Monday 30 April 2018


           Today, 18 March 2018, one of the foremost Indian Naval Diver, and my Father-in-law has turned 88. He had the privilege of joining the RIN at HMIS Himalaya, the Gunnery school in Karachi in 1945, even before the ashes of the 2 atom bombs dropped over Japan had cooled down. He was just a young Boy of 15 tender years then and had seen the handing over of Baton of our country from British to our infant Nation subsequent to the aftermath of Partition, even as his family migrated from Basali, near Pindi and settled down at Jhansi.

          Commander VP Bakhshi Sir, We wish you very many Happy returns of your most auspicious Day today ....This cake below may look delicious....Albeit, No cake can ever be sweeter than the nature that almighty has blessed you with......May God continue to bless you.

           Commander Bakhshi says, “I was privileged to be involved in the building of our fine Navy from its incipient stage. Having opted for the Diving Branch post-partition, I vaguely remember, that we were about 5 divers deputed to UK for undergoing Deep Sea Diver’s course when I was barely 17. Indeed the diving training makes one tough. But thereafter Life in the Navy was challenging with various emergency assignments coming our way from all over the country. Besides, we set up our own Diving School in Cochin. Naval divers were often called upon to fish out bodies from the disaster sites and water-bodies. One technical assignment cropped up in May 1961, when there were heavy rains in Sonbhadra district of UP and water levels at Rihand Dam started to rise alarmingly while the dam gates became inoperative, requiring immediate diving assistance for underwater repairs. 4 of us were airlifted from Mumbai urgently. We worked in buddy pairs under trying conditions to successfully repair the gates by diving to 162 feet late evening and thus averting the submerging of nearby villages. I was honoured with NM (gallantry) on Republic Day the following year and was commissioned as an Officer on Special Duty Diving cadre in 1964. But before that in 1958 I got married to Urmilla, the only lady who used to drive a Lambretta in NOFRAs at Cochin and Colaba in the 60s and 70s.

           Our assistance was also sought for by the Bombay Film Industry before the term Bollywood was coined, although I was never fond of movies. In 1976, a gentleman having sought HQs approval walked into CCDT. I was the Officiating OIC. He said he wanted to shoot some underwater scenes. I asked him, “Who are you?”. He said, “Sanjay Khan, actor. You didn’t recognize me, Sir ?” I said, “No. I have not seen a movie for the last 15 yrs”…We then chalked out the schedule for the shoot in the Command Swimming Pool. When I went home I matter-o-factly asked my kids whether they knew who this man was. My kids jumped, “OMG! Sanjay Khan ! Don’t you know him, the hero of Hindi films”. During the shoot at the Command Pool, a lot of naval personnel, ladies and kids came to interact with the cast of the movie, ‘Chandi-Sona’.

          We divers are a very close-knit family. I had been a little strict with my sailors as far as their leave forecast was concerned, but on festivals, I used to call them over for drinks to my house. In the late 70s, I received a telegram stating my ‘mother-in-law expired. Come soon’. In a depressed state, I drove to Pune with my sobbing wife. On reaching, we found my hale and hearty mother-in-law opening the door. We were in for a cheerful shocked. I left my wife there and drove back the same night. On investigation, it turned out that a disgruntled sailor who was asked to postpone his leave due to ops commitments had played this prank…At the defaulter table, I excused him with a light warning, that brought a smile to his gloomy face.

         All my children have done me proud. My elder son, Vinod is a Chief engineer in the Merchant marine while the younger one, Vijay on my footsteps has become a professional deep-sea diver and is always on the move to Gulf or South East for the repair of under-water installations. My loving daughter-in-law, Sapna Bakshi works for the Indian Railways. All my three daughters were married to Naval officers, Late Cdr SS Bali, Cmde Ramesh Kumar (Retd) and Cdr Raj Dutta. My eldest daughter, Kunj Bali is a TGT in KV-1 Colaba. The second one, Nishi Kumar is a professor in Xavier’s College of Education. The youngest, Meena Dutta made me proud by winning two Silvers in Nationals Masters Swimming championship in Rajkot in Oct 2013. In 1996,  when she had applied for the post of Ladies Swimming instructors in ENC Vizag, she was interviewed by the HQs panel. All the members questioned her on various aspects of life-saving, but when Lt Shirgaonkar, the sports member requested Cdr Tugnait, the CDO to question her, all he said was, “What can you ever ask the daughter of the senior-most Diver of Indian Navy”…When Meena narrated this to me, I thought that I was a blessed person and my Life in the Navy had been worth it.

        Now at the fag end of this wonderful Life, when Alzheimer’s has set in, I can proudly claim to have thoroughly enjoyed my Naval Life. Starting my life as a young Boy in the wonderful Naval fraternity. I was blessed with a doting wife, brilliant children and 8 smart grandchildren. If ever I was to get a chance to have another go at life, starting from my teens, I would again join my fine INDIAN NAVY…Shano Varuna…Jai Hind !” 

About the Author
Commander Rajinder Dutta (Retd) has been a Naval Pilot and a Qualified Flying Instructor with about 3000 hrs of flying on various fixed wing Aircraft of Indian Navy, viz HT-2, HPT-32, Kirans, Islander, Super Connie, Fokker F-27 and IL-38.
 He is the Hon Secy of NFMC, a Master of Ceremonies and an avid blogger. 

Thursday 26 April 2018


            It was a bright late afternoon in the mid ‘80s as we took off from Palam, in our F-27 beauty to convey our DGCG and his entourage to Bombay. I was then on deputation to the white water Navy – The Indian Coast Guard. Lt Sujoy Ganguly (popularly known as ‘Gangs’) was our Flight Observer (navigator). Having undergone the rigors of the seaking sonar/radar operations, he found solace in captaining the Fokker. A young CG copilot, fresh from the flying club, rattled out the checklist during the smooth climb. The flight at level 160 was uneventful as the Sun very slowly glided down through the distant clouds on the horizon, engulfing the Western Sky with its pinkish charm. This was one of the flights to a very familiar and favorite destination of ours.

        As we approached Bombay, the serene dusk transformed into slow darkness as the weather turned cloudy with a few cumulus thrown around, besides a couple of distant Cumulo-Nimbus clouds(CBs) South-East of Bombay. The Bombay Area Control cleared us for descent and handed us over to Bombay Radar, who identified us on its scope and cleared us down to 3500 ft and directed us to report over the outer marker. We were soon in clouds and I got onto instruments with the cockpit lights dimmed. The radar picture was cluttered up. Flying on instruments with ADF (Automatic Direction Finder) tuned and needle 12 O’clock, waiting for the needle to unlock. Gangs supplemented the copilot’s efforts in looking out visually through the thick clouds to identify any land-marks. The wait seemed endless. R/T (Radio-Telephony) call to the Radar Controller revealed that he had lost us on his scope. Gangs chipped in with his mental DR (Dead-Reckoning), ”Dats we have crossed the OM”. Just then we broke clouds in the Ghats East of Bombay, as the outline of the towering hills was visual in the backdrop of Bombay loom to our starboard. “OOOUFFF..”  We could have well been sitting on top of the hills but for our good luck. Both throttles to MCP (Max continuous power) and I immediately commenced climbing and executed a turn onto starboard keeping clear of the dark protrusions in the backdrop of Bombay loom visually. The subsequent ILS Let down and Landing had been smooth, as the airfield had witnessed a passing shower. The reception party with the COMCG-WEST, had been eagerly waiting to receive the DGCG as the aircraft taxied in after having revised its door opening time.

            What later emerged was that the ADF needle had locked onto a distant CB, as we homed onto it and got out of the not-so-alert radar controller’s scope. After seeing of the VIP, our fuming Gangs went to the Radar Controller to ease off his pent up emotions. Nonetheless this flight did turn us a lot wiser.

PS- This article is a humble tribute to my very Jovial and humorous Observer/ Navigator, Late Cdr Sujoy ganguly, who left us for his heavenly abode in Oct 2013, due cardiac arrest.

Monday 23 April 2018


           The bliss of interacting with like minded Veterans is Priceless…The Annual General Meeting of the Naval Veterans of Mumbai Chapter at IMSC Colaba, is a much awaited affair organised in May/Jun every year. However this year it was preponed to Sun, 15 Apr and conjoined with Adm BS Soman memorial lecture, for which the guest speaker was the International movie legend Kabir Bedi, who held the entire audience in a spell as he spoke from experience on ‘Adapting to change in the fast changing World’. Commander Vineet Wason, who as an NDA cadet was super thrilled by a handsome handshake with Kabir, had arranged for him as the Guest speaker for the talk. This was followed by interaction with Kabir over drinks and lunch at IMSC.

             Later the AGM was conducted at the same venue, steered by Commander Vijay Vadhera. Over 200 veterans have registered into the Foundation during the past year, updating the strength to over a thousand . A min’s silence was observed as a mark of respect to the Veterans who had left our gang for their Heavenly abode in the last one year. This was followed by the new members introducing themselves and their good ladies, some with a touch of humour, declaring themselves to be ‘happily married,’ a class oxymoron that’s second to none. Two writers whose articles found a place in the yearly Quarter Deck magazine were awarded Rs 5K each, Cmde KK Garg and yours truly. I have been fortunate to get my articles published in the last 5 issues of QD. After getting the audited Balance sheet of last year passed by the majority, a few insignificant Agenda points were discussed before a humorous Magic show by Commander Praveen Tulpule. Later Mrs Shekhawat give away prizes to the awardees.Mrs Shail Lodha Mehta was the Best dressed lady for the Day and the award for the Best dressed Male went to Lt Bhende. Besides Cdr Vineet Wason had plenty of other prizes for various other categories.

            A spectacular day spent wonderfully. Awaiting next interaction with Veterans during the forthcoming Navy Week celebrations…Cheers ! Agar koi hum Veterans se poochhe, ke zindagi mein kya khoya aur kya paya ? Toh hum bejijhak kahenge, ‘Jo khoya vo hai hamara bachpan hamari nadaani, aur jo paya wo hai hamare Rab ki meharbani ’… !!!

with the foremost DeepSea Diver of Indian Navy
Cdr VP Bakshi

Mrs Parmar, Bakshi, Meena and Randhawa.

Self receiving the 5K Award from Adm RM Bhatia

Meena,Kabir Bedi & self

Meena with Parmars

Three beauties: Meena with
Mrs Randhawa & Parmar

Cdr Bakshi with daughters

'Am I the oldest member her ?' seems to be saying 
Cdr Bakshi

Daman Meets Daman                                        -09 APR 2018 
       While getting snapped yesterday against the Neon sign-board ‘DAMAN’, that ogles prominently at the harbor entrance of our UT embedded on South Gujarat coast, my wife couldn’t resist quipping ‘That’s Daman against Daman’…My childhood flashed past me with that quizzical statement from Meena. When I was born, Grandma named me ‘Rippu-Daman’ and I was hailed as ‘Daman’  by all paternal Uncles-Aunts and cousins.

       Last Saturday, Anuj rang us up at about 4pm from his Lower Parel-Redfm office with an offer for a Comedy Show at Vapi at 7:30 pm, 150 kms north of Borivali. He asked us to leave by 5 pm to R/V him at 5.45 pm at Vasai enroute to our destination for the two hr show, and return back by mid night. We jumped at his invite, picked him up, drove the smooth Highway to reach the Auditorium in time. When Anuj presented the entry tickets, the man at the counter told him that the show was for the next day. Pointing at the tickets he grinned, ‘Look, its printed 8th Apr’. Anuj paled, ‘Shit, its tomorrow’….Mine and Meena’s response ‘So what, koi gal ni, we’ll watch it tomorrow’…. Lets go to Wardroom (Offrs Mess), Coast Guard Air station Daman 13 kms due west of Vapi… They’d certainly entertain us, as I had been commissioning crew of the premium Air Squadron CGAS-700 at Calcutta, some 35 yrs ago .The only problem was we were not carrying overnight kit with us… Nevertheless enroute to Daman, we collected essential toiletry items and carried some packed dinner…. The mess Secy was most cordial to allot us No-1 accommodation.

       Next morning, after a sumptuous breakfast of Masala Dosas, we went around site-seeing Daman’s attractive locales including the fortified Light-house and Jampore Beach….Daman is famous for its Bars and free flowing liquor. Gujjus flock the place day and night for quenching their thirst ….  Daman, Ladies and gentlemen  is bifurcated into Nani-Daman and Moti-Daman, meaning Small and Large (definitely not the peg measures) respectively….While we were on drive for sight seeing Anuj, quipped ‘Papa, Daman toh meri Nani aur Moti ne apas mein hi baant lee hai’ (Meena’s pet name is Moti). I replied with a tongue in cheek comment, ‘ Beta, Yeh toh Maa – Beti ki apsi mili bhagat hai, is mein mera koi dosh nahi’   

        In the evening we enjoyed the show by  standup comedian Biswa Kalyan Rath, an Oriya boy who has made Mumbai his Home. You can glance at his style of humour at Youtube. He is an IIT grad from KGP. I did enjoy his style of intelligent comedy.

        But there was much more ‘Three Idiots’ style humour at stake at No-1 Coast Guard Officers Mess, by the three Idiots who landed up sans any overnight kit and retired for the night in the 3 towels, provided by the Mess, which they improvised as their lungis….Watch the Lungi Dance, that they performed next morning.