Headmaster in the Hindu Kush - a life well lived?

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by slipperman, Oct 23, 2007.

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  1. Not sure if this has been posted elsewhere, but I picked up on it when reading through a recent copy of the Telegraph:

    A British schoolmaster who "stayed on" in Pakistan after colonial rule ended in 1947 is searching for a successor to take over his post in the remote mountains on the Afghan border.
    G D Langlands, who turns 90 next week, is the principal at a public school in Chitral in northern Pakistan. With its 750 pupils, both boys and girls, gathering for morning roll call near an isolated juniper tree in the Hindu Kush mountain range, it is a world away from the recruiting ground of British schools where Mr Langlands hopes to find his successor.
    "I should prefer if the candidates were British and share the values of duty and honesty" said Mr Langlands. "And punctuality - which some Pakistanis are not so good at."
    Mr Langlands is also seeking funds to complete the construction of the senior school and a new junior school in the backwaters of the North West Frontier Province.
    The retired British Army major, who fought during the Second World War, was once kidnapped by Wizari tribesmen and survived three Indo-Pakistan wars - during one of which he formed a defence militia recruited from his school's cooks and gardeners.
    Before taking up his position in the valleys of Chitral, he taught princes, governors and many of today's ruling generals during his 25 years at Lahore's Aitcheson College, known as the Eton of Pakistan. An American ambassador to Islamabad once observed that Mr Langlands had taught half of the Pakistan Government.
    "I will teach until I am no longer able," said Mr Langlands. "But it would be nice to know things are taken care of in the future".
    Mr Langlands is a Mr Chips-style schoolmaster. A batchelor, he wears his blazer buttoned up under a duffle coat and lives in a small bungalow overrun by a creeping tide of dusty books. He is happier talking about scholastic affairs than telling tales of derring-do on the frontier, but he concedes his career has been "a little unusual".
    Afer an impoverished childhood in 1920's Britain, he went to war under Lord Lovat's command before earning a commission with the Indian Army in 1944. After serving with the newly founded Pakistani Army, from which he retired to teach at Aitcheson, he helped to found Raznak Cadet College, in the lawless tribal area of Waziristan. That school closed last week as fighting between security forces and Taliban tribesmen intensified and 500 of its students were evacuated by helicopter.
    After he moved to Chitral, the local police chief ordered all foreigners to leave when America bombed Osama Bin Laden's training camps just over the border in 1999. But the local administrator argued successfully that Mr Langlands should be allowed to stay as he was "indespensable"
    Mr Langlands eventual retirement will not be spent in Britain. "I am 100% British, but I do not want to go back. I could not afford to live there and it would be quite dull in comparison".

    Enjoy your well deserved retirement, Sir!
    I have total respect for this old-school gentleman and believe he has made the right decision not to go back to Britain. After all, would he recognise the country he left all those years ago?
  2. He sounds fascinating. Agreed that he should not return to the UK. If as your quote implies, he has been out there since pre-1947 he would probably be dissapointed by modern British society and most likely lost.
  3. I think he has been out in the region since 1944, and agree he is better off staying there.
    I imagine he is not exactly being swamped with applicants to replace him!
  4. Me niether. I doubt the UK produces many education preffesionals that could do his role anymore. I wish the guy well though. It would appear that he has lived a long and productive life. Gotta admire the bloke.
  5. People like him are relics of a bygone age. And the more poorer we (and they) will be for it once they're all gone.
  6. I read about this bloke last week - what a legend. I'll bet he's the best Grandad!! Mad as a goose!
  7. I heard an interview with him on Radio 4 some time ago. I seem to remember that he was once captured by local bandits and kept in pretty awful conditions. He was in his mid-70s at the time! He demanded to see their Chief and was repeatedly refused. However his captors eventually relented.. and he discovered that the head of the gang was an ex-head boy of his school, who he promptly delivered a dressing down to. :D

    As has already been pointed out.. the man is a legend.

  8. Let's enrole him on ARRSE!
  9. Bloody hell! If that story is not true, it damned well ought to be. :D