St. Pauls School, Darjeeling

St. Pauls School, Darjeeling, I spent seven good years of my life here. It was a great experience, Here’s some interesting facts about my school from the wikipedia entry…most of the rest is quoted with my comments, such as they are! I should edit that wikipedia entry with some reality as I knew it back then…

It is claimed to be the highest public school in the world, located at 7500 feet above sea level. The famous Kanchenjunga mountain range forms the scenic backdrop to the school. The school is physically separated from Darjeeling by its location on a high hill that is a few kilometres above the main town. I always assumed 7600 feet but perhaps that was Jalapahar, the army camp above us, kinda makes sense.

Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind) is said to have been born in the school campus — at a place now known as Pelly’s. Today, Pelly’s houses staff members teaching at the school. I always knew this area as Dawkins (1979-1986, while I was there), a teacher’s house adjoining our basketball court, and the way I heard it, she was a teacher’s daughter, but we knew she was born there…

The wikipedia entry on her seems to be unclear on this claiming Leigh was born Vivian Mary Hartley in Darjeeling, British India to Ernest Hartley, an officer in the Indian Cavalry who was of English parentage, and Gertrude Robinson Yackje, whose heritage is in question. She claimed to be of Irish descent, but it is likely that she also had Armenian or Parsee Indian ancestry.[1]

I was lucky that through my years at the school we had in my opinion, the best Rector ever, Hari Dang, (1962: Second Indian Expedition with Major John Dias as leader. Returning to the SE Ridge route, climbers Sonam Gyatso, Hari Dang, and Mohan Kohli are forced to retreat from a high point of 28,600 feet (8720 meters) because of bad weather.) As I heard it he lost his toes on this climb, and that just made him so much more impressive to me!

Blackies is the school tuck shop which got its name from the fact that it was run by Indians when the student population was primarily non-Indian. There is no historical certainty about this and the name has been used for very many decades with great affection for the facility.