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Memories of the 105th Birthday Celebrations


A visit to Dr Graham's Homes, Kalimpong 24th September 2005

Robert Street  - Ex-Scottish Canadian Cottage

It was a great pleasure for me to be able to attend the Homes birthday celebrations on 24th September 2005. Initially I was hesitant to go as I was busy with work in Shillong, but what made me decide to attend the celebrations was that I learnt over the phone from Bernard Brooks that there would be many OGBs from the UK and Australia present for the event. It would also give me the chance to meet up with Mr. Brooks who had had to cancel his visit to Shillong for health reasons. I felt that if so many OGBs and staff living much further away from Kalimpong than I, could take the time and trouble to come for the celebrations, then I had absolutely no excuse for not being there.

I drove up to Kalimpong accompanied by George Pryke, himself an old Homes boy and another friend from Shillong, Wanbok Lyngdoh. I had decided to take two cars as I felt that transportation might be required but, unfortunately, one of the vehicles had a leak in the radiator just eight kilometers from Shillong and so we all got into one car and continued on our journey to Kalimpong.

It was wonderful to see so many past students and staff return for the celebrations. The atmosphere was so friendly and inviting and the events were well organized. I took the opportunity of catching up with old friends and past teachers, some of whom I had not seen since 1966. The present staff and students of the Homes are to be commended for a very successful program. Congratulations to you all on a job well done! You can justly be proud of yourselves!

I thoroughly enjoyed all the events, the swimming gala, the school concert, the traditional buns and jelabies, singing competition, torchlight tattoo, birthday celebrations and the speech by the chief guest Jigmi Thinley, the drinks and dinner at Dielo Hill, picnic at the Rilly and the dinner and dance in the Jarvie Hall, where I was lucky enough to find a “dancing partner” in Anne Esselmont, who gave me a few lessons in dancing!

Any OGB gathering for me would not be complete without the presence of Bernard Brooks who to many of us was a teacher, headmaster or principal and to some like me, all three. I feel very fortunate to have had a mentor like him when I was in school and I’m sure there are many who would agree with me.

Another person who stood out prominently was Margaretta Purtill ne- Byers. Her interest in the welfare of the Homes was clearly evident. We need people like her to keep the Homes on the right course as Dr. Graham would have liked.

I have somehow come to associate the Homes with Ruth Galashan, the secretary, who tirelessly and quietly goes about her work without showing her presence. A visit to the Homes is never complete without seeing her, and her home is always open to those of us who knew her in school.

I took the opportunity of walking through the grounds, visiting the classrooms and the cottages, where I must confess a better effort of maintenance could be made. The grass had grown wild in the cottage compounds, the footpaths and hedges looked in need of care and most buildings required repair. The school should make a greater effort at maintenance and improvement of the buildings and grounds.

My visit to the Homes concluded with a dinner at Rabindra Choudhury’s residence where he had invited many of us OGBs. The dinner was most enjoyable especially the fish preparation which I thought was superb.

The organizers and the Kalimpong OGB Association did a great job and we all enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. My friend Wanbok, an ex- Edmundian from Shillong who accompanied me had this to say: “It was one of the best holidays I have had and I found everyone so warm and friendly which I have not found with any other school.”

Robert Street Ex-Scottish Canadian Cottage wn.





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