Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Month: March 2018

THE ITCH TO FORWARD MESSAGES

These days I find a message circulating regarding a massive earthquake in and around Delhi which will cause large scale destruction. People have been advised to leave the town and go to safer places to avoid aftermath of this calamity. Well, thereafter it being a fake message gained momentum. People rebuked their friends for spreading rumours to the extent their discussion ended up in fights. Some quarrels went thus far that people were removed from groups permanently.

The description of various kinds of people that exist on social media has already been doing the rounds. Most dangerous are those who see a long message and just forward it to everyone including their groups blindly. There are bound to be occasions when this starts a chain message competition. What do you do about it? Should we believe it, ignore it or simply delete it, is the dilemma.

A sane person will just ignore it I suppose. Some intellectuals will try and find out whether it is authentic. If they find it fake, they too would ignore it. Some of them may still forward it that just in case it happens, let me inform nears and dears. Some pranksters forward such messages for fun, to see if it really returns back.

Let me now become an urban metro man. Firstly, I am looking for a free wifi to save on my data charges. My main concern is that my mobile should continuously keep receiving messages irrespective of which social media platform they come from. “Akhir apna bhi tashan hai”. (My reputation is at stake) People should know that I have a costly phone and the damn thing rings. Most people I find just keep scrolling their phones. They would have opened say face book or Whatsapp and they would continuously keep rubbing their thumb on the screen. Then press the side button to switch off the light. Repeat it several times a minute.

Another funny thing is that people keep their phones on the minimum light mode. This is done for two reasons, one is to hide from your neighbour who has a bad habit of glancing into your phone while he is scrolling his own aimlessly, the second and most important is to save battery. Battery is the juice of life and without it survival would be next to impossible. The brightness settings are modified moment the thing is plugged into a charger. If I say it in simple terms “Mufat ka chandan ghiss mere nanadan”. (Use anything which is free)

Today, we all have become virtual zombies, constantly checking our mobiles, constantly forwarding something which may or may not pertain to anything and constantly trying to distribute “free ka gyan”. The logic is if it has come to me it has to be sent. People who had never wished me good morning ever, now send umpteen morning wishes. You ask them is the morning really so good. The reply comes, I sent you because of its content. I then ask, it is 8 pm in the evening and still its morning for you. Have you shifted to the US? He says no. Then I ask who this “Chimman Lal is”, he says I don’t know, so I can’t but resist asking again that see the last line after good morning. Oh! He says I didn’t read till that far. I say fine and delete it.

Many moons back, while learning radio telephony (wireless communication) our instructor’s taught us the meaning of a few terms. The first one was “OK”. This meant the message has been received. In mobile terms that the message has been delivered, the bell of the mobile has rung and your face has lit up that there is a message. The second term was “ROGER”, which meant “message sun liya aur samajh liya”. (Message has been received and understood). In today’s terms, that single grey tick has now turned into two grey ticks and possibly blue. Samajh liya is notional as no one has the time. The third used to be “WILCO”. This meant “message sun liya, samajh liya aur us par amal kiya jayega”. (I have received the message, I have understood the message and I shall act upon it as directed). In today’s terms, I have seen the message, I may not have read it or understood the contents of it but I shall forward it to all my contacts as a habit.

Be that as it may Ladies and Gentlemen, I am sending this long article, let me see how many really acknowledge that they have seen it, reading is not compulsory, commenting I dare not ask. Many of you will forward to your friends. Let me see how many of you have understood the meaning of the three terms and are itching to contact me? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

 Noel Ellis

THE FOODIE WITHIN ME

I wish I had a job like these guys who come on a programme “Highway on my plate”. Some appetite those guys have. 30 years back I could have beaten them hands down. I like the one who is a non-vegetarian. Ghass-Phoos is not my cup of tea to be frank but due to dietary restrictions and age catching up, perforce I have to munch on my veggies and sprout salads. Nevertheless, I want to understand how they control their weight. For me even when I drink water, it goes and gets stuck on my waist like the after effects of Desi Ghee.

Imagine one gets paid for eating. This is some naukri I must say. Their crew must be dying salivating. The beauty is that they publically announce whether they liked or disliked the food. I wish they have a NDA second termers “square meal” as a daily ritual for their diet. In case they ran away from learning table manners I would send all the Drill and PT ustads hunting for them till the time they not only have a “flat foot” but a flat belly too.

Be that as it may, how can one eat so much and not have acidity. I am sure ENO salt people would have them on their cross wires. I think better would be “agar pet safa, har rog dafa” kinds. Kayam Chooran can claim to reduce the emissions of their obnoxious gases for free. By the way, these guys must be farting and farting non-stop. The only way to make way for the next morsel must be to release some gas. I pity the crew who accompany them as their car would be no less than the Nazi gas chamber of sorts.

When these guys must be reaching homes they must be insisting on their wives to make that “patli peeli wali khichiri”. People don’t get to eat two square meals and here we have two chaps who polish of meals for twenty chaps without even belching. I am sure they believe in the adage “pet bhar gaya par neeyat nahi bahri”.

In NDA, I and my cousin used to go to a tamarind jungle near Kondwa gate? We used to target the ripest pods, get them down with a fagot and squeeze the sweet, sour and tangy pulp on the slices of bread. Call it a “Tamrindwich”. We used to sometimes pick up “mixture” (namkeen) from gole market, mash a few “boondi ladoos” in it and stuff the “thing” in buns and wash it down with water, as going to get tea room on a movie day for a second termer meant trouble.

 Many moons back my wife once asked me yaar we have been married so many years and you have never told me that what you would like to eat. You just eat what I make. So please tell me. I said OK make Chicken Mayonnaise. All hell broke loose that day. “Don’t you know there is no chicken”. “First get chicken and then demand such a thing”. “We also don’t have mayonnaise”. “You do it on purpose”. Well I said you asked for it, what’s my fault. “No, you don’t love me and just want to embarrass me”. I learnt my lesson to keep shut and eat what you get ever after.

A few years later, when love overflowed again she said. “Yaar you never tell me how I cook”. “You never find any faults with my dishes”. “You just say “theek hai” never say “achha hai ya kuch kam-ziada hai”. One fine day I said “Namak kam hai” and all hell broke loose again. “How many times have I told you salt is not good for health”. “Don’t you find the salt and pepper shaker in front of you”? “This Tata chap is not making good quality salt”. “If I have forgotten to put it once why do you have to highlight it?” I said my dear, if I don’t say anything you have an issue. You coaxed me to say something, now there is an issue. Just tell me will I get dinner today or not. Believe you me there was double the salt in the dinner and I ate quietly. She sat with a grumpy face and decided to eat quite late. Then meekly came and said sorry and asked me how I ate with so much of extra salt. I told her I am Ex-NDA from 66 course. I can eat anything which moves or doesn’t move. We are Lakkar Hazzam and Pathhar Hazzam. (We can digest wood and stones)

Since that day I have been saved the agony of commenting on any food. By the way she is a terrific cook. My paunch reveals everything. Nevertheless, when will I get a chance to just taste food and be paid for it? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

 Noel Ellis

ANN DAATA IS NO MORE

The farmers went back after their protest, so did their news from every TV channel. Out of news is out of mind and who cares actually. The magic wand of “false promises” from the Mai Baap has relieved the farmers of all the debts and met all their demands it seems.

 

For an urban chap like me, he just needs easy money. Give him enough to buy a home, a car, a good bank balance, a well balanced family and children studying in best schools, a good job. Electricity 24×7, garbage cleaned and recycled automatically, air which is pollution free, all criminals behind bars and all pending court cases resolved. Where am I in all this? I am the urban dreamer.

 

I want the police to lodge complaints automatically. I want a good, cheap and fast transportation system. Even the auto I travel in needs to be air-conditioned. I don’t want any traffic jams. I want every red light turn green when I come.  My train should fly. My plane should never be late. My Sabziwala should have each and every variety of vegetable and fruit, irrespective whether I buy it or not, just for me to feel good.

 

When I go to a shop, I should find tooth paste from 10 gm to a 500 gm of all companies. I should get something free with every purchase. Malls should only be for window shopping. There should be no waiting at any restaurant. I go, I sit, I order and food should be served before I finish reading the menu. The bill should be reasonable and I should not have to tip. Parking for cars & toll should be free. All my documentation should be automatically updated and I should be treated like a VIP.

 

My bank balance should be healthy; if I spend, it should automatically be topped up. My bai should always be on time, never take leave and do all the cooking, cleaning, washing, dusting and dishes perfectly. She should not ask for any Vim or a broom. My kitchen should have all the ingredients of “Sanjeev Kumar’s” kitchen and bai to cook better than him. My TV should be huge, tata sky HD should be free, my mobile data should be unlimited and my mobile should automatically recharge when it hits the fifty percent mark.

 

If this is what I want, then let me get to the farmer again. That poor chap is in debt. He doesn’t have water for his crops. How does my vegetable vendor keep what I desire? I want purest fresh milk. Well, there is no fodder for the animal. I want best quality flour and rice, how do I get it? I want sugar but sugarcane is being procured from the farmer below cost price. I want potato chips but the potatoes are rotting in the fields as the cost of uprooting them is not viable. Even if I collect them, the price of transportation is beyond my means. Even if I transport them, the road conditions are such that potatoes cannot reach the correct market without breakdowns, delays and middle men and there are no cold stores.

 

I decide to approach my elected representative; he suggests organising a rally in protest. We gather people and walk for days in the scorching sun. We don’t care if we have food or water. We do not have any media coverage either. We are frail, old and weak.  Someone gives us food, someone water, someone slippers and we reach our destination with blistered and blood oozing feet. The Chief Minister meets our representatives and gives an assurance that what we desire will be met in the next few months. I believe him and thank him. They now provided me a free ride back to my land.

 

I sit looking at the skies. There is no change in my condition. My bank is threatening to take away my mortgaged land against which I took a loan. I have ten mouths to feed. I wait a little and then one day I take that extreme step of drinking pesticide from the bottle which I bought for my crops. Even my prayers to my God and my MAI BAAP the government went in vain. I better meet God and ask him personally what wrong have I done to deserve this life. My representatives whom I elected for a biryani and a few hundred rupees have decided not to work and not let any work happen. Let me then be my own law maker.

 

My soul leaves my body. I find media covering every corner of my village? Why is so much of police bandobast at my house? Why is the Mai Baap sitting with my family? Why am I being treated like a VIP? Why are people suddenly calling me ANN DAATA? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

 

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

JAI KISAAN

185 odd kilometres, one week, 35,000 + farmers, blistered and battered walked all the way to ask the State Government to grant them a right to live with dignity. Crops got destroyed, mounting interest on loans, drought like conditions and still farmers not being looked after by their elected representatives. The irony is that there is a ministry dedicated to the agricultural sector in every state. Issue is not lack of funds but ensuring that those funds reach the last man tilling the farm.

It was terrific to see the spirit of Mumbai, irrespective of the religion, caste or creed; groups came out in great numbers to provide water and food to these men and women. I was shaken to see the condition of their feet. No slipper can last 180 kms in this heat. These people could walk this far without causalities and dehydration because they are the sons of the soil. They toil day in and day out in their parched farms. These guys put in their heart and soul to grow food but due to unfortunate circumstances and nature’s fury are forced to come on the roads. The man must have prayed to his God to stop the hail at one place and ask for water at another. What else could he have done?

The ladies too accompanying them were brave hearts of kinds. It was very sad to hear that when asked by a reporter one of them said if I have to die, it must be for the cause of farmers. Death is as it is written all over when there will be famine and nothing to eat. I salute that lady, may her physical and mental wounds heal fast and may she have respite from the torture she has gone through.

I remember my Commando training, where blisters on blisters on blisters on feet were a common thing. To reduce the pain we used to puncture them so that blood and water accumulated in them could ooze out and give us that temporary relief. I was just about 21 when I did that course. All these people were well past 50. If I had to walk it today, I would probably walk a maximum one day that too with Reebok shoes, nice t-shirt with a slogan written, a cap to shade me from the heat, my ray-bans which I can never part with and a water point every five kilometres, sun tan cream, energy bars for strength, ambulances in tow and medics on call et al.

Ask the marathoners, they go through a physical & medical check before participating. Companies sponsor the event. Doctors, paramedics, ambulances are standby. Police are deployed for traffic bandobast throughout. Cheering parties, celebrities and ministers present in large numbers at the venue. Security is tight lest any untoward incident takes place. Photo ops, flags being waved and news headlines made, media standing at every nook and corner. Medals and money is given to the participants for a 32 odd kilometres event.

Were any of these farmers a known face? Were they looking for publicity? Where were all the “VIPs” during this time? Many stars claim that they order from big basket that moves food straight from the farm to your kitchen. Well, production of food doesn’t matter to them, eating it is what matters.

Did you find any of these people breaking any rules or cause indiscipline? Did you hear any loud speakers and see huge shamiyanas? They were told that children have exams the next day so they moved late at night to their destination, so that a common mumbaikar may not be inconvenienced. That’s the spirit of our Kisaan. What they got in return after so much of struggle is only a hope and a promise. Just imagine in circumstances prevailing he has agreed to still stay hungry and in debt for six more months for his mai-baap the sarkar has promised to look into his issues.

As per reports about 4500 agitations were done by the farmers across India in the last one year. How many were covered by the media? I have seen agriculture specialists coming on channels and giving out nuts and bolts of what is right and what is wrong with the agricultural sector. They also lay down solutions for the short term, medium term and long term. Does any Government bother to listen?

It is not that only the farmers of Maharashtra who are suffering, this calamity is across India. We eat but we don’t care for the real producer of food. We pray to God to keep our plates full. Will we the people ever understand what it really takes to produce that one roti ka atta. Had our “ann data” not been working in the heat, rain and dust, what would we be feeding on? Will just saying JAI KISAAN suffice? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

 Noel Ellis

FAREWELL MY COMMANDO BUDDY ASHIWINI CHEEMA

FAREWELL MY COMMANDO BUDDY ASHIWINI CHEEMA

Can someone suggest a better word in any dictionary to describe a Gentleman? Is there a better description to mean more than a friend? Is there any superlative to describe sincerity, dedication and devotion? Could there be a better partner than this man called Ashwini Cheema. Mike squadron NDA was where I came across him for the first time and later he was my buddy in the commando course. Let me just recollect few funny moments we spent together as a tribute to the finest Commando buddy.

A power house of strength, witty, with a subtle sense of humour he had. Man of few words he was. It was very difficult to make him smile but when he did smile, he used to take anyone’s breadth away.

One day Capt KK Arun was with our group for a raid. As usual buddy did all the preparations. The LMG landed with us. I cursed in choicest Punjabi, he said in his gruff voice, buddy tu fikar na kar. As luck would have it I dropped the LMG and Capt Arun went berserk. Buddy was on me in fireman lift. I would have carried him for ten minutes and then I threw him down. He knew me so he decided to carry me. I slept all the way to the commando base. How he carried me and the weapons? I almost kissed him out of the love and affection that burst out of me.

Another raid, most of us were sleep deprived, tired and at the end of our tolerance limits. Buddy stopped so I stopped. Buddy moved, I forgot to move and slept off standing. I got up when my knees buckled. I was all alone. I didn’t know where to go. I tried following the footprints but soon they disappeared, so I sat down with my back to a tree waiting for almighty to do a miracle and dozed off again. Around first light I hear a sound Noel-Noel, lo and behold it was buddy. I got my quota of adjectives in chaste Punjabi and he told me to follow him quietly into the commando base. The raid had gone without me; my buddy covered for me. Once things got settled he had come looking for me.

Another patrol, I asked buddy what chocolate are you carrying, he said BHOOTNI KE its not chocolate it is my barrel in your mouth, as it must be in shikari position. I was sleep walking and dreaming of eating chocolate it seems, I was cursing why Indian manufacturers can’t make better chocolates, as the taste of rifle oil and sand was not to my liking.

Buddy used to prepare for briefings, I used to sleep. Buddy used to make khichiri I used to sleep, once buddy offered me a stone as a pillow at night. I thanked him and slept off. At first light I found it was semi-dried cow dung. What peaceful sleep I had! That day I cooked for my buddy on that piece of cow dung.

During escape and evasion we were supposed to cross a dirty pond with improvised water crossing expedients. Buddy warned me not to touch the pond water, I never listened. I drank so much that I would have drowned. Thereafter, I had such an upset stomach that with the dungarees I couldn’t run to ease myself every ten minutes. Well at the end of the day we had those 40 kms to do. Buddy suggested tear off the dangri from behind and I had no choice. He walked with me and used to support me when I had to go for natures call. Ashwani did 40 kms again and got an ‘I’ on the course.

Brother, I spoke to you two years back. I feel so heartbroken to see a powerhouse like you leaving so early. I salute your spirit; I salute your grit and determination to fight. I am happy that now you are relieved of all the pain and suffering. Hats off to Mrs Cheema and Shauraya, we are with you in this time of grief. Buddy as I sign off let me say that you live with us. Cheers brother till we meet again.

MY MARATHI & MY ENGLISH

I was just calculating my days spent in Maharashtra. Three years in NDA, Khadakwasla, one odd year of my Mech YOs (Young Officer’s Course) and Radio Course in Ahmednagar and then after retirement it has been eleven years I have been drinking Marathi pani. How come I could not pick up this language? Suffice to say, I understand it very well but I am not comfortable speaking it.

In my first term at NDA, I did not know what speak meant. In my second and third term no one let me speak, I only heard choicest adjectives being hurled at me. In my fourth term I could barely open my mouth to speak. In my fifth term I spoke what I had heard in second and third terms. In my sixth term I only spoke to practice my word of command in the bathroom. Besides “oye patilya, kaye re”. All the Joshi’s & Pawar’s used to wonder why I address them as Patilya, as I always thought that’s how you respectfully address a “taant”.

My second encounter with taant’s was when I met a unique family called “Camble” from Kohlapur. Well they were actually Kamble’s. My Sali ji was getting married to Sir Kamble and I was in charge of looking after them. So like a well groomed Liaison Officer of my battalion, I walked up to the would be mother in law before she retired for the night and asked her, auntie what would you like to have for breakfast? She said “supperchand”. Now my brains got shot circuited and I rushed back home repeating this word, lest I forget. Our whole family shook their heads, as none could decipher what missile she was referring to. I mustered some courage and walked up to the elder brother of the groom and hesitantly asked him what supperchand means. He coolly said A for apple. My foot I murmured & got back home, asked father in law to join me for a drink. We had two quick tots and went to the railway station, as at that unearthly hour the only place to find this fruit was the station and bought two kilograms of supperchand.

I was travelling to this place where I am working now, for my interview. This being a remote place we kept asking for directions. Everyone just said “saral-saral”. I said yaar if it was so saral (easy) then why are we not reaching anywhere. After three hours plus finally I came to understand what this word meant, “keep going straight”. Some of them also said “pude” and “maghe”, they sounded very unfamiliar and I did not trust them. I was a quite sure when I reach saral I would be at my destination.

Now, about my knowledge of English; my name sounds English, though my mother tongue is Hindi. Punjabi I spoke fluently as I studied in Sainik School Kapurthala, Punjab. The English faculty of NDA put me in class 6 which is for weaklings because of the reputation of my school in English. Believe you me I failed in English and was about to be relegated. Our teacher was Mr Warriar with an A not with an O. The poem in the exam was BYZANTIUM by William Butler “Yeats”. I wrote to my dad to help me as this poem was beyond my comprehension. He told me to send the poem. In ten odd inland letters I copied the poem and in twenty odd envelopes he sent the detailed reference to context.

Mr Warriar being the officiating principal, used to sit near the most dreaded place called the centre dome of NDA. I had just visited the Com’s (Commandant’s) office close by and escaped relegation a few days back for discipline. It took me great courage to arrange a meeting with Mr Warriar. He dismissed me on seeing my face but my pleading eyes got the better of him. My head bobbed up and down like the “Hades’ Bobbin”. With great reluctance he offered me a seat and from my KDs (Khaki Dress) which could carry 40 toasts came out those 20 letters from a father to his son. He read each word and then got hold of my answer sheet. His only anger was I had not written a single word he had taught. It was natural as I was never awake in his class. I had pasted my dad’s version verbatim. He asked me, what does your father do? I told him he was the HOD English of my school. My grade was changed from F to an A+. I visited the centre dome during my course get together after thirty odd years recently; my eyes went moist as I shouted Byzantium. The echo still reverberates in my mind.

Today a very funny incident happened. Someone came to our house and my wife asked the bai who is it. She could not trace anyone. Bai then went around the house and found that someone had left two gunny bags of manure. She came and told my wife that someone had got “Bomar”. My wife gave a blank look as she could not make head or tail. Ultimately our bai went out brought a dried piece of cow dung and said “Maveshi cha Potty”. My wife said Gobbar, she said hau bomar.

Be that as it may. Should I learn English first or Marathi? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

 Noel Ellis

THE ANGER WITHIN

The day guns fall silent on the LoC would be the beginning of progress in both our Kashmir and Pakistan. The day the thought that jihad for Kashmir has to end, peace will prevail. The day the separatists of India decide to change their mind to stay with us, harmony will return to Kashmir. The day Government of J&K allows and opens up to the idea of doing free business, setting up factories and industries, Kashmiri people will get employment and flourish. Prosperity is the key to elimination of all dissatisfaction and alienation I feel.

I was watching one video of Hafiz Saeed where he was telling Donald Trump to go climb the nearest tree. Then he talked about life after death and jannat which he and his associates will get if they sacrifice their lives for Kashmir. Well, lesser said the better about such people. Till the time such like people walk the earth, the dream of peace, progress and prosperity can be laid to rest.

Well, just blaming him and his ilk will not get us to any solution. Awakening of Kashmiri people is the solution. The day they understand that destruction will lead to more destruction, things might fall into place. India’s war preparedness has made no difference in Pakistan’s attitude. Three wars and unlimited skirmishes on a daily basis including holding on to a piece of glacier where men die more due to inclement weather is no justification for peace. All of us who serve there know that many will not come back but still we go. We also know that many of us will not be recovered for years and our families will wait in hope that someday we will return from our graves frozen in eternity.

The centre has been helping J&K monetarily & militarily since decades. The reciprocation of this gesture is never seen by the rest of India. Roads, rail and other infrastructure should now be looked after by the people of the state but security forces have to be deployed to escort their own convoys. Bridges of love and tunnels of affection are nowhere to be seen.

The only thing I observe is apprehension, as to what next. This is the feeling in both, the Kashmiri’s and security forces. Every person in the forces is counting the number of days of his tenure. He doesn’t have a choice to refuse unlike many other organisations. He does his job to the best of his ability and wants to get back home at the earliest. Who would like to stay with unfriendly people? Similarly, it is for the Kashmiri’s. In case they find the forces too harsh they construe a plan directly or indirectly to cause harm. Overall this is a cat and mouse game going on. Fact remains neither the security forces are happy nor are the Kashmiri people.

If I am observed from the first ray of dawn to last at dusk, at odd hours I am mustered and questioned. If my privacy and freedom is curtailed, if my movement is restricted, naturally I will have that revolting feeling. To top it all, if someone from the village gets killed by the forces. He may be a militant or otherwise, emotions flare up. Result is stone pelting. Now, the security teams deployed come under constant surveillance. Each and every movement and routine is observed and passed on. Result may lead to an ambush or an attack on the camp.

Today’s Kashmiri generation was born under the barrel of the gun. They don’t know what free life is. They are used to restrictions of all kinds. They are afraid, scared and terrified from within. However friendly the forces may appear but the anxiousness due to the uniform and gun does not let them be their normal selves. They hear stories from their elders who naturally glorify their own kith and kin. They also hear stories of atrocities of the forces which may be exaggerated, hearsays and even lies. The child is confused and he doubts his own existence. What should be done to minimise his pain and hurt to his psyche? That is where the solution lies.

Pakistan keeps adding fuel to the fire. Open borders and inhospitable terrain facilitate movement of people. The trust deficit between the state and the centre remains. Just by giving money solutions can never be found. Just by policing and counter insurgency grids bitterness will never go. Stoning the security forces will not help their cause either. This only aggravates the anger in the security forces. Pelting is done for the same purpose to incite and solicit a hard reaction. It’s a psychological game to be understood in its totality.

I too get carried away when a security person gets martyred. The rage inside me tells me to act against all those who were involved. Like my annoyance shoots up so must be the case in Kashmiri people too. How many lives need to be lost to end this anger within? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

BUST THE BUST

It all starts with an idea that let us do something different. How do we make our presence felt? It is by simply announcing that we are here. If no one acknowledges our presence then you do something to attract attention. This I say in context of breaking various statues & busts. Imagine India can be brought to a grinding halt for such things. I don’t know if these people were really sentimental or they were hired goons. Politics of the matter aside, how and why should someone deface or pull down any statue in broad daylight, where police is present and does nothing to sort these people out. Then they blame it on sentiments of the public, is just a cover story.

The basic reason is no fear of law enforcing agencies in the public. Everyone knows police will come at the last moment once the damage has been done. Police hides behind the veil of no one informed them. I ask, don’t they have their mukhbir’s (sources) to give them advance information that an incident of pulling down Lenin’s statue is going to take place. The public hires a JCB from somewhere, as if this equipment is readily available. People gather in hundreds without the local police getting a whiff. Definitely it has political patronage. Who will report to the police? A common citizen has no trust & faith in police as instead of treating him as a facilitator, he becomes the perpetrator of crime. He is questioned, grilled and harassed, by that time it’s too late.

I reckon that the police must have been informed in advance by politicians to not to come near the crime scene till such time riot has finished? Why don’t we put all those who did it behind bars for ten years and the SP and staff of that police station in the clink for life for dereliction of duty? If this does not deter people then God save this country.

It reminds me of a visit long back to Kingsway Camp in Delhi to meet friends. They took us to the Coronation Park. There was a pure white marble statue of King George the Vth besides other Kings and Governors of the British Raj. These statues were displayed in the smaller domes near India Gate but later all of them were shifted to this park in 1960. I shall not comment about the anti-British sentiments here but I shall talk about the artistry and the marvellous work done on stone. It definitely deserves a place in some museum. I appreciate that they were not destroyed but relocated. Many of them are now broken with marble chipped away either in transit or by druggies and bootleggers who frequented that place.

The Bamiyan statues of Lord Buddha in Afghanistan were decimated by the Taliban by firing all sorts of explosives at them. What did they achieve out of it? I don’t know. Even naming and renaming of roads etc has the same effect. Call it Connaught place or Rajiv Gandhi chowk, which one will you relate to. Call it Kings Circle or Maheshwari Udyan, what are you at ease with? In Bombay aka Mumbai one will never reach “fountain” unless you know the bus number or you know it has been re-christened as Hutatma Chowk. Well that is what the state of affairs is today.

I remember when posted in Jaisalmer many moons back, there was a corner stone in our mess, well engraved giving out who built the barrack, the date of inauguration etc. That piece of marble should still be found embedded in that wall if the building still exists. One fine day the mess was renovated again. From the hessian cloth false roofing we had graduated to plywood. We now had a new TV room, a nice bar and a dance floor. Our corridors and ante room now had marble from makrana. It was a total transformation from clay floor covered with tarpaulins. Someone decided that why not turn the stone Ulta (reverse) as time was short to get a new one engraved. A mason removed that stone and to the utter surprise it was found that someone had used this idea already. Was another stone was put in its place or we continued with the same one, I don’t remember?

Why are we trying to change history and the truth of our times? A statue or a bust, which has no powers to retaliate should be left alone. Trying to take law into your own hands speaks of a dirty mentality. I urge the security forces to use appropriate force rather than waiting for a statue to be destroyed and then appear on the scene. Will politics allow any stern action? I wonder!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

LOTUS LOTUS EVERYWHERE

Today, I think there are only four out of 29 which are BJP free states. When are they going to be conquered, well let me not conjecture? Slowly and steadily they have been taking objective after objective in military parlance. In case they have not been able to destroy and decimate the opposition, they have been able to get enough foot hold to make their presence felt and even align with a few to form governments even if they are diagonally opposite in ideologies. Now, sooner or later the lotus is going to change its colour from pink to saffron.

A few things which I want them to achieve if they want to really do justice to the mandate they are getting. I know they have not been able to create jobs, I know they have not been able to sort out Pakistan or China. “Achhe din” are nowhere on the horizon. Well, that should not deter them to sort out Kashmir at least. They need to bring in uniform civil code. If nothing else they should do away with reservations of any kind.

You make us wear saffron, no issues we shall consider it as an Indian uniform. You make us do yoga, no worries again, as churning my stomach, twisting and entangling my hands with my feet is a distant dream for me. You want us to chant shlokas, no sweat; the only thing is that someone will have to explain to most of us what it means. We will sing Vande Matram, we will shout Jai Hind. We will stand for Jana Gana Mana without debate. The only problem with me would be to change to a complete vegetarian; Thori gunjaish rakhna bhai is main. I promise to eat my vegetables and salads with curds in the afternoon. Actually with age catching up I have no choice but to listen to the doctor’s advice.

The experiment stage of BJP government is over. This I say in case of GST and de-re-monetisation. Now any further experiments would be at the peril of something. Can we have free flow of goods between states? Can we have better storage of grains and cold store chains for all perishable goods? Can we have better policing? Can we have better politicians? Can ladies be safe? Can education be abundant and free? Can law and order be maintained? Can judicial cases be disposed off quickly? Can we eliminate the corrupt and corruption? Can we breathe pure air, drink pure water and milk? Can we get unadulterated medicines? Can medical treatment be affordable for all? Can everyone have a home? Can everyone have dal-roti at least? Can we all communally unite under the lotus?

I have asked for too much. I am being too idealistic. So let me then get down to mother earth in true Indian style. Let me move with the current, manipulate what I can, influence where I should, lick and get my work done, butter the correct side of the toast or maybe butter both sides, get a Tigrrum (jack) for all my needs, bribe my way through, get hold of a good lawyer to see me through in any court, get a good CA to help me file zero income tax return. Get hold of someone in the police who can bail me out in crisis, last but not the least get hold of a mai-baap the politician, who’s one word on telephone or a letter on his letterhead will do the trick. If still I am stuck then use his paplu (personal staff) for that personal favour.

Nay, I can’t do that. It is not in my blood. I would rather die than do all the above. However, how can I contribute my bit to nation building? I pay my taxes and EMI regularly without default. I obey traffic rules. I wear my helmet and seat belt as a drill. I have linked anything and everything to my adhar card. I do swach bharat from my heart. I motivate people to be good citizens. I use the shauchalaya even if I have to bear the stink in the sulabh. I save water, petrol and electricity as much as I can. I do not litter and sometimes I admonish people who litter as their birthright. I plant trees for the environment. I am sure there would be many like me.

Well, any party and its ideology don’t matter to me but what matters to me are my fellow citizens, their welfare, safety and security. If the lotus can achieve it, I am for it but if I have to bear the brunt of paying for someone who runs away with my hard earned money from my paid taxes, I will not tolerate it. Can I do anything about it? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

WATCHMEN AND AUDITORS

Malya’s and Modi’s have taken this country for a ride because our chowkidars were sleeping. At least king of good times gave good times to many. I wish I was in his circuit when his times were good. At least my beer belly could be blamed on someone. I would love to enjoy at least a few weeks of your hospitality. Thereafter, let people blame you for swindling, I won’t even think of writing about it. That’s a promise.

Mr Modi, jewellery wale, I have fallen in love with diamonds. I always want to give one diamond piece to my wife every year. Till now I have never been able to go beyond one tiny earring. Today, the situation is such that I don’t even step into a jewellery shop. Basically for two reasons, one that hope this jeweller will not scoot moment he has made enough. Two, I just can’t afford it. May I request you to present a fistful of diamonds to let my wish come true? I know you have a heart of gold.

Coming to your name sake who is running this country. He is definitely doing sewa of all the gareeb, shoshit, vanchit, peerit only. I the common man is nowhere on his agenda. The moneyed men, he has on his cross wire is perfectly fine with me. The man who is actually bearing the brunt of this firing is the middle class. I don’t even have money to book my ticket and run to Bangkok. On second thoughts why should I run, I never did any hanky-panky. I am actually taxing myself by paying all sorts of taxes. Why am I on PMs Sniper’s scope? I don’t know.

Be that as it may, the desh ke chowkidar reminds me of security guards in most of our housing societies. Invariably they are old, retired and looking for some time pass in their twilight years of life. One guard’s wife confessed to me that “Buddha doesn’t sleep at night; he will do a good job guarding your assets”. We in India select or rather elect our own security guards. Their performance is generally far below expectations. They may not have the requisite qualifications or temperament and they do not have a magic wand either. Last seventy years we have been experimenting with our chowkidars. It should not take us a hundred to finally decide whom to keep.

A typical security wala is given a chair, a danda, a head gear and a tie. He sits there day and night looking at his mobile or gazing at people passing by. The only thing he actually secures is his attendance register, where he signs and shows it to the supervisor. He is never briefed except one odd day a trainer comes and makes him do savdhan, vishram. Poor chap will not know how to wear a belt even. He will invariably be wearing plastic shoes. Shaving is out of question. Half the time he would be on an errand of someone, either to walk the dogs or get dhaniya & paneer. He does look forward to some bakshsish on holi & Diwali and maybe someone who can give him a bottle of cold water and a left over meal.

The buildings security is actually ram bharose or on the street dog who has adopted the building. Who comes, who goes & who does what, is not the guards concern? He is only responsible to open the water connections at the correct time or all hell will break lose. Now, if the society is India and the guard is anybody’s guess. What should we expect?

Today, all these frauds are blamed on audit. Well lesser said the better about audits. It is the same whether it is a safety or a security audit. Yes, audits are conducted on paper. When a tragedy happens army is called to build foot over bridges where as the audit reports bite dust for years.

Financial audits are also a kind of hog wash. Auditors are supposed to find irregularities and suggest remedial measures. Audit reports run into many pages. Presentations are made, follow ups are done. Sometimes, dictates’ that not more than three audit observations will be accepted. Non compliances are an absolute no-no. Auditors are “entertained & looked after”. A fee is set. This is at whose cost?

Now that an audit regulatory body has been made, the government can refer cases to them. My view is that this is cosmetics to give employment to a few. Initially as a new broom there will be lot of sweeping. Slowly they too will be put into place.

Do we need an efficient, non corrupt chowkidars and auditors? Or do we need people who understand and know how to manipulate the system. They constantly keep the poor common man guessing, confused, illiterate and divided? When will we understand this simple thing? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

AN IMAGINARY ACTORS REAL LIFE

There is a difference in being actually blind and acting and emoting to be blind. There is a sea of difference when a real blind person walks with his cane and an actor does a scene. Actor has countless supporting staff to ensure everything is perfectly placed for the shot, just in case the actor stumbles and a costly set is ruined. If the actor gets hurt there would be hell to pay.

The final word is of the director who shouts CUT, till he finds the actor has been able to portray the exact emotion he wants. The original voice is dubbed; tears are artificial but the end product of all this makes a film hit or a flop. Do we have retakes in real life?

Our film industry has produced umpteen brilliant actors. Many of them have tried their hands in politics, some were successful and some not. Some got nominated to the parliament. It indeed must be an honour and a matter of pride for all those who have graced the temple of democracy. How many actually were able to do justice to the political cap? Your guess is as good as mine.

Wealth is another thing which comes with stardom. Thereafter how they spend it or rather flaunt is their prerogative. The needs remain the same as shoes go from Bata to Gucci, shirt from Peter England to Diesel. The same actor who lived on cutting chai now goes to a five star to have a cup of tea. From a thirty rupee haircut at the road side barber shop, he goes to a spa. The water from the committee tap now is replaced by imported mineral water. He needs body guards, a few cars, maybe his own caravan & personal staff as now memsaab and bachha party too need to enjoy that luxury.

Soon age starts to catch up; the greys in the hair can be camouflaged by dye but the wrinkles under the skin need to be surgically removed. The shapes of the eyes & nose have now to be designer made. The feel good factor is now replaced by the look good factor. Next movie depends on the looks, as acting has already been mastered over the years.

There comes a phase of winning awards. The pinnacle is getting a national award. Market price shoots up. You become a celebrity of kinds. Magazines and news papers are after your blood. Fan & twitter following sky rockets. With name and fame comes socialising, with it comes drinks and partying. With all this comes one night stands and flings. Stealing the affections as per your requirement becomes an in thing. So now you are married, re married and all that stuff.

With money comes charity. Suddenly you get attracted to causes of humanity. You open an NGO. You become benevolent. You then get associated with the philanthropic circuit. You start lecturing on the art of giving. All this is done under arch lights to make at least page 3 news if not the headlines. News sells, if it doesn’t, media is paid to sell it.

Everything cannot be hunky dory always. From acting one moves to producing. With that come its own hazards of the mafia and the goonda elements. Huge sets need huge budgets. Large crew needs to be paid off. Basically a gamble starts, if the film is a hit nothing like it, if not gamble continues.

A time comes when the government decides to felicitate you for your colourful life by a padma series of awards. If you have made enough money you can join a party. For that you need to pledge and contribute to its “chanda”. The actor is now on national and international platforms.

You die one day actually acting all this while. Media tears you apart. Then a tri-colour is seen hugging you on your last journey. The national flag appears to be a kind of prop, like they are used while shooting a film. Even the procession appears stage managed. People of the fraternity gather solemnly to pay their respects. It appears as if it is a huge set where actors wear tons of makeup to show emotions with bruises and cuts with blood gushing out from sauce bottles to emote death.

Though the situation is real, the body is real, the near and dear ones are real, the emotions of the family members are real, crowds are real but somewhere there is a feeling that after this there will be part two of the film where this person will be live again. However the truth is that the actual director of life has finally said cut. Can the almighty do a retake? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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