Wednesday, 25 March 2020


     Self-quarantined at our Home, nearing Meena’s 53rd Birthday, the obvious phrase that cropped up in our Tombola addicted minds individually, a day prior was -- ‘Joker in the Pack’. The phrase for this B’ day is true to her buoyant nature, a trait that has consolidated in her in the past 30 yrs of wedded life. The celebration was quiet indoors, even as a lot of msgs and calls poured in her cell the entire day, to keep her busy.   

         The first time I saw her at a Biradari fete in Andheri 30 years ago, my hands came together and smilingly I uttered ‘Namaste’. She reciprocated in exactly the same gesture. My next encounter with her was when Shammi (Late Cdr SS Bali) invited me to his H-15 NOFRA block. She was playing the Thhipri game with Boys and Girls on the Road of H block.(that game of 8 square boxes drawn with chalk on Road)  I remember she was in her Pink suit, that was to become my favourite. And I remember She hid my Cigarette Packet in Shammi’s house and refused to return it. On H block terrace she pulled the Fag from my Lips and stubbed it on the floor (we had just been introduced then). That ensured that I do not smoke in her presence,  eventually giving up that vice for good. She has maintained her playful nature throughout for the past 30 yrs, for which most Senior Veterans and Octogenarians are fond of her. She is the darling of RAdm NN Anand,  Cmde SK Bhalla, Cmde AK Chitre, Cdr VK Raizada, Cdr VK Mohan, Cdr RP Singh, Lt and Mrs Bhende many more. During the Singapore tour, She was called with a nickname 'Chulbulli' by Cdr RS Bajwa and Mrs Sunita Vadhera. Janki and Kanta ma'am too love her and feel I don't appreciate her enough. All her Picnic Group friends and Committee members wished her individually sending her virtual cakes and flowers.  She is a person who tries to find happiness in small things in life. She is a person who has kept the child alive in her always. Brusky our Rabbit in Marshal house was her Best Friend, she shed tears for a week on her passing away. Our next pet was a White Rat, presented to her by Aakash on her Birthday a few yrs ago. She tends to about 30 lovebirds in our house. The five Pet dogs look up to her (literally) when she calls out their names from our second-floor window (clip below). 

       I was mighty impressed by the Google App Nametest which says, Meena is a Ray of Sunshine on a cloudy day. She smiles even when She is sad. She laughs and cries too. She is stronger than anyone realises and never gives up. Meena knows that Life is short and precious and there is always hope. She is akin to the Sea - beautiful to watch, but dangerous when angered. She'd go all out to protect her loved ones. 

             She is the Best of a friend one could desire. She'll go all out to help them. But there's a flip side to her; She'd take an aeon to forgive someone, she gets into a confrontation with. To sum up She is full of energy, effusing positive vibes, for that reason She is indeed the life of any gathering. Reflecting back in nostalgia, on my maiden encounter with this bubbly little Girl then in 1990, and peeping through the 'Prism of Life' transports me to 04 Mar 1990 when I first saw her. It was a twist to my destiny on that fateful day….

Read On….

       Let's get shipped to Bombay on the morning of  04th Mar 1990, a day prior to the scheduled return of my Ship INS Ranvir, but the Ship developed a snag and returned back on 4th itself.…I rang up my Thane wali Aunt from the QM landline and noted the address of the Andheri  Biradari Milan…. I was still in two minds of launching myself for this venture amidst strangers….Had I listened to my other mind,  life would have been different today…

 (04 Mar 90)

                  So here was I at the entrance of a Biradri  Sammelan at Andheri totally befuddled amongst strangers welcoming you with folded hands and artificial smiles… I was contemplating on executing an about-turn to return to the ship when my uncle spotted me and escorted me inside at the reception to fill up my personal data and a Questionnaire…. One could see marriageable boys and girls in their best attire being escorted by their parents…My Uncle and Aunt  introduced me to various people of ‘Mohyal’ clan,  the descendants of the Saptarishis…  Just then a gentleman comes and tells me “Bali Saheb is looking for you”…. Bali Saheb? who ?....Where is he ?.... “there at the race tracks…”… When I went there, saw some ladies engaged in a three-legged race, amongst ppl cheering them…there I saw,  OMG! Lt Samsher Singh Bali, who after having read the incoming register had been inquiring about me…On seeing me his face shone with a broad smile as he embraced me, “Oye  Raj, where you had been all these years”…He then introduced me to his mother-in-law, Mrs Bakhshi, a smiling simple middle-aged lady…I did pari-pona (a tradition of feet touching, as a mark of respect ), even as Samsher quipped, “Mummy, yeh wohi Raj hai, jiske baarey mein maine apko bataya tha..”…Next, I met  Shammi’s (Samsher’s nickname)  athletic wife Sweety, who had just won the three-legged race without any perspiration…Just then chirrups  Shammi’s M-I-L, “Oye Sweety,  Moti kithe ?” ..there appears a nice looking girl,  who is introduced by her Mom, “Raj, yeh na Meena hai”…I greet her with folded hands, “Namaste”…She reciprocates exactly the same way…I and Shammi roamed around together, I introduced him to my uncle and Aunt…

3 pm End of briefing… and departure.
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(06 Mar 90)

Two days later self and Lt Bali rendezvous at the lawns of WNC bar, his temple that he has been visiting regularly…He orders drinks for both of us… With a smile, he dips his right-hand little finger into his glass and shrugs out a drop with a ‘Hari Om’ chant…I’m impressed…During the pleasant session he asks me, “Tujhe Maine wine chit pe ek address likh ke diya tha, yaad hai ? “…I give him lost looks, that Calcutta incident wiped off my memory… He then narrated as to how he proposed about me to his MIL aka Sholay style , “Mummyji, Maine na Moti (Meena’s nick name) ke liye ladka dekh liya hai..”…….MIL ,Achha,  kaisa hai ?” …“Bilkul mere jaissa hai, Sharaab peeta hai, Cigarrette peeta hai…jua bhi khelta hai…par ladka badda shareef hai, Mummy, maine usko apka address diya hai , apko milne aayega”……MIL, “ Tu apne kol hi rakh avenje munde nu… agar aaya toh maine usse darwaaze  ke  andar nahi aaney dena” …

        Fortunately uss baat ki naubat hi nahi ayee…God is great, so I thought… After a couple of pegs, he asked blowing a ring of smoke, “Yaar, sach sach batta, tujhe Moti, er.. sorry ..Meena kaissi laggi”…. “Sach sach…?” I laughed…as I put some ice into my next peg… “Haan, sach sach..” he slurs… Just then an ice piece slips from the tongs by me… “Look the Ice has broken on the floor…Let me break the ice to you too… How would you like me to be your relative ?”…Shammi’s  Face brightened with a broader smile like it does at the culmination of each magic trick that he performs in public…His Magic had worked on me…He had taken the revenge of one Gandhi (500) cheque presented at Calcutta.

    As the Bar closed he took me to his home, H block, where his in-laws also happened to be there. I met Cdr VP Bakhshi, one of the first diver of IN a towering personality, but a gentle human being …I had told Shammi particularly “Do not disclose our talk, till I leave for my ship..” …But that excited  Magician couldn’t hide it at the dining table, “Mummy, Raj ready hai” and put me in an embarrassing position in front of everyone, I didn’t know where to look… I don’t know what transpired after our Andheri biradari meet, but I feel I might have impressed Shammi’s MIL with that Pari-pona trick….

            We  met on 04 Mar 90 for the first time and got married on 02 May, two months later in Ashok Van Borivali, where my FIL Cdr VP Bakhshi dropped Achor after retirement…. Here was a case of Love being arranged into marriage by mutual consent of both Parents,  by a Magic trick performed by the Great Magician, my Friend,  Philosopher and Guide…We felt the absence of Cmde Ramesh Kumar, my second co-brother (who was in the USA for his EW specialization) along with his wife Nishi (Meena’s elder sister) during that period.


         That was 30 revolutions around the Sun ago. The journey has taken us to Goa(INS Hansa-IL38s) where we started our Life with meagre resources and plenty of Love, later were blessed with our first bundle of Joy- Aakash in MH Panjim. From Goa, we were transferred to Vizag (INS Taragiri, HQENC and INS Dega) where we were blessed with Anuj. Our later moves to Baroda, Jamnagar, Chilka and Kolkata were equally exciting,  prior to our final destination Mumbai from where I retired in 2014, to drop my Anchor at Borivali for good. 

     Coming back to the present day…..Aakash is sailing as a 2nd Officer on board  the SCI Gas Carrier  VLGC  Raahi, plying between  Fajurah and Dahej in Gujarat, doing his bit, like many other Fauji brats,  in trying to boost our Nation’s economy. Anuj is at her Naani’s place in Jhansi on a holiday. And Meena and I quarantined in our Borivali Flat.

   Meena is Overwhelmed with all wishes pouring in for her on Social Media from overseas (Manju Parmar-USA, Balli- NZ) apart from near relatives and NFMC friends. A Grand Thanks and Salute from ‘Official Photographer of Navy Foundation’ (a title conferred on Meena by Cdr Vijay Vadhera, President NFMC) 

Shano Varuna. Jai Hind.

PS- Imprisoned together in our Borivali Home, this Blog is my lockdown gift to Meena. Gold can wait.

With Varun, Manju, Nishi & Simran

With Sarita Masi & Rahul

 With Rajesh Mehta, Sarita Masi & Rahul


Course Gtg arranged by Cdr Shrimal


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