Picture8

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The Universe is one Family)


Editor’s Note

This piece has been written by a former Army Commander,Lt Gen Yogi Sharma, in the first person singular. It is a poignant story of his discovering his life partner in a distant land. Fifty-five years ago, when  communications were not as good as they are now, the step which they took to reach out to each other must have been quite a brave thing to do. But what they achieved was the confluence of two great and ancient civilizations, the Indian and the Greek. The holy relationship that began in 1958, was formalized two years later. And by all standards, it was a very successful marriage.

In the cosmic design, Mrs Despina Sharma was snatched away from the family on 4th Oct 2013. This essay is a tribute to her sacred memory, recorded for posterity. Contained in the story is a message of universal bondage of all mankind. The readers are requested to record their message in the space provided beneath the post as “Comments” (‘Grinder’ is a word by which the Grenadiers refer to themselves)

SOUL-MATES IN GRINDER-LAND: A SLICE OF MY LIFE

By Yogi Sharma

 

Two young people, an Indian Army officer and a Greek girl, met in the ‘fall’ ofPicture1 1958 in Gaza, Egypt. They did not ‘fall in love’ at first sight. That happened sensibly and slowly as a subtle process of nature; after all, real-life romances rarely run like cine-scripts.

Both had their roots in traditional families of very diverse backgrounds, spread across seas, continents and cultural spaces. Their ‘polarized roots’ provided a touch of ‘mystique’ to an extraordinary story- a ‘voyage of togetherness’ for 55 years, through high tides and low, tsunamis and smooth sailing. The robust family tree that spawned from these roots, and the rich fruit thereof, stand as a testimony to the blessedness of this meeting. This story is also connected with half a century of the Grenadiers’ heritage.

It was the call of duty, and destiny, that conspired to bring us together. We were both serving with the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in Gaza at that time. UNEF was a multi-national Force comprising of contingents from Brazil, Canada, Denmark, India, Norway, Sweden, Yugoslavia and International civil staff. It was deployed in the Sinai Peninsula to keep peace between Egypt and Israel, consequent to the Arab Israeli war of 1956.The nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egypt in 1956 had led to the Anglo-French invasion of the Canal Zone and the Israeli blitz through the Sinai. The bombings and para-drops over Ismailia (HQ of the Suez Canal Company) had hit the Greek quarter, and pounded some residential buildings, including one occupied by the Monioudis family.

 

The family patriarch, Pericles M, had migrated here as a young sailor, in typical Hellenic sea-faring tradition, from the Aegean Island of XIOS- Homer’s home Island. It lies closest to the port town of Krini (now Cesme), across the straits from the Asia-Minor landmass. The Family had owned agricultural assets there, until driven out by the

Picture2Turkish (Ottoman) empire in the beginning of 20th century. Pericles drifted into the Suez Canal zone and found his ‘greener pasture’ in work with the Suez Canal Co. He also met his lady-love in the local Greek community and stayed on to raise a family of six. Their lifestyle was influenced so much by the mixed (French/Italian/Greek/Egyptian) cultures of the town.

 

Sadly, a premature heart attack in 1952 left his Widow with four unsettled children; two elder daughters having been married off into the Greek Diaspora in Cyprus and Australia. It was in these trying circumstances that the burden of supporting the family fell on the young shoulders of the next two siblings viz, Andony and Despina – both in their early 20s. It was fortuitous that they found attractive assignments with the UNEF in 1956 based on their multi-lingual skills, International education and local experience. Over the next two years, as the Israeli forces kept vacating the occupied areas in the Sinai, the UNEF HQ staff shifted from the Canal Zone into the Gaza strip.

Meanwhile in 1958, my Unit, that is, 2nd Bn The GRENADIERS, had been selected for service with the UNEF. On induction, our Rifle Coys were deployed to patrol the Armistice Demarcation Line, while the Bn HQ was located at Deir Al Balah – a hamlet some 20 kms away from Gaza. Various officers had to frequently visit the Establishments in Gaza for official and social purposes. Besides, some of us (including me) had a special interest in using the only Squash court which was located within the Mil Governor’s complex. Squash was an official competition sport of UNEF. And I did go on to win the ‘silver medal’ in 1959.

The Indian Provost and Postal Units were also located in the same vicinity, providing a natural staging post for our visits. By a coincidence (or a designer-quirk of destiny) the UN Staff member attached to these Indian Units was the Greek Girl from Ismailia, Despina! And that is where and how ‘we met’; the rest, as they say, is history.

The ‘fast and furious’ minds amongst you may have already conjured up the imagery of a ‘boy meets girl…hormones rage- romance flames’ scenario… Mercifully, not all stories follow such ‘basic-instinct’ recipes of lust and sensuality. Real life is far more sublime, and for good reason. The most elementary being, that in a multiple ‘boys meet girls’ scenario, matching options are unlimited, and mutual compatibility is the key. In this case, there was no scarcity of suitors for the bubbly young lady- nor was the cliché about ‘girls with glasses scoring low on passes’ valid in the face of her total ‘charm package’! Plus, the forbidding presence of the Big Brother was, indeed, a firewall against ‘loose cannon’ advances!

Initially, our social encounters were not only awkward, but predictably disastrous. By design-default, no two people could have been more mismatched! She was a gregarious, fun-loving ‘people’s person’- parties/picnics/dancing-  full of music, humor and bonhomie. And I was a certified introvert, a champion loner and an award winner in the Picture3‘socially handicapped’ category- timid, tongue-tied and with two left feet! She was articulate (six languages), assertive, and a multi-tasker (office, local home, Ismailia family etc) while I was in the zone where Military subalterns were conditioned to be ‘seen and not heard’. She was loaded with confidence, class and a bigger pay cheque; while I barely managed to pay for the ‘scotch guzzling style’ of the Indian ‘officers and gentlemen’ of the time!

Despite various opportunities to socialise, our ‘cold-start’ remained in ‘deep- freeze’ for many a month. A thaw began to occur with the advent of the festive seasons- Diwali, Christmas and the Republic Day celebrations in the Unit. These provided space for mutual understanding of common values- personal and cultural. The wild revelry of the Holi celebration brought about a warm glow of emotional intimacy. In the process we discovered our common humanity, the universality of human relationships, as also an underlying Indo-Greek affinity. All these ran deeper than the differences of roots, region and religious dogma. Nature too has willed that ‘opposites attract’- to complement the ‘yin and yang’ (Shiv and Shakti) within human nature.

Meeting of Minds

In Apr-May 59, during my earned leave in Europe (courtesy the Royal Canadian Air Force weekly courier flights) I felt a new- found ‘emotional tug’ of separation. A picture post-card from Rome declaring ‘Mi Manchi Molto, Despina’ (miss you very much, D) was the first recognition of stronger stirrings. Yet there was no thought of a deeper commitment- so scary were the cultural gaps.

Picture4Many months later, while she was vacationing in Cyprus, where her eldest sister lived, I hopped across from the UN Leave-Centre in Beirut to take a car trip around that exotic Island. That provided us with a fresh opportunity to bridge the gaps. The interactions with the family in Nicosia- and earlier in Ismailia during visits to Cairo- extended the common-spaces. We discovered that beneath the visible ‘skin-skeletal features-societal’ distinctions there is a framework of common human values, by design of the Creator. One found that Greek families (like all others elsewhere) loved, laughed, felt and expressed compassion or baser emotions in the same way and over the same things – and that all parochial pigeon-holes were man-made and superficial. While all humans are flawed and fall short of the ‘Ideal’, the infirmities of flesh and soul are uniquely personal, not culture-centered.

 

It was inevitable that such a meeting of minds would evolve into a soul-connection, slowly but spontaneously. In due course our expanded mutual awareness did lead to better bonding and commitment. But, in the starry-eyed state of all young romantics, we had discounted (to a point of denial) the problems to be overcome- at family level, security clearances, career implications and that big blank- the future!

A Matter of Honor

Soon it was Dec 59 and the Indian Contingent was embarking for its return voyage at Port Said. I was the Ship Adjutant and more than neck-deep in work; yet, well-meaning colleagues, like my buddy, Satish Walia (later Col MM Walia) created opportunities for us to say our farewells. No one could have known that along with the farewell, there would be a promise of ‘Au Revoir-I shall be back’. Even I had no clue about how or when. Perhaps, even Despina did not believe it seriously, considering it a ‘pacifier to a crying baby’. In this day and age esoteric thoughts like ‘word of honour’ are hardly common currency- but for a hard-core Indian Grinder, a promise was sacrosanct. In essence, it was a blind leap of faith between two trusting souls. The battles that ensued were fought over many a front.

 

Multi-front Battles- The Family Domain

 

The Greek Orthodox mindset exploded first on declaration of the heretic thought of marriage to an Indian. Friendship may be fine but an alliance with a ‘pagan’ from an alien planet was unthinkable, akin to hara-kiri! Closer to the nerve, it was the prospect of losing the ‘pillar of family support’ that rankled. The younger brother in Athens was still job-hunting after his University education, almost wholly sponsored by her. The level and stratagems of family resistance kept stiffening- but so did the resolve of our ‘Gritty Girl’. She declared that sacrifices for the family could not be limitless and that ‘she had full faith in her man- he will be back’ and, when he did return, the ultimatum read- ‘bless us joyfully or I shall go alone’! Remarkably, it had got ratcheted to this level with little help from me! I still consider this as the ultimate in implicit trust and inspired guts- maybe, the gift of true love?

In contrast, my family’s response was more muted and manageable. I dropped the bomb shell during a thanksgiving visit with my Dad to a favourite temple in Delhi. He was cool- just checked back if it was a ‘done deal’ or a ‘case under consideration’. On confirmation that it was the former, his response was remarkably phlegmatic- “It is a matter of personal life-choice; you are grown up and hopefully capable of taking the right decisions”. This seems like such a terribly untypical exchange that a brief glimpse into the family background is in order.

Till the start of the 20th century, my forefathers were settled in Hazara district of NWFP, adjoining Afghanistan. Their earning potential from land and logistic support to the British Army’s Anglo-Afghan wars was getting saturated. That tempted some family elders to be lured by offers of better resettlement (including land) offered by the J&K STATE, in bordering areas of Muzaffarabad, and so, like the Monioudis family, my folks too migrated into greener pastures at about the same time.

It was here that an inventive ‘mechanical charka’, designed by my father as a school boy got exhibited before the visiting Maharaja. This was at the peak of Gandhiji’s ‘Swadeshi Movement.’ The Ruler was so pleased and impressed with this hugely gifted lad of his State, that he instantly sanctioned a scholarship for him to study Engineering in Benaras Hindu University, and, thereafter, be sent for practical training to the United Kingdom.

Consequently, my father got to spend many a year abroad, imbibing the liberal and enlightened values of the times. Little wonder then that his response was so enabling and easy!

 Matter of Faith

Our upbringings had been in almost polarised faiths- Greek Orthodox and Sanatan Dharma- literally ‘Universal Faith’. This was expected to be our toughest challenge yet, but remarkably, or was it providentially, it wasn’t so! In our innocent naiveté, but from deepest inner levels, we had come to believe that faith in the Infinite and Common Creator was of the “essence”- and not the diversities of format, language or humanly-mediated injunctions. We believed that we could harmonize our faiths by practicing in our respective traditions and co-existing spiritually. Any surface cracks of dogma or doctrine could be bridged by making honorable adjustments, to appease procedural or cultural diehards. Our life is a testimony that this has worked – purists or pundits notwithstanding! As the Good Book says ‘Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love’- as love unites (unity being the nature of the Divine) while the exclusivities fracture and breed conflict which runs counter to the core Indian concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam” (Universe is one family)!

The Service and Career Front

In early 1960, I applied for security clearance to marry a foreign national and the case was sent to MI Dte, duly recommended by my CO. In Feb, the case got bounced on the grounds that the newly introduced policy required routing of the application through staff channels (five command levels) and a letter of resignation from the officer. This was the official recoil to a case in the preceding year where permission to marry a foreign national was denied to a Major, who persisted legally, resulting in his services being terminated! Scary scenario; but nothing should ‘deter the determined’ in love and war.

One saving grace in the new Policy was the stipulation that the decisions related to ‘permission to marry and acceptance’ (or otherwise) of the resignation would be taken within six months. This meant by mid Aug 60 in my case. So, come Aug, I chose to dare the system- as if to extract my pound of flesh- by flying out and doing what had to be done even before the formal sanction had come- total madness or what? Well, I had waited the mandatory 6 months and I had already put in my papers- so what could get worse? It was thus that we got married, to meet the bottom-line wish of her family, on 15 Aug . Later in Dec 60, the formal sanction was accorded, after completion of all the ‘security checks’ and thus we ‘regularized the record’ in conformity with the provisions of the enlightened Special Marriages Act,1955.

An interesting side-story is worth recounting here. I discovered later that I had so angered my CO by tactlesslyPicture5

‘telling the truth’ during a conference, that he chose to endorse ‘not recommended’ on my second-time application and the Bde Cdr (he was offg) had concurred. Fortunately, the Higher Cdrs in the chain – Div, Corps and Command- took a more mature view that unless there was something objectionable from the ‘security angle’ why should the Service come in the officer’s way. Here, I owe so much to Brig Rai Singh, MVC (then Capt and Adjt of the Unit) for his fancy- footwork to help this happen and to my ‘guardian angels’ up somewhere. Does anyone still believe that all this happened by chance and NOT by some higher celestial design to enable two soul- mates to meet?

Meanwhile, the UN had got involved in operations in Congo and Staff was being milked from existing Forces to man the new HQ. Orders had been received from New York for Despina’s transfer on promotion- as if the battles raging for her on so many fronts were not enough! To match my madness, she preferred to resign and jump blind into a hopeless void with me. That the gamble paid off and we overcame every challenge over the next 50 years is history now. To have risen from a maverick Captain’s wife to be the First Lady of an Army Command (next in protocol after the Chief’s wife) and to be anointed the First Lady of The GRENADIERS is nothing short of a miracle- surely a dispensation of the ‘matrix’ that makes things happen in this universe; call IT what you may!

DESPINA arrived in India and embraced my family with such endearing warmth and sincerity that it left the skeptics stunned and silenced the cynics. I recall the moment that we both went to seek the blessings of the family Patriarch, my Dad’s oldest brother- a venerable father figure with a saintly persona. As we bowed down in front of him, he asked ‘Yeh Kaun?’

Picture6(Who is this?) about the girl in the western dress ‘Yogi ki Unani bahu’ (Yogi’s Greek bride) said my Dad. ‘ Unani?‘, he asked.

‘Phir thik hai- hamare jaise log hain’ (Greek? Then it’s ok. They are just like us) and patted our heads warmly. Such is the residual impact, on the collective psyche, of past interactions between two ancient civilizations.

In her turn, Despina’s impact is poignantly reflected in the words of my youngest sibling, Madan, now a former Chief Engineer of J&K state, who, as a 10 yr old had ‘sat in her lap’ as per Punjabi custom, during the ‘ceremonial reception’ accorded to her, when I first took her home. It reads:-

‘Today we lost our Dearest Bhabhi, Despina Sharma, wife of Gen Sharma. She came from Greece after marrying our brother in 1960 and became more Indian than us. She changed the quality of our lives and family relationships with so much love and affection towards one and all. Want to write more but tears won’t stop- what will my Brother do without her?

What indeed? The rich blessings of our life together is another story. Maybe, for another day!

 Picture7

The family : Lt Gen YN Sharma, Mrs Despina Sharma, Athena and Col Arun Sharma

Epilogue

It was on 4 Oct 2013, that the ‘Grand Weaver of Divine Designs’ decided that our time together in this ‘journey of souls’ was over. It is not given to us humans to predict, prevent or interfere with Higher Design. A lesson I have learnt over time is that nothing happens by chance or coincidence or without a purpose.

In case the preceding account speaks anything to you, as it does to me, you may find some sense in my belief that that there will be an Au Revoir- a mad promise made to her again, like the last time. May sound like sentimental mush to the ‘skeptical and the sensible’- but, beware, many thought likewise the last time too. Keep your minds open, for there is so much more between heaven and earth that is beyond human awareness.

She had wanted me to write this account since many years, for posterity’s sake-especially in this era of fractured families. I started a few weeks ago and read out substantial parts while she was still conscious. She approved and thanked me. I know it is heavy with contextual details, without which the ‘flesh and blood’ feel would be lacking. Am sharing it, for what it is worth, with family, friends and mainly the Grinder Family, which has been our ‘dharma- kshetra and karma-bhoomi’ for much of our lives. It is not for me to speak of her contribution to the Regiment- others know it better. But I can vouch for her love and commitment to the GRENADIERS family- so deep, genuine and intense was it, that I could never match it. Let us celebrate that.

 AU REVOIR, DESPINA –TILL THEN, REST IN PEACE. OM SHANTI

  1. Lt. Col. N.P. SINGH (Retd.) says:

    Dear General Sir,

    Our sympathies are with you for the great loss. May God give you the courage to bear it. We shall never forget the affection and care that I received from you both during my service in the GRINDER fraternity.

    We do remember Mrs Despina Sharma whose affections and care we always cherished. May God rest her in heavenly peace.

    • Respected sir,
      I could not stop the tears when i heard the news of Despana mam . Old memories started coming to my mind how i spent precious time with you and mam in your home. How will i forget your love and affection. May god rest her in heaven.

  2. Ashish Ojha MD says:

    sir,
    My deepest condolences to you and the rest of your family. Although I never met you personally, I was an acquaintance of your children when you lived in Dehradun.
    Sincerely
    Ashish ojha

  3. Lt Gen SK Pillai (Retd) says:

    While Yogi & I are course and squadron mates and have kept in touch over the
    years , we had occasion to meet Dispina only a few times. A special memory is of Dispina & Yogi sharing lunch with us, when Yogi had come from the LDMC to take a Management session with the HC Course. We remember that occassion with fondness. Since Mikis Theodarakis is one of our favourite musicians, we played his music for Dispina, which she deeply appreciated. Her ebullience, variety of interests and zest for life were so refreshing. On leaving our home she left behind a memory of a breath of fresh air. And that is what we felt when we heard that she will be no more with us. We celeberate that memory, Dispina.
    Warmly, Jane & Sushil

  4. Captain Arun Prasad (Master Mariner) says:

    The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.

    Arun Prasad

  5. Aditya Jaini says:

    Dear Surjit, Sir,
    Gen Sharma is fm my Regt — The GRENADIERS.

    Knew Mrs Despina Sharma fm close quarters– as a very respected senior lady of our Regt.

    Came to know the day she passed away. A great loss!

    Gen A.J.B. Jaini, AVSM

  6. ''colls'' says:

    Never say …”Au Revoir…”

    Despina,
    from the vast European continent
    Yogi jee
    a great Gangetic vaasi

    have love at heart
    as we all are
    equally Earthian.

    Universal brother hood is part of modernism
    Vivekanand sowed the seed,

    we only still are
    trying to water the plant
    yet for us,to sweet
    and delicious fruits grant

    Love is universal,
    Hope imminent,
    Truth is all pervading
    we must have Faith
    in Universal existence

    all else is Mithya….

    Spiritualism and Religion are simply, norms

    Au Revoir never say,
    since
    Grief is personal as always

    Upon fond memories of yesterday
    let us now pass our today…

    May God’s blessings for ever
    all display

    ‘’Colls ‘’does say!

    • yoginder says:

      Dear Colls,
      Sensitive, poetic, philosophic and profound- am touched.
      But why no ‘au revoir’- till we meet again. Who has proof that in the ‘journey of souls’ through the seven Lokas old mates do not link up to facilitate the cosmic purpose? Not the place to discuss what that goal is!
      Yogi

      • ''colls'' says:

        Shall reply Sir… if you send an email to me

        collskohli@yahoo.co.in

        A profound subject…
        belief and proof aside.

        A subject which on all human minds

        does forever millennium ride

        since times immemorial….
        till the far reaches of eternity

        no proof is needed…
        for none shall ever meet…
        only human incarnations

        shall continue

        Ere!
        as always

        times change too

        constancy of change

        hope all knew

        Thanks for your consideration
        May time heal from within
        what am I but an insignificant soul
        as you may say,
        but for me a lonesome identity

        in this vast universe

        Albeit I am glad you acknowledge my worth
        Colls

        Col S K Kohli Retd, Veteran!

        Pet of MS Branch since 1977
        SUPER–…SEEDED…FOR ANOTHER INCARNATION

  7. J Thomas says:

    A very moving story.

    Gen Yogi sir, Despina and you were lucky to find each other. May her soul rest in peace.

  8. Surjit Singh says:

    Dear General,
    Permit me to recall a limerick which I read in the office of Maj Gen VK Pasricha (Pasha) when he was commanding a Mountain Division. I have forgotten the exact words, but the sense is fresh in my memory. It ran like this:

    “There was once a grocer, who never took a chance
    He never kissed a girl, nor ever went for a dance!

    Horses and motor bikes, he said no to them all
    For, he was mortally scared that he would fall!

    Then, one day soon after he died,
    His insurance claim was denied.

    The insurance company said,
    “This man could not have died
    Because, he never lived!!”

    Quite frankly, I think we should identify all officers who live by the book of rules and never take a risk. They should be weeded out before they rise to command levels. In war, they are a dead burden. They keep quoting from the ‘Standing orders for war’ which the enemy is unlikely to have read!

    Your story should be read by all young officers. You were bold, but at the same time true to your soul mate till the very end.

    Surjit

  9. Col J Francis Retd says:

    Dear General,
    Please convey our condolence to the bereaved family.
    Francis

  10. Ajit Minocha says:

    Dear Surjit,
    I shall not comment on the very heart rendering article, but would request you to kindly convey our heartfelt condolences to Yogi, Athena and Arun. We were together in Secunderabad for several years, initially as his student doing the Long Defence Management Course and thereafter as the Head of Faculty of OB at the IDM. I knew Despina as a really wonderful person who didnt hesitate to call a spade a spade. A person who was warm, friendly and full of life. May her soul rest in peace.

  11. LT GEN VIJAY OBEROI says:

    My wife, Daulat and I have known both Gen Yogi Sharma and Despina, now no longer with us, for many years now. I had first met Despina in the Command Hospital, Pune, where Gen Sharma, then a Lt Col was admitted having lost his leg during the 1971 War; she was looking after the wounded soldier, while I was visiting the hospital to cheer up the wounded and disabled officers. Maybe the fact that I had been in their place in the same hospital, with similar injuries, a couple of years earlier, having lost a leg in the 1965 War, helped. I was introduced to them by my friend Maj Ian Cardozo (later Maj Gen), who was also a patient with one leg blown off in the same war.

    Thereafter, Daulat and I met them many times. When Gen Yogi Sharma commanded his Division, I was commanding my brigade in a neighburing formation and we used to meet frequently. Thereafter, we met frequently on many occasions. I also had the honour to serve under the General when he commanded the Central Army and I was a corps commander.

    I last met Despina a few years back at Secunderabad in their lovely home. By then, her eyesight had deteriorated considerably, but she was as warm and solicitous as ever.

    Daulat and I are shattered to learn of her passing away and leaving the grieving General. A great loss indeed.

    May her soul rest in peace and may God give strength to the General and their children to bear this great loss.

    Sir, you have penned your story remarkably, in the same vein as you have lived your life!

    Our warm regards and do accept our heartfelt condolences. In grief – Vijay and Daulat.

    • yoginder says:

      Thank you Vijay for your thoughtful comments-vaue them deeply.
      Same sentiments may please be accepted by all other well wishers- regret not responding
      personally to each as I would have wished to.
      Yogi

  12. Brig V H M Prasad Retd says:

    Astounding . An absolutely heart rending and touching story scripted so passionately and beautifully by the otherwise rather taciturn General who has always impressed me as a repository of utter grace and dignity and whose articulation is always perfect , meaningful and convincing .

    Having travelled widely in Greece -Thessaloniki (Salonica) to Larrisa to Athens and cruised amongst its majestic and scenic islands I found the Greeks whose economy is as bad as ours to be friendly,truthful and faithful- am not surprized that the Generals late wife displayed the same qualities of head and heart .

    Madhav Prasad , 118 Vayupuri , Secunderabad . Tele : 040 – 27113077

  13. Gurdayal Sungh says:

    My dear surjit

    Thanks for sending such interesting ,thought provoking ,sentimental and philosophical ,easy to read mails. I always look forward to your such wide-ranging mails.

    Gurdayal

  14. Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh says:

    Dear Surjit,

    Thank you very much.

    Harbhajan Singh

  15. Dear General,
    From my elder brother, Surjit, I have heard much about you,

    but never had the good fortune of meeting you.

    Your story is touching, and so are the pictures.It will

    inspire a lot many people to be courageous and compassionate

    in life.

    Surinder

  16. Brig RLoganathan says:

    Dear General,
    it is with a deep sense of personal loss that we learnt of the passing away of Mrs Despina Sharma.She was a fine LADY ,so affectionate and caring.May GOD rest her SOUL IN PEACE.Please accept our condolences.
    LOGO

  17. col s s malik (sultan) says:

    Just great from the lands of LAILA-MAJNU, HEER- RANJHA, SASSI-PUNNU, SHEERI-FARHAD….

    I first saw the couple in 1980 as GC at IMA, Gen Sharma was Dy Comdt.
    Then as MS in 1989.

    Then at Sec’bad where he will often visit MCEME for Canteen and FOL. 1995

    Much gentle to his awe-inspiring mooch

    with regards and salute to their LOVE BOND

  18. yoginder says:

    My humble thanks to all of you- your sympathies and good wishes are greatly valued.
    Very perceptive observations by Shri Mukund Apte. Valid indeed, except for the reality that the connect between the ‘internal and external’ is inescapably realised at the human level- easier when the civilizational values are congruent!

  19. AVM Manjit Singh says:

    Thanks!!!
    Manjit

  20. Arun Mishra says:

    Sir,

    Thanks for sharing a very beautiful ‘ A slice of life ‘ article.

    Arun Mishra, VSM
    Brig(Retd)
    C-9/9122, Vasant Kunj
    New Delhi 110070
    9811803333
    01126896459

  21. Mukund Apte says:

    Comments – Very good आत्मकथन by Gen Sharma.
    What Gen Yogi’s father said on their meeting is true. Greeks are like us; Bhaarateey. At the start there were only two people searching for human mystery in the Universe. Bhaarateey and Unani (Greeks).As Swami Vivekanand has said, while searching for the conclusion, the Greeks looked outside and got attracted to the external world. They concluded that human happiness depends upon external factors as the Nature looked very beautiful to them. For Bhaarateey ऋषि-मुनी staying in forests and mountains, ‘Within’ was the search. They searched within their own minds and found answers to all their queries. Thus Western culture (heir to Greek one) became Materialistic while Bhaarateey one became Spiritual. Surely Bhaarateey peoople could with some material aspect and that is what Yogijee had achieved by marrying Despina.
    May God gibe him and his family the strength to bear the loss!

    ——Mukund Apte

  22. Swati says:

    Beautiful and heart-touching story. Love transcends all boundaries.

  23. Lt Gen R K Mehta says:

    A great and emotional story of togetherness. May her soul rest in peace and may God give strength to the family to bear this loss.

  24. Viren Bajaj says:

    Truly a remarkable story and an astounding journey.
    I had met her only a couple of times. I found her very gentle and polite.
    May her kind soul rest in peace. Viren

  25. K.P.Deswal says:

    True Love bonds a loving couple. A tragic loss.May God courage to the family to endure this loss and peace to the departed soul

  26. D N Sood says:

    A great love story.
    True love conquers all.
    May her soul rest in peace.

  27. D N Sood says:

    A great love story.
    True love conquers all.
    May her soul rest in peace.

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