Dedication to the Nation

Some Memories of APS Dagshai

By Mr.Suresh Mathur

(Founding Principal, Army Public School Dagshai.)

A huge repository of memories from which some spring randomly to mind.

Mr.Mathur

People

So many faces flash across my mind! Gen. Hridaya Kaul, General Officer Commanding in Chief, Western Command, our Founding Chairman- a thorough gentleman and an inspiring leader; Maj. Gen. P.C. Jerath, MG i/c Adm. , who was deeply involved in the efficient setting up of the school, Brig. M.M. Lakhera, Brig.

A -so cool, so systematic, so humane - I was so lucky to have him to work with in those initial years; the committed and enthusiastic teaching and other staff who toiled relentlessly to give shape and form to the systems in a brand new boarding school- challenging but exciting!

There was Col Dhillon the Project Manager, Col Lumba the Bursar, Mr Mehta the Vice Principal, the Office staff- Vijay and his brother, the tireless and ever-smiling cooks - Lekh Ram and others, all forming an amazing team!

I remember Manoj the Headboy for 3 consecutive years - wonder where he is and what he is doing now!.

Random moments, events and happenings

The first drive up from Dharampur to Dagshai, particularly the final steep climb when my wife and I wondered if the vehicle we were in would be able to cope-quite scary!.

The School Crest! You probably would not know that a competition was organized by Chandimandir in which the army personnel were asked to submit proposals for the school crest. The final product was arrived at by taking parts from several entries- I think it is a lovely crest.

The panoramic view particularly looking towards Chandigarh and towards Sanawar was awesome and unforgettable!!

One could see the lights of Chandigarh at night and also the faint lights of Ambala in the distance. When visitors would ask which were the lights of Ambala I would say 'there on the far left you can just make out the A of Ambala' and quite a few would actually try and locate the A! We would have a good laugh later when I told them it was a joke!

The Entrance tests for the first batch were held in Chandimandir because the school was not ready to hold the tests there. 42 students took the test then!

The annual Ram Lila organized in the Dagshai village was a special treat and I remember fondly how modern songs and dances were routinely interjected in the unfolding of the Ramayan story to make it more fun for the audience! It was a done thing!

I remember Charing Cross for its quaint name and also because the cross country run went through it! The image of the cemetery with beautiful tombstones in a state of disrepair, as also the famous Dagshai prison which has now become a national monument spring to my mind when I think of APS days.

Saturday evening dinners for the staff in the early days were held at the Principal's residence hosted by my wife and they helped in our unique bonding. The Principal's residence had a wide and long verandah-ideal for playing Quoits which we set up! And I recall some very animated and competitive matches with Mr Dimri!

Saturday morning assemblies were special as on that day students were invited to come on stage and make suggestions or ask questions about anything to do with the evolving systems. I recall we introduced packet lunches on Sundays so that the mess staff also got some time off! This was on the recommendation of one of the students.

The school was provided with a 3 tonner converted into a school bus and it was painted blue-was nicknamed 'The Blue Monster' which fitted it admirably!

My 'journey' after I left Dagshai

Despite deriving utmost happiness and satisfaction in setting up APS from scratch we were destined to move on! A chance ad in the newspapers for a Principal's post in Dubai caught Abhay's (our younger son and also the first student of The Army Public School!) attention and he suggested I apply which I did reluctantly!

And in May of 1989 I was in Dubai, Principal of Our Own English High School, a double shift day school with girls in the morning and boys Returned in the afternoon with five and a half thousand students!

When I was elevated to being Director in the Group (GEMS Dubai) in the year 2000 I handed over 8500 students and nearly 400 teachers to my successor!

to India in 2003 to Ajmer, my home town, and have been associated with several schools as advisor or by being on their Board.

Am currently deeply involved in working with school children and several organizations to promote awareness about conserving the environment and making our surroundings clean and green. It is extremely satisfying!