Noel Ellis's Official Blog

I wield the pen to explore the vastness of the human mind

Month: July 2017

FINDING THE RIGHT SOLUTION TO KASHMIR

I was listening to Mehboobaji on the issue of Article 356 and the flag of J&K. I thereafter heard various discussions on what she said, what she meant, what does it signify, what does it imply etc and made my own conclusions which I shall reveal as this article unfolds. Is she right? I doubt, but if she is wrong, then there is an issue of a very large scale brewing to explode. I am convinced Kashmiri’s can only give a solution for Kashmir. But are all Kashmiri’s on the same grid? Is the present J&K Govt on the same grid with the Govt in Delhi? I as a common man feel that communication is lacking. There is a weak effort to resolve what needs to be done. Calling for a plebiscite doesn’t work in democracy. When you madam represent the people of Kashmir, (if you really represent them), then tell us where do you stand and the measures you propose to stop this mayhem. Expecting only Central Govt to give solutions is passing the buck.

I say if there needs to be a plebiscite, let there be one with a question that do these elected representatives actually represent the voices and aspirations of Kashmiri people? If not then who are their real representatives, solution to Kashmir will automatically start evolving. Are these leaders of Kashmir capable enough to lead their people? The picture will start getting clearer. If war is not a solution and talks are the only solution then let us talk internally first. Today we are falling in our own trap, where the political parties of J&K especially of K, the separatists and the terrorists are taking advantage of our lack of clarity amongst us as to what to do, with whom, when and why.

Be that as it may, let Mehboobaji keep her flag and article 356 for the time being. Can she give out a road map to solutions to the Kashmir problem? Let her speak to the “stake holders” in our Kashmir, what they want and discuss with the PM that this is how it needs to be implemented. Let her, Omar and Farookh sit across the table with all those who believe in India as their nation and tell how are they going to seal the borders? How is she going to stop terror funding? How is she going to convince the Hurriat to forget Azadi and come under the tricolour? Let her give a method to convince and control the stone pelters. Let her government take over the internal situation of Kashmir and show she can govern and protect everyone fairly and effectively, rather than only giving the consequences of removal of the articles.

Yes the Central government should continue all its support like hither to fore. Let Mehboobaji give a manner she proposes for employment generation other than Sarkari naukris. Let her reveal plans as to how she will develop tourism, fisheries, agriculture, power, infrastructure, industry etc and set a time frame to address these issues to wean away unemployed youth from nonsense. Simply by sucking Central Govt of funds and resources and leaving Kashmir to be governed by God doesn’t work out. She has the mandate, she has to do it. She needs to create history. She has to have her intelligence grid going and sorting out those who throw stones or fire weapons or support such things, after all the J&K flag flutters today because the Tiranga flutters there, is there a doubt?

Let her come up with a method of utilising her state forces. CAPFs and Indian Armed forces deployed for the protection of the state may be utilised if she needs them. I feel we need to take a big chance if we agree to withdraw all central forces. Let Mr Rajnath and her sit down and plan with the civilian “Mehakma” how to police and keep every citizen safe from harm’s way. I would rather say it would be an ideal opportunity for the armed forces to take a breather. I know my military expert friends shall shoot me down that this will give the militants a breather to regroup and rejuvenate. So be it friends. Imagine by then all terror funding would have stopped. All people with separatist tendencies put in the clink, all hawala money choked, traced out and seized if possible. Infiltration as good as zero as the armed forces would be able to beef up the borders, all those infiltrating through the third country would be scared enough to take a chance to reach Kashmir alive.

Won’t police operations by the sons of the soil stop stone pelters? Stone pelters may not do so to their own kith and kin. Locals if taken on board will reveal most of the caches or routes to them thus bringing a halt to availability of arms and ammunition. Even if many of them take up arms, good for us. Now the forces can take them on without hesitation with definite information available. Moment militants engage security forces they will ensure they are dead meat. The residual militants thus get wiped out. Let it be deterrence for future militants. Let us give them a lose rope to hang themselves. Pakistan by then should be warned to be prepared for some roughing up with every breach and every cease fire violation. You do mischief, we would slap you hard, needs to be conveyed loud and clear.

All this needs meticulous planning, guts and decisions which can be game changers. The key issue remains getting Mehboobaji and gang to get on the job. Today, I find the home minister running up and down, political leaders visiting without reason, Army Chief meeting her for courtesy sake? Let us stop it. Today, there is a government, there is state machinery, there are the people who want peace but there is no strong will and clear intention to sort out this mess. Each day of delay is costing money, resources and precious lives. They are Indian lives, our people. Because getting martyred has become routine doesn’t mean that this should be allowed to continue. If every life counts, out of box solutions have to be found by Mehboobaji first and now.

I heard General Musharaff on a channel who clearly stated that Pak will do Kargil like operations again. He also stated that they call those people mujahedeen whom we call terrorists and this India and US need to understand, they won’t. He also was emphatic about CPEC which is already in advanced stages of construction. If it hurts India, Pak will do it. Let’s be clear then whom are we dealing with. All this people to people contact, aman ki asha chaps wake up. Indian Biryani is far better.

We need to sort out our internal Kashmir thing first and fast. We need the present J&K government on its toes besides being careful of Pak at all times. We have the wherewithal to make it happen. Mehboobaji aur Modiji, Abhi nahi to Kabhi nahi, will you please take note of it, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

POLITICS AND SHARE MARKET

Two things that have intrigued me till date are the share markets and politics. No one knows who will rise or fall or when? Which company or party will merge with whom? Will the voter stay loyal to his share/party or ditch it? Does a person see only his profit while voting or buying shares? If he sees a party sinking does he switch sides and affiliations, similarly when a share falls does he sell it off. Who controls the share markets? I heard it is the market forces but who controls the politicians? I think it is convenience. There is something called the red herring prospectus for the companies with their history, geography, physics and chemistry. But there is nothing for a politician except his declaration of his assets. Nowhere do we see their temperament written. If we take it a little forward, then maybe the party manifesto at best. How the share will behave, I think can be predicted by some market gurus but how a politician is going to behave is anybody’s guess.

I liked what CM of Bihar did. I haven’t seen such a thing happening in my life at least as far as I can remember. No not his switching loyalties, or ditching Lalu but continuing being a CM even after resigning. The beauty is he again became the CM before anyone could say Jack Robinson, saving so much of cost to the exchequer. His residence remained the same and so did his perks and privileges. He saved the state from election expenditure. It can be called a Masterstroke to say the least. The timing of it, the why and what of it, I am not interested in but if the people of Bihar win, I am happy. Let me state very bluntly, does it tickle any nerve of anyone in rest of India? Will it affect the common adivasi, dalit or maha dalit of Bihar? Will it uplift them in the remaining period of his left over tenure? My guess is as good as yours.

Today, the share market is touching a new high. I do not know what will happen tomorrow. During Harshad Mehta’s time it was a disaster for many as I believe he kind of controlled the SENSEX then. People lost every pie of their hard earned money including their wife’s dowry in that scam. Now Modi ji is on a high. I am sceptic as politics is no different. One tends to ride the high political wave thinking it will never come down. I just hope it doesn’t.

In good old days I was attached to Sena Bhawan once for a skiing expedition. During lunch breaks we used to come down to have a nick-knack and a snack. One had to survive on chole-bhature on the road side eateries. The pavements used be full of bundles and bundles of share forms of umpteen companies being distributed free of cost. Any layman visiting would think that there is a stock market inside those huge buildings. As a time pass I used to stand and enjoy the conversations between many in uniform and various civilian experts of the defence ministry, who used to recommend buying or selling certain stocks. My dispatch rider (DR) for the expedition had become an expert himself. He knew each bank manager from Sena Bhawan to Connaught place. He was the man Friday when it came to depositing cash or cheques especially if closing dates were the same day. By the end of the expedition he could recommend certain shares to the boss with guarantee to make a profit giving examples of how much he made in a particular stock. I was impressed. Somehow I felt it was gambling and still feel so. I see no difference between politics too. Which Neta is the best bet no one can predict. I wish the DR could do that too, like he did for shares.

Politics and stocks have never been my cup of tea, so what CM Bihar does or doesn’t do should not bother me. The more of the dirty politics I see the more my dislike for it increases. I just want to stay away from it but cannot avoid it. My country runs on politics and needs money to sustain itself. Our money grows if the SENSEX grows I believe. If the bubble bursts our dreams might be shattered.

Well, a politician does politics as a profession and a broker will make profit from the stock market. I am neither. Therefore, do I need to understand both these professions or should I remain contented by staying away from “political stocks”, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

AIR INDIA AND ITS NEWSPAPERS

Kripiya kya aap mujhe galiyare main jane ki jagh denge, mujhe mutr visarjan karne jana hai. I said I have heard of murti visarjan, asti visarjan, what is this mutr visarjan? My imagination started running wild, that look at this lady she now is going to drop dirty kitanoo like things from this aircraft. What about swach bharat? What if Amitab bachhan comes to know that people are doing it in air also? Well she said you bloody fool haven’t you seen the movie 3 idiots, where this “Mutr” word was used. I apologised to her and asked her that ma’am how come you spoke in such chaste Hindi to say a simple thing that kindly allow me to get to the isle to use the wash room. Of course what you do there I leave it to you. My sah yatri blushed and said well, I was forced to read this Hindi news paper and my thoughts started to wander off to shudh Hindi. Well, ma’am I said, you are lucky, though my mother tongue is Hindi I could not understand half of what you meant. Had you known my name you wouldn’t have dared to say all this in Hindi to me. She said why, I said form my looks I resemble a Thambi and from my name people take me to be Goan. She said I agree.

Hmmmm, she then cursed me and gave me a dirty look because while we were in this deep-deep conversation the Hawai sundaris brought in shudh shakahari bhojan in their bhojan ka thelas. This lady sitting next to me was getting fidgety to go, so I requested the hostess that the lady here has an issue and she wants to go to the wash room. The sundari was an auntie; she folded her hands in Namaste style and told this lady to hold on till they finish their formalities of bhojan vittran. I asked the sundari, madam, what do you have for non vegetarians, she said she has the main door, I said what do you mean and she said catch a bird, I understood that this “bird” doesn’t get the pun, nor is interested in any fazool ki vartalaap. I had no choice but to relish pure Indian Kanda Poha along with asli makhan-amul makhan, and jaam. I asked her give me a bun, she looked at me and frowned, how dare you call this a bun, it is the pure Marathi Pav. Ask for one pav I might give you two. I said mala pav denaar nayi kaye, she said thamba veil lagil. Basically shut up and wait for your turn and don’t maro line on me. I looked at my co-passenger and she looked at the news paper I was reading. It was “Pudari” a Marathi one. I had transformed in one flight. She was impressed.

Well, our flight was of about an hour, while these sundaris were serving there were three more in the isle who were trying to tell us how to fasten our seat belts since take off. In fact there was one standing next to me. I told her yaar we are now mid way of our journey, put on some music, she curtly reprimanded me to learn to behave and listen to the peti jakarne aur kholne ki instructions. I said petticoat hota to sunta bhi, peti agar noton se bhari ho to chalega, ye kya khel hai kabhi peti bandhne ka sanket on and kabhi sanket off. She told me in pure bambaiya hindi, yede chup chap baith kar kursi ki peti bandh le, kuch ho gaya to baad main mat bolna madam ne bataya nahi. I thought to myself crash ho gaya to main peti bandhunga ki kholunga. She announced that Air India main ye peti wali  ghoshna (announcement) kam se kam 20 hindustani bhasaon main hogi. Jis main samajh jao vo theek. I kept waiting for the “prastuti” in English but by then we landed. I looked up towards the sky as if to ask God save me from this atyachaar (torture). God said beta ye Modi ji ka raj hai, us ko jo karna hai vo karega. Tu chup chap pav maska kha aur kat le. I said dhanya ho bhagawan aap ne gyan diya, I will have to think of going by loh-pat-gamini next time. Us main na peti, na petticoat, jo karna hai karo, jo khana hai khao aur jidhar jo visarjan karna hai karo.

This came in my dream yesterday so I thought I must share my dream with you all that soon on our National carrier we will get news papers in 7-8 Indian languages. Well, though I take pride in my mother tongue and I am fluent with quite a few other Indian languages too but this is stretching a little too far. This way soon you may find the aircraft like a train where one English news paper is distributed amongst 5-6 people and then you exchange pages. At the end of the day one will have an assorted newspaper like a fruit chaat. I think I have dreamt too much, I need to have my “chota hazri” and then get ready for office. Will someone get hold of this fellow in the DGCA and tell him to grow up or else we shall carry our own raddi in the language we understand from home itself. Why give newspapers in the first place? Will someone visarjan karo my vichaar in “Assaan Bhasha” to the concerned authorities? Will air India hence forth also change its name to HAWA BHARAT, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!

BATTLE TANK VERSUS WATER TANK

As a kid I remember when Dad used to take us to an Army cantonment we used look at every piece of military equipment in awe. My kindergarten school had many army kids and they used to come in those old TMBs (Tata Mercedes Benz) or SHAKTIMAN trucks modified as school busses. We could spend hours sitting on our haunches imagining what all attachments it used to have, like the pick axe, the shovel, the jerry cans, mule tanks etc. Some trucks had winches on their front bumpers. The numbers painted on them used to be a mystery especially with an arrow pointing upwards. We at that time had gone through a phase of the war of 1971 with Pakistan so as boys our basic game used to be fantasising using all the military equipment we had seen in our lives to defeat of Pakistan.

I subtly remember while passing through Jalandhar Cantt there used to be these Pakistani Patton tanks at the entrance. I cannot describe how proud one used to feel just looking at them as Indian Army got these as war trophies. Even till today if I happen to pass by military equipment displayed in any town, I make it a point to have a look. I remember having clicked many photos on the tanks that used to be displayed in front of Sudan block in NDA. The feeling of elation and a sense of pride that crosses your mind moment you see a military convoy passing by is indescribable. One has seen many of them as a child, huge guns in tow, all covered with tarpaulins. Even one saw many military special trains passing by. One always waved to the faujis and wondered is war imminent. I used to long to be part of them, as I wanted to live that life on a train, with a tarpaulin tent made on a barrel of a gun, eating cooking and yet cheerfully waving to us going towards the border.

We used to have military equipment displays in school. One used to speechless when an NCO used to describe an Artillery gun or an Air Defence Gun or an APC (Armoured Personal Carrier) of the BTR-60 kind or SKOT. Heavens used to break loose when a KRAZ with a 130mm gun in tow used to come for a demo deployment. Though one could never understand the words of command but the whole process used to leave our jaws open. I clearly remember touching those practice rounds and getting bewildered at the size of the 130 mm shell. We even used to follow those tyre tread marks of the APCs. One could never imagine that APCs can fill air in them from inside. One used to think of one’s own bicycle, if this could be possible. The way the baffle plate used to go up and the propeller used to be exposed at the rear. To imagine that this huge beast could float was pure fiction. Though, I later joined an outfit which had both the BRDMs and BMPs as my bread and butter.

One really dreamt of joining the forces as a child. The starched dungarees with big pockets close to the knees were something fascinating, crisp uniforms, shining stars, glistening equipment everything used to mesmerise us. The wooden pointer with a white tip in a pocket on the shoulder was awesome. I even remember going through every detail of an army ambulance. One was very impressed by the fans inside as one had never seen them in cars also that time.

Today, during Republic Day Parade, the main highlight is the equipment that the country displays. It gives an inherent sense of security as the commentator gives the description of the various tanks, guns and missiles. The mind starts appreciating the skills of the pilots who do formation flying, or refuel midair, or do a vertical Charlie right in front of your eyes. Your mind doesn’t register when you hear that all these aircrafts have come from faraway air bases like Pune, Delhi Ambala etc on a precise call and accurate time. How can one stage manage a machine moving at double the speed of sound to fly past exactly when the last marching contingent has just saluted the President? Well friends, the coordination, the discipline is mindboggling and that is what impresses us.

The marching contingents are no less matter of pride and honour when all those Gorkha hats tilted at just the precise angle do an eyes right. The “turras” of the pagris suddenly appearing broadside like a peacock displaying its feathers is an awesome experience to see. The front foot lifted higher than the shoulder and dug in the tarmac for Dahine Dekh (Eyes Right). The dipping of the tank barrels and turning towards the President as a mark of respect is mind blowing. The commentator when he starts listing out the decorations of each passing contingent, one is really baffled to hear what mettle these people are made of. Yes one does get a lump in the throat and moist eyes when a widow of a brave heart comes to the President to take a medal which her husband won. It is heart breaking on hearing the citation about his bravery. Ones head bows down in respect and gratitude and a small prayer to thank the martyr that brother because of you we all are alive today.

I do not know what JNU people are made of. I am sure they would be more patriotic than all of us. Fortunately or unfortunately I too am a graduate from JNU only thing is my campus was in NDA. I wish you guys learn to make peace and also learn to be prepared for war. All those who oppose a tank being displayed in the campus deserve a water tank to remind them to save water. Please take inspiration from water tank and debate whether we stand by our Army or otherwise. If installing busts of personalities they want to emulate satisfies them, so be it. I only have one request friends that please ensure that no bird droppings are seen on those busts. Ensure every student knows whose statue it is and what he did in his life time. Please make sure that at least once a year you all go and salute this great man rather than sitting under the shade of the statue and make plans of how to create the next kanhiya like episode.

I having served my motherland more than 20 years in the Army would request you if you are so interested in history and are so vehement against putting a tank, kindly put a bust of all Param Vir Chakra winners with space for more to come for a change. I am sure they too shall form part of Indian history. These war heroes have definitely given you the freedom to attack your VC to fire verbal salvos towards him with words which neither have direction nor will meet any target. Will they ever understand why we say Jai Hind and Bharat Mata ki Jai, I wonder!!!!!!!!!

 

THE “WHY” OF J&K

It was nice to hear that a few of the HURRIATIERS have been arrested and put in the clink. How far all the separatists are united is not known but this move is surely going to bring those birds of the same feather together. Mehbooba ji has not commented till now and let me assure you Madam that at this rate of arrests people that you were insisting on to talk to or the stake holders, you will find their numbers dwindling and reducing. Time may not be far when you too may not be invited to any talks yourself as I find representatives of people of J&K not involving themselves with their people the way they should. Hope my perception is wrong.

I have a question for all the political leaders of Kashmir that why can’t you convey the will of your people and work out solutions for them. If you are doing so why is J&K burning? Are actual issues being discussed in the state assembly or are you all there to wrestle with people like Engineer. Are you and your people on the same grid? Rather, are you politicians with us that is India in the first place? Once that is established rest will fall into place. If you are not with India then what are you doing as an elected representative is the next question? Don’t give us long stories of disputed territories and points of view, either you’re with India, if not you should be considered to be with Pakistan. There is no question of any kind of freedom or independence. If this frame work is clear, then there would be some point to discuss. If not then you know where the LoC is cross over and start a movement from there. Take all your supporters and sympathisers along, after all there you will also get support of all kinds from your “napaak” friends. Here you may not get a chance to talk as openly.

The other question which keeps bothering me is that who is actually looking after Jammu & Ladakh? As I perceive it, when the darbar is in Srinagar, everyone is working for Kashmir, when it comes down to Jammu; some attention is given to Jammu. Kashmir still remains the main focus. Where does poor Ladakh go? The centre is only helping out Kashmir. Jammu and Ladakh get the left overs. Why do I sitting far away from the state get this feeling? It is because of no media coverage of Ladakh or is it what I hear and read becomes my perception. Am I conjecturing too much?

Be that as it may, Pakistan is going to keep injuring us is nothing new I am stating. When are we going to start lacerating it is what I want to know? The whole issue with Pak is about Kashmir and the people who suffer the pain of Paki inflicted injuries are the people of Jammu and the armed forces. For Kashmiri’s it is death for their cause I suppose. Why? Till the time we don’t give a clear signal that you scratch me and I will tear you apart we will continue to suffer. Gangrene has to be induced in Pakistan so that a portion of it is amputated. The viruses it keeps sending this side leaves us nursing and licking our wounds leaving Pak unscathed. This needs a paradigm shift is thinking at the PMs level. Sooner the better!

All those people who show dissent towards India should be put in the clink and investigated. All his links and lineage should be exposed. All politicians having any connection with the militants/separatists should be dismissed from public service. Why I say this is because with the passage of time the clot in the artery which could have been dissolved initially has already seen a bypass. The clots have appeared again and may need a change of heart. One thing is clear that if Kashmir is our heart, then it already has suffered many heart attacks. The centre is pumping all it can to keep the LUB-DUB going. If now all the blockages in terms of Hurriat etc and not removed and the inoperative valves in terms of the J&K government are not made functional or replaced and the tensions which Pakistan generates leading to this heart condition if not eliminated, then chances of survival are bleak.

For the Armed Forces J&K is as good as a domicile state. All of us in uniform have had at least two to three tense tenures in the state. Not a single day used to be without some action somewhere. If we add our tenures of Ladakh including Kargil and the Glacier, people would have stayed half their lives in service of J&K in whatever capacity. If I reflect on what I did in Kashmir in particular, was only winning hearts and minds but still lived in fear that there would be an IED on my route, I could be fired upon from any direction, people would turn hostile towards me etc. I kept feeding and treating ailments of villagers. I kept labouring to make playfields and schools and the end result is that we still have gotten nowhere. All of us did our best, all of us went to each village, met each headman, maulvi, teacher, infirm, old, ex militant, you name it. All of us loved those small children who came to us. Has it really done any good, or is it that the Kashmiri people just took advantage of all of us?

The simple Kashmiri people are now no more simple people now I think. I know, they all need jobs, money, a decent living, education, growth in agriculture etc, but none of it is happening. The “why” of it is still a mystery? Can someone find answers to this why? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

 

PAY COMMISSION AND ARREARS

Effects of the seventh pay commission have percolated to the political class. The pay of an Undersecretary may be more than the MP now. How can this be palatable to the Mantr ji? I heard one of the MPs saying that we have to maintain three houses, one at Delhi, one in the constituency and one own home. Government needs to pay us for the taam-jhaam therefore I need a pay hike. How is Jaitley ji going to get this money is his baby. Who all will be squeezed is the FMs problem? The FM is looking towards me, why me sir? Get hold of Malya and gang please.

Let me tell you how I felt after the implementation of various pay commissions. Initially, I felt elated and jumped up and down my bed on receiving my pay slip. This happiness used to last a very short while, around six to seven months. Then inflation used to catch up and we were back to square one. We turned back to looking at the prices in the menu card first and then deciding what to eat rather than the other way around. I remember I had to compromise while buying my first car. I was falling short by 25000 and had to pick up a non AC one. No regrets though, we drove it like hell and she was my darling for more than ten years.

I remember my rank pay got stuck as there was some issue way back in 1987. I had picked up as a Barsati Captain in 1987 with just two years of service. The rank pay then was 200 if I remember correctly. In those days mess gave us khana and mess was home so pay never bothered me. Later I got married and got posted to high altitude. There, food was plenty, expenditure was negligible and the bank used to be our unit Baniya and his famous note book in which he used to write every hisaab-kitab our pass book. I was in Ladakh then and baniya used to get us all what we needed. My only expenditure used to be on fags. In those days the DFR dollars used to come in handy. Another bank used to be the field cashier. I remember carrying lots of field cheques to Leh for many officers when on pay collection duty. I had to cross Changla pass many a times to get pay.

Soon I got posted to a place near Dehradun. One fine day accumulated arrears with pay around 40,000 got released in 1992. I almost jumped through the roof. I showed my pay slip to my wife, she too rubbed her eyes at least 20 times to see whether the figure had a comma or a full stop after 40. We started making plans as if we could buy the whole world. My wife said save half of it, so next day I went to the field cashier and withdrew the money. He gave me bundles of 10 rupee notes from the RTC. I rushed straight to the post office and bought NSC certificates worth 20000. In those day’s money used to double in five years. That was my first and last investment for more than 3/4th of my Army service.

I carried the rest of the bundles in my brown VIP briefcase, with a suspecting eye on everyone. I laid those 20 bundles in front of my wife on the small coffee table and asked her have you ever seen so much of cash in your life. I still remember I could hear her heartbeat sitting across the table. Well, like a chivalrous man I said all yours and she picked them and hid them in the cupboard under her third sari, well that was all she had then. We bought a new lock for that cupboard and watched it every night. We used to bring out the notes sometimes and count them and as luck would have it I always either counted one extra or one less. Then she used to recount it. I used be sent back from parties to go and see if the house was ok. I used to quietly go down to the bar. Refill my drink, come and say all is well. We were posted in such a remote place where leopards used to visit our quarter guard not far from our house quite often.

Well, next weekend I put my name on the bus to Dehradun and we had made up our mind to buy a VCR. I had just bought a BPL-Sanyo TV and this would compliment it. Moment we touched Doon we hired a taxi to Mussoorie. On our return we went to this big VCR/TV shop close to the famous “Moti-Mahal” restaurant. We picked up the best one which cost us around 14000. We asked for a guarantee, the shopkeeper said there is none on imported stuff. In case something goes wrong we shall repair it. I told my wife let us take a chance, she reluctantly agreed. From there we rushed to Kumar sweets at Ghanta Ghar and picked up “Ras Malai” and stick jaws. We were going to stay with one of our relatives. First thing I told them that tonight is movie night; get as many cassettes as you want to see. We finished dinner and inserted the first movie. My happiness knew no bounds as the clarity of the video was impressive. I told my wife to get the sweets to celebrate our moment of joy and we gave everyone a bowl of Ras Malai.

Believe you me my heart sank as the first spoon of the tasty Ras Malai went into my mouth. I saw smoke rising from the brand new VCR. I jumped and switched it off but by then it was too late. I looked at my wife who had turned into a statue. That night was the longest night for both of us. We would have kept awake watching movies with the family but that night we were consoling each other as tears of my wife were unstoppable. We had a quick breakfast and caught the first Vikram to Ghanta Ghar and by 9am we were at the shop. The assistant came at ten and half an hour later came the owner. He saw our faces and understood and I meekly said that the VCR got burnt. This man was cool and said chotu get another one from the attic. My wife said no we will take a VCP instead with a proper bill and guarantee. I had no choice but to agree and bought a KRISONS VCP. We were sceptic but it gave us fantastic service till the VCD mania took over.

Hard earned money can become hard burnt money in seconds. That was a lesson for me in life and I carry it with me still. Nothing without a bill otherwise be prepared to take a chill pill. Are you guys and gals listening, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GULLY CRICKET MATCH CONTINUES

Yesterday I came across the same little fellows playing cricket on the road again. Today, the venue had shifted a little but the road under construction was the same. I again had a little time at hand to observe them closely as my wife had gone into the cream and shampoo shop and I had to twiddle my thumbs waiting for her.

The “arena” today was much neater and cleaner than the last time but was dug about two feet deep and a layer of cement had been put to level out the road. The whole field was 20 meters in length and about 20 feet wide. On one side was a water pipe line which they had earmarked as the boundary for the match. The other side boundary was the edge of the road itself. The wickets were a high metal stool given by the chicken wala uncle on which a big burly cat of the Garfield kind generally sits. The long on/off boundary was the beauty parlour board which was exactly 20 meters from the wicket. Today they were 9 of them including a wicket keeper in that virtual cricket stadium. Vehicular traffic was totally cut off as a little ahead of the parlour board was a road roller standing, waiting for its turn to roll the road.

Well, it was interesting that today they were batting as per a sequence; except for one aberration things were much smoother since last Sunday. One fellow who picked up the bat out of turn was called a YEDA God knows what it means. My main focus was the rules they made as to how one could get out. You hit the ball, one bounce and someone caught it you were out. You hit the ball over the dug road on either side you were out. Any ball going ahead of the parlour board you were out. Any ball cut and went behind the wicket keepers legs you were out, besides, bowled, caught and leg before as normal ways of getting out.

My goodness, what pressure it must be putting the batsman! In the given circumstances one could barely survive a single over. As I observed turnover of the batsmen was quite fast. The beauty was that none of the bigger boys wanted to run and do fielding. So the youngest of them was made to field at long on so to say. The only favour he got was for fetching the ball from far was a baby over that is he bowled three balls for his over in which rest of the rules were the same.

The guys were so meticulous in counting the number of balls left in an over. I heard even the batsman counting the balls announcing it loud like, three to go, followed by two to go in English mind you. The icing on the cake used to be, in case there was a controversial shout for out.  This was referred to a lady running this auto spares shop on the opposite where I was standing. Every one used to make the sign of the replay towards her, as done by the umpires. Auntie’s decision used to be final. Everyone used to cry in unison “out hai” instead of How was that. By the way all sockets in auntie’s shops were plugged in with mobiles of these fellows. In between they used to run to take their calls. They took incoming calls at the peril of the shouts by rest of them not to leave the field. Punishment of attending a call used to be missing your turn to bowl an over.

Well in those twenty minutes they would have bowled 10 overs, about 4 people got out; there were about 10 controversies whether someone was out or not. There were similar amount of referrals for decisions to auntie. Two fist fights for dropping catches. One chap kept picking up pebbles and hitting the fielders who were not concentrating on their job. As the heat of the match picked up my wife had finished her shopping. I had some change in fact a ten rupee coin and called their batting captain of my last encounter that do you need a coin to toss, to which they said “chal foot yede”. What did that mean, I wonder!!!!!!

 

TOO MUCH OF POLITICS IN MY LIFE

Politics, politics and more of politics is dominating the whole scenario in the country. Though politicians are meant to do politics but now every citizen is doing politics. In fact politics now is a loosely used word associated with corruption, unfair means, manipulating, back biting, rumours, polarisation etc. Everyone wants a piece of the pie without making much effort by just doing politics. The only effort most of us do is to get hold of a politician and involve him in the game plan.

Getting educated was supposed to be an act of learning but today for an admission politics starts. You join a college, you better be part of a student’s union which is backed by some political party. What to wear, what to study, what to eat, what to teach and how to teach is all dominated by politics. All educational institutions get politicised somehow. Merit is considered after politics. Teachers and professors who are supposed to shape the future of this country are dragged into the world of politics.

Say one is educated, now to find a job you got to find a politician first. Politician’s pull-push, his goonda element matters besides the power of the pink coloured notes you can shower. You get a job then the local politics of your workplace takes over. Initially, they will not let you settle down, moment you make a sincere and honest effort to highlight issues of inefficiency in your workplace, politics against you starts. You now become the target of rumours. You have to change your job due to unnecessary pressure and tensions. Politics will again come into play when you as an outsider are shortlisted in another company. News spreads like wild fire that an outsider has been considered.  Dharna’s, threats, news paper campaigns by local political parties become a pain to handle. You may stand rejected even if you are the most deserving candidate.

Armed forces too have been dragged into politics. Politicians are firing from the shoulders of the soldier’s salvo after salvo. Soldiers die for this country day in and day out but political sermons of cutting out rations continue. Though praises keep flowing but when it comes to giving relief to this man, politics takes over. The politicians and the people who control the politicians do not let the armed forces live with the dignity they deserve. Well, politicians who have no knowledge of warfare, tactics or military equipment are the last word for the forces as to what will they eat, if they get to eat, what will they wear, what will they fire and with what will they fire, when will they fire, at whom they can fire. They also lay a rider if you fire and kill there will be an FIR against you and if you don’t fire and die we won’t even come and pay our last respects. Politicians run to the military with folded hands when things get out of their hands or when they come for votes. They however fail to hold the hand of the man in uniform who not only keeps him safe from external and internal aggression but allows him such a free hand called political freedom.

Law and order though being a state subject has now got politically manipulated. In case the policemen take a stand they are humiliated in public by the politicos. Postings of people have the blessings of the politicians.  Same is with the builder-political nexus and builder-police nexus. Politics is done best if money flows or the “yes sir three bags full sir” system is in vogue. Am I conjecturing too much or is there just smoke and no fire in what I say?

Today, politics is discussed on every goddamn channel available on air. There is a certain group of politicians who can be seen parallel on multiple channels. They can say something on one channel, throw a red herring on another, blame the opposition on the next and just keep mum on a channel which doesn’t tow their line. They deflect, divert, obfuscate, turn, twist, side track, deny, confuse, complicate, puzzle and lie openly and blatantly. Even the dogs in the drawing room know that this discussion is nothing but bak-bak politics. The poor fellow whines and whimpers to switch channels as he doesn’t want to be “dogged down” with such belittling politics on TV.

I am waiting for the day in my India when I will see constructive politics both by the opposition and the ruling party. Dirty politics has destroyed our fabric thread by thread since independence. I am waiting to see the opposition debating an idea rather than finding faults in a person. Criticism is not a big shake but positive criticism definitely is in political circles at least. Today, I as common man can see through the ploy of blame game politics. If things are to change then politicians need to be above board if they want this country to progress.

If politics is everything on which this whole country hinges on, from policies, to regulations, to laws, to legislation, then I feel that there needs to be proper training and grooming of these politicians. I respect the mandate of the people as they pass the first test to win elections. All of us passed our entrance exams and then were trained in what we did so that everyone was on the same grid, then why not for politicians. Why not put these politicians through their paces. To be called leaders they have to be trained irrespective of their family back ground. Will they agree? This is food for thought.

Today the opposition has been decimated so badly that they don’t matter in policy making at all. If at this pace things continue, opposition will get wiped out in the near future. That will be another disastrous day in Indian politics. It will be anarchy and no more democracy which needs to be understood. The complications also arise when the center and state don’t vibe. The federal structure is also under threat, unless everyone is thinking India first. Politics cannot be above India.

Over all I see we are a politically confused nation as we don’t actually know what politics is all about and how it should be done; which the politician takes advantage of. Politicians tend to forget that it is the peoples will that they have come to execute. They play with our sentiments and we allow them because we become helpless once the ballot is cast. Till we the people understand politics and the politician’s game plan, till we ensure that the politician does what needs to be done for us and make him accountable to “we the people” for every paisa we pay as tax, we will continue to be victims of political manipulation.  Are we willing to take the politicians on? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KOI LAUTA DE MERE BEETAY HUE DIN

I remember as far as my memory goes mom used to take care of all small little things in life that one just took for granted. From waking me up, to bathing me, to dressing me up, making breakfast and tiffin, polishing the shoes, filling the water bottle, (though one drank from any tap or hand pump in those days), checking homework, tying the knot of the tie, ensuring the school badges are put correctly, check all the books were in the satchel, last minute peeling the pencil with “her” spare sharpener, knowing mine must be hiding in the mystic maze of my school bag. Let there be a button missing she could produce one and stitch it in a jiffy.  I used to dilly dally, refusing to dress up. I would hide my belt sometimes. I would lie on the floor and “faaat” used to come a tight slap. Simple words, behave or I call dad used to turn the tables. Drink your milk or else the dog is waiting and the milk used to go glug glug down the gullet. A neat little hanky used to be attached with a safety pin on the shirt with instructions to blow my nose, who cared. A small prayer at the door was the norm.  She never forgot to give a curt reminder to bring back my tiffin which I forgot yesterday. The list is endless and all this was done like clockwork and a whirlwind.

Moment you left the house your world was different, your school friends became the world. Maths teacher was the most dreaded one, the moral science teacher used to be the sweetest one; the best period in the day was games period, followed by arts and crafts. Pine cones used to be footballs during recess, every stray dog was a target for throwing stones. One odd fight a day used to be routine. How difficult it must be for mom in those days without washing machines, I can imagine now. Your tiffin was for friends and friend’s tiffin was for you. Lovely days they were!

How I got inspired to write this piece was that yesterday while on our weekly shopping trip to the market I observed a few kids.  After having had my hair cut I was waiting for my wife to join me and these kids in the street were ready to play night cricket under the street lights, five six of them, ranging from 5-8 years of age. I couldn’t help but laugh because I had been there for more than ten minutes and they could not decide how to toss. The toss winner was supposed to bat I assume, so one of them picked up a shiny packet of “gutka” with mangoes (AMBA) printed on it on one side. They agreed to throw it up in the air. “AMBA”, was the call by both teams and AMBA it was but then how can both win the toss. In the mean time one chap brought a thrown away carton to make the wickets, so they decided to call the toss once again after a heated discussion on who will call as I assume all were captains of their own kind. So one chap again called amba and he lost the toss. Well, he had the bat so he decided that sorry this is no way can a toss be held. So one sensible chap suggested yaar lets not waste time and finish with the toss as it might rain in another minute. It was no less than the national team so toss had to be done I suppose.

This time they decided to throw that gutka wrapper higher and they did. The wrapper got caught in a gust of wind and landed up in a wet mud pile standing straight. The road is under construction that’s how they were playing on the main road. So another controversy started. Heated debate and parleys, so ultimately they decided to flip a coin. Issue was none of them had a coin. Now how do they toss without a coin? Again discussions and debate to change the mode of toss and they found a piece of mirror with a deep orange colour on one side. Up it went in the air and down it came and got shattered, shattering the toss again. Now things were getting out of hand. Standing and watching the chaos and commotion took me back to my days. Then one of them approached me “uncle ek rupya cha nane hai kaye” (Uncle do you have a one rupee coin). I being the only vela and the only spectator was the person they approached. I peeped in my purse, unfortunately there was not a single coin inside, I meekly said “naye” (No) and sheepishly grinned at them. Just then I heard my wife say good haircut, I said thank God you came to my rescue and both of us scooted from there. Those kids must be thinking what a “fokatia” chap this guy is. Only thing he has is a big mush.

Well, nostalgia set in the way we used to write numbers under the bat and draw straight lines outside keeping the bat face down to decide the order to bat in the good old days. “Koi lauta de mere beetay hue din”. Well, I relived them seeing those kids yesterday. Would you like to relive them too? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

THE ANSWER MY FRIEND IS BLOWING IN THE WIND

Time is fast approaching when we as a nation have to get out of the mentality of I, me myself. The country is burning on issues which should be non issues. We have a PM who is running around the world to fill in the voids of the years of neglect by approaching them with an open heart and open mind. Here we are in our own country trying to create a situation which perfectly matches to prove that we have a blocked and narrow mind. Today, face book posts can be the cause of death of people. I think if this is how we as a society are then half the country should be dead. Lynching has become a norm it seems. Conjectures have become the basis of taking out personal animosities. I can understand the changes which have come in due to the technological advancements but reaching to such a low is rather painful and condemnable. We shall be looked down upon by the world but do we care. The jumla “SANU KEY” or who cares stands good.

We are a fragmented society and fragmented like hell. Let’s not blame the Brits; they divided us to suit their requirement. We never united thereafter to suit ours. Don’t blame them for separating India-Pakistan, we are ourselves to blame. Everyone wanted to take advantage of the situation which existed at that moment and the result is what we are today. United we stand divided we fall, is an age old adage and it could not be more true the way things are happening in this country. It will take many PMs and his likes to get us as one nation together. If only we Indians want to get united.

It all started with the princely states who did not want to give up their kingdoms. Patel did the dirty work and got them under one flag. Pakistan poked its nose along with China during partition; those fires are still simmering, in fact burning at places. Division of states of Punjab & Haryana started another kind of rift. Gujarat was carved out of Maharashtra. Goa was still under Portuguese rule; northeast was never satisfied with its division, East and West Bengal are not happy even after formation of Bangladesh. J&K went on the boil and is still smouldering. Punjab had its ups and downs. Now Gorkhaland resurfaces. The Naxals are not happy; thank God the Anand Margi’s have vanished. Tamil Nadu doesn’t see eye to eye with both Kerala and Karnataka. Basically, states are divided too.  Beyond this the reservations for every community, the majority and minority, my goodness Lord from where shall I begin and where will it end.

I haven’t added the Hindu Muslim Sikh Isaai angle as yet. The tarka of gau-rakshaks, anti beef vigilante and their ilk have also to be sub-factored. By the way there is another division which is clearly visible like in the railways and airlines. They still have First class and second class of kinds, thank God there is no more third class remaining though there is III AC. Airlines have business and economy. The caste systems are inherent in our society and let’s accept it that it still prevails. Then there are these politicians who have only done nothing but appeasement politics and politics for corruption. They have definitely been adding fuel to the fire. My country burns thus I am in a tizzy now helpless and waiting for a miracle to bail us out it seems.

We have one bowl of grain and 1000 mouths to feed and increasing by the minute. Can we just feed our favourites? Should we feed the hungry? Should we feed the needy? Should we feed the greedy? Should we set a feeding procedure? Should we fix a feeding quota? How do we go about it? Should we reduce the mouths to feed? Should we bring another bowl of grain? Should we start growing our own grain? Should we subdivide our bowl to feed selective people? Unfortunately the bowl has also developed a leak. So should we plug the leak or loot the spill? Should we get smaller bowls to feed? All these questions are relevant. The issue here is that some of the grains in the bowl have also gone sour and bitter. The grains are not fit for consumption. The mixture in the bowl has become adulterated as trying to feed so many mouths has led to diluting of its contents. Some people have an insatiable appetite and keep asking for more. Some people are the goonda elements who forcefully snatch the grains and in the spat spill it on the floor and don’t bother till their bellies are full. So what do we do?

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, as Bob Dylan sang. We know everything but pretend that we don’t know the problem. We know the solutions but don’t want to approach them head on. We know the culprits but fear to hand them over to our officials. We ourselves break rules, circumvent and bypass them and expect the other person to follow them in letter and spirit. All regulations are meant for the other Indian, I shall follow my convenience. A hand full of people who misguide and misgovern all this  adds up to a chaotic, disarrayed, disorderly, undisciplined, unruly, rowdy, unmanageable, disruptive and typical Indian society. All this is smudged and flavoured by the religious concoction as well.

We want our streets clean but will throw garbage out of the window kinds of people we are. We will break traffic rules but won’t like to get caught, if caught try and wriggle out somehow, if not possible then fight with the law makers, if that doesn’t work try and bribe our way out, use our push and pull and finally when that too doesn’t work out then accept our punishment. Crazy people we are! We only understand the rule of danda.  We will even go all out to bribe our Gods; we will request him for favours for the prayers and money offered.  It is true and let’s face it, exceptions might be there.

I am convinced that unless we as a society evolve, understand and accept our individual roles from a CEO to a Rag picker, from a Sepoy to a General, from a black smith to an industrialist everyone has a place in society and an important role to play. Let us respect each other, let us respect each other’s sentiments and values, let us focus on the progress of the nation, let us contribute one small thing in a day which is positive for the society or the nation in any which way we can and then only can we as a country stand as a big power. Our government and the PM is setting up a deck of cards in a pyramid, with every gust of wind the deck crumples and has to be stacked again, let us join hands to block the winds of jealousy, hatred and intimidation. Let us love human kind, let’s assist in nation building. I then only see India progressing. Are the answers blowing in the wind? I wonder!!!!!!

KASHMIR ISRAEL INDIA & GST

I know you all will ask me is there any relation in all what I say in the title. Let me put my one and half pennies worth. One of the states which is hammer and tongs against the GST is J&K. Reasons can be attributed to many a things. I saw engineer Rashid trying to knock down a colleague in the assembly on the issue day before. Again I shall not get into the right and wrong of it but one thing is sure that the way these Kashmiri’s are panicking with GST is to be noted. Pak is not only panicking but monitoring PMs visit to Israel very minutely. The so called separatist lot of Kashmir are frightened like hell too. My hunch says Mufti and her gang are also in total shock and panic mode as neither the situation in Kashmir, nor the terrorists, nor Pak, nor their own people, nor their own government is under anybody’s control. Well, GST has no comparison with the PMs Israel visit but let me say how I see those things from my perspective.

People might compare India with Israel as far as Kashmir and Palestine is concerned, the oppression of Palestinians and the killing of Kashmiri’s by security forces and atrocities they claim etc. The role of Pakistan can also be compared to the role of all other Arab states against Israel as far as Kashmir is concerned. America has played a major role in Israel and so has played its game in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Well, I am not going to make those comparisons either as so much of it has been covered in the media. I shall discuss something different.

Why is there so much of commotion and resistance to implement GST in Kashmir? Because, time now has come that the Kashmiri’s are now seeing that sooner or later there is going to be an amendment in the constitution of India which has to do with article 370 to begin with. Let the Kashmiri economy be self sustaining rather than sustaining on my tax money will be the next change and that may come through the GST. The amount of money in terms of cash and kind which has been pumped in to this state God alone knows. I wish the same would have been given to the BPL people of rest of India, we could have seen a difference in India in these 70 years. They are now anticipating that the cat is out of the bag, their bluff of being a victim and a special state, with special status is getting over. Time is running out for them the way they ran the state. Sooner the Indian constitution is amended; J&K will automatically have to make amends. I can see in the near future that the separate flag of J&K also going along with all special privileges. Even if the flag continues to flutter, it would now be in the background and not the way they have exploited every Government in Delhi.

The repercussions of this change would be many. This revolution or evolution may see a lot of bloodshed. They have no choice but to accept it, they like it or they don’t. They need to get their basic needs from rest of India for their day to day survival. They will not be able to requisition or buy them anymore till the time they become part of the larger Indian picture. This is also a warning to the Hurriat and all those who still have a dream of either Azadi or merging with Pakistan that friends your days are limited, either get into the Indian main stream or get lost from Indian soil. When in India do as the Indians do, you can go to Rome or Timbuktu to do what they do there but get this thing clear that no autonomy or no more independence to you to run the state affairs, as you people are no more capable of doing so. You want Kashmir on the boil just to fill your coiffeurs, it’s going to stop.

This much is sure that to sort out Pakistan we need to get our act together in India and specifically Kashmir. Military is doing its job and we need to not only strengthen the Int-Grid but hold their hands. Once this message is percolated to the last stone pelter things will fall into place. Enough of pussy footing till now, methods needs to change; strategy needs to change, thinking needs to change above all Kashmiri people have no choice but to change and change the way India thinks. Period!

Let me discuss the Israeli connection I mention. Jews still live there but take Syria or any other Arab nation, where have they gone? They have been cleansed slowly like the Kashmiri’s did to the pundits, sad state of affairs but now it is part of history. Time now has come for history to be re-written. Enough of bowing down, enough of Oh my God Kashmir is burning? Who is burning it? It is the Kashmiri people themselves. They have no love lost for their land or brethren or else they would not let militants take people hostage because of which security forces have to fire rockets thus burning down assets belonging to Kashmir. As you sow so shall you reap is now coming true, as the seeds of thorny bushes were planted. Time now has come uproot these useless thorny bushes and plant new trees which are beneficial for “India’s Kashmir”. Time now has come to revamp everything as per the threat perspective of India. We have been tolerating the way Kashmir’s have mis-handled things, it has not worked out. Time now is ripe to change the engine, some sick coaches, the guard, the driver and a few passengers may also be told to get off this train as they are not letting it run.

My only issue with my country is that look at Israel, they are so small but the technology they have developed over the years in terms of their military might, no one can beat them. Because they have the will, they keep Israel first, simple. We are such an enormous country, with tremendous resources of wealth and brains. Where are we lacking? The nightmares that we propose to give to Pakistan by buying all kinds of military hardware from Israel should also give jitters to the Kashmiri militants and their supporters that look folks we are now going to come for you silently. Seriously, I would rather feel happy if I use my own country’s bombs rather than be dependent on Israel’s armoury. Though, I am thankful to them that they have bailed us out in every confrontation with Pakistan. Had our country been manufacturing things as per our needs and requirements, how dare any Pak or China challenge us! Pakistan would have vacated all that they have forcefully occupied by now had we been politically strong and self sufficient militarily.

On that note I am optimistic that things in Kashmir are on the cusp of change and change it will be. It may be from implementation of GST, amendment of the constitution, Governor’s rule, throwing out the Hurriat and separatist kinds, dealing firmly with stone pelters and trouble makers. In addition let us give Pakistan a good beating every week till the time it doesn’t behave. India also now needs to make indigenously state of art arms and ammunition to send a message to the world, that friends this is a MAKE OF INDIA. MADE BY INDIANS, MADE FOR INDIA, so better watch out. When will this be possible? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FAUJ KA RATION AUR MODIJI KA BHASHAN

Today the social media circuit of the fauji kind is full of “Ration pe Bhashan”. What all rations will discontinue in what all military stations is matter of grave concern I suppose. Most of the officers are worried about their bai’s running away, for obvious reasons. I can vouch for it that my free rations were the biggest spoiler of our maid’s figure. Well, rice we didn’t eat. Bread was given in lieu of atta. Oil was toooo refined. Butter was not good for health said the doc. Daal’s were too stony. Cheese, we kept begging the supply depots yaar pleeease give us a reason to say cheese. Ek Murgi ke saath do anda used to come free as so called chicken used to be a yucky “egg layer” and not “broiler”. Meat was always malnourished and injected with water. Bhindi used to reach us as bhindi dry. Potatoes could go straight to the pot as they were automatically peeled in transit. Gobi was mostly fired. Palak came to us as squashed soup and so on. This I am talking of a decade back of the condition of our wonderful rations. Today, my ASC friends might take offence to it but never mind.

The other issue which bothered me was that fresh rations were collected for a week, so rivers of milk used to flow as minimum seven packets had to be collected. One could now make paneer, kheer or curds choice was yours. In summers by the time the milk from the military farms (MF) reached us it was mostly curdled. The fat percentage used to be just above the threshold of the minimum required to call it milk, balance used to be SNF (solid not fat) a term I picked up as DQ, notwithstanding the water content. Our child refused to drink the MF milk as it used to taste “different” from the pure cow’s milk we could get from the civil.

I remember I was deployed in the outskirts of Srinagar valley and my post was a four hour walk from the road head. Imagine the plight of chickens as they would have travelled many kilometres to reach our admin base. By the time they used to reach my post most of them were dead. My Senior JCO suggested that Sir let us send a chicken detachment (det) to the base. I asked for what, he said sir; they will cut and clean them before they died. As I was a pure man eater kind found logic in his wisdom and sent a det from the company HQ who’s only job used to be cutting chicken, plucking chicken feathers and sending them up as dressed chicken. My boys used to hang 10 chickens each on a bamboo with their necks blobbing up and down as they travelled up to the post. What a sight!

Then we had an MOH category (Meat on Hoof). The sheep and goats of Rajasthan used to travel more than 500 miles away from home to reach the base. They used to go mad on setting hoof on terra-ferma. From deserts to my post they used to go berserk eating the green-green grass of the greenest pastures. All the starving they had done while travelling in military vehicles used to be made up by eating anything green including our dress. Notwithstanding that within a week they used to grow fat and were sent up through the half link patrol. My anxiousness used to keep increasing with every passing hour when this patrol used to get delayed. On reaching the post I used to find at least two boys almost fainting, reason used to be that they had to carry the damn sheep on their shoulders because they refused to walk in this altitude and mountainous conditions. Worst is that most of them caught a cold on arrival. While inspecting them one could see the long greenish squishy liquid oozing out of their noses. I used to call the nursing assistant and tell him to give a few “paracetamols’ each for one week and report back when their noses were nice and shiny having acclimatised with cold conditions and altitude. Then only they were ready to feast on. Meat and rum issue was ultimate.

In high altitude one got used to tinned rations. Given a choice the companies would tin anything that moved. We had tinned tuna, meat and chicken in all forms, all fruits including some I had never heard the names of, in sweet sticky syrup. Then there used to be lot of this dry stuff. Dry and dehydrated onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, even egg powder. With egg powder we used to make tons of bujia for the whole company in the mornings. Beans never used to cook even after two days in a pressure cooker. Milk powder was used as “choona” to mark the volley ball court or make gulab jamuns. Dry fruits, no one cared to eat as they gave a bad rumbling tummy. Of course, how can I forget Milk Maid, the best of thing we used to enjoy! Condensed milk was the only reason to fight with my wife when she had joined me at Lukung post (Pangongtso) many many moons back.

Well, the last ten years I never had a chance to crib for what I ate, as I ate what I bought. I do not know is it psychological to say that the army rations were not good. I remember my wife being a good baker and used to make excellent cakes out of the tray of eggs we used to keep getting off and on, as I had declared myself a vegetarian as far as the free fauji rations were concerned. The extra milk always came in handy for puddings which are now off my menu as sugar is catching up but give me tipsy, I shall break all rules and to hell with sugar.

So my dear fauji folks, you guys may have to survive on “Maggie” of the Ramdev kind in peace stations. The calculations of ration allowance with the taxes being cut at source due to the implementation of the GST would be good enough to get half a plate of Gol Guppas per week. The issue is when you get rations you crib, now that you won’t get rations there is more to crib about. This will help all of us to take care of the indigestion which is going to be a fall out of the free ration ban.

Modi ji ka lamba bhashan aur fauj ka tagra ration (Modiji’s long speech and army’s strong ration) have no meaning whatsoever, sab dikhava (all show biz). As the saying goes, atta bhi mehnga, chini bhi mehengi, mehanga har saman, fir bhi mera Bharat Mahan. Achhe din kab ayenge? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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