W H O A M I ?
My idea of a perfect day is walking through an ancient battle field – Haldi Ghati, a famous valley near Udaipur – and listening to the voices of the dead. I was myself a soldier-sailor and the voices of Samrat Ashoka, Maharana Pratap and Acharya Chanakya somehow resonated on the walls of my childhood mansion at Udaipur. Subsequent move to larger towns has done nothing to change those emotions.
For readers who would like to know about me, I am from Rajasthan, born and bred in Udaipur, as I mentioned earlier. Although I have also lived in Jaipur and Bikaner during my formative years, now I reside in Mumbai since my early retirement from Indian Navy in 1994. I was educated at St Xavier’s Jaipur, Rajasthan University and later at Indian Naval Academy. I have been married to Shail Lodha Mehta since 1978 and have two very talented children, Pracchi and Nakuul, both married and settled as media professionals.
People often ask me why I became a soldier. The 1962 Sino-Indo war the 1971 Indo-Pak war came close enough to catch my eye without leaving scars. My fore fathers were rulers, high profile state ministers and combat veterans of many a battle in the Rajputana reign. I grew up in the shadow of their triumphs and tribulations. It was indeed the childhood stories of valour and vanity of my ancestors, the lesser known nobles of the Rajput Courts that became the major driving force for me to join the armed forces. It is the fascination towards those same stories that made me think of attempting a study of these nobles and be as objective and candid about them as possible.
However, there was a slight challenge when I began. I had kept no notes whatsoever, not even as a journal or a diary!
It was actually my uncles Gokal Lal Mehta and Bhagwat Singh Mehta – people whom I admire the most for their knowledge about our ancestors, aristocratic life style and a huge collection of ancestral art – who asked me, after the passing away of my father Inder Singh Mehta in 1992, if I had thought of penning down the story of our ancestors. I acknowledged vaguely but expressed my misgivings to them. Bhagwat Singhji said, “Pratap, your doubts are illusionary; in fact there may well be some advantage if you wrote from your memories, as they come darting back when one embarks on the task.” There was no looking back as both uncles went on to make valuable suggestions and narrated anecdotes related to all the paintings in their homes at Jaipur and Udaipur. With that small step began this long journey. I owe them more than mere thanks to express my gratitude.
As I look back, I am convinced that past memories continue to shape one’s life, no matter how old one becomes. They represent the inner self and mould and fashion one’s personality.
I am not a historian, but a history enthusiast. I am not an insider, so I am not bound by the politics and preconceptions in the field. I spend a lot of time reading about the topics I write about. However, most of the information comes from interviews of the concerned people, palace galleries and bards.
You can email me at: email@example.com or meet me at GUEST BOOK with your feedback and even your thoughts (good or bad). You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Have fun exploring…!