Manekshaw visited his own room as a cadet in IMA

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A True Story

I was posted as an instructor at the Indian Military Academy (IMA)   Dehra Dun in the 80s.

Fd Mshl Sam Manekshaw (retired by then) paid a surprise visit to the IMA in the summer of 1986. While he was interacting with the Commandant of the Academy, he suddenly decided to visit the room in which he had stayed many years before as a GC (Gentleman Cadet) while he was under training: Room number 30, Collins Block.

The occupant of the room was a 2nd termer who was out on a map reading outdoor activity and he had obviously locked his room and taken the keys with him. Since I was the instructor in-charge, I was told to somehow ensure that the room was opened for Fd Mshl Sam's visit.

There was no option other than breaking open the lock. I was getting that done when both Fd Mshl Sam Manekshaw and the Commandant landed up right there.

My concern, as an instructor, was that the room had to be clean and all belongings of the cadet ought to  be arranged neatly in a military-like layout.

Incidentally, I had carried out an inspection of all the rooms just the previous night (Cabin Cupboard Inspection as we say in the army) so I was hopeful that all would be okay.

 That, however, was not to be. As soon as we entered the room, much to my disappointment and horror, we found it in complete disarray!  Towel on the bed, boots lying all over, undergarments strewn across the room, a kit bag full of soiled clothes huddled in a corner and even a nude poster  pinned on the cupboard!

I said to myself: _I had it!_ 
The Commandant was noticeably angry and that was writ all over his face as he glared at me, rather viciously. I was almost certain that I would be shunted out from the IMA sooner than later.

The atmosphere was tense, to say the least.

Standing at the entrance of the room  Fd Mshl Sam Manekshaw said aloud: 


He defused that very tense atmosphere with his subtle and spontaneous humour.

 Suddenly all of us were smiling! I could breathe easy again and the Commandant shifted his menacing glare away from me.

That's the greatness of  Fd Mshl Sam Manekshaw. Obviously, Fd Mshl Sam Manekshaw's emotional intelligence, which is amongst the most important traits of great leaders, was in abundance.

After that fateful day, my cadets were subjected to endless cabin cupboards until they perfected the art of ship-shaping their rooms and belongings to the _t_ even at short notice! 

GC Ashwini Kumar, the occupant of Room Number 30, Collins Block, attained perfection in rolling like a ball!

Fd Mshl Sam Manekshaw remains my LIVING icon till date

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