Leena Joins Me at Chandigarh


Another shifting of the house was due.  I was to shift from Subroto Park New Delhi where I was the Operations I at HQ Western Air Command to Chandigarh where I had gone to command the Black Archers.  Black Archers (47 Squadron Indian Air Force) in its turn had shifted from Hashimara to Chandigarh to convert into MiG21 aircraft from its discarded Toofanis.   The move had taken place about six weeks earlier.  I was now ready to shift house and take my family to the new location.    After nine years of marriage and having lived in fourteen different accommodations in those nine years, my wife Leena had become a past master in packing and unpacking.   This time, therefore, I did not have to contribute any effort to pack my bags. The house hold had grown somewhat.   After all I had three kids with me apart from the two of us.   Still, the luggage was yet quite small.   Apart from a four-poster teak-wood bed that I had inherited from my father, we had not invested in any furniture.   We were quite happy to make do with whatever furniture we were given by the MES wherever we went.   I had not invested in any gadgets either.   No Fridge.   TV was not heard of.   A very small portable radio and a very small ‘Grundig’ reel to reel tape recorder was all I had for entertainment.  One pressure cooker and a kerosene fired ‘Janata’ stove totalled the kitchen gadgets.   Utensils crockery and cutlery could comfortably be packed in one packing box of medium size.   The whole household fitted into half a three tonner truck.    Leena could manage the job of packing on her own.   What ever assistance she needed (to get hold of a few packing cases for instance) was provided efficiently by  Flt Lt ‘Brother’ JL Bhargava who was my ‘OPS II’ when I was ‘OPS I’ at HQ Western Air Command.   Thus, when I arrived at Subroto Park from Chandigarh to move my family I had no ‘work’ waiting for me.  On the 9th of May Leena and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary quietly at home.  We were all set to move.   Pretty Polly, my trusted 1948 model six cylinder 14 horse powered limousine, was serviced and topped up.  A truck was hired and on 13th May 1968 we drove quite uneventfully from 35 Subroto Park New Delhi to 199 Sector 16 Chandigarh.    The hired truck with our household luggage followed us without any trouble.

 It was a fine day for driving, somewhat cloudy and not too hot for a morning in May.   We had started really early from Subroto Park and, notwithstanding her 20 years of age; Pretty Polly had given us no trouble enroute.   We had taken a little over four hours for the drive.   We were at our destination by about ten thirty.   The house in Sector 16 of Chandigarh was quite neat.   It had a small garden in the front of the house.    The house had been left in a good order by Wing Commander R A (Berty) Wier who was its previous occupant as OC 4 Squadron which had just moved away from Chandigarh.

 The Archers had turned out in full strength to welcome us into our new location.  Janak Kapoor and his wife Kamalesh, Vinay Kapila and his wife Rekha, MS Vasudeva and his new bride Vijaya, Kuke Suresh with his bright smile, Guni Sehgal with his incessant chatter,  Bops Boparai and wife Guddi, Venu Menon, Pradeep (Pidli) Gandhi, Count Brar, Neelu Malik all were there in a bright and cheerful gathering.   The Unit Warrant Officer was also there with a posse of enrolled non-combatant men to lend a helping hand to the new CO.   Pidli took over the charge of unloading the truck.   Guni introduced himself to Leena and took her inside the house so that she could direct the incoming luggage to proper locations.    The rest of us stood around the entrance engaged in routine shop-talk.     After a while, Janak looked at Vinay and whispered some thing about tea and snacks.   Vinay in his turn looked at Rekha and nodded.   Rekha acknowledged the nod and turned to Vijaya.   She was the newest of the brides in the unit and had apparently been given the task of organizing snacks for the morning.   She walked over to Vasu.   Vasu picked out his scooter keys from his pocket and strode towards his scooter parked near by.   Rekha now moved over to Vinay and whispered to him to fetch ‘both the flasks kept on the table’.    I realized that some tea and snacks had been arranged for.  I put my hands up and asked the boys to relax!   As if on cue, Leena appeared at the front gate with two NCEs carrying trays filled with cups of tea and plates heaped with home-made savouries.   Guni trailed out after them carrying paper napkins and a bemused smile on his face.    The time we had spent in shop-talk was enough for Leena to unload her kitchen boxes, pull out her janata stove, make twenty cups of tea and serve it with the savouries pulled out of unpacked bottles!   The boys were surprised and the girls non-pulsed.    While the first round of tea and snacks provided by Leena was consumed, the other set of sandwiches / tea prepared for the occasion was also fetched and consumed.   Like every other moment in our lives, the Archers were ever ready to be happy and joyous on every possible moment.

 Getting the children into schools caused a little bit of trouble.   There were three of them to cater for, one each for Class 3, Class 1 and Nursery.   My first desire was to find a school where all three would be taken in;   a simple and reasonable desire as far as I was concerned.    To my utter amazement, I could not find a school that would accommodate three small children together.   Within a week I conceded defeat.   Sutapa the eldest was taken into a St Joseph’s Convent while the other two, Sukanya and Swagata went to a place named Vivek Nursery that Kamlesh had found for us.   Life rolled on smoothly enough for Leena to call the Archers over for a Sunday Brunch on the very next week-end.


5 responses »

  1. It was my house with the Himalayas! The terrace with the bluest skies where God had kept a special flock of geese just for me to see every time I opened my eyes after a night on the terrace-a special treat! It was Vivek Nursery where the class teacher used to send a small rectangular card along with my report card to hand over to my mother-which I dutifully did!!!-which bore the legend ‘BIG CHATTERBOX”!!! Where we had peanut shrubs and rows of vegetables which seemed to me at that age to be an entire farm of our own! Baba tells me the garden was quite small and they were only small patches of garden vegetables-but I think I will keep my farm and my sentinel mountains and my special canopy……….memories are as real as you can keep them, and I have kept mine!!!!

  2. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. ~Leonardo DaVinci

    Congratulations and thank you Kaku. You keep reminding us all that frugality – whether with gadgets or with words – is one of the most joyful experiences of life. Your posts are such a pleasant change from the ostentation one is almost compelled to go through in the world we now live in.

    Grandeur and beauty are so very opposite, that you often diminish the one as you increase the other. ~ William Shenstone

  3. Pingback: Your Garden

  4. My Dearest Mishthi Di,

    I found you!!! I did it! all those days in Jamnagar are afresh like just yesterday! I miss you all. I was trying to find you on the net and I DID! I can’t believe this. My no. 9881128663, in Pune, Paari na tomar bujhite……LOVE YOU, Howz lokhi, subir ……??? Regds to Uncle & Aunty

    Yours ever Pyaari Bhabona…… Pls pls get back to me immediately! God Pls help. I want to hear you all after 28 YEARS!

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