MISS GOPI BALA MALKANI

Miss Gopi Bala Malkani

1920 ( Sindh , Pakistan) -1982 ( Bombay, India ) 

Headmistress, Junior School, The Punjab Public School, Nabha, 1961- 1975

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The Arrival Of Miss Gopi Bala Malkani

In October 1961, Mr. JK Kate, renowned as “the talent hunter,” secured another invaluable addition for The School: Miss Gopi Bala Malkani, who assumed leadership of the Junior School from Mrs. Nirmala Kate. Mrs. Kate had been overseeing it temporarily following Mr. Cherian’s departure. Mr. Cherian, a Second World War veteran, had looked after the Junior School for a few months. Miss Malkani arrived after a tenure at Birla Public School in Pilani. She joined the school on October, 7 ,1961.

Not widely known, her full name was Gopi Balmukand Malkani, with her middle name honoring her father, Dr. BR Malkani. She was born in Sindh, now part of Pakistan. An anecdote in the May 1975 Chronicle mentions her early residence as a girl in Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan.

She went to UK for her Teacher’s training, where she imbibed the latest and newer techniques of education.

Miss Malkani played a pivotal role in shaping the young minds of the Junior School children, and her former pupils attest to her enduring dedication and zeal. She departed from the School in 1975 due to family reasons and joined Daly College in Indore.

Her commitment to her work and missionary zeal remains memorable for all who came in contact with her, even to the present year, 2023. Teaching was more than a profession; it was her religion. Many students who entered the Junior School without any English background—some without even knowing the alphabet—proudly left the School holding ISC (Senior Cambridge) Certificates. She prioritized the weakest students and the most disadvantaged children, offering them maximum care. Children learned not only from textbooks but also through imitation and observation, imbibing her meticulous planning, simple yet impressive habits, hard work, and honest efforts—an exemplary model for all.

She was always immaculately turned out in a white well tied saree. At night she carried a lantern in her hand while taking rounds of the corridors and dormitories to check if kids were sleeping comfortably and well tucked in, in winter. She was a loving guardian to these little boys and they loved and respected her , at same time in awe of her because of her strict demeanour. They felt reassured with her presence all around them. No wonder they called her by different titles ‘Lady with Lamp’, ‘Lady in white’, ‘Mother Terresa’ and ‘Florence Nightingale’

Every generation of boys and girls passing through the grand gateway of the Junior School, from the oldest (1962) to the youngest in 1975, will remember her not only as a teacher and administrator but also as a nurturing guardian and sincere well-wisher who wanted them to become better humans. Within a short time of joining the school, she formed lasting bonds with newcomers, leaving an indelible mark on their lives.

The threshold of  marble stair leading to Burma teak English door over which thousands of small children stepped into Junior School of The Punjab Public School, Nabha, to become  enlightened & full of potential  under Miss Malkani’s charge.

View from inside

Three individuals formed the triumvirate that propelled The Punjab Public School, Nabha, among the top seven in the country: Mr. JK Kate, the Founding Headmaster (departed in 1972); Mr. SC Cowell, Senior Master of the Senior School (retired in 1966); and Miss Malkani (left in 1975) in charge of the Junior School. Her contribution in shaping raw children into Public School students was monumental. They were complemented by two Englishmen from the British Council. Mr. Michael Vodden (1962-64), the composer of the School Song who later received MBE, and Mr. John Mallon (1965-1968) from the British Council from the UK and Scotland respectively. They ran the English department in Senior School and brought latest teaching methods with them.

Miss Malkani joined on October 7,1961 and left at the end of first term, 1975. A tenure of glorious 14years service to the cause of Junior School and its children

This compilation of ONA website pages dedicated to Miss Malkani, serves to acquaint later day students of the school and those researching, with the exceptional teacher and personality who laid the foundation of this esteemed school with few other stalwarts. They hold a significant place in its history of the school. .

Many former students and teachers have contributed to this compilation. I extend my gratitude to them. I hope you find reading this as enjoyable as I found putting it all together.

Dr.Jashanjot Singh (S-52, 1967) one of her students, when she joined school.

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(Below is a tribute to Miss Malkani by a very smart, beautiful, much loved and respected Teacher in her own right, Lila Kak. She taught in School from 1963 to 1966. This was her first job in the profession. She considers even today (in 2023) Miss Malkani as her mentor under whom she honed her teaching skills. She has held the lady in the highest possible esteem. In her last stint she was looking after kids in a Boston residential school.) 

Gopi B Malkani

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The Lady With The Lamp 

(A Tribute to a wonderful woman) 

By Lila Kak-Bhan

It is May 2009 and Swine flu is flooding the newspapers as I write this article. Many boys I teach are down with flu like symptoms. What, you must be thinking, has flu in the U.S. got to do with Miss Malkani? Well actually it has a lot to do with her as far as I am concerned! The precautions that one needs to take to avoid catching it have, in fact, got everything to do with her.

When the epidemic struck us here, instructions were posted everywhere to wash one’s hands frequently and to clean door handles and computer key boards and mice regularly.  For me these instructions were old hat. Miss Malkani had an obsession  for cleanliness and all of us who were fortunate to come within her orbit learned to wash our hands several times a day as she did, clean our eating utensils with our napkins and chew our food twenty-four times before swallowing it! All her teachings provided a sound basis for healthy habits and because of her, I routinely cleaned  the phones in my dormitory, keyboards, door handles and  any other objects that were used by many people. It was Miss Malkani’s training that made it so easy for me to do all the “right” things as precautionary measures against the flu. Miss Malkani’s wisdom permeates to so many facets of life, from daily chores to classroom teaching.

Before I got to know Miss Malkani really well I had already developed a great admiration for her. Every night, before she slept, which was never before midnight, I would spot her, lantern in hand, going from dorm to dorm making sure each child was covered and comfortably asleep. A Florence Nightingale in the middle of the Punjab. This is one of my earliest images of Miss Gopi Malkani, the amazing  pioneer headmistress of The Punjab Public School, Nabha.

Gopi  Malkani was born in 1920 in the area of Sind which is now Pakistan. After Partition her family moved to India and soon after she went to England for a year where she observed and picked up many innovative teaching techniques.

She joined The Punjab Public School as the Headmistress of the Junior Section in October 1961 and was there till July 1975 when she left and joined Mr. Kate in Daly College, Indore, once again, as the Headmistress of the Junior School. She sadly found out that she had cancer in 1976 for which she was operated upon. She continued to work almost to her dying day. She finally succumbed to the disease in September 1982, in Bombay in her brother’s house. She has left behind the admiration, gratitude and great affection from all those who came in touch with her.

Miss GB Malkani (The Lady always in spotless Whites) being introduced to Mr. Dharamvira, Gov of Punjab, by Mr JK Kate in 1967.  Far side  is Mr. Oberoi senior Master, from right Mr. OP Bhatnagar, Miss Kirtan Pannu (Tandon), Mr. MN Tankha and Mr. John Mallon

My first encounter with Miss Malkani was in the winter of 1963. I was fresh out of college, having just graduated and also done my teachers’ training from St. Bede’s College, Simla.  My father and I were first led to Mr. Kate’s office from whence he took us for me to be interviewed in the Junior School. My earliest memory of that first encounter was of a pair of very large eyes looking at me with curiosity. Not many words passed between us, but a mutual bond was established which developed into a very deep and special relationship of a mentor, philosopher and valued  friend.  Because of Miss Malkani’s shyness and quiet exterior, some people missed out on knowing the soft, humorous and extremely kind and sensitive person  that Gopi Malkani was. The students were another case. They all fully understood her because of her total dedication and devotion to each and every one of them.

Miss Malkani was a master at teaching English as a second language. Hundreds of boys have passed through her caring hands. They arrived from far flung corners of the Punjab, not knowing a word of English, and mastered the subject within two years under her masterful tutelage. They will all remember the series,   “Look, Listen and Learn”, whose pages contained funny anecdotes and amazing information all woven together to produce exciting and excellent exercises to teach them English. She immersed the students, and everyone in the Junior Section, in English so that speaking the language gradually became second nature to them.

Her whole life was dedicated to education.  She was always thinking of the students and how to motivate them. She even devised  “punishments” that contributed to this goal. So, one would see a group of little boys, relaxing on a summer’s afternoon, sitting outside her door, legs outstretched, reading books they had chosen from the library. They had not completed their homework and this was one of the consequences. I often used to wonder if they rather enjoyed their punishment!  Alternatively, they might be found reading to her or trailing behind her as she went on her evening rounds chatting to them incessantly about all the landmarks they passed by or permitting them to participate in the conversations she had with the people en route. Unwittingly she was employing the contemporary  ‘direct method’  of teaching, thereby  enhancing the children’s speaking and comprehension skills.

Miss Malkani’s entire life revolved around her students from the moment she woke up at the crack of dawn to her last round of the dorms at midnight. These boys actually understood her better than anyone else. They were never intimidated by her sometimes, stern demeanor for they knew the tender heart that lay under it. It was a moving sight to see Miss Malkani’s  large eyes soften and often fill with tears when she was moved or amused by what a child said to her. So many of her students be they  army generals, eminent doctors, engineers , business men , or whatever careers they chose, still remember her  methods for innumerable things. One that comes to mind is her insistence that they should wash their socks and underwear every day as they showered and the socks should be squeezed to get the excess water out before hanging up to dry and never wrung. She explained that the elasticity would last a lot longer! She was equally particular that the children turned their mattresses each day before they made their beds so that they were aired on each side. Simple things that left an indelible impression!

Another prominent characteristic of Gopi was her desire to avoid the limelight. Her philosophy was to work, “like the artist unseen and unheard”.  She did this to her dying day; worked round the clock, but avoided all recognition or praise. She considered her high standards  normal and was surprised if anyone thought otherwise. Whenever there was an occasion where Miss Malkani was asked to be center stage she invariably managed to get someone else to do it! When she spoke, it was always a powerful and well- considered comment or idea. She spoke little, always preferring to lead by example.

Ms. Malkani’s personal and professional life was basically rolled into one. Her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Malkani lived with her after they all had to move from Sind, now in Pakistan, to India. She also looked after an aged aunt, her mother’s sister. All three of them became a familiar sight in the Junior School of P.P.S.  They added a family touch to the school and Father and Mother (as Gopi referred to them) would interact with the boys and Peace Corps and V.S.O. volunteers from the U.S. and the U.K. In fact, Gopi was a home away from home for all the young volunteers. I, being in the same age group as they were, joined them every night when we would be fed lightly sweetened home set yogurt, nuts and “kakri”  cucumbers, as we regaled each other with tales of our day’s experiences. It was then that a whole different side of Gopi would surface, when we discovered her humour, heard her laughter and saw her disarming and animated expressions as she listened to our stories! Every now and then she would find an appropriate moment to give us advice or recount an experience of her own from which we learnt more than any text book could teach.

I decided to ask a variety of people who knew her as her colleagues or as her students  of what  came to their minds when they thought of Miss Malkani. Interestingly, all of them corroborated what I have said, in their different ways :

“Purity, spotless, dedicated, sincere, hardworking, an astute reader of children and very good at coming up with ways to change the child without hurting his feelings or using physical punishment.”

“Miss Malkani was quiet, stern but very kind . She had a great presence.  I remember this particularly when she walked in to Assembly in her always spotless, white sari.”

“A tireless dedication to service. She was always there when needed.
She would save time by using roll up chalk boards, which had her meticulous handwriting  in English. All the exercises ready to go!”

Introducing the Guest Sardar Gyan Singh Kahlon(CS, Punjab), Senior Master, Dr Surjit Singh, to Ladies, from right Miss GB Malkani, Kiratan Pannu (Tandon), Jasbir Lamba(Punjabi) and Mrs. Singh (Matron).

To take young boys from non-English medium homes and give them a foundation in the English language to a level equivalent to those from an English medium school within two years of her teaching ( through 5th and 6th grades ) was a miraculous feat that only she could manage!

Such was Miss Malkani’s involvement that I could not imagine the Junior School without her. She was physically there through rouser, morning inspections, breakfast, classes, tea time, lunch, rest, evening tea, dinner, lights out, and  I can never forget her lantern which she would carry through the dorms in her all-white dress. Who knows when she slept and when she got the time to print on those rolled up chalk boards! I wonder what her pedometer readings might have been with all the walking she did through that entire Junior School building!

“Continuing with my memories of Miss Malkani in a lighter side”, continues this devoted student, “I remember that my younger brother ( who  joined  Junior School  along with me ) was much loved by Miss Malkani. Her love for Savi was so great that on one occasion she built him a cubicle of shelves  in the enclosed verandah outside her suite of rooms. He had been so naughty  that he was removed from his dorm and placed right under her watchful eye for a couple of days! I only know that he never felt that he had been dealt an unfair punishment. In fact, I think he felt extra special instead!”

“ I often think of Gopi . She was totally dedicated to the students’ welfare and learning, strict, but kind and fair. She made the Junior School a very safe environment to be in, away from home. She looked serious most of the time but then her face would light up with a brilliant smile. I’ll always remember her gliding along the corridors in her white sari, with her lantern at night, to check on every dormitory. How comforting that must have been to anyone still awake!” reminisces one of the V.S.O.s

The VSOs of 1960s who made it to the Golden Jubilee of School (2010). They served in Junior school when Miss Malkani was there. Bernard Clarke (1963-63) , John Rigby (1966-67), HM (Commdr.SL Syal), Anita Scammell (1967-69), Roger Burridge (1963-64) Mrs. Syal and Roger Miall (1962-63) The First VSO to School.

Another V.S.O. says,  “ I have many fond memories of Gopi but the one that always comes to mind is when she would take her lantern at about 10 p.m. and walk round the dormitories of all the houses to make sure the boys were tucked up in bed and asleep.

I recall sitting in the late evenings in her sitting room, she marking books with a small towel next to her because it was hot and she could wipe her hands on it. Often one would spot her sitting alone in her classroom apart from one small boy with whom she was deep in discussion. This was the way she gave individual attention to each of the boys by rotation, discussing their corrections and getting them to speak in English.”

Yet another fond memory of a V.S.O.,  “ My memories of Gopi (initially Miss Malkani to me) are deep and dear. Gopi looked after me when I first arrived for all the non-curricular concerns of a callow English boy. I think the first important lesson was the life-giving powers of a glass or jug of ’lassi’.  She exuded calmness, care and wisdom – which were frequently accompanied by a dash of amusement or even mischief. I grew to respect her immensely. I also recall being fairly ill with a fever and a temperature which would have been off the scale of European thermometers. Gopi summoned her father who stayed with me for a long part of the night massaging my head. It seemed like his fingers were absorbing whatever troubles had invaded my head.

Such anecdotes and memories are endless and they all share a common thread; that of a quiet, strong woman,  passionately committed to education. A stalwart through whose hands generations of young boys have been educated, loved, cared for and who are now  extremely successful adults. What is more, each of us, who had the good fortune of coming in contact with Miss Malkani, has a special word of gratitude and affection for her –  the  person who made such a difference to each of our lives.

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‘The Pillars’-The Staff of early Sixties .A picture of the Strong” Pillars”or teachers  of The Punjab Public School in 1964 who set the school on ever rising graph. Ms. Malkani is third from right sitting next to Michael Vodden suggesting her place in the school heirrarchy. Mis Lila Kak is standing in first row fifth from right and behind Mr. Vodden.

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From reminisces of The PPS by Lila Kak Bhan:

It was January 1963 when my father escorted me to PPS Nabha. I had finished my graduate and teaching degrees from St Bede’s College, Simla and was with my parents in Srinagar for the Summer months, and then in Kasauli where we went every November for five months  having lived there since 1953 and had roots there, too.  Suddenly, out of the blue, Mr Kate , who had known me and my family very well since 1953 as he and I were both in Sanawar as bursar and student, wrote to enquire if i would come and work at PPS, now that I had my teaching degree. My parents thought it was a fine scheme, as they knew the Kates and felt secure with the thought that their twenty-year-old daughter would be well looked after while also being independent. So my father  and I set forth by bus for the interview, as Mr Kate  wanted the head of the Junior School, Miss Malkani , to meet me before a decision could be made. I vividly remember her saying to me that when she heard I was from Sanawar and St Bede’s College, she envisioned the rather unfair, stereotype of a “fashionable”, somewhat ‘ snobbish’ person, but she was greatly relieved to see me in a simple salwar kurta with a long loose sweater over it! We chatted about teaching methods, my hobbies etc enjoying our interaction. Shortly after,  I was offered the job. I did also assure her that Sanawarians and Bedians came in many types!!

School reopened in Jan (1963 ) and once again my father escorted me to the school which became the basis of my first happy career and many wonderful friendships.

PPS had a wonderful faculty both in the Senior and Junior schools.

Tug of war at a School picnic at Rohti canal Rest House. Lila on the right and Mrs. Tankha on the right both beautiful Kashmiri ladies leading the way. Lila was loved by her students and considered a lot of fun!

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The Founders’Day function in 1960s was held in front, cricular lawn of Kairon Block. There was a high platform built their under the tree which served as a stage and was also so used for staging plays etc. This picture is of 1967 with Governor Dharamveera as Chief guest. Mr. Kate is reading the annual report, The Board members sat in front and the staff behind. Miss GB Malkani can be seen sitting  in front row of staff members, second on the right between Mr. Oberoi  the Senior Master and Mr. John Mallon on inside, Head of English at that time.

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 Excerpts from the Chronicles 

(As Chronicles are a record of daily events in the school , on monthly basis. These are important source of information. Following excerpts were taken, where Miss Malkani was mentioned.)

Chronicle issue No.10, November, 1961, P-2  A Legend joins The PPS

PPS bagged yet another jewel in Miss Gopi Bala Malkani who took over the Junior School from Mrs. Kate on October 7,1961, who had been temporarily looking after it after Mr. Cherian’s departure.

2nd October , 1962

Servants were given afternoon off and there was a soccer match between Senior and Junior School servants. Junior School won 2-0. Miss Malkani gave gifts to servants and prizes to winners of the GK test.

14th November, Wednesday, 1962

Children’s Day. The HM quoted from the wireless he heard last evening “There are no wicked children. There are only unfortunate children”

Excellent Junior school show was put up. All thanks to Miss Malkani and her Staff.

 February,1963 issue of chronicle P-2 & 3 

JUNIOR SCHOOL NEWS

(A report by Ms. GB Malkani)

(Chronicle Issue 19, February,1963 , P2-3)

As word document:

We have a hundred pupils on the roll now. The dormitories and class­rooms are full to capacity. Fifty-two new boys joined us at the beginning of this term and most of them had not learnt English before. We hope that during this year we shall go a long way towards solving the problem of the first-year English course.

Our old Junior boys have been a great help to the staff in dealing with the new boys. Each boy who was with us last year has adopted a new boy and has helped him through the daily routine.

All the four prefects are very respon­sible boys. They were not elected by the boys themselves but were chosen by the staff and the boys working together In Beas House we have Dig Vijay Bedi (B-62,1968), in Jumna House Kuldip Singh (J-57,1968), in Ravi House Virendrapal (R-61,1968) and in Sutlej House Anil Kayastha (S-63,1968).

G.B Malkani

(The idea of putting this news here is, to bring out how junior school was preparing newcomers to the school. They neither knew English, nor were familiar with disciplined and mannered functioning of a Public School, in those early years. The whole transition to a Public Schol life of these small children was very well managed by Mis Malkani and her staff under her guidance)

9th June, 1965

The Headmaster, Mr. Cowell and Miss Malkani met Roger Miall the first VSO at Delhi. He was on his way to take up a job with a shipping company at Hong Kong. He will be there for three years.

18th March, 1971

Miss Malkani’s father died after a prolonged illness. Our heartfelt sympathies to Miss Malkani and other members of the family.

May 1975 issue No.149, P-10

It’s description of how a young Malkani scared the thieves who entered their house.

(The story is of Pakistan Hyderabad)

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The Elegant lady!

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Issue no. 150 June, 1975 Potpourri

The first term of 1975 saw Miss G.B. Malkani leave the School and join The Daly College Indore. For those who have had the fortune of staying in the Junior School under the parental care and guidance of Miss Malkani, there would never be a better example of selfless service and compassionate care. She was a perfect role model for the entire school community and her nun like lifestyle evoked a strong sense of aura and respect for her on part of the staff and students alike.

June, 1975 , No 150 , P-2

We bade farewell to Miss GB Malkani who left School to join the Staff of Daly College, Indore.

A special assembly was organized to bid farewell to Miss Malkani and the students bid an emotional farewell to her.

“All the generations of boys and girls who have passed through the impressive gate-way of the junior school, right from the oldest old boy to the youngest present boy, will remember you not just as a teacher and an administrator, more than that you have been an affectionate guardian, and a sincere well-wisher. It is hard to reconcile ourselves to the thought that such a dynamic and beloved personality will not be amongst us when we return here next term” .

Mrs. Joginder Channi was appointed as the new head of Junior School after the retirement of Miss Malkani.

She was given a farewell by both Senior and Junior Schools, probably for the first time it  happened.

 Below are pages 3&4 of the June issue (No.150) of The Chronicle ,1975.

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From the Chronicle issue of March, 1979

In a moment I find myself almost everywhere in the School – on the playground, in the swimming pool, in the common room, under a guava tree and also in front of Miss Malkani’s room to spend the rest of the afternoon there…Saturday comes and there is a great excitement among us until the projector exercises its power to veto.

(The last potpourri by Baljeet Uppal (S-300,1979) Editor of the Chronicle, the school head boy in 1979. He nostagically remembered Miss Malkani when he was about to leave school. Baljeet, a brilliant Nabhaite and an excellent all-rounder, passed away in 2007.  He was a well-established dentist in the USA. This piece was included in The Eagle, News Bulletin of ONA in an issue dedicated to Baljit Uppal).

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Staff picture of 1963-64

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Miss Malkani sufered from breast cancer which was detected in 1976 while she was at Daly College, Indore, and pased away in her brother’s house in Bombay in 1982

Below is the Obituary writen by Mr.JK Kate’s son Vilas Kate (S-96,1970) which was published in the Chronicle of October 1982 almost 21 years to the week after she had joined the Junior School (7th October,1961).

Obituary of Ms GB Malkani written by Vilas Kate son of MR JK Kate , the Founder Headmaster in the Chronicle issue No. 233, October 15,1982, P-12.

Vilas Kate in 2023 with Mr. OP Bhatnagar (Ex-Hindi Teacher, who loved PPS (1960-70). Later, Headmaster of many Public and Sainik Schools. Both are settled in Pune. Mr Bhatnagar is living with his daughter there.

Below is a Word document of same Obituary.

LADY WITH THE LAMP

I have never done any writing before and it is tough to make a beginning and all the more when the beginning happens to be an obituary.

My association with Miss Malkani goes back to 29 years. I was then a small boy,  not even joined school. I first met her at the breakfast table at home. After I was introduced to her, She greeted me with a warm smile. I was very uneasy during breakfast for I got the feeling that she was inspecting. me. I behaved at my best but I could not hide my unpolished shoes.

She joined school a few days later and when she found I wasn’t studying at home, she asked me to follow her from one class to another. That is when people started calling me Miss Malkani’s tail. Some of the teachers would tease me  by saying… “and everywhere Miss Malkani went her tail would surely go”. It was during the follow me game that I first learnt how to read and write.

I joined Junior School a year later and like all other children was very often a “guest” outside her room. She had a unique style of punishing kids. She never believed in physical punishment. (To this day I can’t tell a single case where she hit a boy). She would ask the punished boy to sit outside her room where lots of books were kept. One was expected to sit quietly and read there. Often she would come up to a punished boy, look him over and let him off, without showing any sign of compassion. Her sternness had an element of gentleness in it.

As a kid there were things one always wanted to do. One of my ambitions was to wake up before Miss Malkani did, but every time I got up and went down-stairs she would be sitting in the garden reading a book.

I once tried turning the school clock half an hour back on “All Fools Day”. She watched me all through the prank and when I had finished. all that she did was to wish me a very good morning. I got the message.

As I got older and graduated from one class to another the “Malkani Fear” lessened and it gradually transformed into respect and adoration. But I never understood her till I was in college. It was then that I first sat down with her and we talked like friends. She was a voracious reader could talk on any subject under the sun. People called her anti-social because she didn’t go visiting like the others, but if any one who cared to look deeper, over would see that she devoted herself fully to the school doing bath duty, games duty, prep duty etc. , all though the week. She was perpetually M.O.D.

I could go on and on but I know I have to stop somewhere. What I and many more of us owe her is beyond evaluation. Death is a part of life. She is no more amongst us. What remains is her memory. I shall never forget ‘The Lady with the Lamp’ walking down corridors of Junior School at night. A Florence Nightingale reborn.

May her soul rest in peace.

–Vilas Kate Jagan Nath Kate (S-96,1970)

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The great and invaluable contribution of Miss Malkani to the School was acknoweldged at the time of The Silver Jubilee of School.

It found mention of Miss Malkani in the Silver Jubilee issue of  Chronicle. (Decemeber, 1985)

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February 2, 2000

The Governor of Punjab and Chairman, Board of Governors Lt-Gen. J.F.R. Jacob visited the school. Wearing an elegant hat, the Governor resembled some aristocratic British diplomat. He was welcomed with the usual fanfare and marveled at the feats of talented PPS riders. After the band display, the Governor visited Miss Malkani Hall in the Junior School and appreciated the exhibitions on display. Later he went to the Senior school library and enjoyed an informal chat with the students.

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Gen. JN Chaudhary, COAS as chief guest on Founder’s Day 1966 being introduced to staff,  shaking hands with Mr GS Punia, the Bursar, next to him is Miss Malkani followed by Mrs. Benjamin, Mrs Singh , Mrs Sidhu  and Mrs. Mcmullen. In the background behind Malkani can be seen Gen. Harbaksh Singh , Western Army Commander, who later served on The PPS board for many years.  Behind him is the temple which was in the school campus at that time.


CONTRIBUTIONS FROM OLD NABHAITES AND TEACHERS

Miss Malkani ,The Junior School Headmistress of my time.

I joined the Junior School in 1961, in the first term. The head of the Junior School was a tall, dark, thickset and bald Keralite, Mr. Cherian. He had probably sustained a spinal injury during WWII. To us small kids of nine, he appeared fearsome. Towards the end of the second term, a lady took his place. She was his antithesis: fair, calm, big-eyed, always dressed in a spotless white saree with her hair neatly tied at the back. It was a welcome change. Her name was Miss Gopi Bala Malkani.

She went about her role as the head of the junior school in a very organised and professional manner, as if it were part of her personality. She was sure of what she expected from the small children under her care, be it in the dorms, attire, personal hygiene, at the dining table, in the bathroom, classroom, and even in the corridors. This kept all of us on our toes, learning and adapting to a certain level of discipline, behaviour, and attitude.

She was a keen observer and had insight into every child’s mind and behaviour, much like a psychologist. Ask any of her former pupils, now grown up into adults, and you’ll find that whatever she wrote about them in her term reports still holds true today. She did not hesitate to write adverse remarks in the term reports for parents to read if she felt it necessary. I remember when she wrote in my report, ‘He has been careless; he is good but can do better,’ and this was when I was topping my section. Another boy, who habitually took a large share of the pudding meant to be shared by about 10-12 boys, received a remark of ‘he is selfish’ in his report, as he told me, and he got a dressing down from his parents.

One of her many tasks in the junior section was to transform raw children from villages of Punjab who did not know a word of English, to make them learn it and speak it in two years that they were under her care, that is, in the fifth and sixth standards. I remember she used to teach us how to improve our English handwriting using the Marion and Richardson books. She herself checked our notebooks diligently. Her own handwriting on the blackboard was beautiful.

She would be the first person we saw in the morning when, very early, she would be standing at the entrance of the dormitory calling out to her kids with the familiar “Get up, lads!” In winters, we would see her with a shawl draped over her shoulders and rubbing her knuckles of one hand against the palm of the other to keep her hands warm. She would be the last person we saw at night when she would come around at ‘Lights Out’ to see that we were all tucked in bed in proper night attire without underwear. Even in the middle of the night, she would take rounds of the school to see if pupils were comfortably asleep. She took this round with a lantern in her hand for light, as she did not want to wake up the lads by putting on harsh dorm lights. Sometimes, she would wrap the boys in blankets if they had come undone in winters.

She had some unique ideas with sound foundations that she implemented. The children belonged to different family backgrounds, some better off than others. Ms. Malkani made sure that when children returned from home after holidays, they handed over their goodies or eatables that they brought from home to the house mistresses. These were kept in one cupboard and were shared by all boys in the house under the supervision of the house mistress. Even toiletries like toothpaste, hair oil, and hair shampoo of all children in the House were collected and put in one cupboard, and these were not only shared by all but also rationed optimally to last long. There was a certain measure of oil distributed and a small amount of toothpaste put on the brush without liberally pasting the brush with it. From these actions, she was not only able to bring a feeling of equality among all students but also the idea of sharing and good economic sense without wastage. She even told students to extract unused sheets from their note books and bind them to form rough notebooks, so that the papers were not wasted. What an impact it made on the young minds.

She was very particular about personal hygiene. The Housemistress made sure the boys took a bath in the evening under their watchful eye. They made sure children were naked while bathing, with well-applied soap so that the body is fully cleaned. She insisted children inculcate the habit of washing their underwear and socks themselves. The socks were to be squeezed and not wrung to make the elastic last longer. I was a little surprised that she would advise us to try and brush after every meal and that toothpaste was not necessary to brush every time. As an adult when I visited the dentist, he too reconfirmed this preventive approach for dental health, which she was advising in the 1960s.

Most of us children had no sophistication or etiquette at the dining table with knives, forks, and spoons in plates of China. Ms. Malkani and her team of teachers supervised and helped us all to learn how to use the formal cutlery. I remember once having soup from a soup plate. The soup level went down, and I could not fill the spoon with it. So, I angled the plate towards myself to fill the spoon. To my horror, I spilled the remaining soup onto my dress. She came over to me and taught me that when the soup is decreasing in the plate, it should be tilted away from oneself toward the opposite direction to fill the spoon. A lesson I have not forgotten.

All these practical approaches of Ms. Malkani have become embedded in my mind, and I have not forgotten them. So much so that there is a subconscious effort to pass them on to my own children.

She was not only a very good teacher but also, as the head of the Junior School led by example. She was always a picture of cleanliness, attired in a spotless white saree as her daily dress. An immaculate way of carrying herself, following a very disciplined lifestyle for the betterment of her children. I remember she was hardly seen at the films screened in the senior school as she preferred to stay at home with her elderly parents. She took very good care of them. In the evening when we went for games, she could be seen making them sit comfortably in the lawn opposite her residence (now a parking area next to the junior school dining hall) and spending time with them. Many a time, she was seen physically helping them around, especially when her father was in a wheelchair. This love and parental care were not taught to us but were imbibed by all who saw this role from the highly respected lady. It’s something that children usually learn only in joint families, the care for the aging or elderly.

It is no wonder that Ms. Malkani is considered one of the three icons (along with Mr. Kate and Mr. SC Cowell ,Senior Master) who laid strong foundations for The Punjab Public School and were responsible in elevating it to one of the top seven in India within a few years.

There is not a single pupil who spent time in the Junior School under Ms. Malkani’s guidance who does not remember her with respect, love, and affection. They are all grateful to her for how she transformed them into better individuals with the rich values she believed in, values that they have all carried with them. No wonder that this respect for her translated into the Old Nabhaites Association naming the junior school assembly hall as Ms. Malkani Hall. Gp. Capt. AJS Grewal was the Headmaster then; he readily accepted the request of ONA. It was the best tribute to a great lady who gave her all to the Junior School and all the children who passed through it , during her time. This tribute will not only make future children curious about this great lady but also influence future teachers in the Junior School to learn how she positively influenced the lives of so many.

It is no wonder that one of the students who passed through the Junior School, decades after she had left, remarked, ‘There is a feeling among many students who see the ghost of a divine lady with a lamp walking the corridors of the Junior School at night.’

-Dr Jashanjot Singh (S-52,1967)

Dr Jashanjot (S-52,1967)

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This is about my last meeting with Miss Gopi Bala Malkani.

I got to know from Lila ma’am, while visiting Srinagar that our beloved Miss Malkani was suffering from breast cancer and had very short time to live. Since I was going to Bombay in a few days I decided to visit her. Ma’am Lila gave me her address and landline no.   So here I was in Bombay sitting face to face with our Nightingale. She was all bones, very weak and I’m sure,  in  a lot of pain.  But boy the mind, memory was razor sharp and the voice was the same. She remembered almost everyone from our batch asked me about all the friends and teachers I’d been in touch, out of all the names there was not a single one that she didn’t remember. Of course, she mentioned the closeness and a special bond she shared with Lila.

-Amarjeet Shaheed (B-102, 1970)

Brig.Julka (J-101) and Amarjeet Shaheed (B-102) both of 1970 batch in Pattaya, Thailand. Julka is an international umpire for sailing.

Air Marshall Arjan Singh as Chief guest inspecting school guard of honour. He is escorted by Amarjit Shaeed (B-102)

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An iconic figure

Miss G B Malkani whose name was simply shortened to Miss Malkani, was an iconic figure of the Jr School which housed  the 5th and 6th standards of PPS Nabha. Not many knew her full name as Gopi Balchandra Malkani. which truly symbolised her relationship with the children as Gopi to the Bals (kids).

It was here that most of the students who joined the school were received & literally broken into. Most coming from modest rural homes were introduced to  hostel  life, self-reliance, dining on the table , bathing nude together and using Western style toilets. The children barely able to converse in English had left the love , safety and comfort of their homes to strive and strike on their own in their lives . They were catapulted into an alien cultural environment which required utmost care in handling the tiny minds and bodies. Here began her role as a teacher , mother and guide in the life of the toddlers.  Though stern faced she was an epitome of grace, poise and saintly womanhood who chose to remain a miss so that she could devote herself to the onerous task of taking care of students who had never combed their own hair.  From the time the rouser bell rang till  lights out time she was around us waking up by ordering’ wake up lads ‘ , ‘out of your beds boys,’.

We had never seen her dressed in her night clothes. She was always dressed in an elegant cotton saree of white or light pastel shades. In winters when it was freezing cold in the open plains of  Nabha, with the area criss crossed by canals , she would be seen rubbing her hands together to stay warm. Her motherly duties included supervising the bathing by the children. No one dare to skip the bathing drill. As the children left the bathroom she would put a few drops of glycerine into our palms and make sure that We applied the same on our faces before exiting the bathroom. The annual physical exam , dining table drills and table manners were all part of her teaching .

Her favourite punishment for the disorderly behaviour was to make us sit on the chair in front of her room like one of the three proverbial monkeys, which would last from a short  session to the whole day at times.

Sometimes the students would request her to take them through the jungle trail, to which she agreed willingly.

She was an elegant teacher, guide and a motherly figure all in one. An Iconic figure!

-Col Jatinder Randhawa (J-60,1968)

Col JS Randhawa (J-60,1968) above and at an ONA party in Chandigarh below.

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Anecdote

Once a boy from Junior School came up to the Headmaster, Mr. Kate’s residence  complaining about Miss Malkani that she was always punishing him. Mr. Kate’s reply was that he’s the Headmaster only for Senior school. Miss Malkani is in charge of Junior school. The boy left in disappointment. (That is how Mr. Kate backed Ms Malkani)

 -Vilas Kate (J-96,1970)

Vilas Kate in the center receiving a memento from the Headmaster Dr Sharma on his recent visit to Pune (Nov 2023). On left is Jagtar Si ngh Bhatia ex- merchant Navy Captain  settled in Pune (B-47,1965)

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Miss GB Malkani

Miss Malkani wasn’t merely a teacher; she exuded a saintly aura in her demeanor and appearance. Children affectionately referred to her as the “Nightingale,” but in retrospect, I view her more as a modern-day Mother Teresa who dedicated her life to the noble cause of education.

She embodied the values of commitment, dedication, and discipline. As soon as we entered school, she came to know each of us so well that she could anticipate our thoughts and actions. In the mornings, as we rushed to the washrooms, she once sent me back to brush my teeth again, convinced that I hadn’t taken enough time to do a thorough job.

Miss Malkani was always willing to lend a hand, helping some of us, Sikh boys, tie our hair neatly into “jooras,” a task that we struggled with.

Miss Malkani had her unique way of motivating and disciplining students. She awarded Gold and Black Stars for every good deed and mistake. These deeds ranged from making our beds early in the morning and keeping our clothing racks tidy to polishing our shoes, speaking English amongst each other  and tying neat turbans.

Since most of us hailed from rural backgrounds, proper table manners were unfamiliar territory. Miss Malkani made extra efforts during meals to instill in us proper etiquette and table manners.

Our house, Jamuna, was located next to her residence, and this proximity required us to be especially cautious while conversing inside our dormitories due to her elderly father residing with her.

She also regarded some young teachers as her own children. I recall that some of us were tasked with the responsibility of waking up Miss Lila Kak every day at 6.45 am. I often undertook this duty, knocking on her door and saying, “Ma’am, it’s a quarter to seven.”

While many of our teachers during that time worked tirelessly to mould us into responsible human beings, Miss Malkani stood out as more than just a teacher.  She led them and set the trend by example. She was a motherly presence whose mere existence brought comfort and reassurance. I wish there were more individuals like her in this world.

May her soul rest in eternal peace.

-Maj. Gen. Bhupinder Singh (J-100, 1964 – 1970)

Bhupinder on the left  with Gp. Capt Chhatwal on the right (J-103) and below as young officer in the Indian army.

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My memories of GB Malkani Ma’am

With the passage of time memories of people who enter one’s life fade away but some people stand out. G.B. Malkani Ma’am was a person who always remains in my mind. She was the ‘in charge of the Junior school’ and all students would have had their own experiences of Malkani Ma’am.

I entered the school in January 1963 and remained under her watch and ward for two years while in the Junior school. She had a very strict demeanour. As a small child, I was totally in awe of her. She appeared to be no-nonsense person of few words. I always tried to move away on seeing her from afar. She was the Mr. SC Cowell of the Junior school.

But was she really a terror? This got disproved when she entered the class as the English teacher. Her strict demeanour changed in the classroom. She was much more open and interaction with her in the classroom was much easier than outside the class. She was not confined to just English subject and would share interesting topics too. I vividly remember that one day she asked in the class as to what was the full form of GB Malkani and even offered to give a prize to the one who could correctly answer. The classmates tried all sorts of permutations and combinations, like GOPI BALA MALKANI but were found wrong. I approached Mr. KC Tandon for the correct full name of Malkani Ma’am who told me it was GOPI BULCHAND (her father) Malkani. So, I rushed to claim the prize. Ma’am was quite surprised and enquired as to how came to know and I told her. I don’t recall whether I got the coveted prize or not.

All friends would recall the punishments Malkani Ma’am used to give. She never beat up any student. Whenever she was cross with you, she would ask you to sit on the chair kept outside her room. In the beginning it would appear to be a “no-punishment” at all but after a while one would become restless, missing the fun others were having. One would wish to run away to join the friends playing around but Ma’am Malkani would keep checking up if you were there and behaving. Sometimes, Ma’am’s mother, also staying with her, would scold Ma’am for being too strict with the children and would let the students go away.

I thought I would be a well-behaved boy and would not be invited by Malkani Ma’am to sit outside her house but could one be so lucky? I got the “invitation” several times. One such invitation stuck in my mind. I always was a poor student of Maths. One day, there was news that the Maths Exam paper was kept in a room in the foyer area. I joined some of my friends in the hunt. We succeeded and were merrily copying the questions when, to our horror, we were caught red-handed.  The “invitation” was but obvious! But, it became more painful and horrible for the bunch of us as it was implemented on the day of screening of the film “Dil Deke Dekho“. While all our friends were enjoying the movie, we were the guests of Malkani Ma’am. As children, nothing could be harsher for us. We took turns to beg Ma’am for forgiveness and solemn pledges to never to repeat again. We were relieved and overjoyed when we were pardoned by Ma’am after about an hour.

But, it was not just the strictness that characterized Malkani Ma’am. She was full of love and care, too which was hidden under her strict demeanour. She was seen full of concern when a student fell ill. She was seen doing rounds of all the houses checking up the boys who were affected by the outbreak of Mums. She saw to it that the sick students were comfortably sent back to their homes.

I fondly remember one incident which filled me with deep affection and respect for Ma’am. One day, I was called out of the classroom by Ma’am. Any number of thoughts crossed my mind as to for what mistake I was likely to be awarded punishment. When I came out, she accompanied me to the lawn outside with some people sitting on the chairs. When I got close, I found that it was my mother, father and brother waiting to meet me. Ma’am allowed me to be with them for half an hour stating that such meetings were not allowed as a rule but she was making an exception because my parents had come from far off and were missing me badly.

Such was our revered Ma’am Malkani who was the life and soul of the PPS Junior School.

-Ashwani Kumar(R-80, 1969)

Ashwani Kumar (R-80, 1969) above in school days. Below as a senior central allied services officer conducting a seminar on Central Provident Fund.

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Ms Malkani And I

Long after I had left junior school and passed Senior school I started realising what an impact Miss Malkani and her teachings had in my life. She mentored me in so many ways, little did I realise it then.

When she joined junior school in1961,I was in class 5, in Junior school. She took it upon herself to teach me recitation. The same year for our annual picnic, I recited the poem ‘Rebecca’ In front of the whole school, maybe 500 strong, Without any stage fright or shyness. That was my first step to learning recitation etc.

Whenever there would be a play or movie in senior school. Miss Malkani would make me tell the story to the junior school boys, so that they wouldn’t fidget in senior school during the screening. Little did I realise, how it would help me later on.

Later in college I was always asked to make announcements, take part in declamations etc. This carried on when I was teaching as well.  In Panjim, Goa, I would hold talks on Saturdays for children on All India Radio. The best part was, the person in charge never corrected my speech or script!

Being the only girl in Junior school, Miss Malkani always had a special corner in her heart for me!

Holidays were the best. Miss Malkani had a very beautiful collection of books in her house. I still picture the bookshelf in her sitting room, with her books. She guided me in my reading, right from the beginning. She would pick out a book for me and I would read it. Right from Morris West, Nevil Shute, Howard Spring, Pearl S. Buck and there were a host of others. Unknowingly , my reading and vocabulary skill were honed by this mentoring.

Then there were the walks. Whenever she needed to go to Senior school I would always accompany her. It was an unsaid understanding, and she would always hold my hand.

I spent a lot of time with her especially on holidays, She would often tell us to make ourselves useful and would find little jobs for us to do. ‘Time wasted never comes back’. She would tell us.

My birthday was special too. I got such unusual gifts. I often used to wonder how she got them, considering she never went shopping or left the school premises. Once ,when I was in junior school ,I asked her ‘When is your birthday?’ She replied, ‘it’s on a Sunday.’ After that religiously for every Sunday, for a long time, I gave her a present, (read made one) every Sunday, just to elicit a smile from her and know whether it was that particular Sunday. Sadly ,I never found out.

So many years have gone by , but Miss Malkani lives on in our hearts and minds, our behaviour, our handwriting and so much more. She was like a member of our family, often in the holidays , when she was not working, she would come and sit with my parents and us.

And then she joined us in Daly College in Indore in 1975 , about three years after my father (Mr. JK Kate) had shifted there, as Headmaster. There too she made a deep impact. She was happy there, that was her last stint.

Today , when I write this, is Teacher’s Day, what better tribute to one of our finest teachers. May the world give us some more like her I pray and hope and wish.

-By Jyoti Kate (R-52, 1967) (daughter of Founder Headmaster Mr. JK Kate)

Jyoti Kate in Centerfront  with her 1967 batch mates at their Golden Jubilee reunion in school in 2017. From left Faqir Chand (S-53) best gymnast, Late Rajiv Nagar (R-63) a witty and pleasant personality, Dr Karmavir Mann (AFMC, R-135) anaesthetist in USA, Col Rupinder Dhillon (B-68), best swimmer and top horse rider of NDA. Gurinder Chhachhi (S-76) the topper of our batch who went to IIT , Delhi.

Below, Jyoti while in school with VSO Anita and the boys (1967-68) photo sent by Mr. John Mallon, English head (1965-68)

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From: Hindustan Times, Chandigarh of September 04, 2022.

I GUEST COLUMN I

Brig Advitya Madan (retd)

To teachers, the master craftsmen who shape us all

The teachers of yore were personally involved in each student’s life; the two-year pandemic has caused students to miss out on such interactions  (2020-2022)

1t was a cold day In January 1974, when my parents and I entered the portals of Punjab Public School, Nabha, where I was to be enrolled. At first. the hostel life, removed from the comfort of home, seemed to be pretty daunting for a diminutive child of eight.

Not used to the low height beds. I would, often find myself sprawled on the floor every night for the first few days. One night, I felt someone gently scoop me up from the dormitory floor and gently place me on the bed. I opened my eyes to find that it was none other than our headmistress GB Malkani who had found me lying on the cold floor during her nightly rounds.

At meal time, our headmistress would go around the dining hall to ensure that all tiny tots In junior school were partaking food to their hearts’ content. It was only after all youngsters had had their food would she have her meal.

For us Miss Malkani was a Mother Terresa-like figure and we were all baptised into the regimented style of living under her loving care. We would rise with a ‘morning rouser’ at first light and go to bed at ‘lights out’ at 2200 hours (10 pm). before we knew it. The Punjab Public School (PPS), Nabha, became our second home.

PPS Nahba, became a second home for all of us. The more I see all the Swot shops, which have sprouted throughout the length and breadth of our country, the more I fondly miss my teachers and house-masters at The PPS, Nabha.

KK Katyal, the housemaster of my house, Ravi, ensured that we follow the everyday regimen of washing out personal clothes including handkerchiefs and socks. He used to physically check them till such time that it became our second nature. This habit held us in good stead throughout our lives. I vividly recall how he invited all of us to his residence on the first day of our Class 10 board examination (ICSE). He had organised a small prayer with his wife treating us with a bowl of curd and special halwa as ‘parsad’ giving us a homely feeling. The teachers of yore were so personally involved in each student’s life. They did everything possible, for each one of us to ensure that we did not miss our homes.

Such was our bonding that all the house masters would have meals with students. The teachers would hold our hands and teach us the correct use of knives and forks.

The presentations made by our principal. Group Captain AJS Grewal. on his adventurous exploits of climbing Mount Everest, were always a treat. Till today we fondly email the anecdotes of our Bursar. whom we referred to as Mr Punia. He was an expert raconteur and laid bare unforgettable life lessons.

We were taken to temples and gurdwaras on Janashtami and Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti. Which imbibed in us a spirit of secularism. Armed with basic survival techniques, skills and etiquettes of hostel life, the transition from PPS to the National Defence Academy was a cake walk.

 When it comes to personal interaction, the two-year Covid juggernaut has posed a conundrum for our children. Though our children may have become tech-savvy by operating online we must encourage them to interact with their friends mote to recompense for what they missed out during this ruthless pandemic. Let them derive pleasure by gossiping and playing pranks with friends. We should laugh with them a little more Instead of merely focusing on their report cards.

Here’s to teachers who shaped us Into the individuals we are.

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Below is another piece written by Advitya that he sent as personal note to me – Dr. Jashanjot

FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE IN THE HEART OF PUNJAB

-By Brig Advitya Madan
(7087408123) dated: Feb 17,2024

It was bone-chilling cold on a foggy winter night in January 1974. It was my first night at the hostel of Punjab Public School, Nabha. A few hours back my parents had left me with a heavy heart as a fresh inductee in Class 5th who had just seen eight summers. It was well past midnight and I was struggling to catch my sleep under the two blankets on a new bed. Quilt was a big ‘No-No’ in our junior school. Low-height beds had been very thoughtfully designed for us young ones meant to soften our fall just in case we roll down from our beds. I slowly crept into my dream world and was fast asleep. Soon, I was rudely woken up by a thud. I had fallen from the bed. Simultaneously, I saw a lady with a lantern dressed all in spotless white quietly entering our dormitory. I was petrified and kept lying on the floor with my eyes tightly closed. The very next moment I was picked up by her who nicely tucked me up in the bed with blankets all around. This was Miss Gopi Bala Malkani, our headmistress of the Junior School. Within the first month, I discovered that though she always wore a stern look, she was very kind at heart. I never found her hitting or scolding anyone. However, all the defaulters caught by her had to undergo a very unique punishment. That penalty was to sit in front of her suite which had comfortable chairs lined with several bookshelves loaded with the latest books. The defaulter was supposed to read those books on a Saturday evening or Sunday morning while his classmates went to watch a movie at Senior School or were playing. The incorrigible rogues like me who never completed their homework in time had something worse in store for them. That was to trail Miss Malkani wherever she walked in the school while reading out aloud from the book. I realized quite late in life that the credit for my becoming a voracious reader and a freelance writer goes to Miss Malkani. Not only did she improve my English manifold but she also ingrained in me lifelong habits of personal hygiene. I clearly remember how we all stood in a long queue daily just before ‘Lights Out’ at 10-30 pm for her inspection. We were supposed to show our trimmed nails and washed handkerchiefs, socks, vests and underwear. She always insisted that after washing, we should always squeeze the clothes to get the excess water out before hanging up to dry and never wrung. She explained that the elasticity would last longer. She was equally particular that we turn our mattresses each day before making our beds so that they are aired on each side. One day I wondered, where I picked up the habit of cleaning my plate and the eating utensils with a napkin each time I sit on the table. She also painstakingly taught us to chew every bite twenty-four times before swallowing it. It was none else but Miss Malkani who travelled an extra mile to teach us these basic things of life. Hundreds of young boys from rural backgrounds from far-flung corners of Punjab passed through her caring hands not knowing a word of English. They mastered the subject within two years of her masterful tutelage. Simple things of life taught by her have left an indelible impression. All students of PPS join me in giving the most respectful salute to this ‘Mother Teresa of Punjab that we know of.

-Brig Advitya Madan (retd) (R-374,1982)    Advityanidhi14@gmail.com

Below are a photo of young Advitya Madan and one in uniform. He rose to the rank of Brigadier before retirement and is now a  freelance writer. Mainly writing on military and school experiences. He is settled in Patiala.

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Miss GB Malkani

Miss G.B. Malkani was in charge of the Ravi House and served as the head of the junior wing. She was a very strict disciplinarian , often leading a few of us to spend weekends outside her doorway as punishment for various reasons.

I distinctly remember our late evening Stand Up meetings; all of us from Ravi House stood in a single file, presenting our washed undies and handkerchiefs, not to mention our neatly trimmed nails and toenails. Her dedication to her role was remarkable; she easily discerned who attempted to deceive her. To confirm whether these items were genuinely clean or just dipped in water, she would sniff for the scent of soap. God forbid, if you were flagged—punishment was certain. You were sure to reach hell!

If anyone fell ill, even with a slight cold or flu, she monitored us like a concerned parent. Should it worsen, she’d swiftly take us to the MI Room in the Junior or Senior School, depending on the severity. The Senior School MI Room was larger, equipped with more beds and facilities.

Maintaining a mostly serious demeanour, we were in awe of her and, truth be told, a bit of dread. Her smiles were rare, and laughter even rarer. She wanted to be taken seriously.

During visits from our parents, Miss Malkani would first highlight our strengths and then gently remark, “He needs to pay more attention to his studies/sports/cleanliness (as applicable).”

Miss Malkani had a distinct way of keeping warm; in winter, she could be seen rubbing one palm with the knuckles of the other. She always wore a white saree, even in the peak of winter, never opting for a sweater—perhaps at most, a light shawl draped around her shoulders.

It feels peculiar that despite spending a year or two interacting with her, I personally never knew her full middle name. It would have been nice to know it.

– Anil Chadha (R-224,1974)

Anil Chadha in School above

Below: Now settled in Pune as IT expert. Here he is speaking at the meeting of social workers as a volunteer.

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My role model

I joined school in September 1962 in class six and the first person I met was Miss Malkani, looking at her I was picturising Florence Nightingale about whom I had just read.

She was very welcoming and I felt very much at ease with her. She took me to my class and gave me a seat next to Jyoti Kate the only girl in the class.

Miss Malkani was very gentle and soft spoken but a strict disciplinarian.

I remember once I was sharpening my pencil, I had placed the pencil lead on the desk and was sharpening with a blade making the tip of my pencil sharp and pointy. Miss Malkani softly but firmly told me that I was ruining the desk as there would be marks left on the desk. She didn’t make a big noise of it in the class.

I adopted her way of discipline in my later life as a  teacher.

Once I had passed out from school whenever we would meet, she would be very friendly. I remember a couple of times she told me to accompany her to the staff club room which during those days used to be very close to playground area. We went in and she listened to KL Sehgal’s songs. I could make out she was enjoying the songs, she told me it relaxes her.

Miss Malkani was a very warm, accessible, devoted, caring and enthusiastic teacher, educator and leader.

– Ms. Basanti (Mathu) Sathu (R-73, ISC1967)

Basanti Mathu d/o Geography teacher PN Mathu now Sathu with her sons in New Zealand. She was motivated to teaching profession by Miss Malkani.

Late Surinder Punia d/o Bursar Mr. GS Punia, Jyoti Kate d/o Mr. JK Kate, Basanti Mathu d/o Mr. PN Mathu (geography) and Pebbles Punia s/0 Mr. Punia.

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Miss Nightingale

“Miss Nightingale” was the popular name given to Miss Malkani, the deputy chief in the Junior School, second only to the Headmaster.

In 1962, when I joined the junior school in the Vth class, she was virtually the heart and soul of the Junior School. This lady, dressed in white, was a constant presence throughout the school. Stern-faced yet kind-hearted, she held a strong disciplinary stance. Proficient as a teacher and an all-rounder in extracurricular activities, she was a gem of a personality, completely grounded.

She supervised every boy in the bath area, ensuring cleanliness, including washing of underwear and socks, and stood outside in the bath area with a bottle of glycerine for the children in the Jumna & Sutlej house premises.

Her usual method of discipline involved making erring students stand outside her room on Sundays while others played.

I vividly recall an incident where I was punished for five minutes, standing facing the wall in the Junior School’s dining hall during dinner. It was not my fault, and I felt I didn’t deserve the punishment, so I refused to eat when seated. Despite her sitting at the head of the table and twice urging me to consume food, I persisted in refusal. During her night rounds when it was time to sleep, she whispered, “Well! Rajan, it’s you who will remain hungry the whole night.”

An efficient English teacher, she paid special attention to weaker students. She rarely spoke about her family. Her parents resided with her in the house adjacent to the Jumna wing in the Junior School.

Another instance that stands out is when a senior student’s (Jashanjot, S-52)    grandfather brought “pinnis” for him on a Sunday. Miss Malkani distributed them among the rest, fostering a culture of ‘sharing’ among students. Though the boy might have felt a bit disheartened initially, she instilled the value of ‘Sharing’ .

Her dedication and unwavering commitment to education were so profound that she never considered starting her own family to settle down in life. Her passion was to serve and educate students; they were her sole family. Did she ever harbour any selfish motives? It’s only now, after settling into our own families, that we understand the enormity of the sacrifices she made in her lifetime. There’s a Hall named after her in the junior school, a tribute to this remarkable lady.

May God bless her in Heaven for the tireless work she accomplished on earth.

-Dr Rajan Soni (S-69,1968)

A general surgeon by profession, he is settled in Rajpura.

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Contributed By Col Beant  Sandhu from Facebook  page

THE PUNJAB PUBLIC SCHOOL NABHA

( By Old Nabhaites).

2 September 2011 at 17:53 – 7  

Miss Malkani, The lady with the lamp who moulded our lives.

Spent two years under the tutelage of Ms G B Malkani. The lady in the white sari. Her room was next to Junior Ravi House (in our time) and she looked after the House in addition to her other duties. Taught English Language to our 5-C. The section which had all the desi pendus with Punjabi as their Lingua Franca ! How one got selected for 5-C is another story. Spent hours of English writing from half a dozen Black boards she filled up for us.

She maintained a very immaculate chart of black marks awarded through the week for various misdemeanours. Speaking in Punjabi was one of them. All one had to do was report to her. “Madam, He spoke to me in Punjabi”. And lo and behold! one was awarded a black mark. Three black marks meant no Pocket Money on Sunday and forenoon of Sunday spent on detention at her apartment door step. She had a book shelf placed there. So that we could read while on detention. Many of us picked up habit of reading there at her door step.

In the evenings we used to line up in the House corridor with our Mug, Tooth Brush and a washed pair of socks for her inspection. Any short cut like just wetting the socks and the tooth brush in water before the inspection never missed her eagle eye. The consequence being having the wet dirty socks squeezed on the head !!

Her elderly father was wheel Chair ridden. In the evenings, she used to take him around the School lawns pushing the wheel chair herself. Never heard her ever hitting a student. Never came across a student of hers who did not revere her. May God bless her soul.

– Col Beant Sandhu (R-263,1977)

Col Beant Sandhu (R-263, 1977)

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Feared and respected

Miss Malkani was the Junior school Headmistress. She was always dressed in a white/cream saree. Most people remember her detentions – a punishment when you were supposed to sit in the ‘reading room’ after lunch and she would sit at the head of the table. She would mostly help them out with homework apart from reading her newspaper. She was one of the most respected and feared.

Col Atul Batra (R-350,1973)

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A Great lady

She was such a great lady.  I think all the PPS folks, who were in Junior School when she was there, would agree that MISS MALKANI played a very big role in instilling the English language in them. Apart from normal teaching she would read stories from her thick book that was with her. We learnt about Helen Keller from her. She read out Helen Keller story to all batches, and improved our grammar by making us sit on that dreaded stool outside her room.

She had an aura of being strict though she was gentle at heart and knew names of all students and their capabilities, I remember I wasn’t a serious student but she told my papa don’t worry she’ll do good in her future’.

Papa said later on “see she had confidence in you”.

We were so afraid of her that even in holidays we were afraid to go to the side where her residence was.

Cancer was real tragedy in her life, we all cried when we got the news in the Assembly Hall, she had left The PPS to join Daly College, Indore, where  Mr Kate was the Principal.

I still remember that I met one boy of that school (forgotten the name of school) in Jhansi and our friends had told him that I was their neighbour and from  The Punjab Public School, Nabha. He especially came to meet me and said that he wanted to meet Miss Malkani’s school student because she always remembered PPS very fondly and he had heard a lot from his seniors though he never got the chance to meet her. SORRY T00000 LONG CULDN’T control because we had personal and school interaction a lot, she liked to talk to papa.

-Deepshikha Nigam (B-293, 1976 and d/o Teacher Mr SL Nigam)

A photo of school girls with Mrs KPK Tandon. Deepshika I sitting second from left.

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Fabulous lady

This fabulous lady who moulded hundreds of lives took care of us in the middle of the winter nights (month of poh) supposed to be very cold in Punjab taking at least three rounds per night keeping our blankets straight on top of us (yes blankets as school used to issue them and no quilts from home), with a lantern in her hand, an angel from heavens,  may god keep her in his territory and bless her soul!

-Maj Benipal (S-420, 1981)

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A Fine Tutelage

A small recap…. When the school started in 1960, there were a number of Eminent Teachers who were pioneers. Among them was Padma Shree Mr J K Kate as Headmaster, Mr S C Cowell, Mr Surjit Singh, Senior Master, Mr Punia as Bursar and the junior school was headed by Miss Malkani. She was a fantastic lady and wonderful person who groomed the youngsters in Junior School- Classes V and VI and instilled good values in all, who passed through her tutelage ….

-Mitinder Sethi (J-76, 1965)

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 I salute the Lady!

I am yet to come across a great lady like Miss Malkani. She was our headmistress in junior school. She dedicated her full life to her parents and children of 5th & 6th class in School. She used to take rounds at lights out at night, mid night rounds, early morning rounds to check if the children were OK. I remember once I was sick and I was awake at night and she came for her usual rounds, one of the boy’s blankets had fallen down, she very nicely covered him with blankets again. She actually used to carry a lantern (Kerosine lamp) during night rounds. She taught us all the manners and how to live neat and clean. l have tried to inculcate these habits, she taught us, in my children. A book can be written on her. “I salute the lady with the lamp!!”

-Cmdr. Rakesh Batta (retd. IN) (J-158,1973)

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Lady with a Poise

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Exceptional

An exceptional teacher and inspiring moulder of children. Her extreme annoyance was a feeble mere two finger slap on our wrists and yet we all of successive section 5C  were mortally scared of her.

-Col. Sanjay Sangwan (S-329,1979)

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A lot to say!

I did not want to casually write about Ms Malkani… cannot give her in-between-tasks … I need time to put my memories together… was hoping to talk to mum to get her and dad’s (Teachers Mr KC Tandon and Mrs. KPK Tandon) input… I have a lot to say about the lady who pushed my pram.. took me on rounds during prep and bedtime … made sure I ate when mum was on duty … I don’t know where to start… I’m just at a loss… she left school the year we started in Jr. School… so give me time.

There was a funny incident involving Mr. Aggarwal and Ms. Malkani… I apologize in advance for posting a song but this incident would make no sense without it.

It was the Junior School show , in early ’70s, Mr. Aggarwal,  had directed the play and at the end of the evening, he was asked to sing. And he did. The song posted below. Everyone liked the song but as he was leaving the auditorium with the students, Ms .Malkani called him aside and very softly repeated the line, “Yadi aap hume aadesh karien, hum prem ka Shri Ganesh karien” and then asked him, “Do you think you should be singing such songs when there are children present?” Mr. Aggarwal was very embarrassed .. He said he did not feel it was a bad song to sing, but hearing Ms. Malkani say it – was very disturbing. He used to do the full enactment and tell this story.

At the next show, he made up for it by making the students sing a parody based on the song “Dil deke dekho” with a special mention for Ms. Malkani “Poochho, Poochho, Poochho Ms.Malkani se zara, English padhane mei kaisa hai maza...”

-Amy Tandon (J-390-1981)

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The Juniors who did not meet Ms Malkani.

Though I never met her. I heard a lot of good things about Miss Malkani.

— -Gurminder Sachdev (S-578,1983)

We used to hear that students still see a lady with the lamp in the corridors maybe her great spirit still looked after the kids!

-Roopam Arora

Please enlighten me about which great ‘The Lady with the Lamp’ are you people talking about! I just remember her by a Hall named after her… I need to know more about her…

-Gagan Sidhu (R-705, joined 1983)

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Excerpts from other sources:

An Asset to the School

All our academic progress including I.S.C. and N.D.A. results was due to the competent and hard-working staff we had right from the beginning.  Miss Malkani in the junior school and Mr. Cowell in the Senior school were great assets, not only to the English faculty but also to the whole school in general.  They shouldered many responsibilities outside the class-rooms.  Both of them were strict disciplinarians with an eye for minutest detail

–By Mr. JK Kate from his article on early years of the School ,“Pride of Punjab”.

 

Mr. JK Kate was a simple man. Here he is in his office which is today PA to Headmaster’s office. The Staff room was converted by later headmasters to their office.

Proving the adage that ‘it is not the room which makes the office great but the Man in the office who makes the office great’. Simplicity and dedication bond him to Miss Malkani.

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One of the earliest pictures of 1960s when Sardar Partap Singh Kairon the man behind starting of the School, visited. Here, he is seen, being introdcued to staff by Mr. JK Kate. The ladies are Miss Malkani in white and Ms KPK  Pannu.

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From issues  of ‘The Eagle’, a newsletter of ONA published for few years:

Befitting Tribute 

That evening, at 5 O’clock, the official ONA events began in the Junior School building.

I stepped into Junior school (also my home), and memories of Miss Malkani, Balbir Singh (school driver) and scores of others flooded my mind. It was great to meet Ved Prakash (R-60,1968), Manbir Singh (S-113,1970) , Tejinder (S-70,1968), Jatinder Randhawa (J-60,1968) and other ONs and their wives and remember all our school days.

We ONs then gathered in the Assembly Hall and observed a two- minute silence in the memory of all those ONs of the 1968 batch who were no more with us. Introductions also took place .We appreciated the portrait of Miss Malkani which adorned the Assembly Hall –  a befitting tribute to a teacher who shaped our lives. She lives in our memories, our actions and of course in our handwriting too.

——-Jyoti Kate Mahajan (R-52,1967), From her letter “A Visit to The PPS” at the occasion of ONA Day on 21st Nov,2003,  in the January 2004 issue. 

Jyoti kate as a poetess in a Hindi “kavi sammelan”enacted  on stage in school.

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Excerpts from my school life at PPS (1967-1974)

Junior school:

  • Miss Malkani was in charge for the Ravi house and also head of the junior wing. She was a very strict disciplinarian and as always, a couple of us would end up spending the weekend outside her doorway as a punishment for one reason or the other.

Anil Chadda, R-224 (1967-1974) anil.chadda@gmail.com

Anil Chadha with present HM DR Sharma, recently in Poona.

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Get Together in Zirakpur

(Down the memory lane)

While there were many other people at the party, the PPS crowd clearly enjoyed themselves. It was a special treat to meet my classmates like Jaiwant and Romi whom I met after almost 28 years. After the usual catching up, the talk revolved around among other things, the exploits on the play field, the detention at Miss Malkani’s door, and the anticipation of the famous English food.

Memories came flooding back. In the Junior School, I could almost see myself again as a scrawny nine-year-old standing outside Miss Malkani’s door with my parents for the first time. I could also hear the ‘Bless O Lord…’in the dining hall. I went to my old dormitory where I often felt homesick while trying to go to sleep at night and strangely I felt a pang of longing for that homesickness once again.

Dr Rupinder Brar (S-291,1978)

From left Dr Yashbir Dewan (J-297,1976, neurosurgeon and Vice Chancellor of Guru Ram Rai Medical University In Dehradun), Dr Rupinder Brar, Mr Nigam (physics), Dr Rupinder Boparai (B-325,1976) ICSE, MS from PGI, General Surgeon in UK and Arvinder Sandhu Forensic expert (Canada).

Dr Rupinder Brar on a recent visit to The PPS delivered a talk to the students.The Headmaster standing by.

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Mischievous Days (Those were the Days)

Memories of PPS Junior School are fresher in my mind than events just gone by. One remembers with fond memory the companions (senior boys as guides) to help you settle down. With great pride one was Ms. Malkani’s guest and was recorded with shades of Gold and Black for posterity.

–AS Minhas(R-120, 1971) fatty

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Inspiring Headmistress 

I was helped to settle in to life in Nabha by a great many people, apart from the pupils. Miss Malkani was an inspiring Headmistress, devoted to her work and also very kind. I have an image of her walking quietly through the building every night carrying a lamp and checking each dormitory.

Anita Scammell (Williams) (VSO, 1967-68)

45, Chantry View Road, Guildford, GU1 3XW UK

Phone: 01483 532 542, anita.scammell@ntlworld.com    

Jyoti with VSO Anita and the boys (1967-68) photo sent by Mallons

40 years on (written on her PPS visit in 2007)

In 1967, as a young newly qualified teacher, I came to spend two years teaching at the Junior School under Ms. Malkani at PPS. I learned so much during that time, about teaching and about India. Now I am about to retire from teaching I wanted very much to return to the place where I began to teach, which has remained in my heart over the years.

–Anita Scammell (Williams) in 2007 (VSO from UK in 1967-68)

Anita Williams Scammel and her husband honoured at the Golden Jubilee of School 2010 by Col Bhupinder Grewal (S-50,1967)

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 The Immortal Teachers

Mr. Samuel Collins Cowell formed one of the three pillars on which lie the strong foundations of PPS, Mr. JK Kate and Ms. GB Malkani being the others. Mr. M Vodden (British Council)  followed close behind. All the teachers of the founding years worked with these great personalities. It was Team Fantastic. Old Nabhaites who studied in PPS in sixties and seventies will continue to write and talk about them as long as they are around.

Dr Jashanjot Singh (S-52,1967) written in 2007

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India as seen by a 19year old Englishman

At PPS, I was superbly “looked after” in the Lower School by Gopi Malkani and Lila Kak and the other staff.  As a total novice, they allowed me to think I was a fully-fledged teacher which was marvelous for my confidence.

–Bernard Clarke

Consultant Head Teacher, Secondary Transformation Team

Kent County Council, Five Acre Wood Professional Centre

Boughton Lane, Maidstone, Kent, ME15 9QL

T:  01622 742946,M: 07795650854, e: bernard.clarke@kent.gov.uk

Naresh Verma, Bernard Clarke, Vodden, Dick Pine, Tandons, Savitri Sorangal, Malkani, Lila not seen. Junior School staff 1964. 

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Happy Memories of 1962-3 and All That 

The Junior School had only been going a short time when I arrived in August 1962. I was the first of a succession of young VSO volunteers to come from the UK. Miss Malkani took me under her wing and helped me get started teaching Class VIA. Thank goodness the students were all bright and, despite my poor efforts, they all did well in the end of term exams. All too soon they moved up to the Senior School. I have often wondered since how they got on in later life and how well PPS had equipped them for the challenges ahead. 

By Roger Miall, (1962-63)   Tan Hurst, High Street, Bramley, Surrey, GU5 0HS,UK, UK, Phone T:.483 894640  rogermiall_99@yahoo.com

Roger Miall who came as first volunteer Overseas from UK in 1962 as just 18year old, taking a class.

Honoured at the Golden Jubilee of school, 2010 by Gen. Vinay Sharma (S-122,1967)and Dr Jashanjot (S-52,1967). Miall had taught Jashanjot in class VI.

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The Best We Could Be

I was ten years old and sitting with a group of boys, getting to know them and getting used to being away from home. I was in Jamuna House and my House teacher was Ms. Malkani.

Some of you may remember her. She was strict and took no nonsense from anyone. We were scared of her, but she had a predictable reassuring presence. We knew she would be there directing us to get dressed in the morning, make sure we got to classes on time. We studied, we were on time for dinner and we were appropriately dressed. She was not friendly or maternal-yet there was a wisp of kindness and friendliness in her. She encouraged us to be THE BEST WE COULD BE.

In Junior School we got used to the routine of waking up early, studying, playing sports, keeping our elbows off the table and forming lifelong friendships.

It’s been over 45 years, so my memory is fading. Junior School was like a dream. But I remember Ms. Malkani and the kind and wise Mr. Kate.

Vineet Mehta ( J-72,1967) from his letter on ‘Remembering those days and friends’

ISC, 1967 photo. Vineet Mehta is second from right in second standing row.

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Riding your luck 

Miss Malkani was ahead of her times. The lady knew about conservation of energy those days when half of us were just learning to go onwards and upwards. She was very concerned about wastage and she wanted the children to learn by setting an example herself. In the wee hours of the morning before Rouser, as it was getting chilly, she would take a round of the school and switch off the fans in the dorms.

All went smoothly till suddenly there appeared a ghost (with misplaced energy) who put on the fans as soon as Miss Malkani had passed the dorm. Gradually the ghost got bolder. The ghost did not realize the game would not last too long till the law laid its long hands on him, as there were only four beds in a dorm. Moral of the story, don’t ride your luck too long.

No wonder Miss Malkani used these colours to drive home the point of good behaviour. She had these charts outside her flat for each house. The charts showed Gold Marks and Black Marks obtained by the boys of each house for their good or bad behaviour respectively. There was intense competition between houses to get maximum Golds. The house with dominant bunch of ill-behaved children had all black marks.

Avninder Singh Minhas “fatty”(R-120,1971)

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My Teachers.

1962 was the year Miss Malkani joined the school. No amount of praise for Miss Malkani will be enough. All those who were under her tutelage will agree. She was a legend. I remember seeing her for the first time when she came to our house for breakfast. After that she almost always came at that time as she knew that was the best time to get my father’s attention before he went to Senior School. We were on our best behaviour when she came. For as long as I can remember when my brother didn’t get up in the mornings we would say, “Vilas, Miss Malkani has come”.

Like for many of us, she was responsible for so much of my upbringing in my formative years. Often when I would teach in school I would hear myself saying, “Sit straight, left hand on the book”. She was responsible for teaching me so many things. Whether it was like showing respect to the servants, or throwing trash in the bin. (Once we had gone to the Nabha cinema hall to watch a movie. There was no place to throw the peanut shells, she told me to keep it in my coat pocket till I could throw it in the dust bin). I still squirm when I see empty plastic wrappers on the road. I remember the first year the school went to Rohti (a place 2kms from PPS) for a school picnic. She made me learn a poem called Rebecca and recite it before the whole school. After that I was made to recite poems on various occasions especially when the lights failed during a programme! When someone asked me how I felt so comfortable addressing people, I would reply, “I have been doing this since I was eight years old!”

Miss Malkani, along with Mr. Vodden, who came from the British Council, were largely responsible for the English Syllabus of the school. Almost all the boys who came to Nabha in class 5 knew almost no English. They devised teaching methods and techniques for these boys.

A candid photograph from Junior School Porch. Probably Mr. Kate leaving. His back is towards the camera. In front of him is Mrs Nirmala Kate face hidden. On her right in Miss Malkani seeing them off

VSO’s and Peace Corps.
The first VSO who came to Nabha was Roger Miall. He joined PPS in1962. Roger Miall taught us in class 6. The VSOs who came were all very young, about 18 and full of life. The boys enjoyed their company and they also made themselves quite at home in India. They stayed in the school for a year. They stayed in the Junior School under the watchful eyes of my parents and Miss Malkani. They taught in the Junior School too. My mother learnt to make English food from Mrs. Vodden and Mrs. Mallon and she would call them over sometime. They came for Christmas and during holidays. We would put up a Christmas tree so that they didn’t feel homesick.

Dick Pine was the first Peace Corps volunteer who joined the school. He helped to start the poultry farm which soon became a big success and soon there were two sheds. We had an aviary too. The Junior School boys would help him in feeding the birds. In the holidays when there was no one around Miss Malkani would make us do it.

Jyoti Kate Mahajan (R-52,1967)

Jyoti Kate (R-52) on the left, Harinder (Jolly) son of Raja Narinder Singh (S-62,1967) middle and Basanti (R-73, all 1967) as the girls in this one of the early Founders’ Day rendering of a Scottish song.

Jyoti Kate cutting the cake at ISC 1967 batch reunion 40years reunion post PPS in 2007 at Naval mess, New Delhi.


The Early Years Of The Punjab Public School, Nabha

–By Lila Kak (Ex-Junior School Teacher ,1963-66)

(Mr. Kate knew that children in junior school, mainly from villages of Punjab, were raw, without exposure to English or polish. So, he selectively assembled some of the best staff from all over India for them. Lila Kak was a very young daughter of an aristocratic family of J&K. When she graduated from St Bede’s, Shimla, Mr. Kate invited her to teach in junior school, where with her background and sophistication, she could influence the young children. Her father promptly agreed as he had admired Mr. Kate from the days when she was a student at Sanawar, where Mr. Kate served as the Bursar before coming to PPS. Below is a piece written by her for The Eagle Dr Jashanjot).

So vividly can I remember arriving at P.P.S. Nabha in January 1963, escorted by my father, for my very first job ! I had recently graduated from St. Bede’s College, Simla, complete with a T.T.C., ready and eager to teach. When we arrived, we were met by Mr. J.K. Kate, the founder headmaster of a wonderful institution, which has proved to be of prime importance in my teaching career.

I see us walking down the marble corridors of the Senior School and being ushered into his office. Mr. Kate met us with a warm welcome. We had actually known him for several years as I was a student at Sanawar and he, the very competent Bursar . It was because of the Kates’ presence at Nabha, that my parents felt comfortable for me to join P.P.S. as a resident teacher at the young age of twenty!

The next stop was the Junior School located less than half a mile away. As we drove through the high, black, wrought iron gates, a very magnificent building stood.

The next person we met was a very unusual and special person who was to be my professional mentor for life. In her spotless, white sari, Miss Malkani, the Head of the Junior School blended in with the marble floors and white walls of the building. That was how she was – shy at first, always keeping herself in the background, yet she produced and commanded a high standard of excellence by her sheer example. Her greatest compliment, she once told me, was when a parent reported to her that his son had said to him, “ Miss Malkani hame wahi sikhati hain, jo khud karti hain”. ( Miss Malkani does exactly what she teaches us to do. ) In short she always practiced what she preached and no one could ever argue with her or fault her for having separate standards for herself! She had large eyes, an acquiline nose and a smile that lit up her somewhat grave face.

Peace Corps worker David Goldberg, Lila Kak in the center and Neil Hutchison (VSO, 1965-66, from UK)

(An earlier email from Lila Kak-Bhan when I persuaded her to write about her time in the PPS. – Dr. Jashanjot Singh)

The Foundation of a teaching career / A school so different

I am so pleased to be on the O.N.A. mailing list. I have extremely happy memories of PPS – it was my very first job and I was there in Junior School under Miss Malkani from Jan 1963 to July 1966. I promise to write some articles, for Nabha was certainly the foundation of my teaching career and Mr. Kate and Miss Malkani were people who influenced my ideas and outlook on teaching and schools tremendously.

Keep nagging me, I don’t mind, but I will start very soon and send it to you. Miss Malkani  was my role model in teaching  and it is an honour for me to write about her. A truly dedicated and loving soul!

I think almost all the VSO’s that I know are coming to the reunion next year!
Take care !

Lila Bhan ( Kak, Ex-Junior School) lilabhan@yahoo.com 

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(Reminisces of an Ex-PPS teacher from PPS Chronicle) 

It is December 13, 2006 and I feel I have come home. But this time I have brought my family. In spring of 1969, I arrived at Punjab Public School for the first time having spent several months teaching at a Government School in Rohtak, Haryana. It was a revelation. PPS was school keen on principles of industry, wisdom and compassion. Headmaster Kate and Junior Headmistress Malkani personified those principles and not only expected them of the students and staff but modeled themselves  to set an example.

Entering the Junior School after 36 years I felt the presence of Mr. Kate, Miss Malkani and all the other teachers, staff and students who had enriched my life so long ago.

The spirit of Miss Malkani is carried on by Mrs. Thaper in the Junior School.

–Allan Collier(Ex-Teacher 1969-70)

8570, Cathedral Place , Sidney, B.C. V8L 5E1, CANADA

Ph:01(250) 656-6053  Email: silcol@telus.net

(From The Eagle issue of Dec 2007) 

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Regular customer 

The Eagle is a great effort and has been compiled commendably. I had to put everything aside so as to soak in each line – references of Ms Malkani really moved me -I was her regular customer in the ‘spelling test failures extra class’ on most of the weekends- only she could have changed some of us who had a strong allergy to anything associated with studies- we were more at home in the playfields with Mr Gill .I also have very fond memories of Balbir Singhji -an epitome of patience and generosity. Thank you for connecting us to a lot of old friends.

Col. Sukhminder (S-264, 1976) sukhminderaujla@yahoo.co.in , Mob :+91 9711117210

Col Sukhminder Aujla

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From her article on Golden Jubilee celebrations, April 2010 The Eagle August 2012

As for my family and the Kate Family the Golden Jubilee Celebrations were like a family function.  They had grown up listening about The PPS, the school boys’ pranks, the teachers, Junior School, Senior School, Miss Malkani, Balbir Singh, Mattie and a host of other stories from my parents, Vilas and me. Every time an ON visited us our ties with The PPS were strengthened. For me and Vilas –it was not just going back to school it was much more. It was home. And for my parents, The PPS was their life and—message.

Fortunately, during this period my mother was in a position to appreciate all this and she shared many stories about the school and its early years. She experienced the Golden Jubilee Celebrations with a sense of pride and fulfillment.

For my family the tempo was building up too. They realized it was a now or never situation. So, there I was with my entire family, grandkids included, in the warm welcoming arms of the Punia family and The PPS.

Jyoti Kate  (R-52,1967)-(daughter of Mr. JK Kate , Founder Headmaster, Vilas is her brother)

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Dear All I want to thank all my school teachers who have made me what I am today. I want to especially thank Miss G B Malkani (RIP) who enveloped us in her motherly fold and taught me English (I knew not a word; appeared in Punjabi for the entrance exam!!) Those days of 5 C classes are fresh in my mind. She would herself sharpen five pencils and hand over the same to us so that we never ran out of lead!! I have sat in front of her room on the corridor floor, on many a Sunday, and filled up those small notebooks with spelling mistake corrections. The love for the English language she instilled in me led to many a book being ‘confiscated’ by Mr. Johri in senior school!! I may have read max no of novels in school thanx to Ms. Malkani!! Any time there is tricky spelling; I fall back on her teachings and always come out tops.! They do not make such teachers anymore!! Who can make one village boy read and write English like a city dweller in one flat year!! Thank you ma’am I am indebted!!!

-Gurinderjit Singh Hara

From June issue, 2012 of The Eagle

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Poetry in uniform and rising son of Nabha

(written when Bikram Singh (B-71, 1968) became chief of Army Staff of India in 2012)

It is indeed a matter of great pride and honour for all of us at PPS Nabha and the ONA to have an alumni reach the highest pivot of the Indian Army. This is a tribute to our foundational teachers like Mr JK Kate, Ms Malkani amongst others who would be proud to see their efforts bearing fruit. I have had the honour to serve under the COAS Designate and he is indeed an officer and a gentleman. I would like to put across my observation here that in the 1970’s and 1980s where PPS had contributed officers to the Armed Forces who are today at the peak of their careers in their various fields, the number of people joining the forces has waned of late. I hope with this new achievement it will prove as the required catalyst and grant impetus to the enthusiasm amongst the boys to join and thereafter rule the Air , Land and Seas.

The son of Nabha is now the rising sun on the horizon and will have not only the 1.3 million defense forces looking up to him, but also our thousands of the Owl fraternity and the 1.2 billion proud Indians. I enclose a small poem for the General : –

There is a Nallah in front and a Boar as well,

Now that you are in the saddle General, ride like hell …..

Be rest assured we will be solidly behind you

and ALL will be well.

–Brigadier P. S. Minhas ( J-360,1981 ) arunamini@yahoo.com

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Oct 2013

I am sure it was not easy, day after day, our teachers and staff right down to Jora Singh who served us in the dining room with his team were kind, listened and paid attention to the students. Our faults were corrected, where praise was due it was given, where we were required to be Ms. Malkani’s guests, well, we were her guests learning patience and lessons!

-IJ Arora (J-40,1967)

From APRIL 2010 , issue of The Eagle

IJ Arora as naval Officer, in later years.

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Fond memories of Ms Malkani

I was Sutlej house mistress and needed to be instructed on my role and duties by Mrs. Sidhu, the junior school matron and Miss Malkani, the head mistress.

Morning was a busy time with the boys getting ready for assembly. I remember watching the new Sikh boys learning to tie their turbans under the instruction of Balbir Singh.

I remember Miss Malkani for her selfless devotion to the boys, the school and especially to her class of boys who arrived knowing very little English.

Many times I have walked past her classroom after lessons were over for the day and have seen her sitting with one or two small boys deep in discussion and giving them extra tuition.

I have very fond memories of Miss Malkani who I soon called by her first name, Gopi.

Lila Kak (Bhan) and I would go to her sitting room on many evenings at about 9pm and she would be busy marking books and preparing for the next day’s lessons. We would chat about the day and be given a bowl of delicious “Dahi” made by Gopi’s mother.

At ten pm Gopi would take her lantern and walk through all the dormitories checking to see that all the boys were safely tucked up in bed and asleep and then see us to our rooms.

One hot afternoon she was walking down a corridor with Lila and me following when she noticed a small black snake lying peacefully on the skirting board. Terrified, Lila and I immediately jumped on to the nearest chairs. Meanwhile she coolly and calmly went to get the chowkidar to deal with the snake.

My class tended to be quite rowdy as I was not able to keep order in class but if Miss Malkani walked by, immediately silence reigned and you could hear a pin drop! At least for a while.

She never raised her voice but all the students respected and were in awe of her. Each boy knew that if he had a problem or concern he could go to her for support and comfort.

–Dr Janet Anderman (VSO, 1965-66)

Dr Janet on the left with Brig Julka (J-101, 1970) on his visit to UK

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THE NAMING OF MALKANI HALL

The ONA was started by Mr. JK Kate in 1965. Initially it was run by the School. In 1981, the Old Nabhaites became active participants. However,  when there were few Old Nabhaites, though having its own office bearers, ONA operated from the school, with Group Captain A.J.S. Grewal serving as the Patron of ONA. ONA meetings were held in Junior School Assembly Hall ,attended by the Headmaster, Bursar and some senior school staff members. Usually, it was held one day before Founder’s.

During one such meeting in 1984, ONA proposed the naming of several venues in school in memory of the three most influential pillars of The PPS (The Punjab Public School) who significantly elevated the school to among the best seven in the country. They established strong foundations that have endured through numerous challenges.)

  1. The Dining Hall in the Senior School was proposed to be named ‘JK Kate Dining Hall.’
  2. The central hall of Middle House was proposed to be named ‘Cowell House.’
  3. The Junior School Assembly Hall was to be called Miss Malkani Hall or Malkani Arts Gallery.

The latter two announcements were featured in the Potpourri of the Chronicle, the December 1984, issue number 258. However, due to the preparations for the Silver Jubilee in 1985, this proposal was inadvertently set aside. Subsequently, the school faced tumultuous times due to extremism in Punjab. The proposals became dormant.

It wasn’t until after 2000, during Commodore S.L. Syal’s tenure as Headmaster, that the proposal was finally implemented, urged by Dr. Jashanjot (S-52, 1967) on behalf of ONA. A poignant portrait of Miss Malkani, showcasing her sensitive expression, adorned the Junior School Hall. It is popularly known as Malkani Hall.

Portrait of Miss Malkani hung on the facing wall of the Malkani Hall. It shows her soft gentle expression.

A metal plaque was put up outside the Hall. It had a citation composed by Miss Lila Kak, a very popular teacher of Junior School during 1963-66. (Mr. Kate wanted sophisticated teachers in Junior School, to teach village and small-town children English and proper etiquettes and behaviour. Lila was from an aristocratic family. Her father was last Diwan of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir under King Hari Singh (1945-47). She was formerly Head Girl of The Lawerence School, Sanawar and Hocky Captain. She received her Education degree from the, then, elite college of St Bede’s in Shimla).

Madam Lila Kak, later Bhan, regarded Miss Malkani as her mentor and remained grateful to her throughout her life. She even followed Miss Malkani to join Daly College, Indore few years after Miss Malkani had departed from The School.

The Plaque

Below is the citation for the Plaque sent by Madam Lila Kak Bhan.

                                                                    Miss Gopi B Malkani

                                                                    (The Lady in White)

                                          1920 ( Sindh , Pakistan) –1982 ( Bombay, India )

Headmistress, Junior School, The Punjab Public School, Nabha, 1961- 1975

Miss Malkani hame wahi sikhati hain jo khud karti hain”

Devoted, Tireless, Dedicated, she always led by example, leaving an                                         indelible impression on all the children she taught. 

An eternal inspiration, Miss Malkani believed in working, “Like the artist               unseen and unheard!” Exemplary role model and true educationist, she                                will  always be an integral part of P.P.S.

There were no or few girls in Miss Malkani’s time. Now we have junior girls activities in the Hall.

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MISS MALKANI IN LIGHTER MOMENTS

Generally, in the School, Miss Malkani maintained a notably strict demeanour and tolerated no nonsense from anyone, projecting a persona of few words coupled with a disciplinary stance. The majority of children held her in awe. This was the image she perhaps intended to convey – one of seriousness – aiming to instil profound discipline in her students and mould them into better individuals. It was a responsibility she wholeheartedly and passionately embraced.

However, when she entered the class as a teacher, she was a different person. She was very communicative and expressive. She wanted the children to respond to her teachings. This was more so, when she interacted with a weak child one to one. Sometimes, she took a group of children who had been punished along with her on the rounds trailing behind her while she conversed with them. She wanted them to perceive and understand what she was doing.

The students who met her after leaving school found her warm, affectionate, friendly and interested in what they were doing. Her eyes would brighten at the sight of her old students. She had  great memory of her old students and would inquire after them, if any old student visited her.

For the rest of the young staff in Junior School including the foreign VSOs and Peace Corps workers, she was like a mother and with her parents included, a family. To put it in words of one of the teachers: “ In fact, Gopi was a home away from home for all the young volunteers. I, being in the same age group as they were, joined them every night when we would be fed lightly sweetened home set yogurt or lassi, nuts and “kakri”  cucumbers, as we regaled each other with tales of our day’s experiences. It was then that a whole different side of Gopi would surface, when we discovered her humour, heard her laughter and saw her disarming and animated expressions as she listened to our stories! Every now and then she would find an appropriate moment to give us advice or recount an experience of her own from which we learnt more than any text book could teach”.

Mrs KK katyal, Miss GB Malkani, Ms Asha Tikaram, Mrs. Macmullen, and Mrs. Singh at a party

The ladies Club of the School, Sitting Mrs. Sidhu, Ms J lamba, Miss Lila Kak, Miss KPK Pannu. Standing Lto R Mrs. Singh, Mrs. Dr Surjit Singh (w/o senior Master), Mrs Bedekar of Horlicks, Mrs. Nirmala Kate, Miss GB Malkani, Mrs. Tankha, Mrs. Vodden, , Mrs. Punia, Mrs McMullen, Mrs. Kumar and Mrs. Kakkar.

Junior School staff- 1964 , a happy family: from left Naresh Verma (arts)Bernard Clarke (VSO-1964-65), Dick Pine (peace Corps, Swimming), Mr. Micahel Vodden (British Council-English 1962-64), Lila not seen, covered by Miss Malkani on extreme right, Standing Mr. Tandon (music), Mrs KPK Tandon, Ms Savitri Songra.

A candid photo of laughing Miss Malkani, Anita Williams (VSO) Miss Raina and Miss Mohini Kamble, ladies of the Junior School PPS  caught in lighter mood.

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Compiled by Dr Jashanjot Singh (S-52,1967). He was in Junior School when Miss Malkani joined School in 1961.

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