(KC Tandon (music) remembers with nostalgia, his first day in The PPS and magnanimity of Mr JK Kate, the first Headmaster. The picture shows Mr JK Kate introducing the Chief Guest S.Ujjal Singh, Speaker of Lok Sabha to Mr KC Tandon)
Time evening around 5.30pm. I had boarded the Ambala-Nabha shuttle with my baggage containing a suitcase, sitar & israj (an instrument like Dilruba). I was quite unsure about this assignment of mine because at Pilani (Birla Public School), I had settled very nicely and had made a place for myself in the town. The train steamed in around 7.00pm. A very quiet place. There were only two coolies who had already been engaged by some co-passengers. I just wondered as to where I had landed. When I came out of the station, there were only three rickshaws, I rushed to one of them and without asking anything I asked him to put my luggage in the rickshaw. We left for PPS (it was the time when floods were just over). It was a very quiet and lonely road.
The rickshaw-wala brought me to the main school building.I saw a man with an overcoat and felt hot. When I got closer, it was Mr. J.K. Kate! Greeted him and after exchange of pleasantries he (Mr. Kate) asked Jung Singh to take me to the Junior school in the station wagon. I was asked to stay on the first-floor left hand corner room. Later Mr. Jagdish Singh (our Librarian) joined me for the night. Next day I was asked to shift to the right-hand ground floor near the corner room. It was properly furnished with new drugget and furniture. After settling there, I came out for an evening walk. On my return to my utter surprise, what do I see! The whole room is flooded with water. How come! From where has the water come? After a lot of search, I discovered that the students were having their bath and the top of my bathing tub was connected to the main hot water pipe and its outlet was plugged to fill up the tub (I didn’t know anything about it). All the boys (Beas Nandrajog and friends) and some employees helped me in getting the room cleared.
Next morning the H.M. came to take me to the Senior School for morning assembly. I was asked to select assembly songs, which I did and compiled them for the school Prayer Book. It had English, Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit and Punjabi hymns. I was supposed to compose the tunes and this was done with the help of Mr SC Cowell, Head of English Department. Our H.M. was trying to get the President of India, Dr. Rajindra Prasad for the formal inauguration of the school. We were all very busy. I had to commute from Jr School to Sr School twice, sometimes thrice a day. I didn’t have any means of transport. It was very hard to walk to the school thrice. I discovered a unique method. Mr Kate would take me in the morning, then I would take lift from Mr MS Bhatnagar who also had to come to the Jr School and again go to Sr. School in the afternoon. I noticed that Mr Kate used to cycle down for lunch to Jr. School and go back at 3.00pm. I started taking his bicycle at 1.30pm and leave it back by 3.00pm.
All the characters of staff in this article, especially involved in the bike riding incident. From left Mr.Kholia, Mr HB Kumar(PT and sports),Mr KC Tandon himself, Mr MS Bhatnagar(biology) and jagdish Singh (Librarian)
One day while I was coming back Mr Kumar (PTI) asked for a lift, I obliged him on my way to Jr School. Mr Kholia (Despatch) also joined us (three on one bike). No sooner had we reached SDM’s residence then I saw Mr Kate walking down towards Sr. School. Just imagine my plight. I said, “Sir, I am sorry for using your bike.” He was just giggling and asked me if I could accommodate one more on the bike.
Next morning the HM called me to his office, asking me to write an application for loan to buy a bicycle. The loan was sanctioned and I bought a new bicycle, which in those days would cost just about Rs 100/-. The problem of walking down was over.
This was the way Mr Kate used to give personal touch to his staff.