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Fr. Van's Newsletters of 2002

January 2002 February 2002 March 2002
April 2002 May 2002 June 2002
July 2002 August 2002 September 2002
October 2002 November 2002 December 2002

December 2002 Newsletter

St Joseph’s College,
Darjeeling 734 104
West Bengal
January 1, 2003

Dear Alumni,

First of all, I would like to wish you all a very Happy and Fruitful New Year.

I have already been given a sign that mine will be fruitful. After midnight it began to rain heavily here and I had to begin coping with the rain dripping into my room, moving my bed

And looking for a bucket. Needless to say the drip,drip,drip, didn’t help me get back to sleep.

This is my first Newsletter after returning from the Convocation at the University of Manitoba and after having had the pleasure of visiting with many of you at various places, Singapore, Geneva, Munich, London, New York twice, Toronto twice, Winnipeg, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San  Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and in the Chicago area. I don’t seem to tire when visiting alumni for your enthusiasm buoys me up. I am very grateful for the warmth of the  hospitality wherever I went and for the promise of support for NORTH POINT VISION 2000+.

On my return, the first thing I noticed was  the five storey new building creeping  up the hillside below the workshops. This is much bigger than I visualized it would be, for the engineer had suggested to the Fathers here that the foundation was so strong,  he could carry on and make a lot of room available on this site alone. Also, since Bro, Francis Basumatary,  our school Minister, was purchasing all the materials himself(thus saving some lakhs) it could all be done almost within the same estimate that we had for the smaller building.. Yesterday we went over the site deciding on how it could be best used. So it has been decided that aside from single staff quarters, and a dormitory for the boys who return every year in March for their examinations plus for visiting teams and a couple of rooms for alumni visitors, we will be able to house the 9 primary classes (for we are adding a section to Classes 3,4,5, year by year to reduce the number in each class), rooms for Class 11& 12 Boarders, Computer Lab and Library facilities. The building should be completed by June or July. That may be optimistic but at least it is a target to aim at.

Next winter depending on the availability of funds we will start building the new kitchen and the dining room with needed classes on top. With your continual support many things will become possible now that were only dreams a few  years back. I want to thank you all very sincerely. Now we have hopes, too, of looking for more qualified staff.

The big event after Christmas was the marriage of Andre Lefevre and Sahara Tamang, both teachers of the school. The celebrations lasted two days, the first in the Tea Garden,Rungli Runglio where the rites were performed in the church at Takdah followed by a huge reception. I think everyone who could walk in the tea garden attended the reception. The next day there was a Thanksgiving Mass at North Point itself with even a bigger reception largely consisting of alumni that went on from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The weather was extremely cold but no one seemed to notice that for there was so much rejoicing.

I had the joy also on my return to Kolkata of attending the Silver Jubilee Celebration of the marriage of Ashok and Jyoti Sadhwani. This was also a very happy occasion, especially for Ashok’s mother who had been anticipating this for a long time.

Now the local alumni are gearing up to attend the World Union of Jesuit Alumni Congress to be held in St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, from January 21st to 24th. The patron will be the retired General of the Army, General Ray Chaudhuri. The Chief Guest on the first day will be the President of India, His Excellency, Abdul Kalam Both of these are alumni of Jesuit institutions in India The main speakers at the event  which will lead to discussions will all be given by alumni such as Soli Sorabjee, the Attorney General of India. I will describe this Congress that takes place every six years in a different country in my January Newsletter.

I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Manitoba when I was there between our College and the University. This will  begin operating next June as exchange of staff and students starts to take place. We look forward to this development eagerly.

My sincere warm regards,

Fr.Van

 
October 2002 Newsletter

St Joseph’s College,
Darjeeling 734 104
West Bengal
November 7th, 2002

Dear Alumni,


I am actually writing this from Vancouver Island. Tomorrow I start travelling East eventually to land up in Darjeeling again. I am aware that most of you know about all my peregrinations these last two months. All I have to say is that it has been a wonderful opportunity to meet so many of you and experience again the great affection you all have for North Point and for what it was able to offer you to help you face life with courage and create a niche for yourselves with some measure of success. Success obviously has not meant having an easy time but having enough resilience  to face problems and difficulties without running away from them. This makes me feel very proud of you.

I am passing on to you a few things that have happened at North Point of late. First was the success of the four North Pointers competing in the Dr. Master's Elocution Shield contest again this year. The success is certainly partially due to Mr. Andre Lefevre who takes such pains in preparing the contestants. I hope that his coming marriage with Miss Sahara, also a member of the staff on Dec. 27th will bring both of them years of happiness.

 
“ The Fiddler on the Roof", a Musical Play was performed by our students with the girls of Loreto Convent, in the Arthur Hall at the Convent from 21st to 29th Sept. For the first three days, the play was performed for children from different schools, and on the next three days, for the public. On each day they had an audience of 800 people. The Play was directed by Sr. Alice Mary, Mr. A.C.Rai, and Mr. Andre Lefevre. Mr. Christopher Ostrander, a Canadian from Kodaikanal International School was the Pianist.
 
The school had its Annual Sports Day on 11th October. The Mascot design made by the class-Tenners, the array of flags hung around the U.D. field, the colourful shamiana beside the pavilion and the students in their regulation outfits of school blazer, white shorts or pants with white socks and keds gave a festive impression. The School Band headed by Mr. R.B. Rasaily, a retired Subedar Major of the 8th Gorkha Rifles, further lent dignity and grandeur to the occasion. The Chief Guest for the Sports Day was Mr. T. Wangchuk, the Education Secretary, D.G.H.C. The highlights of the day’s events were the E and F division obstacle race, sack race and the special relay between the present students, ex-students, and the staff team.
 
During the puja vacation a number of senior boys under the care of staff member Deven Yonzone made an excursion trip to Goa and enjoyed themselves thoroughly.
 
On my return journey to Darjeeling I will be stopping at about 5 places to complete a round of reunions and hopefully be back in early December. I want to thank each and everyone who has had anything to do to make this journey so fruitful and helping North Point gradually achieve the Vision 2000+.
 
Warm regards,
Fr.Van

September 2002 Newsletter

St Joseph’s College,

Darjeeling 734 104

West Bengal

October 1st, 2002

Dear Alumni,
 
Before I begin my letter I want to add in an important notification from the Secretary in Kolkata where they are preparing for the World Union Congress of Jesuit Alumni in January (21st to 24th).
Rev.Father,
"This is Jeetu Rampuria, alumnus St.Xaviers, presently Secretary of The World Congress Organising Committee, sending you most respectful salutations. I have been forwarded the email you wrote to Naresh Gupta and am pleased to know that an honorary doctorate shall be conferred upon you on 23rd at Winnipeg,USA. My heartiest congratulations to you. I also understand that you shall be extensively travelling in Europe and USA. Father, we solicit your kind support for the World Congress to be successful. It is only by greater participation from various corners of the world that the event can be truly successful. Since you are travelling extensively and would be meeting a number of alumni/ae from various institutions in different countries, may I request you to be our Ambassador of Goodwill and propagate for the congress and enthuse people to register in big numbers for the congress.
 
I am very sure that with your presence and a personal appeal it will bear good results.
 
May I also take this opportunity of informing you that President of India H.E.Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam has consented to grace the inaugural ceremony as the Chief Guest. Hope this will build up additional excitement.
 
Looking forward to hear good news from your side and wishing you a very happy journey and safe return,

With most respectful regards

Jeetu Rampuria
1.10.2002
 

I just landed in New York a short time ago where I will be staying for the North Point Alumni reunion here on the 5th Oct. I left Darjeeling on

Sept. 7th just after we had a touching and beautiful ceremony of the scattering of Jupiter Yambem's ashes by Nancy, his widow,and their son, Santi, on the heights of Tiger Hill at 8 a.m. It was one of those
extraordinary and exhilarating mornings at Tiger Hill that will long remain in the memory of the participants. There were students there to sing hymns, alumni, teachers and a few friends. Ragat Sen Gupta of
Siliguri, and Fr. Kinley Tshering who were of the same class as Jupiter said a few words about Jupiter in his school days and there was a wonderful message from Nancy. The brilliant sun added warmth to the
occasion. Later in the day Nancy spread the remaining ashes on the UD field, a place where Jupiter had often displayed his athletic prowess.

My first stop was in Singapore where I spent the whole day with Owen Khoo'64, Ashok Arya'68 and Eric von der Recke,65. Sean Plant was away but promises to be there on my return journey.

In Switzerland, I stayed with Bap Kesang'73, the Bhutanese Ambassador to several European countries. It was a pleasure to spend time with Peter De Mello,'51,Chhime Rigzing,'74, the Dalai Lama's representative in western Europe,and Dr.Pem Namgyal'78 belonging to WHO. Then in Munich, I stayed with Dr. Mira DOrcsi-Ulrich (nee Majumdar) who attended college before taking up medical studies in the '60's. She is the daughter of the first Principal of Government College, Dr.S.K. Majumdar. Gathered there were Lobsang Gyalpo'66 who had driven four hours from Vienna, Nilima RayChowdhury of the college, Orun Majumdar'59. The meeting near Dusseldorf was postponed until my return journey. After a short interlude with relatives and friends in Belgium where I spoke to some senior school classes and appeared on Flanders TV, I journeyed through the train tunnel to England. There I met quite a few, Peter Martin, Alan Moss and his wife Antoinette, Garabi Ghosh of the college along with her husband, Frank Ainslie, Brian Waynforth, Julian Lefevre, Gautam Jhaveri of Hong Kong, Barin B.Roy '76, Phillip Khan Panni. Aziz Khan Panni,Tom Bell, Ian Prossor as well as speaking to Nicholas, his brother. I also spoke to Nick's wife, Dolma Lama, College '98 known as Namita and to Tseten Samdrup '79, Chhime Rigzing's brother. So far so good. Now will come the larger reunions here, and in Toronto, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and Calgary and around the Chicago area.

One thing is sure, there is plenty of attachment to North Point which leads me to believe that we will eventually reach our goal as stated in

North Point Vision 2000+.

I want to welcome Fr. Kinley Tshering to the staff of NP. He has just successfully completed his M.Ed studies at the University of Manitoba. While I am in Winnipeg I will sign the Memorandum of Understanding between our College and this University leading to an exchange of Professors, students and sharing in research programmes. This is a giant step forward for the College as it completes its Platinum Jubilee.

During the latter part of September , Loreto Convent and the North Point boys put on the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, under the capable direction of Sister Alice Mary. Two casts had been prepared for the six shows and apparently no one could decide which was superior for the presentations of both casts were simply stunning, so the rave notices would make us believe. This may well lead to continuing stage work every year between the the two schools. At the same time, the Principal of Himali Boarding School, Kurseong, Robie Subba' 72, put on a superb performance at the Darjeeling Gymkhana of Jesus Christ Superstar. Every year Robie produces a play, in the tradition of North Point, that is outstanding. I want to congratulate all those who worked hard at keeping up the stage tradition of St.Joseph's.

An addition from Gobind Dayanani: "Our coach, Michael Ferreira reports the following in the Deccan Herald: "The Indian cuesports teamstarted off its quest for gold not only with a bang but with an explosion that shook the foundations of the Dong Ju College Gymnasium. In a marvelous display of character, the snooker Yasin Merchant and Rafath Habib beat hot favourites Hong Kong 3-1 in the best of five frames finally to snatch India's first gold medal in the
Busan (South Korea) Games." Warm congratulations again to you, Michael. You make us all proud."

I am looking forward to my further meetings with North Pointers.

Warm regards,

Fr. Van sj

August 2002 Newsletter

St Joseph’s College,

Darjeeling 734 104

West Bengal

September 1st, 2002

Dear Alumni

As I will be leaving here on September 7th, this will be my last Newsletter  from Darjeeling till December. However I will write to you during my trip about the various small and large alumni reunions I may be privileged to attend. Last evening we had a reunion of the Darjeeling alumni at Park Restaurant and it was very enjoyable. Even though we live in the same town, our paths seldom cross, except for those connected with the school or college, so the opportunity to meet in friendship was simply wonderful. Arrangements were made for the ceremony on Sept.7th at Tiger Hill for Nancy Yambem will be with us to scatter Jupiter’s ashes there before she moves on with her little son to  Manipur and be with Jupiter’s family for Sept.11th, the first anniversary of that tragic event in which Jupiter lost his life. During the meal, Laba Yambem phoned from Manipur to share his news with us. The North Point family  seemed so closely knit together last evening.

On August 23rd & 24th, we had the closing of the Platinum Jubilee of the College Department with a very successful two day seminar on Higher Education in the new millennium. There was valuable input from members of the North Bengal University officials and from S.S.Meenakshisundaram, the secretary to the Central Ministry of Rural Development in New Delhi.  All of them forecast an imminent change in the structure of Higher Education in India as colleges will have to become self financing very soon with the  lessening of Government control. There will be growing autonomy in the setting of syllabi  and courses demanded by incoming students will have to be set up. Flexibility and decentralization will  be the order of the day in all Higher Educational Institutions. At break periods, it was interesting to see students gathering around  Professor Manas DasGupta, the former Head of the Economics department and around Professor Sarkar, the Controller of Examinations, asking all kinds of questions. It was truly a golden opportunity for them to mingle with the University officials who affect their lives so much.

News has just come from Jamshedpur where the Inter Jesuit Schools Elocution Contest was held last evening. Andre Lefevre informed us that we placed second with two gold medals, one in the Junior section won by Atisha Penjore Bhutia and the other in the senior section won by Rohit Singh who delivered Martin Luther King’s famous speech, ”I have a dream”. I guess we did not fare too well in the Extempore Section where we were represented by Prakash Kumar.

In sports we lost out in the semi-finals of both the Fr. Jack Coffey Football Tournament and in the Abhishek Barua Memorial Football Trophy Tournament but we did make a clean sweep in the inter school Badminton Carnival and in the inter school Table Tennis Carnival. We also lost yesterday in the semi-finals against Goethal’s School in the under 4ft.10 football league. It seems that we do better nowadays in individual contests than in group games.

On Sept 8th I will be attending a reunion in Singapore with Owen Khoo, Ashok Arya, Eric Von der Recke. On the 11th I will be in Geneva with Bap Kesang, Peter Demello, Chhimi Rigzing and Pem Namgyal. Then by the 15th in Vienna with the Liang Brothers and Lobsang Gyalpo followed by a meeting in Munich and around Dusseldorf. The meeting in England organized by Phillip (Farid)Khan Panni will be held again in Chor Bizarre Restaurant on Sept. 27th. On 5th October ,  a New York reunion is being arranged by Nigel Brady and this will be followed by the Toronto reunion being organized by Ivan St.Clair Sequeira and Chris(C.C.) Liu on October 12th. On the 13th I will move on to Winnipeg to prepare for the University of Manitoba Convocation on 23rd with the President’s dinner on 24th. After that the California, Vancouver and Calgary groups have yet to make arrangements. Then there will be visits to several in the Chicago, South Bend, Madison and Michigan area as I begin my return journey to India. Beside the fellowship, the message everywhere will be the same, requesting help to move forward  in executing our NORTH POINT 2000+ VISION. We must make a concerted and combined effort to bring this about. I hope to meet as many of you as possible.

Below, I hope to be able to attach a picture of the first building going up below the workshop that will house mainly the single staff members with other facilities. Sorry, I did not succeed. I will send it to the www.npalumni.org website.

Gobind Daryanani informed us that on an Indian Satellite TV program in the USA he watched the ceremony of Michael Ferreira receiving  the highest Indian Government award for distinguished coaching of any sport from the hands of President Abdul Kalam. I and on behalf of all the alumni want to congratulate you, Michael, on receiving this richly deserved DRONACHARYA AWARD. We are very, very proud of you, Michael. Fay must be tremendously thrilled.

Warm regards,

Fr. Van sj

July 2002 Newsletter

St Joseph’s College,

Darjeeling 734 104

West Bengal

July 31st, 2002

Dear Alumni,

 
The rains are persistent this year; not too many landslides but the state of the roads is abysmal. It isn’t very comfortable moving about in any vehicle and things will only get worse till October because repair work will have to wait. There have been some citizen demonstrations already about this and promises have been made.
 
But within the school and college life goes on normally. The first year college admissions are over and college for the freshers begins today. Two hundred will be taken into Arts, 120 in Commerce and 120 in Science. The new computer Lab is ready except for the computers themselves. This has been set up in Campion Hall and sponsored by Lalit Chainwala, graduate of the seventies. Donors for the computers are earnestly solicited. A draft agreement of a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and our College is ready for initialing when I go over to receive an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Law in October. Staff and students are quite excited about the possibilities this will open up for them and they are avidly studying the draft. The College will complete its Platinum Jubilee Celebrations in late August with a seminar on Jesuit Education in the New Millennium.
 
July 14th was one of those great, great days in the school. The local alumni, under the guidance of Andre Lefevre and Anurag Agarwal,  had worked hard to prepare for the Grand Darjeeling Hill Schools Quiz Contest. The students prepared Fraser Hall and all was ready to receive the 8 delegates from 28 schools, 4 delegates for the Class 10 and below and 4 delegates for the Class 12 section. It began with a few speeches at 8:30 a.m. Then the main attraction, the famous Delhi Quiz Master, Parnab Mukerjee, appeared on stage and the Contest began. As mentioned in the last Newsletter, the Daily Telegraph helped sponsor the program with advertisements around the town and in their newspaper plus the generous gift of Rs.50,000.00 to pay for all the expenses. ICICI, the new Bank in town replacing Grindlays also contributed well designed folders which were highly appreciated.
 
I’ll just add in some of the comments of the Daily Telegraph of July 14th, itself:
 
“A fusillade from the quiz master, quick reflexes from the participants and a nail-biting finish for the boisterous crowd. Brainstorm 2002, the biggest quizzing extravaganza in the hills, had it all, as St. Joseph’s walked away with both the senior and the junior championships here yesterday.
 
“Questions ranged from Jorebungalow and the names on the tablets at the front door of the school  all the way to mythological characters  from the Ramayana but some of the quiz master’s snorters, like the one that asked a hacker to be differentiated from a cracker, had every one guessing in vain.”
 
In the Table Tennis Carnival, North Point won all the trophies. In the Fr. Jack Coffey Football Tournament, the boys are confident of being in the Finals. Now they are gearing up for the Badminton Carnival next weekend. On the stage, Classes 6,7,8,  both A  & B sections put on a series of one act plays  two weeks ago that were very entertaining for all those attending. Now this coming week the major play, Fiddler on the Roof, with a Loreto-North Point combined cast will begin their practices in earnest.
 
Visiting us at present is Ashok Sadhwani with his son Alvir, from Los Angeles. We are spending time discussing the future of the website www.npalumni.org. Alvir who has already passed his Class XII in Los Angeles will be spending time attending classes here and brushing up on his Hindi and above all getting a feel of the school while his father continues his research on the history of the Trade Routes into India from the north. Again, an urgent request to all of you who receive this is to open the above website and fill in the self information sheet so that our NP network may be further expanded.
 
My trip to Europe and to North America is gradually taking shape. The only firm Reunion date so far is October 12th in Toronto, which is being arranged by Ivan St.Clair Sequiera and Chris Liu. Others are developing in Switzerland, Germany, England and in New York and after the Convocation in Los Angeles and other American and western Canadian cities. If any other gathering develops I would be happy to attend, even stopping to visit individuals wherever they may be on my route. I really want to meet as many as possible. Plans are afoot for the international gathering in Thailand next year in August and that may lead me on to Australia, God willing. My hope is that North Point will have a very strong alumni network to rebuild the friendships of your student days and that the school today may benefit from this to achieve NORTH POINT VISION 2000 in the  coming years.
 
Work has been started  on the first building below the workshops. We hope it will be ready for occupancy in March 2003. This will house single staff members, a dormitory for visiting teams and two bigger units for married staff.

Yesterday afternoon I attended a beautiful Tibetan cultural program put on by the Manjushree Cultural Centre with seven Tibetan Central Schools competing. One thing that is flourishing in Darjeeling is the frequent display of the various cultures of the citizens of the town. It could well be a model for the world.


My best wishes to all of you and to your families.
Warm regards,
 
Fr.Van

June 2002 Newsletter

St Joseph’s College,

Darjeeling 734 104

West Bengal

July 8th, 2002

 
Dear Alumni,

 

This is the June 2002 Newsletter. I am sorry I wasn’t able to send it on time, but the month seems to have passed in its usual monsoonish style, without any remarkable happening.

 

The School fete was held on 22nd and unfortunately I had to leave to direct a retreat for a group of diocesan priests in Assam so I wasn’t able to be present. Apparently it was a most enjoyable event with large numbers attending from other schools along with people from the town.

 

Though I have not yet finalized my dates of departure for the event in the University of Manitoba on October 23rd, it will be around mid-September or a little earlier. I will spend about two weeks in Europe meeting alumni. I hope to meet quite a number of you in Switzerland, then in Germany, perhaps in France, in England, New York and Toronto and after the Convocation I`ll return to the USA for other meetings. I am looking forward very much to meeting many of you. The NP alumni Network is very much alive. As I will be attending the Hua Hin Reunion in Thailand in August of 2003, this time I will return via Europe and perhaps meet some more alumni.

From all reports contained in the NP Los Angeles website (www.npalumni.org), Phillip(Farid) Khan Panni and his team arranged a wonderful Reunion in London on the traditional last Saturday of June. Preparing for reunions is not an easy task but they are essential and always very enjoyable, so I wish to express my personal gratitude to those of you who make the extra effort to arrange the get-togethers. If  any group wishes to have a reunion along the path of my journey this year, I would be most happy to be present.

Yesterday I had a very pleasant visit from Anirudh Lahiri ’61. He came to invite me to the Telegraph Newspaper’s 20th birthday party he was holding in the Planter’s Club. The Telegraph was born on July 7th, in 1982, and on July 7th this year they began their Siliguri edition which will be a great boon for Sikkim and Darjeeling District. Ani’s career has seen him working in many parts of the world and last year he returned to  Kolkata to head the Telegraph and the other newspapers of that particular publishing house. I must say it was a very pleasant evening with many, many North Pointers present. Ani would like to get into contact with alumni in Kolkata, especially of his era in North Point. My own best wishes go to Ani in his very important work.

The next visitor in July will be Ashok Sadhwani, the architect of the Los Angeles website and I am looking forward to that very much. While he proceeds to other places, he will leave his son with us for a couple of weeks to attend Hindi classes and brush up his acquaintance with the National Language and taste a bit of North Point life.


My very warm regards to all of you,
Fr.Van

May 2002 Newsletter

St. Joseph's College,
Darjeeling, 734 104
Phone# (0091)- (354)-70251
May 31st, 2002

Dear Alumni,

It is probably the best thing to give the bad news first so that we may be lifted up later on by the good news. The three tournaments in the first term, the Basketball Carnival, the Volleyball Carnival and the Edinburgh Shield Cricket Tournament between Mt. Hermon, St. Paul`s and ourselves did not turn out in our favour.

Though there were some redeeming features, we have to admit the NP effort was not successful. We can leave it at that.

On the stage, the picture was much better. The Primary Annual Concert was everything it should be. Craig Reynolds and his team of Primary Teachers were deservedly honoured for their good production. The diction was well taken care of, the voices carried the melodies tunefully and could be heard clearly at the back of Fraser Hall. Everyone was pleased.

During the rest of May everyone was preoccupied preparing for the terminal tests. The results will be out early next week. The boys will

return from their one week vacation at home and the football season will be in full swing. The school and the college will be joining for the big tournaments as they used to do years ago. Someone wrote a few months ago and was asking for the meaning of what used to be
termed `Sam Matches`. If any one can enlighten me about this, I will be able to pass on the information. I heard the term when I first arrived fifty years ago but this practice had already stopped. I presume it was a forerunner of House Matches but I am not sure.

In the second week of May, my niece, her husband and I went on a visit to Bhutan. As always the hospitality was simply great. I had the

privilege of meeting a number of North pointers. It was very satisfying for me to see that many were holding very responsible positions in Government and other professions. The president of the Bhutanese society in Darjeeling just dropped in to tell me he is trying to handle so many applications for College admission this year. He says the name of North Point is so popular in Bhutan, he cannot handle all the requests.

S. Kipgen with his family paid a visit to the school recently.  He was on transfer from New Zealand where he had held the post of the Indian High Commissioner and was on his way to Kiev in the Ukraine as Indian Ambassador. This makes five ambassadors at present

from our alumni. That must say something regarding the quality of North Pointers, for I am sure not many other schools have such a record.

Nancy Yambem has written that she will probably be here around the 8th or 9th of September to scatter the ashes of her husband at Tiger

Hill on that occasion. She wants to be with Jupiter`s family in Manipur  on the 11th, the never-to-be-forgotten day when the world was changed last year. I hope all the local alumni will be present
on Tiger Hill for this historical occasion.

Those who would like to attend the 6th World Jesuit Alumni Congress from January 21st to 24th, 2003 will be cordially welcome in Kolkata. The key speakers will be Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, the Jesuit Superior General, Soli Sorabjee, India`s Attorney-General and Amartya Sen, the Indian Nobel Prize winner in Economics. You can get all the

information you require about the Congress on the Jesuit website www.jesuitalumni.org. Registration forms will also be available. I hope North point will be well represented on this occasion.

Those who have not yet registered their names on the North Point School website that Ashok Sadhwani has created  are kindly requested to send their names and other details to Ashok "asmara@asmara.com" as soon as possible. There will be a special link soon for those who attended College also. Ashok is working on this at present. Those who wish to attend the London Reunion on June 29th should inform Phillip Khan Panni Phillip@pkp.co.uk soon. Mr. A.C. Rai, the Assistant Headmaster of our school will be present on this occasion as he is returning to North Point after his year`s experience abroad.


Warm regards,
Fr.Van

April 2002 Newsletter

St. Joseph's College,
Darjeeling, 734 104
Phone# (0091)- (354)-70251
April 30th, 2002

Dear Alumni,

April has been a busy month for both the school and college and obviously with all the preparations for the wonderful reunion in Los Angeles last Saturday, a busy month for some of the alumni also. It is great to hear how the get-togethers are proving so beneficial to those who are able to attend. With some more in the offing when I begin travelling again in September, plus the mammoth one planned at Hua Hin, Thailand in August 2003, we can be sure that the North Point Family Network is firmly established.

The first thing that happened was the inaugural function of the College Dept Alumni on 6th & 7th. The organizing committee did a very good job. Even though a large delegation from Sikkim couldn`t come because all leaves were cancelled due to the Vice-President of India`s visit to the State and the equally large delegation from Nepal were prevented  from attending due to the political problems there that week, the gathering in Campion Hall was more than expected. Of course some of the alumni dignitaries who were there drew a good number of admirers, Mrs.Chokila Iyer, the Foreign Secretary of India, Manish Gupta, the retired Chief Secretary of the West Bengal Government, Dasho Karma Dorjee, Secretary of the Ministry of Trade & Commerce in Bhutan. They added  a great deal of interest to the Panel Discussion chaired by Miss Noreen Dunne. Harish Mukhia, an active environmentalist gave us much food for thought and hopefully later this will lead to action. These past two weeks an alumni constitution has been prepared  so that it can become a Registered Society in West Bengal.

Then the alumni of  Kolkata invited me down for a memorial Mass for Fr. Leo Forestell and Fr.Jim McCabe. This was also well attended. Even some of the Xaverian alumni joined us on this occasion and this was much appreciated. Earlier in the day (Sunday,21st ), the St. Helen`s alumnae requested a Memorial Mass for Sister Yvana, the Mother Teresa of Siliguri, who together with Bro.Bob Mittelholtz had established the now famous Jesu Ashram for destitute T.B. and Leprosy patients in the early seventies.

So far there has been only one Edinburgh Shield match and it was with Mt.Hermon, resulting in an outstanding victory for NP. We only reached the semi-finals in the Basketball Carnival this year but since it was a very young team we hope that next year they will be mature players and carry off the trophy. Pema Tashi worked very hard training them.

Even though we are still far short in  our fund raising for the first single staff quarters, we hope that the municipality will pass our plans in a few days so that the work can commence in May itself. The T.M.Chun scholarship fund of $4720.00 will be invested  as soon as it arrives. The one in memory of Fr.Leo Forestell is growing and all those who can are kindly requested to contribute to this.

Monishi Sanyal is starting a Fr.Hayden Science Scholarship which will surely raise the level of competition among the students and help in the development of latent talent. A significant start has been made in a scholarship fund in memory of Sudip Bose who died in a motor accident in the USA some years ago. As the West Bengal Government may  soon stop giving DA to our teachers there will have to be a raise in fees to meet salary requirements and therefore the scholarship funding will have to grow significantly. I personally am very happy that there is this interest among the alumni so that talented students may continue to study here through this

support.

I will be visiting Bhutan this coming week and hope to meet the many alumni there.

 
With kind regards,
Fr.Van

March 2002 Newsletter

St. Joseph's College,
Darjeeling, 734 104
Phone#(0091)- (354)-70251
                                       March 31st, 2002

Dear Alumni,

First of all , I want to praise all the interaction that is going on through spagies@yahoogroups.com. There is interesting history being recorded through its devotees. Perhaps some day, a booklet could be stapled together (properly censored, of course) for the present day students. The new website that is being constantly nursed along by Ashok Sadhwani `71, is also much to be commended. It is open now also to pages for Loreto Convent/College and our own College. It is developing into a fabulous site through Ashok`s painstaking effort. I personally can`t thank him enough. From April onwards my alumni letter will appear only on that website (www.npalumni.org)  as I seem to have quite a few wrong addresses on my list and they keep bouncing back.

School began very smoothly this year under the shepherding of Fr.Wilfred Lobo, the Headmaster and Fr.Pramod Dabhi, the new Prefect. The quadrangle with the newly cemented pathways between the sections of lawn has a definitely wonderful look about it. Gone are the days of the dust swirling around on March and April afternoons.

Practice has begun on the Primary Concert under the capable hands of Craig Reynolds and his band of teachers. It will be something worth witnessing, I am sure. This weekend the UD has gone off camping at Gayaganga and the LD has gone to Singla along the river. The PD are waiting for their Easter Monday picnic tomorrow. On April 2nd, the new Class 11 will be joining the school, and the full student body for 2002 will be present. The I.C.S.E. and I.S.C. examinations went  off very quietly (and very successfully according to the examinees- let`s hope so)

The College is gearing up for its Reunion this April 6th & 7th. This will be held in the newly repaired and painted Campion Hall. The Minister of Higher Education will be the Chief Guest and a couple of the Guests of Honour will be Mrs. Chokila Iyer, the present Foreign Secretary of India and Manish Gupta, the recently retired Chief Secretary of West Bengal, both former students of the College. It should be a good gathering as a lot of preparation has gone into it.

The College through the wonderful interest of the Vice-Chancellor is finally able this June to begin new courses, Physics Honours, History Honours and a degree course in Computer Science. He is also urging us to begin some post graduate courses which we will certainly do when the necessary infra-structure is ready. With this kind of encouraging support the college will take on new life for the benefit of many prospective students.

On March 14th, after months of suffering in the infirmary at St. Xavier`s College, Kolkata, but with the tenderest of care from Fr.,George Camillieri, the Infirmarian and his team of nurses, Fr. Leo Forestell finally went to receive his richly merited reward . The reception his body received at various places along the Hill Cart road and the beautifully arranged funeral Mass on the PD Flat at NP on 16th, were indications of the affection of hundreds who wanted to pay their final respects to someone all of us will sorely miss in the months ahead. The many letters of condolence received here by e-mail were very comforting indeed. Fr. Leo arrived in India in December 1954. Some advised him in the latter years to return to Canada but he would not hear of this as his attachment to India and to Darjeeling was very great and he wanted his body to be buried in the Jesuit cemetery here at North Point. He will long be an inspiration to us who remain. R.I.P.

The three boys who spent two months in St.Paul`s School, in Winnipeg, Canada, Siddhart Wangdi, Gautam Agarwal, and Durga Prasad Limbu, have returned very happy from what they have learned  during their exchange program. But from the e-mail letters  I have received  from the students of that school, the host families, teachers and others from St. Paul`s, I gather that they, too, have learned a lot. The strange prejudices and opinions and apprehensions that people from one part of the world have of another part simply melted away. The three have been wonderful ambassadors of India, much more effective than formal diplomats can ever be. Now two more who have just completed their ISC exams are leaving this week on the same exchange program, Tenzing Ningey Bhutia from Darjeeling and John Paite from Misoram. The Director of Education over there says that six of his students have taken application forms for an experience over here in July and August. We will have to be ready for them and will be looking for host families. Siddhart suggested four weeks in the boarding and four weeks in families would give them a well rounded view of education and life in the hills.

In response to an invitation from Belgium to speak in schools and another from Winnipeg, I may well be traveling westwards this September and October. If  any groups of alumni along the way would like a visit I will certainly break journey to see you. Let us continue to work at making the NP alumni worldwide  network flourish and bear fruit

Warm regards,

Fr.Van

January 2002 Newsletter

St. Joseph's College,
Darjeeling, 734 104
Phone#(0091)- (354)-70251
January 26, 2002

Dear Alumni,

I have just returned from an uplifting cultural display in the Chowrastha as part of the 52nd Republic Day celebrations. There was a very large crowd, bigger than usual. Naturally I was able to meet many old friends afterwards as well as the new DM of Darjeeling, Mr. Mohan. Prior to this I attended another celebration in our own taxi stand at North Point. This short bit of road with the village that has sprung up in it during the past few years has been known as Roadway Ropeline because of the tourist attraction cable cars just beyond our second gate. Now, after the renaming ceremony, it is to be known as Abhiskek.Gram in honour of  Mr.Aloke Baruah`s son who died two years ago in this village.

This winter has been very peaceful except for the constant procession of admission seekers. It is a sad experience to keep saying `no` to so many worthy cases, especially when the heart within is saying `yes`. If our expansion plans ever take off, hopefully we will be able to say `yes` a little more often. At the December Reunion of North Pointers in Mumbai, it was heartening to see the real interest of the alumni in helping out financially so that this expansion and updating can be achieved. Over five days of lunches and dinners always ended up with serious discussions on the future of North Point. I personally feel we achieved something, for many spoke in deeds as well as words. For this I am very grateful. The hosts of the event  had worked hard to bring many together; Nauzer Engineer, Bimal Shroff, Mike Ferreira, Kamlesh Jhaveri and others were hospitality personified. Andre Lefevre and I were overwhelmed by the deep loyalty of these former students and their wives (alumnae by osmosis, as I always say).

Noteworthy among our visitors coming from abroad this winter was Peter Murray `66 who brought his wife, Loreen, and four children, plus another family, all the way from Melbourne, Australia. They had booked themselves into the hotel as a `SURSUM CORDA` group. Loreen was grateful to see the place she had heard so much about over the years. Their youngest son, John, was pleasantly ecstatic as he departed, `This is a wonderful school; you even have soccer`, he said. I could see by the sparkle in his eyes that he would have been a great addition to our teams.

As usual in the winter, a lot of maintenance work is going on. The quadrangle will have a new look when the boys return on 28th February, for the walkways between the plots of grass are being cemented. That should reduce the dust storms that swirl about during March and April afternoons and infiltrate into the classrooms. Painting is going on all over and the woodwork in the stairways and doors is being given a lot of attention to bring out the original grain of the wood. But years of linseed oil application is causing the experts quite a bit of frustration.

Nancy, the wife of late Jupiter Yambem who died in the WTC  disaster in September, has announced her attention of coming this year in the same month to scatter his  ashes around Tiger Hill in the sight of Everest. I am sure that the local alumni and others will be there in great numbers for what I consider an NP family event. The alumni of `72 are gearing themselves up for a reunion here in NP in September. This will be the beginning of, I am sure, reunions of alumni by year, undoubtedly easier to arrange and even more meaningful. After thirty years there will obviously be much to share among brothers of the same NP family.

I would like to inform you that Fr. Jim McCabe, a former Rector here and long time Professor of Chemistry in the College, expired in Toronto on January 12th. R.I.P. Also Fr. Leo Forestell suffering from Parkinson`s Disease  is still lingering on in the infiormary at st.Xavier`s College,Kolkata. I sincerely request your prayers on his behalf.

Early in February, when Sajid Ahmed, my computer expert returns from his holidays, we will complete putting all the alumni e-mail addresses I have into one yahoo egroup. But to get connected with the group, each alumnus will have to arrange to have A YAHOO ADDRESS. Those already listed in this yahoo group seem to be having a ball as they are writing back and forth to old friends. Those who wish to check this list already in operation should open up the following website <http:// groups.yahoo.com/group/spagies>. Quite a number of them are marked `unavailable` because they do not yet have a yahoo address. If enough sign up here, then I can send the monthly newsletter out with less frustration so this may be the last one going out through Outlook Express.

On the 28th January night, the first trio of Class 11 students will be emplaning in Kolkata for the flight to Winnipeg, Canada, where they will spend up to six or seven weeks attending class in St. Paul`s High School there. The students there are eagerly awaiting their arrival but there is even greater excitement in these three, Gautam Agarwal, Siddhart Wangdi and Durga Prasad Limbu. This coming July and August (even though it is during the monsoon) we may be welcoming their first contingent to our Home in the Mountains. Growing in appreciation of other cultures and yet understanding the oneness of human aspirations everywhere is one of the goals we hope will be achieved by this interchange. I hope the experiment will prove fruitful. They will live in host families where one or more sons are already attending St. Paul`s. In April, two other students will go to Winnipeg once the ISC examinations have been completed, Tenzing Ninjey Bhutia and John Paite, for a similar duration of time.

One thing I forgot to include in my December newsletter when writing of the main award winners was the fact that last year for the first time the Gold Medals granted by the local chapter of  our Alumni for the best student in the ICSE  and ISC examinations of March 2001 were awarded to Konark Rai and to Kunal Moktan. I am sorry  for this oversight.

That is all for January. I look forward to your response.

Warm regards,

Fr.Van sj

 

 

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