BOOK REVIEW: MY PRINCELY COLLEGES BY HARIKISHAN LAL DUTT

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    Mr H.L. Dutt happens to be my college teacher, my Guru, and the erstwhile Principal of Colvin Taluqdar’s College Lucknow, where I studied. He taught me English. I still remember the splendour of his English class, especially, that of Sheakespeare’s, Merchant of Venice, in 1974-75, that is, still etched, like the sparkle of a diamond in my mind, where, even, the onslaught of time has not been able to faint it, in any manner.

    ‘It is a wise father that knows his own child’—says Lancelot, in act 2 scene 2 of Merchant of Venice. Mr Dutt knew each student like his father. Most certainly one of the best English teachers I’ve ever known. Erudite, handsome, with a tall pedigree, and, an, appropriate convent English accent—something that everyone, envied those days. The manner in which he monitored the college reminds me of another quote from Merchant of Venice—‘young in limbs, in Judgment old’—Morocco in act 2 scene 7.

    The publishers of this book are Notion Press. They have done a good job. The author dedicates the book to his wife—Bina Dutt, his rock of Gibraltar, his daughters Alka & Anu and his son Harsh. The price of the book is Rs 450 for a print copy and Rs 60 for a Kindle one.

    The book is a personal account of Mr H.L.Dutt—his auto-biography. A book I would recommend to teachers and students especially. It is a 161 page book, constructed over twenty eight chapters, describing the journey of his career life, and thereafter his retreat, his retirement that he is now enjoying.

    The book starts with the chapter destiny, his early days, his outdoors, and co-curricular activities. Then the scene changes to England, where, he goes for a bursary, acquires a foreign degree and then returns to Mayo College Ajmer again, where, he teaches for a good number of years and then bids adieu in the year 1966 looking for wider exposure in career terms.

    He then joins Cambridge school, followed by Pilani and then he marches into Colvin Taluqdars College Lucknow. He further goes on to teach in Hyderabad Public School, The Daly College Indore, and then returns to Mayo College Ajmer again, and even starts Mayo College Girls School.

    In short Mr Dutt started his teaching career from Mayo College Ajmer in 1954. He had splendid days there. Full of learnings and excitement. He gives a very animated account of his stay in Mayo Ajmer that includes a plethora of campus activities, excursions, sighting of animals and even shikar when it was permitted. Mayo in those times was a princely college, with children of, most princely states, of India studying there.

    He talks of the various college houses like Bharatpur House, Udaipur House, Jhalawar House, Jaisalmer House, Kota House and even talks about his campus accommodation.

    After leaving Mayo in 1966 he joined Cambridge School Delhi, followed by Pilani and then Colvin Taluqdar’s College Lucknow, spread across 99 acres on the banks of river Gomti.

    In Colvin he took over from Principal H.N. Kashyap. Reading about Colvin was nostalgic as I had studied there. The author has given quite a detailed account of his tenure in Colvin-Lucknow. He starts with the titling of Lucknow as the ‘City of Nawabs.’ He then goes on to describe the college houses such as—Hind, Anjuman, Awadh Taxila. The celebration of Janmashtami. And he hasn’t forgotten the nawabs and the Rajahs and the Taluqdars of Uttar Pradesh such as—Raja of Oel, Mankapur, Kotwara, Pratapgarh, Amethi, Kalakankar, Bhinga and Mahmoodabad. He highlights the Tandoori Chicken, Kababs and Roomali Roti and the dinner invitation of Raja Sajid Husain of Kotwara.

    The author vividly remembers Mrs M Seeley, Head Mistress of the junior school, faculty L.P. Bhardwaj and senior master P.C. Chaube.

    Colvin indeed was a powerhouse of academics producing IITians, doctors and bureaucrats galore. Some unforgettable sportsmen that he remembers are Hamidullah, Birbal, Razdan and Puri. Then the ace debaters like Trivedi, Pandey, Sharma brothers, Lakhtakia and Luv-Kush Verma, and of course Ashok Prasad and Head Prefect Satnam Singh.

    He also hasn’t forgotten S.N. Tandon, S.B Singh, Samiullah, Amanat Ullah, Sudhir Dayal, Jaiswal, G.V. Singh and Brinda Shankar.

    He fondly remembers his exquisite bungalow and even his gardeners, and the famous Darbar Day the busiest day of the college. And the old boys and their parents.

    An interesting point that the author makes is that he found certain names starting with the letter “A” to be more prominent in class and academics such as Alok, Ashok, Anil, Arun and Arunendra. In the process in no way he disparages other letters.

    The author then goes on to narrate his experiences of Hyderabad Public School. In June 1979 he takes up a new assignment—The Daly College, Indore. A princely college built by princes of Malwa.

    Finally the author returns to Mayo College, Ajmer with a great amount of nostalgia. The book also covers his starting of Mayo Girls College. But the author’s career circle is yet not complete.

    Then in 2006 Mr Dutt is invited by Dr Sanjay Singh, Raja Amethi, to head the college once again to bring back its glory at the age of 76 which he does, after which Mr H.L Dutt takes his retirement and settles in Gurgaon. His contribution to public colleges shall always be remembered. He stood for excellence.

    Friends before I close this review let me tell you. The book is a treat to read and I’m not saying this just because the author happens to be my Guru and Principal.

    What I liked about the book was the segmentation and presentation of the text into small chapters where the emotions of the author were captured very well and without being obvious. He has used plain but enticing English keeping students in mind and has desisted from verbosity. The sentences are soothing, pleasing and inviting where you don’t feel like putting the book down—a real page turner.

    I wish Mr H.L. Dutt good health and a happy retired life.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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