Sanjay and I came to know each other during our Long Gunnery Staff Course (LGSC) in 1989-90 at School of Artillery, Devlali, Maharshtra. In fact it was we both moved into in Married Officers’ Accommodation in the same area. Thus we became travel buddies, travelling from home to our training classes, he riding his motorcycle and I a scooter.
Sanjay was a honest and hardworking student and he did put in his best efforts during the entire course. He always admonished me for taking the course ‘cool.’ He often reminded me ‘You have the ability and intelligence to even top the course, but you never put in the best. Why are you holding yourself back?”
Sanjay was a strict disciplinarian, obviously his Veteran Dad must have inculcated military discipline in him from childhood. He never accepted any slackness from anyone, even if he was remotely connected with him. Our early morning ride to the classes always was interrupted by Sanjay stopping his motorcycle to ‘set right’ young officers riding their cycles not befitting proper military discipline.
He was always meticulously turned out with a proper military haircut, even though his hairline had receded. He was punctual always and that made me punctual too as he expected us to leave well ahead of time to reach our classes, at least five minutes ahead of schedule. We often found that we were the first ones to reach, even before our Havildar (Sergeant) Major- Assistant Instructor-in-Gunnery (AIG) had even opened the class room.
As expected, at the end of the course, Sanjay came out with flying colours and was rewarded with an instructional tenure at School of Artillery and I returned to our Regiment. Sanjay turned out to be one of the finest instructors from our course, all because of his dedication and commitment to his students.
After three months of completing LGSC, I returned to School of Artillery for a computer course (ADP). Whenever I visited Sanjay’s those days, he was always closeted with his books preparing for the next day’s classes he was to conduct or was correcting papers of the student officers.
Then I met Sanjay while he was commanding a Medium Regiment at Bhatinda, Punjab in 2004, prior to me hanging up my military uniform. He was staying in the Officers’ Mess, in a single officers’ suit. There was nothing special to call it a CO’s Residence – it had nothing ‘special befitting a CO.’ His residence was a testimony to his concept of ‘Simple Living with High Thinking.’
General Sanjay Thapa, I know you are the most hardworking person and is now time to take a break – even your heart works with pauses, so you also have to learn how to ‘relax’. Your retirement will make you proud of yourself and also make each one of us associated with you proud.
Retirement does not make you feel that you are old. It means that you have been working real hard to deserve the longest vacation of your life. Wishing you a lot of beautiful adventures and happy moments with the ones you love.
Gods’ Speed and Good Shooting all the way ahead.