Dhaba (circled) with Class IX classmates with Mr. Firth (1968)
After a little while the teachers came back. Mr. Pakianathan wanted to recharge his mobile voucher and he handed me Rs 500 note. It wasn’t easy to locate an ‘easy recharge mobile shop’ in the nearby locality of Hotel Tibet. Yet just near the SNT office, I found one shop that could do easy recharge. Due to roaming facility I suppose, there was only Rs 100 balance left when I easy recharged the mobile number with Rs 300. It took me around 10-15 minutes to return back to the Hotel, by then the host and guest was comfortably sitting side by side sharing affection of old days.
I sat on one of the sofa near the window with the partly hidden Mt Kanchenjunga facing my back. I was closely watching from behind the old fellows in their own world of the late 60s. Dhaba had brought Xerox copy of “The Alwynian”, annual school magazine of Wynberg-Allen School that had photographs of his schooling days and shared with his teachers. They talked about those days, those students, those colleagues and there were two of us myself and Dhama just giving an occasional smile when we were given a momentary look.
Tea with biscuits were served to us at the hotel but I was more into those faces of persons sitting opposite to me who came all the way from London to spend some happy moment in Sikkim. Mr. Pakianathan would talk “Oh! Ganashyam”, in his UK ascent he was a nice student, a leader of a Gardening Club and a sports enthusiast, in reply Dhaba added what I am today is all due to Mr. Pakianathan’s lesson of mathematics and his morals. Mrs. Pakianathan, Dhaba’s social study passed on a smile whereas Mr. Firth too added his views on Dhaba in his couple of year’s stint as a teacher at Wynberg-Allen School. Mr. Firth, in his light golden hair looked more of a Hollywood actor rather than a teacher much happier visiting Sikkim. He was to India for the first time after he left Wynberg-Allen School, Mussoorie in late 60s. For Pakianathans it was their second trip after they left Mussoorie in 60s.
All of a sudden the topic of conversation shifted to “Gundruk”, yes you heard me right and Mr. Pakianathan recollected his memories of Gundruk, which he in his own words told “He (Dhaba) brought me a sack of Gundruk from Sikkim once and it was Gundruk all the week till it was finished” and we all laughed. In the meantime Mrs. Pakianathan sitting on the opposite side of us invited Dhama to look upon her video camera to let her introduce to her daughter who was settled in Sydney. She was letting Dhama watch one photograph after another and Dhama was just nodding up her head in response to her exchange of words.
Mr. Pakianathan, Dhaba and Mr. Firth (2009)
I was watching everything as one watch over in a silver screen, I could see the enthusiasm and shine in Dhaba’s face and I could read his mind as he was preparing to come out with every thought possible of those days to make the noon-time more momentous. He also had brought along with him old Wynberg-Allen School day’s photographs from his album that had the groups of Sikkim. He showed it to Mr. Firth and he was able to identify few of them. Well little knowledge of information for all, Ghanashyam Pradhan was among the first 8 students to have got a Sikkim State scholarship to study outside Independent Sikkim.
Joining him at Wynberg-Allen School, Mussoorie were Prem Das Rai, present Member of Parliament from Sikkim and Mingma Bhutia Senior SP Check Post residing at Gangtok. Mingma Bhutia ‘Sir’ needs a special mention here, it was of his kind generosity the small get-together of the Alwynians was made possible and he even hosted a Dinner for the guests. Other students to join Wynberg-Allen School in the 60s included Tej Rasaily, Gopal Rai, late Janak Kumar Chettri and others. In the mean time Dhaba also made her daughter Pramila Pradhan and his brother LN Pradhan talk with his teachers in mobile.
The wheel of clock was turning around and couple of hours went by in a whisker of laughters and nostalgic moments. It was time for us to leave, we exchanged our greetings and left Hotel Tibet with thought that we would be in touch with each other through letters and mail that I had noted down in my note book. I was to drop Dhaba and Dhama at Parakha and return back to Singtam with Pranay. It was already late evening when we reached Ranipool; the shops at Pakyong bazaar were bright with lights when we crossed it and finally it was a full moon showing us way till we reached Parakha.
After having our dinner we made our way back, just few kilometers from Parakha is a small village called Linkey where one of my old school day teacher lives. Raju Thapa, but we fondly call him Raju Sir; he is running a private school out there. I do make it a point to visit him whenever I go to Parakha and this time around it had been 4-5 years long that I had not come across him. After a cup of hot tea, we made adieu and was on our way back to Singtam, with a wonderful day behind to be remembered for a long time.