Gordon Cropp from Melbourne is very sure about his favourite memory of Calcutta. “La Martiniere for Boys”, says the student from the 1960 batch. “On Sunday mornings, we boys used to march from St. Paul’s Cathedral to the school. As we saw the girls’ school bus approaching, all of us boys would scream ‘eyes right’ in unison to catch a glimpse of the pretty girls!” reminisces the “badmaash boarder”. He remembers his principals, Harry Chalke and Johnathan Wise, fondly and regularly attends the founders’ day celebrations organised internationally by the alumni.
About the rest of the city, Gordon says: “It’s home. I love the place and am not worried about the chaos. The hospitality of the people is touching.” His wife Sandra adds: “Calcutta for us is Chinese food from Tung Fong on Free School Street, steak from Mocambo and the local favourite, fish.”
Another La Martiniere boy, Anglo-Indian Assembly member and principal of National Gems Higher Secondary School, Michel Shane Calvert, says: “As a boarder, games were a very important part of our lives. They helped in community building.” His fond memories of the city include Rangers Club, St. Mary’s Church, Jalfrezee and Pork Vindaloo.
When Lynne Punwani was a student at St. Joseph’s Convent and Loreto College in 1969, Rangers Club was “different”. She recounts: “My mother was in charge of the women’s wing of Rangers Club and led its women’s hockey team. I remember there used to be a Ferris wheel with only four boxes. The boys would actually pull the boxes down, so there was a lot of manual labour involved! I used to play hockey right outside the tent. The Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve parties were full of fun and frolic.”
She remembers fruit vendors with baskets on their heads visiting homes. “As they would leave, we would quickly sneak some fruits from the back of their baskets! I also remember attempting to steal phuchkas but the phuchkawala always caught us.”
“My fondest memories of the city revolves around the Rangers tent. Today, in fact, when the taxi driver didn’t know the way, I could guide him. I remember playing hockey in the fields and all the dances,” says Cornel White from Perth, who has returned to the city after 30 years, with wife Brenda.
The other fond memories include “dancing and jam sessions at Trincas on Sunday and the 10.30am show at Elite Cinema”. Food and drink form a major part of his association with the city. “I loved the Easter eggs that we got from Flurys and Nahoum’s. They were marzipan eggs, unlike the ones we get in Australia,” he says.
A Rangers Club veteran, Blair Williams flashes his membership cards with pride. “When I was the junior vice-president in 1973, ’74 and ’75, the current president Norman Knight’s father was my senior counterpart.
My association with this club is long and cherished,” he says.