Autobiography of Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand
Published by Sport & Pastime, Chennai, 1952

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Hong Kong & Shanghai,

Japan & Hawaii

The forthcoming Olympic Games had caught the imagination of the Japanese nation. Many amongst the crowd were flourishing hockey sticks. We were officially welcomed by the Kansai Hockey Club.

Among the distinguished Indians who welcomed us were the revolutionary Rash Bihari Bose and Shankar Sahay, who later became a minister in Subhas Bose's Azad Hind Government.

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he journey from Singapore to Hong Kong was awful. The passage through the South China Sea was difficult, and almost all of us had bouts of sea sickness. Typhoons are common in these parts, but fortunately we were spared one. We dropped anchor in Hong Kong in the early hours of Thursday, June 9, 1932.

Hong Kong, as you know, is made up of three small islands at the mouth of the Canton river. By wireless, arrangements had already been made for us to play a match against an Indian regimental team stationed there.

Mr. Duncan, the honorary secretary of the Hong Kong Hot Weather Sports Club, welcomed us. He mentioned that heavy rains had made the ground water-logged, thus preventing any match from being played.

This gave us an opportunity to see the great colony better. The team broke into small batches, and I tagged myself to the Gupta group. We had a trip up a quaint hill railway, and lunched at a low-cost Chinese cafe.

I visited a department store where a little incident set me thinking. I asked for an inexpensive variety of a Japanese singlet (banian). The store was served by pretty little Chinese girls. The girl whom I asked gave me a withering look and explained to me that China produced hosiery as good and as cheap as Japan.

Japan had entered into an undeclared war against China over the Manchurian Affair, and so it was almost treason to ask for Japanese merchandise in a Chinese town. The fact that Hong Kong was under British rule did not matter. The Chinese considered it as part of their country. The Chinese shop assistant explained all this so nicely that instead of purchasing one singlet, I purchased several. The incident revealed how intensely patriotic the Chinese were.

We had quite a nice time looking around in Hong Kong. Many Indians, mostly Sikhs who monopolise the city's police force, are living in Hong Kong. (I was sorry to hear in 1942 that the Japanese occupied this great city.) We sailed for Shanghai the same evening at 4 pm.

After a harrowing trip, with a strong wind blowing, we reached the great international port of Shanghai on June 12. Since we had no hockey engagement, our members again split into batches to see the city.

The atmosphere in the city was quite tense due to the Sino-Jap clash over Manchuria. We were told to keep within bounds and avoid any trouble spots. We visited a small Sikh temple on the outskirts of the city. The temple had suffered much damage in clashes between the Chinese and Japanese soldiers. As we came out of the temple, Japanese soldiers eyed us with suspicion. We had lunch on board our ship and sailed for Kobe at about 4 pm.

The journey from Shanghai to Kobe was pleasant. We started taking brief lessons in Japanese with the help of stewards, and by the time we reached Kobe, we were conversant with a fair number of Japanese words and phrases. This helped us later on our journey from Kobe to Los Angeles.

The menu cards in the dining room were done very artistically in Japanese, and there was always a scramble at the end of a meal for these menu cards as souvenirs.

The night of Monday, June 13, was a gala night. The ship's officers gave us a saio nara dinner, or a farewell dinner. The whole ship was decorated tastefully with flags and festoons, and saki flowed freely.

After dinner, Pankaj Gupta convened a formal meeting of the players for electing the vice-captain. Three names were proposed - Pinninger, Allen and Hammond. A vote was taken which resulted in Allen getting 9 votes, Pinniger 5 votes and Hammond 1.

The next morning we woke up with the shores of Japan in the dim distance. The ship's engines had stopped; soon a motor launch drew alongside and several Japanese police officers came on board. They carried out a minute search of the boat, the passengers and their belongings.

In those days, with the undeclared war between Japan and China, the Japanese viewed with complete distrust every foreigner entering their soil. A photographic camera was taboo, and my camera was promptly taken away as also several others.

All these procedures appeared very strange to me because we were still several hours away from Kobe. Ordinarily, such inspections by police and health officials occur only when the ship is near the harbour.

We touched Kobe the next morning. A very large crowd welcomed us, including the Indian residents of Kobe. The forthcoming Olympic Games had caught the imagination of the Japanese nation. Many amongst the crowd were flourishing hockey sticks. We were officially welcomed by the Kansai Hockey Club.

Among the distinguished Indians who welcomed us were the revolutionary Rash Bihari Bose and Shankar Sahay, who later became a minister in Subhas Bose's Azad Hind Government.

Our ship stayed in Kobe harbour for two days, during which we played two matches. The first was against Kansai Hockey Club, whom we defeated 22-0. The next day we played against Kobe Recreation Club, whose team consisted of foreigners resident in Japan. We won this match 16-0. We also played a friendly match with the Indians in Kobe.

We paid a visit to the offices of the Osaka Mainichi, a leading Japanese newspaper, where for the first time members of our team witnessed the workings of a teleprinter.

We were very well looked after at Kobe, and I must gratefully record that our Indian brethren spared no pains to make us happy. The proverbial Indian hospitality was very much in evidence. We then travelled by train from Kobe to Tokyo.

Tokyo is a truly modern city. The Hotel Manpi where we stayed was clean and comfortable. The hotel attendants were all pretty Japanese girls. Naturally the members of the team were all excited, and Pankaj Gupta had great difficulty in restraining his wards to keep within bounds.

We stayed in Tokyo for five days, and played two matches. In the first match, we played Waseda University at the famous Meiji Shrine Stadium. At half-time, Waseda was leading by two goals to one. We made an all-out attack in the second half and staged a grand recovery to win 5-3. Gurmeet Singh got three goals, Roop Singh one, and Jaffar the fifth.

Our next match was against an All-Japan XI, which was a cakewalk for us. We won 11-0. Before the match began, we were all presented to His Imperial Highness Prince Chichibu.

At Tokyo, we had a dizzy round of social engagements. The British ambassador, Sir F. O. Lindley, entertained us at an evening party, as also the Education Minister of Japan. Keio University gave a grand display of Japan's famous judo.

We sailed from Yokohama on June 23 by the Tatsuta Maru. Carrying many participants from Asia to the Olympics, the boat was appropriately called the Olympic Boat.

The whole ship was transformed into a miniature stadium to enable the Olympic passengers to hold regular practice matches. In the morning, the top deck witnessed the Indians playing hockey. Later in the day, it served as a 100-metre course for the runners. There was also a swimming pool which afforded full opportunities for practice.

On June 30, we reached Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, which had recently become an American state. Mrs. Fullardleo, acting president of the Hawaii Amateur Athletic Association, gave the passengers a royal welcome.

A dinner for all the Olympic delegates was held that night, followed by a Hula-Hula dance. Hayman, Brewin and Tapsell were so fascinated that they too danced for a few minutes. At the end, one of the girls garlanded Masud amidst roars of laughter.

There were six Indians in Hawaii in 1932. Among them was Gobindram Jethanand Watumull, who was a leading merchant of Honolulu. Watumull and his American wife spared no pains to make our brief stay happy.

We were given a hearty send-off on July 1. Lei garlands were handed to all, and we were asked to drop these into the sea when far from the land. If the garlands were washed ashore in Hawaii, tradition said, the recipients were bound to return to these colourful islands some day. I have no information if our lei garlands were washed ashore.


1932 Olympic Poster on Split Bamboo, Made in Japan, Featuring the Los Angles City Hall