May Woodstock Continue for a Thousand Years
His grandfather Jem Sigh was a supervisor during the construction of the high school building and worked as head bearer for the school during the later part of 'his 45 year career at the school. His son Padam Singh was a bearer at Hostel for 20 years. " My whole family has worked here. I hope Woodstock School continues for a thousand years," says Surat Singh.
Surat came to Mussoorie from his village Pariya in Tehri to join his father when he was 12 or 13 years old. When he got married, his wife stayed on at the village and looked after the house and the fields. Surat has seen many changes at Woodstock. The media centre was constructed in front of him. He saw the chemistry laboratory, the high school library and the high school office being built. Surat remembers old Woodstock students with affection.
"Students used to be more polite earlier. They would speak to me, they knew where I lived. I was a person to them. Nowadays students don't recognise me, don't know who I am."
Surat Singh has been here since the time A.C. Owens was principal at Woodstock. He remembers Mr. Burgoyne as well. "But all the principals who have worked here have always talked nicely to me. So have the High School coordinators: Mr. Rugh, Guy Lott, Mr. Hilliard, Mr. Jantzen, Mr. Kasselheim, Dr. Barton, Dr. Taylor and now Mr, Shaw Hamilton, sab bichare bahut achchhe hain. Now I am going to retire. Now my boy will be here."
When asked what he likes to do in his free time, Surat says, "I don't like going-to the movies or walking around at the bazaar. I've got a TV and I do watch it sometimes, but not for more than an hour at a time. I'm really looking forward to going home to my village and looking after my fields. The village is a one-day journey from Landour, you can't go there for weekends."
He used to see his family for two weeks in the summer and in the winter holidays, when he went home to visit and to attend to the farm.
Surat's wife moved to Mussoorie five years ago. His daughter, who used to tend to the farm and their home, has got married. The youngest son Shailendra, who is 22 years old, studied at Government Ghananand Inter College and studied at Mussoorie Post Graduate College for his B. Sc. degree.
Shailendra is a peon at High School. Shailendra taught Hindi for a while at the Landour Language School, but decided he preferred working at Woodstock School." I enjoy the contact with the students," he says. He likes to go to the bazaar with his friends in his spare time.
He also spends time studying for a diploma in computer science at the Indira Gandhi National Open University. "I'd like to improve my qualifications and get a better job."
Back to the top.