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Lyonpo's Speech


Address by Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley
105th Birthday Celebrations 

Dr. Graham's Homes, Kalimpong. 
24th September, 2005 - 


Distinguished members of the Board of Management, 
Managing Member and Secretary to the Board, 
Mr. and Mrs Monteiro, 
Fellow OGBs, 
Dear boys and girls.

As an old student, my senses are guided by nostalgia to seek out images of the past, to look for things that are familiar. It is natural to reminisce and to be disappointed some times with change. But institutions must change ' just as society does, lest they be consigned to the shadows of irrelevance and obscurity.

I am glad that my alma mater has changed, albeit through some ups and downs ' that it has grown and will continue to transform to shape the future of many children and to some extent, the destiny of this great country. It certainly has contributed to Bhutan's process of nation building and my countrymen are grateful. In this regard, I have the special honour and privilege of bringing to the Homes the greetings and good wishes of His Majesty the King on the occasion of its 105th Birthday Celebrations. 

It gives me immense pride to note that the continued relevance and pursuit of excellence by my old school have been rewarded recently with two prestigious awards. I congratulate all the students, teachers and staff for this remarkable accomplishment. On behalf of the OGBs, I would like to commend Mr. M.J. Robertson, President and Chairman and all the distinguished members of the Board of Management for their most able guidance. I would also like to express my admiration for the excellent work being done by Monoji, Richard Monteiro and David Foning. Regular visitors to the school have noted the positive difference that Mr. Monteiro has made. He has my very best wishes as he goes about discharging the difficult and challenging tasks as the head of this extraordinary institution.

I am very happy to find that there are also important aspects of the Homes which have remained the same. The unique mission as envisioned and initiated by Dr. Graham continues to be the purpose of the Homes just as most of the buildings which served as our home and classrooms stand firm and solid. These are indeed, the same old grounds I remember so well and to which I and many others have returned on this auspicious occasion. 

What then are the reasons why OGBs can never forget their old school and are so attached and grateful to it? Why are we Over Grown Babies so happy to return to the folds of the Kalimpong hills, time and again, from countries as far as Australasia, North America and Europe? Could it be because it was here in the cradle of Mt Kanchenjunga that we developed roots to grow and wings to fly. Wasn't it here, above all other places, that we lived the most important part of our lives as one large family where enduring relationships were born? Indeed, for many of us the Homes were the only true home. It was here that we grew to be young men and women ready for the real world equipped not only with a good education but with a good sense of how we should conduct our lives as responsible and productive citizens. 

Allow me then to share with you some of the values that I was taught here which have guided me throughout my life. In so doing, I have no doubt that I would be speaking as much for the many OGBs who are here today and those of you who will be graduating soon. 

1. The first that comes to mind is 'dignity of labour' ' the willingness to soil one's hand and appreciate those who live by it. My first assignment in Heathland cottage was the bogs. Here in the Homes we learnt that there is no dignity in those who expect others to do what they themselves consider dirty and demeaning.

2. Discipline ' the virtue sought after by any employer in any organization. It is a sign of inner strength guiding thought, speech and action in the best interest of self and society. It is in those who possess this quality that patience, dependability, courage, and leadership are to be found. 

3. Tolerance ' the ability to avoid conflict and find reason for accord in the turbulent and discordant world in which we live. It is tolerance that opens one's heart to compassion, creates opportunity for unity of purpose and promotes social harmony. I remember how in this good Christian school, a Hindu and a Buddhist taught from the pulpit of our chapel on separate occasions. 

4. The wisdom to differentiate between pride and vanity ' that which gives confidence to be humble and courteous with dignity, knowing how to hold one's head high without looking down on others. It is the key to goodwill and genuine advice. 

5. The joy of counting blessings ' that which gives the fortitude to withstand and accept things that cannot be changed, so that the smallest of blessings give cause for joy. It makes one aware of the lesser and more unfortunate and builds strength to face suffering without bitterness. It gives cause to the amazing discovery that one need not be rich to give and that there is merit in rising above one's own sorrow to bring happiness to others.

6. Participation and healthy competition - the spirit to strive for excellence - not to be spitefully better off but so that others can be spurred on to reach for their inner resources to do equally well or even better. It is knowing how to be humble in triumph and graceful when vanquished. 

7. Faith, compassion, honour, loyalty and patriotism ' the primary values that make for a gentler and kinder society and provide strength and courage to protect and preserve against those who seek to destroy. These are the rare ingredients for a truly civilized people capable of undertaking noble pursuits. 

8. The value of true friendship, the realization that as social beings we cannot live without friends. It was here that we were given the opportunity to develop and hone our skills to cultivate and sustain friendship. It does not take long to realize that true wealth is to be measured by the number of friends one can count.jjjjjj

For these and many more lessons and values I learnt and imbibed in the Homes, both within and outside the classroom, I pay tribute to my mentors who were directly associated with my education in this great school. In so doing, I pay homage to all the past and present teachers such as Miss Colquhoun of Kindergarten, house parents such as aunty Jean Burns of Woodburn cottage (both of whom are here today), and staff of all the departments that make up this institution. Many of them have since sadly left this world but their spirit and deeds live on in these grounds and in the hearts of those who have had the unique opportunity to pass through the portals of this hallowed institution. 

I am most indebted to Monoji, for giving me the honour and privilege to be here on this occasion to make special mention of the following:

1. Late Dr. Jim Minto and Mr. Bernard T. Brooks, who as the Principal and Headmaster, demonstrated how any organization should be run and can be run. Gifted with tremendous charisma, communication skills and true leadership qualities, they were giants among educators and made a fantastic team. In many ways they showed how human institutions are ultimately systems of relationships between and among actors and that in themselves, they have no inherent nature. Their team spirit was most exemplary and has served as an inspiration in my own life. Some refer to their period as the golden era of the Homes.

2. Graham McMahon, Stuart Filby, Reverend Sundaram and again, Dr. Minto - all of whom taught me English and imbued me with a love for poetry and reading. Graham taught me how a strict disciplinarian can be greatly feared, appreciated and even adored all at once, if one were just and kind. Stuart demonstrated that a teacher and pupil can be the best of friends as we still are. It was he who taught me that being able to say no is just as important as saying yes. I thank Reverend Sundaram for his faith in me and for his quiet encouragement. 

3. Mr. Lowen Lama, who made me aware of the larger world. He was a good teacher, a fine gentleman and a great commanding officer. 

4. Stanley Robins, Master Dozman and Mr. Henderson who made a fair attempt to develop what remain my latent artistic and carpentry potentials. They are the inspiration behind my amateur architectural exploits.

5. Miss Datta, whom I thank for having introduced me to the mother tongue of Rabindranath Tagore; Mr. Santosh Salve and Mr. Sampson for Hindi on which I am ever so dependent - the latter for English too. They are remembered for their gentle persuasion and expectation of fullest commitment from students. 

6. Mr. P.V.Chacko, who always turned crimson to convince us that discussing reproductive systems is nothing to blush about, and Mr. Kerr whose Chemistry classes were unforgettable moments with endless allusions to momos and cakes of which we saw so little in those days. 

7. Mr. George Ipe, who could explain in most simple terms the complex concepts of physics and showed how the chest upon which rests the sternest face could carry the gentlest heart.

8. Mr. Thumbudorai, who taught us that maths is all about using the head and that even thumbs have no use much less the calculators on which we now depend. 

9. Mr. Simick, who insisted that those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.

10. Mr. Arthur Phoning, for his magical power of creating illusions of a star-filled sky with a simple wooden ruler that struck the heads of straying minds. He also effused a shared kinship with the Bhutanese.

11. Mr. Chibber Prakash, who imparted to us the value of punctuality with the help of a cherry branch , 'Don't come by walk' he would bellow with a whack on our behind - girl or boy, the treatment was fair with of course, unequal results. 

12. Mrs. Rosemary Minto, who turned ruffians into chivalrous young boys with the charm to disarm any girl on the dance floor during the regular socials, She was a wonderful dance teacher and there are few who could match her zest for life. 

13. Miss Bence, who taught special English and gave me the foundations for the language that crosses linguistic barriers among all nations. 

14. Reverend John Webster, for the good shepherd that he still is and the cheerful classes that he conducted. 

15. Sister Cassidy and Dr. Rao, who made sure that our health was never taken for granted and administered timely care. Sister Cassidy will always be remembered for her melodious voice that could cheer a patient onto recovery. There were times when her compassion and her beautiful nurses could get boys to feign fever with creative ways to raise body temperature. 

16. Miss Murrey, for the haunting Irish songs that I sing in my shower, and Dr Matthews for the amazing musicals she directed. I thank them both for the world of music in which I find escape and solace. 

17. Uncle Cyrill Tutt and aunty Tutt who gave me nine months of good parenting each year during the most formative years of my life. And there's aunty Elizabeth Grey who was the true embodiment of love, understanding and kindness. They were indeed parents of the warmest and most affectionate kind that Dr. GRAHAM would have wished for his children.

18. Now then, what of Banner (Mr Monomoy Banerjee)? We thank him for having readily and enthusiastically agreed to be the guide and counsel of the debating society we started and for being a wonderful person. The Homes are fortunate to have the benefit of his wise stewardship.

19. And of course, I would like to pay tribute to my amazing, unforgettable classmates, several of whom are here today; Heathland chums and Willingdon soul mates. They were and are wonderful friends and family.


I am certain that today's Homes students are learning even more than I did during my nine years and that they will have better and greater reasons to be thankful to their teachers, house parents and friends. To those who will be leaving the Homes at the end of this year, I give my very best wishes for success and happiness in whatever they choose to pursue in life. 

Finally, I must express my deepest appreciation to the Kalimpong OGBs. I know they not only help in making these annual celebrations a success each year, but that they are the most dependable allies and supporters of the Homes at all times. I would particularly like to thank them for making all other OGBs feel welcome and for letting us know that Kalimpong will always be our shared home and heritage. 

I wish Dr. Graham's Homes a very happy birthday and many, many more glorious years.


More articles

   Lyonpo's Speech
   Robert Harding's Memories
   Thuten Kesang's Birthday trip.
   Robert Street's Journey
   Memories of Kalimpong - Pat Hardie
   A brief History - Pat Hardie
   Dr Kalaam's Speech
   Miss Prentice's Pictures

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