Dear Parents and Old Sanawarians,
In my previous letter I had shared with you all the reconstruction / renovation work under progress. I am happy to report that the new toilets for PD boys and girls near their class rooms have been commissioned. Renovation of building number 31 (next to the tuck shop) has been completed. PD (Boys) outer toilets, Girls’ toilet and Staff toilets (Birdwood building) and BD night pans / wash rooms (all four Houses) have been renovated and commissioned.
The School is committed towards Staff professional development and two days oncampus workshop (July 22 and 23) saw the members of Teaching Staff, Hobbies Staff, Matrons and Administrative Heads engrossed in various activities and discussions revolving around team spirit, trust and excellence.
A follow up workshop on safety and security drills has been scheduled after Founder’s for all the Teaching and Hobbies Staff, Matrons, Administrative Staff and selected Support Staff. In addition to this we will also hold a workshop on ‘Etiquettes and Communication’ for Hobbies Staff, Matrons and Administrative Staff after Founder’s. I will be holding a workshop for our Teaching Staff on the topic ‘Theatre in Education’, highlighting importance and impact of various nuances of theatre in class room teaching.
The students enjoyed and benefitted from the ‘Safe Campus’ workshop held for all classes earlier in August. We are inviting Old Sanawarians from varied background to come to School and interact with the students and the staff. On August 5 the students were shown the movie ‘Soorma’ and what added to their delight was the presence of the Director of that movie Mr. Shaad Ali, who spent his formative years in Sanawar. Both the Prep School and the Senior School students engaged with him after the screening of the movie.
On 10th of August the well-known mountaineer and adventurer Mr. Ajeet Bajaj (OS Class of 1983 S) was in School and his presentation followed by an interaction was highly motivating. We intend to use Mr. Bajaj’s vast experience and expertise in the areas of mountaineering and adventure to make our camps and hikes and other adventure activities more challenging, meaningful and safer. We are also working on a plan to have a series of adventure activities during the long vacation period (summer and winter) leading up to our 175th year in 2022. One such expedition being planned for next summer vacation (2019) is an all girls’ expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro (highest mountain in Africa).
Sagat Shaunik (OS Class of 2009 N) interacted with L VI students on August 25. Sagat is an independent military history researcher and has authored many articles including his famous article on the ‘Battle of Basantar’ (1971) where nine Old Sanawarians were actively involved and seven of them won gallantry awards.
The Parent – Teacher meeting was held on September 1. I am slightly disappointed at the number of Parents who attended this PTM. While I am happy to see more and more Parents choosing School parties for their children, a larger attendance at the PTM is desirable. An interesting piece of fact and figures is that while 394 students went from School with School parties, only 197 students came back with School parties, the rest returning with their Parents. We will hope to see many more of you at the next PTM.
While the people in Kerala are fighting back to bring back normalcy after the devastating floods, the students and staff of the School are doing their bit to contribute towards the relief fund.
I have written to you all earlier about the need to re-visit and re-structure our annual School calendar. The reasons are many and I am summarizing a few of them below:
I am also sharing with you all the break-up for the entire year in terms of effective working days in School, holidays and other non-working days as being followed currently. I would like you all to send your views / suggestions on this issue for us to arrive at a revised calendar, focusing primarily on benefitting the students’ community. You may send your views / suggestions on the following email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
You may use this email ID to send your views / suggestions on any other matter / issue as well. Your constructive feedback will help us to be better.
Caring and nurturing your children in School is a joint responsibility. Neither of us, we at the School or you as a parent, can shrug off our responsibility to ensure that they are looked after well, given the right values and motivated and supported to blossom into a well-rounded and well-grounded person. If either one of us takes this responsibility lightly, the child suffers. If we, as the School feel some issues need to be shared with you, the purpose is not to victimize the child but to find a solution together for the child’s benefit. Similarly if you have a concern / worry, share it with the concerned staff to work out a solution. Being aggressive, nasty or impolite does not help. Threatening a member of staff to take up the matter to the Headmaster is also not a nice way to deal with the problem. You are most welcome to bring the issue to my notice but not by threatening the staff.
The 21st Bhupinder Singh memorial inter-school soccer tournament concluded recently. The Sanawar team gave an exemplary display of stamina, skill and determination. In the finals we lost to our old rivals BCS, Shimla in penalty shootout. The Chief Guest for the final match was Col. Navjit Singh Sandhu (OS Class of 1991 N). Col. Sandhu has excelled and represented the country at the highest level in two vastly different and distinct equestrian disciplines, Show Jumping and Polo. His presence and words of wisdom were very inspiring.
Our Business Quiz teams are having a dream run. Since 2016 our School’s Business quiz teams have won seven inter-school quizzes, including our own Kirloskar Business Quiz (three in a row). The Chief Guest for this year’s Kirloskar Business Quiz was Mr. Karan Behal (OS Class of 2000 S) Founder & CEO, Pretty Secrets (MTC Ecom Pvt Ltd).
We are co-hosting (with Pinegrove School, Dharampur) IPSC U 17 Soccer tournament for boys. 23 teams are participating. It is the first time that an IPSC tournament is being co-hosted by two schools. Sanawar team played very well and made it to the quarter final stage where we lost to Lawrence School, Lovedale.
Founder’s preparation has begun. The campus is agog with the sound of the School band practicing, drama and dance practices picking up, NCC parade and PT practices gaining momentum and the Founder’s fever is catching up. We look forward to seeing you all on the 3rd and the 4th of October in School.
Refer Working days, holidays and vacations calendar for this year at the given link.
Vinay Pande September 12, 2018
By Harbans Nagpal (OS64)
The 18th annual OS Lunch in London was held on Saturday 19 May 2018, instead of the usual Sunday. This was also the first lunch organised by our new Chapter Head, young Richa Pathania Ranawat (HGD 2000). She took over from Aruna Mongia (née Sharma NGD 1967), who had been running the OS Reunion Lunches for the past17 years.
So, change was in the air. We arrived at the appointed restaurant, The Fable Bar and Restaurant, 52 Holborn Viaduct, London EC1A 2FD, in the City of London and surprise, surprise! The restaurant was not an Indian restaurant, but a modern Italian restaurant serving international cuisine. The restaurant was on three levels, on the side of a bridge crossing another road. Our lunchroom was on the middle level of the three levels. To climb up you went through a dark, book lined staircase. When you arrived on the top of the staircase, you received a blast of light! The restaurant had floor to ceiling glass windows on three sides of the large space. Through these glass windows you could see blue sky above, the road below and tree branches at floor level. On the one closed side of this space was a long bar, with mirrors on the walls, reflecting back the light from the opposite side. The effect of all this light was to stun you awake, if you were at all sleepy.
As our eyes adjusted we made out Richa, smiling, dressed in a pink, lace dress. She welcomed us warmly, but you noticed a tinge of anxiety in her, at this first lunch she was arranging. Her vulnerability was moving. You wanted to hug her and tell her, Richa, your choice of restaurant is already wonderful. Do not worry; we will have a lovely afternoon.
And so we did. We first paid our dues, 35 pounds per head, instead of 25 pounds in previous years. But this included drinks at the bar, red and white wine with the meal, and this bright, spacious room just for us. The total number of attendees was 30, approximately the same as in some of the previous years. However, your reporter noticed a big change. There were very few Old Timers (OS who passed out before 1950, usually the old British crowd), very few Middle Timers (the 1950 to 2000 crowd) and many, many New Timers (the post 2000 millennials). So Richa had successfully mobilised a whole crowd of younger OS. However, no smart elderly Englishmen in Sanawar blazers and ties. No Hindi speaking Derek Boddington or Bob Massingham. Where were all the memsahibs, who knew dirty Hindi swear words? We want to tell them they were sorely missed. One of the charms of these lunches is to see three or four generations of Sanawarians, from the 1930s to the present day, all in one room.
Perhaps more surprising was the absence of an equally large number of Middle Timers (those who passed out between 1950 and 2000). None of the Usual Suspects: no Kadan brothers, no Head boy Katoch, No Bollywood Sikand, no smart middle aged ladies keeping their weight down with PT learned on Peacestead. Your Middle Timer reporter felt a pang of disappointment at not seeing his usual batch mates.
Absent also were long running celebrities who we had gotten used to seeing every year. No Sir Henry Lawrence with Banjo. No Isabelle Lawrence with Hollywood connections. No OS President from India bearing gifts for us from the School Tuck Shop.
We missed you all, but the show had to go on! And so it did. Early comers collected at the shining bar, where free drinks were being served by smart waiters with modern haircuts.
By 1 pm the full contingent had arrived and we were hungry. By 1.15 pm we were all seated on two long tables along one glass window. One table was entirely filled with New Timers. And on the other were seated the Old Timers and the Middle Timers, at opposite ends.
The waiters took our orders. There was a choice of first courses. Your reporter opted for a very large boiled potato in jacket, with butter and salt. There was some welcome salad on the plate. There was red and white wine to taste, which seemed to please many people. For the main course, there was a choice between chicken wings, lamb or salmon, with assorted vegetables or humus to accompany. The food was freshly prepared and served piping hot. It was tasty, wholesome and not too rich, allowing rotund guests to have dessert at the end.
At the Middle Timers’ end of the table, your reporter was seated with many old friends. First of all Anu Mongia with her husband Max Mongia, already known to us as the team that had been arranging these lunches for the last 17 years. They were enjoying a rest from their previous duties and helping Richa by keeping out of her way. Also at our table was Richa’s mother Mrs Malvika Pathania, a bright Himachal lady full of plans and conversation about her life in Dharamsala. She too was helping Richa by keeping out of her way. Richa herself was not keeping out of our way. She paid us at least three visits; to see if we were okay, if we were enjoying the food, if we wanted anything more. We were touched by her attention, making the meal that much more enjoyable.
Also at our table was Mrs Virinderjit Saini (HGD 1966). Virinderjit is a regular and we were pleased to see her again, cheerful, stylish, well dressed in white. She was present as an OS but had brought with her her young thirty something son, Parminder. Not Sanawar but Merchant Taylor school, Bollywood good looks, slightly bohemian style, hair curled behind his ears. Occupation? Judge. It made your reporter recoil with surprise and delight. But that is the kind of delight you come to these lunches for.
Also on our table were Karan Gupta (HBD 1996) and Hamir Ratanjé (SBD 1966). Hamir is a regular although he only did his middle years in Sanawar, before leaving with his family for Africa. But such was the effect of Sanawar that he comes often to these meetings.
A new comer to the meeting was Prosanto Das Gupta (NBD 1967), with his nice Punjabi wife Asha. They arrived from Paris by the Eurostar train, just in time for the main course. It was a surprise to know that Prosanto had been in Paris for the last 25 years, just like your reporter, but we had never met! Prosanto used to work for Alstom, a big French engineering company. He now has his own consultancy in Paris. We are going to meet often to make up for lost time.
Also on our table were Mrs Nina Jayaswal and her son Vikram Jayaswal, but not present was Subhash Jayaswal himself (SBD 1964), of your reporter’s batch. The story is sad. Subhash passed away about a month earlier. He was a friendly, modest man, active in the London OS chapter, helping with these lunches for example. Shortly after last year’s lunch he contracted a virulent form of Motor Neurone Disease and deteriorated physically, although he remained mentally sharp to the end. Your reporter was by his bedside with his family at his last breath. You never saw a man facing death with such dignity, calm and humour. Our school motto was mentioned with a smile just before his death.
At the end of the lunch, like every year, we remembered Sanawarians who had fallen since our last meeting. This year we stood in silence for Subhash Jayaswal and also for Ron Bailey and David Pott, two regular visitors to these lunches. We paid our respects to their memories and extended our condolences to their bereaved families, including Nina and Vikram there present.
At the other end of our long table were seated the Old Timers of pre 1950 vintage. We were pleased to see Betty Barfoot, (1945 Outram) faithfully present, but alas not with her husband David, also an OS. They are a lucky husband-wife team, enjoying Sanawar late into life. Although Betty did not mention it, we were happy to see she had recovered well from her leg operation. She brought two guests once again, David’s cousin Gay Niblett and his wife Christine, an Old Timer who did not go to Sanawar but to our arch rival school, BCS in Simla! We were pleased to see them again. Next on the table was another cousin, OS Mrs Mitzi Mckenzie née Webster (1945 Outram). She had brought with her her 7 year old granddaughter, Amayi. Amayi was a confident, posh-spoken black girl with fluent conversation. She liked school, especially science and maths, but thought she would rather be a pop star when she grew up. When you left Amayi you knew you had just spoken to a very special 7 year old girl, who one day would conquer the world. And Sanawar will have contributed in a small way through her grandmother Mitzi.
Between the two ends of this long table, appropriately between the Old Timers and the Middle Timers was seated James Coombes (1954 Nicholson). James was an English boy who stayed in Sanawar till 1954. He is a regular to our lunches and goes often to Sanawar. He has friends all over India. This year he was struggling with a bad hip and considering surgery. We wish him well and want to see him back again next year.
As we waited for the main course your reporter decided to change tables and try and speak to some of the happy New Timers on the other table. Richa and her supporting non Sanawarian husband, Abhimanyu were seated at the head of this table, with their well-behaved 11 year old daughter Bhavya. As they were just about to start their lunch, after taking care of all of us, your reporter found a place at the opposite end of the table. Where we met first of all a double Sanawarian husband and wife team Gurmehar and Jaspreet xxxx, both Nilagiri 1999. How lucky can you get! They were a thirty something year old couple, with their 4 year old daughter Tara. Jaspreet had shining dark eyes and was dressed in a short bright red dress, a splash of colour for which you felt grateful. Gurmehar was equally dashing, with hair parted in the middle and a friendly demeanour. Their story is instructive. Gurmehar had a background in finance, having been to business school in Chandigarh. He had then worked in India and then the couple had spent some years in America, including working for Goldman Sachs. But the family had returned to India a few years ago and he joined an international company (Arcadis) that builds and renovates properties in city centres all over the world. They were presently Delhi based but Gurmehar was on deputation in London to manage a project: renovating a skyscraper, which you could actually see from the restaurant we were sitting in. They had been in London for a year. Wife Jaspreet was naturally taken up with the 4 year old but she found time to work with an NGO called Focus that looked after expats in London. This was one story of globalised Indians. Right next to them was another: Dushant Ahuja (HBD 1997) and Sonali Ahuja, with their 7 year old son. MBAs, USA for four years, Hyderabad, and then London one year ago. And further up, Vikram Cheema, ex Headboy, working for Goldman Sachs in London; Akash Mohan (HBD 1992) an investment banker with Nomura, Komal Dhillon (SGD 2000) and Nazeer Datoobhoy (HBD 1991)
Your reporter was dazzled by this individual and collective achievement. Nearly all the people on this long table were in this league. It made you reflect on the world economy, on the people we produce in India and if Sanawar could be given credit for some of this success.
Such were our thoughts as we stood up at the end to sing the school song. Your reporter, usually sceptical of self-serving praise, began to think that maybe there was something to the way we had in Sanawar, that the truth we learned in the days of youth on the long Hodson Run did actually matter. Be that as it may, our New Timers were doing well, we had had a lovely lunch, and the show will go on again next year.
After the School Song, Aruna congratulated Richa on organising her first and very successful UK OS reunion and wished her all the best for the years ahead.
Next year’s lunch expected date: Sunday 19th May 2019
Photos of this year’s lunch attached.
Previous reports by Harbans Nagpal:
2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013,
I used the occasion to put some order in all the reports and photos of the last 5 years (2013 – 2018). I have put them online and they can be seen through a link on Dropbox.
I thought it might be a good idea to put this link on the page with this year’s report, for people who want to see previous reports and photos of the OS London lunches. I get a few enquiries from people from all over the world every year. And it is a nice record to keep.
Remembering Jasdeep (Kitu) Bindra
Our dearest Jasdeep Singh Bindra (Binda) NBD 1968-1977 also fondly known as Kitu left for his heavenly abode on August 28, 2018 in California, sitting on his favourite chair with his notepad open.
He will always be remembered as among the most mischievous, happy-go-lucky, carefree fellows. True to his other Sna’ given name Binda, it would be apt to describe him as ‘Bindaas’.
The year 1968. Seven year old Jasdeep Bindra in PD Form 1 Nilgiri House was that “chut” chap, lovable and sincere with a ready smile but extremely competitive. The only other fellow who could match him in these aspects was Jaggu Bakshi of Himalaya.
Four months went into forming friendships and learning the art of polishing shoes, cutting nails and being on time. Come summer holidays and our mothers came to take us. Jaggu and JSB caught a bus from Garkhal. Pawan Mutneja was following in a car. The bus was overloaded but still negotiated the hills. Short of Pinjore it found its way to the bottom of a shallow pond. All the passengers were thrown and Bindra and Jaggu found themselves on top of everyone.
Undoubtedly Bindra was the first to come out; hale and hearty with his joodha half open and a shoe missing, looking for his mom. In May 2018 Pawan reminded him of this incident. He smiled and said yeah there we were lucky….only in retrospect one realizes, luck is fleeting. God Bless his soul.
JSB’s thick flock of hair seemed a handful to manage. Invariably, his hair bun (The Joodha) would be in a total disarray cascading in all directions.
His obstinate and stubborn streak manifested itself in the Boxing ring, testing the best of pugilists to the hilt. He never lost without giving a real plucky fight with body, arms, hands and fists, all over the bewildered opponent.
Yet at times he could be found in a pensive mood and loved his moments of solitude. He would prefer to be ‘far from the madding crowd’, in the dark corner of the Sixth Form room tinkering with his oversized old rickety radio listening to Radio Australia , Voice of America and other stations from all over the world till late at night hiding from the watchful eyes of Mr U.P Mukherjee our most respected House Master.
Kitu pursued his law degree from DU after college from SRCC and qualified in the US to pursue law thereafter. He left for the US in the early 90’s. In the intervening period he was amongst the few pioneers of adventure tourism in India. He was amongst the first to be trained for river rafting in India, one of the first to cut trekking trails in the Manali region taking international groups for treks, and amongst the first to do long distance camel safaris in Rajasthan. Neeraj Kapur and Dalip Baidwan’s father accompanied him on a lot of these trips.
An articulate attorney, (was DA in Sacramento), an ardent golfer, sportsman, great friend, a loving husband and father. As is the case with all of us, he drew the best values from Sna’.
He kept in touch with his friends over the years .Rajiv Khanna was glad to have Kitu and his family stay at the hotel he worked for during their visits to India .
He frequently met and golfed with our batch mate Arjun Bhagat in California and travelled often to Dubai to visit with another classmate Sanjeev Suri.
Little did we know he would be departing from our lives forever so soon and leaving a void that cannot ever be filled. Fond memories of him are all that we are left with to cherish. Needless to say he would be missed immensely.
Rest in peace dear Friend and Pray that God gives Denise, Nina and Nick the strength to bear this immense loss.
Affectionately written by his classmates from Class of 77.
*Post script* :
We are most grateful to Jagmohan S. Bakshi (Jaggu/Jaggi to most while I like to address him fondly as Jaggs) of our batch for having organised an Ardaaas & Kirtan for JSB on 2 September 2018 .