DELHI WALLA CHRONICLES, #4
by Jeff Myers, Class of 1962
20 September 2014
(In the photo on your left, the Class of 1962 basketball squad reunited in 2009. From left to right: Bob ("BJ") Johnson, a 6'1" forward; Ken Torbett, a 5'9" guard; Bill Holcombe, a 6'1" forward; Alan ("AJ") Johnson, a 5'10" forward; and Jeff Myers, a 6'1" guard.)
Thank you, Howard Auble, Alumni Class Secretary, for forwarding the invitation and reminder of the upcoming AIS/AES 2015 REUNION. And thank you, Mary Williamson, Association President, for keeping the re-connection fires burning in all of us these past many years. "India Lives in All of Us" is a perfect theme for any gathering of old souls who matriculated through the American International School in New Delhi over the last half century or so.
As a member of the original graduating class of 1962, (and lucky enough to have weathered 52 more years of the storms of life since then), I feel compelled to pen a report on some of the continued escapades and activities of the infamous group of AIS Alums who have dubbed themselves the "Delhi Wallas".
This will be the fourth (4th) in a series, which we affectionately call the "DELHI WALLA CHRONICLES."
As I am sure you all recall, Wallah or Walla, has special meaning in Hindi - a special occupation, e.g. rickshaw walla or tea walla, or someone in charge of a special place, e.g. a kitchen walla, or someone who fancies him or herself in charge of something special. Well, we Wallas are simply in charge of having fun whenever we can get together, whether it is on a golf course at Reynolds Plantation or at Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach.
The Wallas, for short, consist of five guys who got together back in 2007 (for the first time in 45 years), at Cuscowilla Golf Club near Oconee, GA. Why Cuscowilla? Ken Torbett (AIS '62) was a member there and could get us on the famous Reynolds Plantation Golf Resort next door. The other four of us, Bob Johnson (a renegade Alum who graduated from Woodstock '61); Bill Holcombe (AIS '63); Alan Johnson (AIS '63) - who also wandered off to Iran after attending AIS; and me, Jeff Myers (AIS '62), were basketballers, golfers, soft ballers and flag footballers who proudly blazed the very early winning trails for the TAJ TIGERS.
In case you don't remember or never knew of the grand accomplishments of your elders, I have included (below) a few pictures of our famous basketball teams circa 1960-62. The first picture attached is of the combined varsity and junior varsity teams from our first AIS Yearbook of 1962. See if you can recognize yourself or any of your old teammates in this 52-year-old photograph. The next picture attached is from the pre-yearbook days and is a challenge to anyone's memory who doesn't appear in the photo. The next attached picture is from 1961-62, or thereabouts, showing an exhausted, rag-tag team of six (6) with yet another tournament championship. The grand prize goes to anyone who can name the players and teachers appearing in this picture.
Since we were old hands at the game, we vanquished most of the native teams quite handily - except, perhaps, on occasion, the Delhi Police. Maybe it was good that we let them win now and then. It cut down on all of the things we could have been arrested for in our hijinks-prone high school days. That is true especially for Alan "AJ" Johnson, Bill "Woho" Holcombe and Ken "KT" Torbett. The stories they have told upon our confabs would certainly have resulted in a juvenile detention or two back in the states!
Our stiffest competition, however, came from the Woodstock School up in the Himilayas. The attached fourth picture (thanks to Bob "BJ" Johnson), and game summary, demonstrates just how close those many matchups really were! I am talking about a tie and a one point victory! It doesn't get any closer than that.
Enough of the old days for now. From the time the Wallas first got together to contest the Walla Cup, in 2007, we have managed to golf all over the eastern and southern U.S. almost every year since then. I have reported on our golf and reunion exploits in 2007, 2009 and 2012. In case you missed those missives, you can sometimes find them in the archives of Mary Williamson's various web sites for AIS Ancient History.
Since my last Merry Christmas Message, on December 25, 2012, which closed out the year of the Class of 1962's 50-Year Anniversary, the Wallas have managed two more golfing reunions. One in June, 2013, in New Orleans and another in May, 2014 when we competed in a Wounded Warrior's Charity Tournament in Aiken, South Carolina, near Bob Johnson's home in Augusta, Georgia. Our next contest of the Walla Cup Golfing Trophy is scheduled for this October, 2014, in the North Georgia Mountains near Blairsville, another hideout of Mr. Johnson's.
The Walla Cup Teams have been evenly matched over the last seven (7) years. With Johnson and Myers taking the first few Cups and Torbett and Holcombe catching fire and taking the last few. We have golfed near my home in Tampa, near Ken's home in Atlanta and his summer home in Gwynne's Island, Virginia, on the Chesapeake Bay, at South Beach in Miami, where Bill has a summer home, in New Orleans, where Jeff went to school, and in Maine - where no one has a home, no one went to school and no one ever lived! It just seemed like we ought to go there. So we did, thanks to AJ.
Our wonderful wives have joined us on many of the reunion trips; and while none of them knew us in our younger days at AIS, they have come to understand how important and formative those days were for us.
As you can see from our brief history of the last seven years, golf pretty much brought the Wallas together and our love of the game has sustained us through some good times and bad. The bad times, recently, being Kenny Torbett's loss of his wife, Debbie, in February of this year, to the dreaded disease, cancer. Before her passing, in an act of selfless compassion, Deb formed a Foundation to provide financial assistance to other cancer survivors; and Ken is taking a Mission for the Foundation to India this October, in honor of his wife of 40 years. Ken's devotion to Deb, especially over the last decade of difficult years, is a tribute to his legacy of love, which he now focuses on his two wonderful children, his three grandchildren and the one on the way. We wish him Godspeed and many good memories from the past in his visit to the land that is part of all of us.
And for all of us who are fortunate enough to have some more time left on the planet, I urge you to reach out and try to touch someone from your past, especially your past primitive years, i.e. high school. Look, I know we have all lived a generation or two since our embryonic stage of approaching adulthood back in the Asian subcontinent and we have not kept up with our old friends. How could we? We are all scattered, like leaves in an autumn breeze, after graduation, to all parts of the world. However, since most of us resurfaced here in the states, except for Raj Narang, we all are certainly within calling distance of one another. And, of course, there is always email. So let us hear from you and about you!
Over the years, since our Indian indoctrination, we have all likely been battered by injury or illness, disease or distress. We have seen wars and served in them. We have even prayed for our sons or daughters to return from them. We have raised children and discharged them upon an uncertain world. But I bet we remember the AIS days better than just yesterday or the day before. So we hope to see all of you who can make it to the east coast next summer, in whatever state of disrepair you might be. The Wallas will surely be there. We have already confirmed our reservations at the Bill and Jean Holcombe Inn, nearby. Don't be shy. Nobody is going to recognize anybody - until we introduce ourselves and start recollecting the last damn time we saw one another!
Read Previous Letter from Jeff. (May 2009)
AIS 1962 Basketball Team at Humayun's Tomb in Nizamuddin.
Back row, standing from left to right:
Jim Harrison (visiting friend, did not attend AIS),
Sarge York (coach)
Front row, kneeling from left to right:
Unidentified (visiting friend),
Tom Holcombe (out of uniform).