The class of ’69s reunion story actually started two years earlier in 2017 when, sitting in my office one morning and looking at our class of ’69 VIth form group photograph, it struck me that out of a class of 29, 10 of our classmates had already gone to the happier hunting grounds….
Back row: Dinesh Sud – Vivek Srivastava – Anil Gupta – Vijay Singh – Ravi Thomas – Thanasak Tipparcorn – Amar Rana – Gurrinder Khanna – Praveen Sachdeva – Ravi Pawa – Adnani – Sadhana. Middle row: Kanwaljit Singh – Ravi Pandit – Sunil Sood – Robin Nakai – Anil Bhasin – Ravi Charanji – Rajat Mukherji – RS Mehta – Himmat Kahalon. Sitting: Anil Sood – Taranjit Lehra – Paramjit Nat – Manjit Sembhey – RK von Goldstein – Sunil Singha – Blondie – Ajay Sawaheny – Sekhon.
…Classmates with whom we’d spent our childhood growing up, studying (at times), playing, raiding plum and apple trees and then together maturing into our teens and then aging. In the ensuing years, tied up with work and earning a living I realized that I personally had lost touch with most of the guys. And so began the exercise of combing through the net which, one step at a time, like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, helped the class to re-establish contact. Which led to me suggesting that we should all meet before our numbers diminished further. And what better place to meet than our very own ‘Patina school’.
Dinesh Sud, with Robin Nakai as has been and continues to be his wont sticking his finger in, worked his charm with the Heady who was most forthcoming. That led to 15 of us making our way up to Simla and the school in early September of that year. The 15 were joined by P.S.Nat’s Dad and younger brother, and Satish Singha representing Sunil.
1969 get-together in 2017 at Simla. This is how the 1969 batch looks like after a marathon 48 years .. (and tears …)!! Standing: Arun Bhalaik, Satish Singha, Dinesh M. Sud, Paramjit S. Nat, Himmat S.Khalon, Ravi Thomas, Rajat Mukerji, Jasbir S. Sadhana, Gurinder S. Khanna, Bikram S. Sirsa, Harsimran S. Sarron, Ajay Sawhney, Parveen Sachdeva, Anil Mahajan, Manjit Singh Sehmbey, Ravinder S. Mehta, Robin S. Nakai Sitting: DM Sister (Neena Sood), DM Wife (Meenakshi Sud), Ishita Kahlon, Mrs. Mukerji, Kitty Khanna, Mr. Nat, Sangeeta Sawhney, Sareena Sachdeva, Mrs. Sehmbey, Kamini Mehta.
2017 turned out to be almost like a dry run for our actual golden year reunion in September this year when 14 of us 65+ year olds, along with our respective spouses met up in Chandigarh from where we drove up to Manali for two days of partying courtesy Dinesh Sud. DM went the extra mile pulling out all stops and hosting us at his resort – The AnantMaya. Then on to Simla and Bishop Cotton School where the Headmaster, the school Staff, the Boys and Support Staff went out of the way to give us three days of sheer pleasure.
There was a special Chapel Service which had most of us with a lump in the throat and holding back our tears, followed by a ‘cricket’ (in a manner of speaking) match between the staff and a bunch of lumbering and out of condition OCs making feeble attempts to run and bend down to retrieve the ball (a tennis ball I may add). The cherry on the pie the next day was the tennis match between a ’69s pair and two school boys which, most surprisingly, was won by Jasbir Sadhana and Himmat Kahlon. A lunch spread in the dining hall, the like of which I’d never seen in my 11 years at school, followed by 2 dinners over two evenings, one hosted by Mr Robinson in the HMs lodge and the other by the class of ’69 at Cecil, ensured that not only were we well fed, but were also nicely pickled.
I would be remiss if I did not add my personal two bits which left me mentally thanking my parents for seeing me through 11 years in BCS to end up as a ‘Cottonian’ in the true sense of the word. That feeling for me was defined and reiterated by the very poignant chapel service, when sitting in the rear pew in the chapel, I watched the choir walking out singing the recessional hymn. I for one am not ashamed to say that I had tears streaming down my face looking at young 10-16 year olds, wearing cassocks, holding up their hymn books with their heads held up proudly. What hit me between the eyes was that about 20% of those kids also had on blue turbans. To me, THAT one moment is what defines the ‘Cottonian’. A young boy entering the portals of Bishop Cotton, maturing into becoming a good human being all the while developing a bond ‘as close as ivy grows’ and finally stepping out into the world totally unaffected by any ‘narrow domestic walls’ and far removed from bigotry of any sort.
Could one say it any better that what George Lynch Cotton left us with – “Overcome Evil With Good“
⁃ Gurrinder [Indi] Khanna [on behalf of the Batch of 1969]