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A RACE ON THE LONG ROAD TO NOWHERE

This is a true account of an event which took place exactly sixty years ago on Sunday, the 7th August 1960. Four NDA cadets went out on ‘liberty’ to Poona. But what was meant to be a fun-filled weekend turned into a tragedy. To save some typing effort, I will call them Ravi, Raj, Tej and Jit. Given below is a brief introduction to this ‘foursome’. At the outset, it must be mentioned that all were sixth termers, and none of them held any cadet appointment. Hence they had all the privileges of being ‘sixth termers’, with no responsibility.

  • Ravi was an Air Force cadet. His dream was to become a ‘Fighter Pilot’ and perform awesome aerobatics, so that he could take on any adversary, in a dogfight. He was the son of a senior police officer, and his father had recently served in Poona. He had learned to ride motor bikes, and was proud of his ‘biking’ skills.

  • Raj was a well-known equestrian. It was a treat to see him galloping down the lane during ‘tent-pegging’. He was also a son of a police officer of the Punjab cadre, and he also had a licence to drive motorbikes. He is known to have said, “I do not consider life to be so precious that one should sacrifice the thrill of riding fast, just to live a few years more”

  • Tej was a happy go lucky young man, whose main purpose in life was to keep out of trouble. Despite that, he was forever running into glitches. But he had developed ingenious techniques for escaping punishment. For this, he had developed a large circle of friends, at all levels in Academy

  • Jit was a bespectacled book-lover, who spent most of his spare time in the library. He drew many books, but rarely read them. In the process, he got to know the names of many authors and the titles of their famous works, to believe that he was erudite.

On that fateful Sunday, Ravi had arranged to borrow two motorcycles from a service station. With his friends, Raj and Tej, he drove down to Kirkee, for a joyride. On the way back, they dropped into the bungalow of an officer who was a family friend of Raj. There, they met Jit who had a similar connection, and had gone there to spend a day. After a cup of tea, they invited Jit to join them, since they had one pillion free. The offer was gladly accepted.

At about this time, the cadets discovered that they had just thirty minutes to reach Poona to catch the NDA bus. Raj, who was looking for this opportunity said, “Let us have a race” Everyone approved, and a small bet was agreed upon. Ravi and Tej were on one bike, and Jit was on the pillion of Raj. 

This is where the story begins. Soon the two bikes were roaring through the market of Kirkee. Raj negotiated through the traffic with great skill, and he had a clear edge at the start. Then they got onto the highway. Ravi came at great speed and overtook Raj. The contest became thrilling with each passing moment. Soon, it became evident that Ravi was able to negotiate the bends much better by tilting his bike, while Raj had to slow down at the curves. But he was a dare devil, and was not willing to give up. He suddenly accelerated, and attained the maximum speed of the bike.  A group of cyclists coming from the opposite side of the road were dazed, and made way for the speeding motorcycle which had swerved to the right side of the road. The bike skidded and Raj lost control. What followed was tragic, to put it gently.

The machine fell on a side, and stopped suddenly. Jit was thrown over the head of Raj who was dragged several feet by the momentum of the motorcycle. The surviving pair heard the sound of the crash, and returned to discover that Jit was bleeding profusely, since his spectacles had broken. On the other hand, there was no apparent injury on the face or the body of Raj. The only problem was that he did not respond to whatever anyone said to him, and he failed to get up, even when he was assisted in the process.

 bikes

Soon a small crowd assembled. An elderly onlooker told them that Raj was unconscious. A vehicle was summoned, and the four cadets were rushed to Sassoon Hospital, which was not too far. There, Jit was given a dressing but Raj did not recover his senses.

Truth began to sink in; slowly but surely. The boys had no choice but to inform the authorities of the Academy. They had violated several rules and could be in serious trouble. But for the moment, the main concern was Raj, who was lying motionless. However, his brave face showed no sign of pain or suffering.

The duty officer of the Academy responded immediately, and the Adjutant reached the hospital with an ambulance, within an hour and a half. Raj was shifted to the Military Hospital and the remaining three cadets were taken back to Kharakvasla.

For three agonizing days, Raj continued to be in coma, with no change in his condition. His family members came over from Ambala. Despite the earnest prayers of the entire Kharakvasla Township, he passed away, on Wednesday, the 10th August 1960. An enquiry was ordered to investigate into the circumstances under which the accident had occurred.

 nda 

It is time to reveal the identities of the four cadets. Some ex-NDAs of that vintage may recall them.

  • Ravi was Cadet Ravindra  Rajadhyaksha. He became a fighter pilot, and was commissioned in May 1962. Unfortunately he died in an air crash on 14th Aug 1962, nearly two years after the death of his friend. Incidentally, he was a first cousin of the well-known writer, Shobha De.

  • Raj was Cadet Hardhir Raj Malia. He has two other brothers in the Armed Forces, and a sister, Sanjivan Malia, (wife of Col SS Mehar, of the Guards) who founded a school in Delhi, called, “The Little Angels’ School”.

  • Tej is none other than TPS Kohli.  Popularly called ‘Tipsy’ by his friends, he continues to get into trouble, but manages to find a way out with his trademark deftness.

  • Jit is the author of this story.

  • The first three were in the Golf (old How) Squadron, whilst I was in Hunter (old Easy) Squadron.

  • The name of the officer living in Kirkee who was a family friend of Malia and the author is Lt Col Didar Singh. His son, Col JS Bath, SM is from the XXIII course, and is a well known Paratrooper

Malia picture

HRS Malia. The picture is from NDA archives

cadet

Cadet Ravindra Rajadhyaksha 

NDA I card 1958 edThis is a picture of the author,1958, removed from the Identity card.  

Postscript

The accident had a profound effect on the three of us. I have indelible memories of some of my reminiscences of that period. Let me record them systematically, as follows:

  • It was well past the ‘lights out’ time, when I reached the Squadron. After thanking the adjutant and saluting him, when I entered the lobby, I saw our SCC, J Thomas nervously pacing up and down. He had been told that I was ‘missing’ and was apparently relieved to see me.

  • The next morning, Major Khader Ahmed, our Squadron Commander, came over himself to meet me. He was very sympathetic, and took me to the town to help me in getting a new pair spectacles made.

  • The court of inquiry grilled us. However since we had decided to tell everything truthfully, they exonerated us of all charges. No punishment was meted out to us for the minor offences committed by us. I think ‘Tipsy’ should be thanked for that.

  • The police officers of Poona were very ‘cooperative’. They resolved all issues with the owner of the bike, and did not create any problem for the NDA.

  • His last words were,”I am not going to lose this race” and when he revved up the engine, it attained an incredible speed. I can never forget the dazed look on the faces of the people who saw us.

  • Rajadhyaksha was the closest friend of the late Hardhir Raj Malia. He often felt that he had made a fatal error by over-taking him. He once said to me, “I knew that he was a novice…he had very little experience with these heavy bikes. I should have let him win. I now feel guilty. I think I have murdered Malia!”

*

I finished my training nearly sixty years ago…but the memories linger on. It has been truly said that, “You can pass out of the NDA; but the NDA does not pass out of you!”

  1. Lt Gen Paramjit Singh says:

    Paramjit Singh
    11:26 AM (2 hours ago)
    to me

    Dear Sir,
    Thank you very much for sharing the ‘A Race on the long road to nowhere’. Very tragic indeed.
    You are 100% correct to conclude that “You can pass out of the NDA; but the NDA does not pass out of you!”
    One goes through such a tough time in NDA that thereafter most conclude that if one could survive the trg there, then one can take on any other challenge easily. Highlights the importance of going to a good institute at an impressionable age.
    Warm regards
    Paramjit

  2. Anuradha Dua says:

    Anuradha Dua
    10:42 AM
    to me

    Very interesting and engaging . Enjoyed reading it
    Anu

  3. Brig VK Bajaj says:

    You never mentioned this incident to me. It certainly would have left an indelible impression on you. Tomorrow on its commemoration spend some time in solitude and be with them. Life does take all kinds of unexpected turns. We should just live the moment and leave the rest to Him.
    Viren Bajaj

    • Surjit says:

      Viren,
      I think I did talk about it during the Pay Cell days. Just search your memory files!
      If not, well, I have made up now!
      Surjit

  4. Col Randhir Singh says:

    Captivating

    Gagi

  5. Shobhaa De says:

    How extraordinary!!!
    Thank you so much for this!
    Ravindra was an incredible person, handsome, daring, charming. We lost him too early!
    I shall share this with his sisters and other family members who remember him with so much love.
    My warmest regards to Gen. Surjit.
    Of course – i will gladly participate in your virtual lit fest. Do let me know more, when you firm up dates.
    Lots of love,
    Shobhaa

  6. Niloufer Bilimoria says:

    Dear Shobhaa,

    Extract from a mail from Niloufer Bilimoria to Shobhaa De

    I am just playing messenger and passing this on to you. Gen Surjit is a very good, enterprising and helpful person, Chandigarh based. And runs this website.

    Warmly,
    Niloufer

  7. Surjit Singh says:

    I often wonder at our action, sixty years ago. If I was in a position of authority, I may have been very angry with those who started racing on a highway. These rash drivers are a threat to the other users of the road.
    But as they say, youth sees no reason, and it is difficult to control their words or deed. I like to quote a couplet by an Urdu poet, ‘Sagar’

    बग़ावत जवानों का मज़हब है ‘सागर’
    उदास  बुढ़ापा;  बग़ावत  जवानी !!!
    (Rebellion is the creed of the youth Old age is listless; youth are rebellious)

    Surjit

  8. Dhiraj Mullick says:

    Dear Sir,

    This must be one of your most poignant memories.

    Youth is a time when most of us are Adrenaline junkies and you have brought it out so well in this peice.

    Thanks!

    Warm regards
    Dhiraj

  9. Col Jagwant Bath says:

    jag1ts

    to me

    Sir, humbly submit that, ‘jub jub jo jo hona hae tub tub so so hota hae’.
    Other happenings become a prelude…

  10. K Gaurav says:

    Sir,
    So thoughtful of you to have shared it with me Sir. NDA gives so many memories for a lifetime.

    Regards
    Squadron Leader Kumar Gaurav
    Instructor, National Defence Academy

    • Surjit says:

      Kumar,

      We are highly impressed by the alacrity with which you sent me the pictures of Hardhir Malia. I must compliment you on the preservation of records.!
      Can you send my picture also? I was no. 2997 at the NDA
      Regards,
      Surjit

  11. Brig Surinder Singh says:

    Though more than 50 yrs old, the memory of this incident is firmly etched in my memory At that time I reacted differently.

    Notwithstanding that ,I indulged in such races from, Agra to Delhi on my Jawa racing a Bullet owned by Kulbir with Billy Bath of 5 Para on the pillion.An utterly reckless act…..considering that I was no daredevil at any other time in life.

    It just requires a fraction of a second to start such a race. You overtake and look back..the race is ON

    Now when I read this I am reminded of Surjit Mehar of Guards…also gone.

    The story is beautifully narrated, Surjit…one of your best!
    Now it seems that we were rash and stupid, but a time comes in the life of every young man, when he acts in this irresponsible way.
    Surinder

    • Surjit says:

      Surinder,

      I think racing is a natural desire. But it must not be permitted on public roads. On the highways the youth are a danger to the other users of the road.

      Surjit

  12. Lt Gen RK Mehta says:

    Thanks for sharing
    Raj

  13. Kul Prakash Deswal says:

    Sad that it ended tragically. Well Surjit you are there to tell this story. Hats off to the NDA staff for taking the incident in the true spirit of the Services

  14. Cdr Subimal Dutt C/E says:

    Subimal Dutt
    7:15 PM 3 Aug 2020
    to Randhir, Subrata, me

    Great one, sir.
    Sharing

    Cdr Subimal Dutt(Retd) C/E

  15. Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh says:

    Maj Gen Surjit Singh, EME, is a great story teller. The attached one seems the latest. He lives in Sector 34, Chandigarh.

    May be some of you know the characters in the story, while in NDA or in Service.

    Maj Gen Surjit Singh’s father was in AEC and our instructor in IMA 1951-52.

    Thrilling account!

    Harbhajan Singh

  16. Col Ranjit Maini says:

    Ranjit Maini
    4:55 PM (2 hours ago)
    to me

    Very very tragic!!

    Ranjit

  17. Amrik Singh says:

    Amrik Singh
    7:01 PM
    to me

    Tragic yet gripping tale. Thank you for sharing. I don’t know if you knew Brig Mohan Mum and Singh, my father in law who was dy.commandant at kharagvasla in 50s

  18. Prem Hejmadi says:

    Prem Hejmadi
    4:09 PM
    Very profound anecdote. Ah! Those were the wonderful days when one did really crazy things. We’d go where angels fear to tread.

    Love and Light
    Prem

  19. Manish S Chawla says:

    Uncle,
    Read your real life NDA incident, and was mesmirized!!!
    Manish S Chawla

  20. Prithpal Singh says:

    Prithpal Singh

    to me

    Very touching story. But my question is,
    Can anything be done to drill into the minds of the young, not to take such bets. It’s so sad to hear and witness fatal road accidents.
    What’s the solution to avoiding these?
    PP

  21. Col Parminder Singh says:

    Parminder Singh
    12:28 PM (1 hour ago)
    to Maj, me

    SS,
    Thanks for sharing your blog of that tragic but unforgettable incident.I have clear memory of how the news of this accident spread like wildfire in the Academy and for a week or so this was the only subject discussed with speculation,conjuncture and predictions of the fate of three of you.There was a sigh of relief when you all escaped punishment or worse.
    At the personal level I knew Malia and Rajyadaksh.Tipsy I had heard of but didn’t know him.I recalled you vaguely as you were the only one who wore specs and seemed to be the studious type.
    Whereas the other three were the adventurous type as to where you fitted in this trio was not clear.Well it’s clarified now.
    Well that’s all I guess.More on the subject over a glass of beer whenever we meet next.
    Ciao
    PS

    • Joebs says:

      Overhyped, exaggerated. Being in forces is romanticised. There is nothing special here. Hero worship.cult worship. Tell me why are these people so special? Indian army is backward, uses primitive, outdated equipment. It took 20 years to get 5 Rafale planes! Wtf! Corrupt politicians from both parties take their cuts. Modi is just as corrupt, incompetent as any Congress leader. Cult of modi vs Dynasty of Fake Ghandis! Lol. All this hero worship is just nonsense.

      • Brig Surinder Singh says:

        My dear friend

        Before belittling the Indian Army, see it from close, preferably from inside.
        You might like to change your mind!

        Surinder

  22. Rusrom Jamasji says:

    rustom jamasji
    Attachments
    10:34 AM (3 hours ago)
    to me

    Good Morning Sir

    Thanks for the Share.

    The History is indeed touching and covers all aspects in it, from sadness due to the tragedy, yet uplifting due to the success in later life.

    I wish you good health and happiness

    I also take the opportunity to share my fathers experience thru attached documents , in 71 war where he was awarded the VrC thru A.R.C on recommendation of the S.F.F/ Establishment 22

    Thanks once Again

    Rustom Jamasji
    (Saturation Diving)

    Mob 9833241037

  23. Brig PT Gangadharan says:

    Forwarded to all friends
    PTG

  24. Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh says:

    Thank you very much dear Surjit Jee. How well you weave the thriller!!

    I have shared with large number of friends.

    Regards.

    Harbhajan Singh

  25. Brig VHM Prasad says:

    vangalahmp@gmail.com
    to Harbhajan, me

    Thanks for sharing , Harry .

    Yes , Surjit does write very well in impeccable English to make his real stories of yore so interesting .

    I don’t know him personally but he is a well known figure who works incessantly in the interests of

    us all veterans . Hail Selaiese nay Surjit .

    Yes , I do remember his father respectfully .

    Madhav

    ( Brig V H M Prasad ) , AOC

  26. Rustom Jamasji says:

    What a History.
    Thanks for sharing it with us.

  27. TPS Kohli says:

    Tej Kohli
    Sun, Aug 2, 8:03 PM (13 hours ago)
    to me

    Hi Surjit,

    I am afraid that I dont have any old snaps

  28. Bhavneet Singh says:

    Bhavneet Singh
    5:00 AM (4 hours ago)
    to me

    THANKS for sharing and remembering
    will certainly spare during the day

    Rimpy

  29. K Ramani says:

    Ramani k
    Aug 2, 2020, 7:02 PM (14 hours ago)
    to me

    Respected General

    What can I say??

    What an incident ??
    Must have been a very painful recall

    Thanks for sharing
    Best regards

    K Ramani

  30. Abhay Joshi says:

    Abhay Joshi
    Aug 2, 2020, 6:43 PM (14 hours ago)
    to me

    A riveting story which brings alive the memories of our days in NDA.
    Very touching account of friends on a dare devil outing. Thanks for sharing.
    Warm regards
    Abhay Joshi

  31. Maj Gen Gurdayal Singh says:

    Gurdayal Singh
    Aug 2, 2020, 6:28 PM

    Thanks.It makes a very interesting reading.
    Gurdayal

  32. Col DS Madan says:

    D.S Madan
    Sun, Aug 2, 6:13 PM (14 hours ago)
    to me

    Hi 2997,

    Very well presented real life Episode . I did not know it .

    Tipsy keeps meeting once a while . I don’t know other two.

    There are so many nostalgic events in one’s life . I prefer to NOT remember . They don’t help in your moving forward.

    I will give you one such unpleasant incidence which you may or may not remember . But it still remains an ugly event for me .

    Rgds ,

    3000

  33. Col SK Kohli says:

    My Dear General Saheb ji

    My mentor

    I read your race article

    Perhaps you may know/remember a few I experienced in my life

    1943 05 SEP QUIT INDIA MOVT was on STAMPEDE on us by BRITISH HORSEMEN in LAHORE saved

    1944 A young kid thrown over by a stage actor thinking that i was a packed doll he always practiced with Ladies Narishilp MandirGirl’s School DDun

    1947 HEAD INJURY ON DOUBLE IRON BED DDUN At home my Bro flung me but COULDN’T CATCH ME

    1957 First HORSE RIDING in valley of Death NDA

    1963 VIZAG SCOOTER Nearly cut into two

    1966 Nearly self and Veena over run by BEST BUS in BOMBAY

    1968 Scooter accident Teaching Veena Scooter driving Rai Wala Road DDun

    1970 JUNGLE Accident in Sukhna 33 CORPS Alone at midnite scooter and self fell into a deep ditch

    1976 DRIVING BDE CDR’S JEEP TESTING SKIDDED on an oil spill KOHALI ROAD AMRITSAR

    1977 ACCIDENT on GULMARG SRINAGAR ROAD RETURNING HOME a back seater of a ONE TONNE

    This was forecast by a guy self styled ASTROLOGER he said I will go to Baikunt but will return….I wondered how he could have said it …I did die for 5 to 9 minutes… when Veena recovered me from under the one tonne rolled over into the canal But no god met me

    1987 head injury banged against the wall @1174/Noida and second one then slipped, had six ribs floating ones still broken—– no repair possible

    Other associated accidents of other kids /drivers/ friends COI I as DAAG /Offg AAG 1970TO1973 etc…All this information helped me to create my ”COLLS ZODIAC”.

    You called me a soothsayer…lol

    I am now a CDN PR and have plenty of time…Will write my last book

    Time’s Recollections

    Will send excerpts to you… if you wish to Include in your AMOLAK
    Do find a few minutes to say hi -5
    Rgds Sir,
    SK/sgmt still
    3.08.2020

  34. Maj Gen PN Monga says:

    p n monga
    8:46 AM (0 minutes ago)
    to me

    Dear Sir,
    You have a praiseworthy style of weaving the web and writing beautifully..

    Very well narrated., Sir.

    with Best wishes,

    Maj Gen PN Monga
    (m) 8283825665
    (LL)01724020723

  35. Dr Venkat says:

    Uncle,

    The narration of the incident has really touched the heart. As pointed out by one of the readers, “During youth, we all have tried such stunts but were lucky to get away” is true. But this needs to be percolated through the current youth population. The repercussions are too far.

    Best regards,

  36. Cdre BK Mahanty says:

    Thanks
    Commodore BK Mahanty

  37. Col ABS Sidhu says:

    Hi Surjit ,
    Thanks for sharing old memories .
    You don’t have to feel guilty of the accident .
    During youth we all have tried such stunts but
    were lucky to get away .
    With warm regards .

    ABS Sidhu

  38. Brig Dharam Prakash says:

    Brigadier Dharam Prakash
    Aug 1, 2020, 8:22 PM (21 hours ago)
    to me

    Thanks,Surjit for taking us down the memory lane.Our regards to departed batchmates.
    Dharam

  39. Dave Sood says:

    Dear Surjit,

    A sad event but very well recorded by you and Joe.

    Makes it so real as you know/knew all the participants of this race.

    Surjit Meher was in my battalion when I joined it in Ambala. Sanjivan’s house was enroute to Welselley lines where the unit was located. She attended all the 5 Guards get to gethers at the Sarath Mess at the Cantonment till she passed away last year. She raised and Ran the school very well and was well known in the Education circles.

    Tipsy saved them all by telling the truth is a remarkable part of the story. He lives every moment with fun and laughter.

    You are right about NDA. You cannot forget it in your life.

    Best Regards,

    Dave Sood
    Managing Director
    AIE
    D-57 Chattarpur Enclave,
    New Delhi, India 110074
    +91 98100 37663

  40. Tipsy Kohli says:

    Tej Kohli
    Aug 1, 2020, 11:56 AM (1 day ago)

    Hi Surjit,

    I must complement you on your memory about thisadventurous outing of our gang .

    I would like to make a few additions to this inccident – accident :-

    1 The bikes were hired by us frm LAKRI PUL for about Rs 10 per hour ,
    2 Rajadhyaks who was the DCC was detabed and I was made the DCC as I had a valid Liberty Pass.
    3 Malliya”s other sister was the Principal of the Area HQ School in Ambala,where Billy ( my Wife ) later worked with her.It
    goes without saying that Billy had to become the most favoured teacher. COURSEMATE IS A COURSEMATE- DEAD or ALIVE .

    Tej

  41. Col RS Grewal says:

    Ranjit Grewal
    Sat, Aug 1, 10:07 AM (1 day ago)

    Nice memories.Since I am from George Sqn(Now Dog) I do not have a clear memory of all. Of Course three of the scoundrels Tipsy ,Thomas and Surjit are often lovingly remembered. Thanks

    Ranjit

  42. Lt Gen YK Mehta says:

    Dear Surjit,
    I think Inderjit Kashyap May have info wrt to Tipsy Kohli.
    Regards
    Yuvraj

  43. Brig Akshey Kapila says:

    Ashley Kapila
    Jul 31, 2020, 10:33 PM (2 days ago)
    to me

    Hi Surjit, both Malia & I were great friends too as also with RAJADHAKSHA. MALIAs FAMILY HOME IS IN ambala. Directions,—as one crosses over the over bridge [CONNECTING BOTH SIDES OF THE CANT AS ALSO LEADS TO THE CSD DEPOT]
    on GT RD just beyond The Mall & goes down the SLOPE ,its the 1st or 2nd house on the right side of the rd. There is a huge painting of Harjit hanging in the drawing room . I was in AMBALA during earlier NDA terms & we used to spend LOT OF TIME TOGETHER AT EACH others homes , pool, billiards . DK Khullar is there & even Guptas son. Im sure they can manage a snap & send it on whatsapp. I saw the painting when I was COL GS [OPS] 2 CORPS in AMBALA in 1985-87. Fond regards AKSHEY

  44. Ashali Varma says:

    Ashali Varma

    Very moving story. I do wish everyone had had a happy ending but life is never like that.
    Ashali

  45. Col Amar Bindra says:

    Dear Sir,
    Amazing story!

    Best Regards

    Col Amar Bindra
    Performance Enablers
    818, Sector-2 Panchkula
    M- 9814636818

  46. Wg Cdr DP Sabharwal says:

    Dharam Paul Sabharwal
    4:10 PM (1 hour ago)
    to me

    Respected Surjit Sir
    It was a pleasure to receive the mail from you.
    Thanks a million for the same, as it gives me, an author of some articles published in the national press and few books to get another platform to contribute.
    However, being a fauzi (I served in the IAF for 26 years before seeing a voluntary retirement at the age of 46) I am quick to notice the good things and find gaping holes that need to be plugged in immediately.
    In your page under ‘Invitation’ is printed the following:
    RK Narayanan 1906-2001 (96)
    Raja Rao 1908-2006 (98)
    Khushwant Singh born 1915 (97, not out).. Well Khuswant singh died more than 6 years ago on 14 March 2014 at the age of 99.
    Regards
    Wg Cdr DP Sabharwal, Veteran

  47. Col JS Bhangu says:

    col.bhangu@gmail.com
    4:07 PM (1 hour ago)
    to me

    Respected General

    Very well presented Sir

    Sincere Regards
    Jora Singh Bhangu

  48. Lt Gen Prakash Gokarn says:

    Dear Surjit,
    Your poignant story touched the core of my heart for many reasons.
    Ravi was from Scindia School Gwalior and a classmate of ( later) Gp Capt Jayakar Pai from Bravo Sqn also a dear friend of mine. I had met Jayakar in Bangalore a couple of years ago. He collapsed and passed away shortly thereafter in Delhi.
    I meet Shobha once a year in Raj Bhavan, when the Governor invites us on 26 Jan
    for high tea. Shobha is also a schoolmate of my wife. We also belong to the same club.
    Shobha remembers Ravi very well and addresses him as Mama(uncle). Tipsy
    Kohli used to indulge in the business in selling paints. Being in Mumbai,
    I am out of touch with my course mates. Only two are here I.e. DP Garg, ASC, who now calls himself Dharam Prakash. He lives three hours away from me by road in Navi Mumbai. And JP Singh of Signals who also lives far away, but keeps in touch.
    Warm regards to you and Tommy for whom the Gokarn name would be familiar from his Lawrence School, Lovedale days.
    Incidentally Tommy, my son Ranjit and his wife Kajoli are both from Lovedale.
    With warm regards to you and Tommy.
    Your Amolak tales are very interesting and I am happy to observe that our coursemates
    In Chandigarh keep a friendly network by meeting in the Institute at Chandimandir.
    Thank you for keeping me in your loop.
    Prakash Gokarn

    • Surjit says:

      Prakash,
      We now live in a world, in which physical distance has lost its importance. In the Covid-era, we are not even meeting out neighbors!
      And when we are on the computer, it makes no distance whether your friend is in Mumbai or New York! So why worry about loneliness?
      You have a very good command over the language. And is memory serves me right you stood first in English and French in our course, at the end of the IV term. Am I right?
      We invite you to contribute a piece for this blog.
      Regards,
      Surjit

  49. Joseph Thomas says:

    The first and only fatal accident in our course at NDA. Subsequently, during the course of our working life, there have been, unfortunately, several more.

    In those days, there were no cell phones or similar gadgets. We only came to know about the accident when Surjit reached the squadron well past Lights Out.

    The unfortunate statistic is that India leads the world both in rate and absolute number of road accidents. It is partly a grim consequence of corruption in our society. Driving licenses can be obtained in exchange for money.

    The title “A Race on the Long Road to Nowhere” sums up the futility of it all.

    • Surjit says:

      Thomas,
      I wish to place on record, the debt which I owe to you.
      The initial draft of this story had several shortcomings and defects. The title itself was weak. All the four major suggestions you made were relevant and appropriate. Now, if some kind words have been said about this story, you deserve credit, as much as me.
      Going through my diaries, I have discovered how I became friends with Malia. We met at the house of Col Didar Singh, who was well known to both of us. Then, at Malia’s behest, I joined the evening riding classes to train for ‘show jumping’. This makes another story, and I might write it, some day.
      Malia thought very poorly of those who were good at academics. He believed that they never make good soldiers.
      Surjit

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