LEARNING LESSONS: Sir Tejinder Virdee with Aridaman Singh Thind (left); and (inset below) Virdee (fifth from left) with his wife Vatsala (sixth from left) at the 50th anniversary meeting in London of Kisumu Boys’ School’s class of 1968


by AMIT ROY KENYAN BOYS’ SCHOOL ALUMNI CELEBRATE MILESTONE IN LONDON THE ‘Kisumu kids’ were all there at their Lon­don reunion – Sir Tejinder Virdee, Satwindar Singh Sadhal, Rashmi Dhorajiwale, Davinder Rehal, Ashok Sodha, Guru Behan, Balvinder Nagi and several others, with their wives. And Aridaman Singh Thind, who had taught them maths, was also present. The boys, now mostly aged 66, were meeting 50 years after they had been classmates attend­ing Kisumu Boys’ School in Kenya. The atmosphere reminded me a bit of the 1969 film, Goodbye, Mr Chips, with Peter O’Toole as the kindly Latin teacher Arthur Chipping in a small public school in Britain in the 1920s. When he said something about a boy’s ability – or was it lack of ability? – at Latin, the pupil gently reminded him: “I think that was my grandfather, sir.” Kisumu Boys’ School – motto ‘Aim High’ – had an English headmaster, Mr Chubb. No one knew his first name. The gathering also had a touch of the 1967 movie, To Sir With Love, starring Sidney Poitier, because of the obvious affection in which Thind was held. “He’s is the number one teacher on the plan­et,” declared Sodha. “That’s why even now I seek his blessings and touch his feet.” Back in the 1960s, Kisumu, which is 220 miles from Lake Victoria, was a small place – “every­one knew everyone else”. The policy of Africani­sation, which later triggered an Indian exodus to the UK, hadn’t got under way. Unlike the forgetful Mr Chips, Thind, though he is now 86, cut a sprightly figure. Clearly, he taught maths exceptionally well because when the class of 1968 moved on to the UK, US or Canada, they found it easy adjusting to the aca­demic standards in the west. After A-levels, the boys had to go abroad for higher education, because very few opportuni­ties were then available in Kenya. For many Indians, who had to come out of Africa, the old world represented a kind of para­dise, now sadly lost. Sadhal, who is professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering in the University of South California in Los Angeles, said: “We need people like Mr Thind who dedicate themselves to education. It’s wonderful to come to an even­ing like this to meet and talk about old times.” Dhorajiwale became an accountant, Rehal went into IT. Nagi returned to Kisumu for brief visits in 1970, 1986 and in 2011 when his nephew got married in Mombasa. “Everything’s changed,” he said, a little nostalgically. The star of the show was Prof Sir Tejinder Vir­dee, who was modest, simple and lucid in ex­plaining how his work at the Large Hadron Col­lider in Geneva had helped in the discovery of that most fundamental and elusive of particles – the Higgs Boson. He said he invited a teacher from Kisumu Boys’ School to visit him in Geneva so that he could go back and tell his pupils about the magic of science. “Education was the bedrock on which we stood and all of us had a good education when we came to this country,” he emphasised. “That’s one of the reasons why we flourished.”