Returning to Roysia

“Nostalgia emerged as I returned to the school that taught me to dream big!”

imageL to R: Siddy Jordan, Caitlyn Grace, Safwaan Choudhury, Syed Miah, Habibur Rahman-Shamim, Faye Little & Joe Reader

Last Tuesday, the Royston Tandoori team spiced up Food Technology for a Year 8 class at Roysia Middle School in Royston.

At exactly 12:00pm I arrived at the entrance of Roysia’s reception, accompanied by my business partner Syed and our Executive Chef Habibur. Upon entering the automatic doors to the reception and office, memories flashed through my mind – as a pupil, I’d have to come this way to enter the school if I was late. It felt so odd pressing the green button/buzzer to gain the office’s attention.

Nostalgia emerged as I returned to the school that taught me to dream big! The office holds so many memories for me – I remember having pieces of my own classwork featured on the walls and sitting plenty of times in the Headteacher’s office sharing both laughs and tears with my old Headteacher, Mr. Fielden.

I was greeted by Mrs. Underwood and I was left to make my way to the Food Technology room. As we passed through to the dining room, Syed was confused and turned to the canteen; “No, it’s this way! Ahead and then right.” I shouted, as I eagerly raced through the corridor, armed with various spices. To my left was the Science Lab – in this room during 2007, I auditioned for Skatoony (a Cartoon Network game show) and I recall countless School Council meetings inside those four walls when I served during both Year 6 & Year 8.

So we headed to the Food Tech room and familiarised ourselves with the surroundings. Soon, the class poured in – 20 or so Year 8 pupils.

I started the session by introducing our team and giving some background knowledge of the history of ‘Indian’ curry – the kids were surprised to learn that Tikka Masala is more British than fish & chips and that the Bangladeshi diaspora were the true pioneers of ‘Indian’ cuisine.

When talking about what we’d be cooking during the lesson, I was shocked when almost none of the pupils knew what spinach was! I then referenced ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ who loved spinach; I was even more shocked when I received a blank response. NOBODY knew Popeye! “A sign of your age, Saf” said Mrs. Baigent.

Executive Chef Habibur kicked off the cooking bonanza – guiding the pupils step-by-step how they’d create their own Indian restaurant classics. The pupils were particularly in awe when the chef created a large flame with garlic. Nearly everyone sampled the various layers of taste, flavour and heritage – I was really pleased that many concluding that ‘spice’ didn’t necessarily mean ‘hot’.

image (1)A first class cooking lesson by Executive Chef Habibur Rahman-Shamim – the first of its kind in Royston

Before we knew it, the hour had finished and Habibur concluded the first part of the lesson.

As we left class for lunch, I was met by plenty of faces from the past – hugs and kisses all round! Firstly, the dinner ladies who kept a watchful eye since much earlier childhood – during my early years at neighbouring Roman Way First School.

Followed by Mrs. Clark, who put up with my nonsense throughout the years, taught me French and who was both my tutor & Head of Year during my final year at Roysia. I’ll never forget the memories made during my first visit to France – pure class!

I then encountered Mrs. Jandu, who taught me much of the skills in ICT that I still use today as well as Maths in Year 6. I will never forget how mesmerised I was (alongside pretty much my whole year group) with Mrs. Jandu’s sweet cupboard, it’s safe to say this lady had us mildly addicted to Rainbow Dust! I also remember featuring on national and regional news on ITV – both on GMTV (now Daybreak) and Anglia Tonight – as a result of an anti-bullying initiative: CyberMentors.

Miss Linington passed by shortly and we conversed very briefly. I had bumped into my old Deputy Head (and later Headteacher) several times in recent years whilst at Meridian and quite recently at my sister’s prize giving ceremony at the Royston upper school. If my recollection is correct, Mr. Fielden commissioned the school council to interview prospective candidates for the new Deputy Head post when I was the Year 6 council representative – we all chose Miss Linington of course! One distinct memory I have was losing my Tommy Hilfiger watch on the field one summer and coming to her office red faced & in tears, only to find it had been handed in! In my final prize giving at Roysia, I was award the Headteacher’s Award from Miss Linington and I must say that was one of my proudest achievements.

It was now lunchtime and I was invited for a school dinner – I haven’t had one of these in almost 6 years; needless to say I was looking forward to this! What was to follow was something that I had never experienced in my 4 years at Roysia, I savoured lunch in the STAFF ROOM. I bumped into Mr. Carter, who I shared light banter about how the circumstances have changed for both our football teams and Mrs. Morley.

I mingled with the new additions at Roysia since I left in 2010, and reminisced my time at what once was my stomping ground. Countless memories were discussed – from the Year 5 trip to Aylmerton, which was my first week away from home, to the last thing I did as a Roysia pupil: playing the role of ‘Lord Capulet’ in ‘Romeo & Juliet’ by Anthony Glenn.

Returning to Roysia was very much a trip down memory lane for me – it’s where I developed as a personality and learned plenty of life skills such as confidence and relationship building. The school holds hundreds of terrific memories that I will forever cherish – in the latest edition of our menu, I named our flagship speciality “Lady Roysia” to commemorate one of the best chapters of my time in education.

Thank you to the class who listened so attentively, asked intelligent questions politely and engaged so enthusiastically! I’d like to also express my sincere gratitude to Mrs. Baigent, Miss Linington and the whole school for welcoming me back – I really enjoyed it!

I look forward to returning.

SAFWAAN CHOUDHURY
Managing Director

You can read about the Royston Tandoori visit to Roysia in the Royston Crow at http://www.royston-crow.co.uk/news/royston_restaurant_owner_goes_back_to_school_to_give_indian_cooking_advice_1_4373865.