A LOW BUZZ DOWN MARUT ALLEY by Sam Sekhar

A LOW BUZZ DOWN MARUT ALLEY

SATURDAY 20th MARCH 1971  1625 HOURS

The front wheels of the “ GREEN HORNET “ HIM 906 hit the cattle trap at the entrance to the Officers Mess with a distant CLANK and Sam and Keru realize that the DIGS we will be provided with are distantly NOT AND WE REPEAT NOT M E S built. We learnt that the complex belonged to JODHPUR ROYALTY and was gifted to the AIR FORCE by the good efforts of BHAI JEE.

Keru pulls up to the portico and out steps a guy in a black suit, starched white shirt and a black bow tie. His black shoes have a mirror shine on them. He introduces himself as KHAN THE MAJOR DUMO of the Officers Mess and is available 24/7 for assistance.

He welcomes us by rank and name and adds a sir and says that we have been expected and Flying Officer Sreekanth has reserved  a room at the rear complex of the MESS adjacent to his room with an inter connecting door. He guides us to the back and rushes to inform SREEKANTH of our arrival.

We find that there are two cement plinths across the road from the room and are covered by conical thatched roofs. KERU pulls in to one of them and parks and we have completed the Road Odyssey from Hashimara to Jodhpur.

SREEBOO

A gentleman from the south of India greets us with a huge genuine 32 pearly white smile and a bone crushing hand shake. Says his handle is K P Sreekanth and we immediately call him SREEBOO and the name sticks. He shows us our digs and boy what a difference after the DOMESTIC HELP ACCOMMODATION and barrack lines of Hashimara.

The bed room is massive and with a huge fire place. The changing room is bigger than the DOMESTIC HELP accommodation in Hashimara,  and has a walk in closet.  The wash room is huge and has a CLAW FOOT BATH TUB. This is topped with a geyser.

SreeBoo fills us in and says there is a swimming pool fifty yards away and a squash court sixty yards away and we have a private hedged in lawn 50 feet by 30 feet in front of the rooms and a library in the block. We are separate from the main Mess building.

Soon we meet the BEST OF THE BEST / THE CREME OF THE FIGHTER CROP / ACES ALL OF THEM / TRUE GENTLEMEN and PROFESSIONALS.

BOSSMAN JIT DHAVAN.

CHIEFTAIN JOE BAKSHI.

CHIEFTAIN SYLVESTER DeMAGRY.

BROTHER.

BATRA.

KALLATHIL PAYYAN  SREEKANTH.

PRADEEP APTE

Along with us another FEARLESS LEADER CHANDRA NARAIN SHUKLA  entered the HALLOWED GROUND OF THE MARUT TIGERS, THE FIRST TWIN ENGINE FIGHTER AIRCRAFT OF THE INDIAN AIR FORCE.

SHUKS, SAM, and KERU were fondly greeted and welcomed in to the DEN OF THE TIGERS WITH WARMTH, TRUE SPIRIT OF COMRADESHIP.

We three on our part were delighted and for the next TEN PLUS YEARS WE SERVED WITH HAIR RAISING CRAFTSMANSHIP THAT WAS ALWAYS EXPECTED OF US.

SHUKS AND KERU LET US LIFT OUR GOBLETS IN A SALUTE TO THE SEVEN OFFICERS.

2015/2016

Kripamoyee and Sam land in Bangalore and catch up with Sush and Sree. K P retired as an A M and did a stint as a builder { Not Body Builder } and is now a full time golfer and a full time Artist { Not Booze } but a guitar and sitar artist. Sush is as beautiful as ever and has not masked her years like SAM who is a proponent of German /Japanese hair dyes. The salt and pepper look suits SUSH very well. We swap the funny and hilarious acts in Jodhpur.

SreeBoo goes back to Jodhpur to our bachelor days.  We had access to Salawas airfield which was rich in GAME. We would cull some game on saturday afternoons. The routine was to sit out on our private lawn on saturday evenings after dark. Marinated partridges and khargosh would be turned over slowly on the Mini Grill and Sree would read a chapter from the GOOD BOOK CATCH 22 BY JOSEPH HELLER and we would compare the characters in the Book to the living characters from the I A F. We would stop after a few paras each time to whittle down the comparisons and burst into guffaws and peels of laughter. We were out of ear shot of the others in the Mess. The married officers would drop by some time and we would entertain them.

The book CATCH 22 had folks like ,

General Dreedel.

Yossarian.

Major Major.

Milo Minderbinder.

Doc Daneeka and others.

 

The scenario was the U S A F had some bomber units operating out of bases in ITALY during the war and it was all about the antics of these folks.  The rule for return to the U S A for the crew was 40 combat sorties. When you completed them Dreedel would increase the sorties to 50 to go home. When you reached fifty Dreerel would increase it to 60 sorties.

MILO would make deals with every one and even have the U S A F bomb their own airfields.

SUBS FROM COORG

And it came to pass one day the big bungalow behind the swimming pool was occupied by big brass SUBS. He was a gentleman from COORG and had the mechanics of a Brown Sahib combined with training from the Sandhurst school of the Fauji. His manner was prim and proper and he carried himself ramrod straight. He had a tall beautiful wife and two tall beautiful teen age daughters. He played a mean game of squash and gave  the AIR FORCE NUMBER ONE SQUASH player { Sharma } a run for his money on the court. He and his beautiful wife would walk past our lawn after sun down on saturdays to visit the library. They would of course hear the laughter and smell the grilling of the game. One saturday evening they turned on to the road to our building and turned right to the library. Sree, Keru and I jumped up and after greeting them asked them to join us. Before we could seat them KHAN appeared in his black uniform with a waiter dressed to the hilt and had the favoured drinks of SUBS and his wife on a silver salver. SUBS was impressed and SO WERE WE.

THAT WAS KHAN WHO HAD HIS EAR TO THE GROUND AND WAS EVER PRESENT WHERE REQUIRED FOR FIRST CLASS SERVICE IN THE MESS. MAN IT WAS INDEED TRUE OFFICER SERVICE BETTER THAN THE BRITISH / ROYAL RAJ.

We made some polite conversation and soon SUBS asked us what is that makes you guys have a RIP ROLLICKING TIME and the laughter as we pass by. SREE gives them a synopsis of CATCH 22 and reads a chapter to them. They are both beside themselves and the laughter brings tears of joy to their eyes. They both invariable ask the inevitable question if there are some real life folks like Dreedle/ Yossarian /Milo.

Keru and Sam take over and remind SUBS about his days in the EASTERN AIR FORCE { 1969 – 1970 }under the tutelage of a C IN C called VERMA. This gentleman had a terrible child hood and was constantly whipped by his Dad as a youngster as he was a tube light. Both ask what is the meaning of a tube light. We inform them that just like a tube light he takes a while to light up and having a faulty starter he is in the blinking stage mostly. In addition his wattage being low he is rather DIM.

SUBS and Mrs flash back to their SHILLONG days and break out in to peels of laughter and nearly fall off their chairs. When they catch their breath KHAN replenishes their drinks and Keru and Sam take over.

They tell him that the 3 Hunter squadrons in Hash-E / Bag -D had very low serviceability and each squadron had 30 pilots. Many pilots were 29th day solo pilots. This was because if you did not fly solo by 30 days you had to be given a dual check and that meant a precious ONE HOUR on the trainer. The trainer was for the  chosen few S /Ls and Flt Lts who came from Vamps / Toofs / Mysts / Trg Com H T 2 s.

On the 28th day the pilots due for a solo next day were rounded up from Toorsa club swimming poll / Planter Prof Chou’s residence / Kalchini club and were under lock up till the solo sorties were over the next day. One ledger was maintained in the Panthers and the Lightnings outfits and was called The 29th Day Solo Book Come Hell or High Water. S k Gupta and Biloo Sanger kept the faith for the Panthers and DODI BANSAL maintained it for the Lightnings.

DODI B.

On some 29th days THE VALLEY OF HASH – E WAS FILLED WITH LOW CLOUDS.

This was no problem for DODI BANSAL the officer who maintained the SOLO briefing and aviation for low flying solo pilots.

On low cloud cover days his briefing was “ I SAY OLD CHAP I PRESUME YOU HAVE DONE LOW DLYING IN THE PAST. IT IS A PIECE OF CAKE. GET AIRBORNE ON THE EASTERLY RUNWAY AND REMAIN BELOW CLOUD.  SPOT AND FOLLOW THE RAILWAY LINE TO GAUHATI. WHEN YOU SEE A TOWN / AIRBASE NEAR THE HILLS TURN RIGHT AND REMEMBER RIGHT AS TURNING LEFT WILL TAKE YOU IN TO THE HILLS WHICH IS NOT GOOD. CATCH THE RAILWAY LINE BACK TO HASH – E. ON SPOTTING HASH – E DONT LOOSE SIGHT OF IT AND DO A TIGHT CURVED APPROACH BELOW CLOUD AND LAND. HIS LAST PARTING SHOT WAS BLESS YOU AND HAPPY SOLO .

On completing the solo sorties these Pilots fell back to their usual routine of swimming in the Toorsa club / Billiards in Kalchini club / sight seeing in a foreign country { THIMPU / PARO }. These activities were accompanied by round the clock TIPLING .

The C – N – C of YEE – AAA -CEE had no clue about what was going on in the aviation department and his wife had asked him to move to a separate bed room 20 years earlier. He had to amuse himself in other ways. On a saturday afternoon at 1345 hours as the whole mess was being run over by beer drinkers he would call the Station Master and tell him that he was on a surprise inspection the next morning SUNDAY at 0645 Hours. There went the week end to cleaning and scrubbing.

His idea of an inspection was check the furniture in the Squadron for dust and cob – webs. The wash rooms were thoroughly inspected for what we did not know. One trainer and Five fighters had to be lined up on the Mini Tarmac and had to have a mirror shine on them. One F / O in a French G Suit had to be standing in front of each aircraft with four Technicians and when he came to inspect he would ask each F / O what was the name of each Technician and his Family history.

The technicians were warned that whatever the F / O said was their names and history, that was the truth. Of the six aircraft lined up one trainer and one fighter were air worthy.

On completing the aircraft inspection the C – N – C would ask a F / L how many ‘ ROTABLES  ‘ does the Hunter have.

To date we have no idea what a ROTABLE means and so shot a number like 1025. He would say wrong and give out 2814 as the right figure. We would pass on this info to the next squadron being inspected and when they answered 2814 he would say no and give a new figure 3123. He was C – N – C “ DREEDEL VERMA “.

We believe that Mrs Verma his wife having tolerated his madness for 30 years convinced the folks in Higher Command to raise a FORM – 10 on him and got him in to the looney bin wearing a white jacket with the sleeves tied at the back.

SUBS and his wife take ten minutes to subdue their laughter. SUBS then fills us on some more quacky antics of Dreedel Verma. The official secrets act does not permit us to put them in print.

SUBS asks SREEBOO about his golf game and Sreeboo fills him in on his handicap and the Desert Golf Course near the Mess. They go in to Par / Green / Rough / Bogey and Mrs SUBS gently reminds him to tell us about his GOLF days overseas. We three are made to raise our right hands and repeat the official secrets act.

SUBS was posted to LONDON as an Air Attache. His Indian golf handicap was in the single digits. On the first saturday of his arrival he wears his winter ceremonial uniform and proceeds to the best golf course and checks out the PRO SHOP. While he is doing so a British gentleman approaches him and introduces himself as LORD EDWARD LINGLITHGLOW, 48th in line to the throne. He takes SUBS to the club house and they sit outside on the lawn out of ear shot of all and sundry. Edward asks about SUBS handicap and when he tells him about his single digit handicap Edward is impressed. Edward tells him that SUBS has to play Two 18 hole rounds on the course and the club will decide his handicap. Edward asks SUBS if he can add +4 to his natural handicap on BOTH 18 hole rounds. SUBS says a piece of cake and they go in and SUBS is made a member and two dates are set for his evaluation. On both the games he brings in a Indian Handicap + 4 and so he is bequeathed a club handicap officially which is in double digits.

Edward takes SUBS to SOHO for dinner in his ROLLS and fills him in. He says a group of members have been constantly beating him on the course and as the bet on each game is 500 Pounds Edward and his partner were being taken to the cleaners. He says that the time has come to turn the tables on them as they were applying the STING on him.. Edward tells him that each saturday they  { SUBS AND EDWARD }will be a team and he will stake the 500 Pounds. He asks SUBS if he can play to his handicap and if the opposition plays  it up a notch can he do the same. SUBS tells him lead on your Lordship LINGLITHGLOW LEAD ON .

The three years of their golf games were made of legends and history. SUBS never touched his meagrely INDIAN pay in all them three years and he and his family toured the whole of Europe on his winnings only and brought back quite a few goodies including a BENTLEY.

Sree and SUBS made a two some and played for ONE OPS GROUP and for two years needless to say they were the AIR FORCE and JOINT SERVICES CHAMPIONS.

SUBS and his wife graced our lawn a few more times and soon the Air Marshal’s thoughts tuned to the love of flying the Marut. We three were GUNG HO and asked him to visit the Tigers.

True to form he came the next Monday and went through the MINI M C F and was given a HUNTER TRAINER dual check by the Boss in due course of time. Keru and Sam were his briefing guides and came the day for his H F 24 SOLO. In the briefing he insisted on taking off on CHANNEL 2 and switching to CHANNEL 5 for the L F A . I take his right chamois leather glove and write in big letters the HOMER CHANNEL call sign of the week “ BLUE BULL “. We give him a supervised start and he moves on to 23 runway. Keru goes to A T C and I grab a S T R 9 X and go to the middle of the runway and position myself on the road that is used as a runway crossing. KERU is manning the tower channel and he clears him for line up and take off. We had timed it so that he was taxying out as the first detail was landing, about 18 aircraft and he would be all alone in the air during the turn around time.

His take off is good and he turns into L F A and changes to CHANNEL 5. After 30 minutes he calls at LUNI for circuit rejoin and KERU clears him for 23 left. We had asked him to do an overshoot from 100 feet. He calls D / W three green and KERU clears him for finals, He turns finals and KERU clears him for a go round. SUBS elects to land and I detect an acceleration after touch down and SUBS calls “ ROLLER “.

In fighters you do not do a ROLLER.   Too late SUBS is ROLLERING.

SAM tells him on R / T  “SUBIA FLAPS TO TAKE OFF CONTINUE ROLLER “. As he goes past me I see his flaps are at Take Off position. The approach and landing is good and on switch off BOSSMAN  congratulates him. SUBS says   “ I SAY SEKHAR THAT WAS A GOOD REMINDER FOR TAKE OFF FLAPS. “

FOR ONCE I KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT AND NOD MY NOGGIN.

I would like to mention he was the only pilot from 1 OPS GROUP who flew SOLO on the MARUT.

THE ART OF CAMOUFLAGE

A couple of years later I took up C- N- C  R SINGH IN THE MARUT TRAINER IN THE REAR COCKPIT AS HE WANTED TO SEE THE JUNGLE CAMOUFLAGE OF THE 6 HANGERS IN A DESERT SURROUNDING. THIS WAS A JOY RIDE.

I BRING HIM IN LOW AND PULL UP AND ON SPOTTING THE GREEN HANGERS, RUNWAY AND TAXI WAYS IN THE KHAKI SURROUNDINGS HE SAYS “ THEY LOOK LIKE THE GREEN FIELDS OF THE PONJAB “.

A S / L from the Equipment Branch gets married to a young lassie who happens to be the daughter of an I A F BIG BRASS. The couple are given a long honeymoon to England for ONE YEAR in the form of a AIRFIELD CAMOUFLAGE COURSE. A daughter is born to them during their stay and becomes a naturalized citizen.

On his return to INDIA the S / L Equipment officer is given the task of painting the hangers and taxi tracks of Jodhpur. True to form he uses jungle camouflage on a Desert Airfield.

He does what is known as a FAH KAH PAH.

This is in RUSSIAN language.

In ENGLISH it means “ S N A F U “.

The daughter is currently an M P from the County of HUNTS PILL in SOMERSET . She owns a mini castle with a moat around it built at a cost to the exchequer. She was in the news recently as many members of the Parliament were asked to pay back not authorized expenses.

The Hangers and taxi Ways were repainted in desert camouflage for an extra few  million bucks.

NO STATION MASTER EVER FLEW THE MARUT SOLO.

KUDOS TO SUBS.

SHUKS THE CHAIRMAN

The three of us were being put through our paces and were close to the finish line of F OPS when Shuks suddenly says I want some leave.  Keru and I tell him Fellah finish your F OPS and then go on leave.

He is adamant and says NO and we being naturally curious we check.

Not his B Day  Not Blossom’ B Day.  Not Shefali’ B Day. Not MARRIAGE Anniversary Day coming up soon.

I ask Keru Fella is there a Mundan Ceremony for girls.

Keru says what is that.

I tell him about the boys getting their head shaved with pomp and ceremony.

Keru says I don’t think so.

We are on our way to the railway station to drop Shuks and Family in HIM 906 when Shukla whispers his dirty secret.

SHUKS SAYS HE IS THE CHAIRMAN OF THE DARYA GANG CHAPTER OF THE DELHI RAM LILA COMMITTEE AND IS REQUIRED FOR IMPORTANT MEETINGS.

KERU SWERVES THE CAR VIOLENTLY AND PULLS OFF THE ROAD.

WE BOTH START LAUGHING OUT OF CONTROL AND TELL SHUKS YOU GOT TO BE NUTS.

SHUKS GETS UPTIGHT AND TELLS US WE ARE KIDS AND DO NOT KNOW WHAT A GREAT POSITION THE JOB OF A CHAIRPERSON IS AND HE IS VERY HIGHLY REGARDED IN DARYA GANG.

WE WISH HIM LUCK AND TELL HIM DIFFERENT FOLKS DIFFERENT STROKES. BUT WE CAN NOT STOP LAUGHING.

Flying goes on as usual and we are declared F OPS and 2 / 4 Aircraft Leaders in a huge desert airspace.

We THE  TIGERS had recently lost Pradeep in a senseless killing. GOD BLESS YOU FELLAH.

Brother is on a ROMAN HOLIDAY in a 5 Star Hotel in Western Palifornia.

Bats has just got married and realized there is life outside the squadron. He is on continuous Honey moon and has taken 60 plus 20 and some French leave.

This left six of us and 10 plus aircraft available every day. We worked six days a week. Life was vert good.

In due course of time Shuks returns from his Chair Person duties. Monday morning he is at the Flights and sees every one is planned for 4 sorties and he for ONLY 2. To his horror he sees his juniors leading formations. His FUZE is lit and he goes in to a slow burn as he can not fathom “ HOW HIS JUNIOS ARE LEADING “. We throw some fuel in the fire by adding Chair Person flies 2 sorties and F OPS Pilots fly 4 sorties per day and in his absence have piled on 50 hours ahead of him.

The Bossman reads the Body Language Of Shuks and to prevent the bursting of some varicose veins in Shuks, he asks SREEBOO to take 4 aircraft and proceed to U – Lai and activate the place for 2 weeks. In them days the Base was commanded by a Pilot Officer from the equipment Branch. The four of us land and the station master has 2 jeeps with the tops down and a shot gun with kartoose boxes in each vehicle. He smartly salutes SreeBoo and hands over the BASE to him.

Sree chalks out some intensive flying and we have SHUKS to OPS status soon. Life was a lark with 4 sorties and Good Will Hunting Of Game Birds for delicious meals. The varicose veins in Shuks arms disappear. No Fah Kah Pah”s and we return to home base after 2 weeks.

IN THEM DAYS THE RAM LILA STAGE WAS LIT BY PETROMAX LAMPS

Shuks says that in one RAM LILA FULL DRESS REHEARSAL WHICH HE WAS SUPERVISING THE PETROMAX LIGHT WAS GOING DIM AND SO TO SAVE THE DAY HE WHISPERED FROM BACK STAGE TO HANUMAN “ JUMP MARKE PUMP MARO “

I BELIEVE THIS SAVED THE DAY.

Bobcat and Chetah occasionally to rile Shuks would tell him  “ JUMP MARKE NUMBER 2 BANO “

January 2015 MEHAR

Kripamoyee and Bobcat land in Bombay and  beautiful MEHER meets us in her humongous S U V and after greetings and salutation we are on our way to Poona to visit Keru. Our conversations are all about the good times in Jodhpur and the jolly time with Hargobind. We continue our laughs with Mehar and thoughts of Bhav.

We are approaching the Villa which is at the end of the road and out leaps a 2 seater Merc with the top down and two lassies are in it in leather outfits. One is snapping a riding crop in her hand. Both ladies wave cheerfully to our car.

We pull up to a five storey complex in Aundh and the ground floor garages are filled with Rovers / B M W / AUDI and believe it or not one Maruti the original Tin Lizzie.

A very trim and pumping iron CHETAH with bulging fore arms greets us and we are whisked up in his express elevator to the top {5TH }floor. This place is a Chetah Mansion. You name it and it is there.

The 4th floor is a home theatre.

The third floor is comfort games Billiards / ping pong / table football / darts.

The roof has the solar system and the pumping iron station.

We settle in and a slim built person silently moves around looking after all our needs. He is Shanker the caretaker of the place. I can say he is an efficient Jeeves.  His cooking is OOH LA LA.  He has his own flat in the complex.

Loud screams , giggles , guffaws are heard through out the day and evening. We wondered how many folks got the coughing fits even though they were A million miles away.

KOCH

The next evening Keru calls a few folks and lines up a DO in the R S I. The place has a beautiful terrace and we settle down. Greetings salutations and memories are flying at top speed. Koch plonks himself down on the chair opposite me and asks  “ Sam Sir what are you doing now a days “.

I solemnly answer “ Koch I have retired from our joint profession of Meat Hi – Jacking. “

His eyes go blank and his jaw drops and his brain lobes are hitting re call at the speed of light. His eyes suddenly light up and he starts laughing and goes in to a violent coughing fit. Quick as a flash his beautiful wife ELANE comes to his rescue and gently pats his back and neck and stops the coughing fit. Elane is looking trim / fit /good  and had just returned after leading an all ladies hiking / trekking  expedition in THE BASE CAMP OF THE ALPS. She is wearing a seven coloured stripes  of an ensemble in the form of an elegant gown.

Koch closes his eyes and he is driving his Fiat along with Sam in Jodhpur. It is the witching hour around 0100 hours.

They are retiring after a nice evening with Mehar and Bhav. The windows are down and the breeze is real cool, only as cool as a night breeze in the desert can be.We have indulged in good spirits as always and true to form our minds are seeing live T V on the front wind shield of the Fiat. We see a portly S / L whose chest has slightly slipped down and he walks with SOLID LEFT DRIFT. We both say there goes Mr. B. In the back ground we see a tall lanky Giraffe chain smoking Will Filter and sipping endless coffee. We both say ah it is Mr. P.

For reasons best known to the brain the mood switches to MISCHIEF. We have no control on our actions from now on. The car drives itself to the guard house and we flash our I D and sign out the keys to the Flights of the TIGERS. We hit the flights and out jumps the D S C guard rifle at the ready and yells out the standard drill. We grin and say OFFICER HAI / PILOT HAI. This poor gentlemen is at a loss and puts on all the lights. We open the last room door on the left of the flights barrack. Inside is a ALLWYN fridge with two large chunks of THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT . They are frozen rock solid and we dump them in the car. The D S C gentleman whips out his LOG BOOK and we say What The Hell and sign as Mr. B and Mr. P .

For this meritorious gesture the D S C gentleman throws a SALAMI { Not The Fish } SHASTH. Koch and Sam go ramrod straight and salute back. We start the car and as we move on we see the D S C gentleman on his knees and is vigorously doing a few touch downs with his arms held high. We shrug and stop at the guard house return the keys and head to Mehar and Bhav’s place. Unload the fruit in their fridge and say SUSSSHHHHH Top Secret.

On the way back to the mess Sam says “ HEY KOCH WE HAVE NOT LEFT A TRAIL OF BREAD CRUMBS BUT A TRAIL OF FULL LOAVES ON THE WAY “.

KOCH SAYS FREAK IT SAM IT IS TOO LATE NOW .

WE CAN NOT ARGUE WITH SUCH GOOD LOGIC.

Monday morning at the Met Brief Mr. B and Mr. P are not even looking at us. Dal may kuch kala hai. We carry on with the routine of flying and yet the UNKNOWN is killing us.

AT THIS STAGE WE HAVE TO STOP BECAUSE VENKAT IS EAGERLY AWAITING IN BOMBAY TO GIVE HIS VERSON OF THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT FROM HIS SIDE.

MRS.GEE

The other guests arrive and Sandy and his beautiful wife GEETA comes down the line saying HELLO. I am last in line for this noble meeting and I am in a quandary about what to do when I am presented. Do I BOW, KNEEL or LIE FLAT ON THE GROUND with my head down. When she comes up to me I put out my hand for a shake and she ever so gently opens her thumb and point finger and gently brushes my right wrist. I am overwhelmed and nearly faint.

HER LOOK SAYS HELLO YOU    R . F .

I reply with a look that says FINE YOUR MAJESTY.

Mehar heads back to Bombay the next day and we head back the next day.

January 2016

Kripamoyee and Sam land in Poona and are received by CHETAH in his ROVER. The usual rolls of laughter commence and we reach the CHETAH PENTHOUSE. This time KERU lays out a few visits that he will check out and organize.

Kripamoyee has a friend from the F I O P and they head out for the evening.

Chetah and Bobcat get in to a huddle and call a few scrimmages . It  is Brian Sylvester DeMagry in 1972 and he calls us in for a briefing about search out and strike targets of opportunities.

Stay at sand dune level.

No 2 at 4 / 8     O “ clock 600 yards.

This gives flexibility to the formation.

Lead can be switched as per the situation.

Use of Babud sight and the INTERGRATED STRIKE AND INTERCEPTION SYSTEM. { I S I S } Who knew then.

He lets us loose and on the way to the aircraft I remind KERU to close his lower jaw as he can not believe the briefing.

The targets were far and few in between.

Luni Railway Station with a small building on it and a long train track level platform. There is a four bicycle wheel cart at the west end of the platform with a vendor hawking RABADDI SWEETS.

A slightly bigger railway station called MARWAH.

Lassies sitting atop sand dunes eating their chapathis and curds away. Lucritive targets at all times.

Road to U Lai and the airfield.

Chittordgargh fort. Rectangular and beautiful.

Sparsely populated villages comprising of huts in single digits.

Camel trains which were never attacked.

Water borne Palace.

The single truck / car on the road.

JAWAI BANDH DAM.

ODYSSEUS {KERU } FATAL ATTRACTION.

This beautiful patch of blue water with the dam was a jewel in the Desert. It was like the ISLAND OGYGIA WHERE LIVED THE BEAUTIFUL NYMPH CALYPSO. THE SECOND WE SPOTTED THE ISLAND THE RADIO COMMUNICATION AUTOMATICALLY TUNED IN TO THE SIRENS FREQUENCY.  WE WOULD CLEARLY HEAR THEM CALLING US TO DO A BEAT UP OF THE ISLAND { DAM } WE WERE NOT IN CONTROL AS WE WERE IN THE HANDS OF THE MYTHOLOGICAL LADIES.

OUR AIRCRAFT TURNED LOW TO THE DIRECTION OF THE DAM OF THEIR OWN ACCORD AND WE CAME IN FROM THE BLUE WATER SIDE . AT THE WATER WE GENTLY EASED OVER THE EMBANKMENT AND ROLLLED ON TO OUR BACKS AND WAITED FOR THE  HIGH TENSION WIRES TO GO BY FROM LEFT TO RIGHT. AS WE WERE CLEAR OF THE WIRES I WOLD CALL “ STRAIGHTEN UP AND FLY RIGHT KERU “AND WE ROLLED BACK. KERU WOULD YELL BEAUTIFUL SAMBOO AND I WOULD COO DITTO.

It came to pass and we moved on to different MARUT squadrons and yet once a month we made a meeting in the sky at MARWAH and continued to be lured by the song  of the SIRENS. This morning Keru walked in to the Met Briefing hall and rubbed his nose on the out side of the left nostril and it was a sign to me that we were on. The time was indicated by the turban clock code. Adjusting with his right hand his turban we had the timing perfect TO RONDESVOUS AT MAWAH JUNCTION AT 8 OH CLOCK . HE WOULD ORBIT LOW AND I WOULD COME IN HIGH AND WE WOULD JOIN UP TO PAY OUR RESPECTS TO NYMPH CALYPSO.

This morning I got the signal and at 0730 Hours I was strapping up for a 8    O” CLOCK tryst with destiny when D C Nayyar stops me and says hey SAM please go to the A C P as Rat Fink is coming in on his first solo and is sounding very jittery.

I do so and I see HOMER/CHETAH/KERU getting airborne.

I relieve Hargobind at the A C P and soon Rat Fink joins the circuit. After a hairy circuit and wonky overshoot Rat Fink touches down in the form of an arrival / landing.

AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME THE POWER SUPPLY GOES OFF IN RAJASTHAN AND I GET A JOLT THAT TELLS ME KERU HAS AVOIDED THE CALL OF THE SIRENS SONG AND CHEATED DEATH.

GOD BLESS THE STURDY MARUT. JAWAI BANDH JAI HO.

THIS WAS THE FAULT OF RAT FINK. IF YOU SEE HIM BEAT HIM UP.

LADIES OF THE DUNES

On a certain search and strike sortie I spot a red postage stamp at 9  OH CLOCK five odd miles away. I give Keru the position and after a second he says contact and turns toward the Red Postage Stamp. The desert heat is making the stamp flutter and we are at dune level. As we come closer the stamp becomes two stamps and then it becomes two red flags. We spot the two lassies sitting on top of a sand dune and are having some chow. The red GAHGARAHS are very distinct. Keru is to their right and I am to the left and as he does the Buzz past them at their sitting height they both fall over backwards throwing their curds away and tumble down the dunes in a awkward manner. You can not keep a good man down and Keru turns in for a second pass. This time the lassies are ready with two pitch forks in hand and clearly indicating what they intend to do with us.

Keru laughs and says BOO THEY WANT TO MAKE SHEIK KABABS OUT OF US.

We move on.

A M  S R

The first port of call in Poona is the residence of PUTTOO / RENUKA and A M  S R. There is a huge bungalow nestled in the heart of POONA and it is a corner plot. The bungalow is magnificent and so is the gardens around it. The bungalow is guarded by two savage beasts. Kripamoyee / Sam and Keru are welcomed with lots of fanfare. Rose cookies and cakes and coffee are served. We do the usual guffaws and laughter in a dignified / polite way.

A M S R was and is a Pilot who wears his love for the Marut on his sleeve. We jam about the BIRD and his eyes light up in sheer praise. W / C  S R and RENUKA came in from the cold of England in 1971 to Jodhpur after his stint as an Attache. True to form he brings in a Bentley in a strange hue of red / brown / and magenta colour. They had toured Europe quite extensively and to show their travels he had stuck country of visit stickers on the rear bumper of the car with engineering precision. The car was a master piece and was quite a draw where ever he went.

The Tigers would have a party quite often and we the wild bunch had a few parties in our private lawn.They were invited to all the occasions and he would observe all the antics of the lot with a keen eye. I think he was quite amused.

Contrary to his denial on the HOLY PAGES OF THE MARUT BLOG that he did not make a faux pas in the mistaken identity of the wife / daughter of the CRADLE SNATCHER we the old and bold still living Tigers  will vouch that he had called her young teen / beti on the first occasion. At the time of going to the press he still maintain our version.

His first encounter with desecration of private property was on the grounds of the local Air Force school. He parks his car and goes in to admit his kids to school. In this period of time while he was inside some miscreants tried to peel the stickers from his car bumper for their own use. They tried in vain and left all the bumper stickers half torn on the bumper. A M S R had to use some engineering techniques to remove the torn pieces with out damaging the paint work. Pure vandals at work.

The  Air Chief Kats along with other officers are deciding the fate of the MARUT AT AIR HQ. Of the group of 12 officers   A M  S R was the only one who flew THE MARUT. He quickly takes permission to call in an expert witness for the defence. In walks PETE GAYNOR and he waxes eloquently on the VIRTUES OF THE MARUT. No dice the AIRCRAFT are executed and some with only the ferry time of two hours on the clock.

I believe we all shed a few tears that day.

I come back after 12 months to the Maruts with a Q F I attached to my name. I am asked to take up G / C   S  R for a D C. He is skeptical and not quite sure if this is some kind of a practical joke. I assure him that I am the real McCoy and to make it more hair raising I ask Bats to be our leader for the first 15 minutes of the sortie. G / C   S  R is totally convinced this is a STING.

He does a section take off on Bats and we enter L F A doing Port / Starboard Echelons and the Line Astern. In line astern Bats throws in some exciting manoeuvres and G C  S  R copes well.

Soon Bats peels off and G / C  S R throws the Beast around. We now enter the best phase of the trip and he eases down to LOW LEVEL and we visit familiar sights.

I ask him to follow the route of ODYSSEUS { KERU } LURE OF THE SIRENS SONG RUN.

HE NOW UNDERSTANDS WHY THE SONG WAS SO POWERFUL AND I BELIEVE HE DID HEAR THE SIRENS SINGING FAINTLY ON THE R/T.

He rejoins at low level and does a good peel off and landing.

I tell him the trip was excellent and ask him to fill out his BLUE BOOK and I will sign it.

His eyes bulge out of his sockets like MARTY FIELDMANS and I tell him JUST KIDDING SIR and beat it.

We shoot the breeze a bit more and say our good byes. He sees us off at the Rover and is reluctant to say so long as he wants to linger on a few more fond memories. He is a good MARUTIAN carrying THE TORCH FOR ALL OF US.

This is like the ETERNAL FLAME AT ARLINGTON FOR US MARUT FOLKS.

The next evening Keru gets a DO going in the R S I. We meet up with KOCH and Beautiful Elane. Sandy and beautiful Geeta as regal as ever arrive.

One ADI Gandhi { No relation to THE MAHATHMA } is also invited.

It turns out that one We Are Cee Bar of the O R O P fame is also in town. He was with Keru and Sam in Hash-E in 1968. He tells Keru that he is very eager to meet us and talk some I WAS HERE AND YOU WERE THERE JARGON.

Keru says fine but no JARGON and We Are Cee Bar says he has a brother in Tow and can he bring him along. Chetah tells him no sweat and to meet us at the R S I around Seven. We Are Cee Bar walks in fashionably late along with his wife who if I am permitted to say does not require a Mega Phone in a 100,000 capacity foot ball stadium TO BE HEARD. We can hear her from the Parking Lot yelling where are you guys. A waiter goes scurrying around to guide them before the whole neighbourhood goes on STAND BY TWO.

We did not realize his five minutes of fame on N D T V has made him collect an entourage.  We have one gentleman and he is claimed as his brother.  We have another long haired fellow with his wife and they are claimed as their Brown Sahib cousins.

The next couple are straight from ROSAGULLA LAND.They are a G / C and his wife. Both have the MOON FACE OF THE BONG and have been on a PURE SONDOSH DIET.

We Are Cee Bar says two more couples were on their way and have got lost.

Fog horn keeps yelling where is Sam and makes a Bee Line for me. I knew that I was going to be in S H ONE T very soon.

She grabs me in a Bear HUG and lifts me off my feat. The next action  is straight from a cartoon strip. She plants a GAZOOBA SMOOCH on my left cheek where the cheek is sucked out six inches and let go to snap back into place.   She does a GUDAMBA SMOOCH on my right cheek with the same suction cup effect.

These actions of meeting after a long time produces a lot of spittle ricochet and as I am wiping furiously with a hanky,  I get the CASUAL AND RAISED EYEBROW LOOK FROM MY BOSS.  I HAVE BEEN FLYING THROUGH TURBULANCE EVER SINCE.

IN 1968 Mrs Dee AND Mrs Gee were Air  Officers daughters. They were a force of their own and so they soon huddle together and talk about all the Big Brass they dealt with so far IN LIFE.They were on first name basis with all the CEE AND CEES.

EXPLOSION

I see Sandy and I pull up a chair and tell him I would like some clarification. I tell him I got airborne 15 seconds behind Danny and did an U / C check on his aircraft and fanned out to 1500 yards abreast. I hear the loudest BANG OF MY LIFE AND MY AIRCRAFT IMMEDIATELY STARTS EXPLODING AND DISINTEGRATING. In a milli second I pull the seat pan handle and all systems are go and I hit the ground 5 seconds later.

I tell Sandy my parachute had three shrapnel tears and thanks to the steel bulkhead on which the seat is mounted my BOT – TOM was saved from the explosion. I ask him how come the explosion was not mentioned by you { THE MARUT EXPERT ON THE ENQUIRY } in the enquiry.

Sandy says they started with the explosion and Mean SING and D Sing told Android and him to leave THE EXPLOSION OUT OF THE ENQUIRY AS SABOTAGE WAS A BAD WORD.. So they came out with a cockamamy theory of compressor rub and the fleet was grounded for a few months.

The quest for becoming a Chief was more important than the Marut Fleet.

UNCLE R JOHN

The dining hall rings the bell for supper and we all troop in. Kripamoyee and I are seated opposite Mrs.G and Mrs D. The bengali doctor and his wife clean up most of the Biryani Handis and are busy attacking the ROSAGULLAS.

The whisky is in my front left lobe and I am quite mellow and I faintly hear Dee and Gee talking about UNCLE R JOHN.

I am trying to figure out who this could be as these two ladies are let us say close to THE AGE OF THE FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and so UNCLE R JOHN must be close to a 100 YEARS. They are talking about him as if he is their GOOD BUDDY. This conversation goes on and their Dads are also brought in. They say how they wanted a picture with him in full dress uniform and so told his A D C to wake him up and dress up. I should well imagine how difficult it would have been for a CentURY OLD GENTLEMAN to wake up and dress up in full REGALA.

IT THEN HITS ME LIKE A BOMBSHELL THAT THEY WERE TALKING OF THE MARSHALL OF THE AIR FORCE SIR ARJUN SINGH.

GOOD GRIEF.

We all call it a night and retire.

The next morning Keru shows us a cemetery maintained by the Brits for their fallen in INDIA. Immaculate would be an understatement and people come from England to pay respects to their loved ones every year. There is a bungalow across the road for the visitors to rest.

No such respect for our dear departed officers.

The ROVER is on the way to Bombay and we stop at a half way place and have some tea.The road to Bombay is superb. We pull up at Mehar’s place and after a nice re re union we have lunch and Keru heads to his INN KEEPERS. The same two leather out fit lASSIES eagerly awaiting his arrival with two whips.

Mehar had organized a party at the HOUSE OF SURESH AND HIS BEAUTIFUL WIFE SHANTHA.

The other folks joining us were

Shanks and his beautiful wife Shanthi.

Eddie.

Sunith Soares.

Venky

And KERU.

 

VENKY

Mehar, Kripamoyee and Sam are at the car park and are waiting for Venky to join them. We hear peels of laughter and Venky is yelling Sam

Sam Sir giggle giggle.

He is also doing THE SABRI MALAI ROLLER ON THE ROAD..

This laughter is non stop for the ride to Suresh Rao’s place.

Venky is all agog about the meat high jacking story and this is his version.

Mr. B and Mr. P complained to the authorities that a whole heap of ice cream was taken from the Tiger fridge in the early hours of sunday morning.

Aay Bee Bhave is made President and Venky the vice for the Enquiry. They interview the D S C gentleman and from his description of the officers who did the raid they boil  down the names to Koch and Sam. Venky is delirious about the explanation of my ears. He is giggling and rolling.

They both verify that “ Forbidden Fruit “ was in the fridge and not Ice Creme. This information is Manna From Heaven for Bhave as he has an old axe to grind with Mr.B and Mr.P.

Bhave puts the noose around the necks of Mr. B and Mr. P. It is confirmed that there was contraband in the fridge.

This makes Judder Johry Judder violently.

The implications are jail time / Paasi / Andaman Islands.

Sam and Koch volunteer their statements and they are not accepted.

Off the record Bhave says “ GOOD JOB FELLAS “.

Various peace talks are held and after Mr.B and Mr. P fall on their knees and apologize to Mr. Bhave and the case is closed.

No Forbidden Fruit existed.

Venky whispers in my ear “Sam Sir did you know that your canopy had scratches and so did Shanks canopy.”

I tell him that both canopies fell from the sky and there fore would have some scratches.

VENKY WHISPERS IN A LOWER VOICE THAT IN BOTH OUR EJECTIONS, THE L BOLTS ON THE CANOPY RAILING HAD PARTIALLY MALFUNCTIONED.

I ASK HIM HOW COME SHANKS AND I ARE NOT AWARE OF IT SO FAR.

VENKY SAYS IT WAS HUSHED UP.

SURESH RAO

We arrive at the residence of Shantha and Soor Das and they invite us in to their beautiful abode which is huge with a 50 ft by 20 ft BAY WINDOW in their Drawing cum Bar Room. The view is magnifico as the building is on the sea wall.

The Bar is on the left side of the BAY VIEW WINDOW and the lighting is subdued with half the Bar is in darkness.

The food, snacks and drinks are magnifico.

We hear that Suree had just returned from the U S A the very same day. Both of them were very cheerful and good hosts. They had a small mis hap of D being used instead of P. Hats off to them for taking it all in stride and being real wonderful HOSTS.

GOD BLESS YOU BOTH.

EDDIE

We do the hand shake and old days stories with Eddie. He is sporting a Big Salt and Pepper upper lip growth. He is looking a little nervous. He has some form of a document in his hand and is constantly opening the pages and looking at me and puts them back in his pants pocket. This goes on through out the evening. At the end of the party he and Keru take off in a car and as I wave good bye he waves those papers at me in return.

On my return to Toronto he was asked to send me pictures of the event so that I could paste them on this article.

I receive an e-mail with one attachment from Eddie. It is a 4 page lawyer’s document indicating that one THELONIOUS MONK DESILVA THE FATHER OF EDDIE WAS AND IS THE OWNER OF A 4000 SQ FEET PENTHOUSE IN WORLI SEA FACE.THIS SAID PLACE WAS RENTED TO ME SINCE 1964 FOR A SUM OF 1000 RUPEES A MONTH. I AM STLL IN POSSESSION OF THE PLACE AND HAVE NOT PAID RENT SINCE 1979.I WAS TO DO SO IMMEDIATELY.

I send him an e-mail saying and asking what gives.

HE REPLIES BACK  “ OOPS HE HE HE HE HE HE HE HE  “

Now you know why we never made him make the maps for any navigational sorties during his MARUT DAYS.

KEEP THE FAITH EDDIE.

SHANKS

Shanks and I are from the same village of GUMUDIPUNDI in A P. This was the land of the MID NIGHT SUN and so we both have such beauty complexions. In the Daggers tea club room I would grab Shanks by the hand and stand next to him and ask the folks in the room who was fairer.

This would gander a few laughs but SHANKS WAS NOT AMUSED.

During the course of the Party Shanks approaches me saying So Sam what gives. I pretend to look all around as if I can hear his voice but can not see him in the dim light.

This irks him a bit.

We get talking and are in the shadow of the dark portion of the bar.

Suddenly voices are asking   Where is Sam  Where is Shanks.

I catch Shank’s hand and pull him out of the dark shadows and in to the light.

There is further yelling

STOP HIM PLEASE

STOP HIM PLEASE.

SHANKS HAD GRABBED A BOTTLE OF SCOTCH AND IS RAISING IT  OVE HIS BODY HIGH TO BRING IT DOWN ON MY HEAD TO KNOCK ME OUT COLD.

Suree grabs his right hand and puts a choke hold on Shanks.

Eddie has grabbed him by the waist and is holding him back.

The situation is soon under control.

I thank Suree and Eddie for saving my head.

SURESH RAO SAYS “SAM SIR I WAS SAVING MY ONE LITRE

J W B L BOTTLE DUTY FREE COST 100 DOLLAR. SORRY NOT YOUR HEAD.”

GUFFAWS ALL AROUND.

SUNITH SOARES.

Sue fills us in on life after Maruts. A staff post in staff college and after retirement it is British Airways.

He says he attended a recent colour presentation in Hash-E as he was a member in this GNAT outfit. There was some moral combat between a few pilots at the ceremony.

{ WE MARUT GUYS NEVER INDULGE IN SUCH UNRULY BEHAVIOUR WHAT SAY }

HE WAS ASKED TO NARRATE THE EVENT OF SEPTEMBER 1971 AND HE DID SO.

When Sue was posted to Jodhpur he elected to rent a house in Town. The land lord on hearing they were from Bombay decided to put them at ease in familiar surroundings. The windows in this house had no pelmets and so the land lord collected a whole heap of film magazines. He cut out all the ladies of Bollywood from them and pasted the same on the windows.

This attracted a lot of locals who had never seen such unique window dressing. Sue had to hastily rig up curtains to stop the gawking.

NANA MEHAR

It is May 2016 and Kripamoyee gets a pleasant surprise of a call from Mehar who says she is touring North America. Being concerned that she is travelling far and about alone we ask her if she is fine.

Mehar says not to worry as she has two body guards with her. We fix up a meeting for a day later and at the appointed time in TORONTO Kripamoyee and Sam pull up at the residence. I open all four doors and the lift gate {DICKY } of the car. I knock on the door of the house and out step the two body guards and inspect us and the car.They go in and say NANA it is safe and clear for you to come out.

{ SECRET SERVICE DETAIL FOR THE PRESIDENT }

Nana { MEHAR } comes in to view carrying the following;

One car baby seat

One car baby booster seat

One stroller.

Two bags

Two sun hats.

We hastily grab the items and the seats are strapped in the car and the rest is tucked away in the BOOT.

The 2 body guards are on either side of the back seat and due the extra seats NANA is perched precariously on one cheek in the middle without a seat belt.

We are on our way and soon catch up with all news from India and Canada. The body guards are introduced.

ZOEY

ZENA.

The elder one is enrolled in Ballet classes and so she elects to educate us two folks on the fine art of Ballet.

We pay rapt attention.

The younger one is more interested in the contents of NANA’S hand bag and so is sweetly asking NANA if she can see inside. In addition to making polite conversation NANA has to decline the authority for a bag search. Questions are flying fast and furious about the wonders of young girls lives and it is non stop rapid fire.

Suddenly They Ask “ Excuse me where is the snack bar in the Car “. When they hear that there is none a cacophony of wails start about what kind of a car is this that it has no snack bar. What kind of a country is this.

My Pilot vision spots a confectionary store and I do a 100 k m p h race to the store. Kripamoyye jumps out of the running car and is back in a flash with cookies and chocolates. The body guards nod their heads and there is pin drop silence which is broken frequently by the noise of kookie crunching.

NANA and us continue our gossip un interrupted.

We pull up to a restaurant and we are seated at a large table and wonder of wonders the body guards are given six crayons each and a large fill in the blank pictures sheet each.

There is excitement in the air and the Talents of Van Gogh and Picasso are at work. The food arrives and between eating and drawing the master pieces are produced.

The body guards remind NANA that there is the task of getting some reading material in the form of Children’s books.

The drawings are stowed away for a grand un veiling in India.

We are on our way to Chapters Book Store and I make a gaffe in listening to my turn by turn NAV system. Kripamoyee and Mehar spot the store about two k m away and salt is rubbed in to my navigation skills. They wonder how I did not get lost every day in the Marut.

I am made to eat crow.

Fatigue is overtaking the younger body guard and she is ordering us to make haste. I pull up at the book store and take out the stroller and strap the young body guard in. She is tending to doze off. Mehar has her books earmarked and she buys a lot of books for the two.

The younger body guard is slumped in the stroller comatose.

We load up and reach Nana’s house and the younger body guard is carried in.

A most wonderful and lovely 5 hours that can be had only with sweet young children comes to an end.

We bid our good byes.

Kripamoyee and Sam would like to thank the folks for their hospitality warmth love and good times.

SUSH AND SREE

ELANE AND KOCH.

GEE AND SANDY

RENUKA AND A M  S R

MEHAR AND THE BODY GUARDS ZENA AND ZOEY.

VENKY.

SHANTHA AND SURESH.

EDDIE

SUNITH

SHANTHI AND SHANKS

KERU.

 

GOD BLESS FOLKS.

 

EDITOR SAMS NOTE

DENIALS WILL BE DIRECTED  TO THE VERIFICATION TRIBUNAL

 

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