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Monday, November 26, 2012

Ardeshir Cowasjee

Born on April 13, 1926 to Rustom Faqir Cowasjee and Mucca Rustomjee
Ardeshir Cowasjee passed away on 24th November, 2012

Jamal Ashiqain's photo
with a remark Ardeshir made to a new journo
(added here by me)
just as the picture was being taken.

My first meeting with Ardeshir Cowasjee was when I was an officer in the Pakistan Merchant Navy. He was invited to our ship, along with many other people, for a dinner … and I was asked to receive him and bring him up the gangway. Everyone used to say that he was very difficult to get along with, and I was told by the Captain to be really careful.

He walked up the gangway and asked me, "Kitna see∂hee thaa neechay say oopar tak?"
I had no idea, so I said "Sir, maéñ abhi gin kar bataaooñ ga …"
And Ardeshir said, "Agar abhi tüm ko yeh naheeñ maaloom to, saala, tüm kaptaan kaesay banay ga!"

Years later, I went on board the 'Ohrmazd', AC's favourite ship, while it was being built by the Burntisland Shipyard. I had gone to see the Chief Engineer, Mr. Mehdi, who was a friend, and was told to go to the funnel where he was. Next to him was Ardeshir … with whistles that he wanted Mehdi sahab to 'blow' … so he could choose the right one. He finally settled on one and left while Mehdi sahab stood at the funnel to match it withe the ship's whistle being fitted. I had never thought that anyone would be so careful in choosing the exact note of the whistle. But this was Ardeshir.

M.V. Ohrmazd

He finally had the Burntisland Shipyard closed down, too. Here are some lines from the Internet.
The ship in question was the 'Ohrmazd', a fast cargo liner for the East & West Steamship Company of Karachi, Pakistan. This ship was effectively being paid for by the British Government, as part of its foreign aid to Pakistan. But its construction was plagued by wrangles over the specifications and contract terms between the shipyard and the shipowners. These led to serious delays in completing the ship. The delays in turn led to the incurring of punitive financial penalties by the shipyard, which it was simply unable to cope with.The ship was completed in November 1968, but the damage had been done. Burntisland Shipyard went into liquidation the following month.
Having visited him since 1984, when I settled back in Karachi, having left the Merchant Navy to look after my ailing mother (and see my newborn daughter grow up), I became very fond of him over the years.

His love of books was tremendous, as many of you know.
I have a copy of 'Jinnah', signed by Stanley Wolpert,

that Ardeshir gave me for putting his computer right just in time so that he could send a column to Dawn. I had quite a few arguments with him about this book (I had read the original one published in the UK a while ago) but his love of Quaid's views was far greater than mine.

We talked of politics and Karachi very often … but what I enjoyed most were his anecdotes of people he had met (and often disliked!) which were hilarious.

I guess if he hasn't told them to you, I won't either!



Read this piece by Sabeen Mahmud on AC & T2F

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