In the second term of 1964, Mr. K. K. Katyal, from Hoshiarpur, joined the Senior Section of The Punjab Public School, Nabha as Biology teacher. He had earlier taught in DAV College, Jalandhar. It was an auspicious start because Vandana, his second daughter, was born on August 15th , just after he joined.
He was the second teacher after Mr. OP Bhatnagar (Hindi and Arts) to have joined school leaving a college job. Mr. Kate, the founder headmaster, was an expert in finding the best talent for the school. He was one of the Pillars, the staff of 1960s, who established the reputation of the School.
Popularly known as K3 or 3Ks – (One class even called him Kashmir Ki Kali, though he was neither Kashmiri nor a Kali during 1960s). He was also called King Kong Katta in 70s because of his built and last name. Mr. Katyal was medium built, slightly on the heavier side , a well-rounded chubby face with a thin line or apology of a moustache riding his upper lip and a balding head covering a sharp brain. He was an excellent teacher of Biology. His teaching skills made sure that his students grasped the subject well. He did not make them just learn Biology but understand it and love it. He mixed his teaching with strictness and humour. It is no small complement for him, if I may say, that in his 17 years of stay, he produced 100 doctors or more from the school, that too when the focus of school children was on joining the Armed Forces. Considering that schools are judged on the performance of their alumni, Mr. Katyal played a great role in enhancing the great reputation of the school in its first two decades.
He was fully devoted to his subject. In fact, he created the Bio Lab and made models of a complex nature. He made a beautiful model of DNA for his pupils. The Biology Section of the Founders’ Day exhibition was always par excellence.
He authored a Biology text book and a workbook and subsequently served as the Head Examiner of Biology for the ICSE board for many years.
The Biology exhibition on the Founders’ Day, 1969. Chief Guest Air Chief Marshall Arjan Singh. Looking on, from left Mr JK Kate in robe, Mrs Arjan Singh and Chief Minister Justice Gurnam Singh in white turban.
Apart from being an excellent teacher, he had qualities that endeared him to many. His flair for theatre, led to production of some of the finest and exceptional plays on the PPS Stage in those years, for example, classics like “Godaan” by Munshi Premchand , the famous English play “The Mousetrap” written by master of mystery, Agatha Christie. (It happens to be the longest running play in London since last world war) and “Ashad Ka Ek Din” by Mohan Rakesh (this was in co-direction with Mr. SC Sharma, Chemistry teacher) , considered to be the first modern Hindi play. He also staged some hilarious comedies like “Paanch Pound Kum” and “Thalloo and Mathalloo”. He had special training in facial makeup for different characters in a play. He excelled in it. Even artist teachers like Mr. OP Bhatnagar learnt this art from him.
He was a true Punjabi, who loved good food and is believed to have been a good cook, sharing the kitchen with or replacing Mrs. Katyal at times, and playing a gracious host to many. He had no bias and loved sweets, namkeen, and chilies equally.
Being a Biologist, he grew different decorative plants and had a very nice garden in his house to brighten it up. It stood out in the Staff Colony. He also grew vegetables, which were shared with neighbours. Whatever he did, he was totally involved and immersed in it.
He was very much a family man, looking after the interests of all. When hardly any teacher had a scooter, he was proud of his Lambretta scooter, to which he added an extended seat so that he could carry all his family (wife and three kids) together. He taught his children the valuable lessons of life. According to Vandana, “he will always be our hero. Not because he was our dad, but because he was an educator. As a father and a teacher, he was kind and patient, wise, and knowledgeable. From him, we learned valuable life lessons, and academic lessons which added immense value to our lives”.
While he was dedicated to his job and other activities , graceful and charming Mrs. Katyal was totally involved in raising her three kids and looking after the house. According to Mr. OP Bhatnagar, “Mr. Katyal was a lively man and enjoyed life. It was a joy to be in his company. He had a level of sophistication, and so had Mrs. Katyal (who was a trained teacher herself). Mr. and Mrs. Katyal were a sophisticated couple and great hosts”. In later years with children grown up, Mrs. Katyal taught Hindi for ten years in Jain Model School at Nabha.
Many teachers joining in earlier years had not done B.Ed., an essential degree for teachers. On encouragement from Mr. JK Kate , most of them would go to Ajmer to study for B.Ed. in summer vacations. Mr. Katyal followed suit. In 1969, he took the course and stood second in the University in B. Ed. examination of Rajasthan University, Ajmer.
Another significant feature during Mr. JK Kate’s tenure was the opportunities available to teachers to go abroad to the UK or the USA to further hone their skills as teachers and learn the latest teaching techniques from Western schools. These were available as bursaries or fellowships courtesy the programs run by governments of these two countries. Selection was always competitive at national level. When someone asked Mr. Kate how he could afford to send his teachers abroad for a year and if the school did not suffer because of their going away. Mr. Kate said when the teachers come back after acquiring knowledge and learning the latest teaching techniques, his teachers, school and students all gained. In September 1970, Mr. Katyal was selected to go to St. John’s ,York. He left for the UK, on Commonwealth Teachers Training Bursary. He returned almost nine months later in 1971 after having attained PG Diploma of Leeds University in Science Education with a distinction.
In December,1972, Mr. KK Katyal was invited by the Department of Science Education, NCERT, New Delhi to review manuscripts of new biology text-books. The invitation was extended to him under UNESCO Project for Improvement of Science Education.
With ISC 1972 batch. Seated to right of AR Gupta the Headmaster (picture courtsey Dr Ranjit Dhaliwal)
In 1974 for the first time Mr. Katyal was given the responsibility of Housemastership of Ravi House. After a wonderful stint as housemaster for four years , he relinquished it in December , 1979.
He played an active role in Poultry farm, the Student Council and the Ecology and Nature Club a Youth wing of WLL Fund.
After gloriously serving the school for 17 years and producing wonderful students who went on to excel in their fields, came the time for Mr. Katyal to find greener pastures and move upwards in his career graph. Partly it was his breathing problem that made him decide to shift to the more congenial air of Mussoorie. In January1981, a special assembly was organized as the school community bade farewell to Mr. K.K.Katyal, Head of the Biology Department. Mr. Katyal had taught at PPS for almost two decades (seventeen years).
He further enriched the list of Ex-PPS staff members who were heading various schools when he took over as Principal of Mussoorie Public School, Mussoorie. He spent almost twenty years there giving his best to the School.
In the list above of the PPS masters who became Headmasters published in the Coffee Table Book at the Occassion of the Golden Jubilee of The PPS in 2010, Mr KK Katyla is at no.10. The list is not in order of seniority.
While at Mussoorie in the nineties, he developed a serious illness for which he had to make frequent trips to AIIMS at Delhi . Dr Satish Jain, his student at The PPS, was undergoing training there and was very helpful to his Guru.
In 2000 he took final retirement and like a true native, he went back to his roots in Hoshiarpur to settle down. In December 2001, he even went to see “The PPS Equestrian Show” in Chandigarh organized by ONA. But his good condition did not last long. He soon fell ill again and passed away in a Jalandhar Hospital in May, 2002.
It must be mentioned here that he had three children, one daughter born before he joined the school and the other two, daughter and son were born while he served in The PPS. All three children studied in the school and are proud Old Nabhaites. Older daughter Archana Katyal (R-307,1978) married Old Nabhaite Dr. Rupinder Brar (S-291,1968). Second daughter is Vandana Katyal (R-344, 1979) a Scientist with patents to her name (both are settled in the USA) .The youngest was son, late Puneet Katyal (R-425,1981) who passed away few years back.
Satff children enjoyed the security and kinship of an extended family in the Staff Colony.
There were very few girls in school during the 1970s. A natural lasting friendship developed among them. Both Katyal daughters were among them.
Girls with Mr KPK Tandon: Seated L to R Hardeep Deol, Radhika Puri, Deepa Johri, Mrs. KP Tandon, Gurpreet Kalyan, Deepshika Nigam, Samita Johri, Standing L to R Surdeep, Vandana Katyal, Jaskiran Shaheed, Ravi Deep, Prabhjot, Anshu Verma, Romi Nijjar and Archana Katyal.
In 2001, watching “Tthe PPS Equestrian Show” organised by ONA on Police gorunds, Chandigarh.Mr. and Mrs. Tandon (white beard) are on his right.
A candid shot of Mr Tandon and Mr Katyal at the show.
With Chief Guest
Aerobics by Girls
Chief guest Air Chief Marshall Arjan Singh (1969) being introduced to staff by Mr JK Kate, the Headmaster. Here from right are Mr. RS Sibal, Mr. PN Mathu, Mr. KK Katyal talking to Mr. KC Tandon then Mr. OP Bhatnagar. The teachers usaully were photographed or introduced to guests by seniority.
These teachers were all selected by the ace Headhunter Mr. JK Kate, the founding headmaster of The PPS. He had an astute eye for spotting talent to fill teachers’ posts in a Public School. He picked them up from diverse institutes and backgrounds like IMA, NDA, Modern School and RIMC etc. Mr. OP Bhatnagar of Hindi and Mr. KK Katyal of Biology were plucked from colleges. Mr. Katyal came from DAV College, Jallandhar, Mr. Bhatnagar came from a Lucknow Chistian College, Lucknow.They were all outstanding and Mr. Kate as a captain of the team got them to perform at the highest level. No wonder the School enjoyed a reputation by mid sixties that equalled the best schools in the country.
The teachers who stayed after Mr. Kate left in 1972, carried on his legacy. His influence stayed far beyond his tenure through the teachers he had appointed and nurtured into a dedicated, hard working and multi-tasking bunch. They even learnt from Mr Kate , how to run a Public School (most of them were not from Public Schools). No wonder most of them became heads of important schools in the country. Almost 26 teachers appointed by him headed different well known schools.
When Mr. Kate left the School to move to Daly College, Indore as Headmaster, he was given a very fond farewell. In the picture above, his car tied with ropes is being towed by teachers, staff and students till the school gate (1972). Mr. Katyal can be seen in the right row of pullers third from the front, in front of him is Mr. SL Nigam. Mr. Katyal went on to serve the School till Jan 1980. He later moved to head The Mussoorie Public School, Mussoorie (Utrakhand).
It gives an idea of the multiple activities he undertook in school during his tenure. These have been written under the different issues of The Chronicle.
Mr. K.K.Katyal joined the Senior Section as Biology teacher from Govt College Hoshiarpur, starting auspiciously with birth of a daughter on August 15th.
Mr VN Bhave, IB Kakkar and KK Katyal attended the IPSC Masters conference at Doon School, Dehradun.
Following attended the Summer Institutes for Teachers:
YP Johri- Mathematics at Kurukshetra
VN Bhave- Chemistry at Chandigarh.
KK Katyal- Biology at Delhi
Second term 1967
Congratulations to Mr and Mrs. Katyal for the birth of their son. (Puneet)
20th, April, 1968
Mr BS Bhatnagar organized a Brains Trust. Most questions were on science. Mr Kakar and Mr Katyal were kept busy. (may,1968 vol 65)
May, 1968 (June chronicle)
Most Teachers were busy in holidays either doing B.Ed. (Mrs. KP Tandon, OP Bhatnagar, KK Katyal) in Ajmer or attending Summer Institutes in Maths and Physics at Kurukshetra and Dehradun Like Mr Nijjar , Mr Johri. Mr Kakar and Mr Nigam.
July issue 1968, Vol 67
In June,1968 , Mr Tandon and Mr Katyal returned strained from Ajmer by the strenuous mental labour.
26th July, 1968
Mrs. KP Tandon, OP Bhatnagar and Mr KK Katyal took the B.Ed. exam of Rajasthan University from regional College of Education, Ajmer.
Mr KK Katyal has taken over as staff adviser to the School Council.
Mr KK Katyal cleared his B.Ed. exam. Mr KK Katyal (second), Mr OP Bhatnagar(4th) and Mrs. KP Tandon(5th) did well in B.Ed. exam at Ajmer securing positions in the University.
In 1968, Mr Katyal was Asstt. Housemaster to Mr IB Kakkar , the House master of Beas House.
September 1970 (Oct issue)
Mrs. KP Tandon (U of Southampton) and Mr. Katyal (St John’s York) left for UK on Commonwealth Teachers’ Training Bursaries to acquire latest teaching methods in their subjects.
We welcome back Mr. KK Katyal from England. He studied at the University of Leeds for his PG Diploma in Science education which he obtained with distinction.
August 1971 (September issue)
In the Wednesday Forum , Mr. KK Katyal spoke on his experience in England and Europe and later showed some interesting slides.
School Council had a meeting.
Mr. KK Katyal attended Poultry Service School at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.
Mr KK Katyal was invited by the Department of Science Education, NCERT, New Delhi to review manuscripts of new biology text-books. The invitation was extended to him under UNESCO Project for Improvement of Science Education.
Mr. KK Katyal gave a talk on Ringworms in the morning Assembly.
Mr. Katyal has been appointed House master of Ravi House.
4th August, 1975
A talk on cancer was delivered by Mr. KK Katyal in the Assembly.
Mr Katyal seated extreme right in a staff picture of 1969
Mt. Tandon, Mr. KS Nijjar, Mr KK Katyal and SML Nigam have retired from Housemastership.
In February, 1979
M/S KC Tandon, KS Nijjar and KK Katyal were given touching send-offs by their respective houses on retirement from Housemastership. Class IX students bade farewell to the outgoing students of Class X.
The Ecology and Nature Club, a youth Movement of WWL Fund has come into existence in the school and got registered (R.No; 502/n-4/1979). Headmaster will be Advisor and Mr. KK Katyal as Asstt. Advisor of the Club.
End of First Term,1981
A special assembly was organized as the school community bade farewell to Mr..K.K.Katyal, Head of the Biology Department. Mr..Katyal had taught at PPS for almost two decades. He further enriched the list of Ex-PPS staff members who were heading various schools when he took over as Principal of Mussorie Public School, Mussorie.
As mentioned earlier Mr. Katyal was a multi-talented personality. His foremost talent used by school was his feel of the drama and ability to bring out the fine nuances as desired by the playwright. He directed or helped others in directing many wonderful plays on the stage of The Punjab Public School, Nabha in his tenure of 17years.
An example is the magnum opus production of the Hindi play “Godaan” based on the famous story by the great Hindi writer Munshi Prem Chand.
Mr. JK Kate in his essay on the first twelve years of The Punjab Public School Nabha written at the time of the Silver jubilee of the School in 1985 titled “Pride of Punjab” wrote about it. According to him “With the impetus given to house plays, class plays and school-plays, our achievements in the field of dramatics and music were above average. Mr. Katyal’s production of, “Godaan” a Hindi play, was praised by one and all.” No other play was mentioned by him in similar vein.
Following is a review of the Play as carried in the Chronicle. The play was enacted in 1970 on the Founders ‘day.
April 1970 issue Page 10.
The reviewer was most impressed by the young school children depict the life of a distant hamlet in UP with such accuracy in their portrayals , speaks volumes for the direction and skill of Mr. KK Katyal.
Some scenes from the play:
Satish Jain (R-107,1970) on the left as Gobar in Godaan
Mr. Katyal was not only a great director but also a great make-up artist. He could make up his actors with such finesse that they fitted their character aptly. Even Mr. OP Bhatnagar the popular art teacher in the early years of School had great admiration for him. He says, “KKK had special talent in dramatics. He was a great stage actor and director. He had undergone training in facial make up. I learnt several tricks of facial make up from him”.
As per Dr. Satish Jain his student “Mr. Katyal asked me to do the role of Gobar in the first full length play “Godaan” that was to be staged on the Founders Day in March 1970. I couldn’t have ever said no to him and a series of endless rehearsals followed, many of those went well into the nights. We got to spend a lot of time at his house for those rehearsals during which he seemed to be totally engrossed in the play to the extent that he was ignoring his family life. On the day of the dress rehearsal, Mr. Katyal and Mr. OPB gave me a special haircut and glued my hair at various places to make me look a rustic villager. During the final dress rehearsal, I became very emotional and couldn’t hold my tears in the scene where I was leaving the village along with my wife in the play. Many in the audience were crying for quite some time. After the play was over, Mr. Katyal gave me a big hug with tears still in his eyes!!”.
Another student Dr Rajan Paul Soni (S-69,1968) writes, “I had the opportunity to work under him in dramatics also, a great dramatist he happened to be. He was very humorous on stage and I vividly remember his laughter drama, wearing a “Fantedar Pyjama“. With his guidance I along with Pradeep Sethi (S-72,1968) coined a short skit improvised and written at same time. It became the most appreciated and popular skit during that time with comedian characters “Thalloo & Mathalloo“.
Dr Ved Parkash Beniwal (R-60,1968) also known as dhobi for a character he performed in a play with uncommon elan, was a popular actor in those years of 1960s. He honed his skills under the guidance of Mr. Katyal. He has this to say of Mr. Katyal, “He spotted and encouraged my interest in dramatics from early on. Were it not for his mentoring I may not have had the opportunity for a lead role in the annual school plays for most of my years at PPS, with him as Director. It was during the rehearsals of these plays, under his watchful eyes, that I realised the perfectionist in him. His attention to detail was painfully uncompromising, but forever enriching. It inspired me to work my hardest, if only to please him. He was not so generous with his compliments. That he left to the audience on the final day. After repeated takes during rehearsals when we got it right the most one could hope for was his “OK”, with a smile.
One incident remains etched in my memory. It was when rehearsing for a play that he wanted me to limit my distracting hand movements and instead maintain focus of the audience, more on the substance, the tone, and the words of a crucial dialogue. I tried hard to satisfy him for two days, but in vain. Finally, with concealed frustration, he tied both my hands behind my back, and we did a few more retakes. It worked. Even I was surprised to see the improvements in my dialogue delivery, and relieved to finally receive his customary ‘OK’, with a smile”.
Dr Ved Parkash (R-60, 1968) on the right in the role of a doctor in a Hindi comedy “Paanch Pound Kum” with Surinderpal Waraich (S-80,1968) in the middle and Kulbhushan Singh (R-82,1969).
Another classic play that was very tough to produce because of its typical British background and characters and its countryside location was produced by Mr. Katyal. It was the famous English play “The Mousetrap” written by master of mystery, Agatha Christie. (It happens to be the longest running play in London since 1952). It was a huge challenging task. Mr. Katyal somehow, managed to get a great performance from his school children. The play was highly appreciated considering its intricacies and Indian school students trying to portray a typically British that too Agatha Christie play.
Below is what the School Chronicle had to say:
Due to poor printing the second page was not comfortably readable. I have below continued (to type for reading) from where the first page ended:-
(Charanjit Kapoor) and the two are united once again.
The play as whole went off smoothly and was well received by the audience. Each one of the male actors was superb in portraying his role but the fair sex somewhat let down the show. They could not modulate their voice suitably or bring any kind of expression on their faces. Which were like images carved in stone..
The stage management, lights and special effects were efficiently executed. Indeed, it is difficult to point out any serious lacunae in the performance except perhaps that the full impact of horror and terror, the tension and fearful uncertainty found in the original play could not be dramatized. The solitary episode which frightened the audience was the convincing shrieking involved in the death of Mrs. Boyle (Credit to Alka). The editing , maybe, overplayed the investigation. Somehow the eerie atmosphere of lurking death was missing on the stage. Similarly, the suspicion which Agatha cast on each person in the story was insufficiently dramatized. However, these are fine details recondite to those who haven’t read the play and if the performance on the stage is judged without reference to the original and keeping in mind its amateur standard , it was a magnificent performance- the high spot of the whole Founders ‘day function one might say. Kudos to M/S Katyal and Aggarwal for their hard labour and skill.
A scene from the Play Mousetrap. Incidentally, Vandana Katyal (d/o Mt Katyal) is the character on the right.
The cast of Mousetrap
Another famous and much recogonised Play, that Mr. Katyal helped Mr. SC Sharma (Chemistry) stage , was the Hindi Play “Ashad Ka Ek Din” by Rakesh Mohan. It is considered to be the first modern Hindi play. It was highly appreciated and received accolades from one and all.
The Old Nabhaites Association got in touch with Mr Katyal in 1990s when he was still Principal of Mussoorie Public School. Dr Jashanjot (S-52,1967) had visited his former Guru with his family, on a visit to Mussorrie. Thereafter, ONA invited him for few functions in the PPS especially at November, 1999 ONA Meeting and again at the ONA Millenium meet called “Revdevous 2000” in the year 2000 where many old gurus of 1960s had been invited and honoured. However, given his health he could not make it. But he sent a very nice letter to the ONA President Navin Talwar (S71,1969) and Dr Jashanjot. It is reproduced below:
The letter vividly brings out his love and affection for all his former students of The Punjab Public School, Nabha and how much regard he had for their well being. He was a good host and looked forward to the visit of Old Nabhaites to his house at Mussoorie . He even wanted his contact to be shared with Old Nabhaites for the purpose.
Above all, he was very apprecaitive of ‘The Eagle’ brought out by Dr Jashanjot and Ashwani Aggarwal (J-188,1974), which shared news of Old Nabhaites, old anecdotes of school days and present news of the school. It had become a binding force for Old Nabhaites and brought them all closer.
On one of the Fouders’Day. Behind tall General Harbaksh Singh Board member is Mr. KK Katyal. Sardar Gurdarshan Singh local MLA and Mr. JK Kate can be seen in front row.
As articulated by Vandana, “Our father embodied an extraordinary level of empathy and compassion for the underprivileged, consistently translating his principles into actions.”
In the latter half of 2002, I received an email from Vandana, which laid the foundation for a remarkable initiative:
“We have collectively resolved, in honour of our cherished father’s enduring legacy, to establish an Annual Award of Rs.10,000 designated for a support staff or ‘karamchari’. This philanthropic endeavour, a collaborative effort by the offspring of Mr. Katyal – Archana (R-307, 1977), Vandana (R-344, 1978), and Puneet (R-425, 1981), is poised to be bestowed annually during the commemoration of Gandhi Jayanti on the 2nd of October. Our vision entails the active participation of four students, each representing one of the school’s houses across all grades, in the selection process of the most deserving ‘karamchari’ or employee.
This meticulously crafted framework remains firmly within the ONA (Old Nabhaites Association) fold.
This commitment is not ephemeral; rather, it is a lifetime pledge that necessitates only a gentle annual reminder, typically during the months of June and July, lest it slip our collective consciousness. We recall with fondness the tradition of the Community Dinner held on the 2nd of October each year at PPS, wherein the families of support staff employees or karamcharis were graciously invited, and students and staff joined hands to serve dinner. Subsequently, small tokens of appreciation were distributed. We assume that this tradition endures, making it the most fitting occasion for award presentation. However, we are also open to alternative suggestions that align with the spirit of this noble initiative.”
(From 2003 to 2012, ever year I received the money for the award from Vandana’s brother-in-law in Chandigarh which was passed to the School authorities to be awarded on the Founders ‘Day. From then on, the money has been directly transferred to School authorities every year. The amount has also been enhanced keeping the inflation in mind).
Dr Jashanjot Singh , (S-52,1967)
1981 Founders’Day. Sardar Harcharan Singh Ajnala, Minister government of Punjab is chief guest (His two sons Harpartap B-45,1967 and Harjodh B-64,1968 studied in the school). Behind and between Col Naunihal Singh Mann and Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh is seated Mr. KK Katyal.
From the annals of the Chronicle:
The 43rd Founders’ Day was presided over by Justice O.P. Verma (Retd.), who had assumed the esteemed position of Governor of Punjab and ex-officio Chairman of the School Board of Governors earlier in the year. A momentous announcement was made during this distinguished event – the establishment of a prestigious cash award amounting to Rs.10,000, honouring the memory of the late Mr. K.K. Katyal. This esteemed initiative was sponsored by his accomplished daughters and esteemed alumni of PPS, Vandana Katyal (Ex R-344) and Archana Katyal (Ex R-307). Named the “ONA Late KK Katyal Memorial Award for Best Karamchari,” this commendable recognition is bestowed upon five exemplary Class IV employees, with each recipient receiving a sum of Rs. 2,000. Notably, the purpose of this award has evolved to support the Muskaan and Prayaas clubs, enriching the lives of the children of the dedicated karamcharis.
The list of awards offered by Old Nabhaites Association in the School as published in the Coffee Table Book released at the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the School in 2010.
The KK Katyal Memorial Award is mentioned at section ‘c’ on page 179.
Mr Katyal shaking hands with Chief Guest Sardar Harcharan Singh Ajnala in 1980 (he was speaker of Punjab Assembly and education minister at another time. His sons Harpartap (1967) and Harjodh (1968) were Old Nabhaites) . Mr Katyal’s position in the staff line suggests he had become one of the senior most by now.
A staff picture of 1978 when Mr Punia was the acting Headmaster. Mr Katyal is seated fourth from right
To Sir with Love (A Tribute)
(this was published in ‘The Eagle’ issue of ONA after the passing away of MR. KK Katyal)
The year was 1967, the month was May. It was time to fill the examination forms along with subjects for each student appearing in ISC (Senior Cambridge), in December. The newspapers were full of strikes and riots by engineers due to unemployment. Five of us (Additional Math students, worried about our future as engineers), Bhupinder Grewal (S-50), Shivinder Athwal (B-108), Inderbir Khokha (R-154), Gurjit Dhillon (B-69), and I, approached the senior master, the great Mr SC Cowell, to allow us to take up Biology as an additional subject. Mr. Cowell put up the matter to Mr. JK Kate, the Headmaster. Mr. Kate agreed but let the final word rest with the Biology teacher whose job it would be to take extra classes for only five of us and prepare us for the Biology exam in 5 months. With apprehension, we approached the Biology teacher. To our amazement, he readily agreed. He was none other than Mr. KK Katyal. Popularly known as K3 or 3Ks. Medium-built, obese and balding, he had the finesse of drilling into his students the subject he taught so well. Then began a period of hectic classes in the afternoon. The extra class at times lasted more than an hour. We would be sleepy after a heavy lunch but K3’s energy kept us awake. In the hot afternoons, We could see beads of sweat on his forehead. He taught us so well that two out of the five topped our class in Biology in ISC exam.
Three of us, Shivinder (UK), Inderbir Khokha (USA) and I became doctors later in life. Bhupinder became an Engineer in the Army and Gurjit (retired as Lt. Gen., DG Supply Corps but a Brigadier at time of writing this tribute and heading for great heights, having successfully attended National Defence College).
Many years later I visited Mussoorie with my family. I knew sir (KKK) was there as Headmaster of Mussoorie Public School. We all went to meet him. I was proud to be able to introduce my kids to the Sir who changed the course of my life. We had a wonderful lunch with him and Mrs. Katyal. A few years earlier he had been troubled by a growth in the neck and had been successfully treated at AIIMS, courtesy Dr Satish Jain (R-107), another of his students from PPS. Now his weight was significantly reduced, movements were slowed and even a little exertion made him breathless. His once forceful voice had become subdued. When things became difficult for him in the hills at Mussoorie, where he was continuing to serve at the insistence of the management, he decided to come down to his native Hoshiarpur to settle down and spend his last years.
Last year (2001, I got a phone call from him that he was very unwell. I immediately asked him to come to Jalandhar and got him admitted with a physician friend. My friend Dr Kapil Gupta would joke with Sir and say to him, “I have to make you fit again because I want you to teach my son Biology the way you taught Jashanjot.” He recovered to a large extent and went back to Hoshiarpur. But as doctors we knew his failing lungs could not support him for long. When he was better he even went to see the ‘ONA Equestrian Show’ in Chandigarh with his son but thereafter, his health deteriorated. During his time of illness, Mrs. Katyal was always by his side – a picture of Indian womanhood. His children – all Old Nabhaites, were however, far away and could be with him only in patches. Puneet, his son, was on the high seas in Merchant Navy, and his daughters, Archana and Vandana, flew in and out of India to see him, having settled in USA.
In the last few days (2002), he was again admitted in my friend’s hospital – this time a little more serious. On the morning of 25th May, 2002, I got a call from Dr Kapil Gupta who said with a choked voice, that “your Sir passed away this morning”. I rushed immediately. When I reached the hospital, I went straight to the bed, where his body (it had been curtained off) lay. I had to say last good-bye. I picked up his limp hand with tears in my eyes and kissed it with a prayer for his soul in my heart.
Dr Jashanjot (S-52,1967)
( Written by Mr. OP Bhatnagar. colleague of Mr. Katyal in school. Both came to The PPS leaving college jobs).
KKK has been one of those who sacrificed their University career to serve PPS. He was teaching graduate classes when Mr. Kate picked him up to teach Biology in PPS. Mr. Kate always made right choices. The lure of Kairon Block brought this energetic and smart young man to PPS.
He was fully devoted to his subject. In fact, he created the Bio Lab. Made models of complex nature. He made a beautiful model of DNA for his pupils. He loved plants. He decorated his residence with decorative plant around his house in the staff colony near the playgrounds. He also grew vegetables. He was quite a “foody” and enjoyed good food. Like a true Panjabi, he was blessed with a good appetite. Naturally, he was overweight, though not obese. He was a lively man and enjoyed life. It was a joy to be in his company. Katyals were great hosts.
KKK was not B. Ed. Regional college (now Institute) of Education, Ajmer, run by NCERT, started Summer-cum-Correspondence Course for untrained in-service teachers. BSB joined it in 1967. I, KKK and Mrs. KPK Tandon joined in 1968 and finished in 69. KKK was my roommate in hostel. He used to sleep early and get up at about 2am to study.
KKK had special talent in dramatics. He was a great stage actor and director. He had undergone training in facial make up. I learnt several tricks of facial make up from him.
He had a level of sophistication, and so had Mrs. Katyal. She was a teacher herself. Unfortunately, KKK got Housemastership after a long wait. It was not his or anyone else’s fault. He became Housemaster in 1974.
Housemastership is administrative experience, necessary for principalship. He ultimately picked the principalship of Mussoorie Public School, District Dehradun, UP. He nurtured that School very well. As luck would have it, he suffered from cancer, and, while in harness, left for his heavenly abode. We remember him as a very nice friend and fine gentleman.
O.P. Bhatnagar, MA
1960-1970 (taught Hindi and Art.)
Mr. KK Katyal sitting on extreme right and Mr. OP Bhatnagar sitting fifth from left between Mr. GS Punia and Miss GB Malkani.Staff Picture from 1969 with Mr. JK Kate sitting in the center.
Mr. OP Bhatnagar in 2023 in Pune staying with his daughter and Vilas Jagan Nath Kate (S-96,1970) in 2023
A very good master
I also recall Mr. Katyal who taught me biology. He was a very good master and I scored fairly high marks in Biology. (From an article he wrote on his school days in The PPS).
(He was formerly the President of Man Industries (India) Limited, a USD 500 million company. He also served for a long time as Vice President of DNV, a Norwegian company heading different departments and geographies)
Our salute to the likes of Mr. J.K. Kate and Mr. K.K. Katyal who were epitome of sincere, transparent and truthful conduct.
Late Col Hardev Bajwa (S-25,1966)
(from an article , ‘Storm in a Teacup’ in ‘The Eagle’ highlighting no cheating or wrongful means used in The PPS during ISC examinations).
Late Col Hardev Bajwa on the left with Jaspal Chatha (R-89 ,1966) Prof of Economics, Hanemann College, New York and Dr Jashanjot (S-52,1967)
Dedication to students
About Mr. Katyal our Biology teacher: He played a pivotal role in transforming my future. I had never ever considered medicine as a profession till some of us Maths students were asked to take biology as a subject in our final year and were introduced to our teacher Mr. Katyal, who paved the way by his excellent teaching of the subject and putting in long hours to cover the entire subject in a short time period. Thanks to his dedication to his students, I benefitted by becoming a doctor.
Dr. Inderbir Khokha (R-154,1967)
Dr Inderbir Khokha who became a Urologist and is settled in USA.
Loved his Class
We loved going to Mr. Katyal’s class which was in the Biology lab. Other than playing with the skeleton which was there, we enjoyed his class. He was an excellent teacher and knew his subject well. I think the boys enjoyed dissection as it gave them an opportunity to do some mischief. Once Vineet (J-72) and Vinod (J-65) managed to topple a whole box of cockroaches which Mr. Katyal had collected. Needless to say, after collecting the cockroaches which took two whole periods to do, we were all punished.
Jyoti Kate (R-52,1967) (daughter of the Founder Headmaster Mr. JK Kate, who appointed Mr. Katyal on the staff)
Young Jyoti Kate in School with the Mallon Family. She is standing in front of Mr. John Mallon who is no more. He had been sent by British Council to head the English department of the School from 1965 to 1968 on request of Mr. JK Kate.
In 2008 reunion of 1967 batch, Jyoti Kate cutting the cake with Lt Gen RS Sujlana (B-134). Late Col Amarjit Malik looking on (S-46)
My Darling Teacher
In the year1966 I had opted for Higher Maths out of the three streams.
Mr. JK Kate, Hon’ble HM walked into our class and said “Rajan why can’t you take Biology as an additional subject?”. I was taken aback but dare not say ‘No’ to my revered Headmaster. “Perhaps this is for your better future” , although I used to focus on entering the NDA.
Next , Mr. Kate made special arrangements so that my Maths & Biology classes didn’t clash. Mr. K K Katyal was our biology teacher, a gem of a person. He was a very fine teacher who made biology subject look very easy and interesting. He was always very friendly with the students.
I had the opportunity to work under him in dramatics also, a great dramatist he happened to be. He was very humorous on stage and I vividly remember his laughter drama, wearing a “Fantedar Pyjama”. With his guidance, I, along with Pradeep Sethi (S-72,1968) coined a short skit which was liked the most that time with comedian characters “Thalloo & Mathalloo”.
He was one of the finest , and my favourite teacher He chiseled me to what I am today.
In our sent-up practical exams I remember him having helped me indirectly by giving me a hint. He said, “Rajan look, look , I am putting this (the insect) in the jar with an animal in water. NOTE it.” The demo was of ‘Parasitic phenomenon’, we had to infer the title.
So, such teachers who intermingled with their students so well, are hard to forget.
I wish his soul peace and the very best where ever he is, for being my darling teacher.
Dr Rajan Soni , M.S. (General Surgery), (S-69,1968)
Dr Rajan Paul Soni above.
Dr Soni with better half celebrating his 70th. Birthday in 2022
Punjabi to the hilt
Mr. K Katyal, fondly nicknamed by our class as ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’(a popular Hindi movie at that time), was neither a Kashmiri nor a Kali. He was a jovial bit rotund Punjabi to the hilt.
He had a flair for the drama and humour which he employed extensively in and outside the classroom. He would make teaching the anatomy and physiology exciting with his dramatic presentation and lifelike diagrams. Often he would burst out a dialogue from the stage, story or a movie to drive home his point in pure Punjabi. He was a gem of an artist, actor and a humane teacher all rolled into a rolly Polly personality.
Unlike some other teachers he did not have to use physical therapy in handling the wayward amongst us and thus left only positive impressions on our gentle minds instead of physical evidence on our bodies.
Col Jatinder Randhawa (J-60,1968)
Col JS Randhawa and below in the center dancing at an ONA party in 2008 in Chandigarh.
Mr Katyal was an unusually engaging teacher. His cheerful personality and the gentle simplicity with which he explained biology to the uninitiated, made his classes a treat to attend.
In addition, I was exceptionally lucky to have had him as my teacher, even beyond the classroom. He spotted and encouraged my interest in dramatics from early on. Were it not for his mentoring I may not have had the opportunity for a lead role in the annual school plays for most of my years at PPS, with him as Director. It was during the rehearsals of these plays, under his watchful eyes, that I realised the perfectionist in him. His attention to detail was painfully uncompromising, but forever enriching. It inspired me to work my hardest, if only to please him. He was not so generous with his compliments. That he left to the audience on the final day. After repeated takes during rehearsals when we got it right the most one could hope for was his “OK”, with a smile.
One incident remains etched in my memory. It was when rehearsing for a play that he wanted me to limit my distracting hand movements and instead keep focus of the audience, more on the substance, the tone, and the words of a crucial dialogue. I tried hard to satisfy him for two days, but in vain. Finally, with concealed frustration, he tied both my hands behind my back, and we did a few more retakes. It worked. Even I was surprised to see the improvements in my dialogue delivery, and relieved to finally receive his customary ‘OK’, with a smile.
After leaving school in 1968, I met Mr Katyal in 2001 when on holiday in Mussoorie. He was working as principal of a public school there at the time. We reminisced about old times. I was so taken aback when out of the blue he showered unsolicited praise on me as his star actor over all those years. It was as if he was unloading the burden of a long overdue and unfinished business. I could not hold back my tears as they flowed unashamedly. It was as if I was finally letting go of a long held secret hunger for having his unreserved approval.
As fate would have it, it was to be our last meeting.
Dr Ved Beniwal (R-60,1968)
Present day doctor. He became president of Haryana Medical Association.
Dr Ved Beniwal with his cycling group giving interview to a TV channel.
MEMORIES OF MR K. K KATYAL
Thinking about school times! Wow! is like revisiting yesterday, especially the memories of Mr. K. K. Katyal. These memories are fresh and joyous, reminding me that every moment was a lesson, which proved true in the years to come. Our teachers, seniors, and House Masters imparted wisdom akin to the teachings of the Gita. Our school felt like a nurturing family, guiding us toward our future careers, urging us to reach for the sky as our school motto, “ONWARD AND UPWARD” , suggests.
I can still vividly recall the moments when I entered the Biology Lab for a class with Mr. Katyal. At first glance, he seemed intimidating, but beneath that exterior was a visionary. He instilled in us the confidence to handle a scalpel and grow a plant, watching it bloom. Biology, typically a challenging subject, became so accessible under Mr. Katyal’s guidance that it left an indelible mark, inspiring me to become a doctor. Today, 56 years after leaving school, with 40 years of professional experience, I still yearn to be in Mr. Katyal’s class. He was a divine gift in the form of an exceptional teacher, and his ability to explain biological concepts left an enduring impression.
I believe that just as God created the world, Mr. Katyal, as a teacher, nurtured doctors in his students, transforming us from raw potential into polished gems. I consider myself fortunate to be one of his students. He was a paragon of teaching, shaping our professional lives and careers through his knowledge, patience, and affectionate teaching style. He maintained a warm smile, coupled with an authoritative and assertive voice, instilling discipline in the classroom. This discipline provided a solid foundation that has led to our success and respect in society.
Mr. Katyal treated all students equally, fostering an environment of mutual respect and listening to diverse viewpoints. He aimed to create a familial atmosphere in the classroom, where warmth, accessibility, and caring were the norm. His high expectations applied to all students, regardless of their academic level. His love for learning and knowledge motivated us all. Mr. Katyal encouraged us to share our ideas, fostering teamwork, and instilling leadership qualities that continue to benefit us in our professional lives. His innovative teaching techniques, like ‘shifting gears,’ turned dull subjects into engaging ones. He actively sought constructive criticism and guided students in shaping their careers and professions.
Sir, we feel honoured, privileged and proud to have been your students. I am sure you too are proud of your students up there in heaven.
Dr Gobinder Singh Dhami
Dhami Eye Care Hospital & Institute, Ludhiana-141001. M: 9814033998 (Dr Dhami is leading eye surgeon of Ludhiana)
Dr Dhami today as leading Eye surgeon of Ludhiana.
Mr. KK Katyal –My Biology Teacher who initiated me into Medicine.
My first memory of Mr. KK Katyal goes back to 1969 when I was a student of Biology in Class X. In one of the classes, we were supposed to dissect a frog!! Mr. Katyal had got enough frogs and those were kept in a large tub outside the biology room. Being a total vegetarian who had perhaps not even held an egg, I was the last person who could have picked up a frog from the tub and dissected it. Somehow, Mr. Katyal coaxed me to do it and I don’t know from where I got the energy and willpower- I caught hold of a frog between my fingers and, as demonstrated by Mr. Katyal hit the frog’s head hard against the edge of the tub. With the frog becoming unconscious, I started my dissection which was my first such experience. That day the foundation stone of my future career in Medicine was laid in the Biology Lab of the school, courtesy Mr. Katyal!
My next serious interaction with Mr. Katyal was in the beginning on 1970 soon after we returned from Delhi after participating in the Republic Day Parade. Mr. Katyal asked me to play the role of Gobar in the first full-length play “Godaan” that was to be staged on the Founders’ Day in March 1970. I couldn’t have ever said no to him and a series of endless rehearsals followed, many of those went well into the nights. We spent a lot of time at his house for those rehearsals during which he seemed to be totally engrossed in the play to the extent that he was ignoring his family life. On the day of the dress rehearsal, Mr. Katyal and Mr. OPB gave me a special haircut and glued my hair at various places to make me look a rustic villager. During the final dress rehearsal, I became very emotional and couldn’t hold back my tears in the scene where I was leaving the village along with my wife in the play. Many in the audience were crying for quite some time. After the play was over, Mr. Katyal gave me a big hug with tears still in his eyes!!
It was in 1982-83 that I met Mr. Katyal once again at AIIMS, New Delhi where he came for his treatment from Mussoorie. I had just joined the AIIMS for my DM in Neurology. He had multiple enlarged lymph nodes for which no particular cause could be found initially. After repeated visits to AIIMS and numerous tests carried out on him over the next year or so, he was ultimately diagnosed with a type of Lymphoma. He underwent multiple chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions at the AIIMS for over the next 2 years. During this period, he would religiously visit Delhi from Mussoorie. Every time, he would visit our house on Panchkuian Road first, mostly have dinner with us and then go to other side of Connaught Place where Mini (Archana) lived after her marriage. Mini always pointed this out to me with a sisterly jealousy whenever we met socially in Delhi!! As a Doctor, I could have never done more for a teacher who was responsible for initiating me into medicine.
I got to know Mr. Katyal more closely when Menka and I went with our two children to spend a few days with Mrs. and Mr. Katyal in Mussoorie where he was the Headmaster of the Mussoorie Public School. We were treated like family members and stayed in their house (and not the guest house of the school). He had totally recovered from his Lymphoma but used to get breathless on walking up and down in the school campus, located just next to the ropeway in Mussoorie.
For whatever I am today, I owe a lot to Mr. Katyal. Had he not persuaded to me to knock-out and dissect that frog, I may not have been a Doctor. From this seemingly very insignificant incidence, I feel that I learnt to organize myself to accumulate all power within me and coordinate that power in a manner that I will be able to achieve anything that I aimed for. Thank you, Mr. Katyal for helping me in the organization of “power within” which I believe was the most important stepping stone for my successful journey as a student aiming to be a Doctor!!
Satish Jain, MD; DM; FRCP (R-107, 1970)
Dr Satish Jain today on the right. A neurologist, formerly professor at AIIMS , with his son and grandson on a walk in the morning.
Satish Jain in the play Godaan while at School
Mr. Katyal taught us Biology and can still feel his ear pinches every time we slipped up on some simple questions.
Anil Chadda, R-224 (1967-1974)
Thank you, Mr. Katyal
Being married to one of Mr. Katyal’s daughters has its own benefits and drawbacks. On the plus side, we can count on a near instant connection with almost everyone during any meeting involving the old Nabhaites, once people find out that my wife, Archana, is Mr. Katyal’s daughter.
“Oh, you are Minnie, I remember you from the time you were so small. Oh, you still look the same. Oh, Mr. Katyal, what a fine house master. He made my life,” and so on.
On the downside, I usually become near invisible during such exchanges, especially if very senior batches are involved. Sometimes I am noticed, only to be told how lucky I am (which is quite true).
As an Old Nabhaite myself, I can completely relate to such outpourings because as I grow old, I realize how much we Nabhaites owe to those who gave their so much to so many.
Consider for example, the world today, when nine to five is a standard workday and ‘protected personal time’ a necessity. Compare it to the job of an average PPS housemaster. From rouser bell to lights out, we, the students occupied their entire time. How we dressed, what we ate, how well we did in class, what happened on the games field, who got sick during prep, everything and anything was the house master’s responsibility.
And yet, they somehow did it all and cheerfully so.
In time they became so much a part of our own trials and tribulations that we carry a bit of them, even today. These include memories of their scolding and punishments, the way we carry memories of such from our parents. People still remember and joke about Mr. Bhatti’s slap or Mr. Mathoo’s kick. With Mr. KK Katyal, it was his famously feared pinch and I have my own story to tell because though I was one of the fortunate ones to have escaped being pinched altogether, the fear of it still shapes my life.
Mr. Katyal taught us biology in eighth class and was a remarkable storyteller and teacher, so biology became one of my favorite subjects. His way of teaching was to ask questions and let the boys raise their hands and answer. Sometimes, when people could not give the right answer, he would threaten to pinch them. I sat next to Harjeet Singh Aulakh (S-297,1978) who was a fairly hardworking and intelligent boy.
One day, Harjeet was distracted and gave a wrong answer to one of Mr. Katyal’s questions . Sir let it go, but after a while, he asked him another question. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Harjeet’s day and he got it wrong again.
Mr. Katyal came close to our desk and asked him, “What’s wrong with you Harjeet ? I did not expect you to get two questions wrong in a row.” Then he pretended to glare at him and said, “If you miss one more, I am going to pinch you.”
“Sorry, Sir,” Harjeet began, “I will do better next time. But Sir, you are being unfair. You threaten to pinch me after I missed two questions in a row, yet there are these other kids who have missed several questions, and you don’t threaten them.”
To me, Harjeet had a point.
So, I too looked at Sir and nodded in agreement with my buddy. Mr. Katyal looked back at both of us and smiled. Then he said something I have never forgotten all these years.
“Harjeet, it is all about your potential. If I treated you like the rest, you will get lazy and not be able to perform to your full potential. As your teacher it is my duty to push you until you not only get there but exceed it.” Then he paused, and looked at me. “And you, if you miss one question, I will come after you too!”
I realised later that it was an underhanded compliment to both of us as much as it was a threat, but also a valuable life lesson—all rolled in one. That year both Harjeet and I did very well in class. Mr. Katyal told us at the end of the year that we were his star students. Thanks in a large part to his teaching technique, biology became my first love from then onwards. I ended up at the top of my Class in ISC.
His life lesson however, went on to shape our lives even beyond.
The fear of not being able to live up to my full potential carried me through medical school and residency training, fellowship program and on to a directorship of a cardiovascular institute. Sometimes, even now, I find myself asking my wife if I am living up to Mr. Katyal’s standard.
And about Harjeet. He exceeded his potential and our country’s expectations a long time ago. After joining the NDA, Harjeet graduated with distinction and later on went on to lay down his life defending our country atop the Saichen glacier. I salute my friend. I am sure Mr. Katyal must be so proud.
Thank you sir.
Dr Rupinder Brar (S-291,1978), Author and Director, Cardiology in a Yuba City Hospital, California., USA
From left Dr Yashbir Dewan (J-297,1976 also student of Mr. Katyal, 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 also a student of MR. KK Katyal) and Arvinder Sandhu Forensic expert (Canada).
In Punjabi University VC’s (Dr Arvind Singh) office before the expert panel discussion of their jointly authored book ‘Along came a Soldier’ on Banda Bahadur. On right is Dr Rupinder Brar Ss-291,1978) and Lt. Gen RS Sujlana (B-134,1967) in Jan 2023.
An article by Brig Advitya Mohan Madan (R-374,1982) in the “Hindustan Times”, Chandigarh of 4th September, 2022.
Advitya Madan during School days
Another article by Him on Mr.KK Katyal (on 5th October, 2023)
An Unforgettable Teacher
It was January 1977 when our winter vacation had just ended. I, a young child, along with my father, entered the ‘Ravi House’ of the senior school of Punjab Public School, Nabha with trepidation. While in ‘Junior school’ and the ‘Middle House’, we heard a lot about pillow fighting competitions and ragging by the seniors in the dormitories of the senior school. After helping me settle down in my allotted dormitory my father left for our home. It was the first time when I felt all alone to fend for myself in this harsh and ruthless world.
On the very first day, I realized that in senior school no one calls each other by their name. Everyone including all the teachers and the Housemasters was assigned their nicknames with affection. On the very first night, we witnessed a high drama when our seniors of Class 12 in Dormitory No 1 violated the basic rule of ‘lights off’ at 2230 hours. At around 2245 hours, we all juniors of Class 8th on the first floor heard a lot of commotion downstairs. We all peeped down from our windows and what a sight to behold. We could not believe our eyes. All our seniors were undergoing mass punishment on the lawn below under the tutelage of our Housemaster Mr. KK Katyal. Later, we came to know that Mr. KK Katyal was a no-nonsense man. He was a hard taskmaster with a tough exterior but with a soft heart. He was the only housemaster who never skipped having meals with the Ravi house students.
Professionally, no one could even match him. He had authored a Biology book which was prescribed by the ICSE board in all the schools across the length and breadth of our country. It was only because of him that several students opted for Biology as the optional subject and now are renowned Doctors and super-specialists. I fondly remember, before our first day of the ICSE exams, how his wife organized a small prayer at their residence and distributed prasad with a bowl of curd as a good omen.
Mr Katyal also taught us the use of a knife and fork and used to guide us on how to soak extra ghee from our food by dunking a piece of bread in the gravy.
No one ever bunked his periods as all of us believed that if one is attentive during his classes one need not study for the exams. I clearly remember when he used to jokingly remark in class, ‘ So Advitya, you are interested in ‘Not Doing Anything’ (An acronym he coined who were hell-bent on joining NDA).
In his later years, he took the Mussoorie Public School to great heights in the capacity of Principal before he got back to his roots at Hoshiarpur. It is very rare these days to find teachers of his calibre. May his soul rest in peace always. Today is World Teachers’ Day -5 October and we pay our tributes to him. May such a breed of teachers continue enlightening the lives of the younger generation.
Brig Advitya Madan before retirement
(Written by Vandana Katyal on behalf of the Family)
Mr. Krishan Kumar Katyal (Nov. 9, 1938-May 25, 2002), was always, and will always be our hero . Not because he was our dad , but because he was an educator. As a father and a teacher, he was kind, patient, wise and knowledgeable. From him, we learned the valuable lessons of life, as well as academic lessons which added immense values to our life.
Looking back in life, he got married in Oct. 1961 after finishing his studies and went on to teach at DAV college, Jalandhar where they were blessed with their first daughter. He taught there for about three years . In May 1964, he joined the academic staff at The PPS, Nabha (May 1964- Feb. 1981) as a Biology teacher. He was blessed with his second daughter the same year in August and a son in July 1967. He was a great family man and took great pride in his Lambertta scooter with an additional carrier and it would accommodate all of our family.
Years later… The two sisters in Jan 2023, outside the same auditorium, where once they had participated in stage performances during school days.
He had a great green thumb and was very fond of gardening. Our backyard was always flourishing with fresh produce for us as well as for the neighbours. He spent a lot of time in keeping up with the seasonal flowers for the front of the house so it always looked appealing.
Our sweetest and best memories are of the PPS campus, where we would live not as a family, but as an extended family with other staff and faculty.
When our parents went to attend school staff meetings/dinners/get togethers, all of the kids were put in one house to play. The friendships, relationships and bonds formed during those years continue to warm our heart even to this day. The sprawling school campus offered us a place to thrive and explore, form values and principles in life, and establish a solid foundation of character and moral values.
When our father went to the UK for a year in 1970 for his higher education enhancement, our extended PPS family was always there to assist us and look after us. In 1974, he was appointed the House Master of Ravi house.
Our father also had a great passion for theatre and every year was involved in directing one or two school plays. He was a great lover of nature and accompanied students for a nature trekking trip for a few days every year in summer. Not to forget that he was a big foodie as well and loved cooking for the family. We can go on and on about how he loved to live his life to the fullest with a great sense of humour and had a great will power and determination to provide the best of the best that he could offer to everybody.
His students found him to be a great teacher. They have lot of regard and respect for him. He authored a Biology text book and a workbook and subsequently served as the Head Examiner of Biology for the ICSE board for many years.
Starting 1980, he started facing health problems and In 1981, our family made academic transitions – our father assumed the responsibilities of Principal of Mussoorie Public School in Mussoorie while our mother oversaw the day to day running of the boarding and dorm operations of the school along with teaching. During this time, numerous old Nabhaites visited my father in Mussoorie and revived cherished and fond memories of years gone by.
Our parents travelled to US in 1994 to spend some time with us and especially the grandchildren that they adored and doted on. They served in their respective positions until 2000, following which they took retirement and moved to our father’s roots – to his hometown of Hoshiarpur. After battling his illness for several years, our father passed away in 2002. Our mother moved to the US to live with us in the US and got her Green card in 2003. Unfortunately, she also passed away in 2004 during a visit to India.
We also had to bear the tragic loss of our brother in 2013. He had joined Merchant Navy.
Our father had a lot of empathy and compassion for the underprivileged and we saw him practice what he preached. To honour our father’s memory, we established an ongoing yearly recognition award for a deserving karamchari or support staff in 2002, on basis of his/her excellent service. This award money is now being used for Muskaan and Prayaas club to benefit the wards of support staff/ karamchari employees.
Vandana who owns four US patents in her name, retired as Senior Research Scientist from Edwards Air Force base, California. She says, “Papa would have been extremely proud of these achievements and being an old Nabhaite, the basic training did start from Science Block , The PPS”.
Every year, on September 5, is observed globally as World Teachers’ Day, we reflect upon the contributions of our father’s unconditional love and dedication to not only their children but every life they touched as educators. Though he may not be with us today, he received the love, respect and regards from a global family of The PPS Old Nabhaites who are making their mark in every career path that they have pursued. As they say – Teachers make all other professions possible, we are so proud of him to be able to do for so many.
THE FIRST GIRL STUDENTS (1960s)
PPS started off as an all-boys School since its primary aim was to prepare children for defence forces. However, some girls were enrolled in the school during the early years on account of them being children of teaching staff.
In 1970s with day scholar girls gaining strength (introduced in 1967 second term) a Head Girl of School was also appointed.
Archana (R-307) was appointed Headgirl in 1977 and
Vandana (R-344) was appointed Headgirl in 1978.