Vijay Crishna (No. 366)
Mayo College, 1957-1961
Here are some reasons for unfurling the Mayo flag at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Feb 2008 and on the Antarctic mainland in March 2012. The reason that I did so was very simple and can be contained in two words -- JACK GIBSON!
I went to Mayo in the summer of 1957 it was because I was being shifted from Bishop Cotton School Simla - where I had been since late 1952 -- after my father died too early in Government service (as a result of an unfortunate accident) and my mother moved to a job in Delhi. Her brother, General K S Thimayya, had just become Army Chief and recommended that I go to Mayo because the Principal Mr. J T M Gibson was an old associate of his from the war years when they had formed the JSW together in Dehradun. I went through the Entrance exam and landed up in a totally different environment from my previous school. I joined Jodhpur House and quite quickly adapted to the new atmosphere, all the chaps in my House and my classmates. It was nowhere near as strange as I had feared when I joined, and I was soon at home. Though my House Master Mr. Raghubir Dayal was the soul of kindness and good guidance, it was Jack Gibson who was clearly the Reigning Spirit! In fact his spirit infused the whole place and provided us with a kind of glowing inspiration that we would, as school boys, have been at a loss to put into words! But I know that that's what it was, as I look back across the years. His red jeep driving around, his sharp, sharp eyes noticing the width of trouser legs and what it meant to see the letters DS appear in the column of your English homework. His hard hand dealing out punishment became, pretty much, a badge of honour albeit a painful one.
There were so many fine masters who leap immediately to mind looking back - Mr. Dan Mal, Mr. S C Ghosh to name just a couple and many others - but it was Gibby who we all began looking up to instinctively. There was something about the man that impressed itself upon all of us young school boys. I remember being equally proud and embarrassed when my uncle was the Chief Guest at the 1959 Prize Giving - particularly because that was the only time in my school life I ever won a prize, and that year I won two! The Senior GK prize and the Middles All Round Trophy for Sports.
In fact, in the run up to the Awards for that year I got another lesson in equity and fair mindedness that stayed with me a long time -- when Mr. Naidoo our Sports Master called me to the Pavilion where he sat and told me that I was in the running for the All Round prize and then told me to sit down and, in a detailed format, compare my own performance with the other 3 in the running - on a sport-by-sport basis. I was surprised to find how quickly I began to temper how I marked the others with relation to my own perceived performance. It was the kind of inherent thinking process that the school encouraged -- and Gibby was very much in the forefront of that. When I left school in 1960 he took me aside and gave me some warm encouragement for the future. And, after I finished College and had gone to work, and paid a couple of my younger brothers' school bills with my first pay checks- it was to him I wrote and thanked for pushing me in the right directions.
So it should come as no surprise at all that, after all these years -- 48/52 years to be precise - I was delighted to take the old school flag to both these special places and unfurl it proudly there! Not just out of pure sentiment, though of course there was a good bit of that too, but because I fancied I could see him smiling gently at me from down the years!
People of my generation took away a lot from Mayo, thanks to Gibby, and I am delighted to pay him some heartfelt homage here.