Recipient of the Old Sherwoodians' Millennium Award for Outstanding Achievement conferred during the Reunion on 14.10.2000.

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Manu Maharani Hotel, Nainital June 3, 2008 10:55 pm

I went to the dictionary, the thesaurus, the Encarta Encyclopedia and partially into my own very limited brain to find an adequate expression to describe 'nostalgia' and was unable to get anything that could possibly describe my visit to Sherwood College, my alma mater, this evening.

50 years !! The Class of 1958 !!

These are not just explanation marked MacBook Pro key board typed words.

This is a lifetime. A lifetime of incredible passage of time. Of incredible moments and events. Events that built you into what you are today. Your study your profession, your family and friends, your achievements and failures, virtually your entire growth as a human.

But all of that seemed to have been pushed aside into some corner of my system as I traveled up the road to Nainital this morning. With each turn on the steep winding drive, a page of my three years in School opened, remained for an excited moment between my fingers and then slipped away to the next.

Nainital had become crowded, buildings and structures usurping the scenic green of the mountains. The lake looked as though it had lost a great deal of water and the good old wooden boats that were plied by eager oarsmen had been replaced by plastic fun flotillas. Mankind's modern mode of transport was everywhere, announcing their presence arrogantly. There were fewer people walking and even fewer horses - our only luxury of times past. The automobile now drove right up to the school gate and the presence of a lot more cement was so evident.

But Sherwood, with all the cosmetic changes of time, was Sherwood. As I slowly walked up to the Principals residence 1956 and '57 and '58 just came right back as though they had never gone by.

Ushered in graciously by Mr Sandhu and staff into his quarters I could barely pay attention to the conversation that transpired.

This was the very room where the Rev RC Llewelyn our Principal, whom we sadly lost a few months back, entertained us over a cup of cocoa and biscuits if we had done something exceptional for the school. Played us old songs on a wind up mechanism. One that still remains with me and one that I have never been able to trace in any music archive went 'Ha..ha..ha..ha..A Flea !' in its ending refrain.

The caning room, next door - a permanent feature in our lives then, where the choicest well oiled canes were stored and where the mini wheel barrow like obstacle stood in one corner, whose handles we were told to bend down and hold so our posteriors were exposed to the Cambridge Blue Tennis forehand wallop of the Reverend, cane replacing racquet, the first wack taking our breath away with pain and the rest that followed not making any impression because the cheeks had been numbed into submission by then - now, being introduced to me by present Principal, ironically, as my bedroom where I could rest during my stay at Sherwood !!

Out of the office and residence of 'Princi' and walking down towards Horsman Wing, Junior School and the long covered passage we would run up on from the playing field after the first bell for assembly and dinner was announced. However did we do it !! At 66 its an ordeal to take even a step !

The Infirmary on the right, yes the very one I spoke of in earlier blog, up ahead Milman Hall, the playing field and a pause at the corner there to just take in the many sporting highlights - runner up in the high jump, that amazing relay we won over our rivals SEM (St Joseph's College), Chris Borthwick's save in goal during a historic football draw, Sohan Singh's electric gymnastics over the horse, PC 'Camel' Mathur and SS Bajwa 'Baj' winning for our house Robin Hood - everything so vivid and clear.

And I tear away from there and look left and there, standing in a group by the railing of the swimming pool that we had dug with our own hands, rock by rock and built brick by brick, stood the Class of 1958 !!

SS Bajwa and Mohan Singh, Jaspal Singh and Bhargava, SP Singh, Chris Borthwick, Sohan Singh, Mathai Joseph, John Kurrien, Zafar Ahmed, KPS Bal, RC Yadav, Chittwal and Inderjit Khanna.

Time stops !

Nothing is spoken.

Just the smiles and laughter and the embraces and long endearing hugs, some spoken words coming through, no one knows what, it doesn't matter. It's Sherwood 1958 !

The Junior School is performing a concert tonight and the audiences milling around us are being shoved by security so we can find our way into Milmi (school lingo for Milman Hall). Strange how lingo and attitude return back to us. We are back to addressing each other by our pet names - Tich and Baj and Zaf and Gingi - nothing's changed.

We are grey haired, spectacled, bald and wrinkled, generously paunched and heavier, our movements slow and labored, we have our wives with us and some of us, our sons and son-in-laws and grandsons, but...

We are the Class of 1958 and we are back in School !

And later over dinner we huddle together in one of the new facilities by the Infirmary, exchanging photo albums, which each one of us has diligently brought along, of times past. We laugh and joke at our escapades. Just us. Sitting by ourselves in the dim light of the covered badminton courts. And we decide -

' Hey ! Lets all pool in and do something for Sherwood. Something that the School needs, some memorable asset, something fun that the kids can enjoy, just something..'

And as we disperse we look forward to tomorrow. To meeting the Princi to discuss our plan. To have a group photograph in the front quadrangle; in exactly the same positions we had stood to have ours done 50 years ago !

And to pay homage to our Principal the late Rev RC LLewelyn, one of the finest that Sherwood had, in a commemoration service at the chapel.

May the Almighty rest his soul and give it the peace and tranquility it so richly deserves. Amen !

Amitabh Bachchan

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