Think of Happy Days

Never before has a pandemic thrust the world into such a frenzy.    Nations, acutely consider the loss of life just as important as livelihoods and causing desperate economic measures for the future.
It is just my feeling this may bring about surrender away from war & hate to global peace.      Behind all this my old school motto – OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD begins to support my thinking
The madness has taken over the Great British public attitude of greedy shoppers does suddenly magnify the dire situation !!
Human behavior will hopefully someday change and become more civic-minded.  Supermarket shelves emptied of every-day foodstuff and crazy about loo rolls too
Hard to understand this mentality when there isn’t a shortage.     As a friend writes ….”About time every dwelling in the land got a bidet or a bottom wash facility installed.  Ecologically sound, hygienic and saves trees!”

Government advice reinforced by our son Peter & daughter Marnie for Maggie & me to stay home and enjoy the confines of our garden.     Leaves time for thought & olden memories …………

            I once was confined to school hospital when taken ill with Mumps, this put the school into quarantine precisely just before the start of 10 days holiday for end of second term.     Oh boy did I have to suffer indignation, abuse with threats for canceled all town leave.     The Sanatorium was in the care of Sister Maclean, a well accomplished, competent elderly Scottish matron.     She was quite deaf and wore an early primitive hearing aid that carried the receiver on the breast of her uniform.    She was very thorough in nursing the sick.    Whatever the ailment – the blue bottle appeared & you were forced to swallow a large spoon of Castrol in her presence.    Some of the patients spitefully would take delight in her hard of hearing – face up to her mimicking only lip-service, as the dear Sister would adjust the receiver – they would come closer and bellow in a loud voice.     A memory circles back to me of Prep School, when every fortnight we were by houses paraded up to our tiny sanatorium to be given, the purgative, Senna pod liquid to swallow and immediately say ‘Thank you’ before we were allowed to leave, just to ensure full intake!

               For us boys, far more important and meaningful to us young hungry souls was the December House–treats or as we called them ‘JHUG-DAY CHEWS’ held in our dormitories.    All festooned with hand art and decorations to accentuate end of year & home for winter holidays.       Specially prepared food  catered and brought in from Simla – delicious Indian curries, rices, chapattis and assortment of sweet fare we gorged and demolished.     I recall remembering for the very first time in my youth to suffer indigestion – so chronic it lasted for a couple of days and leaving me with a stinking disgusting breath.     The lower Boggs – then latrines, below the side of the First Flat became unworthy of shame almost forcing one to light up and smoke a cigarette.

            Finally, in December approaching year ending, next followed in the evening, senior boys would stage their own theatre productions, in the Irwin Hall.    Poetry, music, songs, plays and short sketches, sometimes ridiculous observations of School life and masters’ eccentric behaviour for us the riotous audience so wholeheartedly enjoyed & applauded.

            Primarily the School conducted its function for education & sport.     The main purpose to develop well rounded young men ready for their future.      We were nurtured in deportment strict discipline, physical exercise following rules of clean living in hygiene, good manners & respect for all religions and fellow beings.   Bullying was stamped out immediately.    One only had to tell of a bully and a simple procedure followed.    The bully was put in the boxing ring with an opponent, champion of his fighting weight who dealt out with gloves punching a very sound message while others watched on.    My keen observations have found a host of Old Cottonians became leaders in the many facets of worldly undertaking.

Count our blessing and with confidence believe PATINA will deliver GOOD!

Yours fraternally
Peter Stringer Lefroy 1943-47

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining – by Nalin Sood

Hello friends. Hope you and your families are safe and you are taking good care of yourself .While we wait for this pandemic to come to an end, I just felt like sharing this personal experience with you all. Hope you will find some time to read this and reflect.

The night before the Janta curfew, we met with a massive accident, about 100 kms ahead of Shimla. This happened at night, while negotiating a sharp bend on a narrow road, with one side dug up and the other falling away into a ravine.

Due to heavy rains, the road was muddy and slippery and made steering difficult. Whilst navigating the bend, a puddle and a large ditch on either side of the road, suddenly came into view of our headlights. I swerved left and right, to avoid both, but with the steering wheel slipping on the muddy road, I ended up crashing into a large solitary boulder on the edge of the road. Had the boulder not been there, that should have been it for me, my wife and my young daughter. We wouldn’t have survived the fall, and even if we had, at that time, no one would have come to our aid. Yet, miraculously, the car smashed into that solitary boulder and stopped and to cushion us further, the air bags opened absorbing the impact. Though the car was in bad shape, none of us were injured and instead of us, it was the boulder that had collapsed over the edge. Within minutes, another miracle took place. Three cars showed up, likely the last on that stretch for the night. It had begun to rain, and we were wet and cold so they came just in time. The guys were also in a hurry to get home prior to the curfew, but ended up delaying themselves and helped us to a nearby place we owned, an old orchard that my father had bought when I was very young,

It’s a very basic accommodation, with just a few essentials, but we thanked ourselves for having a roof over our heads that day. I still shudder to think how bad things could have been. What if the boulder wasn’t there, what if we had fatal injuries and what if those cars hadn’t turned up? With my wife and daughter by my side, stranded in the middle of nowhere on a rainy night, it would have been a nightmare beyond imagination. It can happen to anyone. Night driving is surely out for us . While we had been taught our lessons rather harshly we had been spared the worst by some divine interventions.

Himachal lockdown was enforced the next day. Still recovering from the shock and transport suspended, we couldn’t move from this place. As luck would have it, national lockdown happened soon after. So here we are stuck in this place, with no conveyance, a very basic accommodation and only bare essentials. The gas cylinder was empty but fortunately there was an electric heater which we have been using for all cooking. With frequent power failures during rains, no backups and long gaps before major faults are rectified; we were running the risk of having no cooked food. We finally got a gas cylinder replenishment on the 8th day and it was a joy beyond words.

It’s been ten days now .We are cooking, doing the dishes, washing clothes by hand, cleaning the place etc. We fetch basic groceries from a tiny shop which is a 2 km round trip on foot. A slightly larger hamlet is a 4 km round trip. We are fetching clean drinking water from a natural source nearby as the govt. connection is not yet functional and rain water collected in tanks is not fit for drinking. There is no tv, no fridge, no wi-fi, no doctor on call. When there is no power we are engulfed by pitch darkness, mitigated slightly by a candle and run the risk of having drained phone batteries.

I have experienced this life before, which helps, but it’s never been without help, preparation and never for so long. After ten days, are we tired, frustrated, miserable, bored, feeling pained? Absolutely not. We can get ourselves evacuated to Shimla but have decided against it till the lockdown is over. It may be a situation forced on us but it’s a divine opportunity given to us and we don’t want to waste it. No four walls to be confined to, no RWA directives or restrictions, freedom to step out into nature and time to reflect on the ecological imbalance created mostly by people like us and how nature finds it ways to restore it. We are “far from the madding crowd” but connected to the world more than ever. Yes, I would have loved to be part of the front line, like many who are running the show for us, but this is the next best option. We are still managing from here and doing our bit in whichever way we can, thanks to the mobile internet.

It’s a different world here and I feel blessed to experience this unlike many in the urban world, despite the lack of comfort gadgets. People have more hardships here but they are lot more content. They may not live the life we do, but they are connected to the world in a way that we do not understand. It’s important that we count our blessings, wherever we are, and whatever the situation. This accident has only made this experience of ours more profound. It’s the “silver lining” that every cloud has. They say everything happens for a reason. It’s a divine coincidence that today is Ashtami and also my birthday. Having survived miraculously, I am celebrating both occasions with the locals here, something I would have never imagined or planned.


The “ STICK IN “

Location: School Dining Hall

Time: Sunday immediately after Breakfast.

Action: Master on Duty asked to leave.

Action: Close all Doors

Instruction: “All Stand “..As silent ghosts

Duration: Three Hours.

Reason: Behaving like miscreants against the Sanawarians during the First XI Soccer Match ( we won 10-1), and staring with lustful eyes at the chicks from Auckies at the School Fete..

As I too lumbered up my scrawled frame and stood up at the Lefroy House table I knew this one was for real. Serious shit chaps. The prefects seemed to have ganged up against the entire school and were hell bent on breaking us… at least that is what they thought. Three hours of Silence; no, not Silent Night, Holy Night but three hours of frozen statuesque attitude and not a frikin word…

Now sitting here in Karlstad Sweden, I seem to reflect on that sort of punishment or on some adage preached by one of the not so dumb  Prefects….to achieve perfection, you need to become strong through motionless silence*

You know us Cottonians! We can stand endlessly at the kitchen entrance waiting for the cook to let loose some boiled potatoes, plead at the bakery ( near the shooting range) for a loaf of hot bread that we would lavish with dirty raw sugar and hog it down before the flying squirrels leaped across the deodars….  We were seasoned rascals in the rain and for us no gain without pain!

Suddenly we all find ourselves in a STICK-IN! AGAIN.

This time its not three hours but three weeks, bound and shut within the four walls. This time its not just us diehard Cottonians of all ages and heights and weights but with others; family and pets.

Pray may I ask what are all you guys doing in there all holed up? For sure we never really needed BOFF now did we? Was there anything else that we lack at the moment? Yes, loads of worrisome news that keeps bombarding us like the doomsday clock; the end is nigh; this is the start of the Apocalypse and what have you. Not only are we all shut in but School has shut out all the kids except a sprinkle who couldn’t make it back to Thailand. And in isolation too is our Director Simon David Weale, his wife Rebecca and their little daughter Delila, all at BCS. Yet, he is working hard!

Three weeks is really an incredible time to reflect… really. And do amazing things at home. The biggest worry too is frustration but one needs to have the strength, fortitude and patience to come out of this for the betterment of ourselves, for each other, for them and for the world. For once this is not a terrible famine in Bangladesh, or a flood in Haiti, or a certain corner of the world that is in dire straits or should I say up shit creek. Or should I rephrase and say it was a certain corner of the world first……..but now Ladies and Gentleman the flood-gates have opened, the curtain rises and we all have taken centre stage with the shit hitting the fan.  WE ARE ALL IN ONE BIG BOAT. And we need to keep that Big Boat afloat and feel good, exude positive vibrations and all emerge winners.

…and you know what?! The Earth is curing itself! The air in Delhi is as pristine as Switzerland with blue beautiful skies. The cacophony of sounds of rusty clanks and horns hooting to Timbuktu are not there. All silenced after an Opera of Chaos. Peace is returning to the world in its true sense. The wild animals are relieved humans are not getting after their pelts and musk and ivory and aphrodisiac tiger teeth and the Oud bark for sensuality and more. Yes I know the economy is derailed, but there are the smart Cottonians out there who will put it back on the tracks…Surely will.

..out here in Sweden I practise social distancing, driving away from the town I live in and walk the deep forests; 10 km everyday after breakfast. In deep thought the walk takes me back to the path …the Camino to the Monastery at  Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Those routes too shut. I left  a part of my soul behind on that beautiful path. It waits to merge in to the other half when the Gates of Life open again and I reach out ..again. In the meantime, I walk here in the Nordics….sending my warmest wishes to every Cottonian, whereever you are . May you get stronger day by day…May the Heart of BCS send out long shards of electric salvation through its countless umbilical cords to each and every one of us, as we all know the power of our Holy Trinity Chapel, the strength of our Founder and the strength of each and every one of us.

We are survivors; BCS made us that way. We are not going to give in nor bow down but remain strong and determined….

“ Okay Guys……..Sit down…….STICK IN is over……hope you have changed for the better….!”


Vivek Bhasin

Lefroy 1961-1970

01 April 2020

*to achieve perfection, you need to become strong through emotionless silence…

(Vivek Bhasin)

Wishing all well [COVID-19 pandemic]

The Old Cottonians Association wishes everyone well and we do hope you and your families are safe.

The long silence and lack of recent newsletters from the OCA is simply because we have not had any “Cottonian-worthy” news recently.

We have reached out to a few of our regular writers, asking them to please pen a few paragraphs. We hope to bring you some new writings as soon as we can.

Do write in, we’d love to keep hearing from all OCs!

Meanwhile, a BCS student, Shivij Grover, of Class-X [wasn’t that called SHELL?] had won 2nd prize in an art competition organized by Bharat Academy of Fine Arts Ambala for his work titled ‘Covid 19’  reproduced here from the BCS Facebook page / BCS Website.

Congratulations to Shivij Grover, Class X, who has painted this emotive picture ‘Covid 19’. The painting has won second prize in a competition organised by the Bharat Academy of Fine Arts, Ambala, to highlight the challenges faced by our country.

Richard [Dick] D’Abreu / no more

Sad to announce Richard Oscar (Dick) D’Abreu passed away peacefully at SJOG Bunbury on the 14th March aged 91 years. Much love Husband of Joan – Marjorie D’Abreu. Father of Tony D’Abreu. Dad to Ken Bird Alan Bird Joanne Smith Steve Smith and all their families. A battle weary Serviceman finally at rest.


Crematorium Chapel
10 Belcher Street Bunbury

Wednesday 18 March, 2020 at 2.00pm

Due to the short notice and some people not being able to attend due to current Health Department guidelines we will be live streaming the service.