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Haunting Remembrances - Chapter VII

St. Anthony's High School - Undying Memories 
As the fun and the games and the festivities of the winter holidays of 1977 came to an end, and I had ascended to Class-VI, the chastening I received at the hands of sir Halifax two years since was still fresh in my mind. I was steadfast in my resolve not to wait for the bus at Barik, come rain or hail, unless perchance it so happened that the lumbering Bedford ground to a halt just as I was crossing the bus stand. The bus ride was an ordeal for me anyway, as I put the onus on myself to save my 15 paise from the conductor. As soon as I saw the conductor approaching, jingling his bag of coins, out of which he dispensed change to the customers with amazing deftness, I would take advantage of my small size and the interposing crowd to sneak behind the conductor and stand amongst the passengers he had already covered. But most of the conductors were seasoned campaigners. They were inured to do…

The Colorful Seasons of Shillong

Among all the vagaries of weather which tormented my existence at various periods of my life, and which made me wistfully dream of being in climes more benevolent for succour, none can be traced back to my dear old Shillong. Nay, it would be more truthful and accurate to state that the Shillong of my childhood is the place I have often dreamt of being in, whenever Mother Nature's capricious moods made life so hard to bear. It again makes me wonder how, in Shillong, the same Mother was so benign, so unobtrusive, that we lived through her varied and beautiful seasons without ever feeling any of her elements intruding upon our peace, rather our days and nights were made the more pleasant for their soothing presence. The closing of one season was as much mourned as the onset of another welcomed; the benefactions of the one no less than the other. Every season had it's own little delights to offer; own little nuances that contributed to the repository of pleasant memories to be che…

Baghjan Oilwell Blowout - The Lessons Unlearnt

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It is no great secret that drilling for oil and gas involves the risk of exposure to release of high pressure from the hydrocarbon reservoir being drilled into. It is also no unknown fact that multiple disastrous as well as catastrophic events have resulted from drilling a well without sufficient regard for this clear and present danger. Time and again, it has been established beyond doubt, that there is only one secret to success in the oilfield - follow the rules. The rules here are pretty simple. We must not allow the hydrocarbons to come to surface unless we want it to. The application of the rule is also very simple if we stick to the methodology developed and improved over the years in the global oilfield scenario based on the learnings through the decades.
The only effective means of subduing high pressure in hydrocarbon reservoirs 3-4 km deep in the ground is to introduce a counterbalance to the pressure. This counterbalance is achieved in the form of a viscous liquid that is u…

Haunting Remembrances - Chapter VI

ST ANTHONY'S HIGH SCHOOL - THE PRIMARY SCHOOL YEARS
Time wasn't going to wait, nor was it going to slow down, to give me the luxury of getting acquainted with the new situations and new characters that had entered my life in an intractable throng after that memorable first day in St Anthony's High School. Rather, it moved all the more on a fleet foot, showing me more to admire; more to wonder at; and more to be bemused about; at a swift pace. A few days into my new life in my new school, I was reminded that the Shishu Mandir days were over, and that I was no longer the child who was to be caressed and fed, but a boy who must stand on his feet and be accountable for his actions. Stragglinginto school late one day (because I waited for a bus that never came), and climbing the steps to the verandah, I found sir Halifax, cane in hand, resolutely blocking my way. Every wrinkle on his taut face seemed to frown at me as he asked, "why are you late?" And as if divining my …

Haunting Remembrances - Chapter V

St. Anthony's High School - First Impressions
In the spring of '75, as Shillong was dressing up in the choicest finery for the new season, with new leaves sprouting to replace their withered ancestors in the trees; and new roses, dandelions and cherry blossoms opening their hearts to suffuse the air of Shillong with their fresh-born color and fragrance, I too found myself in the spring of a new phase of my life. With my heart still grieving the loss of Shishu Mandir, busy preparations were afoot to set me forth on my life's next journey. Amid some vacillation between St Edmund's and St Anthony's as the most suited to take me on that journey - my friends, Wanbok and Klensing having already opted for the latter, and I too, set to follow suit - my cousin Ranjit, then just passed out of Edmund's, pressed forth his advocation for his former school as "much better" for me than St Anthony's. But as it was too late in the day, and the half-hearted attempt a…

Haunting Remembrances - Chapter IV

SHISHU MANDIR - A MEMOIR
Passing through the street gate, as we ascended the stairway to our school, the bright yellow building, with it's beautiful green gables, loomed higher and higher in our sights. We fell into silence, so much awe that scene inspired in us every time. Wanbok had hurriedly discarded the chewing gum or whatever he had in his mouth before we crossed the road. His more sedate cousin, not known for any frivolous indulgence anyway, maintained his usual, composed self (I don't remember seeing Klen engage in a full throated laugh, even in Wanbok's boisterous companionship, and the best we could extract from him was a sage smile at times)
The stairway, lined with beautifully flowering plants, sloped up directly to the backdoor of the school which led past the austere and forbidding door of the headmistress' office. That door and the office it concealed had such a grave and officious look to it, that we always preferred to give it a wide berth. Just ahead of…

Haunting Remembrances - Chapter III

THE ROAD TO SHISHU MANDIR

Even as the sun was on its ascent behind the hill to cast its magical spell on the Laban landscape, and the dew was still fresh upon the silken petals of the blooming roses, I was engrossed in preparations for school. Almost at the same time, from somewhere in the cluster of quaint little hamlets on the slopes of the "Lloong" compound, two little boys with ruddy faces would have commenced their descent towards our home. Sharp at 20 minutes to eight, my mother would be applying the finishing brush to my hair in front of the mirror, even as I would espy the eager faces of my friends, Wanbok and Klen Sing through the little glass squares of our lattice window, calling out to me, "Debojit! Chalo school".

That was the signal to start out for school every morning. So, together, attired in spotless white shirts with the shining blue school badges neatly pinned to the pockets, gray shorts, red ties and glossy black shoes; with satchels full of book…