Driving the Field Marshal: When Kennedy drove Manekshaw!


March 6, 2013

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Nitin Gokhale writes a beautiful account of his meeting up with Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw’s driver of 22 years…a gentleman by the

name of Kennedy.


I ventured to ask Kennedy how well did he know the Field Marshal. His instant reply was: "Sir I drove him and Madam around for 22 years!"

My mind snapped back to attention from the numbness that a long flight induces.

Here was a variation of a situation that I encounter almost every fortnight: the talkative taxi driver who wants to impress you with his knowledge and wisdom. But this was different.

Here was a man who saw the Field Marshal closely for over two decades!

On enquiring about Sam the family man

"Tell me more about Sam the father and husband," I gently prodded him.

"Oh for him Madam’s word was final ( for which husband wife’s word isn’t, I wanted to ask him but didn’t, since he was in a trance). The Field Marshal was a loving father and grandfather. One of his grandsons looked exactly like him. Long nose, tall and fair. I never saw him scold any one. And he was always kind to people like us. When Madam passed away, Sam was a broken man. We knew he wouldn’t last long without his biggest strength," Kennedy said in a voice that was clearly choking.

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