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Alumni blog: Kalpana's memories of Pestalozzi

30 August 2013

Dr Kalpana Joshi came to Pestalozzi in September 1966, when it was Pestalozzi Children’s Village. She was one of seven boys and five girls chosen from Maharashtra state in India.

September was a lovely season to arrive as it wasn't too cold and we could see the autumnal changes from our dining room. We were excited about everything – from toilets and toilet paper, to having to sleep under blankets during the cold night. I saw my first snowflakes that winter and ran out to feel them on my body.

We were taken to local schools by coach. Even then there was the usual rush to get to the bottom gate in time! On Saturdays we were allocated to classes. Although as typical teenager I moaned and groaned, I can now appreciate what a privilege it was. I learnt to weave, dig and plant a herb garden, learnt about plants and pond dipping, pretended to be Lady Macbeth or became a stiff ballerina. Most of all, I learnt to swim. I still love it.

My favourite time was once a month when we had Indian food. It was difficult to get all the spices and ingredients in those days. As I was vegetarian like most of us Indians, I found it hard to get used to school dinners with slabs of spam or ham. Eating lettuce was bizarre too – no spices and completely raw! Best of all were the puddings: spotted dick, sponge and custard, chocolate cake, fruit salad, bakewell tart. I doubled in weight very quickly with all this food and became a large laddoo (round sweet)!

After Pestalozzi, I went to Liverpool University on the train with my two suitcases. Lime Street was disappointing as there were no lime trees. In fact, there were no trees in sight, though the cobbled street was lovely! I graduated from Liverpool and went to live in Birmingham. I have now been working as a GP for 22 years, which is worthwhile and fulfilling work. I also have an allotment garden where I can continue to experiment with growing edible plants and work with my hands.

This article first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2013 edition of the Pestalozzi Newsletter. Sign up to receive future editions.

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