Before the imposition of President’s Rule in Punjab in late 1983 there was ample time at hand for the governor and his staff officers. The police ADC and I could pursue our favourite hobbies or sports every morning. Social organisations, schools and colleges were encouraged to hold functions in which the governor could interact with the public at large and the students in the various schools and colleges. Appointments given to organisation and individuals usually started at around 11 am and carried on till 1 pm, and again from 5 pm to 6.30 pm. Occasionally there was a lunch, tea or dinner except when there was an “at home” on January 26 or August 15. The police ADC Arvinder Brar an IPS officer of 1979 batch was very keen on water sports and would go out sailing or swimming every morning. I being true to the cavalry spirit honed my riding skills and went out riding every morning but two instances stand out in my memory quite clearly, when I decided to change my morning plan! Hearing Brar’s daily ranting of how exciting sailing was, I decided to go along with him for sailing one morning. We took off at a good pace and with a good wind soon reached the far end of the Sukhna lake.
Four other sailors who set out with us turned back after half an hour or so but we pressed on wanting to take a full round of the lake, but suddenly the wind dropped and the boat was moving slowly and then the wind totally became still. After waiting for a while we pulled out the small oar to paddle towards the club house. Since there was only one oar we took turns to paddle. By the time we got back both of us had blisters on our hands. I told Arvinder it wasn’t a venture and probably I would be better off riding, but again in the coming week I was lured into taking another go at sailing. The wind was strong and the sky was overcast. Soon after we started sailing it began to rain. But it was exciting with a gush of strong wind and lashing rain.
We reached the end of the lake and while negotiating the turn to come back, we did not shift our weight. Soon enough the boat capsized and both of us were thrown into the water. In the pouring rain there was no help at hand so both of us had no option but to swim back to the club. That was the last time I visited the sailing club. News of our adventure on both occasions had reached the governor perhaps through the staff that fetched us from the boat club. In the evening, while taking a walk in the Raj Bhawan lawn, the governor asked me how long it takes to swim across the lake. I was quite surprised at the question, the governor had a big smile on his face and said, “You should know having swum across in the morning.” To this I replied that the boat capsized. His parting shot was, “Thank your stars that there were no crocodiles in the lake.”
— The author was a member of the Haryana Legislature. He is an ex Cavalry Major