A few weeks ago I noticed the name 57er Aubrey Ballantine in the Cathedral page of the World Alumni list (hope you have registered). I recalled a Ballantine who was senior to me and used to sing in the Cathedral choir. So I dashed of an email to him asking Aubrey whether he had been in the Cathedral Church Choir.
57er Aubrey Ballantine in England
Aubrey did not recall me, as I was his junior, but confrmed that he had been a choirboy till his departure from India for Canada in 1956.
Aubrey mentioned a few Cathedralite staff members who have settled in Canada including Mr. William Shiri (Physics) and Mr. O. A Gregory (Chemistry). Aubrey had also met the late Stan (Pop) Pharoah when he had visited London in the sixties.
My memory of Aubrey was that he used to carry the cross which led us up that long walk from the vestry to the Choir stalls.
What did you do after you received your final results?
I can remember my situation as in our class of 28 we landed up with 27 First Division and 1 Second Division for the Senior Cambridge. Some of our group had already rejoined school to do the HSc, but several, like me, were looking around to see which college or University to join. Those days there was no question of capitation fees, as entry was purely by merit.
I toyed with joing Elphinstone College. But when my parents explained to me that if I joined St. Stephen's College in Delhi I would not have to do the Inter Science examination and I could get my Bachelors degree in just three years, I knew that was the best alternative. The other alternative was to join the Kharagpur Indian Institute of Technology.
So, to celebrate the First Division, and also to see the college where I would spend the next three years of my life I planned a trip to Delhi.
When I mentioned this to some of my friends, we quickly formed a posse to spend a week or two in Mussorie - as all our parents were thrilled with our results. Many of them probably thought that as we used to spend so much time on the playing fields and so little on our studies, that all of us would end up with Third Divisions.
Viney Sethi, Arvind Thadani, Vijay Shivdasani, Noel Ezekiel, Ashok Ruia and myself were the group that planned the visit to the hill station.
We had an enjoyable trip by train to Delhi - which was just entering the summer and was unbelieveably hot. We did not stay long in Delhi - just long enough for me to see my future alma mater and get tickets to proceed to Dehra Dun. From Dehra Dun we took a frightening bus trip to Moussorie.
Never having been north before I was dumb founded by the beauty of the Himalayas which formed the backdrop to this sleepy hill station which was packed with tourists. We were lucky in that Ashok Ruia had a Guest House in the town and so we did not have to spend our money on hotels and food. We got some absolutely delicious vegetarian grub in the Guest House.
Ashok taught me to play bridge during our long evenings there. Viney, Vijay, Noel and Arvind were happy to go roller skating, something I tried a couple of times and failed miserably - so I stuck to Bridge, and even today, before I go to sleep I play a few rounds on my little Bridge Computer.
I have one picture in my collection about our time in Mussorie - not very good quality considering it was the early days of colour photography in India and it has survived the many travels around the world with me. However, just to share an image, here is a picture of Arvind Thadani (now a bigwig somewhere in IBM in the US, Viney Sethi, the Elvis Presley of our time, also settled in some part of California in the US, and the guy dressed in white, is me!
And just for a contrast, here is a picture of my better half of the last 30 years and myself, this time I have a white crown only, taken a couple of summers ago at the Arctic Circle.
Do write and let me know what you did to celebrate your passing out of our school. I am sure a lot of our readers would like to know about those pangs of leaving something which was so close to us for so many years.
Hopefully, more in a fortnight,
Your Cathedralite friend
1959 Savage House Captain