Dear Diary In ‘Nagar

A hilarious account of life in the Army

Dear Diary, today I received a text from a friend that said, “In ‘Nagar”. The two innocuous words were enough to set me off into a dream sequence in slow motion towards the proverbial memory lane. As I went past old bungalows and terracotta tile roofs, rows of tamarind trees and winding lanes, kids on bicycles rode past me until a signpost on the horizon said, “Tanks have the right of way.” That, Dear Diary, is just one of the many things that sets apart this quintessential colonial cantonment town from the rest.

There is also the fact that ‘Nagar is home to me and my fairy godmother (yes, she exists and mine dwells here). Add to it the interesting ‘Nagar DNA, which comes with an ethereal and eerie quality in equal measure. You will understand what I mean when you try finding ‘Nagar on a map, because that’s when you will realise that like the veritable Shangrila – it simply does not exist! Instead, try looking for a place called Ahmednagar and you will get instant results. ‘Nagar, you see, is a moniker for Ahmednagar.

It’s rather typical of the Army to call places and people by names that are better suited to their personalities. So, while Patsville and Babs are Patiala and Babina (and ‘Nagar is Ahmednagar), people are christened Sandy for Sandeep and Randy for Randhawa. Some have more imaginative names, i.e. Bugs for Bugalia, Nats/Notty is a toss-up between Natrajan/Nautiyal, and Suzy is actually Surinder.

It’s just a very ‘Nagar-thing’, these monikers and fairy godmothers. Though the latter is quite a contrast to the stereotype of a charming and portly mother-like figure, clad in a shimmery white gown with fluffy wings flying around in the sky. The ‘Nagar one is badass, rather non-maternal, as she zips around town on a motorcycle (preferably a Bullet), clad in black dungarees and Ray Ban aviators with a bandana covering her face lest the dust gets in the way of her need for speed.

For Wikipedia buffs, though, Ahmednagar is the largest district in Maharashtra, located 120 km northeast of Pune and 120 km from Aurangabad. Founded by Ahmed Nizam Shah in 1490 AD on the west bank of the Sina river, it was ruled by the Marathas from 1759 to1817, followed by the British till 1947. As a matter of fact, the barracks turned jail of the Ahmednagar Fort were the setting for Pandit Nehru’s epic tome, ‘Discovery of India’.

My karmic connection with ‘Nagar, however, is more recent. It goes back to my cradle years in ‘Nagar with Mom and Dad (yup, Dad was a tankman). The next time happened when I was at school, which was also when I had my first crush (a boy at school who always scored full marks in Math). As time went by and I entered the hallowed doors of University (and got over my blind admiration for Math), cupid struck my husband in the old wood-paneled library (he’s a bibliophile and also a tankman). In due course, when the stork stopped by, it was with typical ‘Nagar élan as it dropped off my twin bundles (‘Nagar richly deserves its reputation of being fertile). So, when life came a full circle a couple of years ago and found us again in ‘Nagar (this time as empty nesters), we left no stone unturned to seize the days and nights till the tanks came home.

The Many ‘Nagar Homes

T.S. Eliot said, “Home is where one starts from”. That’s what ‘Nagar does for me. It starts my stories about growing up, falling in love, having my babies, making friends and learning how to live life to the hilt. It’s all of this and more that makes ‘Nagar my forever home.

Closing with the usual…much love,


(Note to self: Remember to take pictures of all my ‘Nagar homes the next time I go down to see fairy godmother.)

(L) The barrack where ‘Discovery of India was written (R) One of my ‘Nagar childhood homes

Read more by Rashmi B. Nayar


32 thoughts on “Dear Diary In ‘Nagar”

  1. Awesome read ! Strikes an instant chord with us Fauji kids …. U left out the going to school in a 3 Ton…. 🤗

  2. Rashmi – am a Nagar baby too. Like you said, brought a flood of memories. You captured it so succinctly, I wish it were a longer read. Loved it.

  3. Ah !! NAGAR!! Absolutely nostalgic.Rashmi you weaved your words so beautifully . While reading I relived my nagar days.

  4. Being a cavalry mans daughter and wife of a tankman, this write up describes A’Nagar, just as I know it to be. As usual your words have brought back find memories of our Second home.

  5. Hey
    So nostalgic and being there during my hubby’s gun course makes me picture everything exactly the same way as so beautifully penned by you.
    Cheers to making more barrack memoirs and I raise a toast to you, as you embark on this new journey of writing many more diaries.

  6. I’m living a nostalgia after reading this Mrs Nayar. You have covered each and every emotion of ‘Nagar’. It is indeed more than a place! I miss our wonderful gang ‘Sotties Hotties’, weekend getaways, Bike rides (thugs on plugs) crazy parties, fun practices, Salubrious weather…. everything. Loved this article to the core. It brings back all the good memories!!

  7. Ah Nagar! Calling it home once again has been part of the big change these couple of years. Lovely read. Come soon Rashmi, to relive your memories and make new ones 🙂

  8. Rashmi ,Nagar does have a special place in our lives too – spent some of the happiest years of our’ young ‘lives there . Some of my oldest and dearest friends are from that time including you .
    So really enjoyed this article and made me nostalgic.

  9. This piece brings back my own childhood memories. Even though I married a thorough civilian and never ventured near a Cantonment, Nagar has always a special place in my heart.
    Well written Rashmi!

  10. Nagar has its own captivating charm mam. And thanks to you and sir we got to enjoy to the fullest. As good as a place can be, the people around make it even better.

  11. Never got to live in Nagar but have always heard so much about it that I have spent a virtual tenure for sure. Beautifully penned and adding so much more to my virtual experience of the place.

  12. Loved it!! You made Nagar come alive for me!!! Nagar and but ahmednagar…. That’s the one we all identify with!! Beautifully written!

  13. Brought back so many wonderful memories back to me too
    This place is magical and so are the people we bonded with and made friends for life ❤️

  14. Nagar helps us to escape from moments of despair to experience it’s out of the world sleepy weather.It will continue to live in all the hearts of Cavalier families and command a special place in our hearts.Rashmi has so beautifully captured Nagar in her article that Nagar Nostalgia is the cry of the moment.A big Salaam to you Rashmi

  15. Wowwwww I am in awe of how you create a storyline. The Tanks have a right of way 🙌. Of course they always have and always will. After reading this beautiful recollection, I want to fly out to Nagar now 😍

    Incidentally I too was extremely good in maths. Happy Valentine’s day 🙂

  16. Nostalgia at its best….. My hubby wants to go there the third time. How can one forget the charm of Annexe, Cav Alcove and Velvet Fogg!!! Getting married to a Cavalier was the best thing that happened to me.

    You are a great storyteller, Mrs Nayar. Kudos!!

  17. Transported….yes Rashmi, transported back to sleepy, one- horse towns, where time simply stands still…places where fauj plants one from time to time, feeling it to be the right time to enrich one’s soul and a much- needed retreat!
    Though never been to Nagar, heard heart-warming stories galore about it !! Another little magical place I can probably put at par with it, is MHOW- part of my heart always playing hide and seek with it. Like Nagar, not much of a change here too…no skyscrapers, no mind- boggling multiplexes at every nook and corner, no dazzling malls beckoning, no glitterati of the metros….just good, old quaint dreamy, sprawling houses in the suburbs, quaint tiny shops with tinier doors to enter, in narrow lanes ( a plump me now barely manages to enter a shop) where everyone manages to bump into everyone ,where the rows and rows of double-decker houses….nay….warm, inviting homes of friends are a welcoming sight. A town which throbs with life, with like-minded people( well almost) Here I will fail to do justice to MHOW if I don’t make a mention of the much -awaited , popular ice-cream man( god bless his soul) just before the afternoon siesta !!!
    Rashmi, your well-connected , fabulous write-up has raked up memories where embers were just settling down- the robotic life-style jolted from its slumber !!
    Beautifully, nostalgically penned, Rashmi….

  18. Brilliant vibrant write up of Nagar and your journey there. You have described the place so well that I could see everything clearly in my mind’s eye. Took me down memory lane too of our wonderful tenure there.

  19. Beautifully written Rashmi. Didn’t know you had such a deep connection with the place and so many important events of your life took place here. As for me, reading it brought back so many wonderful memories of Nagar, especially cycling around place and enjoying the weather.

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