Category Archives: 04 – Growing Up

Finding my own feet and standing up in the Service 1955 to 1962

Brushing a Star per Chance – 1


The morning of 19th November 1956 was quite calm and cool. It had rained a bit in the night in Hyderabad. The sky was overcast and some light drizzle was possible, but every one hoped and prayed for the rain gods to leave us alone for the next five days.
The New Zeeland Cricket Team was touring India and they were to start the first test at Hyderabad that morning. Read the rest of this entry


Jostling with Ethics – 3 – : Having a Drink


I am unashamedly from a ‘Moddhyo Britto Bhadro Poribaar’ from ‘Poorbo Bango’ . In plain English that would translate to being from a Middle Class Gentle Folk from Eastern Bengal. Like every other social group in this world, this social group also has its baggage of ‘do’ s and ‘dont’s just as it has its own set of behavior considered socially right and socially wrong. One of the values for this group during the first half of the twentieth century was abstention from alcohol. Read the rest of this entry

A Very Small World – 5: Picnic at Pinjore Gardens


Our lives are but long strings of incidents.   The incidents themselves are little beads that get threaded over a string of time.   As time goes by,   the beads recede into obscurity and are lost sight of.      Yet,  after many years, if one decided to pick up one of these discarded strings and looks at one of the beads threaded there on, one finds that though encrusted in dust, the bead itself has lost none of its colour, nor its ability to revive the taste and smell of that time.

As I travel back in time to 1962 and pick one incident, I find that it is as complicated as one could be.   It has all the little shades of events and emotions to be remembered as a story.   So, here you are…..  Read the rest of this entry

A Very Small World – 4: Locating Bhaskar


It was an early morning in November 1959.   November is perhaps the best month for weather in Kolkata and I had just arrived on posting to 12(Bengal) Air Squadron NCC at the Jadavpore University a few weeks ago.   I had not yet setup a household.   My wife Leena was with my Parents in Deoghar.   This posting to Kolkata was on my own request so that I could look after my ailing father a little better by being located not very far away.     My boss Squadron Leader RA (Bob) Rattan called me into his office and declared that I was to go down to Ranchi over the week-end.    The NCC Air Squadron at Ranchi had just received their gliders.    There was to be a formal inauguration of flying activity there.    The NCC Headquarters had asked the Group Commander at Kolkata or his representative to attend the function. The Colonel Sahib who was the Group Commander was not keen to make the tiresome journey; in any case he had some other more pressing plans for the week end.   He had therefore asked my boss to be his representative.   Bob was similarly disinclined to spoil his week end.   I was young and available.     I was therefore required to go.  Read the rest of this entry

A Very Small World – 3 : My friend Mr Roy


I have talked of this world of ours being a very small place on a number of occasions.   This feeling of being in a very small place has been brought to me many times at many places, some times quite unexpectedly and other times as if to reinforce a belief already held quite firmly.   Let me take up the case of my friend Mr Roy. Read the rest of this entry

A Very Small World – 2: Mr Mukherjee’s Nephew


For a Bong any where, Durga Puja is a big occasion; at least that is how it used to be when I was young.    In 1958 I used to consider myself to be young.   I was just about 24 years old and I felt very young.   When Durga Puja came about that year, I participated enthusiastically at the ceremonies held at Tambaram within the Air Force Station.   I was then an instructor at the Flying Instructors’ School there.    The Puja was held at the Domestic camp at Madambakkam which we could reach on a bicycle in five minutes from the officers’ mess.   During Durga Puja, it is also customary to visit all such functions within striking distance, and we followed that social norm . Read the rest of this entry

A Very Small World -1: The Austrian Professor


In April 1958 I came to Tambaram as an instructor at the Flying Instructor’s School of the Air Force.    Tambaram is a suburb of Chennai.    In 1958 however, Chennai was still known as Madras.   Smallest of the four Indian metros of that time, it was a charming little city with a character of its own that was lovable.     Though its climate could be described as being hot, a cool sea breeze cooled the city down every evening to a very comfortable level.  Similarly, every morning a smart land breeze swept the dust of the city from its sky out to the Bay of Bengal.   Compared to the north of the country, the air here carried very little dust.    Low and medium clouds prevailed overhead for most of the year preventing the earth from getting scorched by the sun.  The city was blessed with a beautiful string of sea-beaches.   It had nice roads and disciplined road traffic.   Comfortable electric trains connected the city to its suburbs.  All in all, it used to be a city well worth living in. Read the rest of this entry

A Strange Kind of Honeymoon


The Indian Air Lines Viscount brought me from Kolkata to Madras just before eleven on the morning of 14 October 1959.   It was a fine morning when I landed; the breeze from the sea was cool and the sunshine bright, but there was sadness in my heart strangely admixed with the jollity and merriment of the past three days.  Read the rest of this entry

Bird Strike over Hoogly


After my father’s death I shifted my mother and my wife to Kolkata from Deoghar.    The accommodation I was allotted at Kolkata was tiny, but it was rather well situated in New Alipore.   I was then an instructor with 12(Bengal) Air Squadron NCC with my office in Jadavpore University Campus.   For flying with my cadets I had to go Bengal Flying Club which was then located in Barrackpore.    For those readers of mine who are unfamiliar with the geography of Kolkata, Jadavpore is a suburb in the south of Kolkata while Barrackpore is a township quite a way north of the city.   Between the office and the flying club I was kept quite busy.

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