in corner red as he raised his hand corner blue all bright and true..
I prayed in the chapel
as others tubed..
their tenor to the piped organ…
I only whispered
the School Song
and prayed for others…
Nor was I too smart that I could stand and beam
as they did
First Second and Third,
Canaries in a row…
I remained where I was
right there.. never in charge..
because I only followed what the preacher said.
I looked
at the Captain of the School..
I looked at all of you..
I wished Goldstein
Good Morning Sir..
often wondered
what does he think of me?..
as he expanded on the hand that gripped the handle..
I was meek and simple
like the Simon…
yet when the Elevens scored I too stood up .. normally the last but I did cheer and felt good
…yet small.
They were many Giants in my School,
at Bishop Cotton School…
.and even when I stood on tip toe I never saw the sky…
I was part of the flock
never the G.O.A.T*
I lived my days
in the middle of the road…
taking the stairs to the porch…
solemnly..
nor was I brash , nor crass, though I did listen to Day Tripper in the Common Room…
and wrote a letter to my Mum and Daddy**
that I was well and happy,
and hope you too are the same ..
It’s Cricket Season
but I just make the B-team
nothing special,nothing ordained
all I was, was that simple boy ..
a small spoke
in that Big Spinning wheel…”
until a Senior once sat me down ..
and said what he said to me..
“ it does not matter
It never will..
you shy and timid lad..
there are but a few who wish to jump
there are a few who push through the glass ceiling
there are few who are great guns
there are few who make a name
there are few who excel
there are few whose voice is heard
there are a few who fight at the front
there are few who get the medals and the commendations ..
Yet… these few who are there
ALWAYS turn
and look back at you,
you shy timid lad…
for without you
they would not be there .. without you …
WE ARE NOT WE…
You pushed them forward with your silent strength ..
with the spirit of the Cottonian,
you stayed low,
you stayed humble
as they made crests
and you the trough,
but without you ,
they were without you..
With YOU … they became YOU..
It was you
who was the final push …
within your normalcy
there was a hidden power
there was in YOU the great spirit of Brotherhood…
and they knew it…
It does not matter
they won the medal …
for the gold in the medal is your ingredient…
YOU and all the others
who remained silent
and walked the path …
You are not the Cottonian who never made it..
You are the one that fed them ..
through thick and thin..
For in their winning..
YOU emerged the Victor…
Never forget …
you simple quiet timid COTTONIAN
You always were the F O R C E …
YOU too are
ALWAYS ..R E M E M B E R E D
as Metallica said…
..” and nothing else matters

Vivek Bhasin
Lefroy 1961-1970
17 Sep 2019
Saluting every Cottonian…
Especially the Quiet One…
*Greatest of All Time
** Daddy = Papa