Why I wrote: The Victoria Cross: A love story
Ashali Varma (OS69)
To describe what went into the book, I wrote about my parents, I will need to start with a bit about myself. I am a journalist and have lived in the US for 14 years and Thailand for four years. In the US, I started with a documentary company and we made films for Discovery and PBS. At first my forte was helping my American crews through bureaucracy and hit the ground running whether it was in Barbados, Bahamas, Mumbai or Brazil. It was tense sometimes but an amazing cultural experience.
I went on to work for the Earth Times a small newspaper that was set up in New York, to follow work the of the UN, NGOs and governments in the field of human rights, women’s issues and population and sustainable development. Finally I joined UNDP as an editor of their magazine Choices in New York.
I was happy with my career and the last thing on my mind was to write a book.
So what made me give up everything to write The Victoria Cross: A Love Story the life of Lt. Gen. PS Bhagat PVSM, VC?
One day, while in Bangkok I got this dreaded call by my mother’s doctor to say she had terminal cancer. I gave up my assignments to come and live with her and take care of her. It was while I was with her that I met and spoke to many serving senior army officers from my father’s regiment. It seemed as if the army was there for her even though my father had died more than three decades ago. I just could not understand this.
Being an inquisitive journalist, I asked the Vice Chief of the Army when he came to visit. “Why are you still doing so much for my mother—
My father died so long ago?
He looked stunned and said ‘Don’t you know your father is a legend in the army and your mother is still the First Lady!”
I was intrigued and started looking for answers.
It took me two years to find what I was looking for. Only then did I realize that while I was travelling the world looking for stories there was a story to be told right here in my own backyard.
During my mother’s illness she showed me letters that she had kept from my father from Africa during World War II and for the first time I saw war through his eyes, in real time. It was mesmeric.
He was modest about his own deeds and never spoke about the ordeal he went through to be the first Indian to be awarded the Victoria Cross in this war. I had to get these from archives and war diaries.
The more people I spoke to and interviewed the more I got to know about him and his career. I went back in time to the 1940s and 50s, 60s and 70s and tried to flesh out the narrative with historical anecdotes, giving the flavor of life lived in a period that saw major changes in India. Partition, wars with China and Pakistan, my father’s involvement and his writings that are prescient even today, make up the body of the book but I wanted it to be different to the usual military books written on army officers. I wanted people from all walks of life to be able to identify with it not just the forces.
With all the letters that I later found between my parents I decided the story also had to be told through my mother’s viewpoint—a love story about two individuals who cared for their country and lived through some amazing experiences.
( Reviews and more about the book available at: ashalivarma.com)
Ashali Varma is the author of The Victoria Cross: A Love Story, an account of the life of her parents, Mohini and Lt. General Prem Singh Bhagat. Gen Bhagat is the first Indian to win the Victoria Cross in the Second World War, and co-author of the Henderson Brooks-Bhagat report on India's defeat in the war with China.
India-born Punit Renjen (OS 79) was recently appointed the next chief executive of US-based accounting giant Deloitte's global operations, becoming the first person of Indian-origin to head a 'Big-Four' audit firm.
How a refugee's son from Haryana became Deloitte… Quartz
Congratulations from the OS Fraternity!
Arunjit Sodhi (OS81) wins 10th Madhavrao Scindia Golf Tournatment
February 14th: Arunjit Sodhi produced a brilliant display of golf skills as he carded 42 nett points to beat around 120 prominent amateur players of Delhi NCR region
at the 10th Madhavrao Scindia Golf Tournament today. The tournament, played in the individual stableford format, was held at DLF Golf and Country Club for the 10th consecutive year.
Congratulations from the OS Fraternity.
OSS Induction ceremony Batch 2015
Click here to view
Praneet Kaur ( OS H79) passed away on 21 Feb 2015 after a prolonged illness. She was known for
her cheerful personality and was a popular headgirl.
She is survived by her husband Col Ajaytaj Singh and a daughter Avneet Kaur . She comes from a family of Sanawarians. Her mother Yogindra (Dhillion ) Singh(OS56) was headgirl during her time, Her Uncle Dr Harish Dhillion (OS58) taught english in Sanawar, sister Gurmeet Kaur (OS76) also a headgirl
and brother Sundeep (Sunny) Singh (OS81). She will be missed by her family and friends.
May her soul rest in peace !
The OS Family!
It gives me immense pleasure to inform you that Shomie Das Friendship
(Cricket) Cup will be held at MIG Cricket Club Bandra East Mumbai on 10-12
Mr Das will be attending the matches on all days as well as the SDFC dinner
at MIG Banquet Hall.
The charges for the dinner will be Rs 1500/- per head inclusive of dinner
and mixes. Hard drinks will be charged @ Inr 150 per large peg/pint of beer.
The tournament and dinner is open to all old boys and girls of the three
participating schools –Sanawar , Doon and Mayo.
Sanjay Dutt's (OS77) wife Manyata Dutt has donated Rs 3 lakhs for the Man
the Tournament Trophy for a period of 3 years.
Mrs Dutt will hand over the trophy after the final on 12 April.
Lunch at MIG will be charged @ Rs 300 per head (player exempt)and beer and
drinks at nominal charge.
We look forward to three days of cricket-ainment and cementing old
relationships and building new ones amongst our three schools.
If there is any assistance required pl do not hesitate to call!
3B 1102 Whispering Palms
Lokhandwala Kandivali (East)
Mumbai 400 101 India
Tel: +91 22 6699 8104
Fax: +91 22 6699 8103
Mobile: +91 98204 03394
Harsh Vardhan S Khimta (OS96) launched his first book "Maidens of Trafford House" on 25 Feb 2015 at India International Centre Delhi.
Maidens Of Trafford House is a collection of eight stories. The tittle story is based on Sanawar. These stories cover a wide range of human emotions; from intoxicating romance to sublime tragedy, from sinking loneliness to boundless joy.
The book was launched in Noida by Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Sattar and later at India International Centre by Gautam Chintamani and Prabhsharan Kang (OS60).
The book was earlier endorsed by Dr Shashi Tharoor who called Harsh Vardhan Khimta a talented author.
Copyright ©2011 THE OLD SANAWARIAN SOCIETY
Site credit NZTechnologies