Sunday, February 12, 2012


Vitae Non Scholae Discendum - Learn for life, not for school.

The Royal College Port Louis, circa 2005-2006.

This a follow-up to the post on my blog. The main reason is because the related photos have been lost to the servers of Flickr with its 200-photo limit on free accounts. Most of the following photos are the original ones taken by my first camera - the much-maligned HP 635 - while I was in my final year at RCPL.



Ah RCPL... I spent 7 years of my life here, so that's a lot of incredible memories and some awful ones. On the very first day at RCPL, I got bullied. It was very unpleasant experience but I learnt an important lesson - never to bully anyone.

The room in the middle, the one just above Royal College - that was my class in Form I. Form I East, that was it. No, that was just a name, they weren’t really segmenting students according to regions.

Just next to the mural, there is a tiny store room. But back in Form I, that was where we used to learn music. & those stairs on the side. I still remember that the 2nd or 3rd step was broken for several years before they repaired it. The drains were also constructed much later. Before that if ever there was heavy rain, the entire floor would be inundated.

Over the years, we moved from one room to another & most of the time our class got the middle rooms. The worst thing about those classes, apart from the smell of the pigeon droppings on the ledges, was the heat. Can you imagine a room in Port Louis packed with 40 students with no fan! We survived that for 6 years - it wasn't until 2006 that we got fans.



& this is how my classroom looked like in 2005 while I was in Lower VI. By then RCPL had been converted into a Form VI college, so most the classes had fewer students and the college was much less populated.

Those are Elfish symbols. I was very much into TLOTR at that time. ;-)




Just some dogs in class. Born in RCPL. The school authorities have tried various ways to chase away the handful of dogs living in the yard, but every time they were unsuccessful. Living in RCPL made them so intelligent that they could outwit every dog trap thrown at them.




Looking out from my classroom, that’s the library with tons of novels, the comic books, the magazines, the newspapers, the photocopy service, the dial-up Internet and the laser printer. Not to forget the attendant, Mr. Luchmun (alias crapo).

It wasn't particularly big but this is where I read my first Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings book. If you wanted a book like the heavily-sought Harry Potter ones, but you couldn't take it because you already borrowed books, that meant hiding the book somewhere in other bookcases so you can borrow it later. This hiding of books got worse every time there were new arrivals. Often I "borrowed" more than 2 books, such was my love of reading. :D



The volleyball pitch. One P.E. teacher re-introduced volleyball in RCPL. It was a mild success as during recess we witnessed some pretty terrific matches between students & teachers.

Those classrooms at the ground-level are literally some of the worst kept classrooms in RCPL - always littered with broken chairs & tables.



Montagne Signaux. I've always wondered how the view will be from up top. & I still haven't gone there.



Looking out on the football ground & the cemetery from the Physics classroom.



The swinging pendulum experiment. One little anecdote - whenever I did this experiment, I had some kind of mental block of about when to exactly start counting. I mean I would wait with my stopwatch for the exact precise moment to start counting but I kept missing that moment. Until a teacher showed how to start timing by reverse-counting! Start from 3...2...1...0... start stopwatch!



Some ceremony in the RCPL Hall. The Hall is the do-it-all building of RCPL. Classes, ceremonies, fairs, playing badminton, football, volleyball, rock concerts, film projections, exams - everything you can imagine has been done there. :)



The Wall of Fame with the first laureate in 1953, from La School, which was then located at Edith Cavell street.

The history of the Royal Colleges (Port Louis/Curepipe) dates back to the French colonial period. The school was originally located in Port Louis. L’Ecole Centrale was inaugurated in 23 September 1800 in a building known as Vaux Hall where Jeetoo Hospital stands today. Later known as Lycée Colonial, it was a boarding school which provided primary and secondary education to children of the white population. After the British triumphed over Mauritius, it was reopened as Collège Colonial in 1811. It became known as The Royal College in 1817 as it was taken under the protection of the Prince of Wales.

In 1832, it was opened to coloured children and in 1839 the school has its first English Rector who reorganised the school into the British model of education with English as the medium of instruction. It was in 1868 that the Royal College was affiliated with the Cambridge University Syndicate to conduct the college examinations.



In 1892, the school was razed to ground by a cyclone and had to be transferred to the Line Barracks. The foundation stone for a new building was laid during the same year but had to be abandoned due to the plague breaking out in Port Louis in 1899. The new building became the Civil Hospital and the Royal College of Mauritius transferred to Curepipe.

In 1912, the foundation for the present-day Royal College Curepipe was laid and in 1914, it opened. Due to the long distance the students had to travel in trains to Curepipe, the people voiced their demands for re-establishing the Royal College in Port Louis. The authorities were pressurised and they decided to start construction of a building at Edith Cavell Street.


On 18 January 1929, the Royal College School opened as an extension of the Royal College in Curepipe. Informally known as La School, it catered for only up to the School Certificate. HSC students had to migrate to Curepipe to compete. It was in only in 1951 that the first HSC classes were held in Port Louis.

In 1952, form I to III students were transferred to a section of Trinity College, Cathedral Square. With a growing school population, it was apparent that a new modern building was needed to accommodate the Royal College.

On Saturday 29th September 1956, Princess Margaret laid the foundation stone for the school at Cassis. It was also as from 1956, to differentiate between the two institutions, Royal College Curepipe and Royal College Port Louis were born. As from 1958, part of the lower forms students were admitted into new building under construction and it was only in 1962 that the whole of RCPL moved to Cassis.

You can read a brief version of RCPL’s history on Wikipedia or download the Word doc here. Photo credits: the RCPL Facebook page.




The Design department. That's how it usually looked like in the final days of project submissions. Cupboards, exerciser & a dog house...




The machinery used for all our works. Working wood, I learnt it here.





Outside the DT department. This is where all the heavy work was done - cutting planks & spray-painting.





At the back of the Design department. The field unfortunately looks abandoned.




The pié lacolle! (Cordia dichotoma) A tree with small berries that contained a glue-like goo. As you might have guessed, this eventually led to the glue-wars - students pelting the fruits at each other.




& that is what used to be the Art room when I was in Form I. I admit I totally sucked in arts. Painting, freehand drawing & all that. Well, I don't have an artistic mind.




The ruins of the astronomical observatory. It was built much before the school and then abandoned.



The football pitch. When I joined in Form I, at recess, every single area of the school was packed with students playing football. Literally, every single cm2 of playable grass (& asphalt) of RCPL was a football pitch. It was an amazing sight, every class had their designated "pitch" and often fights broke out when there were pitch invasions. & if by mistake your ball went into another pitch with students of higher classes, the ball was belted far away from your pitch. There was usually someone in each team, the one with the biggest shot, who would take care of that.


Most of the lower classes brought their own ball (the ball belonged to the class & the ball-carrier, the one who would keep the ball home, was usually rotated). But sometimes, students would usually come to "borrow" the balls. So if ever you saw a group of suspicious students approaching, the only thing to do was run away. Because they usually "attacked" in group, that meant passing the ball around in rugby-style to the fastest runner in our class.


Playing football? I am not particularly good at any sports & neither was I at football, so I usually played as defender or goal-keeper. But I did once finish as top-scorer in the "league." & I scored a hat-trick only once. :D





This is where the 'gangs' were located.…



The corridor leading to the art room. The store with shutters is where some of the older DT projects were stored.






The landscaping works including the pathways and the always-empty pond started in 2005 if I'm not mistaken.






Previously, there were just stone benches.





The basketball ground. Some of the most exciting football matches were played here. Basketball? Only a handful of students played.




Even the locals used the pitch by climbing the college walls. Those high walls could be climbed using the electrical poles with steps. Sometimes if some suspicious-looking individuals roamed the grounds, groups of students used to chase them off the pitch using poles and wooden sticks as weapons.




Back to the corridor, the building at the end is what used to be a disused amphitheatre until it was renovated. I’ll be honest, that the was one room I didn’t discover until several years later.



The canteens. Rouben and his specials - dipain tokyo, pané, fouyang, abdel. Utterly delicious. Hey, I wasn't yet a vegetarian back then. :)

The man with the tri-cycle selling his tasty fruits. Zorro, the dholl puri seller… Mamou and his chilled drinks. I still remember the emotional outpour the day he left us.




The assembly ground, the volleyball field & the hall. It was only when the rector changed that we started having daily assemblies & school prayers (that was a relief as I could come to school a little later!). Otherwise, this is where our laureate celebrations took place. :)





The mural painted by some fellow students. On the opposite end is the foundation stone placed by Princess Margaret, which I unfortunately didn’t shoot.




The courtyard where the flag raising ceremony usually took place on 11th March until it was moved to the inner assembly point.

On other days, this is where the school buses are parked. In my early years, most of the buses were the old UBS TATA buses which required accelerating the engine on idle to reach a certain operating temperature before it could move. Not to mention that there was nearly 100 students packed in a 40-seater bus.

In all those 7 years of bus travelling, only once did I encounter a breakdown. & then the one time when the glass pane fell off the bus while doing the roundabout. & that bus conductor on the 127 line who would always take Rs 1 more than the usual fare from students. That eventually came to an end when free transport was introduced in 2005. :D



Far away, the gates of RCPL with its gatekeeper, Tropic. The great thing about this man was that he couldn’t read, so you could write anything on an official-looking piece of paper and make him believe that you got permission to be let off early. :D



Here ends my exploration of RCPL as I lived it. My only regret - not having taken enough photos. The labs, P.E, the hall, the computer room, the library... But more than that I miss the camaraderie of students, the atmosphere, the inspiring teachers, the proud moments of obtaining laureates (7 in 2002!), the stress of exams, the competition in class & the thrills of doing forbidden things (like stealing ingredients from the Chemistry lab! No, I really didn't do that, a friend did. Worst thing done is playing cards in class). The best years of my life. I miss everything. :(



That’s a map of RCPL as it stood until a few years ago when construction of new school buildings started. In my time, the football pitch didn’t have any fencing.





cute puppies :)


great article! loved all the pictures.. brings fond memories.. 

Roushdat Elaheebocus

I was there :) 1998-2005 and I did Design & Computing too :p As for the official paper at the gate...1 time we nearly got caught...we used a lateness form as early leaving form :D

Amrish Bucktowarsing

Suggestion: you could reproduce the history of RCPL article published in the 1998/99 school magazine.

(1993 - 2000)


This article from the 2008 magazine was my source material -


You can definitely see your enthusiasm within the article
you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers such
as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.
My blog post ... my blog named kip


Great pics.

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