Sam and his Kahanis Continue

IS IT A BIRD ? IS IT A PLANE ?
NO IT IS RAN…………… !!!!!!

Jodhpur was a cool place.

Flying was good.

The senior most officer was the Station Master with four Flying Officer tapes.

The living in officer strength was 12-14. Life was private and wonderful in the Mess.

The Marut cats had the rooms behind the Mess with their private lawn and laid back living. Evenings were on the private lawn with partridges and rabbits on the grill with Blues and Dhama Dham Masth Kalander on the tape deck.

Sree Boo would read a few pages of the book “ CATCH 22 “ and we would be in splits of laughter comparing the characters in the book to real life IAF officers. Life was really good.

In a land far away was a place called New Delhi which housed Air Headquarters and Western Air Command. The offices were getting too crowded there with too many senior officers having nothing to do.

Only the top most Marshals got a service transport and all others were using the bus service or TVS MOPEDS.

The quarters of the AIR HEADS was in a place called “Central Vista”. This place was unbecoming for officers living or even living officers! The place was built just after the First World War. The rooms were laid out in barrack formation with a common toilet area for every 24 residents.

Life was not so good there.

The top Air Heads decided to ease the congestion of officers at New Delhi and cut the WAC pie and named it “Number {1} OPS GROUP“.

One Air Marshal and 40 MARAUDERS formed the nucleus of this formation. They landed in Jodhpur and immediately commenced their plundering and carnage.

You would think that to form a New Command any clear thinking Mutton Head would have chosen any of the following places:
Mount Abu
Udaipur.
Jaipur.

No they chose JODHPUR.

Ninety percent of them checked into the Mess as their spouses and kids were doing something in New Delhi. The leader of this ‘Living In the Mess’ pack was none other than the fire eating Mean Singh of previous kahanis. He immediately introduced the “Two Tier Service“.

The dining hall was divided in two parts by a partition. One side had a dining area fit for a 5 STAR HOTEL. This area had brand new dining tables with linen/crockery/cutlery fit for Kings. The waiters had splendid uniforms with gloves and shining shoes. Three course meals were served all the time. This area was solely for Mean Singh and his Marauders.

The other side was for the “Locals“. The 12-14 officers who were the original bachelors. Their tables were bare of any linen and the priority of service was very “Local“. Watered down curry/dal/tinda was the menu every day.

One evening at dinner time there was a power failure and it rained “CHAPATIS “ on the Royal Side Of  the Dining Hall. There was loud yelling and confusion prevailed. The power was restored after 15 minutes and there was no officer on the “Local“ side of the dining hall. Threats and Court Martials proved to no avail as no Infra Red Cameras were installed.

On the transport front most of the Jeeps and Cars were commandeered by the Marauders. The best married quarters were usurped by the Marauders.

Air Force Station Jodhpur and the units under it were running smoothly and so this Command had not much to do. Their main task was to take all publications and replace the words Western Air Command to No (1) OPS GP.

The leader of this pack was the Honorable Randhir Singh. He realized to his utter delight that he had no job and so had a lot of free time on his hands. In addition he had a lot of airfields and units to sniff around and enjoy himself.

A paint peeling circa 1940 GOONEY BIRD was at his command and he was happy like a kid with lots of room to play and many toys. Everyday he would cruise the airfield and peek into the Flights and Aircraft servicing areas.You had to be careful with your speech as you would bump into him even in the Squadron toilets.

We all do remember volumes of his officer like antics and I have selected a few for your reading pleasure.

SPY CATCHER.

One night he dreams that there was a “KIM PHILBY “ on the premises of the airfield and he had set a trap and caught him red handed. He also saw a whole slew of medals being pinned on his chest for his crafty spy catching. He rolls out of bed earlier than usual and is waiting in the FLIGHTS as the pilots roll in.

He takes the Bossman aside and asks to let him study the Top Secret files.The Bossman diplomatically points out that the correct path is through the Station Master. The Station Master soon arrives and there is a conference and Spy Catcher tells them there is a breech in security and a spy is in our midst.They ask him his source and he refuses to divulge that it is a “figment of his imagination”.

Randhir Singh asks to see the Top Secret files and so the doors are locked and he is shown the files. He does a Pink Panther study of the files and wastes the time of the Bossman and the Station Master. Their temperatures are rising but by the luck of their draw, they are the junior officers and so hold their peace.

Pink Panther is slowly convinced that there is no breach in the Top Secret files and to appease him they subtly suggest that he could go through a few confidential files, in random order, to unearth “KIM PHILBY“. He walks in to this “VENUS FLY TRAP“ and says it is a fantastic idea. He elects to keep this hush hush and so no written correspondence will be entertained in the investigation.

The Station Master suggests that to assist him in this Spy Catching adventure the three squadron adjutants would be his best bet. Spy Catcher is impressed and says he will meet them at 1800 Hours in the last building between 10 and 220 squadrons . The chosen trio are the creme of the crop. They were always of good cheer and loved the spirits. “TROUBLE“ was their middle name and they were either solving it or “getting in to it.“ You could call them “ THE GOOD – THE BAD – AND THE HANDSOME “.

I leave it to the readers to ascertain who was who. In random order they were:

SAM SEKHAR
GATE PHATAK
TERRANCE CHOWFIN

The trio meet SPY CATCHER on the road in front of the last barracks of the two squadrons. They are sworn to secrecy and given orders. Their task was to unearth a spy by studying some confidential files in random order. When asked how they would recognize the modus operandi of the culprit they are told – it will leap out of the files and hit them in the eye. They will just know when they find it.

To keep their activities from prying eyes, they will conduct the investigation between the hours of 1800 to 2100 Hours every evening. All reports will be verbal and only to him. He parts with the words “MUM IS THE WORD “.

As soon as Pink Panther is out of ear shot the trio burst out into peels of laughter and continue to guffaw for the next ten minutes. They then draw the battle plans.

One tea club is made available to serve hot snacks every evening.

Ice/drinks/soda to be available and well stocked.

Two D.S.C guards and Two IAF guards to be on duty around the building during the time of investigation. Special Guard challenging instructions are passed to the guards every day.

They commence the next evening at 1800 Hours after toasting each others’ health. They arrange their work desks in a triangle and have confidential files in an orderly and in a hap hazard fashion around them. Hot snacks arrive and an N C ( E ) is at their service replenishing the drinks.

They thumb through the files and try to find the spy. After checking thirty files each there are no clues that any mischief was ever afoot. These being confidential files their contents were not worthy of pilfering. The filing system in those days were from the dark ages, and yet they worked.

Suddenly the quiet of the evening is shattered by four voices yelling on the top of their voices “HALT WHO GOES THERE“ this is also followed in Hindi.

The N C (E) replaces the glasses with coffee mugs.

In the still of the night there are four loud clicks of .303 rifle bolts being cocked. A hysterical voice screams “DONT SHOOT I AM THE C-IN- C.“  The guards are not impressed and ask him for the password and lo and behold SPY CATCHER does not know it as he is the Big Boss. He screams “Phatak/Sekhar/Chowfin please help.”

The trio call off the guards and escort Spy Catcher in to the building. Spy Catcher is ashen faced and the trio go in to top gear and give him the spiel. They tell him since their investigation was very hush hush they had to ensure good protection and so the extra guards. Pink Panther in a shaky voice asks why the cocking of the rifles. Gate answers that it was required to tell the intruder that their duty was being taken seriously. Once the heart beat of the Pink Panther returned to normal the trio feed him a detailed debrief of their investigation so far. Pink Panther is impressed and says he will come back after four days at 1800 Hours and asks the trio to meet him up the road. The trio have three more spirited evenings and meet Pink Panther at the appointed time on day four. They give him a detailed mumbo jumbo of their investigation and give each squadron orderly room and the filing system a clean bill of health. Chowfin throws the sucker punch by suggesting that since the C-IN-C has his sources about “KIM PHILBY“ and the Command being a new one, may be the mole is there.

A light bulb goes on above Pink Panther’s head. He asks the trio to cease and desist the investigation.

Rumor has it that for the next few weeks the OPS GROUP was  purged, while those involved kept purging!

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