An Equal Life
By Amba Batra Bakshi(OS98)
Since December 16th last year when a young girl was brutally raped and left to die in the country's capital city, a nation woke up to atrocities that are committed against women everyday. The public outrage forced the government to do more than just pay lip service to the issue. For the first time social rights activist found a national platform to demand the basic rights for women and girls and the entire country rallied behind us.
It was during this fortnight that I thought about all the constant brainstorming by the media on this topic and on public perception on how the women being a weaker sex needed more protection, more rights, more strength, more representation. It also made me reflect on my life where I never saw the gender divide. . .
I never felt I needed different rights than a male member of my family or more protection at my workplace or more representation in my country. And here it is important to clarify that I do think all these things are required in our country for women from different backgrounds and circumstances to be able to grow and live safer lives with more dignity. But it made me reflect on what it may have been in my growing years that made me feel so equal.
My years in Sanawar had a lot to do with it. To begin with the smaller things. We dressed in the same uniforms--girls wore trousers in the winter and brogues(Wonder what the khap panchayats would have to say about that). We ate the same food, we sat in the same dinning hall, played the same sports (except boxing), took part in the NCC parade. Sanawar was great in terms of giving equal opportunities. This feeling was reinforced when a few years ago I went up for founders and found that the boys bugle band at Tatoo had been replaced by a girls bugle band. And they did a very fine job.
From hobbies where girls could choose carpentry and sculpture and boys could choose needle work and home science to drill where even the girls had to do haunches up CDH slope. From the Headmaster down to the matron there was such a huge sense of equality in the manner the girls were dealt with that at that time it didn't even occur to think that the world outside the hilltop tried constantly to make these divisions.
Infact, the school at one stage had encouraged dating by setting a distinctive dating hour where a couple could talk to each other during tea time at the Dinning Hall with chai, sweeties/salties and a teacher hovering around. And it was a healthy approach as it inculcated in us that it was normal to have basic human relationships with the opposite sex.You didn't have to hide in shame or feel society would accept you less because you had a boyfriend.
But yes we did have our limits set also. I was once caught dating `out of bounds' and a nasty letter was rushed off to my parents but I am lucky to have the parents I do. They were so happy to hear about my boyfriend and wanted to meet him. Infact their relaxed approach reinstated what school had done. The message from both school and parents was that dating wasn't wrong but breaking bounds was.
And we girls were not the only beneficiaries of this lesson in equality. The boys from Sanawar too always treated us with respect and equality as they grew up in an environment where women were not treated any different to them.
And this kind of confidence to hold ones own was inculcated is us by school without us even realizing it. It gave us the confidence to get out there and make our mark in the world. Yes it did protect us in many ways from the big bad world outside but it gave us enough ammunition in terms of self-esteem and a zest to experience life as an equal to face it.
Thank you Sanawar for making me always feel at par, for never having to fight for my space but instead always making each one of us believe we have our spot in the world ---safe and unique just for us.
Amba Batra Bakshi is a journalist and an author. She currently works as a special correspondent for Outlook Magazine and has authored the book `In custody: Women in Tihar'.
Class of 57 Reunion
By Vijai K Nair
On March 1, 2013, 55 years after leaving SNA, the Class of 57 got together for lunch at the ‘Sabre Officers Mess’ Delhi Cantonment. (Cholle) Mohinderjit Singh Grewal, made a very profound statement to Bogey: “We have all changed since school.” It didn’t seem to matter as we all took off from where we had been a half century plus without batting an eyelid. Camaraderie, affection and a shared past that we hunger for (at this age) was the infallible bridge that facilitated a seamless transition.
Though 24 of us and two former members of the staff and 10 spouses (gutsy) had originally confirmed their willingness/inclination/ability to be present the final count was one Score (20) with four dropouts. The latter being (Suman) Mala Anand nee Yadunath for health reasons, Harish Pal Singh Dhillon for God alone knows what reasons and was marked AWOL, Nazli Habbibulah whose centenarian mother fell and hurt herself, Manjit Chowdhary who fell and hurt his head the night before, and last, but not the least, Doda – Amarjit Singh Grewal, the diehard bachelor of our batch, was found to be studying techniques at Khajurao on the morning of the luncheon!!
The highlight of the luncheon was the presence of Mrs. Vyas (wife of Housemaster Vindhya – 1953-56) and Mr. & Mrs Mukherjee – 1955 - four decades – institutions at SNA - and Saroj Singh (OS-1952). It was heartwarming to hear their reminiscences on the scamps they remembered of the early fifties. We quickly got back to the ‘Mam’ & ‘Sir’ routine of SNA!
Of special significance was the pains taken by many of our classmates to travel from Kangra, Gurdaspur, Jullundur Kaputhala and Chandigarh, to spend three and a half hours with the rest of us – this included (Moosey) Harinder Singh Mankotia and wife Aneeta, (Ghoogie) Kamaljit Singh, Binny Shergill, Veeramol Singh, Anil Nehru, Kuldip Dhami and (Katti) Satinder Kaur (from the US – Chandigarh). Of note, Nityanand Singh, who recently had had a stroke, leaving him with some serious physical handicaps, braved the odds and escorted by his wife, Roma, was amongst the first to arrive and was seen meeting old friends to the very end. He reported that “the delicious lunch we had was cooked by a "syce". And that he could out do any trained chef!”
We, of the Class of 57 had very good reason to hold this Class Bash at the Sabre Officer’s mess. (A) Approximately fifty percent of the 57 batch joined the Indian Armed Forces/ or married Army men, of whom 15 were slated to be at the Bash; (B) Seven of us present today were members of old Cavalry regiments; (C) Two, Dove Pannu (VRC posthumous 1965) and Chatrapati Singh (1962) were KIA, while Amarjit Singh Bal (MVC) who commanded the squadron in which young Khetrapal (SNA) earned the coveted PVC (Posthumus), has passed away; (D) Led by Billy Sodhi, Sanawarians were the pioneers of post Indepence Polo in India – the bulk of the stalwarts that put SNA on the top of the Polo Map were ‘yahoos’ from the Class of 57, Vijai Nair, Binny Shergill, Sam – Yudhvir Ahlawat and Dove Pannu. All except the last, were present for this 55th reunion!! To add grist Bogie – Pradeep Rao who took to the game late in life is now among the leading lights at the Delhi Polo Club today, in his seventies! I believe Bogie’s daughter has taken to the game. Binny’s son, Jai (OS-85) is a Polo professional who joined us at the Bash, as did my son ViVi (OS-85).
Some other News about Fifty-Seveners that I would like to add. Biman Dhar and Jaya Rani from Calcutta were unable to make it as they had some problems but nevertheless wished us all the very best. As did Suresh Chand (Navy) – Bombay - he was travelling abroad at the time, and Asha Dhawan (Bangalore), who married a cavalier from The Scinde Horse, was constrained by indifferent health.
NOMINAL ROLL LUNCH – 01MARCH 2013
Name Address Tele No E-mail
We have scheduled a one-day inter-alumni (Doon/Mayo/Sanawar) Golf meet on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at the Willingdon Sports Club, Haji Ali, Bombay with Tee-off time at 9 am. This will be followed by an alumni get-together and lunch. Through this email, we are seeking the names of golfers interested in participating. The proposed format will be Modified Individual Stableford. Prizes will be awarded for:
Further to the opinion poll we ran at the last reunion, we will now be holding the reunions in May/Jun instead of Oct/Nov as the votes were marginally in favour of holding the reunions in the summer. It is most likely to be finalised as the 4th Sunday in May from now on - but still to be confirmed.
1.Team Championship; 2.The Best Net; 3.The Best Gross; 4.Longest Drive; 5.Closest to Pin on the 18th;
Would interested golfers please respond to this email with the following details by March 31st. Responding by this date is not a commitment at this stage-it provides us with an indicative number of golfers for team formation.
Handicaps of other club boards will be adjusted to reflect their course rating difference with the Willingdon Club Golf Course rating.
Green Fees for Non-Members is Rs.2,810 and IGU members is Rs.2,250. To cover the cost of course & venue block booking, breakfast, lunch, trophies and prizes there will be an additional participation charge of Rs.2,500 pp. Lunch and Breakfast charges for non-playing members, guests and spouses will be Rs.1,200 pp.
In keeping with the friendship and spirit of the tournament, the Bombay chapters of Doon, Mayo and Sanawar Alumni are committed to making this tournament an annual event. To sustain and support the tournament in the current and future years, Donors and Sponsors are actively sought. Such support will not only mitigate the costs of the tournament, but will also encourage higher participation.
All cheque payments will be eligible for Sec.80G Income Tax deduction.
You are invited to provide any suggestions which will make the event a success.
Sanjiv Saran Mehra
OS Chapter Mumbai
Dear UK OS,
We will be holding our next reunion lunch on Sunday 19th May at the usual venue, the Bombay Palace.
The cost has gone up again from last year.
Details of the reunion:
Date: Sunday 19th May 2013
Time: 12.30 pm
Cost: £23 for a 3 course buffet lunch plus tea / coffee
Venue: Bombay Palace, 50 Connaught Street, London W2 2AA
Bar: Drinks will be available at a 10% discount to OS
Bookings by 12th May please – through the following:
Aruna Mongia (NGD 1967): mobile: 07771 604 820 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Subhash Jayaswal (SBD 1964) : email: email@example.com
Arvind Sikand (HBD 1962): email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Divya (aka Srishti) Mahajan (NGD 1994) email: email@example.com
Payment: Cash on the day please
The lunch will be open to all OS, their families and friends.
Please pass the word around to any OS you are in touch with.
Any OS visiting London at the time will be most welcome. Do join us.
Looking forward to seeing you again, and hopefully some new OS too,
All the best
Aruna (Sharma) Mongia
An update on the Sanawarian boys expedition to Mt Everest. Please send your goods wishes and contributions for this difficult endevour to the Old Sanawarian Society.(Details given below)
The team is as follows:
Col. Neeraj Rana retd.
The support team consists of the following:
Lt. CDR. Ranbir Singh. OS 79 batch
Sukhwinder Brar. OS 84
Col. PS Grewal OS 85
Bunny Chahal Parent of Sanawarian
The costs are are Rs 18 lakh per child and another 6 lakh per support team member. No sponsors have come through so far. The entire cost is being borne by the parents. The support team members are paying for themselves.
However , some OS have pledged financial help as follows:-
Col. Jitendre singh (pidi.).........rs 1 lakh
Jatinder purewal( jatty.).........rs 1 lakh
Capt. Mohanbir singh...........rs 50,000
Contributions within India should be sent to
The Old Sanawarian Society
State Bank of Patiala
Acc. No. 55015853636.
IFSC Code - STBP 000199
Branch Code Sanawar -50199
Status is constantly updated on Facebook as Sanawar everest expedition.
A team of seven boys from Sanawar will attempt to climb Mt. Everest in May 2013. They are being led by Col. Neeraj Rana, ex director of HMI. This team will be the youngest group ever to attempt this feat as all the boys are under 17.
This expedition was conceived in September 2012 when twelve Sanawarians boys were selected for the basic mountaineering course at HMI Darjeeling. At the Institute, the instructors were impressed with the general fitness and performance of the boys and the idea of attempting Everest took place. Further screening was conducted and seven boys were shortlisted. Training for Everest has been ongoing since.
At school the boys are known as Team Everest. They follow a special routine. The morning is given to academics along with the rest of the school. After lunch they follow a rigorous physical routine designed by Col. Rana. The boys have also been put on a special diet.
This routine did not slack in the school holidays either.
In Dec.2012, a 1000 km of cycling was undertaken in the Thar desert.
In Feb 2013 ,the team climbed up to Khardung la pass at 18500ft,as part of acclimatisation.
A support team was formed to take care of administrative needs,conduct of training, procurement of specialized equipment, and handling publicity. Since such an expedition is extremely expensive, the support team has been attempting to rope in sponsorship as well. but sadly none has come through yet. The support team consists of four, including a trainer. They will accompany the team to the base camp and stay with them all through.
The final count down to departure has started with a send off from Sanawar on the 2nd of April followed by felicitation at Shimla on the 3rd. Visit to the Golden Temple is on the 4th. They leave for Kathmandu on the 6th and will reach Everest Base Camp by mid April. Final acclimatization will commence thereafter. The final assault will be After Mid May depending on the weather.
Vivek Samta (OS98), MI Prefect and President's Medal recipient in 1997, passed away on the 11th of February 2013 in Gurgaon. Vivek(33) was uneasy since morning ,when he suffered a minor attack towards the afternoon followed by several attacks, before he breathed his last.
He had no medical problem or complain prior to that . He is survived by his parents and an elder sister. Vivek has touched many lives, from being a strict disciplinarian as a prefect to a senior one could look up to.
He was fortunate enough to study in a few of the prestigious institutions such as St Stephen’s College, Delhi and Xavier’s Institute of Communications, Mumbai. During his college life, he had the opportunity to interact with dignitaries including prime ministers, bureaucrats, artists and ambassadors.
He was also chosen to represent XIC during President Obama’s visit to the institute. It was only last year that he joined the Public Affairs practice at Genesis-Burson Marsteller in Gurgaon, where he is terribly missed amongst his colleagues.
Our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and batchmates.
Miss Romola Chatterjee passed away recently in Mussoorie at the age of 93years. She taught in Sanawar for nearly 36 years from the age of 22 years till 58 years.
A legend in her own right and a dedicated teacher. Students during her time credit her with learning the finer points of the English language.
A petite lady in appearance but had everyone petrified.
Heartfelt condolences to her Family and may her soul rest in peace
From the Sanawarian Family
Photo Courtesy - Lalit Dhawan(OS60). Pictures taken in 1964.
Miss Romola Chatterjee
I do remember her to be a strict disciplinarian, and always immaculately turned out.
She is amongst the notable teachers of the past who upheld the values, ethos and traditions of Sanawar.
May her soul rest in peace.
By Mr UP Mukherji
The passing away of Ms. Romola Chatterjee has made me sad and at the same time I revisited memories of the good old days in Sanawar. I joined Sanawar in March 1955 and Ms. Chatterjee became the first Indian Senior Mistress at the same time. Her office was next to my physics class room. During my free periods I would sit in her office at times. Her guidance in day to day work helped me a lot in adjusting to Sanawar. She was a strict disciplinarian and very punctual.
At the tennis court we enjoyed playing a game of tennis quite often.
I pray to God for peace in her eternal sleep.
By Shomie Das
I met Romola Chatterjee in the summer of 1974 , but there were many common acquaintances from whom I had heard about her and it was obvious that she came from an illustrious family. However to my surprise at seeing this dimminutive but dignified
and gracious lady belied my conventional expectations of a schoolmistress. Soon after our meeting I began noticing her sense of dress, her spoken English and her regal yet charming way she carried herself as she walked briskly from her house to Peacestead and from Parker Hall to her class room. It was the same briskness and sense of elegance that I saw many years later as she walked from her house in Barlowgunge to the Mall in Mussoorie. She was steadfast in her habits.
Many girls will remember sitting on her table at Lunch, a practice that she followed as Senior Mistress to get to know the girls and teach them rudimentary lessons of living and good manners she believed. She taught them how to engage in conversation but more than that how to sit and eat with a knife and fork and other graces of eating and dining in a civilized way. I am not sure that she cared for boys very much , but many a young lad would remember her admonishments where her small frame did not seem to stand in her way to administer a resounding pat on one cheek! That was usually signalled when she would ask a particularly large hairy fellow to kneel down!
I respected Romola Chatterjee for the grace and learning and speaking she stood for. Much of it now is sorely missing in an
increasingly casual and uncaring world. But on a very selfish note I liked her most when she returned from a long winter break laden with most delicious cakes, pastries and cheese straws. I know she bought these goodies because every morning at break she would carry a silver tray with steaming hot coffee and slice of chocolate cake or some other delicious pastry baked at home in Mussorie by her loyal and excellent cook whose name I now forget.
But it was with the affection with which she would lay the tray on my desk, pour coffee and say " I hope you enjoy it" and leave with a smile and and an affectionate " Bye bye". And she asked for no favours ever!
Miss Chatterjee remained single all her life but I am told she had great affection for a master who subsequently left to join another school and I would often tease her about what I had heard. With a coy smile she would merely claim " Mr Das" to shut me up and prevent me from pursuing that enquiry further! And I never had the courage to. So an era has truly ended. I am sure OS will have a special service in the chapel on the hill top to recount her memories and thank the almighty that such a lady lived amongst the whispering pines and taught loyally for many years.
May her soul rest in peace!
Miss Romola Chatterjee
By Mrs B Singh
I was first introduced to Miss Chatterjee at a staff party way back in 1960 when I came to Sanawar as a bride. I remember seeing this petite, smartly dressed young lady with a bright smile and an air of no nonsense about her.
From there we started our long and memorable association with her. She loved to dress up and was always perfectly groomed no matter where and when you saw her. She also loved good food and would often send me a request for some special dish and come over to our place for a meal.
She hated dogs and would look down upon my little dog rather disdainfully, whenever she was at our house. On her part, whenever she came back from holidays she would come with a bag full of delicious goodies mostly bakery stuff and would call all of us in small groups every Sunday.
She was the perfect hostess, she would take out her best table linen, crockery and cutlery for these little tea parties. Once in a while she would specially call me and Mrs. Mukherjee over for a cup of tea and a piece of cake.
We had to return the hospitality with a sumptuous meal.
She was a perfectionist in everything she did.
She participated in ADS plays which again she took up very seriously and enthusiastically. On one occasion she decided to direct a play for founders. The students were in a panic because with just one month left all they were doing was perfecting the English language, the acting was yet to start. The play, however, was of course a huge success.
I will always have very fond memories of her, she was an integral part of our Sanawar family. The last time we met her was in Delhi at a farewell dinner for Mr B Singh, hosted by the OS, it was a nostalgic moment, she had come down all the way from Mussorie to be there with us.
Miss Romola Chatterjee
by Harish Pal Dhillion (OS58)
That first year our text was Lewis Carrol's "Alice in Wonderland." There is a scene where a Liliputian Alice is swimming in the tears she shed, a little earlier, when she had attained the height of a giant. She comes face to face with a rat and when the rat doesn't respond to her English, she addresses him in the only sentence in French she remembers, a singularly inappropriate one under the circumstances:
"Ou est ma chat?" – Where is my cat?
With the proclivity that schoolchildren have for nicknames, this one was immediately latched onto and for generations of Sanawarians she was and will always remain, Ma Chat.
She was meticulous with her correction work and marked up each and every mistake in our written work. What is more, she insisted that we do rewrite our work incorporating our corrections. Because this, a pattern was set and followed relentlessly. Most of us, in spite of ourselves, gained a certain proficiency in the language. All of us who had the good fortune to be taught by her, can recognise a wrong usage immediately, though we may not be able to say why it is wrong.
She obviously did not like me and to be honest I don't think that as a student I particularly liked her. So I was greatly surprised when fourteen years later, when I was lecturing at the Lucknow University I got a letter from her asking if I could help out with the English teaching in school during my long summer vacations.
I came back to the Old School to find that she was now the Senior Mistress and the Head of Faculty for English. I found a different Miss Chatterji than the one I had known as a student – yes as a colleague I had lost the privilege that I had enjoyed as a student :I could no longer refer to her as Ma Chat.
She remained a bit of a terror and all of us in her department were frightened of her.But she did reach out and help and guide me- help and
guidance which I desperately needed because I had no experience of teaching at school. She was always there for me and I often did go to her for help, help that she extended unstintingly. She would give me all the help that I needed and these sessions were made more welcoming with the serving of a cup of coffee and half a mince pie.
She came often to my house and always brought chocolates for my children. Whenever we invited her over for a meal she would dress to the hilt – an exquisite south Indian silk sari, beautiful shoes and very classy jewellery and of course the most wonderful perfume: this even when she knew that she was the only guest and that the meal would be just saag and Makki ki roti.I was touched by this compliment. She was just as meticulous in everything that she did.
She was in charge of the prize distribution.
Two months before the event she would draw up a list of the probable award winners, make a determine effort to find out each child's particular interests and then buy books to cater to these interests. It was a delightful sight to see the beaming look on the prize winners faces and to hear them say:"But how did she know?"
She retired and settled down in her little cottage in Mussorie. I went to see her and found her cleaning out the bathroom. Her brother suffered from advanced Alzheimer's and couldn't help messing up the place. He had just messed up the bathroom and she was cleaning it out.
"Why don't you let Kifait clean it out?" I asked
"Why should he? It's not his brother who has made the mess."
She nursed him with loving care till his death six months later.
When next I visited her, she asked me to help her out with some calculations. There was an NSC which her brother had taken out in their joint names. She asked me to work out how much would be recovered when the certificate was encashed and how much half this amount would be.
"Why half, ma'am?" I asked
"For my sister."
I felt the anger rise within me.
"But why? You are the one who looked after him, you are the one who cleaned –"
"I am ashamed of you, Harishpal! How could you, a former pupil,even suggest such a thing?"
She is gone now. The facebook and other social networks are full of comments about her. There may be little affection in these comments but there is respect, and to spare. No one who came into contact with her, no matter how much he disliked her, could help respecting her. I respect her because everything I achieved both as a teacher and as a writer was because of what she taught me.
With the recent passing away of Miss Chatterjee in Mussoorie at the ripe old age of 93 another of the stalwarts of the 1950's and 1960's of Sanawar has moved on to the other world.
Miss Chatterjee was fondly known as Ma Chat by the kids and apart from being Senior Mistress GD was also teaching the senior classes English language. A hard working and most dedicated teacher . I clearly remember she made us write one essay every day for prep. While we fumed at the idea ; but did not realise that she had to read, correct and mark more than 100 copies. She never overlooked a mistake and you got your essay back the next day with the mistakes circled with the trade mark red pencil.
My command of English is thanks to her and when people tell me that I write very well she often comes to my thoughts; after all it
The girls were petrified of her and were always instigating the boys to trouble her. I remember being punished by her once for putting a paper snake in the Prep Book, she made me sit in her office and read my Julius Caesar while everybody else went to hobby class.
Ma Chat along with Major Som Dutt and so many others played a vital role in establishing Sanawar to its high standard. Ma Chat was a full of grace and class, however this petite lady was a giant of a personality and most certainly one of the strongest pillars on which the reputation of Sanawar was built. She served Sn'a with dedication and commitment right up to the late 70's if I am not mistaken, her passing away will most certainly be grieved by those who knew her and most certainly all her students.
Sanjiv K Singh
The below mail was received from Sanawar's Chemistry/Physics - Mathematics
teacher couple of the 1950s to 1970s. The petite, immaculately turned out
and strict Miss Chatterjee (MA Cambridge) was Senior Mistress GD and Head
of English from the early 1950s for about 20 years. In 1993 she graciously
agreed to attend Mr. Bhupinder Singh's farewell dinner at The Imperial in Delhi,
along with Mr. Trevor Kemp and Miss Pilu Rudra, her contemporary
heads of BD and PD respectively. She usually taught both English Language
and English Literature to Upper-VA and Sixth-A for the Cambridge (Board)
Each of us whom she taught could write a book of anecdotes about her. When
I received her in Delhi in 1993, she gave me an affectionate hug but added
"you boys were such horrors". Her public image was: "Western classical
music on Long-Playing records, wafting out of her windows in the yellow cottage (now hidden under the structure of the CDH); flower-beds being
almost more precious than students (woe betide the BD inmate who let a ball
or foot stray into a bed of pansies); GD getting marching orders to
return to the dorms precisely at 8.30(?) pm after every social; pin-drop silence
descending into every class room that heard the clip-clop of her high heels
passing through the Birdwood cloisters and her beautifully draped saris
except when she ventured through the BD quad in shorts on her way to Tennis
at the Staff Club."
She certainly did her bit in moulding us and we will always remember her
with respect, admiration and affection. Rest In Peace, Miss Chatterjee, ma'am.
It is with heartfelt grief for a collegue who passed away the day before
yesterday at the Community Hospital Landour Mussoorie that I share our
grief. She was 93 plus at the time of her death. Mercifully she did not
suffer much. Funeral is awaiting the presence of her two nieces.
Hardip & Tripta Sikund
Ms Rudra has sent her heartfelt condolences to family, friends, relations and all the staff and students who continue to fondly remember Ms Chatterjee for her contribution to Sanawar. In her message to me over the phone last evening, when I read out Dr Dhillon Sir's tribute, she has specifically asked me to convey her love and blessings and said that we will always remain a beautiful society. She said that death is certain but what is most beautiful of us all is the fond memories and examples we leave behind for generations to cherish.
Ms Rudra has turned blind now but has memories of all the time
spent with you that cloud around her eyes. Perhaps one of the
only things she sees and from the heart.
Great writeup -reflecting what all of us feel.
Ma Chat would never have let you get away with "new" for "knew".
May she rest in peace.
Gosh, I have such fond memories of Chat ma. She was really an incredible woman and her life span does not surprise me at all.
Yes, her teachings made my years of education so much simpler because she taught me to how to use language to express myself.
How many of you remember the manners class. Three of us sat on a table with her to learn table manners.
I remember dropping crumbs on the table and learning the discrete way to pick them up. I am so grateful for all she tirelessly offered us.
Many thanks - to have known Miss Chatterjee will remain a highlight of one's life.
Very well remembered.
I remember once in '57 or '58 how a couple of us from siwalik house collaborated with, I think it was Mr B Singh(RIP)/Mr Kemp(RIP),
during a Staff party at the old swimming pool (now remolded, it was a pool without any roof covers),
to manoeuvre her near to the edge of the pool at the deep end (towards Nilgaris) ,
one of us kneeled down behind her and the rest was easily done , a slight push by one our staff teachers sent her
tumbling ,head on into the pool, and she did not not know how to swim then. I wonder if did learn it after that.
Once she was locked up in the 'loo' by some juniors ...fed up and instigated by their girl-friends...not wanting to write those essays,
they bragged about it and ...sure were in trouble.
God bless her soul.
She did not teach us , We were in upper V and VI in 1959/60, but still kept out of way, she was really very fond of instilling the best values in us "terrors...boys" as thought of us.
I am sure all of us who knew her, really , where full of praise for her , after passing out
Brinda: Thank you so much for sending Miss Chatterjee's obituary.
I think she left
very soon after I joined but I remember her clearly! I always wondered what happened to her
93 is a good old age.
I am from 1962 Batch,we all have very fond memories of Maa
Chat,may her soul rest in peace.
Oh thats sad news because although she dint teach us she was the head mistress and
we had turns sitting at her table for four for meals and that was terrifying enough. God bless her soul and may others be inspired by her dedication.
Thanks for all the updates
Choti (Parminder Sidhu) OS77
Sad , but I pray for her soul and I salute ma chat, sanawar will always be grateful to all these legends
V sad news indeed!
Remember her petite frame, and her smiling face!
When on our morning runs it was a treat catching bits of some
lovely classical music playing in her cottage!
Fond memories of 'Chat'! RIP.
This is a great loss for us all. As for me, I had the good fortune to bump into Ms. Chatterjee last year when I was in Mussoorie for a coulple of days. As I was heading back to our flat, we were caught in a massive traffic jam (nothing unusual for Mussoorie!), and while waiting for cars ahead of us to move, I spotted a lady walking down the road on the side.I immediately rolled down my window
and stopped to ask if she was Miss Chatterjee, and yes, to my delight she was! We exchanged a few words and I was very excited that she remembered me. My car moved on as horns began to honk at the back. I regretted not having taken her address but decided to ask the local chemist on the Mall whether they knew. Of course, they knew Miss Chatterjee and were kind enough to give me her address. I left Mussoorie that day and as soon as I got to Delhi, I mailed a letter to her hoping I would get a response. I wanted to be in touch with her and also wanted to
help her in any way that I could. But I did not get a response to my letter and was rather disappointe. I cursed myself for not having the presence of mind to get off my car while I exchanged
a few words with her in Mussoorie.
I could have walked with her to her residence and got to know more about her then. But that was not to be and I really regret that.
She was a great teacher and had a great persona, although at times a but foreboding!! I vividly remember her little cottage up in Sanawar and our envious glances at the neat and beautiful flowerbeds that had the best blooms most times.
Rest In Peace dear Miss Chatterjee. We OS will always remember you fondly.
SHAHNAZ (Menon) RANA, Class of '62.
Miss Chatterjee was a tremendous influence on me in my formative years in the fifties.
She instilled in us a value system of being straight and upright. She was a wonderful teacher ,
strict but extremely understanding of
flaws in small children and an extremely warm hearted person.
May her soul rest in peace.
OS 1949 to 1957
May her soul rest in peace and may god give her family the strength to cope with this unreplacable loss.
I was in Sanawar from 1954 to 1958, Miss Chaterjee taught me and the batch of '58 respected her and learnt most of our "proper" English from her.
I had met he last in Delhi in 1991 when I was posted in Delhi and attended an OS Dinner at the Imperial in Delhi.
May her soul rest in peace.
K D Vartak, OS 1958
My memories of her are as recent as a few years back in Mussoorie when she was walking on the Mall Road with her vigour
She will always remain in my memory with fondness and deep respect.
I wonder how many remember the incident when Ma Chat lost her cool in the class and stated,"Here I am the senior mistress and you
have the audacity to ….."I do not recollect to whom this was addressed but if memory does not fail me it was Kenneth Maharaj Singh, the burly 6 footer!!! I myself have excellent memories of her, though she tried to see that I would get the required 20/50 in English language and the 18/50 in literature, it was no go!!! It usually ended up with a stern lecture. But then when Mr. Salim Khan's caning did not make much improvement I fail to see how her stern lectures would have made a difference!!!!!
Where ever she may have gone now, I wish her peace and happiness. Her memories will last till our last days.
Lalit K. Dhawan.(OS60)
Ma Chat: a tribute
Difficult to let go a memory
It was a tiny bird
A soft voice
That left me cold
Tears streaming down
Shaking with fear
Vivid this image remains
After decades five or more
Far away I may have gone
Much I have done
All because of the tears
The ladybird brought forth
Then a gentler shadow prevails
Lingering over many years too
A softness rare
That none of us knew
For whom she was
A mentor and more
A teacher I had hoped to see
When for fiftieth reunion I was home
But it was not to be
Then the birdie flew
To a land unknown
A destination inevitable
Leaving a mark
On so many
How can I sum up
What this birdie did for us
Tiny and shrill
But caring and strong willed
All I hope
It will be my lot
To carry her message
A hope and prayer
That I will
Will honor her so
Carry her message
Even when she is no more
Carry her message
Latika (Tatwawadi) Mangrulkar
I would like to pen my memories of Miss Chatterjee. What a teacher ...... extremely thorough and dedicated .....
till this day I shudder when individuals cannot pronounce the V and the W right.She worked on me till I learnt to pronounce those two alphabets correctly.
All through my travels to England and Scotland and my interaction with my foreign colleagues, I was complimented by those whose mother tongue was English.
Thank you Miss Chatterjee! Though I was petrified of you like most other students, I did love you!
Knowing you, you must have already started on English lessons up there. Bless you. Many many remember you fondly.
Siwalik BD 1955
God Bless her soul.
Our sincere heartfelt prayers.
Sanawarians of the 1954 group.
Another pillar of the old Sna gone. How we strived to get a valued 6/10 from her
- on anything. My first 7/10 from her had me smiling for a week. (Of course,
this was before folks started getting 90% in everything.)
The diminutive and always-so-correct "Chat Ma" is no more? How terribly sad. She
could be a terror, but was still viewed with love and affection.
R.I.P. Miss Chatterjee. You are a part of so many of us.
Harsharan S. Kang
I vividly remember the morning at Birdwood, we were in sixth form, I think, and
Mrs. Chatterjee, who taught us English literature, was reading out the 'Tale of
Two Cities' for us.
Jerry Bains was however more interested in the view outside
the window, and was hardly paying any attention to the great work of Mr.
Dickens. Mrs.Chatterjee was quick to notice this and summoned him to her desk.
Her comment to him was instantaneous and to the point - "Mr. Bains, just
because you are six foot something and I am five feet nothing, does not mean
that you can look down on me." This was Mrs. Chatterjee, she always stood tall,
despite being small and petite. She drove fear into the fearless and gained our
respect as someone who always stood for what was right. She was responsible,
with others, for building the moral fibre of the school and most certainly
played an important role in creating "the best school of all."
Mam, you will be remembered and missed for ever. Please do excuse me for any
spelling or grammatical errors in this text.
Impeccable command of the language and a great love for its literature that
shone through all
her lessons to impact us all so completely, and over so many generations of OS.
'May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest'
This lady gave me a command over the English language that has stood me in
good stead all these years and will continue to do so for the rest of my
I am but one of so many who will recall her in the same vein.
An icon of Sna' has passed. R.I.P. Chat Ma. You will live on in our
I am deeply grieved to know of Ma Chat's passing away. She TAUGHT me
english and good manners for which I will be eternally grateful to her.
Thanks to Rena Ramchandani nee Thadani, I had the pleasure of travelling
all the way from Karnal to New Delhi just to meet Miss Romala Chatterjee who was in town and the dinner was being hosted for her.
I have very fond memories of Miss Chaterjee and will always cherish her
memory. Bless her wonderful soul.
I am sorry to hear about the death of Miss Chatterjee or Ma Chat, as we knew
her. Our very own Iron Lady and a Sanawar icon, one is instantly reminded of
the clip clop of her stilettos down the corridors of Birdwood and the terror
that brought with it. She was the epitome of grace, wit and elegance. A
remarkable woman who won, no demanded the respect and admiration of all who had
the privilege of being taught by her. RIP Miss Chatterjee, you left a indelible
mark in our lives.
Shirin Hira (Gidwani)
I would like very much to acknowledge Miss Chatterjee and how in her very individual and eccentric way she gave me much of what I consider a fairly good grasp of the English Language! I was given a chocolate for painting Dragons on a couple of bowls for an english play she was working on, after I had wept at her scolding me for being late in doing so!
I also met her in Mussoorie after her retirement and it felt good to see old Chat, walking briskly with her umbrella then as she did at Sanawar. God rest her soul.
Jyotsna Jamwal, 72 batch
The transition from prep school to senior school was marked by a host of changes,not the least of which was the difference in the style of functioning of the two remarkable ladies who headed each department.Occupying adjacent cottages on campus, they were a study in contrast.Miss Piloo Rudra,headmistress prep school,had a booming voice and a hearty laugh and could flex her muscles six inches from the nose of an eight year old devil and make any evil thought evaporate from his brain in a matter of seconds.Miss Romola Chatterjee on the other hand,petite,elegant
and a lady of few words was known to bring to heel a class full of hulking sixthformers with just one look.
While we interacted freely with our housemistresses,our exchanges with Miss Chatterjee were few at the time,.Parker Hall was the girl's dining hall,a place of beauty with its wooden floors, high arched windows, wood panelled walls with gold lettering that glowed in the soft light cast by hanging globes.As one entered, to the left,there was a table set for four.This was Miss Chatterjee's table,where,everyday,by rotation,three young girls took lunch with her.As a junior,the challenge was to get through the meal, making halfway intelligent conversation while ensuring that no object flew off your plate,a particularly difficult task if you happened to be served up half a mango that you were attempting to eat with a knife and fork.Slowly, as one grew older, the conversations turned to cherished books,films,politics and even women's liberation .It was her way of knowing her girls and it enriched us in ways that we came to appreciate much later.
She was a keen gardener and could often be spotted on a Sunday pottering around her garden under a large hat.The results of her labour were always remarkable and every spring,we would stop on our way from Birdwood to Parker Hall to get a glimpse of the profusion of blooms in her garden particularly the stunning yellow rambling rose that draped the arch above her gate.
Her other passion was tennis and like all her other actions this too had to be addressed in the perfect manner.So the Sunday game was sacrosanct and played in appropriate attire- crisp white shorts and a pastel coloured t-shirt.I recall her walking smartly across Peacestead one lazy Sunday morning and just as she stepped on to the slope leading up to the library,a long appreciative whistle emanating from the girls common- room . The repercussion-Nilgiri girls paying in blood the next day!
When she actually came to teach us in Upper V,it was armed with the red coloured Wren and Martin and a formidable command over the English language which she sought to instill in our fuddled brains by repeated exercises in English grammar.Our interaction,however, was cut short by the arrival of Dr.Dhillon.It is reputed that she handed over our class to him with the advice that if he wanted any peace, all he had to do was establish his supremacy over the irrepressible Jayant Nanda. Dr.Dhillon is known to have followed said advice quite literally -thankfully to little lasting effect as our Jallo remains delightfully irreverent to this day.
At the end of sixth form the girls from our class were invited to spend a day at the Raj Bhavan in Simla by the Governor of Himachal.On the designated day we boarded the school bus amid great excitement to find Miss Chatterjee clad in an elegant silk saree with a matching wool coat with a fur collar and her feet clad
in sports shoes!Amused glances were exchanged at this sartorial faux pas. Upon reaching Simla,out came a pair of exquisite,grey,suede sandals to replace the offending lace-ups.She stepped daintily off the bus to lead her young ladies to lunch at the Governor's,a picture of elegance.
I am sure St.Peter himself must have bowed and stepped aside as she entered the pearly gates.
Harsimran Grewal / Mithi Dutta O.S. Nilgiri Girls (1965-1972)
I would like to add my sincere sympathies and condolences to whoever there is that is part of Ms Chatterji's family.
There will be hundreds of us who owe our place in life, in whatever sphere of activity, to her teaching us. I know I was at time her bete noir, and did get punished from time to time, not undeservedly. However, that was then. We are all that much the better for being her students. Today, alas English is not quite the same language as it was when she taught us. Here in Karnataka, and in my hometown, it is taught in the vernacular because kids make no effort to learn it.
May her Soul rest in peace.
Hello Brinda: It was with much sadness that I learned of Miss Chatterjee's passing away.
But at the age of 93 she sure had a full life! I recall Ma Chat teaching me English in the early 1950's.
I think she took over those duties from my mother, Grace Kumar, who taught English at Sanawar for a year or so (1949/50).
Yes - in those days the "military style" of life and teaching were very much part of everyday and Ma Chat was held by all in high respect for her strict discipline an "no nonsense" approach.
We were always on the lookout for her and a warning of "Careful! Ma Chat!"
She would stop us from using foul language, or swearing, instantly! We would bow and greet her with the usual "Good morning, Ma'am!" and she would always take the time to stop and say something nice to us in reply. Ofcourse, the moment the path was clear, the slang words reappeared!
Happy memories of those bygone days. May she rest inpeace.
Parvez Kumar (OS 1949-55)
Dear Sanawar Family,
I am sad to learn that Ms. Chatterjee has passed on to the next world. She had a profound impact on my life – others have reminisced on how much fear she instilled into the students and faculty alike, and while I was studying at Sanawar I was afraid of ending up at her wrong side too – I also secretly admired her and was in awe of this strong woman role model who was both a dignified and highly principled "lady" and yet took no nonsense from any one!!!. Looking back I realize how it could not have been easy to be a single woman in a senior position at a prestigious institution like Sanawar – that unfortunately was not exempt from gossip and sexist thinking.
I came to Ms. Chatterjee's attention quite early in Lower Three and she took a liking to me because her niece was my sister's friend – this meant I was often selected to sit at the dreaded lunch table with her – for the most part in silence unless we were asked a question -- for which we framed an articulate and grammatically correct answer in our minds before actually speaking
– and of course in our nervousness the response wasn't as clear or articulate as one might have hoped. I also became her walking partner – I really enjoyed those walks because it meant exploring parts of the school campus which were normally out of bounds for the girl students. This was a time to casually chat with Ma Chat – and I witnessed a softer and even fun side of her.
Ms. Chatterjee was a kind and gentle person under that tough exterior that I can now understand why she must have had to present. She was one of the many people who made a positive impression on me and to whom I owe a debt of gratitude.
I join all the other OS and faculty of Sanawar to send my condolences to her family.
Our dear Miss Romola Chatterjee,
You left your footprints in the sands of time thereby remaining an
inspiration for many generations to come. May God rest your soul in peace.
Rajiv Khanna ; OS-1977
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