…. 7th April 1990….
MS Scandinavian Star a passenger and car ferry plying between Olso Norway and Fredrikshavn Denmark, experienced a heart wrenching maritime disaster orchestrated by way of a planned sabotage by a few of the vessel’s crew members.
This resulted in a fatalistic fire resulting in 159 deaths…
One of the root causes so many perished ( along with accusations of murder and sabotage) was the crew, a Heinz 57 combination of nationals speaking different languages ( although English should have been the common communicator ).. so when there was utter pandemonium on board or for that matter, in any disastrous situation land lubber based, or on the high seas, team work splintered into local shards of languages including four letter expletives and yes, crazy panic attacks, confusion, dog eat dog, not save our souls but save your own sorry assed selfish soul guv’nor…grab your life jacket ignore the helpless and get the hella outta here..!
In this particular tragedy the disaster took place in the most developed and advanced maritime waters of the world, not in some “far away third world shit hole of a land “when advanced nations would simply record this just as that and “ those poor illiterate undertrained buggers; lets hope they pull their rotten dirty stinking holed socks up” as life is cheap….. No-No Sir! this happened in the Nordic countries Ma’am; here the International Martime Organisation, the United Nations of Shipping takes serious fcuking heed Sir! Here everyone’s cajones ( balls) get in a sling shot and Directors earning six figure American Greens would be fired… axed… jailed… by even more hard core unscrupulous lawyers waiting to milk the udders of the shipping company’s owners…so no more sitting their bloated roast beef bottoms on golf carts with golf club memberships and Platinum Black American Express Cards with global concierge services … it’s the end of the gold run chaps… these big shots will now get on the bread line; their wives would have to cut down their Italian stilettos to flats and cheap rubber flip flops; no more beach holidays with the creme de la creme in San Tropez and oil reeking Sheiks on their platinum plated yachts. The creases on the ladies wrinkled faces will highlight the sorry plight as no Christian Dior makeup and super expensive French Parfum and manicures with gold dust any more… sorry.
…..The Year was 1996 whilst in Command of the Ro-Ro Vessel MV Cartagena carrying bananas, frozen shrimp from Colombia to Jacksonville and Port Everglades Florida, whilst back hauling Big Mack 10 axle trucks and trailers, my Boss Ian Pull an English gentleman around seven foot tall Vice-President Operations at the Shipping Company based in San Jose ( SJO) Costa Rica called me..the harbinger of good news … “ Cap’n Vivek I want you in the office at SJO to develop the International Safety Management ( ISM) code for the shipping fleet and the office. We need to get certified, a global requirement to conform with and ensure our ships never experience an adverse situation like the MS Scandinavian Star; we need to complete this exercise by 01 July 2002…
My sailing days were coming to an end after 31 years on the high seas…
Costa Rica or the Rich Coast is a glittering fabuloso emerald country between Panama and Nicaragua. With the Caribbean lapping it’s beaches in the north and Mar Pacifico in the south known for high wave surfing and Blue Marlins, it is probably the first country to have got rid of its armed forces on 01 December 1948. What I loved about mi “ pueblo lindo” ( my beautiful village) as what the local Costa Ricans call their beautiful country was the exploding fauna, rivers, volcanoes, beaches, bird life, alligators, sloths, parakeets, snakes, scorpions, gigantic spiders, dangerous luminous red frogs, iguanas, turtles, flamingos… and the salsa* and merengue night clubs… Everyone just loved to bailar ( dance )..the coolest dancers were the local truck mechanics with their squeezes!.. so I too joined the local swinging dance school “Merecumbe” and saw beautiful bodies lunging at each other with such fabulous sensual and sexy moves to the tunes of Cuban, Colombian, Puerto Ricanõ and local Heredia bands…music entered my blood stream and this Latin groove was the only other genre I permitted to merge with my holy genre Hard Rock..I can pull a move but nothing like those mecanicos…! The locals are nicknamed costarricenses in their native country … with the ladies caller “ticas” a few even being crowned Miss Universe and men, “ticos “…
…every weekend I was in the midst of these “wonderful locals” enjoying the flavour passion and gyrations of music, peace and love, Paz y Amor and “Pura Vida Mahe”..Pure Life Dude!!
During my four glorious heavenly years I lived in a gorgeous villa in the outskirts of the Capital San Jose situated at 1200 meters. The small quaint place called Ciudad Colon and in the condominium Colonial del Prado.. the owners were a young Dutch couple retired Doctors ( I mean do young Doctors retire ?) who moved down from Holland to live in peace, harmony and play tennis…their’s was a fabulous property with teak floors, massive windows that overlooked on to a beautiful lush garden abound with trees… mangoes, grapefruit, lemons, tangerines, custard apple, tamarind and of course banana… every species of flowers and one permanent “guest” at the end of the garden.
For many weeks I looked at that “log” but could have sworn it somewhat moved, slow and lethargic; a wee bit here and a wee bit there but generally in the same place….One day I asked the gardener Enrique perhaps that log needed to be dumped elsewhere as it was not really settling to the beautiful landscape…… it was then he smiled at me and casually dropped the biggest bombshell… !“ El Capi… no es un tronco de madera .. es una culebra un Boa Constrictor ..!” 🙄 I pissed my pants but he assured me the bugger had been there for years and would never venture out of his space. Horse Manure… ! I had to insist they remove the lodger / guest by gently coaxing it into a massive wooden carton and leave it far far away from me….in the rain forests…🙏
After three years at Colonial del Prado ( where I befriended a wonderful Dutch Lady Majorie who was 102 and loved her G&Ts, another superb Canadian couple Sussane & Gillces Ladouceur, I decided to move closer to the city **( remaining in constant touch with my Colonia friends). Thus, I came to know of an exquisite four bedroom flat for possible rent, owned by the aristocratic Señora Dama Majorie Elliot Sypher de Oduber, the ex. First Lady of Costa Rica. She was a tough old dame over the telephone, refusing to rent out just to “anybody“ but my stubborn persuasion and insistence to at least let me drop in to see her, worked. Wearing my absolute best, packing a sumptuous box of chocolate and pineapple pastries, a pack of pure Darjeeling Lopchu Tea, I arrived at her residence in Escazu….on the dot at 1600 hrs. Along with the eats, tea and my italian sensual cologne, I charmed her with my finest first impressions and style, pure Cottonian ingredients..reciting loads about BCS, Simla and India…Dama Marjorie finally relented …The rest is history! I enjoyed that fabulous place! The residence had priceless oils that she purchased over the years whilst travelling on official visits and sojourns with her late husband El Presidente de Costa Rica Señor Daniel Oduber, alrededor del mundo…
Well, well there is no Shangri-La, not even in Costa Rica…
My first few weeks in the office starting March 1996 felt as though I was still Skipper on my ship.. as a new vertigo seemed to keep me off balance; the only saving grace amongst the boring lot were the Beautiful Ticas; the Office Secretary and other girls in the office… “ Hola Capitan que pasa” as they rushed and held me tight; genuinely hugging me with great concern ..real sweet close against them to support me from crumbling on to the ground.. Jeez they were divine ..! But still I felt strange… U N T I L one afternoon the entire office was jolted with a massive earthquake that lasted an agonising twenty seconds … Yes my vertigo was due to light tremors… Costa Rica experiences an average of TEN tremors (temblors) EVERY DAY that’s 3600 a year …😲😲… my body settled down, I started walking straight except when some very heavy ones hit ..
….. I still shudder… remembering one beautiful morning at The Colonia, after spending forty five minutes with my Tennis trainer Sr.Alonso in the courts and now having breakfast in the midst of fresh mountain air, tucans, hummingbirds and red squirrels…it started with a strange guttural notice in the distance as though a heavy duty truck was struggling up the hill, groaning against its weight with the muffler holed … the noise turned into a crescendo and felt like a barrage of heavy steel girders slamming and then grinding against each other … the heightening sound then entered the earth’s belly and headed in my direction like a long angry roar … like a battle tank and a massive steel-iron monster cutting through rock, again moaning…. and then roaring-a-million lions it passed right under my house like a huge way in a rapid yet painstakingly “ slow “ five seconds that felt like an eternal nightmare…I was thrown of my chair and fell hard to the ground, my muesli spilt, my burnt toast skidded away and my coffee mug rolled too leaving a river of black gold. The entire house shook and shuddered, window panes shattered, the rafters shivered uncontrollably and severe cracks appeared in the walls as the wooden bannister leading to the first floor splintered with one section breaking with a snap from its foundations and shooting off in a carved trajectory like an imbecile missile slam bang puncturing the wall..!! reeling in shock with my heart blasting into my skull, I contracted into a ball preparing for the roof to come crashing down; preparing for the worst..
…and then pin drop silence before the stray dogs started howling, the horses in the fields across neighed and went beserk. This powerful wave measured 6.4 on the Richter scale having it’s epicentre in the next village Puriscal barely 12 km distant.
I survived this and all …! Some Great Power protected my arse.
… and so in 1997 successfully along with great cooperation from the Fleet of Ship Captains, Chief Engineers and their crew, I obtained the necessary ISM certification for the fleet and the office five years ahead of the deadline.
Whilst the company was celebrating success by being the first Fresh Produce Shipping Company in the world to comply with the ISM code, my Boss was carving out other plans for me, on his corporate chess board..
Yes, towards the end of 1999 he told me to pack my bags, my memories, my exploits and head to England…. the company wanted to open an office in the UK. Although I was the junior most I was the dude for the new assignment ..”Vivek is a self starter.. he gets the bloody job done..”
November 1999 saw me landing at Heathrow having left exotic Costa Rica, a country that I can never ever forget, I stepped out into England …rain-wind-rain and more rain whiplashed the pavement and drenched me to the bone with ice cold drops dripping inside my shirt sending a shiver along my entire body..
But the “old country” was special and sentimental for me … it felt like returning home and every day I felt more enthused with new challenges as Managing Director based in Chertsey, Surrey just of the M25 London orbital and 23 minutes by fast train to London Waterloo. The company was building two unique Container vessels in Germany and my offices had virtual control of these vessels, the largest of their type in the world!
London was my kinda place too. Great Food, Cool Rock Bands, Trendy Clothes from Carnaby Street, Saville Row and shoes from Loakes and Paul Smith… and yes, plenty of Rain and Fog, beautiful green lush grass, loads of golf courses and connecting with the Old Cottonian network!
Amongst the Cottonian network especially Peter Stringer Esq; , Allan Gay Niblett Esq; and John Whitmarsh Knight Esq; whose late uncle was Senior Master at BCS, these fine gentlemen were my closest, my benefactors and more; we met often. John Whitmarsh was my neighbour and we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company everyday. I immediately dived in to the wonderful world of the OCA ( UK) and in some years took over Chairmanship. The Seniors at that time were mostly British along with a few diehard Indians; each and every OC extended warmth and very strong feelings for the brotherhood not to mention their fiercest memories of BCS. Get togethers were often hosted by the genuine diehard OC Vinod Nanda and his wife Rosie at his place for meetings, these followed by leisurely khaana as Pete Stringer Sahib and the seniors always wished for an Indian meal at Southall.
England felt great! It was like a groovy second homecoming having studied for my Master’s Foreign Going, the Sea Captain’s Licence for unlimited tonnage in world wide trading back in 1979-1980. I spent those years up at Southshields, Bristol, London and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, . besides studying …often visiting the trendy discotheque “ Tuxedo Junction “!
But I was back with a mission in November 1999; to make a success of the new company entrusted to me…
December 31, 1999 23:59:00..the millennium hour struck as we all waited in Trafalgar Square for a global blackout at Y2K…torches in hand …perhaps a volley of nukes released with no control to annihilate the world, the end of planet earth, or more mildly though catastrophic, ships stopping at sea engine dead and rudderless as the clocks struck 00.00.00 and the year 2000 slowly moved in leaving the last century behind, destroying everything living…no one knew what would happen..
Nothing abnormal nor extraordinary happened! The world remained sane, safe, secure and with us billions slid in to the 21st Century.
It was one September morning five years later in the year 2005, having just rented a lovely spacious flat on Queen’s Road, Weybridge my second rental in five years, all spruced up and getting ready to go to work, looking out of the window on to the garden I saw a diminutive little figure moving about with a pair of clippers pruning the rose bushes…
There were four flats in the building of which one on the first floor was owned by Bruce Campbell a Director of Southend Airport, on the ground floor and the adjoining maisonette lived two ladies whose names were yet unknown. I had my place entirely to myself on the topmost. I could crank up Plant screaming ..nobody’s fault but mine..” and live my life loud and free.
I had yet to present myself to them but proper etiquette demanded I first write a short note introducing myself. as “ your new friendly neighbour”. Which I did with a carefully hand written piece, brief with no great detail. Just as a “your new friendly neighbour, a Sea Captain who is delighted to be in your midst, in residence” neatly folded, gently tucked into a neutral blue envelope, silently dropped through each letter box.
Returning home one evening as I entered the driveway of the house I saw the little figure again. She was a petite little lady in a Red Mink coat stepping out of her entrance just as I parked.. smartly stepping out of my car..“ Good Evening Ma’am” I started as she curtly responded “ Good Evening” and slowly walked towards a Red Volvo Estate. Matching Mink matching Car! Getting in she slammed the door, fired up the engine and without a seconds hesitation accelerated and shot out of the driveway on to heavy cross traffic; horns blaring and brakes screeching all stopped except Ma’am who made a hard right and zoomed off towards Walton -on-Thames! Phew ! What a zooming wonderful introduction..
The next few times I saw the Lady I always stopped to wish her; she sometimes acknowledged and at other times just ignored me as I turned towards my door feeling her sharp eyes studying me from behind.
Early mornings as I stepped out for a morning brisker, a five kilometre walk around Oatlands Village, I always saw outside the lady’s door, four bottles of milk with blue caps. Each was half a litre and I wondered if there were others living with her as late in the evening I always saw four empty bottles outside her door again. And yes, another four full bottles left at her door by the battery powered milk float early in the morning.
It was only when I met Bruce my neighbour did he enlighten me that the “ four foot and a fag paper tall lady is Miss Marie Bonnaud. She’s tough as nails, keep your distance .. a safe distance Mate.. she is temperamental, keeps to her self and tinkers around in our garden. Drinks loads of milk, lives alone, has no family, drives like a maniac, the last lad who lived in yours escaped to Thailand without bag’n’baggage as she came after him with a Witches broom; she just turned 100 and was quite chuffed HRH THE QUEEN sent her a Birthday Card all with the Royal Seal and much regalia ..” and that was that.
Wow! I was neighbour to a centenarian living in our midst! So how old was the other lady I enquired … “ Oh she’s much younger at a sprightly 93” Bruce replied..! “…one Mrs Joy Adams who ran a Beauty Parlour on Baker Street; she’s the more friendly one and always offers a cuppa to the gardener when he arrives on Friday along with thin sliced mint cucumber sandwiches; more humane I’d say ole chap vis-a-vis you know who…Miss Bonneaud”. That did it for me. Respectful Distance, Greetings both Ante Meridiem and Post Meridiem and no more with that lady…
Until it all changed,
Until I was floored..
It was in November the same year whilst I was in Port Everglades Fl. USA carrying out a safety audit on board a company vessel that my mobile tinkled… answering “ Good Morning, Vivek..”……. “ is that Captain Bhasin” in a harsh lady’s voice.
Working hard to recognise the voice I just couldn’t… “ I am Marie Bonnaud speaking..”…. my neighbour in England, calling me for the first time … I perked up
“ Yes Ma’am, quite a surprise to get a call from you..”….
“ yes it must be, I think you are not in England as your ring tone sounded strange..”…..
“ yes Ma’am, I’m in the USA” but now the worry vibe started surging in me ..” is everything alright?” I asked.
There was a moment’s silence and then “Captain Bhasin, I was at the front of the flat looking out of the window and saw an automobile crane drive in with three men in surgeon coats. They backed in the crane and were hooking it to your car…. I felt something was not right so I ventured out and asked one of them what was going on; he said you were sending your car for repairs.. told him this sounds not right and they should wait right there, so they are waiting but fidgeting…”….. I was taken aback… “ Miss Bonnaud, my car needs no repairs, so who they be?”….. “ probably car thieves in disguise; I will tell them to stop if not I will call the police..!” Hanging up!
That was Miss Marie Bonnaud! Super Smart, Alert, Brisk and Snappy… ! She saved my car getting nicked..!
Back in Weybridge I was returning from the office, entering the drive way when I saw Miss Bonnaud outside her door surrounded by a man and a woman; it appeared a heated interchange with flaying and flapping arms, the lot.
I quickly parked, jumped out and approached the “heat”…….”Captain Bhasin, please tell the Lady and Gentleman I am completely sound of mine, have all my ducks in a row and have been driving for the last 50 years since I got in to England ….”.
As much as I tried to convince the two on Miss Bonnaud’s professional driving skills ( not to mention the signage on the main road which these two from the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency – DVLA must have read “ Motorists Beware-Elderly Lady in Red Volvo living adjacent could be dangerous to others “)….they were there asking her to gently surrender her Driving License.. if not they would take it away, regardless.
That was when Miss Marie Bonnaud ended her driving days and her love affair with her Red Volvo…. (and the signage outside on the main road was removed.)
I helped Miss Bonnaud as often as I could with her shopping and other errands; our relationship remained extremely formal until one evening as I drove in to the drive way… I saw her standing at her door beckoning me…
Parked I smartly jumped out of the car and approached her…
“ Good Evening Miss Bonnaud”….
“ Good Evening Captain Bhasin…..” and then she started …
“ Where are you from Captain? You don’t look English, but you’re a good looking man…”…..
“ Thank You Ma’am ..India Ma’am”…. I said…it felt good!
“ Are you from Simla?” She asked and I stepped back in surprise …” Yes Ma’am… Simla..” and she butted in …. “ Bishop Cotton School ?”… surprised startled suspicious, I mean had she been spying on me? Come up to my flat during my absence, but how could she? Or Could she ?
… “ Yes Ma’am from Bishop Cotton… how did you know?” I whispered ….
she slowly responded …” I just knew… you see I studied in Tara Hall…”!!
I was completely taken aback ….
“ Ma’am…..?” I questioned …..
“ I knew” she said… “ You Boys from Bishop Cotton were smart, very smart and a lot more. It was your mannerisms, your etiquette that gave me a very strong impression … you must be from BCS …. You boys stood out everywhere…… Good Night” and she entered her flat and closed the door behind her…
I just stood there…
I just stood there….
I looked up at the dusk and saw the planet Venus on the Western end..
….( that was Miss Marie Bonnaud****)
*My salsa and merengue is rusty today as I last moved in Madrid one crazy night in September 2018 with a fabulous pilgrim…
**actually an iguana died in the loft of the villa at Colonia Del Prado and a bunch of skunks arrived… the awful stench killed my love for the place sadly and I moved out …☹️☹️but moved into that fabulous flat owned by Dame Marjorie Oduber, First Lady of Costa Rica.
*** Dame Marjorie Oduber passed away in 2015
**** Miss Marie Bonnaud was born in Simla, studied in Tara Hall, worked with Shaw Wallace Shipping Agents in Calcutta, played Golf at Fort William Calcutta … came to England when she was 50 and stayed out at her flat in Weybridge.
She tripped, fell in her flat , was admitted to hospital and later moved into an old age home … she really missed her flat but could never come home again. She passed away in 2009 aged 104, never married.
27th May 2020
A letter from Vijay Khurana, and some of the email exchanges as a result of :
Dear AllOur mother passed away about two months ago and that process of clearing her belongings is still in progress. Among her papers is a small treasure of letters and other bits which were seemingly inconsequential but have now taken on a whole new meaning. They pertain to the School. The file has correspondence confirming my admission as a boarder, my first evaluation by my class teacher who judged me to be a slow learner and poor at spelling, school bills, circulars / notifications and the like which may not possibly hold wider interest. There is one note from Mr F M Brown inflicting on our parents a monthly sum of Rs 10 as charges for the new hobby of carpentry which was introduced in 1956. That would probably revive memories of Mr Johnson with our dear friend Al Stokes !!What I felt was historically interesting were issues of The Mitre for that year. They did not possess the printing technology that exists today so printed sheets with the mast head of The Mitre in blue were used and the text cyclostyled on to them. These accompany this mail as attachments.This, cyclostyling, was also the method in which the examination papers were printed for larger circulation resulting in a hunt for discarded carbons from the waste paper basket that stood in the school office near the cyclostyling apparatus. The exam papers greatest in demand were for the subjects of hindi and mathematics. Those who had access to such question papers often huddled in small groups on the benches outside the Headmaster’s office (of all the places!!) trying to solve the complex questions but invariably giving themselves away by their surreptitious manner and odd behaviour. In executing such endeavours, even the greatest enemies became chums glued for the briefest period of time that demanded huge discretion. However, boys can never keep secrets and most of class knew the contents of the question paper before they entered the examination hall. The ones who never got to know were the brightest sparks of the class because every body else felt that intellectual calibre had a natural and somewhat unfair advantage and must therefore be excluded !! If such advance information were disseminated to them then it would affect the handicap on offer. Besides, the carbons had been paid for from a limited pocket money allowance and could not be allowed to further boost or encourage the more intelligent student’s results!! Some of these nerds could not be trusted to report a leaked examination paper to the school authority or the teacher concerned !! They were wisely abandoned in all such a dishonourable ventures!!So much for obsolete technology and its application about 60 years ago but let me come back to these valuable copies of The Mitre – and history. These issues are in excellent condition having faded but a wee bit. The paper does not tear easily and has almost retained its original quality. Our mother was a gifted keeper and I often told her that she would have been an asset to any museum !! She preserved so much and she did it in the most extraordinary manner that books on embalming, pickling, and salting may have to be written again !!The contents of these issues offer an interesting insight in to the changes that were beginning to occur and of which we had not the slightest inkling. For example, Rev Dustan visited the School in April / May 1956 though he became Headmaster only much later in 1958. He did scout the place !! (read issue of May 1956!!) Raja Virbhadra’s daughter was born in 1956!! These issues of The Mitre are more informative and intimate. The carried news about OC’s and their progress in the world outside unlike the issues that currently emerge from the School!!Parents were more involved with the School and their donations were recorded. A lot of familiar but forgotten names came alive. The changes in the class rooms and the general surroundings were noted to give BCS a “new” look! Arun Basak will remember his Bruce Reading Prize and little did we know that A S Dulat was a religious scholar having won the Irwin Divinity Prize !! Gosh, God must have felt spooked!!One of the issues mentions Mr Carter’s birthday but the editors must have been more prescient (and polite!), even though wished him on that occasion, because his innings at BCS were rather short. Does any body remember Miss Roberts, the piano teacher or Mr J Asrani, who left that year to go to the UK ? Mr Asrani finally and eventually left BCS forever a few years after returning to the School, offering his school badge after dinner one evening (Mickey – Kapurthala family promptly collected it!! ) What about the tough Mr S C Cowell, who taught mathematics with a bite and a bark ? So we gave him a nick name!There is lots more to read about and you will also recall that we saw Alfred Hitchcock’s “I Confess” that year. I recall 1956 as a good year and it brought back lovely memories again. I suggest you read these issues. You will be amused and nostalgic just as much as any one of us!! “Life is about the acquisition of memories” !!Curzon won the Cock House Shield that year!CheersVijay
Miss Roberts was attacked one year by a robber outside the school gate. She was of diminutive size but she refused to give up anything. He then grabbed her small gold earing and despite her struggle he ripped it off, tearing her earlobe. That didn’t stop her from giving her usual lessons that day.
I took tuition from her and though she did her best I didn’t have any real talent compared to Tara Hall, Auckland House, and St. Bede’s girls. I made it through some London exam or the other, proctored by Ms. Roberts and a couple of stern English ladies, one from England if I recall right. That was the end of my piano endeavors.
Miss Roberts lived with a friend, another English lady, in a Tudor half-timbered house between Chaura Maidan (Cecil Hotel) and Ballygunge. This style was, of course ideally suited to our earthquake prone zone because it resembled local construction, i.e, wood beam cross framed walls filled in between with rubble and faced with plaster. The house was amazing because it had a typical English garden, masses and masses of flowers from one end to the other. I visited Miss Roberts for tea in June, I think, so the garden was spectacular.
Vijay, you’ve done it again brought back so many memories. I was in lower two in 1956 but still remember many of the events. I recollect most of the seniors some of them were heroes to us. Carter and his hunch back. These are certainly priceless. I also recollect Rikhyes accoount of Mrs. Roberts incident. I wish we could have more of such archives of the time when BCS was at the zenith.
I wish we could clone you and send one Vijay to all the OCA chapters all over the world.
I am reading mitres month by month..!
All I can say at the end is bless you.
Warmest Regards to all who are reading this.
GILL 1 CURZON 1961.
God! I hated the damn marathon! I was a cricketer, not a runner and the Green Garages slopes were my undoing! All these memories and more come flooding back… including the ignominy of being nabbed by Paulie at 11.30 at night as three of us were trying to sneak back into school after seeing Tees Saal Baad, with fffing ‘Solan No. 1’ pints in hand.
How about the 1960 onward Mitres?
Bittu marathon!!!In our last year Marathon started from Sanjauli. We started with heads held high chests out …!!! As we passed St.Bedes…woosh! !!!Green garages. …nightmare..!! Passed Sukhis and then Aruna it Rai ‘s houses half bent over (where was that inflated chest seen at the gates of St.Bedes..!!)REGARDS TO ALLGILL 1
Of course those two other reasons for running slower than normal marathons: 1. Peering longingly to catch sight of a St. Bedes girl, and those hot Matti Ka Kujjas of milk with dipped jalebis at the Green Garages.
Great to see old memories come flooding back at the initiative of Vijay Khurana sending copies of old Mitres. I propose to take an initiative on behalf of OCA(India) to get these copies (or copies of copies) retained and archived for future observation. We have to request others who may have interesting and valuable contributions to contact us and ideas regarding their storage and upkeep would be most welcome. In this effort I think there would be no better person than Vijay to be the point man for this project. Awaiting your inputs, BM Singh
Hi BM …….. Who would … or ….. could have more material than the School itself …… Or do they burn and Destroy all the records ,pics, and diaries ….. all evidence of screwing our brains up during our helpless yrs at BCS …. Instead of looking for point men …. and awaiting INPUTS for this Great and arduous PROJECT …… Maybe you who have the capacity to do so ……. should ask the Camp commandant at auswitz ……. to provide you with this info …. And if they don’t have it ….. May be CHIPPU can fill you in ….Also there was a PHOTO STUDIO on the MALL run by the Suds …….. They took thousands of photos thru the yrs …. VR sud studied in our school for 25 yrs (as a Student) ….He might Still be there…..Find Him…… He can help you ….. Also ask Ravi how she maintains her schools historical records ……. You Were in CURZON HOUSE Right ?? That explains your being so Slow ……………… Cmon khurana ….. Help this guy …..
This is dynamite. Pour out your hearts. BCS was not that idyll that we now the lions in winter will remember.Did BCS make us, or fake us???
I could not agree more with Badal (Ref our classmate BM Singh)
instead of looking for point men and awaiting INPUTS for this Great and arduous PROJECT …… Maybe you who has the capacity to do so …….All of us in your class, BM, had such great expectations of you when you were appointed to your preasnt position, but all we have seen you do so far is get in bed with the current Headmaster with plans to issue OC’s admission visas to visit. Like the Sheikh of Qater, King Juan Carlos of Spain and Pope Benedict …. you should adbicate your throne to Vijay KhuranaJai Joshi MD
I don’t think you will remember the mid 50′ when we had the greats of Amar Singh,Dulip .Singh,Jal Boga,The Murphy Brothers,they made us proud with their school spirit & sportsmanship.Nanavati(L)son of Mrs.Nanavati taught me to a great athlete & boxer.In 1959 finals,Podgy TKO’d me then started to cry.Great courage!!Remember getting caught making eggs the dorm by Mr.Curzen (Lefroy House Master).Instead of punishment ,we got away with a warning .I met Panwar in 2009 Chandigarh reunion.More later.Thanks
I just missed those names by a year or two. I joined School in 1954 but they were legends when I arrived at BCS. I recall the Murphy brothers visiting school and got to see Mr Jal Boga only very much later.I remember the boxing incident rather vaguely though Badal, whose memory is sharp, referred to it in one of his interventions and these are always welcome!!Eggs in the dorms. We continued to do that well after you guys left. On once occasion, Mr Surinder Singh, I think (not sure) caught us preparing the meal and then sat down to join us for a feast of eggs, burnt bread and much butter!! Robin Aurora was the cook and keeper of the stuff. He was a lovely person and one of the most gentle people that I can recall. It is a shame we met only once after school.In 1959, my bed was next to Podgy’s and that was quite a neighbour to have. He was a house prefect as well. So, I had to assist, being the dog’s body, in keeping his bed tidy. I refrained from touching his locker. It contained sweat ridden stinky underwear, jogs, house jerseys, shorts and the most offensive smelling green stockings. Thinking of the smell that emanated from that locker makes me want to puke even today!!Podgy was deeply embarrassed when Mr Varughese who was handing over to Mr Goss as housemaster and showing him the general surroundings of the dorm, stopped near my bed instructed me to pull out the locker from under Podgy’s bed. Mr Varughese was showing Mr Goss the wooden container in which boys kept their kit. I happily pulled out Podgy’s locker and promptly lifted the lid. Offensive odours permeated the surroundings in quick seconds Mr Varughese signalled immediately that the lid be promptly placed back – pronto. Podgy, standing behind both these gentleman, bleached under that beard with his forehead wreathed in wrinkles! He was unhappy, very unhappy. “Why did you pull that dam thing out?” he howled. “I was just following instructions,” I responded with a bit of delight and more in my mind. However, Podgy generous hearted as always, forgave my infarction very quickly!!Being Podgy’s neighbour in the dorm also resulted in my sitting next him in the dining room that year. So, it was often my chore to go and fetch a cup of ghee from his cupboard. In return for this labour I was, and a few of the those who surrounded him at the table, offered a table spoon each of this fabulous ghee. The remaining ghee, which still was almost up to the lip of the cup, because Podgy distributed very little, was then mixed with solid chunks of meat. Podgy picked the choicest pieces of mutton, systematically squashed each bit till the fibres were separated, mixed the ghee and sent a large full soup plate back to the kitchen for further treatment. The mutton came back garnished and tender. The smell of the ghee moved with the plate from the kitchen door past the Ibbetson table and was then firmly placed in front of Podgy. He eat it with delight and not a morsel was ever shared!! We watched with envy but then the ghee was his and he was, of course, a prefect !!I remained in Podgy’s good books for a while only because he believed that I had a svelte looking cousin at St Bede’s. Where he extracted that information from I do not know but I did have a cousin who finished from St Bede’s in 1956. I led Podgy to believe she was still there and never did I tell him that my cousin did not possess any good looks that could arouse an iota of passion in him. However, he continued to believe otherwise and there was a regular exchange with him begging for her name and I declining to divulge any such secret. This went exchange went on for quite a while and I discovered that I could extract two table spoons of ghee by promising each time to give him her name. I never did because she was never existed in Simla any more !! This went on for a while until Podgy reduced the disbursement to that limited one table spoon!!In my mind Podgy remains a delightful character though I very much doubt if would remember me or my tale. His attention span on all such mundane matters was much too short and he delighted in being a sporting person, soccer being his favourite game !!I also know that Podgy and you are related.
My apologies for this delayed response to your wonderful initiative and effort. First things first, let me convey my deepest condolences on the recent loss of your mother. That is,without doubt,ones biggest loss upon earth. She deserves a special salute from us Patina fellows for her devoted preservation of the very valuable school material you have been able so easily to access and then disseminate onward to us. God rest her soul in peace.Now,as presumably dear Aunty Khurana would have put away bundles of Mitre issues of your time, I’m personally grateful to you for picking out,for first review and action, the ones concerning the Class of 1956. That being the year our Batch graduated from BCS, memories were awakened,both General and the Particular. Two performances could claim comparison with the “Brightest of all time” :1. Four Open Prizes in one Year, plus Soccer & Hockey colours, won by my very dear friend ,Inderjit Singh – 56 ( August and other issues )2. The Sanawar ( Ist XI ) Cricket Match ( May issue ). This shot me into local fame with thebest Batting & Bowling average for either side, the name figuring in all the four innings.Pitythe Man of the Match concept had not taken birth ! There is a temptation to get gassy !!Freddie Brown introduced me to some visitor as the “boy who won the Sanawar Match for usSingle handed”. The HM ( Mr Carter ) had me called one evening from Prep.to his house toshow me to his visiting friend from Sanawar as “the boy who was responsible for Sanawar’sHumiliation”. Mr. Cuzen our Cricket coach noted in the Cricket column in the 1956 CottonianMagazine that “…………….. might one day yet do for India what Laker has done for England”!!!??Same summer, Jim Laker had set his fabulous world Test record of 19 wickets which stillstands.All of this is certainly memorable,and followed up with the Open History Prize,enabledmy name going up in both the Big Halls of the School.All the guys,please forgive the Gassing!! You do know it’s in short supply !Yes, Vijay, if you are parting with the originals, I would like to have the May & August issues. If.not ( may be needed for the Archives ) I would be quite happy with photo copies. Just as youwish. By the way, can you help with the “Cottonian” of 1956 ?Also,unfortunately,your “Attachment Mail” has vanished somehow; please repeat this for saving.More again. With renewed thanks and all the best.GP
Thank you for your mail.Thank you for the kind words about our mother, Mrs Bhumitra (my parents dropped the surname “Khurana” and so did my younger brothers! Good reasons but long story!!) She would have loved to know that she received so much mention on any exchange involving BCS. I only wish the circumstances had been entirely different and that she had been alive to have known about it!I will certainly retain the copies you requested and have them delivered to you soonest. I am currently out of Delhi and will only get back at the end of the week. I will also send the mail that you refer to when I am back home.The original file began in 1954 and seems to have petered out in 1956 when my father, after the initial enthusiasm of sending a son to a boarding school, felt drained by the constantly large sized bills !! My mother had a historical bent but more of an instinct to preserve just kept the papers even after our father died 50 years ago !! So much for the origin and care of these papers!!Your narration of your achievements in that year are there in my mind but your account of the details now explains why you were such a favourite with both Mr E A Cuzen and Mr F M Brown, more so the latters since he was also your housemaster. Both very fair minded people. None of them were spectacular scholars but excellent at moulding and nuturing talent.I recall your were a spin bowler and a very steady bat. I think you came up early in the order. The other person I recall is A S Dulat kitted in his blazer and that lovely cricket scarf. Believe it or not I can even recall P S Nat on the cricket field because his batting stance was an unusual one. He never grounded his bat and held it high over his shoulder while waiting for the ball to arrive. Wendy Dewan was another person who was an excellent wicket keeper and whose injury on the nose I recall. His game in 1954 against Sanawar did not go too well and that was unfortunate !!Human memory is selective but I am informed that recall is also greatest for the early events in your life. That appears to be the case with me. Some events are like a photograph in my mind covered with warmth and emotion!!