Thursday, December 1, 2011

Homecoming 25 Years, St. Joseph's, North Point, Darjeeling 7

By Manuwant Choudhary

Children's Day should not be observed on Jawaharlal Nehru's birthday...its Nehru's socialist policies that kept India in a cycle of perpetual poverty..denying children even an opportunity to learn new skills.

Jhansi Ki Rani's birthday should be Children's Day.

Or every school should be free to observe Childrens Day to respect the educationist who founded the school or gave his life to.

We the Class 0f 86 gathered in Darjeeling to respect all such teachers....and even instituted an award `The Sunshine Award' to recognise an individual for his contribution in reaching out to the most needy.

Sunshine is scarce in the hills but it always made us happy since when we were in school...we would get a `Sunshine' Holiday..

At Glenary's all the teachers who taught us were invited...some could not make it due to old age.

This years `Sunshine Award was given to Father Gerald Van (rector Emeritus) for setiing up a school for children in Mongphu and Father Kinley Tsering (current Rector) for running a winter school for underprivileged children at North Point when the school closes for holidays.

The teachers who did attend are Mr. Manuel Coutino (English) who has been teaching for 52 years.

Mr. John West our Chemistry teacher more famous for his English `Utah' (water)...

Mr. Wangdi Lama the ever fit sports instructor (Lokesh Rana still plays football)

Mr. S. Jha our Hindi teacher.

Mr. S.C. Das our swimming instructor.

Mr. H.B. Chhetri our Nepali teacher who told us ghost stories could not make it as he was in Siliguri.

Mr. Bhutto Pradhan our art teacher was also unwell.

And Mrs. Lefevre is very much in Darjeeling.

We observed a minutes silence to remember those teachers and collegaues who have passed away.

3 of our classmates passed away - one killed in a MIG crash.

25 years is a long time but when your teachers remember you it feels wonderful.

We were really fortunate to have had such great teachers....

In fact Father Van was the Rector in 1977 when I first joined school and on the first day itself I had escaped from the study hall.

Mr. Venkat - the tough PD Prefect chased me down the corridor but I kicked him so hard I was able to get away - Mr. Venkat remembered my kick all through the ten years I was at NP.

A tall Canadian caught me and I was lifted and taken to Father Van's office where Father Van tried to talk to me but the only English I knew was my name.

And then he slapped me.

I sobbed and finally fell asleep in his office. (Father Van continued to work in the office)

He then lifted me and took me to the dorm and asked Sister Suma to give me some soup if I awoke.

Father Van would always squat when he spoke to a child.

So it was heartening to see him so active yet.

Sanjay Sharma was luckier than us..he managed to escape from school several times and when he reminded Father Van about it all..Father Van even recalled the window he had used !

Father Van spoke about his school at Mongphu "Today we had the sports day and the children are so small that when the race started ..some just stood there...they did not know they had to run.."

There was real joy in his eyes when he spoke of the children.

When we returned the car I thought about all that had not changed and all that had changed....

25 years later still no Gorkhaland !

And Subhash Ghising now lives in Siliguri (under West Bengal police protection)!

And I am still like Father Van's Mongphu school children who don't know its a race....

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