Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Category: ADAPTABILITY

BOIL IN THE BLOOD

As per Wikipedia, Shri Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) is a Rajput caste organisation founded in 2006,based in Sikar, Rajasthan. Their association favours” national unity” and is opposed to caste-centric positive discrimination and “corruption”. They feel hurt about this movie but all those who have been shown the movie are dead sure that no sentiments of “the clan” have been hurt, then why is there such a hullabaloo about it.

Let me think of solutions to this issue without hurting anyone’s sentiments. Mr Bhansali, the Karni Sena has decided to be adamant, so I can only request you to be more giving in this case. You have two choices, one, show this movie free of cost to all those who have an objection to it. Now, will Karni Sena ensure that people like me who are nowhere connected to the clan, don’t get an entry to the cinema halls for a free show? The date, time and venues can be mutually decided for screening. If this movie is acceptable, go ahead and release it. I can assure you, today, people like me who detest watching Hindi cinema are waiting for it to be released. I will definitely watch it.

Second, you just cold store this film and go ahead and work on your next venture. I know the loss you will incur will be in crores. I have no idea of what even one crore looks like but my suggestion is for your health, wealth and future. Let it be considered as a business loss and instead of going on an offensive, just go neutral that you never made this movie. I know, you, the actors and the crew would be heartbroken but life and limb is more precious. It is difficult to stay with the sword of Damocles hanging over your neck. It is better to let go your ego to satisfy someone else’s to maintain calm. This is not an Indo-Pak war after all.

What I am gathering from all media discussions, which I am actually fed up of by now, I know the complete story line of the movie. Like, when a friend of yours has already seen the movie and discusses it to irritate you like hell knowing you haven’t watched it. The plot is revealed, the thrill goes missing, the suspense is open, who did what and where in the movie with expert comments kills the curiosity. One doesn’t know whether to slap your friend or applaud the actors or the film maker as now my friend called the media has given away your movie reel by reel & foot by foot. I still promise to see it.

I think Mr Bhansali you made a promise to these people that you will give some of them a free show before you decide to release it. Did you break your promise? Rajput blood is all about promises. They are “Zubaan ke pakke”. Ek bar bol diya so patthar par lakeer ho gayi. (Once they commit it is like engraving a line on stone). Now that you have supposedly hurt their sentiment not by making the movie but by not sticking to your promise of screening it for them, the consequences are that one nose and one head is under threat. Will it be prudent to lose them for this word called “ego”?

I would go a step further by suggesting that you take a call now, that this movie will never be released. History will get it released one day. Poor MF Hussain lived a life in exile for a stroke of his brush. Whose loss was it? Your movie making skills are beyond compare, I have seen a few. If Ego is the issue then let go for the time being. Be rest assured Mr Bhansali, you will be a winner one day.

I do not know how much of politics is involved in this. The winds which are blowing are indicative that this “AKROSH” (outrage) is reeking of election fever. If it is true then it is a sad day for our democracy. If a clan is what we are going to ask votes from then we need to rethink our constitution and democracy.

Dear people, if your blood is so much on the boil please join the Armed Forces. We too carry swords. By the way we have a Regiment dedicated to Rajputs in our Army. Requirement will be to be physically fit, mentally alert and morally straight. We will give you Pakistan and their terror factories. You can practice your carving skills there. Will my logic make sense or shall I wait for a threat to my ears, nose and throat. I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

WAY AHEAD FOR OROP PROTEST

I have these mixed feelings when I see Gen Satbir crying hoarse on TV. Sir, I too being on your side of Suez can feel the pain. I am thankful to each and every veteran and veer nari who has given even one minute for the agitation for our OROP. My hats off to you all for sustaining these 860 plus days which has seen many seasons change. The only thing which didn’t change was the dauntless attitude of all you people who sat in unison for our brethren. Sir, I salute each one of you for your spirit and courage shown for this cause.

I can only with folded hands plead to you sir, please do not highlight this in the media. They just want a story for breaking news and pass time on debates pitting soldiers against soldiers. Media and the politicians will have the last laugh watching and debating our plight.

The Armed Forces are a different breed in many ways. It has been amply proved the way veterans conducted themselves exemplarily by not going violent and abiding by the rules. Then why did we not vacate that place in the first go itself. Sir, I feel, we let ourselves become objects of ridicule by waiting there too long to be shooed away.  We are supposed to be Gentlemen first and Officers later. Somewhere we got mixed up.

There are no free lunches after we retire, isn’t it sir. So if the Ramlila grounds were asking for whatever amount per day, it was their right. Why were we showing our Ex-serviceman card to them? Are we looking for concessions or are we expecting a waiver of fees being an extra special category of people? That’s not going to happen. I can understand that what was passed in parliament and what we have got may be at variance but isn’t that we need to be thankful for. Whatever is left we can always put across in a manner befitting our community.

In good old days, when did we have everything that one needed Sir? Manpower was always short; equipment was off road or deficient; Ration, lesser said the better; state of accommodation was pathetic. We kept cursing the higher head quarters for lack of funds. Everything fell into the category of “manage”. Every year we were told to cut down budgets; consumption of fuel was curtailed; ‘A’ vehicle mileage kept reducing; administrative requirements kept increasing. A time came when Havildars were doing standing duties. Didn’t we live then? An officer below major’s rank was not even authorised a cooler. Officer Messes used to be flooded with officers; today they are rarities to be found. We in those days never lost our balance and sense of humour. We did crib like hell but made jungle main mangal.

Well, slowly and steadily our equipment was made up. So I am sure the same would be for the OROP. Why do we have to be so adamant and stuck? I concede that had you not started this agitation, we wouldn’t have got what we got. This doesn’t mean that unless we get what we think is correct, we keep protesting and fast unto death. I saw officers and widows being put to discomfort. I felt sad.

We are not politicians and not aware of the political game plans. They have the patience to wait and we don’t. They can make us cry and won’t budge. Tomorrow, if the parliament decides that pensions will be halved, would we protest then? Day after tomorrow the parliament passes a bill that there would be no income tax on pensions, will we still protest. One fine day the government decides that everyone will serve only five years, no pension and no other benefits, what will we do then?

Be that as it may, Sir, time is ripe for mid course correction. You don’t have to reveal your cards now. Let us do a tactical withdrawal, sit together and prepare a new plan to assault the perceived “enemy”. Shoot to kill is not working then let change tactics but let us not make ourselves the centre of scorn to be mocked and used for target practice by media and politicians. If we want to fight politics with politics like a tank versus tank battle, then let’s leave Jantar-Mantar and organise ourselves politically. If AAP could do it, we are definitely capable of being sabka BAAP.

I wish half of these days were utilised to reinforce, restructure, reorient, reconcile, recoup, reconstruct, re-crystallise our thoughts, resynchronise our effort, re-synergise our focus, rejuvenate, reconfirm our faith in our effort, revitalise, recapitulate, re-examine our lacuna, revitalise our energies,  reinforce our demands, resettle our nerves, resurrect our image, reformulate our plans, re constitute our ORBAT, rededicate ourselves to revolutionise our efforts and then renegotiate with the Government from a position of strength so that they cannot refuse but to condescend to our demands. Does it make sense to any one? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

JAI HIND & JAI KASHMIR

I got a chance to listen to the PMs Independence Day speech only late in the day. The phrase that caught my ears was “Na Goli se, Na Gaali se Kashmir ka masla hal hoga Kashmiri ko gale lagane se” and words to that effect (Neither with bullets nor with abuses can we resolve the problem of Kashmir; it can be resolved only by embracing them). Well PM Sahib, I have an issue here with what you said. On one hand you say that you won’t leave any “ATANKWADI” or his supporter, right. On the other hand you want to embrace Kashmiri’s some of them who are militants. On one hand you see a role of security forces; on the other hand you don’t want to fire a bullet. On one hand you don’t want to talk to Pakistan till it behaves as they understand only gaali’s, right. You also want to teach Pak a lesson for what it does in Kashmir. You want peace and prosperity in Kashmir without getting the elected representatives of Kashmir moving. Now you come out with this goli-gaali Jumla. I am now thoroughly confused sir, what do you mean and how do you propose to do what you say?

You want the Central Government to work hand in glove with the state government, right. If I understand correctly that funding to Kashmir that has been going on till now shall continue like hither to fore, right. Everyone will know the package you announce but no one will know how it will be utilized. The Kashmiri politician will know where and how it has to be utilised but the Kashmiri population you want to embrace will not know where the hell this fund has gone. The State government will demand more and you will give more from your benevolent funds that you have at your disposal. I as a tax payer and a contributor to your funds will never know on what scheme was this money spent on ever. Your FM will account for every “paai” he releases and announce it to the world but how much will be swindled, mis-utilised and seep out of the system, no one will ever come to know. I don’t have to remind you about terrorist funding Sir, which needs to be eliminated too.

I had seen border roads organisation working and maintaining most of the roads in Kashmir, if I am correct. Most of the infrastructure projects like the rail and major highways funded from the centre employ maximum locals, right. How much more infrastructure they require can someone give a road map? Why is the Kashmiri so lethargic? Why is the pace slow? Is it because the local contractors are slow? Or is it because of the sluggish attitude of the Kashmiri people? Or is it the threat to any project by the militants which slows projects? Is it lack of supervision at the governmental level and accountability of the officials? I have seen myself, people working on projects having cups after cups of tea, discussing everything under the sun, closing shop early to reach home before sun down. PM Sahib, can a reality check be done how work is done there? You are in for surprises, if not shock.

Do we have a dearth of infrastructure companies in India? Answer is no. Then why can’t they work in Kashmir, if Kashmir is part of India? Why can’t the labour be taken from rest of India to expedite projects ultimately an Indian is working on an Indian project. Why a company has to work at the Kashmiri pace which is like get up in the morning, warm up your Firan with a Kangri, wait for the blood circulation to increase, smoke a few biris till mood to work sets in, curse the world around, look for fire wood and gucchi the whole day and by 3pm pack up and head back home. Winter months as it is there won’t be any work due to snow. During monsoons the rains stop projects, rest of the months there is hardly a window to work and one has to catch up on gossip. If GREF can take labour from Bihar and build the Tangtse-Pangong Tso road, what is the problem in Kashmir. Is work the problem or is it the work culture? I believe no one is marked absent after all it is welfare of Kashmiris.

I say, catch hold of all the stone pelters and tell them to crack boulders for the next road project. Pay them the same amount they get for pelting. Give them food and shelter till a project is completed but make them work. Question is that is he willing to work? Will he contribute to the progress of Kashmir he has dreamt of? I further say, you want to agitate; you want to protest, do it after 10 years and during this time work dedicatedly for what Kashmir needs. Let there be power generation all over. Let there be cold storage chains professionally managed all over. Let there be best of fisheries, saffron and fruit production. Let there be a full scale furniture industry, woollen garment industry, fruit canning and pickling industry. Let train and plane loads of cargo be flown in and out of Kashmir. In case of landslides and road blocks, let everything go by alternate means of transport. Is it possible?

My idea may sound absurd, bizarre, ridiculous or even silly but it is an idea worth thinking of Mr PM. Make the representatives of the people of J&K accountable to their own people. Embrace the people once they are willing to work on their dream projects. Shake up the typical lethargy of the people and let them be handled professionally. Pay them when they work, pay them on the quality of output they produce. Let the security forces help them to create an environment for their own betterment. Weed away the “gaddars” and traitors. PM Sahib you will get jhappis if your vision is made into a mission.

Let tourism flourish. Engage locals to provide security to all visiting Kashmir. Let the security forces become friends of Kashmiri people. Help the forces change Kashmiri outlook towards India and life. Let prosperity come and then let the goli be only for Pakistan and the traitors. Let gaali be only for terrorists and their supporters and jhappi for the common Kashmiri people who have been torn apart from this strife due to utter neglect, lack of vision and transparency. Create a framework for them to accept the tri-colour from their heart. Give them the dignity they deserve. Your change of stance from gali to jhappi without goli will materialise soon. Take a decision, now!

Will I ever hear JAI HIND-JAI KASHMIR there, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

 

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!!!!!!

 

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!!!!!!

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WHO CARES FOR MOM

Today it is shutters down for the milkmen and the sabziwalas of Maharashtra. The Bhindi which was selling at 20 bucks a kg has shot up to 80. Thank God I had picked up a big 50 kg bori of onions so at least my dal will have a tarka but rest of the vegetables and milk prices have sky rocketed. My milkman has gone out of coverage area. Even after repeated calls one gets to hear the same recorded message. I am sure he needs to sell milk but he is under pressure if he carries those two small little dolus to our place. Drain cocks of milk vans have been opened on the roads so let us no more cry over spilt milk. Doodh ki nadiyan (rivers of milk) were bahoing literally. Any vendor trying to sneak in with veges was also being targeted. Well, I do not see anything but vegetarian in milk and vegetables. Then why are we creating such a hullabaloo. Well friends of all the things it is the cow, leather and beef responsible.

 

For things non vegetarian, the vegetarians are going to suffer. People like me will still continue to relish fish and chicken but what are the vegetarians going to eat if this agitation continues. Reason is a self created save the cow policy. We still have not moved from the middle ages of guy hamari mata hai. So let mom be mom and she needs to be respected irrespective whether the poor man dies without his basic needs of food. Let the children be deprived of the milk they deserve. Let the cobbler use plastic and ragzine to mend your shoes, let the “mothers” roam on the road and be hit by trucks and cars. Let mothers eat the poly bags lying on the streets. Let us Indians suffer at the hands of another kind of extremism. Let us have an independent state of “guyistaan”. Like the ISIS now we have footprints of GRIS (Gow Rakshaks of Indian State) creating mayhem.

 

Is all this making any sense to anyone? Can a country whose PM is visiting countries which eat beef as their staple diet be boycotted to protest against their anti India feelings? When something happens to an animal whom I consider to be my mother shouldn’t India go to war with them? Shouldn’t India ban all products and produce of that nation? Shouldn’t India take this matter up with the UN or ask for a Cow protection force to monitor atrocities on cows. Shouldn’t India ask for aid from all countries who support us with green grass, fodder and cattle feed for the millions of cows that it has to look after. Shouldn’t India ban the “vilaayati-mem” so to say and let the desi-gai be the only one acceptable to give milk. Aren’t we spoiling our culture by bringing western sabhyata to the Indian soil by importing all the Holstein and Jersey cows from all over the place? It is shameful that such cows roam freely with such huge udders that it gives a complex to the Indian cows.

 

In some states of India cow is not considered anything but an animal. Biology says it is an animal, the world says it is an animal. It looks to me like an animal, then why suddenly everyone has to start quoting the constitution of India what it says about the cow. Till the time we don’t develop our mental faculties this won’t change. Till the time we don’t change to a modern outlook this shall continue. Till the time we have sadus and sadvis calling the shots we will have issues. The politicians shall continue to exploit sentiments. I ask is it acceptable to produce five to ten litres of milk from a desi cow instead of 40-60 litres from a foreign cow a day. Is it fine to have 150 kgs of beef rather than having 300 kgs from an imported animal? Will it be better to produce 10 litres of urine or have 25kgs of dung per cow per day? Or will it be more useful to have 15-20 litres of urine and 40-50 kgs of dung per day? Will it be ok to have 4 square meters of hide per cow or 8-10 sq meters? Well if the quality of all the stuff the Indian cow is producing is 200 times better than the foreign cows then it should be considered to breed our own indigenous ones only. However, when we need to feed so many mouths, let us be practical. Milk and a cheap meal is a basic necessity today.

 

I am definitively not suggesting that our own breeds be wiped out. They need to be preserved. I would rather suggest that let us have some method in this cow madness. The disease of cow vigilantism is spreading like the mad cow disease, which needs to be curbed and stopped with immediate effect. The industries linked to the cows also need to be safeguarded. If we link it to religion we shall go nowhere. A farmer cannot afford to hold on to lame or sick animal. The farmer cannot feed them or afford the medicines when the animal is ill. Government today cannot look after its humans so looking after its numerous free roaming mothers is farfetched.

 

Well, we Indians are very Hippocratic about everything. Till the time it doesn’t affect us, we have no issues. We also are very fanatic as far as religious ideology is concerned. We start quoting the constitution when we want to otherwise do not even know the contents of that document. We are pseudo as far as culture is concerned; we want to preserve the traditional values but with a modern outlook. We will watch porn, but will not allow lovers to kiss in public. We are pretentious when it comes to our sensitivities. We can fake our feelings to hurt other people. We want to portray our country as a superpower as we launch rockets with satellites but cannot portray it beyond snake charming and the great Indian rope trick. Well we are a bogus kind of people, because we do not have either our aim clear or our priorities right. We the people, if don’t act intellectually, we shall definitely lose all of them to this dirty politics over cows. We need to free it from disease, ill health, ill treatment, neglect, and sheer useless vigilantism.

 

I hope in my India we can breathe freely, drink freely, wear freely, watch freely, live freely, speak freely, read freely, eat freely, follow our religions freely, travel freely and above all be free from all religious and political hatred. Till the time we let ourselves be manipulated by the politicians, neither will mother cow be looked after nor will this country progress. When will all this madness end? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

🇮🇳 JAI HIND 🇮🇳

LEARNING AS YOU GO

I was a happy go lucky chap in school interested in everything co curricular. I had no particular aim in life as such. Then one fine day my “brainwashing” started. I was in a school which wore a uniform, had a kind of military discipline; it also had strict teachers as also officers of the Armed Forces such as Colonels, Squadron Leaders, Flight Lieutenants, Captains of the Indian Navy and Army above all my dad was more OG (Olive Green) than OG can be. I was made to focus on only one thing and that was NDA. So I actually got used to this indoctrination technique, where everyone you met did not ask you how were you, but how well your preparation for NDA was. I did not disappoint anyone as I joined the illustrious institution.

My second makeover was done in NDA. Whatever shades of the civil life was left in me got converted into becoming a cadet? My morning prayers used to start with I love my country and continues as such. This cadet could manage a cup of cold coffee to a bicycle valve, a KD (Khaki Dress) to a raincoat out of thin air. I could roll in my sleep and crawl while resting, eat doing a head stand. I could dance without music and enjoy my supper in empty plates. I could produce a pen and paper even while wearing an under wear, though we hardly wore any. I fought daily battles with bedbugs which is a torture technique I mastered. I could let a bee or a fly sit on my nose without scratching or swatting at it. I could blow hot & blow cold in the bathroom sessions; I could roll up hill and up a staircase. I could jump in blind wells of the “Charlie” kind. I could navigate with no map in all out of bound areas. My nose was so sensitive that I could detect a fag three squadrons away. I did “Savdhan Chal” to every scooter, car, horse and dog on a leash. I could watch movies with my back towards the screen. I could run fifteen miles between dinner and lights out. I could beat Shivaji in climbing Singharh fort. I could sham, I could pill, and I could feign the biggest limp. I could improvise conjunctivitis with paste rubbed in my eyes. I could sleep 25 hours in a day if I had the choice. I could only keep awake if a lady teacher took my class. Overall, I was brain washed in such a manner that I forgot who I was. It was surprising they conferred on me a graduate’s degree at the end of it. After all I was on a journey to be in the noblest profession.

My brain washing continued in IMA. Well, I was promoted from Cadet to Gentleman Cadet. You learnt the honour code, you learnt military law. One mastered the art of disguise, not to camouflage for battle but from the Drill Ustad to go to Dehradun to meet some girls. I was drilled hard to keep the integrity of my motherland till the peril of my life. I promised to go where my duty needed me by land, sea or air. I pledged my life to the nation and the tri colour, to keep it safe from all external aggression and internal disorders. I was put through my paces of everything what I needed to lead men to battle. I was conditioned to keep the safety welfare and honour of my men foremost always and every time, the honour of my country  came next and my own safety and comfort came last always and every time. I was now transformed into becoming an Indian Army officer, young, full of josh, rearing to go.

I joined my unit in the deserts and was conditioned to become a desert fox. I was trained to not only fire weapons but to strip a vehicle apart and put it back together again. I was accustomed to learn to change oils, open a BMP track, taste petrol or diesel depending on the flavour of the day. I could munch on sand with food, and live on limited water. Above all, I was hardened to be happy in all circumstances. I was skilled to be a jack of all trades. I was supposed to know what a pink Gin was as also a Molotov cocktail; I memorised names and numbers of everyone in my Unit. I could fill a 3008 or a 958 as if writing letters to my “would be”. I learnt to ride a camel and drive a BMP as a second profession. I could communicate with hand, flag, radio, eyes, bird calls, and you name it. I was taught to remain silent and avoid even the rustle of my clothes. I was tempered to walk in the sands survive in the heat, snow and jungles. I was determined to eliminate the enemy before they get into our side of the border. I was at ease to look after the ladies as well as children, I was told to be compassionate and kind. I was taught how to live and work with the men; overall I was made into a unique fighting machine, tough, resolute, upright, caring, honest, dedicated, and professional, a man proud to adorn the uniform, a man proud to lead his men.

As I led my life’s journey I learnt cultures from the north to south, east to west of this country. I learnt to ski with the same ease as I could jump with parachutes from all sorts of aircrafts. I mastered the art of being a champion rock climber. I mastered many languages including three of foreign origin. I soon became a professional logistician during near war situations and moved everything by rail, land and air including the dogs we befriended at our posts. I learnt to balance between private and professional life. I learnt how I could live without my family especially my child whom I could never see taking her first steps or when she started to talk.  I was sent to the Capital where I saw the highest offices of the government of India function. Overall, my indoctrination continued unabated.

I one day brainwashed myself to revert back to the civvies streets. I let myself to be trained again at India’s finest management institute in Ahmedabad. I prepared myself that hence forth no lunch is free. Privilege to get a gypsy at the railway station with a glass of tea won’t be there anymore. I will have to stand in queue if I want to pay my bills. I must re-learn to ride a scooter, buy milk and vegetables. I brainwashed myself to iron my clothes and go to the market for a haircut. I prepared myself to wash my own car, polish my own shoes and shine them better than while in service. I just transformed myself to now live with and live for my family. I geared up that now my priorities in life are different from what they used to be but I shall continue with India first and a veteran for life.

In a life span of 54 odd years, I would have adapted myself to 54 types of places, circumstances, living conditions, bosses, situations, state of mind and state of affairs; basically I learnt to remain cool under any circumstances that life can throw at me. My blood and DNA will always remain Olive Green. Will I keep learning as I go? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

MY LANGAR STORIES

 

I am reminded of a time way back as a young Major; I was detailed to establish a caravan camp for a very high level war game 150 kms from my permanent location. I was detailed as the camp commandant. Our brigade was detailed to establish the operations room, one battalion was told to establish the officers mess, another battalion to establish the same for the officers staying in the caravan camp, one battalion was detailed to establish the langar for all people affiliated to the formation and the support staff of the caravan camp. I do not know if my civilian friends would even understand the magnanimity of this camp, the importance of this camp and the unity which was required to get these diversified people all together to run this camp smoothly.

Had it been just my battalion to do all this stuff, it would have been the easiest thing to do, but getting bits and pieces together, from units which as it is are loggerheads due to professional animosities, so getting a bone china plate from another officers mess was something like planning an attack on china via Timbuktu. Though virtually all the troops, drivers, waiters, nai, dhobi, mochi, etc were under me, but in reality they were under command their own commanders. The issue was complicated further when there were no officers to assist me. JCOs had their own constraints and every order passed by me was rerouted through their respective regiments or battalions, thus delaying and resisting the real purpose for what we had come together. This was initially, but soon things fell into place. Luckily the langar had come from a regiment who used to be part of my combat team, and we struck an instant rapport. I am convinced that when you are going to go in for battle together and covering each other’s back side you trust each other more than your wife if not life.

I had a real challenge at hand. I was going to handle more than 250 jawan’s of more than 40 major and minor, units coming from 20 different places, with complete and incomplete documents for rations and attachment, with hardly any communication with their parent units, with diverse types of vehicles and every one a “laad saab” or part of the pampered lot of the formation they belonged to. The buddies had nakras more than the GOC, the drivers had his own idiosyncrasies, so on and so forth. Noel was in big trouble and the job had to be done, Satrah Mech ki izzat was at stake.

Noel never gives up, Noel never cribs or cries, Noel never complains, Noel takes decisions and fast, and Noel never bothered if he did right and in the correct spirit. I used to be up and about at 4 am; from the layout of the caravans to the depth of the holes of the potty pipes was my baby. The area was a jungle of sorts. I got a tractor on hire from buchoo village; yes I gave him fauji diesel and rum and got the camp site in order in just one day. Had I stuck to the conventional methods of men working with grass cutting swords, genti and belchas, the cows would have come home. My langar detachment was top notch; they established themselves before my tent was pitched up. Luckily I had my jonga to run around but I had to cope with mileage, movement and other restrictions besides being updates on local orders of the local cantonment also. I had a Military Police detachment with me. I soon realised instead of laisioning with the local civil and military police etc they had been placed to police on me. I caught hold of the NCO in charge and gave him a list of do’s and don’ts and told them not to mess with me rather get on their jobs. Message was short crisp and clear, which was they understood.

Now was a challenge to handle the inflow of support staff: The INT staff, the drivers, the buddies, the people from the workshops, the electrical people and the signal people etc. Everyone was a technical chap except me. I used to prepare food for 75 chaps, 25 extra used to land up. I started preparing for 100, 20 used to be sent back to their permanent locations. Due to the fluctuations, either khana used to be short or surplus. Moment it used to be short everyone down the line was in front of my tent. Three days before the actual event while people were still pouring in from all directions, a staff officer from my brigade came inspecting. Let us go and inspect the langar was his first command. I have been getting reports that the food is pathetic, the quantity is less etc etc. As we were entering the langar about 30 people were waiting for their food. There was fanatic activity, atta was being goondhoed, people were fixing the kerosene stove for it to fire, fresh dal was whistling away in the 35 litre cooker, sabzi was being cut, aloos being peeled and hectic activity of mother sister kind was to be heard. It was lunch time, how can you refuse anyone khana. It was a jawan’s birth right. Moment the officer asked koi problem, and out came pouring the frustration of everyone. Sir food quality is bad, and ran his spoon through the watery dal he had in his plate, sir the rotis are either too thick, too small or too burnt etc etc. The list was endless.

The staff officer looked at me, and I said sir didn’t I ask for another langar det day before, you refused. He said yes, sir did I ask you for additional support staff, he said yes, did you give them to me he said no. But you have to manage he said, that’s what I am doing to the best of my ability sir, these 30 men of a unit have landed up just before you came, food is on the boil, atta is on the roll, what do you expect me and my staff to do. He nodded his head and thanked his stars that he was not in my place. Well, I assured the men, kindly wait and bear with me for this meal, I shall produce the best. Well, after the initial outburst and outcry, those people also understood, in fact one unit had brought a mini langar and offered their staff. That’s where camaraderie is all about. Next day onwards the tarka in my dal was the best. The DQ stayed on for the next day, and I requested him, sir, I would like you to taste the langar meal and thereafter you may proceed to the officers mess and he obliged. The tasting tray with every item on the menu made that day was brought in and the remarks written in the langar book was “well done keep it up”. If such khana can be made in such conditions, in peace station khana should be 1000 times better, this he told me verbally. He congratulated me for the layout and camp discipline, and went off. My battle was already won, to hell with the red and blue arrows in the ops room. I gave a shabash to everyone, and thanked all the reps for their cooperation. Men understand very fast and come to know the good intentions of their commanders.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, if your wife decides not to cook, or for that matter doesn’t know how to cook, you have an option to order a meal, go to a hotel of even have doodh bread, but not a jawan who toils day in and day out. By the way if a Road Opening Party has to be in place by 5 am, the langar has to give bed tea at 2 AM, give the jawan packed breakfast and packed lunch, and also some emergency rations like matthi and shakkar paras. The meal might be Khichri or Namkeen poori, but that ROP will be responsible for crores of rupees worth supplies that passes through, and thousands of lives that transit on your trust, as you ensure that the road is clear. Does food take a priority, yes it does, and the khichri and the namkeen poori used to be the best on this side of the Suez Canal and I can vouch for it. On return from the hectic day’s job, the cooks used to take extra care to make something that everyone enjoys and relishes and officers ensured that. A hot water bath, a tot of Rum on issue day, additional chutney, a letter from home, was all it used to take to lift the morale.

Well, at any one given time, there may be an issue about food. If this lasts more than a day then there is something wrong somewhere. Why did I always love food cooked in the langar, and enjoyed sharing a meal with my men, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!

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