These Zoom sessions are getting better and better.
First these meetings have generated a few new faces each time. In the first session, we were pleasantly surprised to have Partap Grewal appear. This was the last time we saw him alive and it was touching when Pompey asked him to emerge from the darkness that hid his face. It was to be our last ‘sighting” of a dear and old friend. In the next session we had Jaspal Singh Sidhu appear. Jaspal or rather “Juicy” as was better known was in Ibbetson (Roll number 392?) left BCS at the end of 1957 or 1958. Yesterday witnessed the presence of Rocky Chopra and Gurinder Parkash (Josie)
The regulars have been Pompei, the host and moderator, Deepak Lamba, K S Dugal, BM Singh, Ken Singh, Arun Jolly and his beautiful wife, Mei Mei. All these gentlemen appear well organised in suitably admired surroundings with either coffee mugs or whiskey glasses in hand. We have had others join in for a few sessions, Arun Kochhar, Guljit Kochhar, Jaspal Sawhney, Bittu Sahgal, Gurjeet Singh Jawandha. Among this latter group Gurjeet Jawandha is turning out to be a regular presence with his controversial opinions. “Why do you always counter my arguments?” he once famously stated when at the losing end of a political argument when he had run out of debating points.
Covid, not its consequences, has been a major subject but the important and deliberated question was whether you abstain (not necessary if in moderation) from alcohol either before or after the jab. Blood thinners (heavily contraindicated) should be used prior to jab to prevent the occurrence of blood clots (Gurjeet Jawandha). Blood thinner should be discontinued before the jab but could be resumed after a few days Ask Dr Fauci or Rocky Chopra!!
Pompei narrated last evening of a hilarious incident when Rocky, on a visit to Washington DC, went with Pompei out drinking one evening at an up market bar in a car hired by Pompei. On their emerging, after several shots, the vehicle was missing having been towed away to a neighbouring block to allow for construction activity. No, this was not a parking offence but having retrieved the vehicle they decided to hit another bar for one more shot. An evening to remember for all the consternation and inconvenience but ending on one more happy peg!!
Gurinder Parkash (Josie) sighted Pompei after 50 years and then asked, “Are you the guy with the white bushy eyebrows?” Unfortunately Josie was not visibly since he just had not figured out, like several 70 year olds, which icon he needed to press to ensure his picture appeared to us all. Fortunately his voice was around but not his face, while he had the visual advantage of being able to spot all of us. Smart guy because I later discovered he was in his vest and pyjamas!!
Finally I informed those present last evening that Rishi Rana had been bitten by a dog and had to invest in the usual injections to prevent infection. I believe that the dog died the next day!! Can someone verify this, please. Thanks
So, we see these Zoom sessions increasing in numbers and getting more lively. Wait for the announcement date for the next one but the timing will be a bit earlier at 8:00 PM IST.
I forwarded a few days ago information about Partap’s passing away. Yesterday, I had a call from his cousin, Dalip Singh (Sohinderjit’s father) describing the circumstances surrounding his demise and some details about the family. Later in the evening I received information about the final rites, which I communicated at short notice, and some of us witnessed the last few minutes of the mortal remains of Partap before he was cremated. It was a dignified but sad event.
These occasions are usually sad but in this case there is greater sadness surrounding a life that experienced serious barriers constantly. The man heaved them aside and lived with impressive dignity. His stunning responses were courageous. He was stout-hearted and he grappled with every adversity, fearlessly. He extracted our admiration.
Partap was lodged at the Revera Living & Long Term Care Centre under a Canadian government funded programme. He had been there for several years after he became virtually incapacitated. He had fallen off his wheelchair and his mobility almost extinguished after that accident necessitating housing in a long term care institution. Those years were more unhappy because his requests or cries for assistance were never adequately entertained. He was helpless.
Partap reported on November 19, 2020 that there were thirty cases of Covid at Revera and two days later he was infected. A doctor attended to him and diagnosed it as a mild case of the virus. A week later he was recommended intubation and medicines. He declined the oxygen and his condition deteriorated rapidly until he passed away on December 2, 2020. His medical condition had sunk significantly about 6 months prior to this event. His blood pressure fluctuated wildly and he suffered frequent and severe headaches. I contacted the Centre and a doctor subsequently visited him but Partap’s medical condition remained poor if not worse judging by the conversations he frequently had with me and certainly with G S Anand & Badal.
From what I can piece together of this life, Partap was rustic at heart. He was blunt and candid, never mincing words or his feelings. The personality was akin to tempered steel but in this case you could not then employ it for any other purpose not amenable to a change of shape, except marginally, or any kind of surface polish. You could keep beating it and it would withstand any kind of pain with courage, without complaint, but its strength remained consistent and lasting. The years at BCS reinforced those basic attributes and perhaps hardened them because they strengthened the core in abundant measure preparing it for the difficult life that was to follow. Polish and finish were not part of the structure of his character. He was not the snobbish, refined, elegant public school product. Style or smoothness was not for him He was the son of a man who lived the earthy existence. Being a heartland Punjabi, he was exceptionally generous, often robbed and cheated.
Partap was the youngest in a family of seven brothers and two sisters. He yearned for his mother who died when he was still very little. He spoke of her with feeling and with emotional warmth about anyone else’s mother.The mother’s absence he suffered and felt it all his life. He often spoke about it. The father, a wealthy landlord who had made his assets in Burma, built a gurdwara in his wife’s honour and it bears her name Mai Nand Kaur Gurudwara in Ludhiana. I have photographs of the gurdwara under construction.
After the father’s death, the family began migrating to Canada and in the process sold large parts of their property in India. The land assets were fragmented, shared and disposed from a capital that was rapidly depleted. Partap came to India a few years ago, after a gap of 30 years, to transfer land from his name to others so that ownership would hold no issues for the beneficiary at any later date. For this transaction he reverted to the original name that we all knew him by, Kanwarjit Singh Grewal. He changed it to S Partap in School for reasons I do not recall but most of the time he was known as Partap Grewal.
Memories rush back because I knew him from 1954 (he had joined School in 1953). Partap did not seem any different from the other boys at that time. His closest friends were largely Curzonians or those who belonged to his dormitory. His was not an exuberant personality but nor was he the quiet type. He did possess resolute determination and that was his one major attribute that enabled him to distinguish himself from any of the others. The other person I can recall with similar grit is Guljit Kochhar.
To be recognised in School you had to be an outstanding sportsman. Academic achievement got you a thirty second applause in the Irwin Hall when Form Order or Half Yearly results were announced by the Headmaster. The career path in those school years to become a prefect or being a popular figure centred entirely around sporting ability. Partap excelled in all the major team games, cricket, hockey and football, winning his colours.
His individuality, however, shone as a long distance runner, especially the marathon. Right now I am unable to fetch that picture from my collection but that victory in the 1963 marathon is etched in my mind to this day. Mr Arjun Advani, his House Master is standing right there to congratulate him. I can still see those images so clearly as it happened that day. He had practiced hard for the event and Govinder who came second in that race recalls being beaten handily. Those would now be the few times when the use of his strong legs were a cause for such an applause. It would now be for just another year when those limbs would support this long distance runner. After 1964 this man would run any exceptional distance but only on the strength of an indomitable spirit. His running legs would be of no consequence after that year.
These achievements on the games field he accomplished with constant practice. To ensure a place in the football Ist XI he began practicing the kick with the left foot until it was a formidable salvo. He wanted the position of left wing because all the other team slots were or would be filled by players who would be stiff competition or were visibly better players. Determination, will power, resolve and the ability to punish the body is what he had most. He exploited it to the fullest.
Post 1963 I lost contact with Partap. I got to hear about his presence in Canada about 20 years ago when I located him and literally drew him out from being a recluse. After that he was in regular contact with the internet making it all possible
On one occasion I discovered he was in New York and that was our first meeting after School which was about 13 years ago. He came to my hotel. I was aghast to see him in a wheelchair. but certainly excited to see him again, I greeted him by thumping his shoulders. He quickly resisted and then informed me about the weakness in that area that had occurred as a result of standing up, folding the wheel chair, lifting it into the vehicle before hauling himself to be able to drive himself around. The wear and tear of the shoulder bones had caused damage impairing his ability in the use of fingers and his hands.
Partap had been afflicted with polio, usually a chance of one in a million, at the age of 18 straight after School in 1965. The absence of medical facilities, which must be delivered within 24 hours of the problem, in a snow bound village, resulted in permanent damage. Some medical attention was administered at PGI, Chandigarh, a few weeks later. Improvement did occur until the treating doctors moved away causing his condition to regress. Thereafter the damage became irreparable.
Young Partap then focussed on academics and graduated from the distance learning course offered by Delhi University. He would arrive by train and live those few days for the examination near the Delhi railway station. He then went on to qualify in a computer science course offered by institutions that held some repute. Back home in Ludhiana, he suffered neglect and consequently moved to Nainital to live with Dalip, his cousin, where he spent 11 years. When Dalip and his family migrated to Canada, Partap followed them. Arriving in Canada the only skill he had to offer was his computer knowledge but the Indian qualifications were not acceptable. He qualified again but this time in Canada.
Partap then went to work with IBM as a programmer and he would be showcased by the corporate from time to time as an example of a differently abled person delivering results. Some years later the effects of shoulder damage caused by constant hauling of the wheel chair, referred to earlier, affected the use of his hands. This resulted in an operation, the cost of which resulted in him declaring himself bankrupt. The exact details are blurred even though he had medical cover but the insurance company reneged on some technical grounds caused by an insufficient or inaccurate declaration.
Helpless again, Partap then did accounting and computer support work for a school in the New York area which is when I met him.
The high point of his existence was his visit to India a few years ago after a long gap of three decades. He was excited.While I collected him from Delhi airport that night, Billy Gill hosted him in Chandigarh while Dr Santokh Singh organised his visit to the Golden Temple. To Partap this trip was a long time dream fulfilled. Several of you met him and the dinner evening at R S Sodhi’s remains a memorable one. He never forgot it and he thanked each one whenever he would recall that trip.
The last few years as I have recounted proved difficult but that did not dissipate his strength or his spirit. His correspondence was, when the occasion arose and he felt strongly, spirited, feisty and assertive. It would take time to sober him down because what he felt strongly about had to be communicated bluntly and without inhibition. That was also the manner at the Revere where we tried to force his opinion. Unfortunately over time such efforts fatigued him and his zeal began to flag. Age and the will to live began to diminish. The last few months eventually took their toll. He gave up at the end but on his terms because he had nothing more to live for.
We will remember this great and wonderful man as the embodiment of determination, persistence, courage and most of all fearless in face of any hardship and suffering. He never gave up when he knew he had to win. God bless, you dearest Partap. You are an inspiration. He was a Cottonian in spirit and in deed. He lived by the motto “Facta Non Verba” His deeds we will remember.
G S Anand has suggested we hold an akhand path for Partap. I am making arrangements to organise it at a gurdwara near where I live. Anyone who would like to assist with this effort is welcome. It is our last initiative and homage to a soul that we all recognised, respect and will remember with affection.
My kind regards
P.S. I am sending as attachments to this mail pictures of Little Partap in 1957 with him standing outside the entrance to the Remove dormitories. In that picture are (left to right) Ashok Dinanath, Jaspal Sawhney, Mathew Zachariah, with Partap at extreme right and Vijay Pawa immediately behind him. In the other group picture with Mathew Zachariah standing on the left of picture, Partap is the guy second from the right in the last row in between Atwal and Jatinder Randhawa. In the line up at Sanjauli for the 1961 marathon, Partap is eighth from the left in between RS Sodhi (C) and Manmohan Singh(C)
Govinder Singh has been kind enough to forward pictures of Partap in various team photographs and the line up for the 1963 marathon has Partap, seventh from the left right next to B M Singh (C). We confirm he was the Sportsman of the Year 1963
P.P.S. You see how proximate and friendly he was with the Curzonians!! No complaints.
Email from Surinderjit Singh to Vijay Khurana:
This is Surinderjit Sohi, Partap Grewal‘s nephew. I’m sorry to inform you that Partap Chachaji passed away on Dec 2nd 2020 at 11:30pm. He passed away due to complications with Covid-19. I have arranged for his funeral on, Wednesday Dec 9th 2020. The funeral home will provide me a link that I will provide you with, so that Partap Chachaji’s friends can remotely attend the funeral. Can you please send me your cell phone number so that I can provide you with the link and can you also inform Partap Chachajis other friends about this?
Thank you for your email.
This is shocking news. May he now rest in peace and it leaves his friends heart broken and hurt by this sad message.
Partap had sent Gurcharan Singh Anand and me almost identical messages about the presence of Covid cases in the institution that he was in followed one last message that the pathogen had infected him as well. After that message on November 21,2020 there was absolute silence and just last evening I sent a mail to Stephanie Karpatia (Revera Living & Long Term Care Centre) enquiring about Partap. Your message was an unexpected and distressful blow, to say the least.
I am endorsing this mail to his friends from School and their number is large which will indicate the wide circle of well wishers he had, most of them for well over 50 years.
I await your inputs. My thanks
My kind regards
Very Sad News
Pratap would call me maybe once a year and we had some nice chats about School . About his own ailments and we used to compare Sweden and Canada (As these countries have lots in Common )
RIP Pratap -We shall always remember you
This is indeed very sad news.
I had visited Partap 4 years back in his hospice, and he was being well taken care of; though he became a bit emotional when I was leaving.
Partap was a naturally talented sportsman. A fantastic hockey player, a solid long distance runner as he won the Under 15 marathon in 1961.
When the illness struck, he did not give up. Instead he migrated to Canada on a wheelchair, learnt computer science and started working. He was with IBM for some time. He told me that he had also worked in New York for a few years.
He had great determination and faced adversity head on and made a life for himself.
May his soul rest in peace.
Dear All,It is with deep regret that we learnt of the passing away of Ramesh Sinha’s wife, Deepali, yesterday. This news was shocking and surprising.From the information available, Deepali fell ill a few days ago and decided to isolate herself. It would seem it is the coronavirus that she was infected with. Details are still not available.Deepali’s passing away leaves a deep void since she was the major strength and source of support for Ramesh and the rest of the family. It was she who took Ramesh to hospital and restored him to some degree of health when he had a stroke recently. She was a stable, well balanced and steady source of support in their lives. Her departure is a blow that will be hard to fill.Our deepest sympathies to Ramesh and their son, Rahul. May she rest in peace. May He give her eternal rest and the family the courage to bear her loss.Warm regardsSincerelyVijay
Old Cottonian Ramesh David Sihna recently suffered a stroke at his home in Noida, needed immediate assistance which came forth swiftly and without delay via a network of OCs who have always been at the forefront in situations like this. Quick thinking, immediate collection and disbursement of funds, a personal touch, caring for the brotherhood are the hallmark of these dedicated OCs.
“This is the fourth time I have worked on something like this. The first was DeMellow…
The exchange of SOME emails between this network of OCs, who reacted immediately and reached into their pockets for the cause, are reproduced below.
Vijay has spear-headed several such assistance programs at a moments notice and succeeded each time, and several OCs who are in discussion to solidify / formalize / institutionalize such a scheme. Any suggestions and willingness to be a part of a support group are welcomed. The intent is to eventually formalize a Cottonians Contributory Assistance Scheme.
Here are some relevant emails reproduced, verbatim [in reverse chronological order]:
On Sat, 11 Jul 2020 at 13:36, Vijay Khurana wrote:
I received a phone call this morning from Kanwar (Kuttu) Vijay Singh informing me that Ramesh Sinha suffered a stroke. Incidentally Kuttu Singh and Ramesh’s respective wives are sisters.
Ramesh is lying at home. It is difficult to shift him to a hospital unless he is tested for the coronavirus but more importantly the family has no funds. They have not paid the rent for the last few months in the Sector 108, Noida apartment that they currently occupy. Distress all over.
Ramesh initially refused to accept my call and when he did the conversation was brief. I would prefer not to dwell on other aspects but the fundamental fact that the man is hugely unwell. He is also asthmatic. He needs all the help we can deliver – and more. I would not venture to make any judgements on any other aspect except that we have a friend who is now in dire straits.
This is not a request to reconstruct his life but to restore his health. It is, to be plain, a humanitarian effort that I make an appeal for someone we have known for all our lives.
May I please request you all to contribute in any measure that you can. The funds collected will be handled by us directly in coordination with the OCA and accounts will be rendered.
Right now all we want to do is get Ramesh back on his feet. Please respond immediately so that we can then appropriate measures.
I look forward to your response indicating what you can contribute while I work out where the funds should be deposited and ensure their proper utilisation. It would be easiest to deposit it into his wife’s account but I think we need to monitor this more closely and ensure that the monies are employed for the purpose intended. I trust you concur.
Meanwhile, I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards & Stay Safe
On Sat, 11 Jul 2020 at 16:15, Vijay Khurana wrote:
You guys are terrific!! Thank you.
Neel Mehra who is coordinating this effort with me has witnessed a spontaneous response to the people he has approached. Several of you have called and would like to know where the funds should be sent.
Ramesh Sinha is currently stable after a doctor visited him this morning. We are not aware of the gravity of the stroke, whether it is major or minor, and until then no funds need be sent but thank you for responding with such alacrity. Truly appreciated.
The way this will work is that we will pay Ramesh’s medical bills directly when the need arises. The funds will be handled by two of three of us and I will be happy to render the accounts when that happens.
So, for the moment, please keep your funds on hold. I will be glad to request for them when the need arises.
Finally, you guys are truly amazing and I say “thank you”, “thank you” and “thank you” !!!
My thanks, yet again.
On Mon, 20 Jul 2020 at 11:14 AM, Vijay Khurana wrote:
This is further to my mail below.
First, Ramesh Sinha was examined by Dr Pandey at Prayag Hospital in Noida. The initial diagnosis indicates issues of blood pressure, blood sugar, rheumatism and asthma. A brain scan also indicates “blemishes”. This was expected since he continues to slur a bit. No hospitalisation is required at present and the patient is, in medical parlance, ambulatory. I am also unable to establish direct contact with Ramesh’s wife. Her phone is shut and their son has not responded. Whatever information I have obtained is from Kr Vijay Singh.
Meanwhile, I have a message from Partap Grewal informing me that he has remitted Can$ 1,000 for “Ramesh or any other OC” I am not sure whether we need these funds but I am not able to access them since the payment link is not hooked to any of the Indian Banks. Besides, no one needs these funds more than Partap himself. He is being most magnanimous.
Apart from Partap I have had direct interaction or third party inputs informing me that the following have indicated a desire to come forward with assistance:
C M Kohli
K S Dugal
Inderjit Singh Badal
Davinder Singh Jaaj
& apologies if I have missed out any name!!
The following have sent funds directly to Ramesh’s account
Rocky Chopra (Curzon, 1963)
Pranav Roach (Curzon,1980 )
Ashwani Nanda ( Ibbetson,1974 )
Anil Puri (Ibbetson, 1975)
Sanjive Sood, (Lefroy, 1978)
It is obvious that OC’s are open handed, generous and compassionate. I am also aware that the list above is not exhaustive and many more will come forward to contribute.
It would appear that there is currently not a situation that requires any further intervention since some funds have been placed at the disposal of the family. Should the situation change in any way and assistance is necessary, I trust, I can take the liberty and approach our friends again.
My deepest thanks for such a lovely response. Most heart warming and most affectionate. My thanks, again.
PS. I have just spoken to Ramesh’s wife, Deepali, who confirms that he is stable and the diagnosis indicated is correct.
Ramesh Sinha suffered possibly a mild stroke. His left arm movement was impaired and he was slurring his words. An army doctor and family friend attended to him and she has stabilised him.
We have had some funds deposited into his account, Rs 35,000 and that should cover his immediate needs. An amazing number of guys have come forward to contribute but we are putting those funds on hold in the event he needs hospitalisation. We will, when that is necessary, disburse those monies directly to the medical facilitator.
I have also responded to some of you individually.
Ramesh Sinha is being taken to a neurologist this morning. Will keep you informed as I receive more inputs.
On 12 Jul 2020, at 1:40 pm, Vijay Khurana wrote:
Several of you have come forward offering assistance with Ramesh’s medical treatment.
The OCA Delhi Chapter has responded with approximately Rs 35,000 having been deposited directly into Ramesh’s account. This amount is currently sufficient to meet any emergency expenses.
We are happy to learn that Ramesh’s condition is currently stable and he seems to be doing well. In the event that he needs to be hospitalised or any other emergency occurs, I will come back to seek your assistance. We intend to pay all such expenses, when they arise, directly to the medical institution for his treatment. Account details will be indicated at that time. Naturally an account of expenses incurred will be shared with every one and certainly with the donors.
So for the moment, just hold on and I will come back.
Thank you, again, for your quick and spontaneous responses. I am always overwhelmed by the caring attitude of this lovely fraternity. It adds meaning to being an OC and that is what this is all about.
It is our response to situations like these that will add value to the OCA (India) as well. We certainly need to institutionalise this effort and it will be one good reason why any one should want to be a part of the OCA!! It cannot be a limited effort based on any parameter whether the year you left School or to the House you belonged to. It has to be a fraternal effort. It has to be inclusive. I trust you concur.
My warm regards
AND HERE ARE SOME OF THE MESSAGES IN RESPONSE DURING THE COURSE OF THE EMAIL EXCHANGES:
On Sun, 12 Jul 2020 at 22:42, Ramesh Suthoo wrote:
Vijay , any further developments on the payment front? Grateful for your feedback,
Please let me know when and where the funds are required .
Vijay you do us all proud.Both Madhu and I have been through a tumble drier for the past two months. She had a severe heart attack, but is now well recovered. But in the time of COVID19 believe me we went through hell and I can only begin to imagine what Ramesh is going through now.Bittu [Sahgal]
On 12-Jul-2020, at 8:36 PM, Badal Singh wrote:
Thanks for Informing us .
Pls let us all know , As and when the need arises …..
I’m sure everyone will be more than willing to chip in with whatever they can spare …..
My regards to everyone .
Lots of Love , Good wishes & the Best of luck …..
The 3rd Div gang 🤣
On Sat, Jul 11, 2020 at 17:46, Berizis Eng wrote:I last met Ramesh long ago along with late GIrish Ghai when he was a reporter with Free Press Journal and got pissed left him to catch a local train unfortunately past midnight and poor guy had to pass the night on a bench kindly let me know where to donate towards his recovery if u talk to him say hi
Hi Vijay,I have already transferred 5k to Ramesh’s bank account details of which were sent by Kuttu.You could access it if you can.Warm regards,Rocky