Xavier Nook: Class of 1994

Author: 
Rajesh Asnani

Editor's Note: These are the memories of the alumni of St. Xavier's School, Jaipur, batch of 1994.

  1. Rajesh Asnani, the journalist
  2. Anupam Gupta, the technology entrepreneur
  3. Rateesh Sareen, the doctor
  4. Hemant Mathur, the corporate executive
 
St. Xavier's School, Jaipur

St. Xavier's School, Jaipur

 

Rajesh Asnani, the journalist

Rajesh Asnani is an award-winning journalist. He attended schooling from St. Xavier's School, Jaipur and graduated from Maharaja's Collge, Jaipur. He is a post-graduate in Film and TV Production from Xaviers Institute of Communication, Mumbai.

Rajesh started his career in the news industry with an internship at Zee News Channel's Jaipur bureau, eventually becoming Editor of Sahara, Rajasthan, Haryana and NCR channel. He is currently Senior Assistant Editor at the New Indian Express group in Rajasthan.

Rajesh lives in Jaipur with his wife, Rakhi and their two daughters, Poorva and Divya, who are both enrolled at St. Xaviers School.

A few years ago, when I was an executive member of Xaviers Alumni, I got an opportunity to moderate the annual AGM.

During the moderation I mentioned that St. Xavier’s is like a unique airstrip that gives every student the chance to fly as high in the sky and as long as he can. Then it’s up to that student to go as far he or she can after the take off start provided by Xavier’s. How high you can go up serves as your destiny. Destiny will decide your fate but St. Xavier’s School gives you the platform to rise up.

 
At an alumni reunion of the 1994 batch of St. Xavier's School (from L to R): Rajesh, Kishore, Salim, Anup and Aquil.

At an alumni reunion of the 1994 batch of St. Xavier's School (from L to R): Rajesh, Kishore, Salim, Anup and Aquil.

 

Growing up, I had never thought of being in media as a professional because my parents were keen that I should become a doctor.

After passing 12th in Science (Biology) from the school, I started preparing for the pre-medical test but due to a sudden health issue I couldn't continue my preparations. Then I completed my graduation from Maharaja’s College.

In the last 5 years of my schooling days , I was very active in theater, debates, elocution contests and 'Netagiri' that triggered off my landing in mayanagri Mumbai, the city of dreams.

In Mumbai, I joined the Post Graduation course in Film and TV Production at Xaviers Institute of Communication. It was a risky step for a boy from the middle class as induction in the film industry was a big affair for a small-town boy.

I enjoyed my studies and learnt the art of film making and TV production; had interactions with film celebrities; and the life of a metro gave me exposure to several new dimensions of society.

After finishing the course, my parents did not let me go back to Mumbai for a job and make my career in Film Industry. I was stuck in Jaipur again.

At that time, the TV News industry had started growing very fast in throughout the country. Many new channels for news and entertainment were springing up on a daily basis.

The launch of these channels gave me an opportunity for an internship in the Zee News Channel's Jaipur bureau during 1999 Lok Sabha elections. That led my entry into the world of news.

A young boy started running behind the news with a camera crew and a mike in hand asking questions from a variety of people including politicians to bureaucrats to common man.

A new and long journey had started which had something new to offer every day. I was meeting the Chief Minister, ministers, and wide variety of celebrities, covering various issues which were telecast later on TV.

This became my passion. One day I got an opportunity to become Editor of Sahara, Rajasthan, Haryana and NCR channel.

Recently, I have joined the print media and am working as the Senior Assistant Editor of the New Indian Express group in Rajasthan. Hopefully this will boost my career.

And I can with certainty say that had I not been groomed at St. Xaviers, I would not have been where I am today.

As a cultural Secretary in School, I learnt to speak in front of the hundreds of people and always received loud applause from the audience. I also received many awards which motivated me to opt for media carrier.

Today I can proudly say that I am counted among the responsible journalists of Rajasthan. Recently, I was awarded Excellence Award in the field of media by the incumbent Lok Sabha Speaker Shree Om Birla at a Summit on Global peace, unity and prosperity.

I got an opportunity to visit BBC headquarters in London and a few years ago I was invited to Uzbekistan, to train their TV journalists.

There has been a big contribution of my school in my achievements in life and that's the reason both my lovely daughters Poorva and Divya are studying in 6th and 5th standards respectively at Xavier's.

I am living a contended life in my Jaipur. My caring wife Rakhi, who is a home maker, takes care of the family. I devote my time to reach greater heights.

 
Rajesh Asnani with wife Rakhi

Rajesh Asnani with wife Rakhi

 
Rajesh Asnani with daughters Divya and Poorva.

Rajesh Asnani with daughters Divya and Poorva.

 

Anupam Gupta, the technology entrepreneur

Anupam Gupta is a 1994 alumnus of St. Xavier's School, Jaipur. He is a senior executive with a private sector establishment.

Xaviers is like a Family

Like many others, I spent twelve formative years at St. Xavier's, Jaipur.

Xavier's gave me several opportunities to learn about the world and develop many varieties of skills. Whether it was public speaking, my liberal views on society, or inculcating my scientific temper – I owe much of it to my school years.

 
Anupam Gupta at home with his extensive book collection.

Anupam Gupta at home with his extensive book collection.

 

I went on four school trips – Rajasthan, Delhi-Kashmir, Bombay-Goa and Ranthambore. All of these trips were full of fun and learning.

I wasn’t much into athletic or sports but developed my love for swimming at Xaviers, which eventually became a life skill and passion. If I am in Jaipur, I never miss an Alumni Pool party.

I have fond memories of all the school picnics and annual functions.

I left Jaipur in 1995 to study and work, lived internationally (mostly US) for a long time but then decided to move back in 2019. In fact, it’s the guidance, support and affection of some of my batch mates that helped me adjust and settle back in Jaipur.

I now live in Jaipur with my lovely wife Chhavi, and my two boys, Aarav and Siddhant.

 
Anupam with Chhavi, pool side.

Anupam with Chhavi, pool side.

 
 
The Gupta family (from L to R): Chhavi, Aarav, Anupam and Siddhant.

The Gupta family (from L to R): Chhavi, Aarav, Anupam and Siddhant.

 

Over the years, I have enjoyed keeping in touch with my schoolmates in India and abroad. Some of them have become close family friends and their friendship has enriched the quality of life for me and my family.

Celebrating 25 years of completing school life has made me nostalgic. I also feel a sense of gratitude for all the love and support I received from my teachers and schoolmates. Cheers for Xavier's!


Rateesh Sareen, the doctor

Dr. Rateesh Sareen is a Consultant Pathologist at Santokba Durlabhji Memorial Hospital and Research Center, Jaipur. He has done a course in hospital management from Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), Jaipur. He recently earned a post-graduate diploma in medical law and ethics (PGDMLE) from National Law School University Of India, (NLSUI) Bangalore, metamorphosing him into a trio of doctor plus management personnel plus a medico-legal expert.

Rateesh has numerous publications in national and international journals to his credit. His special interests lie in the quality improvement of laboratory, medical education and medical writing.

During his MBBS course at JLN Medical College, Ajmer, Rateesh met his future wife, Akanksha, who is now an anesthesiologist. They were married in 2007. They are the proud parents of two daughters, Advita and Aarika. Advita is currently enrolled at St. Xavier's School, Jaipur while Aarika is in pre-school.

School memories

It’s a daunting task to pen down memories from school days. I get emotional, sweet and mischievous. My feelings and experiences are linked to my friends, teachers and Xavier’s, all so sacred. They rest in every corner of my heart and mind.

I joined school in Class III, beginning my school life as a Xavierite with a little nervousness and excitement, and also a little bit of aloofness. That reflected my introvert attitude.

The only desire was to get good marks with least studies. Mrs. Sebastian ma’am was our class teacher in those days. I slowly began to interact with limited friends Deepak Rana, Anant and Rishi. The next class IV with Mrs. O' Gill ma’am as our teacher I begin to feel school as second home.

My interactions with my classmates began to increase and I began to feel of like a Xavierite. The periodical tests on every Saturday still haunt me in my dreams till date. The definition of weekend has now changed unlike our school days where Saturdays were exam time and it was throughout the year.

One of our favorite adventures was to explore the senior school building during intervals. Class V added a seniority tag but was for a brief period after which we were the junior most class in senior school.

Sports day, cultural week, Play festivals, elocutions, school fair, raffle booklets and sports like football & handball became integral part of our lives.

The taste of spiceless burgers from canteen with cold drinks and occasional dessert at softy ice cream corner still remain my favorite cuisines till date.

Life was fun with balance between studies and recreation and time passed like a camera shutter. Very soon we were face-to-face with preparations for board exams in Xth standard.

I would like to pay my respect to my teachers whom I still remember – Barno sir (Mathematics, class VI), R Sen ma’am (Geography, class VI-VII), Bahadur ma’am (Geography, class IX), Y Bhatnagar sir (Physics), Mukul ma’am (Biology), Ghosh ma’am (Mathematics), Alvi sir (Physics), Punnose sir (Biology), Kharchae ma’am (Mathematics), Mathur ma’am (Hindi, class VIII) who with their eminence and perfection in teaching not only taught but rather made the subjects interesting.

These were the times when we used to carry diaries maintaining marks of our peers.Every day at Xavier’s was a moment to cherish, from Class X board results when our class teacher Mrs. Kamna Singh ma’am was elated with her the performance of her students in her section, to driving school initially on cycles and later mopeds.

Milky way used to be a luxurious midway point while we took route back home with hanging after tempos and autos for searching our common crush the Milky way.

Classes XI and XII were dominated by studies, coaching classes, Brilliant tutorials and pre medical preparation. I cannot forget our class teacher Shri K. S. Nair Sir for his marvelous teaching and his dialogue, “To play with Nair is to play with fire.”

I shall always be indebted to him for what I am today. The tossing of duster to the fan, flying aero planes and seen our batch mate getting stinging slaps in class XII are part of my vivid memory along with electoral process of monitor ship.

The last day of school passed away in getting autographs from teachers on our school dress including Principal sir. It was memorable but a sad day as we bid farewell to Xavier’s and went ahead for fulfillment of our goals in life.

After my pre-medical exams, I joined JLN Medical College Ajmer. The environment of college was the very opposite of Xavier’s - the culture, infrastructure, peers - everything was different.

Gradually time passed, with changing editions of medical textbooks, and it finally ended by making me a doctor.

It was at JLN Medical College that I met Akanksha, initially my batch mate and later soul mate. We got married in 2007 when both of us were pursuing our post-graduation in pathology and anesthesiology respectively.

Rateesh Sareen with wife Akanksha.

Rateesh Sareen with wife Akanksha.

Today I am a proud father with two daughters, Advita (10) and Aarika (6). Advita is carrying legacy of being Xavierite (Class IV) while Aarika is in preschool.

My parents and family has provided me with strong support and have acted as an anchor over the years. I feel blessed to have them. Thank you, God!

It has been 25 years since my last day as a student as St. Xavier's but at heart I will be a Xavierite till my last breath.

I owe it to my school which enlightened me with the thought that knowledge has no limits, no bounds; keep on working; and always stand apart from the crowd as a true Xavierite.

 
The Sareen family (from L to R): Advita, Rateesh, Aarika and Akanksha.

The Sareen family (from L to R): Advita, Rateesh, Aarika and Akanksha.

 

Hemant Mathur, the corporate executive

Hemant Mathur is a 1994 alumnus of St. Xavier's School, Jaipur. He is a senior executive with a leading private sector establishment.

The school as my Wonderland

Hemant Mathur at the Gateway of India, Mumbai.

Hemant Mathur at the Gateway of India, Mumbai.

One disadvantage of spending 12 years at St Xavier's is that one's notion of a school gets skewed; you get used to luxury!

Consequently, whenever I had to be at any other institute, maybe as an examination centre or for some event, the first thing I would notice, and hate, were the cheap industrial-grade iron frame desks found everywhere else. We, of course, had the privilege of solid teak wood desks, polished to perfection in the school carpentry shop.

It was 1982; visualize a 6-year old lad walking into the mesmerizing campus of St. Xavier's, Jaipur. I had kind of feeling of having arrived maybe a bit too early in life, and it stayed with me despite my modest survival. Imagine its '90s and then try explaining to a distant relative that you play baseball and handball at school! Mind you, there was no Netflix back then to help them relate to those cult firangi games. In SUPW we learned to click photographs and then develop the film roll at school's photo lab, under the tutelage of Father Wilmes. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) used to be the chief guest at our Sports days. President of India arrived for the golden jubilee.

I won’t go into St Xavier’s history and infrastructure; one can Google it. But one artifact stood out. There is a room sized school emblem chiseled in sandstone at the entrance of Senior School library. I passed by that relic thousands of time but would always glance at it for a split-second and mentally appreciate how it perfectly matched with my school tie.

I loved going to school. Xavier's helped me explore my creative side. My first article was published in the school magazine, X-Rays, when I was in grade 4. A few years later in grade XII, I became the Editor of the very same X-Rays. For me, the school was filled with such happy coincidences.

We had good brotherhood and a sense of belonging that has stayed till date. I participated in debates, elocution, drama and enjoyed every bit of it. Courtesy my training and competing with the best, I got to represent my University at a National debate event. My engineering degree has rare 10 extra marks for elocution. Even today when I have to address a room full of strangers, the tips and tricks learned at school come handy.

My memoirs include Fernandes Sir or Fandu to us narrating tales of annual feasts of the bygone hostel era. That's when I realised why our junior school classrooms were so huge. They were originally dormitories for the sons of the Rajputana elites. Later on when we switched to Hindi medium, "Cheers for Xavier's" got translated to "Dagar Dagar Sant Jevier" [sic.] Fr. Glenn's home visits were well-cherished.

The teachers were as legendary as the school and so were my batch mates. I counted about 35 stories of my friends and classmates of 12 years but will save that for some other day. Deepak, Sunil, Dilip, Daljeet, Anupam, Bora, Girivar, Inder, Tandon, Tejpal, Rahul, Joy, Vipul, Puneet, Dimri, Dogra, Manu, Asnani, Deepankar, Rajiv, Dev, Nikhil, Ninad, Pushpander and the list goes on.

But I must single out this one character, my cousin Vinay. Because of him, there was always a bit of school at family functions and vice versa. Fortunately, we believed in omerta and were equally talentless to evoke any rivalry. He stubbornly always addressed me as Bantu and half of section A and B friends follow that till date.

School trips are neatly stacked in a special folder in my memory drive. The Bombay-Goa trip was advertised as a trio by Air, Land and Sea. A handmade poster was put on the notice board next to the entrance of the auditorium. The Kashmir trip in grade 6 was my first air travel. We stayed in a missionary school in Srinagar and had unlimited dosas at breakfast. Then there was a nondescript Rajasthan trip and last was a short one to Ranthambore National Park where coincidently my father was posted as Wildlife Director. Then there was one trip to Singapore where only super-rich kids went.

St. Xavier's means different things to each of us. But all of us got plentiful. That's why the bonding is still strong. For my part, I am happy to be alive and typing this memoir, 25 years after passing out from such a great institution. I read that at the alumni meet of St. Stephen's College, Kunwar Natwar Singh wrote in visitor's book "I am what I am! all because of the College." Mani Shankar Aiyar, who was standing next in the queue, promptly scribbled below "Why blame the institute?"

So, to quote him on a lighter note, "Why blame the institute?" All of us made of St. Xavier's as per our taste and inclination. Good part is we still have time! 25 years left for the Golden run. So, hey guys, let's keep the stories rolling!

 
The Mathur family (from L to R): Hemant, Surbhi and Raaghav

The Mathur family (from L to R): Hemant, Surbhi and Raaghav.

 
Hemant, Surbhi and Raaghav on a family vacation

Hemant, Surbhi and Raaghav on a family vacation

 

Editor's Note: Here are some more memories from the alumni of St. Xavier's School, Jaipur. Xavierites are welcome to keep contributing!

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