MISS MONEY PENNY
The phrase “paper leak” is very old. However, today the size of the leak and frequency of such leaks has increased many folds. If I compare the weight of class ten mark sheets today to its value of yesteryear’s or for that matter if I compare the value of graduation today to doing Matric in my days, it is almost the same. I find that use of certificate of tenth today is only for authentication of your name and date of birth for any official document you have to make as per government directions.
In the good old days a tenth pass meant something very prestigious. In case it was a “first class” that meant that you were part of the intelligentsia of that time. Distinction meant that no one could ever look down upon you. By the way first class was just sixty percent. Today, if I say I have got 60 percent marks, no one will give me a job of a peon. Perforce the only job which the government would force me to do would be to become an entrepreneur, for which the government promises a handsome low interest loan. To do what! To make “pakoras” of course. Chai I won’t try as I may land up becoming the top notch administrator of this country.
As a school going kid I remember our teachers used to make us study hard. Extra classes, personal coaching in the hostel was a norm. All academic doubts used to be addressed; every possible book on earth was made available for practice. Tests used to be held time and again. Of course I cannot forget the ultimate weapon called the “Chittar” which worked as the ultimate “kunji”.
It used to be a challenge to find out which teacher is setting the paper. Our morale used to fluctuate as per the teacher’s reputation. So if Sir “A” is setting the paper meant one will barely get passing marks. We used to hope that Sir “B” should set the paper. There used to be a fair chance of passing with a little grace marks and leniency if required.
The teachers used to give us subtle hints during practice sessions that this question should be expected. Just knowing that much used to give us confidence that friend I shall be definitely promoted this year without a retest. Many of us still used to fail. Nevertheless, it did not matter as the focus used to be to play every game, remain ever naughty and still at the end of the year look forward to be promoted.
Students in those days also used to try and get hold of the question papers. Meticulous planning used to be done. Once the teacher setting the paper was identified, after school his desk in the staff room used to be the target. If nothing was found there then every carbon paper which used to come out of the stencil used to be focused on. In my school, final papers used to be printed in our printing press. If still no success was there then the printing press wala uncle was befriended. I remember he used to join two cigarettes, place it between his pinky and ring finger, cup his fist and then take a long swig of that unique two in one cigarette in dum maro dum style. If that endeavour of offering him his brand of cigarettes’ too failed then copying was another means used. Chits were also popular, along with peeping into the neighbour’s sheet.
Social media has taken this paper leak to the next level. Within one second the question paper is circulated all over the world. Today, I know getting admissions to a good college is difficult as the cut offs are very high. I want to understand were these papers leaked for students who were weak in the subject or to score cent percent or has it become a commercial business to earn a fast buck. What is going to be achieved out of it? Nothing may be an appropriate word.
Where are we heading as a country as far as these exams are concerned? We are encouraging mugging and memorising only. All those people who can by heart and vomit things on the answer sheet verbatim are bound to get better marks than a student who applies logic to solve questions. Reproduction of text books in copy paste style is the new norm; then we better have robots as students rather than having children in schools.
Can I choose a career today with my education, I can’t. Can I plan my child’s career, the answer is no? I land up in some job and my first job becomes my career. My child fights with the system to survive and then get a job. Our systems keep getting corrupt and difficult by the day. Money is the new answer to every question paper and job. Is there a guarantee that the retest paper will not be leaked and citizens will not be inconvenienced? I wonder!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis
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!!!!!!!!!
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!!!!!!!!!!
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!!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis
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!!!!!!!!!!!!
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.
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