Some thoughts on sheriff, past present and future:
The first sheriff I knew was Mrs. Mitham Lam. She was the first woman sheriff of Bombay. Also, and here I may be very much mistaken, the first woman graduate of Bombay university and the first woman barrister of India. Also, and here I am on more certain grounds, whe was the third person I interviewed in my career as a reporter. In case you are interested: the first was Hamid Sayani, the well-known and much loved boradcaster of the Binaca Hit-Parad on Radio Ceylon and Bournvita Quiz Programmed on AIR, and the second was Jehangir Sabavala, who then was and still is the country's leading artist, I would exchange two-and-a-half of Hussain's for one of Sabavala's.
The Sheriff I most respected and admired was Frank Moraes, though he did little as a sheriff, except gave some excellent speeches in his beautifully mdoulated voice (much in the style and format of him Men, Matter And Memories colums) and complained of having to go to the airport to receive VIP's. He was the editor of the The Times Of India and had given one directive to the news editor the day he became the sheriff. He told the news editor that as sheriff he would be invited by organisers to all sorts of functions in the hope that the functions would be covered in the Times. His instructions: his functions were not to be covered… period.
Mr. J.C. Jain, who also became the sheriff, was the opposite. He was the general manager of the Times, and his functions were all to be covered, at length and with photographs.
In between, there is a large gap in my memory, which sheriff came, who went, I do not recall. I remember more the names of the people who tried and did not become sheriffs, than the ones who did. But I shall not refer to these.
Among the sheriffs, at one end I remember Mr. Heredia. I interviewed him when he became sheriff, he and his entire family sitting together in their drawing-room at Ballard Pier. And at the other end there are Mr. Jehangir Nicholson, Mr. Sadruddin Daya, who did his bit to beautify Marine Drive and the palm trees that stand on the embankment today, steadily growing, are a testimony to his efforts.
Which brings us to Mr. Nana Chudasama, for whom today is the second-last day as sheriff. He is the only sheriff in the history of Bombay who has had two terms and almost has a third and a fourth. His tragedy is that he kept telling everybody he did not want a third term and nobody believed him.
And, finally, we come to Dr. Home Sethna, a distinguished, quiet gentleman in who even the Shiv Sena will find nothing to object too. I do not think the government could have made a better choice, and I wish him luck.