Dressed in slacks and a leopard-print blouse, 91-year-old Branca James was thrilled on Sunday. The former teacher and her old colleagues were treated to an afternoon of laughter and lunch as part of the Rose Manor Alumni Foundation's Teachers' Day celebrations at an Andheri restaurant.
James, the oldest among the 15 teachers at the gathering, burst into a song, 'I am sixteen going on seventeen', much to the amazement of the others. "Some say, this whole foundation was set up because of me," she said proudly.
James is not wrong. Ex-students from the Rose Manor Garden School, Santacruz, decided to start the organisation last year, after hearing that James was in hospital with old-age related ailments.
The school's alumni set up the Rose Manor Alumni Foundation in March to provide their old teachers medical aid and moral support.
The Foundation is a rare example of students doing their bit for those who helped shape their formative years.
Sunday's Teachers' Day lunch was a way to show some gratitude.
The event included arrangements for a buffet lunch, framed mementos and cars that picked up and dropped home each of the teachers, several of whom are very old and live alone or at old age homes.
"We belonged to a small school, so we were very close to our teachers. We realised that some of them are very old now, and all they want is for someone to spend time with them, which is why we have gone out of our way to plan this party," said Niti Mehta, a trustee of the Foundation.
For Asha Verma, who completed 50 years of teaching last week, the trust is like a "support system outside the family".
The social studies teacher said, "Today, the students are very different, as is the calibre of teaching - which has now become a job rather than a vocation."