Manveen Sandhu and Shivinder Sandhu: A Student’s Tribute (part 2)

suddenly, after you left,
floodgates opened
from four directions
the seas of your kind deeds —
many known, many unknown before —
mingle with tears of your memories.

life is what but a whisper of leaves,
deep in the woods of destiny.
We men can light light lamps,
but what might is a flickering flame
in front of winds of Time
that can fan or blow it out, at Will.

Thousands of people from all walks of life gathered to pay their last respects to the couple that left an indelible mark on culture, education, history and social uplift — Mrs. Manveen Sandhu and Dr. Shivinder Sandhu. People from Lahore were just as sad as people in Amritsar. The bridge of international, inter-cultural friendship lost two of its strongest pillars.

I knew Mrs. Manveen Sandhu as the principal of the school that I studied in. Like so many of my fellow schoolmates, I’ve felt eternally grateful for the impact that Manveen ma’am had on our lives. Even years after we graduated from school, we could call her up to ask her advise on any issue. She was a teacher, a friend, a mentor, an inspiration.

The sudden demise has left a town in shock. Every day, new stories of the great things they did are coming out. Their influence in social work, history, Indo-Pak friendship, culture, drama and education has had a great impact on Punjabiyat and beyond.

My memories of Manveen ma’am are one of life’s greatest treasures. Spending time late evenings to practice for the upcoming light-and-sound show, brainstorming about themes for the Spicmacay convention, hearing her speak about the wisdom in our culture, discussing about life, education… suffice it to say that she was the greatest person I have ever known. And she has had similar impact on uncountable lives, which is why the recent news has shocked so many of her students as if they lost a parent.

During our last conversation, I called up to ask ma’am about her inner drive that made her almost a perfectionist. After achieving so much (the best school in the state, the social work, the wealth, the international recognition), I wanted to know what kept her motivated. She simply said that she was always enthusiastic about learning something new, and wanted everything attached to her name to be a work of her best efforts. Notes from my journal:

27 Nov, 2008

Had a wonderful conversation with Manveen ma’am today afternoon. Want to keep a note of important points.

1. Root out mediocrity — everything associated with my name (work, assignment, relations) should be of the highest possible standard.

2. Always ask yourself — what am I about? what do I stand for?

3. Focus — single-mindedly for the next 10-15 years, get to a position where you can be an agent of positive change. do not be scared of getting in to the rat-race, get in to it if it helps you reach where you want to be.

4. Don’t just learn, but apply things that you learn during your experiences. Books, people, experiences — note 1 0r 2 important lessons and ask : how can I apply this to my life?

5. Exercise and maintain good health


I am thankful, beyond words can express…
I admire and respect, beyond words can express…


Lessons from Manveen Sandhu: A Student’s Tribute (part 1)

My role-model, my inspiration…. Manveen ma’am, the lady I’ve admired with growing respect and gratitude. She founded the essence of the modern Spring Dale School Senior School, one of the best schools in India. Unlike most other principals who are happy with a school generating annual score-cards, Manveen ma’am went a step beyond toward enhancing life experience through education.

Not only was she an enthusiastic reader of science, literature, history and law, she always picked up the best ideas from all fields and implemented them in practical life. She would read something as obscure as chaos (physics) and then share a presentation on how it manifests in everyday life and affects it. She would practice day and night before a meeting, a school function, a presentation… “Saurabh, I’ve always wanted everything associated with my name to be an outcome of best effort”, she would tell me. She read Shakespeare, she read Vivekananda, she read Gandhi, she read nietzsche… and gave her students a practical insights from all these streams of knowledge. Studying in her school was a great experience — one got to re-live and enact the history of the world, learn not only about Indian culture but also Persian, African, and Western.

I can go on and on. My experience with ma’am, I say this with humble gratitude, has been truly a gift. Even years after I’ve graduated from school, she has been kind enough to share her insights with me. Today, even as she is physically no more with us (the unfortunate accident), it is time for me to share some of her lessons. I hope that they inspire others just as they have inspired me .

I will post these messages in a 2-part series. The first one, below, is part of an email I received from ma’am on Feb 27, 2007:

Dear Saurabh,

Thank you for such a lovely mail. At the end of the day what really matters to the teacher is the love and respect of the student. Your understanding of the mammoth task of taking the responsibility of the lives of the students and not impartation of the curriculum seems to have eased out the painstaking hard work of the years.

Let me share a few important things that I learnt in the last 20 years.
The road to success is actually paved with small obstacles that need to be overcome on a day to day basis. If not sorted they get magnetically bonded to form a big boulder that obstructs your passage beyond redemption.

Dream big but think small.
When you set your target on small goals even the bigger mission starts falling in place.
Whenever you are undecided about a task think-Does this harm me or anyone else? If not- do it. Don’t ask-Does it benefit me or not?

And the last golden rule:
Essentially you are alone in this world. Never have expectations from anyone else but yourself. Everything is transient. Change is the only constant. What you want today you might outgrow tomorrow but don’t deny yourself today because only then shall you outgrow tomorrow.

To come into the real world rather than the philosophical one. Money is very important. Earn it the right way- it will always be enough. Earn it the wrong way- it will never be enough. First earn it and invest it, then spend it and share it. If you use it wisely you shall be its master but if you squander it you will always be its slave.

So part one “Earn it and invest it” should be your plan one where in you provide for yourself and your family. The second part that will probably come 20 years later “Spend it and share it” will be your time for philanthropy and social responsibility. Yes, it is better not to depend on external avenues because you will have to do what you are asked to do and not what you want to do.

Keep in touch constantly.
With lots of love and best wishes

Manveen Ma’am!!!




The news of Manveen ma’am and Dr. Sandhu’s demise is beyond shocking.


From an earlier post:
I can never think of my school days without gratitude towards the most remarkable lady I have ever met – Mrs. Manveen Sandhu. Manveen ma’am, the principal of our school, virtually held my finger to give me direction. She taught me how to pronounce properly; she guided me how to give a speech, by example. And most of all, she gave me a sense of self-belief and confidence. Thanks!

It is hard to write now.