Monthly Archives: August 2011

Camp Green Horn


Camp Green-Horn was an enjoyable event for the first term cadets of ISW-AFA (the Inter Services Wing of the Armed Forces Academy). I was a cadet there in my first term in the first half of 1950. ISW AFA was located in Clement Town, a picturisque little cantonment close to Dehradun which at that time was a part of Uttar Pradesh. Our camp was located by the side of a small stream called Suswa. Beyond Suswa lay a reserved forest named after a small village Doiwalla that the forest enclosed. Our first camp named Green-Horn was located in that forest of Doiwalla range of the Aravalli. Read the rest of this entry


F I S: Assuming Command


Some how, I was not surprised in the least when my posting to FIS as its Commanding Officer came to be known. That of course did not mean that I was not a little disappointed. I had already commanded a fighter squadron at the Wing Commander level five years earlier. I had then done a tenure as a Directing Staff at the Defence Services Staff college Wellington, had fought a war as the Chief Operations officer of a fighter base in the Western Sector in 1971, had a short tenure as an Assistant Director in the Air HQ and was in the process of finishing a full tenure as a team leader on deputation to Iraq. All these jobs were in the rank of Wing Commander. Now I was returning to India from my deputation to Iraq and was due for a promotion to the rank of a Group Captain. At that rank the most sought after appointment was that of a base commander of a fighter base. I would have naturally loved to be a base commander. At this stage, to be told that I had to command yet another flying unit at the next higher rank was indeed a bit of a let down. Read the rest of this entry

Stealing A Few Cockpit Moments


At long last I was on a staff job. Being the Operations I (OPS-1) of the Western Air Command was of course very prestigious and I was glad to be appointed to that post, but that did not alter the fact that this was the first non-flying appointment for me excluding the year I spent at the staff college. Here I was not on an air base. I missed the noise of roaring jets taking off, I missed the smell of kerosene pervading my mornings, I missed flying. It was a strange sensation. The life-long habit of getting out of bed an hour before sunrise and then attending a met briefing at dawn was no more necessary. A routine of Eight O’clock to Two O’clock on an office chair was so boring! I was mentally prepared to be a Staff Officer; I had been trained for it and had been appointed to a job I was determined to do well in, but emotionally I pined for those magical moments when throttles are opened, wheels roll and the aircraft lifts off the ground metaphorically lifting one’s soul. Read the rest of this entry

A Very Small World – 7 : Chiku weds Ramesh


Archita Mehta was at Kalakshetra with my daughter Swagata (who is known popularly as Mishti). Archita was known to her friends as Chiku. Mishti and Chiku grew to be close friends, close enough for Mishti to learn Gujrati and Chiku to learn Bangla to a high degree of fluency. Slowly, her parents also got to know us. Leena and I found the Mehtas to be friendly. Usha Kant Bhai Mehta was deeply immersed in history of arts and craft and was engaged in research and publication in that field. Sadhana Ben was a dancer herself, specializing in folk songs and dances from before her marriage to Usha Kant. They were clearly an artistically inclined family. I presume they also found us to be worthy of their friendship. The two families grew close together. Read the rest of this entry

Puzzlement in 1962


22nd October 1962 in Ambala started as a typical north Indian morning. Overnight drizzles followed by a low overcast. Very little chance of any meaningful flying activity surely, but the morning had to start with the customary ‘Met Briefing’. Ambala was at that time a very busy fighter station. With Seven (Battle Axes) and Twenty Seven (Flaming Arrows) squadrons flying Hunter Mark56 and Twenty Three (Panthers) and Two (Arrows) flying Gnat Mk 1, the skies above Ambala were full of aircraft through the morning hours on most days when the weather permitted such activity. The base was being commanded by Group Captain CG Deveshar, our old CI from Hakimpet days Read the rest of this entry

A Very Small World – 6: The Lady From India House


For the year 1965 I was a student officer at the Royal Air Force Staff College at Andover, in Hampshire near London. One day there was a small notice in the letterbox; exercise short talk will commence in two week’s time. Three talks will be delivered every day between 1130 and 1330 hrs. Each talk will be of ten minutes. There will a 20 minute sessions of questions after the talk. there will be a ten minute gap between each talk. The student officers were required to submit their choice of subject to their respective directing staff within the next three days . It was a simple communication about a simple planned exercise. Read the rest of this entry