Tag Archives: COVID19

A few more – from Suresh Sethi

COVID-19

Krishna,

I know you love to show off your magical powers—

To bring massive upheavals on this earth:

And then justify them with your old excuse—

‘ I have to reduce the burden of Mother Earth’.

 

Hence the great war of Mahabharata;

Followed by countless, wars, floods and famines—

And now Covid-19,

Your latest arrow from your armory of Maya.

( to add insult to injury you admit you could have prevented all of them)!

 

I admit and acknowledge:

 That you are the Big Boss of the Cosmos—

And you are legally allowed to do anything you want to do:

But please for a change—

Can’t you send us the virus of: love, peace & happiness—

I mean just for a change?  


Lullaby

 

Beloved, day has come to an end—

celestial fire gone over the city fence.

Now the night comes a timely reprieve

for a daily panic:

finicky like the street traffic.

 

Set down your limbs for solace

and seek a kiss of grace

Say with a faithful chant: for a lonely want—

a confessional prayer

and go over with reverential fear.

 

Beloved, for a few hours let all doubts subside

and seek shelter in the dark.

Gently go over to sleep;

never mind to-night:

for tomorrow’s chronic rise.


 

            From my diary, November, 1979

 

Winterline

obscures likes wingtips

in the acataleptic shade.

Stars

coruscate like a tooth in the dark.

Pines

are silent in the accrescent cricket wails;

as wind

goes rustling through their blind eyes.

Chill

feeling my bones fuses sleep.

My mouth

is stale with nicotine.

Eyelids

flicker hesitantly like

much discussed ideas half-explained.

Legs

wobble and long for sleep.

 

                                    Poem

 

Already the swollen crevices of the heart

flood the pores of veins;

and memory with her illusive taunts

throws fear’s goblet stains.

 

Outside, winter creeps on soft soles.

The men go about their ways.

Only an occasional exuberance of wind

tells the parting of summer days.

 

Soon the moon will be a copper coin

sky heavily painted with blood;

and my reverberations like ill-begotten sons

shall tear my bed loose.

 

On the last ride when siren’s wail

shall sear through the traffic lights,

and I flutter alone within cold walls;

beloved, please be by my side.

 

 

 

 

               O God!

 

Some times:

let me suck at your breasts

for succor like a child.

 

Some times:

let me sleep in your lap,

my head resting with assurance on your strong thighs.

 

Some times:

with your vast wisdom

wean out my thread of life

from the entanglements of this world.

 

Some times:

show me the way out

from the confusions of dead ends.

 

Some times:

stop this incessant ticking

of the metronome of my head.

 

Some times:

lift me lovingly like a grandfather

who never asks any questions.


 Obituary

Brilliant like the sun at noon,

and reporting like the nervous telephone;

the latest OCA News lies on my desk

with corporate graphs, minutes, tasks

of winter ahead. And embroidered here

on the last page of the year,

‘Lala’, your obituary is cut

out and zeroed like a bomber’s target.

The little extra I know about you is

accidental, the rest between stodgy covers

like any reference stands

an index for the groping hands.

In a two minutes silence

(mutely staring at my buttons)

I pay an official condolence:

You, who were one of us.


                                                                   

Bishop Cotton School — how Asia’s oldest boarding school is coping with the pandemic

From The Indian Express:

Football season, a mountaineering expedition, a cricket tournament, an inter-school debate competition – these are some of the events which have been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic at the Bishop Cotton School in Shimla, one of Asia’s oldest boarding schools for boys.

Though students are attending regular virtual classes from home, they are missing out on a number of sports and other activities, apart from the experience of community-living in the residential school, said Simon David Weale [MA Oxon] the school’s director.

“We’re eager for the campus to fill up with students again. They are attending 44 hours of virtual classes every week, and our teachers have improvised well and come up with innovative, teaching methods. But students are not obliged to attend all these classes as too much screen time could be unhealthy. Besides, the essence of holistic education provided here is the residential environment. That’s why even local students from Shimla live inside the campus,” said Weale.

A typical day at school begins at 6 in the morning and lasts till 10 at night, during which boarders are engaged in physical training, classes, organised games, prep and co-curricular activities such as public speaking, art and drama.

In summer, the school also organises outward-bound activities such as treks and adventure sports, and a month-long mountaineering training course for the outgoing batch, which have all been delayed this year. “The mountaineering course is usually followed by an expedition, and so far, there have been seven successful expeditions to Himalayan peaks above the altitude of 20,000 feet. For those who have missed the course this year, we are planning to rearrange it for them next year,” said Weale.

The school has a strength of about 450 students and 160 staff members. Though a majority of the students are from Himachal and neighbouring states of Haryana, Punjab and Delhi, there are students from all corners of the country, including Mizoram and Odisha, and some foreign students as well.
When the state government ordered closure of schools on March 14, around 70 per cent of the students left for their homes. Those appearing for their board examinations stayed back but left soon after the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CICSE) canceled the exams. Three boys from Thailand stayed back till as late as May but left as restoration of normalcy seemed distant.

Not the first disruption in school’s history

For many institutions, the pandemic crisis is unprecedented, but BCS has survived several such disruptions since it first opened for students in March 1863. On a Sunday in May 1905, when the boys were away for an outing, most of the school was destroyed in a fire. The students were shifted to other lodgings in town, and the school was rebuilt and occupied two years later in July 1907.

An outbreak of influenza in 1922 also affected the school, and the then headmaster FR Gillespy’s wife died while treating the children, said Weale.

After partition and independence, an exodus of Muslim, British and European boys led to the closure of the prep school in Chhota Shimla.

“We have also heard of some other disease outbreaks such as that of yellow fever during the school’s long history. And there was no internet back then to impart distance learning to the students, as is happening now,” said the director.

Legacy

BCS was founded as the first ‘public school’ in India (along the lines of the British ‘public school’ system, which incorporates a house system, a prefectorial body and a system of organised games) by George Edward Lynch Cotton, the then Bishop of Calcutta, in July 1859. First established at Jutogh, it opened for students in March 1863 with Frederick Naylor as the first student. The school moved to its present site at the south end of the Knollswood Spur in September 1868. Suren Tagore was the first Indian boy admitted to the school in 1881.

BCS has a long list of distinguished alumni such as writer Ruskin Bond, six-time Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh and Major Roy Farran (Curzon), a decorated officer in the British Army. The school also has an infamous alumnus, Reginald Dyer, a British general remembered for his role in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919. The motto of the school is:Overcome Evil with Good”.

Thank you Mr. Praveen Dharma for sending this in.

Best wishes,
OCA WEbmaster

Batch of ‘04 – from Raghav Kumar

Hi Folks,

Hope you doing well!

This would be my 1st mail to you. It’s been 16 years since my batch and I, have passed out of school and life has taken us to various places.

My batch created a small whatsapp  group, so that we can all be in touch. This year has been hard for most of us. Some of my friends lost their jobs, while others were sitting at home getting low pay or no pay.

Since, most of my batchmates were undergoing stress, Amos (Ibbetson), Parmeet (Curzon) and I, took an initiative of asking my schoolmates about their best memories at school and how life been after school.

We were lucky enough to get some responses, I am assertive that we would get more responses of my batchmates and uplift their confidence.

I thought of sharing some clips of them, for people who chose to send their clips.
I hope that you would like the glimpse of these nostalgic videos.

Raghav Kumar
Lefroy House
Batch of 2004
Bishop Cotton School
The videos should appear below, but if these do not then you can use the Links :

Video_1 Video_2 Video Video_3

The Dear Departed – by Ateek Gupta

THE DEAR DEPARTED

IT FEELS LIKE YESTERDAY THAT YOU LEFT
GOD TAKING YOU AWAY FROM ME
WILL ALWAYS BE HIS GREATEST THEFT

I DO NOTHING NOW BUT WEEP
BECAUSE THERE WAS A PROMISE
YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO KEEP

NOW MY LIFE IS CLEAVED
IF YOU WERE HERE
I WOULD HAVE FELT SO RELIEVED

NOW I KEEP YOUR BELONGINGS CLOSE
BECAUSE YOU ARE A DRUG
I WOULD LIKE TO OVERDOSE

THE TIME SEEMS TO COME TO A STANDSTILL
THERE ARE MEMORIES I WANT TO KILL
BUT MY LIFE NOW HAS BECOME A BASTILLE

LIFE NOW SEEMS SO TOUGH
THE PATH TO MOVE FORWARD
IS WAY TOO ROUGH

LIFE NOW HAS BECOME LIKE HELL
SO DARK AND BLEAK
A HAPPY FACE NOW I CANNOT KEEP

I FEEL BACKED AWAY IN A CORNER
IN YOU I FIND SOME HOPE
TO COME OUT STRONGER

IT FEELS LIKE A PART OF ME IS SHATTERED
BECAUSE TO ME
IT WAS YOU WHO ALWAYS MATTERED

AROUND YOU I FELT SO SAFE
BECAUSE YOU WERE MY SUPERHERO
WITHOUT A CAPE

WITH YOU I FELT SO LOVED
THERE WASN’T A OBSTACLE
I COUDN’T HAVE CRUSHED

YOU MADE ME WISE
NOW I FEEL THAT
YOU WERE MY BIGGEST PRIZE

IT WAS A GLORIOUS RIDE
THAT WE PASSED IN HAPPY STRIDES
AND LIVED WITH PRIDE         

ATEEK GUPTA
Rivaz House, Batch of 2018

“OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD”

Two Old Cottonians

Sorry to be the messenger of sad news
Two Old Cottonians
My brother John Stringer  (Lefroy 1942-45) taken by COVID19  – Sunday 17 May 2020 we mourned his loss – his funeral was this afternoon at St Richard’s Chapel Surry & Sussex Crematorium .
John was born in Khanai Balochistan (now Pakistan) on 24 July 1929.     Early years studied at Lahore Railway School. While a few years in Karachi we both studied at The Karachi Grammar School.  My Mother received a letter of commendation from the Governor of Sindh expressing thanks & to be proud of her son Johnathan who he had watched fighting like a tiger in the boxing ring and sing like a divine cherub in the choir at his daughter’s wedding. John was a member of the outstanding boxing team at Bishop Cotton School Simla. After leaving school he took an apprenticeship in airconditioning in Lahore moved with family to Bihar and carried on to Calcutta starting his Air/con business – Migrated to England with his wife & three children.    Years later he moved & lived in Antiga & Spain returned to the UK after the death of his second wife & resided in Caterham Surrey.
My very dear friend Arthur Jones (L 1942-49) passed away at around 2:pm this afternoon 11 June 2020 very peacefully in Waterbeach Cambridge – his daughter Julie informed me.
Sadly for me, two lights dimmed out of my life.  I shall miss them both dearly am overcome with sorrow but will leave you a poem brother John from about the age of 13 or 14 would recite for me. 
Peter Stringer  (Lefroy1943-47)


O call my brother back to me

By  Felicia Hemans

O, call my brother back to me,
I cannot play alone;
The Summer comes with flower and bee,
Where is my brother gone – ?

“The flowers run wild, the flowers we sowed,
Around our garden tree;
Or vine is drooping with its load,
O, call him back to me.”

“He would not hear thy voice, fair child,
He may not come to thee,
His face that once like Summer smiled
On earth no more thou’t see.

“A rose’s brief, bright life of joy,
Such unto him was given;
Go, thou must play alone, my boy;
Thy brother is in Heaven.”

“And has he left his birds and flowers?
And must I call in vain?
And through the long, long Summer hours,
Will he not come again?”

“And by the brook, and in the glade,
Are all our wanderings o’er?
O, while my brother with me played
Would I had loved him more!”

Contribution by OCA-India to give relief to Covid 19 victims

Greetings from OCA-India.
I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that with the support of the OC’s mentioned below, the OCA-India has collected a little more then 5 Lacs as contribution towards assisting the Chairman of the Board of Governors of Bishop Cotton School to provide relief to the victims of Covid 19.
The list of donors is as follows:
1.Mr.D C Anand-1,00,000/-
2.Mr.Anil Kumar Mehra-20000/-
3.Mr.K C Anand-50,000/-
4.Mr.D S Jaaj-20,000/-
5.Justice S S Saron-20,000/-
6.Mr.Narinder Yadav-5000/-
7.Brig.H S Nagra-20,000/-
8.Mr.Jaspal Sawhney-20,000/-
9.Mr.Rahul Aggarwal-20,000/-
10.Mr.Praveen Dharma-10000/-
11.A dedicated OC-2,00,000/-
12.A dedicated OC-25,000/-
Thank you all for your support.
Warm Regards,
Davinder Singh Jaaj
President
OCA-India.

Request for a contribution from OC’s to help COVID 19 Virus victims.

Dear OC,

Greetings from OCA-India.Trust you and your family are doing well during this most trying time on account of the Covid 19 virus.

I would like to use this opportunity to share with you that at the recently held meeting of the Board of Governors of Bishop Cotton School on 11/05/2020,it was decided that the school along with OCA-India would endeavor to provide support and succor to the lesser fortunate who had been adversely impacted by the Covid 19 virus.Representing the OCA-India in my capacity as its President along with other eminent Old Cottonian’s on the Board of Governors,namely Mr.D C Anand the President Emeritus of OCA-India and Mr. Anil Mehra, Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Board were in agreement to this proposal.

This as a background the school has committed an amount of INR 500000/-(Five lacs) as support for this project with the hope that Old Cottonian’s would match it with an equal amount.The contribution from Old Cottonian’s would be collected in the account of Bishop Cotton School,the details of which are as follows:

Bishop Cotton School

HDFC Bank Ltd.-Sec/5,New Shimla-171009

Current A/c No:50200039445899

IFSC-HDFC0002447

You are also requested to kindly share your Contact details,Batch and House along with the amount deposited with the Bursar of BCS Mr.Rajiv Mehrotra at bursar@bishopcotton.com.

Whilst the deployment of funds would be monitored directly by the Chairman of the Board of Governors,the President of OCA-India would be kept informed of the same. The contribution would be entitled to tax benefit for which an appropriate certificate will be provided under 80 G by Bishop Cotton School. We already have commitments of over one lakh. Upon exhausting the funds a complete statement of account would be circulated to all Old Cottonian’s as well as posted on the OCA-India website.

May I request you to kindly come forward and lend a shoulder to this noble project by contributing generously so that we may be able to provide assistance to the affected in their time of hardship and distress.

Wishing you all safe and healthy days ahead.

Warm Regards,

Davinder Singh Jaaj

President

OCA-India

Dan Dhanoa COVID19 survivor writes

Guest Column: Reflections of a Covid-19 survivor

The disease normally will not kill if you are proactive when you feel unwell by starting to monitor the symptoms. Keep a check on some health parameters and take timely treatment

Dan Dhanoa

As someone who has suffered from and survived Covid-19 and after reading up extensively on it, I think there is no need to panic. Consider these thoughts of a layman, who is not a doctor, scientist, economist or an expert in financial matters.

This disease is not the monster it’s made out to be and is a lot like any other virus, but only with a very aggressive spreading rate (highly contagious); and in some cases, the potentially deadly Covid pneumonia.

Everyone will get this disease. It normally will not kill if you are proactive when you feel unwell by starting to monitor the symptoms, keep a check on some health parameters and take timely treatment. The two most important checks to be done are for fever and oxygenation (oxygen saturation in the lungs) using a thermometer and pulse oximeter. Both give immediate readouts. Fever means you are fighting some infection in your body and fall in oxygen saturation percentage indicates there is infection in the lungs preventing them from functioning normally. Oxygen saturation of a normal person is between 94% and 100% (smokers, people with asthma or damaged lungs or any other ailment are likely to have a lower oxygen saturation level).

NEGLECT COULD KILL

The killer (or the ‘silent killer’) in this disease is Covid pneumonia, which is different from regular pneumonia with chest discomfort and breathing problems.

Covid pneumonia starts silently and the person feels no chest/respiratory discomfort, pain or shortness of breath. There are absolutely no signs or sensation of breathing problems, but it can initially cause a form of oxygen deprivation – a ‘silent hypoxia,’ which is hard to detect.

Respiratory discomfort is felt when the oxygen levels become alarmingly low and moderate to severe pneumonia sets in (50% oxygen saturation). This is a critical condition and develops into ‘acute hypoxia,’ for which the person has to be put on a respirator/ventilator. At this stage, chances of respiratory failure and multiple organ failure are high due to lack of oxygen causing death. This Covid pneumonia takes about two weeks to develop and reach a dangerous stage. Initial start might be slow, but later progression into acute hypoxia stage is fast.

Only about 35% of the people who get Covid-19 get the Covid pneumonia, of which about 25% cases, like I have, recover as the pneumonia is detected at an early stage. About 8% to 10% go on to the ventilator of which about 3% die.

WHAT TO EXPECT

SPREAD: Covid-19 is very aggressive and spreads quickly. Everyone’s likely to get it unless we get a vaccine (which is not going to happen soon, the earliest being a year). Lockdown, isolation, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other preventive measures are only going to buy time for our countries/states to be better prepared to fight the pandemic and to some extent reduce stress on our hospitals and medical care systems.

SYMPTOMS: From none to varied, with cough, cold, headache, bodyache, shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, loss of taste and smell, diarrhoea, stiffness or stretched feeling around your chest and back. Some don’t feel unwell at all (and develop antibodies). Duration varies too with one feeling feverish for half a day and recovering and another for three to four days and yet another for two to five weeks. Some, unfortunately, do not survive.

TESTING: The most common swab test is useless for the following reasons:

1) It’s not in real time and you get the results after three to four days, which could mean the difference between life and death if silent hypoxia or Covid pneumonia has set in

2) Results are 70% accurate.

3) Acute shortage of test kits.

4) Lack of information on testing centres, both in India and abroad for people who suspect they have got Covid.

5) Testing expensive for the poor.

I feel using a thermometer and pulse oximeter could be a better indicator as both give immediate readouts. A CT Scan or an X-Ray of the chest will further determine infection in the lungs or Covid pneumonia.

TREATMENT: Viral infections have no treatment, only therapy (therapeutic treatment). Paracetamol is administered for fever and aches, antibiotics for any infection (pneumonia) and any other medication which would help, that the doctor advises. In my case I was given hydrochloroquine whereas a friend of mine being treated in The Hague was given codeine, an opiate used to treat pain, coughing, and diarrhoea.

Being healthy and having good immunity is important to fight the disease. Older people and others with medical ailments have to be more careful. To win you need to detect Covid pneumonia and nip it in the bud quickly.

Educating the public about the disease is vital. They have to be made to understand the disease and its novel characteristics which differ from other viral infections. Everyone should know that sooner or later they will get it. They have to be told not to take it casually but know that it will normally not kill if they monitor the symptoms, keep a check on health parameters and take timely treatment.

I recommend that people also buy a pulse oximeter and log in readings taken twice a day in a spreadsheet to detect any drop in their oxygen saturation levels.

The government should also set up small camps, booths in as many localities as possible for these checks and send suspected cases for treatment.

A lockdown is only good for buying time…..so once the government has control over the situation, it should be lifted and business should be allowed to run as usual to prevent an economic crisis.

(The writer is an actor and a captain in the merchant navy. Views expressed are personal. Any recommendations made in this article should be first checked with a doctor)

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“

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….!”

Wink-Wink!

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.