Saturday, November 24, 2007

Goethals Centenary Celebration

The school I attended as a boarder is a private institute ,established by the Congregation Of Christian Brothers in India (no doubt it has its American congregation as well).

The Irish Christian Brothers have been at the helm of management, after the Belgian aristocrat Goethals, gave up his worldly belongings and set up trusts to promote a Christian education in India in 1907. Its tucked away amongst 200acres of verdant temperate woodlands, halfway between Kurseong and Darjeeling.

Goethals Memorial School was inaugurated by the British Governor of Bengal, Sir Andrew Fraser in 1907. A special siding was built for the Governor's entourage to alight at Goethals, from the Heritage Toy Train -which was then the only means of transportation, barring horses and bullock carts. To recap history, the current Governor of Bengal had graciously accepted to repeat history, by riding the special train chartered for the centenary. The train ride would commence at Kurseong station, situated at a height of 4860 feet above sea level. The Himalayan Empress would then chug up the hill, carrying in its three bogies, the Governor, his entourage, the Presidents of all Goethals Alumni chapters globally, selected old boys in another, and the third with all the outstanding achievers of the present junior schoolboys.

The 20 minute ride , was enjoyed by all, as I provided a running commentary for the privileged bogey riders. A brief history of Kurseong, the advent of the toy train in 1881, the four panoramic tea growing valleys of the district- Kurseong, Mirik, Sukhiapokri and Sonada, and its specialties, and the ingenuity of the train's engineering , captivated all . Moreover,I am the President of the Home Alumni/ Kurseong, Darjeeling, Sikkim and North Bengal constitute a sizable percentage of all alumini members globally. The train stopped at the siding , elevation 5800 feet, where all were whisked off to the principal playing field(first field-the school has 5 more smaller fields for other sporting disciplines), where the march past , maze drill were held. I had anticipated around 50 old boys to participate in the march past, and had trained the Sikkim chapter, with Sonam Dorjee-who is a member of the Sikkim Planning Commission- and a dear friend to be the flag bearer of this contingent. Sonam , is a wonderfully uncomplicated man, in spite of his high position in society. Moreover he is an astonishing mimic, and I seriously think he's in a misplaced vocation, and would certainly been a runaway success in the Bollywood scenario.. Without hesitation, Sonam had participated in all the rehearsals, in spite of his tight and hectic schedules. UNBELIEVABLY 250 OLD BOYS MARCHED PAST, AND IT WAS BRILLIANTLY EXECUTED. ALL THE OLD BOYS UPHELD THE SPIRIT OF THE SCHOOL IN BREATHTAKING MANNER. THE CHIEF GUEST WAS SIMPLY BOWLED OVER AS WELL AS ALL ATTENDEES.

To all my blogger friends worldwide its my pleasure to treat you to a visual treat of the centenary celebrations. Enjoy it. Rajah Banerjee.