The Old Boys' Association of St Joseph's Boys' High School (Bangalore, India) was established in the year 1918, and has instilled a sense of belonging for Old Boys (and Old Girls, recently). The Old Boys' Day held on the first Sunday of September every year is an occasion to remember Old Boys' who are no more, and Old Boys' who have laid down their lives fighting for the country in several Wars.
The simple and sober prayer ceremony is held at 07:15 AM. Seen in the photograph below are two Principals from the past: Fr Hedwig Da'Costa, aka "Cop" (1970s) and Fr Claude (1960s).
The Chapel, adorned with stained glass windows, is an oasis of calm in the middle of Bangalore. Hymns and short prayers mark the occassion.
The School Band then gets ready to set the tune for the march of the Scouts for the next part of the ceremonies in the garden.
The War Memorial set in the garden is one of the few in Bangalore. It was originally built in memory of close to 30 Old Boy's who had lost their lives fighting for the British Army in battles of World War I across in Africa and Europe (1914-1918).
The wreath is laid with flags of the School and Country fluttering in the early morning breeze, while Fr Hedwig leads a short prayer in his inimitable style.
During our school days, the 9AM assembly was an occasion to say a short prayer, and sing the National Anthem and School Song on Mondays. The School Song is sung just like the old days. Old Boys made a passing reference to Fr Furtado's opening line 'Jaaa... that's your note' which preceded the singing of the National Anthem. Sadly, Fr Furtado passed away during the year 2013, after decades of dedicated service.
The Breakfast is an important part of the Old Boys' Day celebrations, closing and ending with a prayer of thanks.
Several options for Vegetarians, including Dosa, Upma, Idly and Vada, with Chutney and Sambar.
For the Non-Vegetarians, the menu comprises of the standard - and highly looked forward to - Bread, Egg and Sausage.
Finally, Bananas and Coffee round off the Breakfast.
Mahesh (Class of 1975) with 'Widdy' aka Abu (of "Tuck Shop" fame), who first came to the School as a young lad in 1942. BTW, Abu's dad had come to the School around 1910 or so.
The 'Multi-purpose, multi-level Sports hall is now all but done, but well in use already. The facilities include an indoor Swimming Pool, Table-tennis, Basketball and an indoor Cricket pitch.
Does anyone remember the old School Bell that the late Mathew used to ring? To us kids, it used to feel like an ultra heavy bell with the long chain. It is probably heavy, since Mathew needed to exert some effort to ring it. He had different tunes for different times of day. Well, here it is, now located at the spot just outside it's original home inside the 'Bell room'.
The Old Boy's photograph is taken in two batches. There appeared to be a larger number of 'Older' Old Boys this time.
The Annual General Body meeting is held in the new Hall, beginning with a prayer in memory of those who have passed on, and with messages from Old Boys from several parts of the world. Old Boys had come in from as far as the USA, and from other parts of India including Delhi, Pune, Goa, Trivandrum, Chennai and Coorg.
The Old Boys' Hockey team thrashed the present students team by a large margin. Something like 12-2 or 14-2. It got hard to count after a while.
The Old Boy's Office is a spacious and modern, includes a kiosk where past academic and sports achievements of students can be viewed. School Annuals from 1918 (except for the gaps during the years of World War 2) have been digitized for all to see. A stupendous project, considering the condition of the Schools Annuals that are so many decades old.
The 'Samosas' played an important role in our lives as school boys. The look, feel and taste does not seem to have changed since the 1960s, from what I recall.
Can anyone forget Widdy's good old Stick Jaws? Modernization has not reduced the 'stickiness' of the snack one bit. Chewing a few pieces of stubborn paper continue to be the done thing.
The year 2014 marked the first time that the Old Boys were split across two levels, resulting in plenty of space and contributing to the relaxed atmosphere.
Yet another highlight, 'Biriyani' from 'The Only Place'.
On the way out, I take a detour via the War Memorial, a unique monument. I wish we had learnt a little more about this Memorial and related events during our school days. Well, I hope today's teachers are touching on this subject a wee bit, making History a 'live' subject.
On the way out, we have a 'reunion' after 39 years. Looks like Harold and Manjunath have not met in decades. KT happily introduces them. 'Aahhhh.... is that you....????!!!!'.
Several memories of OBA Day are like the grand reunion captured in the photo above.
If you have come this far, thanks for reading. Thanks to all who dedicate their time and effort over the year to keep the Old Boy's Association running and contributing in so many significant ways to the School.
That's it for OBA Day, 2014!
Here are a few glimpses of the OBA Connect get together held in Goa in August 2014.
Please click here if you wish to take look at a few glimpses of Old Boys' Day 2013 in Bangalore.
See you at an OBA Connect event shortly!