– Vijay Khurana
From Vijay Khurana :
About two weeks ago, while on a visit to Bombay, I chanced to meet Lopa Ghai at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club.
Lopa Ghai is the wife of our dear friend Greesh Ghai who passed away in August 1988 of a heart attack. He was 42. He was, perhaps, the first one to go from our class of 1963.
Greesh and his younger brother, Rajiv, were pulled out of BCS at the end of 1962 because their parents were not enthused by the grades that these boys obtained in school. They moved to Cathedral in Bombay and eventually finished their schooling from that institution.
Rakesh Chopra and I saw a lot of Greesh during our winter breaks between 1958 and until I left Bombay in 1985.
Greesh’s father was in the timber business and they had saw mills in Yamuna Nagar and in Darukhana near the docks in Mumbai. Changing business patterns saw them see the timber business dwindle and then fade away. They then moved to a rental income stream by leasing out the large property that they owned near the docks where demand was constant with attractive rates still being available. It was no where near the margins that the timber business gave them but they were content with this alternative where the risks were lower and business enterprise was not at a premium.
Greesh was a generous and warm hearted person. He was a good friend. It is a testimony to his sterling qualities that all his close friends stood by and helped Lopa after his passing away. He had earned their loyalty. Greesh was easy going but committed to any effort when he put is mind to something. While at BCS he excelled at painting and on the games field he was a good short distant runner but his best events were the shot put and the discuss throw. He showed aptitude as a soccer defender and a decent cricket player. Sports was an activity he loved most to the detriment of his studies though he was no laggard. His marks were decent but the parents expected a scholar and that he was not !!
After Greesh’s departure, Lopa brought up their boys, Monty (named after Monty of Rivaz house and whom Greesh greatly admired) and Sanjay. Both boys went to Cathedral and then to the US for their college education. They bear a striking resemblance to Greesh. Monty is currently with BBC Worldwide based in Singapore. He is married to the niece of former film star, Vinod Khanna. Sanjay the younger boy stays with Lopa and is an importer of food products. His wife is well known in the dog grooming business.
Rajiv, the younger brother of Greesh became the victim of drug and alcohol abuse fairly early in life. It took a toll on his personality and his health. He lives in a rented apartment not far from Anand Vihar, Warden Road, the family home. He sustained an injury that has impaired his ability to walk. Lopa has provided him with full time servant help and she supervises his care on a daily basis.
Lopa looks almost exactly when I first met her in 1969. She has not changed much since the time of their marriage in 1970. Life just moved on but she brought stability to the lives of her sons. She is justifiably proud of them.
For some of you to be able to recall Greesh Ghai, I send as attachments to this mail, Rivaz house photographs for the years 1961 & 1962. In the picture for 1961, Greesh is standing in the third row, 5th from the left. He is in between Jimmy Gideon and J L Joshi. In the Rivaz House 1962 photograph he is seated 4th from the right in between Harpreet Grewal and CM Kohli, his dear friend and smoking buddy. RLV Nath was the other smoking companion and therefore a good friend.
I recall some lovely and memorable outings with Greesh during our winter holidays in Bombay. The meals at his home were always superb and his mother (she fell to cancer) made so much of an effort to make sure we were fed well. Her cooking was outstanding. (I loved the raita and the gobi she made!!) His father was a mild manner man and short of stature. He often gave in to the demands these boys made of him all the time. He loved them dearly and his was never the firm hand.
Greesh was an emotional man. He was a warm and caring friend. Despite his size and considerable physical strength he was incapable of hurting anyone. He was averse to a physical fight and therefore served as an excellent prop when you wanted to threaten anyone on the road!! One of those guys who knew he had strength but was always wary to even measure its force, let alone employ it!! A timid giant ? Not really but just a pacifist who was afraid to hurt anyone because at the back of his mind he probably knew that the damage he could inflict would be considerable if not severe!! He was just not the street fighter and that he could never be given his character and gentle temperament.
I miss him.
My kind regards and good wishes, again, for the Coming Year
Further to the details of the visit to Mrs deMellow, here is a letter from Mr. I.L. Bhatia that is of importance. We apologize for the misspelling of the names and will be correcting this error now.
OCA Web Team
I thought I must tell you about a couple of changes which you ought to make in the write-up based on factual position. These are broadly as under:
Melville Frederick Oswald deMellow. Born on 28.04.1913. However, he used to write Melville deMellow which he used to pronounce also as “The News Read by Melville deMellow”. deMellow is one word with d small.
Mrs. Coralie Emma deMellow (also known as Jane).
(I have purposely given the correct spellings as both of them were very sensitive persons, more so in the matter of their names. Editor: Our apologies. Corrections being effected!)
Mrs. deMellow’s elder sister lives in Bangalore along with her son is not able to come to Delhi, since he looks after his mother.
Her brother – Dr. Stephens (A Medical Doctor) who is 100-years old lives in New Zealand.
All three have 90% hearing impairment. I am somehow in touch with both of them through mails or at times I connect these persons on my mobile so that Mrs. deMellow can speak to them on special occasions like Birthdays, WAs etc.
Assignment with Radio:
Mr. deMellow was a regular employee of AIR on a 58-year contract. All the performing artists in AIR (there was no Doordarshan then), were termed as Staff`Artists and initially were given a five year contract. Later, it was decided to give them a contract till 58 years of age – to be at par with the Govt. employees. Although Mr. deMellow’s contract up to the age of 58 years expired in 1972, he continued to get extension of two year contract till 1978. He retired in the scale of a Joint Secretary. The only difference between Staff Artists vis-à-vis Govt. employees was that while the former were not entitled to Govt. Pension, the latter were entitled. This distinction was also done away with in 1982 when all the Staff Artists were declared Govt. servants. However, by that time, Mr. deMellow had retired and therefore all SAs who were in position prior to 1982 were not entitled to pension. Mr. Jasdev Singh who was trained by Mr. deMellow is getting a fat pension as he retired after 1982. In short, he was not paid on assignment basis but was getting regular salary every month. The ex-gratis payment of Rs. 1500/- was sanctioned by AIR in 2009 when she had corresponded with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi as advised by me. But it was suddenly stopped as the Prasar Bharti Board had stopped all such payments. The DGs of AIR whom I knew personally (Ms. Noreen Naqvi and presently Mr. Liladhar Mandloi) could not get it restored as it was a Board’s decision. The article in the newspaper was a subtle message for AIR in their ignoring the widow of a Padma Shri broadcasting icon!
I worked with Mr. deMellow exactly for ten years from 19.08.66 to 18.08.76 when I moved out after qualifying the UPSC examination. Even after I got shifted to administrative line, I was in touch with deMellows and was considered a family member. After the untimely death of her husband, Mrs. deMellow did not want to live in Kalkaji and wanted to be shifted to Saket so that she can be some where near to my residence.
After working in several Departments and Ministries of the Govt. of India, I superannuated in April 2004 after working for more than six years as Chief Vigilance Officer in the Ministry of Water Resources. Immediately thereafter I joined as Adviser in AAI where I worked till February, 2012 All these years, I have tried to help and assist her in every possible manner which she gratefully acknowledges as well. I do it out of compassion rather than any compulsion. Practically all workers and residents know me who go to her house immediately in case of a problem and also immediately inform me when she has a problem.
While I have not been introduced to Mr. Vijay Khurana formally, nor in a detailed manner to Mr. Neel Mehra and Mr. B.M. Singh, I thought of giving you my background and therefore this detailed mail. Breda Dayal came in to picture 4-5 years back only and I had no idea as to who she was, till I was introduced to her about 3 years back. Mrs. Dayal is an Irish lady who genuinely helps her whenever she can.
When I met both the above gentlemen the other day, I had emphasized that the best thing would be to depute someone to try get her a fixed monthly amount with which she can live a decent life. Perhaps, you can concentrate on that and in the meantime, as was requested during our inter-action with them, to arrange for a lady assistance from 8 am to 8 pm. Since I am also now +68, I do not have much energy left to run around. Still I do help her and regularly see her to meet her medical and grocery needs, payment of all bills etc. despite the fact that it has genuinely impacted my life in a way! My only interest is that she should pass the remaining years of her life as she would like to do and therefore despite telling her about the old age homes, never compelled her to shift there as she is comfortable staying in her home.
For any other information, you can contact me whenever you feel like doing it.
With best wishes,
Dear Mr Goss,
I am taking the liberty of introducing myself as former student of yours from BCS. I was a boarder and finished with the class of 1963. I owe your e-mail address to Mr Sasim Das Gupta, who has my profuse thanks.
You taught us English in Shell and then educated us in the less complicated Mathematics for those that opted for the Arts or the humanity subjects. Your readings during class periods of Sherlock Holmes is an event I recall because it eventually encouraged me to buy the entire volumes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. The Sherlock series was offered in two volumes by an Indian publisher.
What I also recall is the devastatingly frugal marks that you dished out for our English tests. Govinder, who was a good student of the subject, on that occasion obtained for the form order a decent 46 when most of us barely hovered just above the pass mark of 40 and more particularly in the region of 41-43. I was awarded a low 38, the only time I ever failed in the language. It caused me much anguish and I thankfully obtained a 43 at the end of year final examination, sufficient enough to proceed to the next class!! I recall collecting that detail before heading to the railway station. I then knew that the impending holidays would be more cheerful!
I also recall your disarming honesty. While preparing for our final board examinations we tested ourselves against the previous years exam papers. One winter evening you were passing by when you popped in to where Rishi and I were attempting to solve an old paper. Rishi asked you the meaning of the word “bottleneck” and while you answered all the others you were candid to say, “I do not know the meaning of that one!!” That word has stuck with me and I made it a point to discover its meaning even though it was a long while before I eventually made the discovery !! Traffic bottlenecks is now a feature we live with !!
I am sending, as an attachment to this mail, a few photographs to refresh your memory. I do hope you will enjoy seeing them since they will inevitably revive a host of memories.
My kind regards to your family and you.
V K Khurana
(Vijay Khurana, Lefroy 1954-63)
P.S. I am taking the liberty of sending this mail to members of my class and those for the preceding years of 1961, and 1962. With the aid of modern technology, it has been convenient to remain in touch and we exchange notes fairly often. We also meet as often as is possible but that becomes distinctly difficult for a bunch of 60 year olds who still seem rather busy !!