Sir Tashi Namgyal High School now Tashi Namgyal Academy
My Alma Mater No More
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
It was around this time in 1956 that I came to Gangtok for the first time ever. The atmosphere was warm and filled with inviting music with songs like Panchhi banoo udati phiroon mast gaganmein … Hillory, Hillory Lata’s number from Raj Kapur-Nargis starrer Chori Chori (1954) music by Shanker Jaikishan and Maangke saath tumhara by Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhonsle from Dilip Kumar- Vijayantimala starrer Naya Daur (1956) blaring out from the Polo Ground (now Paljor Stadium) where Raymond Circus or was it Gemini or Royal Circus was being held. We all were there next evening and I am not sure if the sandow there was the fabled Bhim Sandow. Sanu Maiju had then told me that very recently an aeroplane had landed there on the Polo Ground amidst rousing welcome from the people - some bringing a puja thali with flowers and a garland all complete to worship it! Years later, when we were in class eight in the year 1959 one of our classmates, Rudra Sharma was lucky enough to be selected by a draw of lot for a ride in a helicopter that came and landed there for the first time.
I was with my Buba and Thulo Mama for the admission before the head master late B. N. Singh more popularly known as M.A. Sir. Finding me coming from Banaras, he said reciting a Sanskrit sloka that here the river flows reverse – instead of people going to Banaras for higher studies; one has come from there to study here. He was an interim arrangement to fill up the vacancy caused by departure of the head master K. L. Kapoor following a strike by the senior students in the class 10 batch of late Krishna Chandra Pradhan the previous year. The school got late V. N. Langer in controlling the situation and converting it into a new avatar as Tashi Namgyal Academy and him the Principal. Strict disciplinarian he was and there was an attempt to throw him also out by our seniors of the batch that included late Arun Kumar Pradhan. Such a move was thwarted then but again a year or so later once again but Langer dealt with it strictly. It was probably the reason what made him even hold back a student from the batch of 1961 with late Badri Nath Pradhan in the Sent up Test stopping him from appearing the School Final Examination next year. He repeated class 10 with us and his copy of Wren and Martin’s High School Grammar and Composition had solutions written for the lessons previous year. Principal used to take the class for English besides Economics. We had his book with friends in the front desk that helped us give correct answers from it in reply to the questions readily to his satisfaction.
Once admitted in the Sir Tashi Namgyal High School that became Tashi Namgyal Academy next year, a big room upstairs in one of the blocks of the barracks turned into the school served the purpose of a hall. Not only the dignitaries like the Maharaja Saheb and Maharaja Kumar Saheb, Political Officer Appa B. Pant, Dewan of Sikkim N. K. Rustomji but also visiting distinguished guests like late Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, HH the Dalai Lama, philosopher and educationalist Kaka Saheb Kalelkar (1881-1985)and others were welcomed and entertained here. I remember our seniors Palden Gyamtso and Samdup Norden with classmates Norden, Samdup, Chewang Dorjee, Pintso Tsering and Pem Tsering performing Tibetan dance. They also used to perform Lama Dance at the lawns of the Tsukhlakhang monastery near the Palace during Worship of the Snowy Range now known as Pang Lhab Sol. A senior B.B. Chettri had once performed Mera juta hai Japani. Duryodhan Pradhan, a junior paired with another, had also performed a Nepali dance once. Other block served as the hostel with Bhutia and Nepali sections with a portion served as residence for the hostel superintendent E. Menon, our mathematics sir. There was a room for table tennis and other indoor games and another for our carpentry class. We were taught wood carving and sculpture from clay and wood. A Dhobi with his donkey used to stay in the quarter near the main gate. Students found coming late were made to run around the school ground by the Principal. Once I had to hide myself in the thick grown bushes in the place behind the gate yet to be come up and save myself from the punishment. Present structures for the school came up later and we shifted there in 1959 when in Class 8. We still used to go in khaki shorts and bare foot. For PT drills on Saturdays we had black shorts and white shirt with students divided into four groups, viz., A, B, C and D. Scouts had to be in uniform with scarf complete who welcomed guests near the upper gate with arch made of their sticks.
The older one becomes the quicker the present fades into sepia and past looms up in glorious technicolour.
My batch-mates in Class X of 1961 in the last batch that appeared in the School Final Examination are as below:
1. Krishna Prasad Sharma* (served Private Estate - Palace)
2. Tanka Ram Sharma (IFS - Principal CCF-cum-Secretary Forests, Sikkim)
3. Indra Kumar Basnet (served Police Department)
4. Bhim Sore Subba*(served Forest Department)
5. Pratap Singh Subba*(served Forest Department)
6. Ganesh Kumar Subba (IAS - Addl. Chief Secretary, Sikkim)
7. Bal Chand Sarda (Chairman, Gangtok Municipal Corporation)
8. Din Dayal Daga (Industrialist)
9. Ram Chandra Mundra (Government Contractor)
10. Topay Bhutia* (served in Bhutan later Election Department)
11. Topgay Bhutia (served Police Department)
12. Tsering Tashi Bhutia (served Police Department)
13. Wong Dorji Bhutia (served Government of India Press, Gangtok)
14. Pintso Bhutia (Secretary Agriculture)
15. Dup Tsering Bhutia*(served Police Department)
16. Nima Tamang (details not available)
17. Hem Singh Pradhan (served Education/HRD Department)
18. Hem Narsingh Shakyavansha ( Doctor in Nepal)
19. Narayan Bhakta Shrestha (from Taplejung, Nepal) and
20. Rajiva Shanker Shresta (IAS - Advisor, State Planning Commission, Sikkim)
Asterik* along with the names indicate friends who are no more amidst us. I have attempted to give the position, as available, they held are given in brackets. I may be corrected and/or updated, if possible.
It is over fifty years since we left the school, there is an alumni association for Tashi Namgyal Academy in its new avatar and also for the Tashi Namgyal Senior Secondary School that made way for this premier public school shifting to the present premises in 1966. It is sad there is none for those, who were the students here in the Tashi Namgyal Academy since its inception in 1957 and through the transformation days rather years. For us it is only the memories left of our Alma Mater - some sweet and a few sour to linger on aplenty till this date the way we made it possible in our little own way. We carried on its history with us but none to take it over to enrich and further enhance the glorious past. That is the fate what made me write this piece in tribute to all my teachers, seniors and friends deceased and living and to the Alma Mater we can call it ours no more - all lost in the wilderness unique!
Disclaimer: It is my personal account and a sincere attempt to document the events and places in and around Gangtok. Some names of persons have been mentioned to make the write up interesting and informative. Else, there is no other intention, whatsoever. Any suggestion is welcome and may be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo taken on the last day of TNA on the school ground 14 December 1961 of day-scholars Class X of 1961 standing - Hem Singh Pradhan, Bal Chand Sarda, Din Dayal Daga, Wong Dorjee Bhutia sitting Ram Chandra Mundra, Rajiva Shanker Shresta and Nima Tamang