Recalling Sam Maneckshaw last big birthday party, on his 100th birthday
Field Marshall Sam H.F.J.Maneckshaw, MC
The Gurkhas addressed him as “SAM BAHADUR” The Royal Scots, called him “MacIntosh” Morarji Desai then Home Minister used to call him MANECKJI. Others after
the 1971 victory and because of his Parsi nose, compared him to, Caesar, Napoleon, Rommel or Montgomery. The Parsis fondly and with legitimate pride called this charismatic, most decorated and loved soldier, “APPRO SAM”… ( translated “OUR SAM” )
I last met Appro Sam, on the 3rd of April 2003, at Delhi’s Air Force Auditorium. At the premiere screening of “In War & Peace”, the first ever film to document the brilliant life, times and sense of humor of Sam H.F.J. Maneckshaw. The event was organized by The PAZOR Foundation to coincide with his 89th birthday. This was probably the reclusive Appro Sam’s first and last publicly celebrated birthday party. As a bouquet of 90 roses was presented, the Army’s massed band struck up “Happy Birthday” and the entire audience rose to join in . The Field Marshall was asked to cut the huge cake with a silver “Kukri” the Gurkah knife.Delicious & mouth watering Parsi snacks were served and Sam with a red ‘Tika” or “TEELO” (in Gujrati) on his fore-head then met the public. My sister and I were fortunate to have chatted with him for several minutes . He was thrilled to know , we had an uncle who was a Brigadier in the 10th Gurkah Rifles, that I went to the same school his sisters had and that his cousin Soli Maneckshaw was my mentor and got me started in my career with a British Pharmaceutical Company way back in 1951
To honour the occasion were: Defense Minister, George Fernandez, Minister Tourism & Culture, Jagmohan, the three Chiefs of Army, Navy & the Air-force. Governor of Punjab, Lt Gen J.F.R. Jacob who led the invasion of East Pakistan. Lt Gen (retd.) Adi Sethna and several other dignitaries. Messages from the Prime Minister Vajpayee, Sonia Gandhi & the governor of Delhi were read out. It was the biggest gathering of Parsis and of the community’s leaders from distant lands that I have witnessed in a very long time. They outnumbered the military presence. The ladies decked up in traditional shammos, some in antique saris crafted in China others in gorgeous silks were out shining the well decorated Military brass.
Some one , I forget as I write who, jokingly told Sam that a hundred rose bouquet was ordered and we shall waiting to sing “Happy Birthday” to you, again Sam.
If you like to have the VideoCD , “IN WAR & PEACE..The Life of F.M. Sam Maneckshaw”, you may obtain it from UNESCO”s the PAZOR Foundation In Delhi.
Rusi R. Sorabji.