lamp edited



Look at the picture. You see an antique lamp. In fact it is made out of an inkpot. A wick has been drilled into the stopper to create this improvised contraption. And yet the flame is  bright; complete with an orange tip at the top. And, it is lighting up the environs, and shall continue to do so until the dawn breaks in.

Now, take a good look at the following pictures. The first one was taken on 4th Nov 1957, when I went to Bangalore for the first time to appear before the Selection Borad, and the second one was taken on 10 Sep 2012. By a queer coincidence, there are seven people in both these snapshots. The difference is that in the first one we are all full of dreams for the life ahead of us, while in the latter picture, most of the life is behind us. Sheikh Farid says,

               “Aage nerha aaya; pichhe riha door”   (the destination is near, the past is left far behind)

The names of the sixteen year old kids in the upper picture are of no consequence. Their faces are merely representative of the youngsters who joined the Academy in Jan 1958. But for those who are our contemporaries, let me introduce the gentlemen in the lower picture.    Sitting on the chairs are (from left) Suresh Hiremath, PJ Jacob and  AC Goel. The people standing behind them are Joseph Thomas, Lalit Dutta, Jaykar Pai and Surjit.

In a manner of speaking, the seventy odd year old men are still emanating light, and have bright faces. Actually, all of them are medical specialists. Each one of them has gone through his share of ailments, and they know all about the medical jargon their particular disease. They also know that the knowledge of the doctors has limitations, and,therefore, they do not expect very much from them.   But ‘jab we met’ we decided not to talk about our health.

We are all agreed that the moral standards in the armed forces have gone down, and that the government has given a raw deal to the soldiers. And so the topics ranged from scams and corruption to the poor water supply in Bangalore.

Fortunately for us, the ECHS gives us ‘dawa’ (medicines) and our ‘daru’ (liquor) is subsidized. The quality of our drinks and snacks was excellent, and so very soon our spirits were soaring. Incidentally, four of the seven were from the Air Force, one (Jacob) a deep sea diver and two came from the land forces, called ‘Pawngoes’ and therefore the balance was maintained. However, the real reason for the joyous meeting was the six ladies who graced the occasion. Here is their picture:

Sitting in the front row are Jennifer Dutta, Saiga Jacob and Elsie Thomas. At the rear, we have Surinder, Kiran Goel and Sudha Hiremath.

Lalit Dutta is as fond of Urdu poetry as many of us are. He wanted to know the meanings of a ‘ghazal’ by Ghalib. Without doubt, it is one of the most profound pieces composed by the master. The first couplet is :

aah ko chaahiye ek umr asar hone tak
kaun jeetaa hai teri zulf ke sar hone tak

‘aah’ is a sign of grief or yearning. And the poet wants  it to be long enough to become effective. 
‘Sar Hona’  means, ‘to be conquered or subdued’. The second line,therefore, means, “Who knows whether I will live long enough to conquer your love?”

The actual ‘ghazal’ has several couplets, but Jagjit chose to sing only three more. These are :

aashiqi sabr-talab aur tamanna betaab
dil kaa kyaa rang karun Khuun-e-jigar hone tak

ham ne manaa ke taGaaful na karoge lekin
Khaak ho jaayenge hum tum ko Khabar hone tak

Key to some Urdu Words: aah = a sign of cry/ grief / yearning ,, sabr-talab=patient, tagaaful=neglect/ignore,   juz = other than; marg = death

The last couplet, (maqta) of this ghazal is:

Gham-e-hastii kaa ‘Asad’ kis se ho juz marg ilaaj

shammaa har rang mein jalati hai sahar hone tak

 ‘Maqta’ in Urdu poetry always comes at the end. In this, the poet reveals his name. Here, Ghalib uses his given name, “Asad” And these two lines mean, “The pain and sorrows of life can only be cured by death. But the spirit of life, which is signified by a candle, must ‘burn’ intill the break of dawn! 

For those who like, I am giving below a link to the above ghazal as rendered by Jagjit,

The picture below catches the spirit of the get together.

 And before we parted, Pai clicked the following group photograph


I met Lalit Dutta after more than twenty years. I noticed that he has an intense love for fine arts, including poetry and music. Add to it the influence of Jennifer, and you get to know why Lara Dutta (now Bhupati) has become a celebrity! 



  1. Had thought of repeating the Get Together of Jul 11 wherein barring Sampat Kumar & Chandrashekharan, all others were present. The ladies again graced the occasion & made the event a memorable one. However, my son having relocated to Pune has denied the opportunity.Will have to wait for the next ASC Reunion for visiting Bengaluru. Will make up by meeting up with Course mates at Pune where we will be for nearly a month from the 18th of this month. It should be a cracker meeting.
    Surjit’s visit gave the Bengluruians another chance for bonding together. Such occasions rekindle the energy in we seventy+ yr olds & help us to live life well despite any handicaps of some ailments.
    P J Jacob, J Thomas, S Hiremath & L K Dutta are ever ready for such occasions & Jaiker Pai & Avinash Goel aren’t far behind. All the very best to the good good friends & their charming lady wives.
    Surjit, thank U ever so much for updating everyone of the event.

  2. wg cdr r k narula says:

    It is years and many years gone by, but still, looking at the unfaded smiles of friends gave me immense joy to know that we are still young at heart.Wish I was there too.Best wishes for happy days in future also.

  3. COLLS says:

    ISS modh par ayeethei humm dubaarraa …
    samjha tha hummne surjeet ney bulaya pukaaraa …
    aour dost mille yaron kee tarah …
    Colls kaa isshaaraa kiss kee tarf…????

    yeh duniya hai ajnabee…
    doston aaj hum hain….
    kal naheen
    jindagii kaa karvvaaaan chalta rahe …
    yehee hai Colls kee ashiqquee hee sahee..

    shuriya doston
    mauka diya aaj hummne app subney
    aaaap subh koe pyar diyaa
    sirf COLLS NEY….

    • COLLS says:



      YOU ALL KNOW..

      iss modh par ayeey thei humm dubaarraa …
      samjha tha humm surjeet ney pukaaraa …
      aour dost mille yaron kee tarah …
      Colls kaa isshaaraa
      kiss kee tarf…????
      yeh duniya hai ajnabee…
      doston aaj hum hain….
      kal naheen
      jindagii kaa karvvaaaan chalta rahe …
      yehee hai Colls kee
      ashiqquee hee sahee..
      shukriya doston
      mauka diya aaj hummeey
      app subney
      aaaap subh koe pyar diyaa
      Colls ney….

  4. R LOGANATHAN says:

    Dear Surjit,it was nice seeing the pictures of the get- together of the seven Musketeers.Ican imagine how delightful it must have been.I know THOMAS from school days.wish you many more such reunions.

  5. Joseph Thomas says:

    The ink pot lamp was what we used in our childhood. If that’s antique, so are we.

  6. Yashvir Tuli says:

    My dear Surjit,
    An excellent effort to revive old memories with your colleagues of Bye-gone days. I also had been writting my “Tales of Bye-gone days” – few of which you must have read – but your effort with excellent photographs out-shines mine. Please congratulate your batch-mates for possessing extremely good health even at this age of 70+. It encourages me to live at least 10 more years after presently 80+. God willing of course.

    Colonel Y V Tuli (Retd)

  7. Harindar Bedi says:


    I cannot but express my admiration for the kind of ‘social service’
    you are doing! Earlier it was the trip to the Andamans and now this
    and there must be many more that I have not seen. To be able to find
    the time and the effort involved……

    Best regards,


  8. Joseph Thomas says:

    Thanks. More later

    J T

  9. Vijay Mayadev says:

    Hey Guies,

    I was envious to see the pictures and figure how wonderful your get together must have been.

    Look forward to meet you when you get to mumbai.

    Regards to memsaabs.


  10. Cmde Anil K Dhir says:

    Great indeed! It gave me a wonderful feeling too!!

    Lucky you are…..

    God bless!!!

    Anil Dhir

  11. Anil Bhalla says:

    to me

    Thanks Surjit It can really bring back memories

  12. Rajesh Kochhar says:

    dear gen surjit sir,

    really very nice thoughts put together so well,

    warm regards,


  13. Amarjit Singh says:

    Many thanks. May God keep us always in high spirits!


  14. Col Manmohan Singh Jassal says:

    Gen Surjit sir
    An excellent effort and a master piece.
    I have not met any one except you but heard of them.
    ” Ham to chale thhe apni manzil akele hi,
    Log milte gaye aur kaarvan banta gaya”
    God bless the old memories and the karvan
    Col jassal

    Dean Administration
    Chitkara University (Pb)

  15. Akshay Kapila says:

    Hi Folks, a real nice write up & pictures. Jaques & I were at the same selection centre batch , both got selected, both were in INDIA sqn & we still have a lot of feeling for each other even though we havent met since maybe 1995. Suresh & us 2 were in India sqn too, were posted at Srinagar & later delhi & spent quality time as families, havent met them again since 1995. lots of love & regards

  16. Lalit Dutta says:

    Dear Surjit,

    Mein kaisay Tera shukria Ada karoon mere dost? Tune to kamal kar di.

    A well composed and beautifully written message to us all here in Bangalore. It is most remarkable that you have preserved a photograph taken 55 years ago. The effort you made to translate into English the Urdu words of my fovourite ghazal by Mirza Ghalib is praise worthy. It filled my heart and left me a little moist in the eye. Thank you.

    The pictures have come out well, haven’t they ?



  17. COLLS says:

    How I wish you had informed us
    about your visit to BLR
    We stayed in Captain’s accommodation
    on MG Road
    near RSI
    It was a lovely stay and beautiful home
    made so many friends
    now to be forgotten..
    years 1982 to1985…

    ”kyun yaad dilla dee
    phir un chand lamhoe kee
    jub khiltae thei humm bhee
    tere gulshan mei kabhee …


  18. sudha murgai says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this mail or shall i say experiencing this MILAN of long lost comrades.It must have felt so good to meet after so many years!

    Gham-e-hastii kaa ‘Asad’ kis se ho juz marg ilaaj

    shammaa har rang mein jalati hai sahar hone tak

    What beautiful and apt thoughts!
    God bless you all!

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