Fondly known as ‘Nandi’ to friends and family, Col. Anand Kanwar Khanna was born in 1925 in Peshawar, now in Pakistan. His father was a successful and wealthy industrialist and the family was on the top of the social ladder. They even hosted Elizabeth Arden as a house guest in the 1930s. In 1935, he was sent off as a boarder to Doon School, in the hills of Dehradun. This school was modelled on the lines of English public schools and aimed at grooming gentlemen who could make a mark anywhere in the world. In school, the Headmaster Arthur Foot and Housemaster John Martin had a profound influence on shaping young Nandi’s worldview. He also showed immense talent on the cricket field and coach Holdworth sharpened both his physical skills and mental strength to shape a top notch cricketer.
In 1947, just before India’s independence, he joined the British Indian Army as a Gentleman Cadet Officer. Later the same year, he toured a war-ravaged Britain with the Indian Military Academy cricket team and played at Sandhurst against the Royam Military Academy and Lord’s, among other cricketing venues.
But as a traumatic consequence of India’s independence and partition, the Khannas lost their homes, businesses and all other assets, left behind in the newly created state of Pakistan. Once millionaires in Lahore, they now found themselves as homeless refugees in Delhi, queuing up for food and shelter. Through these tumultuous times and despite the shock of his father’s demise, young Nandi remained undaunted and kept his family together. He quickly picked up the threads of his life andlaunched into his military career.
He was commissioned as an Officer in the Corps of Engineers and Miners of the Indian Army and almost immediately saw action in the war with Pakistan in Kashmir in 1948. He was barely 23 years of age.
Meanwhile, a charming young lady called Meena Talwar joined Miranda House in Delhi University and won the title of the Best Woman Athlete of Delhi State in 1954. She also played superb cricket and captained the Delhi Women’s Cricket team. She met Nandi at a cricket match and they were soon married. Their family was complete with their two sons – Arun and Varun, who also went to Doon School.
As an Army wife, Meena had found her passion in cooking. She travelled all over the country to various Army postings and collected recipes from each location. Her culinary skills were highly appreciated by the residents of their guest house and she started a cooking school in 1976. Her students rememberher to this day. She will give you a cooking demonstration at Colonel’s Retreat, if you ask her nicely! She keeps a hawk eye on the housekeeping at Colonel’s Retreat every day. When she turned 60, Meena began playing golf and remains a keen golfer. She was elected Captain of the Ladies Team at theDelhi Golf Club some ten years ago.
The Colonel and Meena’s elder son and daughter-in- law Arun and Suman are the hardworking duo behind the management of Colonel’s Retreat. They have travelled to countries across the globe – and still do. They are committed to providing hospitality of international standards at Colonel’s Retreat and have built up an excellent team there. Both are fitness freaks. Arun tries to play tennis seven days a week – he’d play on the eighth day if there was one! He recently represented India at the World Veterans’ Championships. Loves to cycle all over town and can also be spotted on the golf course. Suman is a yoga expert and is happy to guide her guests on important matters like travel within India, eating out and shopping! She also runs Amrapali, a chain of jewellery stores in Delhi.
They have two daughters living in the UK and USA and have been blessed with three delightful grandsons. Nandi and Meena are revelling in their role as great grandparents. The Colonel and his family extend a warm welcome to you and will take it upon themselves to make sure that your stay at Colonel’s Retreat is a very happy one.