The 2020 Pandemic had thrown a colossal challenge to mankind and restricted them in their ability to manoeuvre. Restrictions during lockdown, seemed to be imposing. Even as the COVID-19 gripped the world in its clutches commencing early last year, some extraordinary people, most of them unsung heroes emerged as Corona Warriors. They comprised Health Care workers, Armed Forces, Paramilitary, Policemen, Delivery men and the like. The World bows to them. 2020 and 2021 owes it to them.
NFMC, comprising 15 Committee members under the leadership of Cdr Vijay Vadhera endeavoured in their small humble way to continue the welfare efforts for the Veterans and Veer Naris of the Mumbai Foundation, whether it was procurement and distribution of of Face shields, face masks, Homeopathic immunity booster doses or the distribution of American Almonds to Octogenarians and Veer Naris during the Veterans Day on 14 Jan this year. The committee met on a weekly basis on Video conference to discuss issues. Monthly lectures were organised by inviting eminent speakers on VCons covering health related topics.To date 25 lectures have been conducted by eminent speakers including former Cs-in-C and DGCG. Recently as the Pandemic exhibited the withering trend a Veterans gettogether was organised on 10 Oct at INS Tanaji inviting 30 Veteran couples, that was a cheerfully appreciated.
During the fortnightly meet last month, it was suggested to hold an outing for all CMs with families at INS Hamla on dutch expenses basis. Cdr Vadhera spoke to Cmde RK Singh, CO Hamla who was delighted by the idea and booked 14 shacks for 18-20 Oct. All the CMs were eagerly looking forward the meet and greet, but two CMs ; Cdr Guddu Sharma, who couldn’t join at the last moment due to health issue and Cdr Srikant Patnaik due urgent commitment. The menus chalked out by our 37 yrs young Veer Nari, Dr Kanta Mukherjee, were approved sans discussion.
INS Hamla had dwelt into minutest details to plan our get-together, to ensure pampered comfort for the Veteran CMs. The Program chalked out by Team Hamla, stood us in awe and made us feel revered.
The shacks were spick and span to receive guests by 1000 hrs on the D Day. The CMs started arriving from various locations spread over Mumbai. Farokh and Anahita, Puran and Manju & Manjul and Alka were the early birds to land at the Sea Breeze Hard, preceding Meena and I. By 1230 all had arrived after having dropped their paraphernalia in the allotted shacks. The Jhappi/Pappi endured till Cmde RK Singh, CO Hamla joined in with his smiling team of Capt R Praveen Kumar (TC), Cdr B Shukla (LOGO) and LtCdr Tanuj Singh (Mess Secy). The Bar was exquisitely rigged with beer and assorted drinks. Capt Praveen mentioned about his better half Sarita having hung her uniform after her GTO tenure from 33 SSB Bhopal. Cdr Vadhera beckoned him to usher her along for the Karaoke evening, She being an integral part our fraternity. The lunch had been delectably catered for, topped up with mouth-watering ‘Dates Halwa’ and ‘Chocolate Golgappa’.
Quite a few Veterans, spouses and kids mustered at 1630 hrs at the Sea Breeze Hard and treaded to the Watermanship Complex for the sensational Water-Scooter and Motor Boat ride. Anuj and Meena picked up Kayaks for fun, emulated by a few others too. Since the Water scooter malfunctioned after a few rounds, the remaining enthusiasts were offered the speed boat ride. CO himself steered the speed-boat for a few of us and demonstrated the expanse of Hamla from the water-front. On consummation of the water-borne activity, high-tea awaited us at the Sea Breeze Hard.
The prized itinerary, Karaoke night with Barbeque commenced with arrival of Cmde RK Singh, CO Hamla & First Lady Monica as our Chief Guests along with Capt Praveen Kumar and his butter half, Cdr Sarita Nagayach, Cdr & Mrs Shukla and LtCdr Tanuj Singh. The evening kick started with Hamla Cake cutting by CO Hamla and Dr Kanta Mukhrjee that was followed by presentations. Cdr Vijay Vadhera presented CO Hamla with NFMC Memento and a copy of QD2021. Mrs Sunita Vadhera then gifted the Book ‘How to light 100th Birthday Candle’ by our NFMC member Cdr Ashok Shinde, to Mrs Monica Singh. Cdr Sarita Nagayach was also presented a copy of QD2021. Cdr Raj Dutta on behalf of NFMC received a memento from CO Hamla. Cdr Vadhera then called Raj to steer the Karaoke evening in his rich baritone. Cdr Vadhera initiated the show with a melodious number, that set the ball rolling with uninhibited melodious numbers and duets by Cdrs Manjul Mayank, Shukla, Sarita, Capts Rakesh Agrawala and Praveen Kumar, Mrs Meera Agrawala, Mamta Kankan, Sonali Bharti, Master Siddhant Bharti, Akanksha, Mrs Shashi Singh and culminating in the evergreen Chalte-Chalte that was sung by all in unison. The drinks and Barbeque servings continued till the Soup was served. The guests left entirely satiated by a wonderful melodious evening.
Despite most of us calling it a day around midnight, quite a few gathered at the Sea Breeze Hard early morning at 0645 hrs to visit the Hamla Jungle, escorted by CO and his First Lady. The forenoon was left for individual shopping in Hamla Canteen and the NWWA Shop after a sumptuous Breakfast in the shacks. Everyone reassembled at the Hard at 1230 hrs for PLD and Lunch. Meena directed some pose s and steps for compiling a dance number for CMs (Video 5 below). After a short siesta, the evening was dedicated to sports. Veterans tried their hand at beach Volleyball. A Tug of War was organized between Veterans Vs Ladies and Kids, that was won by the later 2-1. Everyone after a quick change reassembled at 2000 hrs for drinks and dinner amidst rounds of Chess. Master Siddhant Bharti (the 10 yrs young wonderkid, the state Champ) beat Farokh, Raj and Kunal. Winner Siddhant, Runners up- Farokh. Another great evening culminated with delectable dinner topped up with Indian Navy’s mouth-watering favorite ‘Trunk of Tree’. It was almost the midnight hour when Farokh and I bid sayonara to Dr Kanta Mukherjee, Kunal, Sonali, Aalika and Siddhant after an extended game of Chess.
Early next morning Abhishek Kankan snooped from his Shack’s Verandah and clicked a few snaps of Meena and Anuj engaging Cdr and Mrs Vadhera in incredible trick photography at the beach. Soon Puran, Manju, Manjul and Alka too joined in for beach photo Op.
The eventual session of photography commenced after assorted breakfast with fresh fruit juices at the Hard. Meena directed and shot couples in romantic poses, including the famous Titanic posture. It was then the Birthday Cake cutting moment of our jolly good fellow, Cdr Gulab Rai. We all sang for him and relished the delectable Chocolate Cake dexterously baked by expert Hamla Chefs. Clearing of individual Bills was followed by to Jhappi-Pappi, 3 Jai’s for Hamla and Sayonara.
Cmde RK Singh, CO Hamla came personally to bid us farewell at Cdr Vadhera’s Shack ‘Sea Land’ at 1100 hrs. The later conveyed our utmost gratitude to the CO for the exceptional manner in which the staff of Hamla left no stone unturned to ensure all comfort for Veteran Committee members to depart with sweetest memories to relish in foot-prints of time. (The memories are forever stored below to relive by a click)
As the last few of us said sayonara and bid adieu to Hamla, wheeling out our Manza, the smile on our lips was reflective of the honour bestowed on us Veterans by our Naval establishment, we were once privileged to be a part of, during our Subs-courses.
Sam No Varunah
PS- Do watch the event-wise Videos below the Photos. Double click and zoom Videos for better effect.