It is becoming difficult to walk in Kammanahalli, but all the changes are not for the worse

His firm handshake and voice belie his 67 years. Air Marshal Bijoy Pandey (retd.) is clearly someone for whom age is just a number.

Born on May 18, 1944, in Patna, Air Marshal Pandey joined the National Defence Academy in January 1961 and was commissioned in the Indian Air Force in December 1964. He retired in May 2004 and has been living in Jal Vayu Vihar in Kammannahall since then.

Leaning back on a sofa in his tastefully furnished living room, with his two daughters coming in and out of the room, Mr. Pandey smiles when I ask him what he feels about his 40 years in the Air Force.

“I enjoyed my years in the Forces thoroughly. The main reason was that it never seemed like work. It was a passion,” he says, adding “My work was like a hobby for me.”

Though his father was an Indian Administrative Service officer in the Bihar cadre, Air Marshal Pandey says he had no desire to join the civil services.

“I didn't find the idea of working in the bureaucracy attractive. My father once told me the only power a civil servant has is to say ‘no'. I must say that I have much the same view of the bureaucracy even today. I feel thankful I did not become a bureaucrat,” he candidly admits.

“I initially wanted to join the Navy as I felt it was glamorous. After two years in the NCC, I felt the Air Force was more glamorous, so I decided to join it instead,” he says. In his years of service, the Air Marshal served in every region in India and six years abroad — two in Singapore, three in Kabul and one year in Sri Lanka

A candid view

Query him on the changes he has seen in Kammanahalli since he began living here seven years ago, he says after some thought, “When I moved into the locality it was very quiet and had little commercial development. Now it is getting increasingly commercialised, to the extent that there are hardly any vacant plots. It is becoming difficult to walk or drive. I have seen the area going from a garden to a garbage dump. Much the same can be said for the whole city,” he laments. “While the city has expanded in all directions, the civic amenities have not kept pace at all,” he rues.

He hastens to add: “All the changes are not for the worse. With this commercialisation, there is no need now to go to Brigade Road or Commercial Street for shopping. It has made life very convenient.”

The Air Marshal has kept himself busy after retirement with writing and editing trade magazines such as Airbuz, Aviation and Mai, which focus on the aviation industry in India.

“One must keep busy after retirement or you degenerate as a person and become cranky,” he stresses as he gets up to see us off. “It is very important to keep yourself occupied.” As we leave, he thrusts a bundle of trade magazines that contain some of his articles at us. Once an airman always an airman.


Up CloseApril 13, 2011