Remembering the British Raj - Penned by David and Judy Hunt

David and Judy Hunt

Our first return to Darjeeling for thirty-one years.

My wife, Judy née Goddard, is the daughter of Leslie Goddard, rector of St. Paul’s School, Jalapahar (Darjeeling), for 31 years, from 1933 to 1964. She was born here, in the Eden Sanatorium, and lived her childhood years at St. Paul’s. (We have been staying at the rectory and find ourselves sleeping in her parents’ beds!). She returned to Darjeeling many times over the years and in 1964/65 she worked as a nurse at the Tibetan Refugee Centre.

It was while she was working at the Centre that I met her for the first time, as I was passing through India en route from Japan to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) where I then worked. We met on the steps of the Planters’ Club in Darjeeling, in October 1994. Two days later, we enjoyed our first date, at 4.30 am, on Tiger Hill, watching that tremendous spectacle at dawn. Later that week, I continued on my travels, going from here straight to Agra, to see the Taj by the first full moon after the Monsoon. All was pure romance!

Thus my wife was whisked away from India to Africa, where we lived many years and where our children were born. Now back in England, we have left our hearts in two other continents, and this return to India and to Darjeeling has reminded us all too poignantly of what we left behind, 30 years ago.

The overwhelming kind hospitality of Mrs. Tenduf-La has been an unforgettable highlight of our week in Darjeeling. As an old friend of my parents-in-law, Leslie and Maisie Goddard, she has warmed our hearts with tales of the old days. Leslie Goddard was one of India’s great headmasters - and his old friends, colleagues and servants have greeted us with joy wherever we have gone, the memories still vivid. Judy’s reception at the Tibetan Centre was likewise very moving and we have enjoyed enormous Thondup hospitality.

May all these great souls continue to thrive, in the magnificent shadow of Kanchenjunga! May the vision which she vouchsafed to every one of her children never perish! “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills”.

We shall soon return! Many, many thanks

David and Judy Hunt