Forty years ago, these lines, from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar dominated the minds of 20+ Cottonians as they prepared for their ICSE English Literature exams.
It was November 1978.
Now in November 2018, this same group gathered together as Friends, Brothers and Cottonians
The 40th reunion of the BCS batch of 78 was celebrated in Delhi over a period of 3 days.On the 27th, dinner hosted by Shiv Mehra. On the 28th, dinner hosted by Rajesh Mohan. On the 29th, dinner hosted by Kanad Sayal.
[click for full size photos]
Marshal Brar (R) from London, Shivi Pawa (R) from Texas, Vichai Srimanothip (R) from Bangkok, Narinder Pal Singh (C) from Canada – are some who travelled from overseas to grace the occasion. Raj Mahant (R) joined us from Manali, Nitin Malhotra (R) from Jammu, Kanwaljit Singh (R) from Shimla, Manvender Singh (L) from Mumbai.
Rajnish Bhatia (R) from Chandigarh, along with Ranjeet Mehta (L) and Harnam Chauhan (I) joined us from Himachal, on the 29th.
Also present were Ashim Kapoor (L), Hardayal Chauhan (C), Rajesh Dogra (I), Sanjeev Sood (L), Shiv Mehra (R), Robby Mohan (L), and Kanad Sayal (I) from Delhi.
It was a memorable three days.
Fondly remembering and retelling stories of the the good old days spent in BCS 40 years ago. Importantly, now reconnecting with each other. Some paths had never crossed – so some of us were literally meeting each other after 40 years!
We parted ways after dinner on the 29th. But just before we bid each other good bye, we all stood together and sang the school song – and that truly completed our reunion
The batch of 67 is holding it’s reunion in school between September 23-25. From a total strength of 36 we have 18 on board and are trying to contact others. Any one having contact details of our batch do inbox the same. Thanks guys.
I am so glad that I could make it for the Old Cottonian’s 1989 batch Silver Jubilee celebrations in Shimla, 18th – 20thSeptember 2015. I would like to share my experience with you so I have written this short article.
Firstly, I along with my batch mates are ever so grateful and indebted to our respected Headmaster, Mr Robinson who opened the School gates and hosted us for three days. We very much appreciate that our reunion was during a busy period in the School Calendar. My batch mates and I would also like to thank Mr & Mrs Robinson for all their hospitality. A very special thank you to all the Teachers, Administrative Staff, non-teaching Staff and also to all the young Cottonians who made our experience such a memorable one.
As soon as Kuljinder Bahia and I landed at Chandigarh airport on 16th September, we were greeted at the airport exit by Kamal Kishore. Although this greeting was meant to be a brief one, we had Kamal Kishore travelling with us to Shimla and his boxing skills from our School days could not defend or match Kuljinder’s persuasive skills. In the next 24 hours, there were lots of phone calls finding out where our batch mates were, who is travelling with whom, have they left Chandigarh, what time will everyone be in Shimla etc. – the excitement was building up as some of us, for one reason or another, had not met since passing out of School. On the 17th September, Sam Grewal was speeding up to Shimla with Amit Bakshi, Sukhtep Arora and Ankur Rohtagi in one car followed by many others. By about 8 pm on the 17th, we were under one roof – at The Marina Hotel.
The first day (18th September) of our visit to School kick started with a very touching and a heart-warming chapel service. The Headmaster in his speech confirmed that Kuljinder Bahia has donated 50 lakh rupees to the School and that these funds are held in the School’s Bank Account. From the Chapel we headed to the main Dining Hall for tea and a game of football which was of course won by the young Cottonians. Although we were beaten, some of us bruised by falls, and admittedly followed by days of muscle and joint aches and pains, it was nonetheless the spirit of the game and the participation which we enjoyed. Seeing some familiar faces on the first flat after the game, namely Mr Robin Sinha and Mrs Kaul bought back some lovely memories.
I hope that the interaction session between the 1989 batch and the Upper Sixth Form was productive for the budding Cottonians who will very shortly leap into a very competitive world. Ideas about business, professions, academic routes, self-development etc. were raised. General aspects of life in School, the Cottonian brotherhood, inculcating discipline and English speaking within the campus were also touched upon. Visits to Chelsea, St Bede’s College, Auckland House, town leave etc. did not go amiss. Mr and Mrs Robinson opened the doors of the Headmaster’s Lodge for us for some enjoyable drinks (as a student, a visit to the Headmaster’s Officer or Lodge meant some serious and deep trouble!) followed by Headmaster’s Dinner in the Irwin Hall. The whole day was full of activities, interaction and was thoroughly exciting.
Although we had a very long and tiring first day, we kept to our punctual timing and were on the first floor flat at 10am on the 18th September. Our match with the School XI cricket team started at 10.30, winning the toss we elected to bat first. The game which was witnessed by the whole School, Teaching and Administrative Staff did go in favour of the School team. Nitin Arora bowled very well and I could hear the cheering from the Cottonians, which included the shouts of “c’mon He-Man” (being Nitin’s school name). These cheers were probably instigated by the bubbly and jovial Abhinav Sikka (a keen tennis player from Kullu) and Inderpal Singh Dhillon Rakesh Thakur badly injured his finger. Many catches were dropped by us, including one by yours truly. All the action was caught by Amit Bakshi on his camera.
Lunch on the second day was also in the main Dining Hall. It was delicious! There was then a brief stopover at Mr Bhardwaj’s office where we verified our ICSE marks as there was some banter about some students claiming more marks than what they had achieved, flicked through The Cottonian, general gup-shup. We had a few hours to kill post lunch, so most of us headed back to our nests. The masseur at Hotel Marina had a rather profitable day, given that by this time everyone was queuing for his service. Late afternoon, we witnessed a very competitive and enjoyable Inter-House Hindi Play Competition – a great job by all the students who participated, the organisers and the House Masters. At the request of the Upper Sixth Form boys, Kuljinder Bahia approached the Headmaster for town leave. This was immediately granted, so a good result for the boys. Another sumptuous dinner was laid for us in the main Dining Hall.
Day three (20th September) began with a Campus Tour. The Junior School has since 1989 been completely transformed. It was so nice to see Mrs Modi still active in her duties. Immediately after the Campus Tour, Kuljinder very generously donated an additional 10 lakh rupees for the development of Lefroy House cubicles! We enjoyed another lunch in School, this time with all the main school boys.
We hosted a dinner at Hotel Marina for the Headmaster, Head of Junior School, Senior Master, Second Master, Bursar, Administrative Officer, House Masters and all the teaching staff. By the time we started, the Shimla weather turned for good from a light drizzle to a dry one (although slightly cold). It was an honour for us that the such a large number of invitees attended. The Headmaster distributed souvenir plates, which had been sent all the way from Delhi by the OCA Delhi Chapter.
Kuljinder Bahia’s action of gifting 60 lakh rupees to the School is praise worthy. It takes a huge heart to make such a generous gift, irrespective of how successful one is in his business or stable in his financial affairs. I hope that Kuljinder Bahia continues to contribute to his Alma Mater not only financially but also with his experience as successful entrepreneur. He is also liaising with the Marlborough College regarding an exchange programme for students and teachers, and we all hope that it materialises.
I take this opportunity to thank Mr Vijay Bhardwaj for many things, which include his dedication to the School and its past and present student’s, for always motivating and showing his students the correct and righteous path and for his politeness and humbleness. I have liaised with Mr Bhardwaj over the last 12 months or so trying to organise dates etc. for the reunion and as always I am grateful for the time he has given me, his guidance and support.
Thank you to Mr Dhaliwal, Mr Dinesh Thakur, Mr Danny Singh and Mr Gurprit Singh for their unbiased umpiring!
A big cheer and thank you to Mr Praveen Dharma for his time and effort in co-ordinating and supervising all the activities.
Kuljinder, Dhiraj Sardana and I left Shimla early morning on the 21st. Never shall I forget the memories attached to my batch reunion. Still kindled and strong are those friendships and bonds – which will never die. I carried along the School Service book which I read regularly.
Please forgive me if I have missed anyone or any important aspects in this article, given that I have compiled this within a short time frame.
Before I conclude, I must thank those batch mates who made it to the reunion, including the day scholars and for all those OC’s who contributed towards the dinner hosted at the Marina Hotel. Sukhtep Singh, Pronthep (Pawanjeet) Singh and Umesh Pandey came all the way from Thailand, so the OCA Thailand Chapter survives! I look forward to meeting all of you again, hopefully for the OCA (UK) reunion on 25 June 2016 in London.
Dear All, Mohit Goyal sent this spontaneous comment accompanied by a set of photographs
“What a great reunion, ending with the School song sung after dinner with great gusto by the class of ’62 in close huddle with the entire upper 6th form on the 1st flat! We took that party late into the night in the hotel and needed (at least I did!) most of the next day to recover. But it was all well worth it and many thanks to everyone for making this such a memorable trip. In particular thanks to Neel, D. Singh, Mamik who went out of their way to help with the planning & logistics. Also to the wives who, I think – and hope – have an appreciation of a close bond that has lasted 55+ years. Here are some photos. And another lot [EDITOR: added on 20 Nov]
Great memories and best wishes to all!
Mohit’s comments grasp the essence of an event that was certainly an experience of a life time. Preparations began in earnest almost a year earlier. The fact of just getting together was a pleasure that was repeated with “warm up” dinners hosted by:
Peeku & Manjit Kochhar Neelam & Ruby Kohli Bunty & Toti Agarwal Jyoti & R S Sodhi.
These evenings generated sufficient enthusiasm with each dinner actually being an event. Bunty and Toti distributed mementos and Neelam & Ruby adding to the gift box. They even did the entrance of their house to represent the School,and boy, was that an evening !!
I have recalled and mentioned these exceptional dinners but need to give credit to Ranjana Dutta, Umesh‘s wife, for the house scarves that she knitted for each one of us. Thank you.
The numbers of guys committing themselves for the reunion in Simla held strong for a long time until the drop outs at the last minute some for good reasons but the others were exceptional for the excuses they offered, imaginative by any standard!! The numbers were still significant.
Most of us took the train from Delhi to Chandigarh while RS Sodhi and Manjit Kochhar drove all the way up to Simla. The experience was different with those going by train getting the benefit of being met at Chandigarh station by Suksham, Davinder Singh Jaaj‘s lovely wife. She presented each of us chocolates and a warm hug at the station.
From Chandigarh, we were packed into the cars of Davinder Singh and H S Mamik. The latter, savvy as always with tremendous foresight to boot, brought in any extra car. Both these guys did an excellent job of organising the logistics and hospitality. So this team from Chandigarh consisted of :
Suksham & D Singh Ritu & Neel Mehra Mala & Mohit Goyal Ranjana & Umesh Dutta H S Mamik and Ravi Inder Singh
We assembled at the Eastbourne Hotel on September 28, 2012.
That first evening, at our request, the Headmaster, Mr Roy Robinson, arranged for the boys of lower and upper 6th Form to meet with us at 6.30 p.m. He was there on the first flat to receive us and escorted us to the meeting over which he presided. Each of us introduced ourselves to the boys, briefly informing them about our time in school, mentioning our particular achievements and then giving them an account of what we had done after leaving school. Thereafter, Mohit, Umesh and D Singh interacted with the boys wanting to know about their aspirations, their ideas of their areas of interest and their possible career plans. Surprisingly, these boys knew so much more about the opportunities available than we did at their age !!
The boys were also encouraged to ask questions, which they did. It was a good interaction and it went on for more than an hour.
Later that evening we hosted a dinner for Dorothy, the Headmaster’s wife, Mr Roy Robinson and the Housemasters at our hotel. It was a splendid day and we all felt that it had been good, informed and educative.
Next morning, much against the wishes of most, we were requested to attend a special service in the Chapel at 8.30 a.m. You must remember that the effects of the previous night’s drinking had not quite worn off and most of us were, initially, reluctant to attend. However, we were all there in our blazers, ties and presented ourselves as pretty specimens of well turned out Cottonians. Most of us are natty dressers. Justice R S Sodhi read out that famous passage from the Romans leading to our motto. Mohit, who is an excellent extempore speaker, spoke about career choices that the boys could consider. Both delivered their messages with confident ease. Mohit’s talk was wide ranging and informative. The School will want him again when career choices becomes a whole new subject.
September 29, 2012 turned out to be a long and eventful day. We were taken around to view some of the excellent work at the arts and craft exhibition. The standards are just as good as they were but there was more creativity on display with the use of newer techniques. This was followed by lunch, with each of sitting down at our respective house tables. It felt awkwardly familiar!!
After lunch, we were invited as the group to be the Chief Guests for the annual athletic meet, the sports day. Two smartly turned out NCC cadets escorted the Headmaster, his and our group to the podium to inaugurate the event. Justice R S Sodhi led our team by releasing a pigeon as a symbolic gesture. Each of us was then requested to repeat in releasing a beautiful white bird. It felt different to be the guest of honour. Very nice.
The entire afternoon we watched the athletics activity culminating in the tug-o-war. Sitting in pavilion gave us a lovely view of the activity with tea and snacks being delivered from time to time. We were feted and we were treated exceptionally well. At the prize giving function we were requested, one by one, to come forward and award the prize to the winner of an event. The honour for the best athlete of the event, the Victor Lodorum prize was given away by Toti Agarwal who was the best athlete and had won the same prize 50 years ago.! Very fitting. Most of the records that stood in our time now stand demolished. The boys who finish school are just a wee bit older at 17 or 18. Besides our finishing school at an earlier age, we observed the diet and the food was of a higher standard. This is no reflection on Mrs Murphy, who was the head of the School kitchen when I joined in 1953. Her Irish stew and bread and butter pudding are still the best that I have ever had!! Justice Sodhi declared the meet closed.
That day’s dinner was hosted by Dorothy and Roy Robinson in the lawns outside the Headmaster’s Lodge with staff and senior boys being present. By now the familiarity had begun to float in to our interactions with the staff and the boys. They were not inhibited. They spoke to our wives and seeing youth in those conditions, rearing to go and feeling infallible is infectious. You do not advise them, you gently guide and direct them in any small way that you can. Some of the impressions they carry, as we do know, last for a life time. N K Mehra put it best in his very disarming manner, ” I think this was fantastic. We always apprehensive about the wives participating and here it was going great guns”
N K Mehra goes on to add, “After the dinner the boys from 6th form gathered on the 1st flat made a circle, in which we all joined and sang the school song. it was an indescribable event, full of emotions. I think I may have shed a tear. The night didn’t end there. After we went back to hotel Manjit Kochhar pulled out a bottle of Chivas regal, the party continued in Mamik’s room till 1.30 a.m. although Toti continued till 4 a.m.”
It was a memorable event, even magical! They all felt that should have spent another day in School and Simla. The writer feels that this was just right. A high is a HIGH, do not blow it !!
—— Letter to the Headmaster ——
Dear Mr Robinson,
We left School at the beginning of December 1962 after the House “chews” with feelings of sadness. Most of us choked on our emotions unable to respond to the farewell speeches that were delivered in our honour at that time. Tearful good byes completed the evening since we knew that most of us, unless we failed, would never return to BCS. Some never did. We turned our backs with relief only when the Senior Cambridge results arrived in March the following year. So, we left with feelings of deep regret and then with apprehension into a newer world that took away a great deal of the comforts and security that BCS represented. BCS had been home to so many of us for 10 complete years
To almost all of us the idea of coming back 50 years later would have been unthinkable in 1962. It did even seem absurd at that time. So when we returned to Simla to celebrate our reunion, the walk from the hotel to the Main School gate, past the Linlithgow dormitory, the Chapel, the tennis court and on to the view of the Main building, a flood of feelings overwhelmed us. In those few minutes, a thousand memories returned – names, faces, places and events that represented some of the best years of our lives.
We were also apprehensive of the reception that would be accorded to us but on that score you left no doubt. Dorothy, your wife, and you were impeccable hosts as was the rest of the staff. The graciousness, the splendid organisation, the attention to detail and the way in which we were welcomed was amazing. It was nice to feel that we still belonged to the place that had once been our own!! You have our grateful thanks.
That feeling of sadness of 50 years ago was replaced so fully by a sense of pride that even our wives knew that they were on a journey that spoke of a strong bond. The School displayed all the values and the systems we were taught would hold us in good stead in the world outside. You gave us honour, respect and warmth, emotions that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives. This was a rare moment in any life. You just made it different and memorable in a very special kind of way.
Our thanks, once again.
Our best wishes
N K Mehra On behalf of the Class of 1962 and their wives