Monday, Dec 22, 2014

The irreverent prince

Miangul had an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything and of everyone in Pakistan. He was a raconteur par excellence, not always diplomatic, and yet never would anyone fault him for malice.  Source: Express Photo Miangul had an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything and of everyone in Pakistan. He was a raconteur par excellence, not always diplomatic, and yet never would anyone fault him for malice. Source: Express Photo
Posted: August 7, 2014 3:39 am

BY: T.C.A. Rangachari

Miangul Aurangzeb was a proud Pakistani and a friend of India

You must be the new Indian deputy high commissioner,” said the stocky, somewhat imposing, well-dressed Pakistani at the Italian National Day reception on June 2, 1986. “I know everyone at the Indian embassy. I knew a new DHC was coming,” he continued, without a pause in his bantering way, “and you are a new face. So you must be THE ONE. Tell me your full name.”

Taken aback by his directness, I said my name is Rangachari. “Pura naam batao,” the gentleman insisted. I said it was rather long and it was hardly fair to inflict it on him. “From your name, I can make out you are a south Indian. I know many of them and they all have long names. So go ahead.” I gave him my name: Tirumalai Cunnavakum Anandanpillai Rangachari. He asked me to say it once more and was able to repeat it back. “I can make use of your name.” And make use he did. Every time we played bridge together with other Pakistanis, he would take impish delight in springing it on one of his unsuspecting guests. He once infuriated the venerable old industrialist Ardeshir Cowasjee, who wanted to refresh his drink, with the line: “You first pronounce his name in full so that I know you are not drunk. Only then can I allow you another drink!”

That was Prince Miangul Aurangzeb, the wali ahad (crown prince) of the state of Swat and son-in-law of the former president of Pakistan, Ayub Khan, who passed away on Sunday, August 4, at the age of 86. He was an alumnus of the Doon School and St Stephen’s College who went on to serve Pakistan in different capacities, including as an army officer, aide de camp to then president Ayub Khan, member of the National Assembly, and governor of NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Baluchistan. Yet, above all, he remained a man of the people, mingling freely with the mighty and the aam aadmi, giving to and winning the friendship and affection of all he came in contact with. He once shocked our Indian cook by hugging her in appreciation for a meal she had cooked for him.

Miangul had an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything and of everyone in Pakistan. He was a raconteur par excellence, not always diplomatic, and yet never would anyone fault him for malice. Irreverent towards authority, he once left our house after dinner, only to be held up by the omnipresent intelligence operatives hanging around continued…

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