Air Mshl Dotiwalla passed away in Chennai on 05 May 16. He had been diagnosed with cancer a few months ago and opted not to take any chemotherapy.
Having met him but once when he visited Pathankot in the sixties, I never had any interaction with him except a stray conversation. He wanted to pay his mess bill before departure and asked me if I had change for a tenner. Before I could respond, he continued “Oh no, don’t tell me you don’t have even have 10 rupees!” One can’t help but like such a person!
Even though I have no knowledge about him our contributor Cylic has written a very interesting and informative piece on him at another site. A perfect tribute. He was obviously cut from the old mould and one won’t get to see many like him these days.
I think they will both love reading this in paradise:-
“I spent a year in NDA as a Div Oh in 1979 before I was sent to FIS, ten years after my stint as a cadet. Despite being 10 yrs older, without my ‘Ho Chi Minn’ moustache, I was almost back as a Divisional Cadet Captain (DCC) in 69, I hadn’t grown up that much.
When venerable Dhotiwalla Sir was posted in as Cmdt NDA, either his staff officer was dumb, or the then AVM Sir didn’t know a thing about the power, pomp and glamour of the Cmdt NDA.
A telegram arrived in NDA fifteen days before the AVM.
‘Arriving by train with family, request arrange transport and accommodation’ !!
It became the joke of NDA.
My then Bat Com, late Cdr Mohan Chandy (the man who got his MTB towed to Karachi and attacked Pakis with aplomb in 71), a roly-poly very jovial man, conferred with us youngsters (I am sure the Dep Com too) and decided that we must play a practical joke on the Cmdt on his arrival in NDA for having sent that stupid telegram. I was detailed as the LO to pick up the AVM from the Rlwy Stn in my beat up Herald car. So I received him at the Rlwy Stn, made him push start the ruddy Herald, and took him to my Flt Lt quarters in D3 area. Mrs Dhotiwalla first inspected my toilets and bed room and was most disappointed. She gave a piece of her mind to my brand new wife masquerading to perfection as the maid.
After a cup of tea, I suggested that since Mrs Dhotiwalla didn’t approve of the accommodation that we had arranged, I will take him to an alternate accommodation, marginally better. Made him push start the car again. And when he arrived at the ‘Lake Palace’ overlooking the Peacock Bay he almost had a heart attack. There was a guard of honour, brass & pipe band, and the entire staff of NDA and their wives lined up to receive him. Last one in the line-up was my wife, still dressed as a maid !! Mrs Dhotiwalla hugged my wife when introduced, and started crying and laughing at the same time. She said something in Parsi tongue, which perhaps meant some very very very affectionate things.
I never got to meet the Cmdt or his wife at close quarters for several months, even though there were very lively parties at his Lake Palace, as well as by the mess (pool side) with the star attraction being the swimming wonder, beauty queen, Nafeeza Ali, the brand new wife of the equitation officer. Life went by at supersonic speed with ‘AVM Lungi’, raising the bar higher and higher.
I had an outstanding Cdt in B Sqn, whose father (just like mine) had no sense of humour and gave him a name (just like me) that was complete postal address with the pin code. Every day I was called upon to write something or the other, a mix of facts and fiction, in his dossier. Now how many times can you write ‘Padmanabha Venkata Varaha Venkatehswaralu’, did this or that, on daily basis. Out of frustration, I decide to chop his name to ‘PVVV Lu’. After making him front roll down the corridor of B Sqn, I told him to get up. Like Queen of England, I pronounced him a knight, ‘Rise, Sir Lu’.
He immediately went to Gol Market and got a new name tab, ‘PVVV-Loo’.
Everything went well till this bugger Loo went and got himself several medals in athletics or something like that. During the prize distribution, the Cmdt got tired of hanging medals around his neck. So he asked him like Gen Patton, ‘What is your name son ?’.
The Cdt, with exemplary military bearing, stood to ram rod attention.
‘I am Cadet Peeee, Veeee, Veeee, Veeeee, Loo Sir’ he said; like Centurion ‘Pontius Fuckusall’.
The whole thing was being broadcasted on the PA system. The academy started laughing and yodelling like hyenas, very musical, like Kishore Kumar. I didn’t have a place to hide.
‘What is your name, come again ?’, the Cmdt repeated.
‘Cadet Peeee, Veeee, Veeee, Veeeee, Loo Sir’, my boy shouted at the top of his voice with very justified pride of Centurion Pontius Fuckusall, the star performer of the Roman Army.
The academy started hooting with uncontrolled mirth despite a shouted commanded by NDA Adjutant to ‘Shut Up’.
‘Did your father give you that name ?’, the Cmdt asked with an incredulous look on his face.
‘No Sir, my Div Oh did’, Loo confessed truthfully, like Centurion Pontius Fuckusall.
I was marched up to the Cmdt without a belt, and the bugle was blown. I was in shit.
‘I like your practical jokes, but this is going too far’, the Cmdt warned me very seriously.
‘Just imagine, one day he will be a General. Do you want him to be known as General Toilet ?’, he asked very sagaciously.
I didn’t tell the Cmdt that, behind his back, I had christened him ‘AVM Lungi’.
I was relegated to ‘Corporal’, ‘Do Phiti’ on my sleeves rather than on my shoulders.
In keeping with the Cmdt’s advice, I went and got Loo a new name tab, ‘Venkateshwaralu’. There was no place to put PVV on the name tab.
I told him that he is no longer a ‘Loo’.
Some years ago, I was told that ‘Venkateshwaralu’ was given command of a Brigade. And because he is such an illustrious man, the troops very affectionately, with pride, calls him ‘Commander Pishab’. One day we may have a CoAS, ‘Chief Pishab’. I agree with AVM Lungi, tampering with names, even as nom-de-guerre, can have grave consequences, I was a silly bugger !!!!
Air Mshl Lungi Sir, and Mrs Dhotiwalla, you have chosen to go far away. But no matter how far you have gone, you will be remembered by us with fond affection and pride.
RIP, both of you.