Tag Archives: Writing by OCs

THANK YOU (1961-1970)

When I was five on the Howrah -Kalka-Howrah mail
so small so timid so afraid
so “mouse”
my trunk was packed
my bedding roll
my attache case
I said a million good byes
I wept my bedsheets
as the Howrah – Kalka mail
went “ khatkhat khatakat”towards the hills..
shunting at Delhi Station
connecting with bogies of Bombay Madras School Parties;  200 Cottonians, as we were boarders at EXCEPTIONAL BCS!
…what I remember most at Delhi station was…
my father’s brothers with families
my maternal grandmother, my youngest mum…
they all came to the station to meet me and spend hours on board
with food, cuddles and love..
Most are in Sacred Heaven..
I  bitterly regret, emotionally regret…
I never thanked them enough..
I was but five years and right upto my last years in school
at age fifteen
they were always there at Delhi in March and
It just showed how close families were at that time..
they took time to come and meet me, console yet encourage me
and later
my brother Sharat joined me .. he was five too and I then nine ..
I cannot thank you enough…
please accept with folded hands and great
humility,  with bowed head, with flowing tears “Thank you for being there for that little boy of five
who was going to BCS for nine months…
who returning to Calcutta for three months..stopped at Delhi..
who never expressed his thankfulness… nor gratefulness”
I can never forget ever forget … NEVER EVER
My Father now 99 amongst the stars
My Mother now 91…
Your decisions to send me to Simla were
carefully weighed
you had the foresight
and understood
Simla was fresh clean crisp
Bishop Cotton School
The finest..
… I would look back at those 10 years
and understand
the reasons
why I arrived at different points on our planet… the force of my parents, my closest others..
and …
with the force of BCS within me.

Lefroy House

Kindest Regards and Best Wishes,

Bonnie/Vivek Bhasin

The  2022  Winter Christmas Letter – someday we will return..

..loads of snow over Sweden
frozen lakes in January..
stubbornly determined long walks over ice I do trying to average around 13000 steps ..10km stubbornly determined
through pines those branches stooping low with the burden of snow ..stunning live beauty far far better than a photoshop postcard
looking up at the sky i see migratory birds in perfect line swooshing south to the wetlands of Africa and Bharatpur India
the ants have hunkered in their hills
Bjorn the bear too has dug deep and now snores gently .. a long winter…the reptilian folk too have sunk in deep … dandelions have withered and are iced !!
A yearly occurrence across yonder where I once grew up or should I say “in transition to Simla..”.. a sort of granted happening  ..a poisonous blanket of deadly chemicals stills and engulfs Delhi NCR with the highest levels of pollution! Debaters rest… Topics dissected yet still it’s blacker than that London Fog…..
Finally an accolade, a trophy, a massive Cup  made of garbage pollutants and acid is presented to the city of Delhi… a man in a black shroud with steam hissing out of his body staggers to the podium where three sparrows now blacked present  him the same as he lifts it up like Sir Lancelot and tries to say something inaudible in his hoarse voice ( later analysed as “ Yes Finally My City is the Number One Polluted City in the world ! Mission Accomplished!)… A Fireworks display !…from everywhere as Trucks Busses Tractors Motorcycles roar  up engines the black exhaust spews out to everywhere ..many vomit out  thick acrid black liquid and a song reverberates ..”Black is Black.. I want my Baby Back …”
is this the 21st century or are we back to a few hundred years ..?
Face masks always donned by the Far Easterners
Face masks during Corona
Face masks during the winter
Face masks during bright blue skies a rarity because then balls of heavy dust roll in from Rajasthan…
Rather confusing but one has to do what one has to do..
The day before yesterday’s generation is now more tranquil reflective and nostalgia a halo around them …
Too long in the tooth…?
Who knows .. but them crazy rocking days have come around full circle …
Crazy in words acts and deeds
Now crazy upstairs isn’t it?
We all did stuff in 2022 for the good the bad the mischievous and possibly the ugly…
January: a cold dark heavy difficult month
February: A golfing delight at ITC Classic with the young guns !
March : the ides of March beware … look around when he tread
April: The Aries .. My Mum turned 90
May: That hot sweltering month with salt loss as i trudged from Lisbon to the Cathedral Santiago de Compostela…heat stroke and possibly “C”.. tough but determined we Cottonians… a bonus was Porto a delightful town that I enjoyed in the company of fellow pilgrims .. 1.2 million steps 800 km
June: I returned to the Arctic Circle – Midsommar as Young fair maidens danced around the Summer Totem pole with flowers in their hair..
July: I met Christine and Gay Niblett at the Sloane Club and the fine gentleman Mike King
August: I returned to my native country and a small reunion at Tonino’s works wonders for the body, tonic for the soul…
September : Remember… I experience the last few drops of the monsoon ..
October : All over is what I learnt as Captain sailing in the Caribbean… All over .. the Hurricane season finally ended as it starts cooling in West Africa..
October was Mashobra and our BCS… The Slater’s.. XVth Anniversary ..*
November: The OCA week.. nostalgia personified..representing my Class of 1970.. Sunny crispy skies – Thank You Sardar Manav Singh.. the doft of pines drifting in through the picture windows.. Thank You Praveen, Dinesh, Rebecca,Rohit, HM John and Director Simon … your warmth and hospitality was incredibly genuine.. The Chapel glowing and I felt the immense vibrations as I spoke in our sacred place…
December: with -21C in 🇸🇪 Sweden saw me with my entire brood .. at Bharatgarh Fort Punjab, Thanks OC Gursagar, Deepinderji Gaurah Maninderji
.. and on to Rajasthan feeding elephants.. and the forts of Neemrana and Tijara..
Heralding in the New Year with deafening ear exploding cacophonous Bollywood unmelodious outpouring ( absolutely deafened.. but the DJ gave a rat’s ass to my request) …the grand babies rocked ..as the night sky over Chomu Palace lit up with bright sparklers … and then it was over ..
January again ..2023
taking long walks along the Klara River that meanders down from Norway.. I reflect on the tides of my life…
It’s so quiet after India …
an occasional sparrow searching for food grain so generously placed in the woods ..
Still too early for the birds to arrive ..though the ducks 🦆 never left ..they always stay..
Young children in thick winter overalls .. bright chirpy an occasional scream … they all look like trolls …
Whatever Whatever
What does it matter
It’s time to glide over the ice
until it melts and the sun gets warmer …
In the meantime we all hope
peace will return from those far places where turmoil rules…
We should all stand on the first flat and see the setting sun
whilst the lights of the hill train go past Tara Devi and disappear into the tunnel…
we all
will return …..

Karlstad Sweden 🇸🇪
Orange skies reflected on the Klaraälven River… last evening
Capt Vivek (Bonnie) Bhasin
Lefroy 1961-1970

Kindest Regards and Best Wishes,

Bonnie/Vivek Bhasin

Walking past those who’ve gone before

with such a hot summer here at 60 degrees north past mid way into the Summer of ‘22
the lakes are glistening,
the river flowing with its usual flood, slack and ebb,
the roads dry and hoovered daily
whistling wind and gentle leaves,
I could neither feel nor smell any advance of thunder lightning nor rain … yet the air is clean and clear and exhilaratingly good for the lungs..! But it’s getting heavy hot..England too was suffocating and forests burn where I walked in Portugal and Spain ..

(… like four winter years earlier….. I was walking through a blustering storm that evening.. The wind was howling and crystallised ice stung my face like sharp missiles… My hair dishevelled across my forehead , my trench coat acted like a huge sail blowing against me as I was stopped in my tracks unable to move.. Just swaying from side to side until a bigger blast, beaufort 10 just carried me in the air and flung me against the glass doors of a quaint little store .. now closed with it’s signage for its next opening at 0900 the next morning . I fell hard on the ground and nearly smashed my nose and teeth but some redeeming force saved me..what I saw through that glass door was a childish writing on a small blackboard …’LOVE IS SOMETHING ETERNAL.. THE ASPECT MAY CHANGE, BUT NOT THE ESSENCE’ …..
And that for me was said enough..)

…but not this year nor last …the weather is no longer in control of itself..

( of course I still see some youngster on the green organic train and sections of humanity fighting for change; us humans are inhaling plastic and air with heavy particles and absorbing acid rain … it’s a rage within the youth .. it’s not their attitude … but Gratitude…)though I do would like to tell them as a sailor seaman captain we ensured the seas were clean if not we’d get six of the best .. and rightly so.

Whilst up in Simla, Mashobra and Kufri the weather Gods sent the rain down and the landscape transformed from dry dusty hard earth and brown pine needles.. to lush green .. just like in Kerala where comes vetiver in colognes to that freezer freshness..

…As in past winter years folk trembled with freezer fever wearing more indoors ( than outdoors ) like overloaded elephants in the plains of Chandigarh, Amritsar, Delhi and Jaipur….I’m told.

… but here in July 2022 wearing my linen shirt to look the dandy I was, I cranked up the Toyota and went to pay a visit….

..I arrived at the entrance and looked across the stone wall, that low stone wall and saw them all… those special ones who lay in rest … The Bells tolled and folk all huddled for Sunday Church..

Stepping out of my jalopy I felt those “ special ones” magnetic force envelop me and I floated in like a shy swan…. the winter birds still around as I was; too soon but soon they will wing off and shoot past to the bird swamps in Africa and India and further south; little do they know it’s gonna be a mild winter next .. so far..so they could actually stay.

.. I walked on soft moss and found the path that lead towards them… there was but a dry patch of grass, parts unkempt but then it was still summer and no real whiff of winter…

I stopped right above them…
and heard their whispers questioning all changes above and past since ..
what would the next day bring, pray ..?

I knelt on hard ground answering whispering “ much has changed since you were here..
we wrote letters to each other then with fountain pens and Prussian blue ink…
waiting for replies ,
anticipating good news
sitting on rocks and sand banks .. passing time ..
just waiting … we met at family reunions that we never wished to end, years and tears flowed freely.. we walked hand in hand amongst the trees picking mushrooms and blue and lingonberries..
played golf at 0100 and saw a pair of Moose staring at us in our world of tranquility..don’t you remember? There was no sound, no rattle trap, just sailing clouds and fresh crisp pine air..and the bouquet of arabica and delicious cinnamon buns”

“…enjoying those moment..yes we did” the voices said in unison ..

“…steamers arrived at sand heads.. you shook the German Captain’s hand wishing him calm seas, following winds and a school of dolphins frolicking across the bows..
clambering down the pilot ladder your canvas bag followed you
as you stepped on to the pilot boat, a last wave, a goodbye until…
as you spent two days on the Pilot Vessel “Samudra” playing bridge with your mates, they called you Omar Sharif and the Aga Khan for at dances at the Calcutta Club and Club 100 ( yes members maxed out) you held a fair damsel intoxicated by your charm and flair to glide across the floor…with habana cigars and cogñac and crisp white collars, hand wrapped bow ties; you loved your brogues .. did you not..?”

“ and humans …?”they ask..
..”too many tooooo many” I respond …. “no space only squeeze and packed like sardines is also a new emoji”..

“Emoji.. what..?”
I say “ these are new ugly signs to express in an idiotic way… vocal human affection and warmth no longer exists …there is a small little bit of hell called a mobile telephone that you carry with you and sleep with … no not with your lover but with people called Apple Samsung Sony.. these people have entered our lives our bodies our brain and our mindset….hypnotism ? Oh no… it’s called e-invasion .. they have conquered they have succeeded… Rotary telephones are now perched on stands in forest museums as folk exclaim .. what strange bulky ugly things those were… surprise teardrop … yes that’s the F-ing emoji… 😡 this one is deep soul angry or properly pissed to perfection .

… I was then but a school boy at Boarding on a spur at 7500 feet..

But I grew along the years, along my ears and a long… filling out too…

“ is that a tinkering of some strange bell “ they ask…

“.. yes “ I say..” life is strange and fast and hurriedly stressed ..so to keep distress at bay we de-stress with organic food, yoga and Buddhist chants and sit on mats..and gong ourselves out…”

“.. and the cars? Which cars ply the roads now ?” One* of them whisperingly asked ..
I sigh “ The Big wheels still zoom but fossil fuels are being cut and so El-driven cars abound, the trains are more silent, but on the Delhi-Kalka route the coach still clanks and rattles and surges and lurches forward and I spill tea on my jeans…whilst the X-3000 from Stockholm to Karlstad shoots clean as a whisper… steam and coal engines are now in museums… we go and look at them once a year but we look at our photo albums and remember you all as you smiled and held us and loved us truly… and I at least felt the warmth, your compassion and in your April
the strength of feeling happy and secure…”

“My roots are deep secure and solid
I drive a hybrid .. but if I could I would walk as I have walked about 6600 km in the last + 800 days ; that is a simple stride, a simple walk and all I see in the distance… yonder are the silhouettes of Catedral Santiago de Compostela..”

I hear sounds, melancholic sounds.. someone singing and the strains of a harp..I strain my neck and my ears to see who…
It’s the wind chimes amongst the pines..

And then … they’re gone.

Bonnie Bhasin
No comments on today’s ways of the world.

26th July 2022

Global Warming “Garm Dharti” / thoughts by [regular contributor of writings] : Vivek Bhasin

Global Warming – The New Yorker

Dear Ma’am / Sir,

Greetings from Karlstad Sweden
A scantily few probably get to read your wonderful paper rag; I am ashirwaded* to read it as an attachment.

With Europe going through an unimaginable heatwave with two jet streams having locked in the hot hot air or should I say 🐉 dragon’s fiery breath; it is time to dictate a few simple lines about this GW or Dharti-Garmi** not with technically obscene jargon only those fat assed decision making people sitting on their asses having breakfasted with sausage beans croissants dollops of butter and thick cut marmalade at the Breakfast Restaurant of The Waldorf, The Ritz or The Imperial Hotel, feign to understand and then put the hammer at another jostle meeting at another exotic locale flying first class.

Neither am I implying the Greenies coming out of the woodwork after Woodstock, Isle of Wight, Sundance, Stonehenge  barefoot in their Khadi wearalls on the other end of the prism are doing an extreme job trying to sing to the trees, the grass and pray to the rain gods so rivers will again gush with passion and ice reappears on the glaciers and Mount Everest. There object is fierce and passionate.

.. all I am saying is the heatwaves have one one root cause.. the overpopulation that continues…

Factories would spill the soot only from Monday to Friday 0900 to 1700 if there were less of us hungry humans wanting to eat drink drive crawl and marry their mobiles which we all have done..

I mean how can we possibly listen to another human being as he lectures on the good the bad and the ugly as we silently secretly shamefully remove the bulge of the mobile from our pockets and start communicating with someone outside the room, many a million miles away ending with 😘❤️😀🙏🥵🌹👍? We have no real friends any more; the large global corporates are our superficial friends, they are our Mums & Dads who don’t look after your money but find ways and means to scalp you and drain you completely..

Sorry Chapess and Chaps making an example of getting on a rowing boat from Land’s End to New York or getting on a train to kill the plane is a sidewinder poor example. Walking is much better, healthier like on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela..

Being a Sea Captain and hauling my cargoes across the oceans with utmost care and still being penalised saving my ship and lives after a hammering hurricane because “Captain we wish to see the oil record to calculate if you cheated with the quantities of oil… and sorry we cannot contact the owners because they are sitting on their fat assess having breakfast“ I realised too soon…there are those who belch burp and fart and there are us .. scapegoats.

Someone has to take the fall for GW…

Bonnie Bhasin
(the other day, some wierdo asked me as to why I was wearing white pants whilst everyone else was in shorts and shitty rubber slippers ….)

Did the Lone Ranger riding on Silver wear shorts in the hot deserts of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah..?

*ashirwaded : Blessed
*Garam Dharti : Global Warming

Kindest Regards and Best Wishes,

Bonnie/Vivek Bhasin

The Evening I was brought down to my knees [The Camino Portuguese] May 14th 2022

The Cottonian Pilgrim

Humbled.. The Evening I was brought down to my knees ( The Camino Portuguese) May 14th 2022
…the day was excruciatingly hot ..40C
I had so far walked 375 km and was struggling to get into the next town Lourosa ( Portugal)
My camino gear was very unconventional; no rain gear, no dark dreary clothes… over the last years my trademark, my standard was slim red cotton jeans, a coloured check shirt with a bandana, long flowing cotton scarf and on top of this an army green jacket with a host of pockets that had my water bottle, almonds, an apple and an orange, two energy bars , a few boiled sweets, my passport, my pilgrims passport, my mobile phone and my stash of doe concealed in small numbers within the various hidden pockets. I always donned my camino hat, oversize to protect against the raging sun, in the evening my Old Cottonian Cap, my shoes too were oversize trail runners with gore tex, not hiking boots. And my shock absorber walking sticks with the faded line “These sticks have walked over mountains valleys rivers hard asphalt and more…”

..and the sweltering heat…terribly unbearable but I just kept on .. pressing on with my backpack pushing down. I was losing excessive salt, every drag of a step increased my tired quotient, every sluggish step added more weight on my back and soon it felt like a solid brick of iron weighing 10 kilos..yet i pressed on ..it was dead slow ahead or as a senior German asked me what KSO meant … Keep Straight On ..

.. But i needed to get from Oliveira de Azmeis to Lourosa a blistering 24 km walk to the local Fire Brigade station; the operator on duty that early morning assured me I would get a bed for the night ..she spoke in Portuguese and I Spanish and the connection was clear audible, well understood.. and I smiled proud I could comprende Portuguese …her name was Marian.

Now I was struggling with the sun in its zenith and layers and waves of dragon heat.. this section of the camino was pure asphalt and super highways with long trailers hurtling down towards me; it was safer for me to meet these beasts head on, eyeballing the driver to swerve away rather than a beast of metal come hurtling towards me from behind .. at least facing these gigantic roaring machines I had a chance of maintaining a somewhat safe distance but the incredible jet stream these metallic monsters churned up frighteningly driving past was so deadly, they either sucked you into the whirling tunnel of a swooshing air tunnel or flung you away on to the hard shoulder; I was lucky and got away walking firm with my head down, my eyes shut and my hat protecting me from shooting stones ricocheting from their ten axle howling tyres that could shatter windscreens and pulverise your face at 120 km an hour … Peligroso ! Cuidado Peregrino… Dangerous! Be Careful Pilgrim..
…and I kept at it..

….around 1700 hrs I touched the outskirts of Lourosa a nondescript town that had nothing to write home about .. a plaza, a Lidl supermarket, a farmacia and the local fire brigade station. And my head was hammering, I was nearing an ugly cough and had a deadly suspicion I may be approaching the “ C – factor “or was it heat stroke ..?

The Bombeiros Voluntarios, The Fire Brigade Volunteers in Portugal are both firefighting-cum-paramedic girls and boys who also work the ambulance service. Lourosa FF jurisdiction covered an area of over 100 square kilometres.

The last few metres the last few steps to the destination are the toughest.. tired exhausted and hungry I staggered in to the 24 hr control room of the Fire Station… it felt good as I threw down my backpack, my jacket, my sticks and slumped on a chair…

Marian was still on duty though soon end of her watch in the next fifteen minutes. She remembered my name, the interchange and then.. .. she again spoke in Portuguese and I in Spanish and the more I thought I understood her the more I had misunderstood her …I had not understood a word.. nada .. nada..
she kept shaking her head in the negative ..! She kept saying ..no no no and I kept questioning que que que ( what ?). Soy el Peregrino recuerdo ? I am that pilgrim remember? Si Si yes she said but again no no no ..
I mean like what’s happening here ??
It took coaxing pleading and more before the final truth dawned upon me… with final comprehension ..
“ what I said to you” she said “was we have no beds.. you can take a shower wash your clothes and leave ..”☹️☹️Good Holy Grief bordering on 😖irritation bordering on near exploding anger😡…24 km I had trudged with an assurance of a bed and lo and behold i was totally wrong .. Portuguese Spanish audible, comprendo .. and all that crap .. I was one sour unhappy pilgrim and definitively not one happy Cottonian..

After ranting and pleading my sorry exhausted state Marian giving me a hard piercing look beckoned me to follow her to the first floor…I did like a timid tired lamb… climbing those painful steps we arrived at the upper landing and with a key unlocked a door opening on to a gym used by the team.. it was bare with a very hard wooden floor.. pointing to one corner and then she indicated if i was agreeable… “‘the floor is yours” and she left me as I stood in confused shock .. no sleeping bag, no underlay but only my backpack and the stuff I wore …

What a letdown….from flying business class with upgrades to first round the world, sleeping on hästen mattresses and Canada goose feather sumptuous pillows, pure white Egyptian cotton sheets I had arrived at the end of the line; a hard pit stop as I sank to my knees, a voice whispered “be thankful for small mercies”… I had no choice, no alternate plan no diversion.. there were no Albergues around; Porto was another 26km and in my pathetic state it would take me until midnight at the least to get there…

Just as I decided and knew I had no choice I saw the common room adjacent to the gym.. and smiled .. for there waiting for me, for this pathetic pilgrim was in one corner a really massive expansive super comfy looking three seater sofa ! I chuckled with delight.. dreaming with my eyes opened I could see me sprawled across on this bed of luxury dreaming of everything wonderful except that hard wood floor of the gym. I walked to the room, checked it had no lock and thrilled to bits planned to sneak in at lights out and crash out…. “ don’t even think of it “ a voice stung behind me..! Turning around I saw Marian and a dude who spoke English with a yank accent…. “We have hard rules in this place “ he continued … “ pilgrims can arrive to rest, shower and wash; sleeping on the sofa is strictly prohibited. We have a standby force 24/7; if anyone sees you flaking out on that sofa you will be kicked out of the premises immediately..”

That was it; ashamed of my scheming plan i fell on my knees..truly humbled..

Bonnie ( Vivek) Bhasin
The Cottonian Pilgrim
On the camino Portuguese to Santiago de Compostela..
I made it to Porto the following afternoon as I got out of the Fire Station with a hurting back, a stiff neck at 0400 “ truly humbled …”
05 July 2022.

The Gals and Boys of the Portuguese Bombeiros Voluntarios.

My slept corner in the Gym

una experiencia humillante