Remembering Doon School’s Mr Bond

There is nobody who went to Doon School in the last 50 years who did not know him. There is hardly anybody in Dehra Dun who had not known him or had not heard of him. There is hardly anyone associated with public school education who did not know him or had not heard of him.

Sheel Vohra known as Bond amongst DOSCOs was an iconic figure. His students loved him and he loved his students. In fact, he lived his whole life for them. Though a bachelor, he was married to his school, as most of his admirers would tell you.

Sheel Vohra was also my Uncle, my father’s younger brother. I did my schooling in Delhi Public School, Mathura Road and therefore was never taught by him. But I know that he was truly what a teacher ought to be. I say this based on my conversations over a period of time with a large number of Doscos including many of my cousins who were also his students. There was nobody I have ever met who did not adore him or had his share of jokes and anecdotes about him. It is no wonder that when he retired, the Old Boys Association gave him a round the world trip ticket and also looked after his stay in various places in the US and England etc.

I have my share of memories of him but in most of those also his strong association with his school always remained at the core. He was probably the last one who had taught Rajiv Gandhi and his batch and later Sanjay Gandhi, Kamal Nath and Akbar Ahmed. He was a Maths teacher but a great sportsperson and coach. Every Doon School Cricket team was coached by him in the last 50 years or so and he always had a soft corner for the Cricketers-Michael Dalvi, Parabhjot Singh to name a few. In fact, every year during admission time in Delhi University, he used to come to help his students with admissions. It is no surprise that while many of them made it on strength of their merit in academics, others were admitted due to their excellence in sports.

Every year, he would accompany the Doon School cricket team to Delhi twice. Once to play St. Stephen’s College and the second time to play against the Roshanara Club. He groomed his cricketers with great care and all of them would swear by Bond.

He also loved adventure and would Cycle with his “boys” all the way from Dehra Dun to Delhi and back. He may often miss a family function but never the wedding or a celebration of any of his students. His life was 100 percent for them.

I remember when he had a car accident in the early seventies, my parents, both doctors had driven to Dehra Dun to see him. My father used to recall that the whole of Dehra Dun had virtually turned up at the hospital. Such was his immense popularity. But Sheel Chacha as we called him always remained a humble and modest man. He never flaunted his connections and this is perhaps the reason why everyone doted on him. As Housemaster of the Jaipur house, he always did his best to shape his housewallahs. Karan Thapar has many fond memories of him as also Jyotirditya Scindia. He was also a formidable mountaineer and climbed several peaks in the Himalayas including Jamwali.

He used to also play cards with us when we were kids. After losing deliberately he would take us out for refreshments. The news of his passing away on October 13th has not only shocked me but all his innumerable admirers. My other uncle has had to postpone his cremation for Thursday since many of his students wanted to come and pay their respects. He was looking forward to the School’s Founder day celebrations to be held shortly but I think everyone will miss him there. Sheel Vohra was a legend and someone who was an iconic figure in public school education. He was easily the best known person in Dehra Dun. His loss has created a vacuum, which shall always remain there. May his soul rest in peace.

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