Tag Archives: Robin Nakai

RIP – Manjit Singh Sehmbey [Curzon 1962-1969]

Just received terrible news from Robin Nakai that Manjit Sehmbey [popularly known as TALLI. School Captain 1969.] collapsed at the gym, was rushed to hospital but could not be revived.

Rest in peace dear Talli.

This is all we know at this point in time.


From Robin Nakai:

Manjit Singh Sehmbey.
Curzon House Captain .
School Captain
Bishop Cotton School , Simla .
The Class of 1969 .

Go Gently Into The Night , dear friend ….
We shall miss you , and your absence  leaves a gap in our lives !
The friendship and camaraderie we shared from the school days in Bishop Cotton, will always be a part of the lives of the Class of 69 !
From the playing fields of BCS , Sanawar , YPS we were a part of a well knit team that soared to many glorious successes and honours .
The Class of 69 wishes you farewell .
Walk the golden fields of Elysium with the sun eternally in your face , with the classmates already gone .

Rest In Peace !

We woke this morning to the news of the passing away of our captain and friend, Manjit Singh. May the Almighty give all his family the strength to weather this storm and may his noble soul rest in eternal peace.

We , the class of 1969, will always remember Manjit, fondly called Talli, as our school captain. A great individual who left an indelible mark on everyone he came into contact with. Manjit was an accomplished sportsman who was always modest about his many achievements. A perfect all-rounder, he played cricket, football, and hockey, and was a core member of the athletics group. He was shoe-in for the Full School Blazer in Sports, he excelled in every area of the sports field. Hurdles, 100 & 200 yard sprints, he was a true Spartan! He was also the School Captain, and was responsible for maintaining discipline, order and harmony amongst all of us. More importantly, Manjit  was a caring individual who was always ready to help anyone in need . He will be sorely missed.

Many of us classmates were fortunate to spend a little more time with him recently in Shimla in 2017 and then again in 2019 [some photos below]. We were also able to share in his love for nature through his excellent photography through our WhatsApp group. It is very hard for us to accept that Manjit is no more. We pray that his soul rest in eternal peace.

– 1969 BCS BATCH

Mr. Mustaq Masih – passed away in 2020 – we just got to know.

Received from Vijay [Kuttu] Singh who received this news from Manjit Sehmbey:

Article quoted from this link online:
It is with great sadness and heavy hearts the family of Mushtaq Masih lost their patriarch on Sunday, October 18, 2020 at 8:59am. Mushtaq Masih was born in Northern India in 1935. He received his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Physical Education from Batala Bearing Christian College and University of Gwalior. In India he was known as a competitive athlete and excelled at sports like sprinting, field hockey, and boxing. Mushtaq’s talent allowed him to represent India on several national athletic teams. He was best known as a member of India’s 3 fastest men- The Three Flying M’s (Milkha, Makhan, and Mushtaq) and his record-breaking time in the 100-meter dash. As a nationally celebrated athlete, winning dozens of awards across India, Mushtaq continues to hold records for his success in track and field. He went on to serve as a director of sports for the states of Punjab and Haryana.

Mushtaq arrived in Canada and settled in P.E.I. in 1966 with his young family. He was an educator in phys-ed and mathematics, and went on to serve as the director of physical education for P.E.I, and was a known champion for women’s field hockey across the country. Mushtaq was also the founder president of the P.E.I. Amateur Boxing Association and inducted into the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame in 1973. The same year Mushtaq and his wife were guests at the Opening Centennial Summer Games, where Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip famously and publicly greeted the only East Indian couple in attendance. Mushtaq’s passion for sports led him to become a pioneer for sporting equipment, and a titan in importing and exporting sporting goods across Canada. Mushtaq went on to become a national sponsor and delegate for the Canadian Olympic Team from 1972-1984.

Mushtaq was also widely recognized as a pillar of the East Indian community, sponsoring and helping to immigrate more than 20 East Indian families to the Maritimes. In the mid-eighties Mushtaq relocated to the Niagara region and continued his entrepreneurial journey, owning and operating Niagara’s first East Indian restaurant; stemming from his desire to continue to serve his East Indian Community and integrate its culture into the Canadian mosaic for all to enjoy. Throughout his life he had a passion for travel and accomplished his goal of traveling the world aboard PANAM in 40 days, touching his feet in every ocean. Mushtaq often gave back his time and donated to charitable organizations both in Canada and India.

Mushtaq lived a passionate life of gratitude, joy, service and love. He passed peacefully with his wife and eldest granddaughter by his side. He will be lovingly remembered by his wife Zohara Masih and children Rita Chahal (Chander), Renu D’Cunha (Pascal), Varinder Masih (Sunita), and Vijay Masih (Preetshika). Mushtaq will also be fondly remembered by his 9 grandchildren Crystal D’Cunha, Ravi Chahal (Jiwan), Asha Bhanot (Sonny), Rachel D’Cunha, Joshua D’Cunha, Anjali Chahal, Zeena Masih, Sheena Masih, and Amora Singmasi; and 5 great-grandchildren Zorique Olayori, Tejas Chahal, Naveen Bhanot, Maeva Chahal, and Neela Bhanot.

ROBIN NAKAI [Rivaz 1963-69] writes
Memories of a School Boy . When I joined Bishop Cotton School in Shimla , I little realised that I would be meeting and rubbing shoulders , though I was far to short to rub shoulders , with existing legends and those who would go down in to the annals of time , as legendary figures . Games were an integral part of the school curriculum and it was totally compulsory to be on the playing fields in your games kit , every evening and participating in the game of the season – as games were played in pre set and planned fixtures in the year , and divided into compartments , keeping the weather seasons in view , as football was a rainy season fixture . It was first in class that I was to meet Mr. Mushtaq Masih , and there is no recollection in my mind of the subject which he taught and of which class he was then the class teacher off – I think it was Lower 2 or maybe Upper 2 — I do recall , one year , that Krishna Rana ( Tiger ) and I went one day after the final exams , to Mr . Mushtaq Masih’s house , to ask him to give Tiger Rana some grace marks , in maths I think , so that Tiger would not fail the finals , and thus not be allowed to come back to School in March for the next session . Tiger being a fabulous natural born sportsman was a favourite of Mr . Masih , and I recall standing down in Remove Dormitory , out side Sir’s house and hearing Sir laugh and say – Don’t worry Tiger , go enjoy Kathmandu and your holidays , and you will come back next year ‘ Tiger got his grace marks — and came back to school next year —that was the magnanimity of Mr . Musthtaq Masih . My encounters with him were to happen on the hockey field , and it was from this legend – of whose glory we school boys were totally unaware – that I was to learn the art of dribble , trap , scoop , backhand pass whilst at a full run , snap the ball between the defenders legs to the team mate behind , and if one was lucky – to sound the boards , to the roars of cheers from the stadium . Boxing would come and Mr . Mushtaq Masih would be there in his white flannels and with his whistle shinning in the sunlight around his neck – his signature dress code , guiding , coaching the art of block , jab , hook , upper cut , head down defence and the foot work required for being a good boxer . Sir , would be on the second flat every athletic season , teaching the art or gliding over a hurdle with the body bent low and the take of leg skimming the top of the bar , he would be there teaching the art of the take off from the starters gun , the slick magic of the baton exchange which was so critical to the winning of the relay – was an art that was to be perfected . He was there for it all , and I can remember those days , so clearly . Then , one day Mr . Mushtaq Masih announced that he was migrating to the young country – Canada . It was a sad sorrow – the parting – as he was a well liked man , as was his wife Zohara . News would filter about down over the years about his life and we were told that he had started Women’s Hocky in Canada , and had then a big name in the Canada in the games arena , and so on and so forth . Time passed on , as it inevitably does , and we lost track of Sir – till today when Manjit Sehmbey – a sprinter from my batch of 1969 and also my School Captain , sent an article to Kuttu Singh , for the school magazine – The Patina Times . It seems that Mr . Mushtaq Masih ran his last race in 2020 , when he passed peacefully to the great halls of Valhalla . What makes the design of the story so poignant today is that today we have all received the sad news as regards the passing , of the Flying Sikh Milkha Singh . It is sad to know that he was one of the ‘Ms’ of the Three Flying Ms of Punjab – Milkha – Mushtaq – Makhan . One wonders where the Third M ( Makhan ) is today . So today as Milkha and Mushtaq stand at the starters gun in Elysium , there must must be a hush of anticipation as the crowd waits with a bated breath for an epic race to start . Rest in Peace Sir , and know that the mark you left of your coaching us , paid us good heed in our years of growing up in the Bishop Cotton School , Shimla . I participated in all hockey fixtures and also won the medal for the Best Loser in Boxing . My name , in Gold Leaf is on the honours board in Bishop Cotton . The names of all my team mates and of all those other teams who were coached by you , are a testimony to your untiring patience and guidance . It’s is there sir , for you were our coach . I shall , along with all the other players and athletes shall cherish that memory , eternally .

Vijay Khurana writes:

It is with great sadness we just learnt of the passing away of Mr Mushtaq Masih. He passed away last year. Our deepest sympathies and condolences to his wife and their family members.

Mr Masih joined BCS in 1958. I think he was one of those teachers, like Mr Roshan Lal, who came to Simla from Palampur with Rev Dustan when he joined the School as Headmaster.

Until Mr Masih’s induction into the School’s staff, BCS never had a sports coach. Just prior to his entry the School had employed Mr Kumar, ex- Indian Navyas a PT instructor but he did not remain long. Mr Masih was the first sporting coach at BCS. Until his entry there was no coach for athletics with most of the training being conducted by teachers who had an affinity for a particular sport e.g. Mr J D Williams (Soccer), Mr E A Cuzen (Cricket) or the famous Mr V E O Carville (Boxing), formerly with the Burma police. Mr Masih made a difference to the track and field events, especially the short distance sprints. Standards improved and as Inderjit Singh “Badal” (Lefroy 1951-63) testifies on the obituary page for Mr Masih:

“Badal Singh 338
Sincere condolences to the entire family ,
Mr Masih was my Athletics coach at Bishop Cotton School Simla” in 1962/63 And helped me improve my 100 yard dash and to break the school record ….. I will always remember and be grateful to him 🙏”

BCS also began to fare well at the Inter- public school meets at Patiala which for the most part was usually dominated by YPS, Patiala. We attributed that dominance to their significantly older ages than the acceptable average for boys in school.!! However, in later years with somewhat more professional training inputs by Mr Masih the results began to be visible. His impact was greatest with those who ran the short distance but the long and medium distance runner seemed to gain little. Some of them still remember, with a degree of remorse, their potential never being fully exploited. Mr Masih was no task master and his approach, in his inimitable rustic style, was always persuasive. He gave you the direction but the incentive and urge to win had to be yours. His influence was visible and some of his methods probably endured after he left BCS in 1966 or thereabouts.

Mr Masih during our time also coached the soccer and hockey teams as Govinder Singh (Ibbetson 1953-3) recalls:

” Mr Masih was a very helpful and friendly person to all athletes. That’s how I remember him. He spent one entire afternoon teaching me to improve my goalkeeping for the upcoming Sanawar match.
The obituary does not mention BCS.
I’m sure we all wish him well in the hereafter, and his family in Canada”

Mr & Mrs Masih retained their connections with BCS and Simla and would visit whenever they were in India having emigrated to Canada. His connections with BCS endured and I notice his wife and he were guests of honour at an OC lunch in Ontario in 2005. (http://www.oldcottonians.org/canada_31905.htm)

Looking back, Canada attracted a whole load of talented men and women from BCS – Mr Sasim Das Gupta, Mr Mathew Zachariah, Mr & Mrs Goss, Mr & Mrs Mal, Mr Ramesh Tiwari ,&  Mr & Mrs Masih. Rev & Mrs Dustan simply went home. They were Canadian citizens !! They all contributed in a significant way to that country with some of them holding positions of great scholarship and eminence. In the process, all of them without exception, created wonderful and financially rewarding lives.

Mr Masih went a bit further than sports education to become an entrepreneur in the restaurant business. That was a trait he never exhibited but shows how remarkably well talent blossoms given the opportunity. Rest in Peace, Mr Masih and thank you for all that you did for us !!

Lohri!

Our very own intrepid traveller, die-hard biker, travelog writer, keen photographer and “live life king-size proponent” Robin Nakai sends in a great write-up about the Lohri festival with history and lyrics to the traditional Lohri folk song.
Happy Lohri to all!

Lohri!

Of the only Indian festival that we never celebrated in Bishop Cotton School , methinks Lohri was the only one where the school mates were not a part of the festivities ! It would be the annual holidays and we would be with our parents and if one was lucky you could have a school buddy close enough to celebrate the Lohri activities .

Lohri , is the only indian festival that does not suffer the shifting of its date of celebrations , as per the varied conditions calendars that are
made every year , by various fundamentals , like Holi and Diwali and others , that always have different dates .

The folk lore of Lohri has many genres and may be found in various legends . The Punjabis celebrate it for the rabi harvest , as sugar cane is harvested in January and yet there is a legend that Lohri marks the end of Winter Solstice and the beginning of Maghi . The changing weather conditions have however , seemingly , put paid to that legend or folklore forever , I think .

Children bring sticks and wooden batons from their homes and a fire is lit and traditional foods are eaten and thrown into the fire . Gur, Reweree, Ghachak, Pulle, Til Ladoos and Popcorn are offered as prasad to one and all , sitting around the fire . As children we would go to the neighbors and chant Sundar Mundriye and be rewarded with a few aannaas (coins) or traditional foods . It was a moment of fun and the cold never bothered us as we danced about the Lohri fire , while the elders sat looking solemn and wise .

The Lohri legend also tells the tale of Dulla Bhatti who was the Robin Hood of his times , robbing the rich to help the poor . Dulla would rescue the girls carried away by the Mughals and then marry them to the lads in the village and often paid for all the celebrations from the monies robbed from the rich . The two famous girls of whom one sings are – Sundari and Mundari!

Sunder mundriye ho!
Tera kaun vicharaa ho!
Dullah Bhatti walla ho!
Dullhe di dhee vyayae ho!
Ser shakkar payee ho!
Kudi da laal pathaka ho!
Kudi da saalu paata ho!
Salu kaun samete!
Chache choori kutti! zamidara lutti!
Zamindaar sudhaye!
Bade bhole aaye!
Ek bhola reh gaya!
Sipahee far ke lai gaya!
Sipahee ne mari itt!
Sanoo de de Lohri, te teri jeeve jodi!
(Cry or howl!)
Bhaanvey ro te bhaanvey pitt!

Translation:

Beautiful girl
Who will think about you
Dulla of the Bhatti clan will
Dulla’s daughter got married
He gave one ser of sugar!
The girl is wearing a red suit!
But her shawl is torn!
Who will stitch her shawl?!
The uncle made choori!
The landlords looted it!
Landlords are beaten up!
Lots of simple-headed boys came!
One simpleton got left behind!
The soldier arrested him!
The soldier hit him with a brick!
(Cry or howl)!
Give us Lohri, long live your pair (to a married couple)!
Whether you cry, or bang your head later!