Welcome all and follow me as I meander down memory lane in an attempt to retell some fascinating tales about my father, Victor Egan, who came to India from Hungary in 1939.Unforseen circumstances saw him settle in this wonderful country until his death in 1997.
If I can maintain and keep up this blog, I also plan to include crazy family stories, my attempts at poetry and humorous anecdotes on my travels as an air force wife.
For all my new friends who have recently started following this blog.....please start at the very beginning.....it is a good place to start to get the full impact of this fascinating tale.
1 Squadron of the Indian Air Force moved from Adampur to Gorakhpur in early 1982. They were known as The Tigers and were a fighter unit flying the Mig 21 aircraft.
My sister Juliet and I were naturally curious to meet these dashing men, though my father had his preconceived notions about this particular breed of youngsters, which was that they drank too much, womanised in their free time and eventually killed themselves in an air crash!
Jerry had plenty of business dealings with the air force and when he suggested we come along with him one afternoon to check things out, Jules and I readily agreed. He asked my father if he could take our car and permission was reluctantly given.
We drove into the air force station to be met by the whole squadron lounging about in the lawn in front of their rooms. Since they had recently shifted base, they had all been given temporary accommodation in the mess. When we walked in there were a few seconds of stunned silence, since I don't think they expected to see two very pretty young girls in a one horse town like Gorakhpur. I noticed one of the young men detaching himself discreetly to hammer at a door way down the corridor and yell "Oye Sud,wake up. GIRLS!!"
A few minutes later a sleepy looking man, whom I thought was very attractive, emerged from the room and introduced himself as Flying Officer Sandip Sud. He proceeded to turn on his lazy charm and I was instantly impressed. We settled down to have a few drinks and familiarise ourselves with the crowd, who seemed to be a happy go lucky bunch of people. It was a huge change from the quiet unsocial lives we led in Saraya.
Eventually the married couples retired to their respective rooms while the bachelors showed us around the mess. We ended up in the billiard room where Sud took it upon himself to try and teach Jules the game. He showed no interest in me, which was a bit disappointing, but I was the quiet reserved one and my sister the exact opposite so I was resigned to this happening. The other young men were very pleasant but did not spark any interest of THAT sort.
Every time Jerry looked at his watch and wanted to leave there would be someone at his elbow offering him another drink, which he would eagerly accept. He was getting happier by the minute and it was getting really late, when I insisted it was time to leave, since I knew the parents would definitely start to fret.
The drive back was twentysix kilometres of lonely road through the Kusmi jungle, with only the occasional lantern lit village set back from the road. We were speeding back discussing the events of the evening when a cyclist suddenly loomed out of the darkness and Jerry veered wildly to avoid him. The next thing I felt was the world turning upside down as we rolled over and over in clouds of dust and I distinctly remember thinking "I'm not ready to die!"
It was the 29th of April 1982.
* Sud is actually pronounced Sood, but in the air force where everyone is given a nick name Sandip Sud was called Sud pronounced as in 'soap sud'.
The next few years were peacefully uneventful. Saraya was an unreal oasis in the middle of a crazy world and just what the doctor ordered. I had no friends or social commitments, but that was exactly how I wanted my life to be.
Mother and I would make the occasional journey up to Lucknow, to visit my sister Juliet who was a boarder in Loreto Convent. From there we picked up books and magazines to keep us well stocked for reading matter till the next trip. Even today a pile of volumes on my bedside give me a warm and fuzzy feeling feeling of contentment.
Every Friday was movie afternoon, and no matter what the weather we would venture out to Gorakhpur twenty six kilometres away, in all our make up and finery to catch the three o'clock show of the latest film, as well as do the week's grocery shopping. Neither our Fiat nor any of the movie halls were air conditioned but I don't remember ever complaining about the heat or inconvenience. This weekly routine was so fixed that the local Lothario's would be waiting for our car to pass and then follow at a discreet lovelorn distance, occasionally bravely throwing in a love letter. These small town shenanigan's were a welcome relief after what I had been through, and were always treated with quiet and tolerant amusement.
Summer evenings were spent by the pool - we would carry out our portable record player for music and the cook would rustle up platefuls of "nibblies'. We floated around in a large inflated tractor tyre tube and occasionally had parties with the rest of the Majithia clan. My friend Santosh stayed in Saraya for months on end and we took out father's old jeep to drive around aimlessly for hours. Sometimes we ventured out to one of the small lakes that dotted the area, armed with a bucket and mother's old sari, where we would persuade a couple of village lads to dredge the lake for small Glass fish which we brought home to add to the already exotic collection in our aquarium.
Jerry and father being wayched by mother and my neice Malvika
Jerry Bains came into our lives and his presence was an added bonus to all of us. He was working for one of the Majithia's and had to be in Saraya for prolonged periods of time. He came across to play cards with father every evening and it was always amusing to watch them argue over the spoils of the day which would add up to maybe fifty paisa or a rupee. He knew some of the Air Force crowd from Gorakhpur and would invite them over for crazy parties in which tables and antique dinner sets were known to have been smashed beyond repair. Whenever he arrived from Delhi he would bring us salami, ham and fancy cheeses, none of which were available in a small village.
Jerry and I became close friends and confidantes and I always looked forward to his visits. He is one of those people whom I believe was destined to come into my existence for a reason, as he played a very important role in my life then, when he introduced me to a young Flying Officer of the IAF called Sandip Sud, who is now my husband of twenty eight years, and again many years later when he insisted we buy a flat in Gurgaon, which is where we now so happily live.
One year Robin Lal, a dear friend, stayed with us for nearly nine months after he suffered a really bad accident and those were amazingly happy times filled with laughter. Zohra, whose mother was an English lady married into a renowned Muslim family of Gorakhpur lived with us too. That was another phase that holds warm memories, despite the fact that Zo was not in a good place in her life mentally or physically. We became firm friends and still share a warm camaraderie, though I don't see as much of her as I should. We got into the irritating habit of speaking in heavily accented "babu" English, communicating only in rhyme and writing crazy poetry, which was a cause of great irritation for those who had to put up with it!
There was a lady who called her 'period' having her season which elicited great mirth from us and Zo once sent me this 'poyum' early morning.