Old Cambrian Society

  OC Society
  OC Alumni
  OC News
  Events Diary
  Register Here
  Impala Project
  Where are they?
  Contact us

   Raghavan Chari


Raghavan Chari

Nickname: Rags
House: School
Year: 1965-1967

Memories of School:
My stay at PoW/NS was very meaningful. It was a time when transitions were occurring in Kenya as well as at PoW.
  • Name change to Nairobi School from Prince of Wales.
  • New Headmaster Mr. G.E. Ironside from Mr. O.C Wigmore (who interviewed me first in 1964).
  • First African teacher (Math teacher) Mr. James Gitau .

    My father was in the Indian diplomatic service and we arrived in Nairobi between two school years (1964-1965). For this reason I had to join PoW in 1965 after having sat for the GCE ordinary level (University of London) which was offered in mid school year. I was at Delamere School for a period of 4 to 6 months before sitting for the GCE O levels in 1964 or early 1965. I then was at PoW for two years as a junor and senior and sat for the GCE A levels before leaving East Africa.

    I had the pleasure of playing Rugby for School House team as either ‘8th man’ and/or ‘hooker’ on different occasions. I enjoyed every minute of this!! I remember getting my front incisors knocked out in a game - I was tackling Robert Machuro (Rhodes House - I wonder what happened to this chap!) when I got kicked. I remember finishing the game, though I was told by Mr. Bill McCormick, the Housemaster, to quit the game if I wished. He later came to visit me at my house after that great occasion and was very sweet!! He was a wonderful Housemaster besides being a great human being. In 1967 I became captain of athletics, School House, and ran cross-country. I loved the sports at PoW and the team spirit. I was not the best runner though I trained a lot and this bothered me greatly!! Little did I know that 15 years later I was diagnosed with a congenital bicuspid aortic valve that had to be surgically replaced with a porcine valve and 20 years later with a bovine one! Aortic insufficiency is a condition in which a person compensates very well and my story is not an unusual one. I am doing great even as an old codger now!! I continued playing rugby even in the US later! Mr. Hadley was the 2nd master of School House at that time and I remember running with him, weeks before school started, on a cross country through the fields behind the school! I was appointed house Prefect in 1966-1967.

    A few other great memories:
  • climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with the PoW excursion one season! What a trip! What beautiful country!
  • I remember riding my three speed bicycle to school one morning running late and coming for the flag-raising ceremony huffing and puffing and passing out while at attention for a few minutes!!
  • And, yes, Nigel Bonnet, made history after he was involved in an encounter with a cheetah release at the game reserve with his father the game warden! We were all very concerned about their recovery and were so glad to see him back at school. I remember traveling from PoW for violin lessons once a week with another student (I would like to remember his name but cannot at present) from PoW to the East African conservative of music!!
  • I enjoyed getting my Suzuki motorbike and coming up to the school every morning from Westlands!

    Those were the good old days as one would say!! My only one regret was that I was not at PoW for longer and for not having boarded there during earlier school years!! I truly enjoyed the atmosphere, the friends and the teachers. I stayed away from getting the cane and from being bothered by the prefects, so that was good!! Soon I joined the ranks and that made it easier!! There is so much more but maybe in my book that I am writing I will talk about more of these experiences!!

    I traveled a great deal after leaving Nairobi. I was in Europe, US, the Middle East, India and more. I was an artist first, then a biochemist and then a physician and taught a great deal at Universities, College and high schools. I am semi-retired and still teaching, writing, painting and studying!!

    Life is really a journey where we change roles just as in a play we change costumes and act a different part. The ‘you’ remains the same and longs for ‘stability’ which all of us never feel because we keep ‘moving on’! We get older or should I say just not ‘as agile and strong as we used to be’ but we are always ‘the same’ with more information, greater responsibilities, greater convictions, perhaps some prejudices and probably greater sophistication in our ability to get along in this world! Deep down however, we are the same person we were!! Oh how much I miss Nairobi, PoW, the teachers and friends!!

    I would love to keep in touch with anyone from PoW who may remember me! I would like to know what happened to Doug Watson, Peter Cunningham, Patel (captain of the house Cricket team) and many others!!

    (Registered - 11th June 2007)

  • If anyone wishes to contact Raghavan, please e-mail webmaster@oldcambrians.com to obtain his contact details