Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Wing Cdr Hoshang K Patel

I came across a wonderful interview with Wing Commander (Retd) Hoshang K Patel. He talks about life in the Air Force and over Burma. Here is an excerpt.

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Wg Cdr Patel recollected the days when he joined the Indian Air Force. His primary education was in a village school in Nargol, Gujarat from where he went on to college in Bombay. Good conversational English was a prerequisite before joining the Indian Air Force as an Officer. Since he was poor in this when he was called for the interview, he was told that he may not get into the IAF as an Officer. Without much deliberation, Wg Cdr Patel asked to join the IAF as an Airman. Flt Lt Aspy Engineer who was on the interview board, dissuaded him from Joining. The story is continued in Wg Cdr Patel’s own words:

Sqn Ldr Mukerjee was the head of the Interview board at that time. Flt Lt Aspy Engineer was also there in the interview and he said, “Hoshang, don’t join the ranks, Parsi boys from Bombay cant take the tough life there”. Meanwhile a skinny Malayali corporal came to him for some signature or something. After he left I asked, “Who is that man?” “He’s corporal so and so..” was the answer.

I said to them “Will you ask him to wrestle me, run 100 yards dash, or a 1 mile race with me? I will beat him in all, and I mean it!”

“So You still insist on joining?” said Aspy.

I said “yes”

“You promise never to blame me? Because all the Parsi boys who have signed up are blaming me saying that I promised them heaven,” asked Aspy

I agreed – and I found myself in the ranks in the Indian Air Force.

Check out more pictures and read the entire interview here