A COMPASSIONATE YOUNG OCTOGENARIAN-
CDR OM PRAKASH BHANDARI
“Give Compassion: Every day the average person fights epic battles never told just to survive.” – Ken Poirot
“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“The highest form of knowledge is empathy.” – Bill Bullard
The stories of compassion and empathy give us Goosebumps, but a chance meeting with a Senior Veteran endowed with these virtues is a blessing indeed. Cdr Manjul Mayank, Meena and I were fortunate to experience the same in Senior Veteran Cdr Om Prakash Bhandari’s Jogeshwari Home on Mon 07 Mar 2022.
NFMC had initiated the process of CNS Memento presentation to the Octogenarians on their 80th Birthday by the Area Committee members at their homes, celebrating the occasion pompously. The noble deed had to be shelved during the 2-year pandemic and we have recommenced the process recently after the hiatus. Cdr OP Bhandari turned Octogenarian on 13 Aug last year and had celebrated the Occasion with his family.
Cdr Nozar Engineer, Committee Member from Andheri had planned to present the memento to Cdr Bhandari in end Feb but because of his ill health, I was blessed with this golden opportunity. Manjul Mayank and I planned our Visit on 07 Mar. Our host had been very eagerly looking forward and explained the location lucidly.
Meena and I left our Borivali home early on 07 Mar, to pick-up my monthly medicine quota from ECHS Malad, nevertheless rang the bell of Viji-villa at the appointed noon hour to be greeted by beaming Cdr Bhandari and handsome Son Amit. Amit had been a Capt in Merchant Marine now COO of a shipping company. We were introduced to the lady of the Home, Mrs Subhash Bhandari and their beautiful Daughter-in-law Sounia, who is a fashion designer of repute with Bollywood stars among her clientele. We shook hands and settled down in the cosy sofa in the exquisitely decored drawing room. Soon joined Cdr Manjul Mayank to add some more smiling chatter to the room. Our poisons were asked for. The ladies and I preferred cold Jeeru/ chhas, while the real men went for chilled beer. Mrs Subhash Bhandari had started her career as Primary teacher in KV-1 Colaba in 1971, (the year Meena started her std-I in the same school). Ma’am retired in Sep 2006 as Principal of KV. She was awarded All India KVS incentive Award in 1997-98 and outstanding Teacher Award by Rotary Club (Photos below). She had been class Teacher of Meena’s Sister and our NFMC Veer Nari Kunj Bali, herself a TGT of KV-1 Colaba and superannuating in May this year. Mrs Bhandari was enamoured and overwhelmed, when Meena showed her a snap with Kunj Bali clicked 7 yrs ago. Her eyes beamed as she said, “Ab mere students bhi KV se retire ho rahe hain”. Our further discussion revolved around the Navy nostalgia amongst rounds of beer and kababs and small eats.
Little Om was born on 13 Aug 1941 in Amritsar into a Punjabi family. His Father was a Manager in Imperial Bank and mother a humble housewife who was a renowned singer in Jallandhar Radio stn. Of the 6 brothers and 1 sister, Om is No-2, and passed out from DAV Simla. He was a child prodigy Actor and took part in a number of plays in the famous Gaity Theatre Simla. After his schooling young Om joined the 21st NDA in Jan 1959. After B.Eng. From Naval College Of Engg, Lonavla, he was awarded Watch-keeping from INS Mysore in 1965. As OIC team he carried out 1st Time 100% Review of SPDC Inventory in 1969 -70. Eng Off - INS Cauvery in 1971-73 , INS Kamorta in 1976-77, INS B'Putra in 1980-81. As Eng Supt. In C Of Y Deptt in Naval Dockyard , Mumbai was responsible for 100 % availability of All Yard Crafts, Barges , Dredgers and Yachts in1982-83. Was One of the Founders of Naval Maritime Academy ,Colaba and served as Chief Instructor from ,1999 -2003. Won Thimmaiah Trophy in Dinghy Race with CDR Siriramulu at Bhatkal Lake in 1961 and in Cochin in 1964
On the domestic front as a Lt he got married to beautiful Subhash on 11 Oct 1967 and both have held hands in the journey of their lives. They have been blessed with 3 handsome Sons Ajay, Sumeet and Amit all well settled by grace of almighty.
1. Capt. Ajay Bhandari, (Master Mariner) Spouse – Payal, blessed with one Son – Apar.
2. Sumeet Bhandari. (Owner of "Future Vision" Event Management Co in Sharjah) Spouse – Mala. Blessed with 2 Sons - Aryan and Agrim.
3. Capt. Amit Bhandari , (Master Mariner) Spouse – Sounia, blessed with 1 Daughter – Rashi.
Amit went Facebook live as Manjul and I presented Cdr Bhandari with CNS Octogenarian memento and Quarterdeck 2021 on behalf of President NFMC. Cdr Bhandari couldn’t conceal his emotional love and bonding with Navy and the glint in his moist eyes said it all. A proud moment for a Veteran. Amit was in constant touch with his followers coaxing them to share their feelings by their comments after he interviewed all of us in turns on this august occasion.
Subhash Ma’am and Sounia then served us hot lunch with Makki ki Roti & Sarson ka saag besides other delectable dishes topped up with sweet Gulab Jamoon.
After a little further diving down in Navy Nostalgia, we took leave of the magnificent and well knit family, who came out to bid Manjul, Meena and self a warm and smiling handshake and farewell (video below).
As we wheeled out to set course to our Borivali home, Meena and I smilingly glanced at each other enamoured with the deep intense Love for the Indian Navy that Cdr Om Prakash Bhandari and his empathetic family epitomises.
Shano Varuna…..Jai Hind.