Recalling Sam Maneckshaw last big birthday party, on his 100th birthday

Recalling  Sam Maneckshaw last big birthday party,  on his 100th birthday .DSCN1373
3rd April 2014.

  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.

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