Back to James Bond & my quest for his Gun !
Columns, Over A Cup of Evening Tea

Back to James Bond & my quest for his Gun !

November 22, 2020

By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, MD

Last week I told you about my great desire to possess the legendary Walther pistol of the James Bond fame and how I had so far been unsuccessful in acquiring even a licence for it, let alone the gun itself. Today I’ll tell you about how luck smiled on me, through someone else’s pain! Sheer serendipity can sometimes shower you with unexpected gifts if luck is on your side.

Late one night while I was on duty as a post-graduate student in the Department of Medicine, the wife of a very senior DIG of Police was brought to the emergency room with very severe chest pain which came on suddenly as she was watching the Bollywood movie, ‘Star’ with her husband in a theatre. The pain was so sudden and so severe and accompanied by such profuse sweating that she seemed to have had a massive heart attack although she was certainly much too young for it. Thankfully, my examination, aided by an ECG, ruled it out but she had to be hospitalised for the necessary diagnostic tests and appropriate treatment.
Since she was a VIP patient, very soon, my professor, Dr. N.A. Jadhav himself arrived at the hospital in a Police car with a retinue of Police Officers following him in two jeeps. After examining the patient, he advised the requisite treatment to relieve her pain and the necessary investigations to make a diagnosis. He also announced that I would be in sole charge of looking after the patient for the entire duration of her stay in the hospital. To reassure her very anxious and visibly perturbed husband, he spoke very highly about me and my abilities and said that I would personally oversee all the investigations the next morning.

That is when I very apologetically told my professor that since I had an important appointment with the Superintendent of the Deputy Commissioner’s Office the next morning, I should kindly be excused from this responsibility. The visibly jolted DIG immediately asked me the reason for my appointment when I explained to him that I had to go over and meet the Officer the next day to sort out the slight difficulty that I was having in getting my gun licence papers cleared. That is when the very distressed man clasped my hand in both his hands firmly and pleaded, “Doctor, I request you to please concentrate on my wife’s treatment on top priority tomorrow. She is in great pain and I want her to get well at the earliest. You can leave your entire gun licence problem to me and I promise you that I’ll sort it out for you, on top priority.”

That is exactly what I wanted and that is exactly what I did! How could I not follow such a high-ranking Police Officer’s orders? After that I almost became a high-ranking Police Officer myself for a good many days, with a gleaming Police car with a red beacon, picking me up from home every morning and dropping me back from the hospital every evening, to the astonishment of all my neighbours. As if this was not enough, all the Traffic Policemen along the three-kilometre route would spring to attention and salute me every time I passed by in the Police car with a very embarrassed me nodding my head or waving my hand at them. And, this embarrassment lasted all through the VIP lady’s stay in the hospital!

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Thankfully, in a remarkably short time she recovered sufficiently for her to be discharged, although she had to be advised a fairly long period of convalescence at home. About a week after her discharge, while I was sitting in the Medical College canteen chatting with a small group of friends, a Sub-Inspector of Police and two Constables came looking for me. For a brief moment everyone around me naturally seemed a little perturbed by this development, thinking that I had run into some kind of trouble with the law. But after confirming that I was the man they were seeking, the trio sprang to attention and saluted me smartly after which the Sub-Inspector handed me a sealed brown envelope. When I opened it, I found the gun licence I was seeking so hard, for so long! A special endorsement in it also said that it was valid all over India which was a very rare privilege! My joy knew no bounds and at that moment I realised that it is indeed true that in pain lies our pleasure… as long as the pain is somebody else’s!
When I immediately called up the DIG from the hospital telephone booth to thank him, he said that the licence was a very small token of his gratitude to me and asked me to meet his friend the Deputy Commissioner personally and thank him too. Following his orders this time too, I proceeded to the Deputy Commissioner’s Office immediately. And, that is when I ran into what seemed like some very unexpected trouble.

Upon being ushered into his office by the turbaned durban, the Deputy Commissioner motioned me to sit down and said, “Doctor I must tell you that on seeing you in person today I’m a little surprised and perturbed too. As an applicant for a pistol licence I was expecting to see a much older man and certainly not the youngster who is now standing before me. I really don’t understand why such a young man like you should own a pistol too when you already have a gun. Had I seen you before signing your licence, I’m sure I would have cooked up some excuse for refusing it. But sadly, now that it is in your hands safely, it’s too late for me to do it and so I wish you a safe life with the pistol that you are going to acquire and carry! Good luck to you.”

Not to be outdone, I had the last word by telling him, “Sir, please don’t worry, I too will grow up and very soon become the much older man you wanted to see!”

Sometime later, the DIG informed me that it would be better for me to buy my pistol from Singapore as it would be considerably cheaper there than here in India. And, he also got me the requisite clearance letter from the Deputy Commissioner for importing the weapon. But he advised me to do it as early as possible because he felt that with the militancy problem in Punjab gaining much momentum, the import of firearms into the country would most likely be banned to stem the brisk inflow of arms into the strife-torn State.

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Once again, I followed his orders, most obediently. We came to know that the discounted cost of the round-trip to Singapore under a special limited time offer, which also included Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia was just rupees nine thousand, without food and accommodation. So, at the time of booking my ticket, my father on hearing the surprisingly low cost of the round trip, decided to book it for our entire family of six instead of just for me.

Incidentally, it was during this trip that at the famous Bangkok snake show, I stunned the large audience of tourists and locals and nearly frightened the showman himself to death, by accepting his challenge and boldly tasting the king cobra venom that he extracted and offered, even as he warned me that a drop of it was enough to kill an elephant! But that is a different story about which I have already written some years ago in my narration of the many rash and foolhardy things I’ve done in my life.

At Singapore which was our last stop, after getting the requisite clearance from the Indian embassy, I finally bought the gun of my dreams from Hock Ann Sports on Beach Road there. The cost of the gun which used to then sell for about one lakh rupees here in India, was the equivalent just two thousand five hundred Indian rupees there. But the dealer warned me that I would have to pay a full one hundred percent customs duty for it in India which I said I would be happy to do. He was so impressed by my knowledge about guns in general and the Walther range of pistols in particular, that he happily showed me the different kinds of guns he had in stock although I had no intention of buying them. We sat discussing various guns and their inherent virtues and vices for a long time, a discussion which we both enjoyed very much.

And, when it was time for us to part after my purchase, he included one spare magazine for my pistol and fifty rounds of the best American self-defence ammo completely free of cost! Since Singapore has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world, my pistol and its ammo were packed and sealed in my presence and delivered by the dealer directly to the check in authorities at the Changi airport who in turn handed it over to the pilot of the aircraft by which we travelled.

We flew back to India after a happy, two-week-long family holiday, with me exiting the airport, triumphantly holding Bond’s legendary gun in my hand! And, that is the gun I still keep under my pillow, fully loaded and ready to fire, every passing night and play the role of James Bond in all my dreams, even to this day!

Note: Just two months after I brought my pistol into the country, the import of all firearms into India was banned and this ban is still in place. The DIG who helped me to get my licence went on to become the Director General and Inspector General of Police for the State and till he passed away, he remained very close to me.

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10 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Back to James Bond & my quest for his Gun !”

  1. Zaheer Ahmed says:

    I was really mesmerized to see the original James Bond Walther pistol in your hand in today’s SOM, for the first time in a hand other than that of James Bond my childhood symbol, Sir Sean Connery himself, who was the only champ that truly fitted into Bond shoes. All the others who followed him seemed fraudsters to me for reasons best unknown to myself. Sir, I fulfilled my dream of seeing and hearing everything about the James Bond pistol he used to point at us through a spiralling revolver barrel accompanied by that iconic Ding dong Ding dong opening theme of all the James Bond films. Thank you so much!

  2. Zaheer Ahmed says:

    I was really mesmerized to see the original James Bond Walther pistol in your hand in today’s SOM, for the first time in a hand other than that of James Bond my childhood symbol, Sir Sean Connery himself, who was the only champ that truly fitted into Bond shoes. All the others who followed him seemed fraudsters to me for reasons best unknown to myself. Sir, I fulfilled my dream of seeing and hearing everything about the James Bond pistol he used to point at us through a spiralling revolver barrel accompanied by that iconic Ding dong Ding dong opening theme of all the James Bond films. Thank you so much!

  3. Jalandara says:

    A medical doctor infatuated with a gun, whose purpose is to kill. It is not a toy.
    Some one like me who watched the release of Dr No on the very first day in 1962, during my visit to London ( having read a few Bond novels by then), the Walther PPK was not the focus. We the theatre audience on that day were more interested in the following aspects of the first james Bond film:
    1, The suave Sean Connery who we thought represented the fictional Bond well
    2.. Of course the theme music, which originally created by Monty Norman found to be a damp squib, was hurriedly reset by John Barry, just a few days before the film release, and who hired Vick Flick the guitarist for $10 to produce the memorable twang of the guitar.
    John Barry became instantly famous and went on to win Oscars , particularly in setting music in the film: Born Free.
    3. The most famous one liner: “My name is Bond, James Bond “. It was filmed in a casino in Piccadilly in London
    4. The night scene in which Bond waited for professor Dent in his Jamaican apartment, and after the professor shot the pillow arranged like a human, and realising it, when the professor points his gun at Bond, Bond quietly says: “That’s a Smith & Wesson, and you’ve had your six” , and shoots professor Dent dead.
    Hence, there is more to it in the firs james Bond film than the Walther PPK replacing his Beretta. Terence Young’s direction and Richard Maibaum’s excellent script and punchy dialogues etc..

  4. Jalandara says:

    and ofcourse the memorable scene of beautiful Ursula Andress raising from the sea, singing: Underneath the Mango Tree..”
    Except i one scene where “M” suggests the use of Walther PPK” instead of Beretta , the gun does not figure much at all in Dr No film. What was visible was Bond’s suit, particularly his shirt with a reverse cuff ( in fact a double cuff, the second one folded back-), called the Conduit Cut invented by the then famous London Seville Row tailor Anthony Sinclair, who produced James Bond suits for Dr No film. This reverse cuff became more famous than Walther PPK, copied by a few tailors in Bombay, I have seen a few shirts in Bengaluru too, after the film arrived in Benagaluru , I guess in 1964, 2 years later; the James bond brief case by Samsonite later.
    The most interesting aspects following the release of the film, were the interviews given by Terence Yong the director and Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman , the producers who named their production company as : EON-everything or nothing! suspecting the failure of their first film Dr No!
    James Bond, the 007- the prefixes giving him the authority to kill, hence the use of Walther PPK, a semi-automatic gun. But for a doctor, I despair!!

  5. Past Mysorean says:

    I wonder what would Hyppocrates think of a physician obsessed with real guns. With very strict guns laws then ( and now), it was very likely that Sean Connery carried a replica Walther PPK!
    Yes, Dr N A Jadhav, the much maligned KR Hospital physician known for treating rich patients ( and getting rich students) receiving a hefty fee, arrogant to the core, and not bothered with ordinary mortals then.
    ” But he advised me to do it as early as possible because he felt that with the militancy problem in Punjab gaining much momentum, the import of firearms into the country would most likely be banned to stem the brisk inflow of arms into the strife-torn State”
    Let us speak the truth. It was not the militancy problem, but Pakistan flexing its muscles for another war, incursions as before into Indian territories in that region. That did not prevent a Muslim doctor who had a clinic in the VV market area, possessing guns, and self-assured thus, transmitting details of Bangalore industry locations to his friends in Pakistan, using a high powered transmitter in his home. When police caught him during such a transmission, he pulled his automatic (wonder he also had Walther PPK !), but was overpowered-these details came out after he was charged under Defence of India laws.

  6. Past Mysorean says:

    Clarification: The strict gun laws mentioned were in England.

  7. Jalandara says:

    Apologies,for quite a few typos in my above posts.

  8. Strangeworld says:

    Obscene amount of money: price plus customs duty, to chuck at a handgun used by James Bond, a few decades ago. When that money was put in a savings account, the interest earned could have been used for a worthy causer, such as scholarships for poor students. The possessor of that gun, Walther PP in the 1962 Dr No film, Sean Connery,was not a lover of hand guns, but a golf enthusiast, gave part of his acting fee to a charity set up to award scholarships to poor students in his native Scotland.
    I have been a fan of Fleming’s novels, having read the first one in 1958, and watched Dr NO, in its first release in 1962 during my post-engineering degree training in Germany. I visited the famous 007 sets in the Pine Wood Studio near London,after the filming of Bond 2 film, From Russia With Love in 1963. where Dr No was first filmed mostly, aside a few locations in Jamaica, It was the best Bond film to me, and to Sean Connery too! This set was gutted through an accidental fire in 2006.
    Walther PP has a notorious past. It was used by Nazis, particularly the notorious and evil SS / Gestapo thugs, to shoot on the spot whoever they suspected. One could see photographs of unfortunate Jews summarily executed on the spot by SS guards using the Walther PP, for failing to embark on the overcrowded trains carrying fellow Jews to concentration camps. One could also see SS Guards in concentration camps shooting an almost skeletal Jews to death with a Walther PP.
    Harry Saltzman, a Jew and a co-producer of Dr NO, must have felt very uncomfortable looking at the Walther PP, which had such an evil past history closer to him. The only good thing that happened with the Walther PP, was Hitler, shot himself to death with his personal Walther PP, when the Russian army was approaching his bunker in Berlin!
    A few weeks ago, a SOM columnist mentioned Krupp, with its notorious past of supplying the gear to Nazi concentration camp. Walther PP was in no small measure contributed to Hitler’s Final Solution of ridding of Jews, as the favourite hand gun of the SS.
    After WWII, and the defeat of Germany, as part of revival of West German industry-Krupp GmbH, Walter GmbH, and another small armament company which became Heckler and Koch GmbH which specialised in the manufacture of sub-machine guns supplied to the special forces in Europe and US sprung up, as they were not completely destroyed. Similarly Mercedes( Daimler AG)
    I hate guns,, and anything that takes away human life. But as an amateur historian, I am puzzled by Germany which is a very peaceful country-its army is modest and did not take part in the Iraq war, has a massive armament industry.
    Austria with its history of Nazism-the birth place of Hitler, and also the place where great composers like Mozart ,Beethoven lived and worked, the birth place of psychoanalysis,wonderful Viennese museums, dancing horses in the Spanish Riding school, and with its excellent history as the citadel of modern medicine, has now a massive handgun industry: Glock, which produces Glock handguns, the favourite for police forces in Europe and the US.Most Americans’ favourite hand gun in its versions! It outsells , all other brand of hand guns. Very depressing, but historically interesting , given the Nazi past of Austria.
    I want to ask the famed German and Austrian philosophers of past centuries , if I could, about the above.. Ordinary Germans and Austrians are not gun enthusiasts, but football( soccer) enthusiasts having produced great soccer teams and soccer managers.

  9. arun rao says:

    I am sorry that I do not believe the author’s story of having bought a hand gun in Singapore. I ave been visiting Singapore since 1960s, living in Western country where my company has extensive interests there. A civilian and a foreigner without the intervention of his country’s embassy in Singapore, giving very good reasons why he needs a gun, could not have bought it. It is simply not a luggage item. The Commissioner’s clearance certificate will only operate in India, and is valueless in a foreign country whose authorities deal only with the person’s embassy officials who are accredited. I can see the photograph of the handgun, but the story sounds very hollow.

  10. Carlo says:

    Interesting newspaper! good reads of articles! Keep up the good work.
    Interesting article too about a doctor wanting to possess guns ( forget the silly caring profession nonsense!), knowing probably more about the guns anatomy and physiology than those of humans, and hankering aftr the handgun that 007 used to kill villains in cold blood, because that was his only job, unlike doctor!
    Patients who consulted a doctor invariably get a mortal shock when the consultation fee arrives, often beyond the capability of their means. For them nothing workdks better than calling them to the consultation room, and pointing at them even an unloaded Walther PPK, to fork out the sum involved forthwith! Very effective approach indeed! This may work in India, but in America, the patient will simply take out the loaded Uzi mini machine gun against which the tiny Walther PPK pales into insignificance!!

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