British teacher visits Kerala school after five decades
A school teacher from Britain has travelled thousands of miles to Kerala to visit the institute where he taught nearly five decades ago. One of his students is former union minister P.C. Thomas.
Piers Pendred travelled from London to Sainik School Kazhakootam in the state capital, where he taught in 1966.
On Tuesday, he was pleasantly surprised to see more than two dozen of his students gathered there to receive him. Pendred, accompanied by his journalist wife Carol, is in India on a two-week visit.
P.C. Thomas (who was part of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government) said he considered it a great honour to be taught English by Pendred.
"We learned many things from him which was not in our syllabus. If not for him, I doubt we could have got this much insight quite early in our lives," Thomas said.
Pendred was 21 years old when he graduated from the University of Cambridge. As part of the Graduate Volunteer Service Organisation, he was posted in August 1966 to teach English at the Kerala school.
"When I reached here, India was 18 years old, Kerala was nine, Sainik School was three and the boys I taught were all independent India's children. I consider myself so much lucky to have been here then, and more importantly now," said Pendred (69), who retired as a senior British Council official.
"I had no clue of where I would be posted but after a stint of 18 months at this school where I taught English and Maths, I considered myself so fortunate as I was able to change my outlook in life," he said to loud applause at a special assembly convened by the school in his honour.
Pendred's visit was arranged by his student T.K. Chandramohan, now a retired banker, who was in the first batch of the school in 1964.
"On a recent visit to London, I went and met sir (Pendred) and was taken aback when he showed pictures he had taken while at school. I asked him to visit the school and he agreed. When he returns after his visit to India, we will form a chapter of old students of the school who are in Britain and Pendred will be appointed the patron," said Chandramohan.
Planter K.C. Dominic said he was initiated into football by Pendred as he was proud to be an Englishman because it was in 1966 that England won the World Cup.
"Football was his passion and so was dramatics. We remember him staging the play 'Comedy of Errors' and believe me, it was superb," Dominic said.
(Posted on 21-01-2014)