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Thuten's Trip

 

Memories of the 105th Birthday Celebrations 

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

Thuten Kesang - New Zealand


During the Centenary Celebrations in 2000 at the OGB’s meeting, we decided to meet every five years at the Homes, so this year we met. There were about 200 OGB’s from many parts of the world. Bulk of the OGB’s came from Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan and India. We all arrived in Kalimpong about 21st September. I was delighted to meet so many OGB’s of my time specially, John Duckworth, Juliana Bembow, Patrick Appleby, George Prike, David Gundluch, Ivan Holland, Ann Esselmont (Millar) Leoni Appleby (Godine), Hazel Gratorex, Margaretta Purtill (Byres) Rosemarie Baker, Margaretta Burns, Desmond Meyers, Robert Street, some of the OGB’s before our time, Don Oakley, Henry Chapman, Noel Shapell, John Comack and many others whose names escape me. Teachers and house parents there included Bernard Brooks, Miss Jean Burns, Jean Gellesky and Miss Colquhoun. It was great meeting great grand son of Daddy Graham, Arifin Graham whom I met in 2000 centenary celebration. This time I had the opportunity to have a long discussion with his wife Wiluya .

Thursday 22nd September: The Swimming Gala at 9.00am started with girls performing water ballet and then the inter-cottage final competition was full on and finished with relay of OGB’s vs the school and I am happy to say that OGB’s won.

After the swimming gala all OGB’s went up to the Crosier Club to register, then most of us attended the Senior school play 4.00 pm. I must say the play was most professionally produced. This was followed by a Torchlight Tattoo at 6.30pm at which I was asked to be the chief guest.

OGB’s dinner was held from 7.00 pm at Deolo Tourist Lodge. This was organised by Kalimpong OGB’s Association. We finished the day about 11.00 pm and I believe some of the OGB’s went down to Park Hotel in town to and finished about 2.00 am.

Friday 23rd September: Band & Junior school drill display 9.am. Employees Pagal Gymnkhana 10.am which continued till about 1.30pm. In between the Gymnkhana at 11.00 am the OGB’s gathered at the garlanding of Daddy Graham’s bust which stands in front of the Jarvie Hall. This was organised by the Kalimpong OGB’s Association. It was an emotional tribute to Daddy Graham and Mr Brooks was asked to say few word I felt what he said brought tears to my eyes, I shall quote what he said “while I was given the enormous privilege of laying the wreath at the foot of the pedestal, and attempting to give our thoughts at this time a correct perspective. In this connection I pointed out that if we truly wanted to 'see' Dr. Graham's memorial, it would not be found in this impressive sculpture before us, nor even in the Garden of Remembrance. His true legacy is to be found amongst the LIVING: in the children and staff of the Homes today; and perhaps, even more so, in the hearts and minds of countless generations of OGBs and former members of staff who have known what it is to be touched by the magic that is Kalimpong.” 

2.00pm Football OGB’s vs School . The OGB’s lost in the football, we were going to put in a protest as most of the school team was made up of school staff, rather than senior students. Anyway most of us who took to the field were fairly rusty at our game, but it was enjoyed by all. The game was controlled by Ivan Holland (old boy) who is an accredited referee in Sydney, Australia. The day finished with Inter Cottage singing competition, which I believe was of very high standard. Unfortunately I had to go to town on an urgent matter so I missed the competition.


Saturday 24th September: Birthday Gathering at Jarvie hall 9am. As usual greetings were read out from all over the world and the Chief Guest for this occasion was His excellency Lyonpo Jigme Thinley, Home Minister of Bhutan. He gave a very moving speech about the Homes. What he said in his speech was exactly what most of the OGB’s would have said, but he said so eloquently that we all asked him if we could have a copy of his speech so that we could reproduce for others to read it. The birthday gathering was followed by buns, jelabies and apples from Bhutan and we all went to our cottages to have tea. I went to Hart Cottage and Willingdon Hostel.

Most of us went to the opening of New Thorburn Cottage which was opened by Mrs. Margaretta Purtill and a Board member. The new Cottage is a very impressive three story concrete building, which will house 60 girls. It has hot and cold showers and separate individual toilets etc. The walls felt very wet, but I was told that it will take about six months to dry and then they will put a sealer, which will help. I am not sure when the girls will move into this new cottage, but in the meantime they are living in the old Thorburn cottage. The Thorburn girls presented the guest with a Khatas (green silk scarf) and then the girls put on show for us and also invited us to a lovely lunch, which was enjoyed by all.

2.30pm OGB’s Open House Discussion: This was well attended by all. We went over the Resolution we made during the Centenary Celebration in 2000 and I am happy to say that my resolution about having meals served at the cottages in the weekend and holidays is slowly being implemented by the school. A representative from each Association was given opportunity to speak and then we had a very open discussion, which I felt very positive compared to the 2000 meeting. Generally speaking the OGB’s felt that school was looking much better shape than it was in 2000. This meeting was chaired by Mrs. Jayshree Pradhan, Board member and an (OG of the Homes) I felt although the OGB’s were very open minded about the issues we discussed but the Homes was bit on the defensive, this I felt was unnecessary as we were there for the interest of the Homes and nothing else. I don’t recall any resolution adopted at this meeting but I think we agreed to meet again in 2010.

Kalimpong OGB’s Association organised the Silver Jubilee / Golden Jubilee Dinner and Dance at the Jarvie Hall from 7.00 pm. This was for OGBs who left 25 and 50 years ago respectively. The dance music was great and local DJ Neil performed it. The curry and momo dinner was very tasty. We danced till about 12.30 am. We all went home absolutely tired and myself I lost my voice through singing all night with the music.

Sunday 25th September: A service was held at Katherine Graham Memorial Chapel at 9.00 am. Most of us turned up at the church with bit of headache and I could not sing the hymns due to the loss of my voice night before. The singing by the school choir was great. After a short mix and mingle and few farewells, as some of the OGB’s were leaving that day. The rest of us got into two buses to travel to Relli for a picnic organised by Kalimpong OGB’s Association. When we arrived at the picnic site, we were welcomed with a glass of Tibetan chang (beer). This was okay for those who knew the taste but those who tasted this for the first time didn’t like it so they 
settled for an ordinary beer. After a couple of drinks down by the river, surprisingly the water was warm. We had to watch the slippery rocks and the swift flowing river also avoid the middle of the current, otherwise everyone had a great time. Some collected garnets from the riverbed and there were quite a lot there. I am not sure how they are going to polish them. A lovely curry lunch and drink were provided. Most of us were leaving by the next day so we thanked the Kalimpong OGB’s Association for the wonderful time they have given us and we told them that we all will go back to our respective countries with found memories of dear old Kalimpong. 

Monday 26th September: Toady being the last day in Kalimpong, I went around to say goodbye to Everyone in the school and went and saw David Fonning the bursar and handed him a Bank Draft for $8,500 as a contribution to the Homes from New Zealand for sponsorship etc. Then I took few girls for a lunch in town, unfortunately I couldn’t take Tsering Pesur whom we sponsor as she was leaving for Calcutta that morning with the choir. After lunch I went back to Orchid Lodge where I stayed and said goodbye to all the OGB’s that stayed there, most of them leaving that afternoon (14 of us) I would recoment Orchid Lodge to any OGB’s who are thinking of going to Kalimpong. Ganesh and his daughter in law Honey looked after us like a family. I left for Sikkim at 1.30 pm 

While I was in Sikkim, the OGB’s of Sikkim organised a get-together and a dance for the visiting OGB’s. There were quite a few of us. We had a lovely evening with dance and food. I took a short trip to Delhi with my sister to see my niece’s first child. Then to Calcutta and stayed at the Birkmyre Hostel, which brought back memories of my old days in Calcutta. Likely for me Mr. Bernard Brooks was staying there for few days, so we had a good old discussion on the Homes etc and went out for a good lunch. I had the opportunity to view the new girls hostel on Elliott Road. It took me some time to find it, but eventually I did. Unfortunately all the girls were out and I met only the lady in charge. She showed me around. They occupy only the 2nd floor of the building. It looks very clean and comfortable and it’s okay to live there while they are studying in Calcutta, but once they are working I think it will be too small and restrictive for the growing lady. At least the girls have a hostel they can call home while they are in Calcutta.

I left Calcutta on 5th October morning for long flight home and it was lovely to be home with my family. -- Thuten

More articles

   Lyonpo's Speech
   Robert Harding's Memories
   Thuten Kesang's Birthday trip.
   Robert Street's Journey
   Memories of Kalimpong - Pat Hardie
   A brief History - Pat Hardie
   Dr Kalaam's Speech
   Miss Prentice's Pictures

 

 
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