This year it will be nineteen years having left school. In the years gone by I’ve done little to stay in touch with the school. In that time familiar teachers have moved on. Times have changed and old school friends have drifted away to be replaced by new ones.
Earlier this year, Principal Friese invited alumni to a special assembly. Bishop’s was going to turn 150 in 2014! At the assembly he asked for assistance for the upcoming year-long celebrations. The assembly rekindled a deeper connection and natural curiosity. Had the school ventured to change their teaching methods? Did they still place great emphasis on all-round development? I had no excuse for having stayed away for so long.
At the sesquicentennial committee meeting I was surprised to see alumni from as far back as the 1960′s. Some had children who were studying at Bishop’s, others were simply there to help. I met alumni from the IT committee, Marketing committee, other old boys and teachers. The committee was chaired by the principal and the headmasters of each of the three schools in Pune.
The school appointed historian related her findings. She’d found verifiable documents (maps, plans, communications) that Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington had planned out an offensive against the Maratha’s (Second Anglo-Maratha war 1803 – 1805) from the bungalow that currently serves as the Principal’s residence. She’d also verified that the original underground Peshwa-era water supply pipeline did pass through the school grounds.
A couple of days earlier I’d met with the historian who interviewed me for interesting anecdotes and to learn how the graduates of the ’94 batch had done in life. As I recollected details of the alumni I was still in touch with, the list consisted of entrepreneurs, industrialists and even a film director (ever watched Karthik Calling Karthik?). Everyone had done well. Recalling school days wasn’t easy emotionally. In my opinion, my teachers at Bishop’s stood out for their commitment to the general welfare of their students. I say that with great care and an educational background spanning two universities across continents and two schools. The old boys themselves are the greatest testimony the school could have.
As I watched the committees share their progress, their spirit was infectious. I headed back and I thought hard. I’d contributed to the history book and I felt I could do more. Although I wouldn’t be an effective contributor at this late stage I could help in other ways. As I reached out to my professional network to other old boys I was amazed by the enthusiasm with which they got back. Would they like to contribute their memories, reach out to other alumni? Yes, of course they would.
Today, Bishop’s has grown from one school campus in Pune, Camp to two new areas – Kalyani Nagar and Undri. However, they’re still constrained in their teaching methods. Having been around for a long time can be both a boon and a curse. Another entrepreneur Phil Libin Founder, CEO at Evernote shared his insight into the same paradox earlier this month – his dream is for his company to endure for a hundred years and to continue to innovate despite it’s age. The hope is that with this renewed connection back to the school and with the help of other parents, we might have a hand at influencing the course the school charts next.
As the celebrations shape up there’s a lot more that could be done. If you’ve attended St. Helena’s or St. Mary’s Pune, do get in touch. Our historian would love to get your views on the Bishopites you knew or met. If you’re an old boy and have photos, anecdotes or anything else you’d like to share – please get in touch as soon as you can. Your material will make it to a coffee table book that will cover the school through the ages. If you intend to travel to attend the celebrations in 2014, follow the school website for event dates and details.
My wife and I were glad to be able to spend a Sunday together with my Mom and Dad. The day began innocuously enough discussing that it was Father’s day. My Dad had turned 60 a little while ago and it’s been a mixed bag to watch him change over the last few years. More time with his grandson, new patterns of work. So many other little things. The personal uniqueness of being both a Father and a Son puts experiences into a wider perspective. I would not claim to be the best son out there and I wish I try harder to be.
We’re always encouraged to learn to be good parents. When do we start learning to be better sons and daughters?
My son will be joining his playgroup in another ten days. We’ve never left Megh by himself before. For all of us here at home, this is certainly going to be an interesting turn of events. The folks at the playgroup have designed the first two weeks to be short play sessions. The first couple of days are thirty minute sessions, followed by sessions of forty-five minutes going all the way up to two hours. For the first few days, I’ll be playing the role of parent on duty waiting in ‘hiding’ while Megh settles in with the others.
If you’ve never watched kids getting settled into a playgroup, it can be a harrowing the first time. I’ve watched two little boys of about two, or two and a half wail away for their mothers. At one point, I almost felt as if they were attempting to outdo each other in the intensity of their cries. The mothers were nearby and hiding behind the classrooms with instructions to not get involved. One of the toddlers spotted me, or I guess he spotted the fact that I had car keys on me. He latched on to me and asked me to take him to his mother. Toddlers don’t need to learn, or to socialize. They simply need the love of their parents, family and near ones. Everything else that you think is happening, is really just a byproduct. Once they settle in to the playgroup, they learn because they have the attention of their teachers.
The one sure way to mess things up is to make a big deal of what are really little things. I think Megh will fare well and adapt to his new environment. I’ve watched him play with other children and work with teachers before this. His behavioral response in an unfamiliar environment, like many other boys, is always a notch above his usual self.
For my wife and I, I hope we will take time off to celebrate this milestone.