Sunday, November 5, 2017

In memory of Dr Aamer Mansoor

It always pains me when I add a new photo of a lost friend in the caption of my blog. And today with a very heart I add thumbnail photo of one of our dearest friend and my first term platoon mate Dr Aamer Mansoor who expired just recently on 2nd November 2017 in Lahore.

Aamer joined Khalid 4 platoon on 12 May 1975 and was aspiring to be a man in khaki. But he had his destiny somewhere else. His mother wanted him to be a doctor and he wanted wear the long heavy military boots. He missed his admission in King Edward Medical College (KE) Lahore and thus he was allowed to join PMA and follow footsteps of his father, serving brigadier at that time. 
A memorable Khalid-4 group photo of 1st Term
Standing (L to R):  Safdar Jahanzeb (late) Jamshed, Shirazi, Tahir, Razzaq, Zafar, Fazal, Mujeeb, Noor
Sitting )1st  Row (L to R):   Asif, Janjua, Awan, Masood, Corporal Tareen, Jalal, Tariq, Younis         Sitting )2nd Row (L to R):   Naveed, GM, Iqbal, Aamer Mansoor,  Jamal, Khalid, Aslam, Mushtaq

But despite missing his bus to the medical college, his destiny and his mother's prayers were answered and due to additional marks of NCC, he was granted admission in KE, Lahore. Thus he opted for discharge from PMA, which was accepted and he became a doctor -later a cardiologist.

In those days, the means of communication were rare, sluggish and rather non existent - thus we lost any contact with him as we did with many of our course mates who were withdrawn from PMA in the first term. For forty years we did not know where Aamer was till one day in 2015 he googled 55 PMA and came across course website hosted by me and from there he got the phone number of course secretary from the letter I had displayed fro the 2016 course get together. He then contacted Asif and that is how he found the rest of us after forty years.
Dinner in the honour of a newly found comrade at DeSOM
Iqbal, Janjua, Zahir, Aamer Mansoor, Naveed Akbar, Abdur Rehman, Athar, Maqsood, Nauman, Shirqazi, Tassawar, Ali Akbar and Khalid Javed
Aamer Mansoor with K-4 (Left to right): Aamer Mansoor, Iqbal, Naveed Akbar, Shirazi, Younis, Tassawar, Nauman, Khalid Javed and Janjua

Lahore Chapter was prompt in embracing him into Lahore Chapter group and we got in contact. A special dinner was hosted in his honour by Lahore Chapter which was attended by a sizable number of course mates stationed in Lahore and specially his platoon mates of Khalid 4.
In February 2016, I visited Lahore and meeting Aamer was first priority. I called on him and we both were pleased to see each other after four decades. Thereafter Aamer became a regular attendee of any function organized by Lahore Chapter and graced each occasion with his typical smile and friendly personality.
A get together  at Lahore - Aamer standing extreme right

Aamer was always seen making up for the lost time with us and bridging the gap of the last four decades. This was evident on all gatherings as he would interact with each and everyone around and trying to revive the memories. He may not have had any intimate interaction with our Malaysian friends, Ramli and Ismail, in PMA for he had had hardly three months with us in PMA, but during Ramli's visit to Pakistan and Lahore, he had frequent chats with Ramli and posed with him to preserve the moment forever - maybe not for him for he had his life running out, but for us to remember him forever.
Aamer (standing extreme left) posing with Khalid-4 platoon mates (Iqbal, Younis, Tassawar and Khalid Javed) and Nauman and Ramli

While Lahore Chapter had frequent interaction with Aamer, I was at a loss as I could not meet him again. I was recently in Lahore to visit my ailing cousin, presently admitted in CMH due to critical head injury and I was to meet him on a dinner being planned on 2 November - but it was only found that he had had a heart bypass when Nauman rang him up to extend the invitation. I wish I could have known on that day and would have visited him 1 November - but I was too late as early morning on 2 November I received the lamenting message of his death. I attended his funeral and bade farewell to a friend, a jolly good man and superb human being. 
May ALLAH SWT rest his soul in peace and bless him in His jawar e rehmat. Aameen

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ramli revisits friends of more than four decades

The ongoing visit of brother Mohammad Ramli bin Othman, with whom we have a an association of more than four decades is more than a home coming.  While Ramli found most of us weighty, it was a pleasant surprise to see him slim as he was four decades ago, vibrant, radiating, energetic, smiling and witty, recalling old days with such clarity as if it were just yesterday that we were together..

While Ramli had been hosting many of us visiting Malaysia, the specially arranged get together by Arjmand Iqbal of 55 Twin City Chapter, assisted by Arbab Zahid and Mohammad Asif was one of the widely participated local get together at Islamabad to welcome Ramli. Ramli is here to attend a two weeks law course at NUST.

The get together was held at the roof top of the Islamabad Club golf club and was attended by almost four dozen local course mates in addition of vising Altaf Rehman from USA and Tariq who came all the way from Lahore to grace the occasion.
 To honour the visiting brother Shoaib Mumtaz announced hosting a dinner for Ramli
 Ramli writing away his address details for Lieutenant Waheed while Tariq Sher watches
 Visiting Altaf Rehman posing with Waheed and Ramli
At the end of the dinner, a beautifully wrapped gift was presented to Ramli. Thereafter everyone joined together for a final group photo. The bad light and fragile cell phone cameras flash could not capture the group photo taken at the end of the get together. I wish I had taken along my camera as I once used.

Earlier Tipuites hosted a dinner in Ramli's honour at Rawalpindi Golf Club. Some of Ramli's platoon mates of Khalid 2 and later Tipu platoon joined and reminisced the days of some 42 years old and thence.

Ramli also took a time out and visited ailing Zaheer ul Islam with a few of us
On Sunday 8 October, Ramli visited Lahore on special invitation of Lahore Chapter and a large number of Lahorites hosted Ramli a wonderful brunch at Lahore Gymkhana. As reported by Tariq Fazal, Zahir Khan and Maqsood received him at the airport. After freshing up at Zahir's place he was driven to Gymkhana club where his arrival was sounded by joyful cheers of a very large number of course mates. Unspoken language of warm hugs and handshakes expressed deep sentiments oozing out  on reunion with a long lost brother after lapse of four decades . Everybody   yearned for a photo opp to preserve these precious moments and  Ramli obliged all.
In a brief speech, Zahir Khan welcomed Ramli on behalf of all of us and presented gifts not only for Ramli but also for our other Malaysian brother Ismail. Ramli with his trademark smile a cheerful demeanor and excellent sense of humor recalled our golden days. His interesting talk repeatedly provoked bursts of laughter and several rounds of applause. 
It was a pleasure to note that our brother has excelled enormously in business as well as intellectual pursuits. Law is his forte, that brings him to be a member of the teaching faculty of his country's National Defense university. He is expected to soon revisit Pakistan accompanying Malaysia's army chief on his visit to PMA. 

some of the photos uploaded by Ashraf and Zahir are as under:
Due to paucity of time, Ramli could not visit Karachi where another large part of the 55th family eagerly awaited to meet him. Mindful of sentiments of Karachi, Ramli has sent a message of being with them the next time he comes to his second home - Pakistan.
Shoaib Mumtaz hosted yet another dinner at the Garrison Officers' Mess, Rawalpindi (aka Artillery Mess) which was attended by more than thirty course mates. Saleem Sarwar who could not attend earlier get together at Islamabad and Lahore made it to GOM to meet brother Ramli. Mumtaz Bajwa who was earlier away from town also made his appearance.


Shoaib Mumtaz thanked brother Ramli for sparing time and attending the dinner, while Ramli also reciprocated with warm wishes for all of us and promised to be with us again very soon. Before dispersing, we a had a usual group photo taken at the entrance of the GOM. Some photos are slightly blurred and this could be accepted as at this age our grip on cameras is not as firm as required for clear and crisp photos !!
Ramli at the end of wrapping off his visit to Pakistan will witnessed passing out parade at PMA for which necessary coordination at PMA has been done by Mujeeb, whose cadet is now the PMA commandant and Mohammad Asif. In photo above Ramli poses in front of Khalid Coy, which was his first term company. 

Before finally departing from Pakistan, Farrukh Hayee once again hosted a dinner for Ramli - photos taken on the occasion are as under

Ramli left Pakistan with many good memories of most of his course mates not seen since last four decades and also retraced his footsteps at Pakistan Military Academy, which brought him in friendship with over two hundred of us many many years ago. 
Ramli at CIP Lounge, Islamabad International Airport before flying home

We wish him and Ismail and their families the very best of luck and life and hope we shall meet again - God willing.