07 December 2009

Burma to Japan with Azad Hind by Ramesh S. Benegal

A familiar face in an unexpected place
I had a very interesting experience while reading this book.
I’d received it some weeks ago and, flipping through it felt it deserved a wider readership. It hadn’t come to me through one of my regular channels (Sunday Mid-day, various publishers or my regular book-shopping sprees) but had been sent by Joseph Thomas to whom I’m connected through an old-school tie. We’ve never met but are good friends. He’d served under Air Commodore Ramesh S. Benegal, MVC, AVSM whom he described as “one of my heroes. Outstanding flier, thorough gentleman.” I suggested to my editor at Sunday Mid-day that I would write about this book for the 6 December issue and she agreed, and I did … you can read more about the contents of the book in what I wrote here.

The odd experience I had was that, right on page 6, I unexpectedly recognized someone who happened to be a main character in the first section of the book! Naturally that made it much more interesting to me.
This was the author’s uncle, Tirkannad Sunder Rao, and his two sons, one of whom had been married to my father’s sister.
When I knew Mr. Rao senior he was elderly and bedridden. I don’t remember ever hearing him speak. But I do remember being, as a child, always impressed with the kindness and devotion with which my aunt nursed and tended him.
Reading about the adventures of his young days and the bravery and generosity he had faced them with, I wished I had paid him more attention - perhaps had a conversation, or in some way shown affection or respect.
So for me, the book was not just a few hours of vicarious adventure to enjoy but also something of a lesson in how to live.


  1. Thank you, Saaz, for this tribute to a great man.

  2. http://epaper2.mid-day.com/midday/drive/epaperpdf/06122009/061209sm-mn-33.pdf

    The actual book review.

  3. Hi, loved your blog. Did you read any of siddarth Dhanvanth sanghvi's work?