Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Category: ARMED FORCES (Page 2 of 7)

FIRE TO CEASEFIRE

FIRE TO CEASEFIRE

 

Ceasefire has been ordered in J&K. I don’t know will it be applicable to both sides as some forces are hell bent to destroy Kashmir and in turn India. Why a cease fire in the holy month of Ramadan only? Why not every month? Kashmir thus will stop suffering and so will the security forces.

I say why anyone should fire at all and then call for a cease fire. Every Kashmiri has a right to live in peace and so does every man and woman in uniform deployed there. Why pick up a gun or a stone in the first place? If every village decides to cease hostilities, where is the question of anyone dying? I hope militants will be sincere in not violating it for the sake of people of Kashmir. If this time is going to be used to trouble villagers to condescend to their demands to garner support and brain wash Kashmiri youth against India, then time is not ripe to give this leverage of ceasefire. In case they are going to cross the dotted line, then God help them.

Who doesn’t want peace? The security guy will be the first one to grab anything which will help to create a peaceful atmosphere. He is fed up of roaming day in and day out in unknown territory, checking unknown people, whose intentions behind those fake smiles are not known. He also wants to sit and enjoy a kahwah and wazwan. He also wants a “Sunday” to rest. They fire at him and stone pelt him. Then only the soldier retaliates. Who actually needs to cease fire then?

If our own convoys cannot pass safely in our own territory then it should be a matter of shame for the Kashmiri people. It looks pathetic that security forces have to place guns on top of our vehicles to kind of intimidate the militants warning them to dare attack us. The common citizen has to pay the price by getting inconvenienced, delayed, diverted and threatened of dire consequences if a convoy is harmed. The militant comes, does his job and melts away, Common man bears the brunt.

Let us then ceasefire like this on mutually agreed terms. No firing or militancy related activity in the months of January as it is the first month of the year. February, we have Valentine’s Day so everyone to give and take love. March is Holi and time for spring. So let us enjoy the fruits of nature. May and June are too hot and June also being the month of Ramadan, so let us forget our animosity. July is monsoon, time for a break. August is when India attained independence & Id time, so why fire then. September and October are months of Dussera-Diwali. November is my birthday, so please don’t fire. December again is time for Christmas so let peace prevail. Let this cycle repeat.

If peace is the requirement of the valley people, then it is they who need to create an atmosphere for peace. The security forces will take nine steps but you take one. Security forces cannot be only on the receiving end always. The forces will continue to keep their vigil and stick to their word. People of “jannat”, when will you understand this? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

NATAK NATAK EVERYWHERE

NATAK NATAK EVERYWHERE

 

India it seems is engrossed in the natak of Karnatak. Of course for the people of that state it matters as they choose their new mai-baaps. For me sitting in a remote and isolated place where if you run out of bread you run out of bread, it makes no difference.

Has any political party made any difference in my life? Yes, they only have strengthened my resolve to hate politics and politicians. Country may have progressed and that is evident as I am holding a cell phone. Roads and railway is improving but the people who govern this country are not. Scams and red tape have taken their toll. Now “modi-fication” is getting on my nerves.

The parliament must decide the following things. No cow will be killed, khatam baat. The only way a cow can die, if she dies in a road accident. In case she survives she will not be put to sleep but left to die on the road side. Then, the cow can die eating plastic. Of course it is ridiculous but we will not stop throwing plastic in the open, the poor mata will not stop munching on it. Change of taste after all. Further, the cow can die of old age. Yes, once she has lived her milk productivity age she will be left on the streets to fend for herself. In a few years time she will automatically die. A new brigade called the gau rakshak brigade will be used to replace the veterinary corps of the Indian Army.

The next item on the parliamentary agenda should be the dress to be worn by men and women. Sari and kurta pyjama is absolutely fine. The colour of the dress has to be “orange”. It is simple, sober, in fashion colour and I love it. Parachute cloth for the Army will be made of Khadi and dyed in vegetable green ink. Ladies can apply bindi only with pooja ashes. Vermillion may be adorned on ceremonial occasions only. In case you like to wear western dresses please go to the nearest country in the west.

Patanjali products will be consumed should be an act of the parliament. No bombastic names like Glaxo Smithkline or Procter and Gamble. Only desi items that are swad aur sehat se bharpoor, milawat se dur, will be allowed on our tables.

Once these guys have decided as to what we are going to eat. There would be no non-veg. All the bakra’s and the broilers will be left free. Hatya is out of question chahe vo gau ki ho ya bakariya ki. No egg trays for faujis even in lieu of meat. Fish too shall be banned as the smell of all machhi markets raises a stink. For Army jungle survival only patanjali noodles and vegetation can be eaten.

All gyms will have to be shut being a western concept. No pumping iron & no treadmills. Only yoga, on a handmade durrie extracted out of jute from farms made in small scale industries.

Then the parliamentarians should fix the petrol and diesel prices as anticipated in 2025. Why keep everyone in suspense. This will entail two things, the common man will not be able to run his bike and he will run or walk and stay fit. Free healthcare for all, isn’t it?

Jobs will not be an issue as we require thousands of masons and plumbers. After all we require 130 billion toilets and counting. Pakora makers would be India entrepreneurs’ and make case studies for Hayward business school like the dabbawalas.

Cooking gas is not an issue as pradhan mantri ujwala yojna has already burnt a hole in the gareeb ka pocket. They are using the gas cylinders to keep tokris of lassun because no one can afford a cylinder costing close to 900 bucks. They have got back to collecting firewood under sway-rozgar jungle kaato yojana. Mom is already used to smoke in her eyes since long and she finds food made on gas tasteless.

The parliament also needs to decide as to who will speak what, in what tone and tenor and who will publish what. Social media will only be used for forwarding godly and good morning messages. Chatting will be banned as the sarakri karamcharis now utilize offices to chat on their cell phones in air-conditioned environment. Earlier they used to do the same in parks after spreading the morning news papers after having read even the tender notices.

Only two channels will be allowed on air, LSTV and RSTV, rest all will be booked for sedition. No news debates, no barking & no shouting. Yes food channels if they are going to distribute food they make for the desh ke dalit-shoshit-vanchit-peerit would be made tax free channels.

All those who pay GST would be given a chance to visit a country of their choice except Bangkok, provided they convince twenty NRIs to vote for the PMs Party and send a few thousand dollars as chanda for party funds. All those who want to go to Italy will be given one way tickets.

Defence will be the only exception. All faujis will have to pay double the income tax in case they want free rations. If they want OROP then they will have to sacrifice the last basic pay drawn. ECHS will only be contributory, for health they will need to take health insurance from a private company and get treated in government hospitals only. Ex servicemen cannot write any columns or articles and all those who do it will be reinstated in service without salary in field till they attain nirvana.

Parliament also has to pledge that once elected they will only disrupt parliament. Bills passed would be at the peril of the common man. Ministers will move from ministry to ministry every session. This will ensure that all parliamentarians are fully trained to run any ministry irrespective whether the MP is capable to read or write or not. In case he has a criminal case he will be the law minister by default.

Be that as it may, I am looking forward to the next elections. Hope all this natak will be implemented when the new government is formed? Possible! I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

SMALL MODIFICATIONS

 

 

SMALL MODIFICATIONS

 

Yesterday I was looking at the plight of helicopter passengers. It was a lovely looking blue and white bird with skids. I was told the passengers were 70 + alighting to attend a wedding. It meant a few things that these people were VVIPs, super rich, super influential, overall, banda pahuncha hua hai. This was confirmed by the class of vehicles which had come to pick them up. However, when it came to getting down from the chopper I pitied them. Both of them were too short.

The gentleman was the first one to get down but struggled to find the ground, the lady’s plight was even worse. The pilot and an assistant tried to hold her hand and finally she had to be baby carried. Haath main purse bhi tha bhai. They needed a step in between.

This reminded me of the good old days of the army when the ladies could never sit in the front seat of Jeeps & Jongas. I think that still continues. Getting inside a Jeep after folding the front seat was an obstacle course in itself. Sitting on the mudguards with cramped feet ensured that in case you were wearing a sari for a party, it would be crushed beyond the lady’s liking. We had to keep the pink room of the mess ready for them to re-arrange their costumes.

Jonga’s could carry four ladies comfortably but six damsels had to be stuffed in due to fauji constraints like non-availability of light vehicles, COs fleet, CMP restrictions, Dry day chits et al. Then Gypsy’s came in. The biggest challenge for ladies used to be to get in from the rear of the vehicle in a sari without exposing their lovely legs. Sometimes the petticoats used to get caught in the towing hook. Someone in the Army decided to go in for a “step”, which used to be welded to the frame in the rear. I wish the aviation people also get their choppers modified. Just send the helicopter to any Army workshop; modification would be a two minutes job.

This reminds me that my mom too was very short. Mom and Dad’s height difference was more than one and a half feet. One day she had gone to the market walking. I had just been presented with a new cycle which meant that after games in the evening and before the study period one went around the town to show off. Mom caught me in the market and told me to take her home. Well it would have saved her close to Rs 3.50/- depending on the ability to bargain with the rickshaw-wala.

I tried several times but to no avail as there was too much of rush for mom to mount the bike. So we walked almost half way on the “Thandi Sarak” as it used to be known in Kapurthala, till we reached the LIC office. The foot path had been newly cemented, so there was a berm about 6-8 inches high. I was confident mom will be able to climb on the carrier. Well I sat on the seat with the right foot on the pedal to get the initial momentum. Mom climbed on the sixth attempt. The sabzi jhola was hung on the handle. Then something happened. I just couldn’t balance my cycle. The handle got stuck due to the vegetable bag and we were spread on all fours on the road.

Both of us looked left and right, thank God people were far away. I asked mom, you hold the Thaila and sit. She said she couldn’t do both. Now what to do was the question. Well I made a valiant attempt once again but failed. One of our uncles was watching all this tamasha and came to our rescue. He held the carrier of the bike while I got ready to take off. Mom sat behind, she was handed over the bag and then uncle gave a shove to the cycle. Off we went.

It was dusk and now we were approaching home. We turned in from Puri uncle’s house. I asked mom how will you get down, she said good question, now I didn’t know what to do. I needed help from someone to hold the bike. Mom said mujhe mat girana and I knew without help, girana hi parega. Well, I did what the pilots do. I went on a circuit. Went around all the row of houses & hostels and came back for landing again, all this while preparing mom for impact. Mom threw the sabzi-bag close to our house. What all rolled out from that? Dad collected the remnants next morning.

Now on my final approach, luckily Dad had seen us going past so he came and stood on the side of the road. I shouted to dad please hold the bike, I slowed down as much as I could and dad with his legs stretched was going to get hold of the bikes handle. Bang, I pushed dad. Dad went into the hedge and I went on paddling. One more “chakker” and this time dad was well prepared. Younger brother had brought a stool. Dad was a strong man & instead holding us from the front he caught hold of the bike carrier from the rear. Brother placed the stool for mom to alight as I jumped and kept both feet on the ground. Our Maharani of Kapurthala alighted from her stage carriage; chauffeured by yours truly on a blue and white Phillips bicycle.

Can Chopper pilots also carry a stool with them for short people? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

THE ART OF READING

THE ART OF READING

There was a time when a novel in my hand was compulsory. Be it travel, Military exercises or deployment on the borders. Summer holidays or Christmas time, a book had always been my partner. The only time my wife could get a window seat on a train used to be when I used to dig into my book. Then there was no looking back till I finished it. Ballet of a belle did exactly that to me.

In school, on each library card one could borrow two books. I remember the rule, we had to return them in 14 days and there after fine used to be 10 paise per day. I could never afford to be late. My librarian auntie used to be generous enough to issue me books from the new editions, a rare privilege.

Every day without fail, dot at 3pm before Inderjeet our library assistant used to open the door of the Durbar hall of the Jagjit Palace of the Maharaja of Kapurthala, which used to house our library, yours truly used to waiting for him. Half a novel used to be finished in that one hour of library time. In winters, tucked into your Rajai (quilt) with your head covered due to the freezing cold in Punjab the “silsila” of reading continued. Started with Enid Blyton, Nick Carter, James Hadley Chase, graduated to Harold Robbins, Ayn Rand, Ludlum and the works.

This practice continued till I joined my unit. While returning from leave at Jalandhar railway station there was one AH wheeler book stall which was my favourite haunt. Choice there was limited in terms of authors. The next long halt used to be at Ambala Cantt and then at Old Delhi to surf book stalls. Over the years the stall owners used to recognise me and recommend books keeping my taste of reading in mind.

My unit had a great tradition to build a library. One had to get one book on return from annual leave. Our staff college reference library also grew leaps and bounds as every year we were sending one officer. Five officers from one unit, in one go was a record of sorts. I too followed suit later.

Be that as it may, once I started studying for Staff College this art of reading novels slowly shifted focus to reading subjects related to the military. I loved reading but I hated reading Military history. Part B, I cleared in four attempts and Part D in five. Every two years the Military Campaign and personality changed you can imagine from Von Rundstedt to Gaip, Burma campaign to Falkland War, to Rommel to the Yom Kippur war, form Sun Tzu to Campaign in Malaya, to Montgomery, to the North African campaign, I read them all as I had no choice.

Now, after ages I picked up a novel written by my course mate and jiggery Rahul Tushar, “The Ballet of a Belle”. First thing that came to mind, Rahul writing a novel is not possible. Rahul and I did staff college together. Knowing him and his flair for gazals it was difficult to fathom that he is a fiction writer.

I must thank Rahul for rekindling the passion of good old days of yore. I still prefer to read a book rather than on the computer screen. It got delivered form Amazon but I didn’t pick it up for three days. Till the weekend there was a dilemma should I or shouldn’t. Finally, I picked it up and read the preface and I saw “to my mereee”. I knew her too. Then I could not resist starting it. The fear within me was will I be able to finish it, I was a little uncertain, as it has been almost two decades since I picked up any novel.

Yesterday being a holiday I started to read. Within minutes I was guzzling page after page. My daughter was quite surprised that I hadn’t touched the mobiles at all. My speed of reading was not the way I used be. It picked up gradually as the plot thickened. I skipped my afternoon siesta. I retired early after dinner to continue reading. At 1030 pm daughter came to check whether papa was asleep, papa was not. She was astonished that I had read past midway by then. In the morning instead of reading the news paper on my thrown it was this book. I read it in the lunch break as it stuck to me like glue. Now it’s the climax chapter which is left and I shall finish it with my evening cup of tea.

Rahul my friend it is not easy to write and it is definitely difficult to get into such minute details of places, names and things. The ease with which you describe villages in the valley and places in Jammu was as if you have visited them yourself. The cocktails you talk about even Shirley won’t know. The businesses you speak of are not simple ones; the corporate life you touch upon must have touched you personally somewhere. I can see the research; the hard work the toil to bring this girl Arti to life. The flow and language is so smooth that her transition from a village belle to a corporate honcho seems as if the years in between never existed. The way you have gone about weaving each bead and connecting the dots as if you are related to this girl. Marvellous my friend, simply kept me spellbound. I don’t know if I batted an eyelid while reading.

Rahul, keep enthralling us, keep us mesmerised, keep enchanting us and keep us captivated. Your charming ways of writing has bloomed. The bait you cast has hooked us all. God Bless you & thank you for re-igniting within me the passion to read once again. Dasvidaniya (till we read again). How soon will it be? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

PS : The book is available on Amazon for 350/-.

ANNA-HARA-ZARA-RE  

This piece I had written when Anna had started his crusade against corruption, 19/04/2011, I heard he was again on fast for the MSP for farmers. In the din of other news, his story was washed out from every Indians mind, thanks to the media. Should he continue his crusade now? I wonder!!!!!

ANNA-HARA-ZARA-RE

Over the last couple of weeks we all have been witnessing a campaign started by a simple Ex-Army man, who faced near death in the Khemkaran sector in the 1965 Indo-Pak war. He is on a fast to death at Jantar Mantar. Khemkaran became a graveyard of the Paki tanks and Jantar Mantar should be the burial ground of the corrupt and corruption. Great going Sir, every Indian salutes you and shall support you. ‘THE CORRUPT” and their accomplices need to be booked. Your crusade has begun and now it is our duty to carry it forward to its conclusion.

Anna, you started your reformation from the grass roots and now your crusade is hitting the highest political masters. You say that you will lose your security deposit if you stand for elections. Is it that you don’t have money or is it that you are not corrupt? For winning elections public support is required and you have already won their hearts and minds. I suggest that you should be part of the political process. Then only all those working under you can be controlled. Thereafter you can bring to justice all others whom you find unfair, unjust and corrupt. To be able to annihilate all corrupt political practices, you yourself need to understand how they do it. An important aspect we were taught in the Army was to fight against militants and to finish a militant, you got to think like a militant, be better trained than him, shoot better than him, garner more local support than him, have your intelligence better than him and ultimately destroy him. For militant here read politician.

The media today is the greatest watch dog for these political big-wigs, they can take them head on but the foundations of corruption lie deep down under. It starts from the lowest rank. Our society watchman charges Rs 5/- from every Dhobi, Bai, Paperwala, Machhiwala, pavwala etc. Can we stop him? I think we can, if we give him adequate remuneration. That poor man stands for 12 hours, running errands for half the society members to make that extra buck besides doing his duty. Corruption starts here.

Items sold through PDS are siphoned off. Poor man gets nothing. Kerosene meant for him is used for adulterating other fuels. A gas cylinder is available faster in BLACK than the three weeks wait for the WHITE. The MNREGA money is going in the wrong hands. The mid day meals are eaten by the greedy, proxy attendance by rural teachers and doctors leaves the illiterate as illiterate and the sick further sick. The middlemen and farmers are always at logger heads and are not allowed direct access to the mandi’s. Food is rotting in FCI godowns since decades. The hungry are never fed.

Healthcare, employment, literacy and two square meals a day is the bottom line. Social security, shelter, physical security & women empowerment are also places where corruption is rampant. Today, we fear our Police not because they are strict but because they will drag us everywhere for no fault of ours. So, pay a small token which makes him happy and saves me the inconvenience.

NGO management needs focus Anna. Some of them are government aided, some are not, and some are fraud too. I would like you to crusade for them too. They need to be grouped together, made to focus, distributed equitably, and supported adequately as they are linked with the grass roots more than anyone else. We should empower them through you. Let us stop the ministers from distributing TVs, Mixer’s and lap tops & subsidised rice. Let the NGOs do it, then we shall see the strength and power of the vote bank.

Fast track anti corruption courts which are adequately staffed to give out justice in a time bound manner is also the need of the day. Let the Lok Pal and Lok Ayukta be set up. Let them not be politically influenced which is also a form of corruption. Anna, there are miles to go before you and I sleep.

I also want you to crusade for the Police, Armed Forces and Para Military forces too so that the government gives them better pay, perks and privileges. They should have an assurance that where ever they go they will get a place to stay, a school for their kids, and their domestic matters in the village/town they belong to be looked into even after they leave for duty or transferred. Let the Gram panchayats and the zila parishads be extra sensitive to their issues when he is posted to far flung areas. Let this man be assured that on retirement, he shall have a roof over his head.

One last thing Anna, let us focus on the MPs and MLAs, downwards to the Sarpanch. Let’s take a bottom up approach. Let the government protect every citizen who exposes corruption cases. If we do ten such cases in every state every month the corrupt will be shaken and stirred. Corruption shall definitely evaporate one day. I said, ANNA-HARA-ZARA-RE, should not land up as ANNA-HAAR-NA-JANA-RE is my prayer. My heart and soul is with you, as they say when the going gets tough the tough get going. Will Anna succeed in his mission? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

PERCEPTION & REALITY

I was sitting in a closing meeting of ISO certification the other day. The lead auditor was a Bengali and a senior citizen. He appeared to be very transparent and upright, the way he had spelt out conduct the audit. At the end of a two day gruelling process we all were awaiting the pearls of wisdom from him.

In the industry, I find that all these ISO certifications are a must if you really mean business. There are some companies which have a clause inserted in their business plan that they won’t do any business with companies without these certifications. It is not surprising though all these auditors have a standard check list, in addition they get hold of your standing operating procedures and then start picking holes in your system one by one. At the end of the day every Industry fears for a thing called NCs (non-compliances) which are Major NC and Minor NC. Let me not get into the nitty-gritty’s now.

I also happened to find out that there are quite a few agencies that do this accreditation and most of them are based in US of A or UK. Isn’t it surprising? An industry in India is being certified to the satisfaction of these countries that have no clue how our industry actually functions.

Manpower is the first thing which is axed in all industries. They want a lean mean fighting machine. Asking for overtime is a taboo. Working late is routine and expected. You have to be multi tasking with ten hands of Goddess Durga. The work which should be done today should have finished last week. The reports and statistics need to be produced in past tense. The beauty is that people still produce them. Aim is to show you are working basically covering your backside by sending mails.

Let’s come to social accountability. Is anyone responsible for the manager category? The whole system is worker oriented. It is assumed that the industry would be taking care of its managers automatically. The truth is very far from it. Then comes the union bazi, well lesser said the better about it. In all my experience, I have only seen union leaders taking the goonda approach or are kept shut with money depending upon the number of workers and the size of the industry. People talk about food basket, minimum wages, statutory compliances, safety procedures etc. Do they really mean what they say?

Problem with us Indians is that we want to ape what the US manual says without giving it due thought about comparative resources which are made available there. Their mind set, their culture needs to be taken into considerations. Above all they are far more honest and far less corrupt than us.

Environment is an issue; the watch dogs want every industry to produce only oxygen and pure water as its waste. One micron this side or that side there will be hell to pay. Issue doesn’t end here as these microns are managed by cash or kind. The boiler inspector will not even boil a cup of tea in the container but certify things as if they are straight out of the sauce pan. I was not aware that a job like a lift operator needs a certificate from an authorised institution, like a drivers licence. More are the compliances more is the outflow of cash, plus stay in company guest houses on the house.

I got cheesed off at this auditor mentioned about retired “sarkari karamchari”. As per him they only take a hefty pension without having worked. His brother gets a good pension working at “CHEETOROUNJAAN LOKHOMOTEEBS”. Then he started off on the income tax he has to pay. All of that is eaten up by government people especially the forces. These were the pearls which ultimately fell. I lost my shirt and told him that friend I gave my yesterday for your today. If you cannot be grateful for our services then you have no business to utter what you are uttering. The irony was many of the employees started agreeing that all their taxes are eaten up by government people especially from the forces and why are they penalised for it.

I walked out of the hall feeling hurt, that imagine what the civilian psyche is. As if they are the only ones paying to run this country. They seem to be ashamed to pay tax for the forces. They will never understand what each person in uniform went through. These people have been static, lived in a secure environment, getting hefty pays and getting the best of facilities with his family, with children getting best of education, contributing zero to nation building.

I really felt sad about the knowledge these people have about the forces. Should I waste time to teach them about what the armed forces are all about? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

PM ON FAST

[ninja_form id=1]Gone are the days when Gandhi ji used to go on a fast and the world used to get shaken up. I think the British gave up because his fast was a more deadly weapon then any gun. PM Sahib decided to do the same. He is on a fast as a mark of protest because our representatives stalled all work in our “Gole Market”. It appeared more like a “Gole Macchi Market”. The basic decorum and the discipline of the august houses suddenly evaporated into thin air. PM Sahib must be in a terribly angry mood to take this action. Indeed it is very unfortunate for India but who cares.

I remember we used to ask the Adjutant, how is the bosses’ mood? Last minute check used to be with the COs runner, if he nodded his head straight, then you had a chance to put across your argument. If he nodded sideways meant hell is going to break loose. One entered the COs office at one’s own risk. Many times if you were called, you meekly asked the adjutant Sir, what is the agenda? His simple answer used to be “Danda”. There was no use for any guess about your condition when you came out. A good adjutant used to keep a chilled glass of nimbu pani in summers or a hot cup of tea in winters ready, knowing the aftermath of the firing you got.

Imagine if PM saab is in a foul mood and tells his secretary to call a few ministers to his office. Finance Minister, asking for a chilled nimbu pani “in winters”, holding a shredded noting sheet of a few lakh crores which the PM just tore off for no reason.  DM coming out all guns blazing at the Chief’s, stating PM passed though Delhi Cantt and found the Chuna-Geru was not up to the mark. Transport Minister trying to send a message to avoid meeting to the PM stating he is struck in a traffic jam. Foreign Minister already on a flight to Bhutan, when asked why? She says, because of that dhokla issue or was it dhoklam, she forgot.  General Saab already fit-chuted and ready to para jump over Iraq, just in case some more Indians had to be brought back.

Bosses mood was an indicator for things to come our way. It was like the daily horoscope. I remember one of them used to get in good moods moment you talked about a party. Who is throwing it and for what reason was beside the point. Another one used to be a bridge enthusiast; so one could wait till the cows came home and have lunch at dinner time, office started after that. One used to be that training type, if your dangri smells of sweat and your patka is full of sand, it was ok with him. So you knew what to do moment you saw him, just do a front roll in the sand and your day was through. One was a stickler for punctuality, one second late for any parade meant you were on leave that day.

In the civil I find mood swings more and very difficult to predict. He will talk soft but mean harsh. He will record every incident and keep quoting it, till you die. They provoke you and make you react, burden you ‘without resources’, backtrack from their words, mean something & say something. They assume that you will interpret what they say in a manner what they don’t mean. At least in the fauj a boss used to fire you, abuse you, kick you, and shout at you but at the end of the day things were forgotten over a drink. If he was really annoyed, he sent on an LRP (Long Range Patrol).

Be that as it may, where will the PM go to express is displeasure? For him, our diversity is now becoming our divisiveness. We are no more united. Everyone wants a bigger chunk of the pie. If not then hamper parliament proceedings. That’s what the reason is for the PM to react. How do you control such people, the PM per force has to go on a fast to show his unhappiness; a sad state for India.

I consider it a matter of shame if the PM has to go on a fast like this. Knowing the Indian mentality it will make no difference to any of those elected representatives who did not let the houses function. Had these guys thought about the country first, things would have been different? I wish the PM follows our adjutant and introduces stalls of Nimbu Pani and Chai outside both the houses, for all MPs found misbehaving. When will this Gole Machhi Market return to the stature and maintain the dignity required of our Parliament? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

MY CHOICES AFTER TWELFTH

If I were a twelfth class student today, fresh out of the exams, would I have already thought about my career? What would be going on in my mind? I think there would be utter chaos and confusion of selection of a stream triggering random thoughts to do this or something else? The twelfth mark sheet would be instrumental in further planning. Retest is besides the point due to these leaks.
If I get about 70-80 percent in twelfth, will I have a future? What career options do I have? Is there a scope for me to pursue something of my interest? Actually, do I know what my interests are in the first place! I am now transiting through a phase from a school going kid to adult life. I definitely need a career which should fulfil my dreams, excite me, suit my temperament, allow me to continue my hobbies and also pay me well.
Mom and Dad have generally been struggling all through their lives. We don’t have our own house as yet. Mom always picked up jobs in every place father got posted. They always insisted on savings. I saw them buying gold for obvious reasons. Everything used to be on a tight rope, there was a kind of an unseen discipline which we loved to hate. For them books and studies were the only priorities.
Dad preferred his scooter to the car. Mom would never let us feel lonely and dad always boosted our morale. Now was the time for my transformation to step into new shoes, walk my own steps and face my own challenges. Dilemma in the mind was eating me up.
Easiest for me was to continue studies. Now it will be college time, freedom, independence, new place, new friends, time to experiment with life, learn new things, get worldly wise and enjoy. Second was to become a professional as professional could be.
Donations were a big no from Dad. He was there for guidance, sharing knowledge and unflinching dedication for us. Mom had additional virtues of love, care and affection, besides being the best cook. Will I survive in this mad bad world without them? Will I miss home and homemade food? Will I be able to take on a hostel or paying guest? Percentage of marks was below the cut off of a good college, so admissions on merit would be an issue.
Suggestions from people were overflowing to do this & do that. The final decision was ultimately left to God. He would be the guiding light. As the saying says “God helps those who help themselves” so it again boiled down to me. The confusion kept compounding.
Had I scored well, my mark sheet would have spoken for itself. Medical is too tough, engineering I can’t even spell, Literature is not my cup of tea, arts is Greek and Latin to me, Law is difficult, then what else is left.
I decide to join the forces.  I love adventure, mountaineering and sports. I love to travel, I like to meet new people and I love to drive. Dad doesn’t know I have been driving the car on the quiet. I can name all kinds of battle tanks existing in the world today.  Let me give a try for NDA.
They will not only make me a graduate but give me all that I desire. I don’t have to worry about marks much plus they do give a good pay. I just have to be an upright, truthful, hardworking and an honest person. I have been standing first in debates and declamations in school and participated at state and national level and won prizes, which should help me.
Mom with her heart of wax said “mera sona beta” will not join forces. They have a very tough life. No food, no water, inclement weather and terrain. On top of that these militants. If he gets posted to Kashmir what will happen. He should never go to the North-East, it’s too dangerous. Deserts are too harsh. Dad just sits and watches all the rona-dhona and winks at me.
Phew! I won’t have to appear for JEE, CAT, NEET, TOEFL, PMT, CET blah blah blah.  One day, Mom wakes me with a registered letter from UPSC. I open it and see that I am 200 in the merit list and on 01 June I have to join NDA. I pick up mom and give her a swirl; she is like what the hell. I say mom “zindagi ban gayi”. I pull that letter from her hand and rush to announce it to the world.
Can I have a better career after twelfth other than the Forces? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!
JAI HIND
© Noel Ellis

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

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

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

SATRAH KA PARIVAAR HAMARA

As life takes a turn where our children start getting married, suddenly you realise that you are becoming a “Buzurg”. I happened to attend three weddings technically over the week end of the SEEKERS family. Those teeny weenie, pram bound, diaper and nappy wearing lap kids were ready to start their new journey of their married lives. How time flies, as if it was yesterday. The image of the kids and the parents still remains of what you saw when you met them for the first time ages ago. The kids were replicas of their parents.

It took me some time to fathom that our kids are now bankers, marketing wizards, architects, interior designers, roadies, army officers and women officers in the Indian Armed forces. Some are psychologists, some HR Professionals, some IT champions, some engineers and some like mine are still in school.

The parents with more grey in their hair, more bulges around the waist, wrinkles galore, some balding, some already grandparents but with a heart of a teenager still. On meeting time became static. We are transported into an era when we were in our twenties and early thirties, some newly married, some bachelors. Some of course remained chronic bachelors quite long. The dainty looking brides who joined the paltan now transformed into loving mothers and mother in laws. Their nakhras and jhatkas still intact but the outlook to life now sees a sea of change.

As I looked at all the kids my heart felt so happy and proud, completely filled with joy to just meet and give all of them a hug. It had been ages that we had met after being duty uncles at mess parties. Thanks to the social media I was in touch with some, however, meeting the future generations face to face was an out of the world experience. I supposedly was the common factor of one wedding and I have the proud privilege to be called “Noel Ram Gharjore”. I can pat my back for it.

Kids’ handling their parents was an awesome treat to watch. Dad who won’t listen to anyone was now quietly obeying them like a puppy. “Dad avoid sweets”, back went one rasogoola out of the two he had picked up. Mom, don’t forget your medicine and pop came out a pill and went into mumma’s mouth. Life had changed I realised.

After the initial pleasantries and bear hugs, the topic very intently discussed was health. Earlier bachelors discussed girls, movies etc. Now they were married and discussing life style changes. When I said I do not drink anymore and have quit smoking, it came as a shock to many. Diabetes was the centre of discussion, followed by arthritis and asthma. Most of us had morning “starting trouble” from joints to the obvious. Blood pressure was fluctuating and was directly proportional to the happiness being generated. The heart beats were keeping pace with the sudden gush of love. Laughter remained the best medicine though.

The parties where we all used to stand throughout the night as youngsters saw a change as people like me could pull chairs to sit down. How dare one sit if a senior was standing were the ethos but things had changed. Old anecdotes, the loud laughter did not change. Who did what to whom and why did not change? Many secrets which were hidden deep inside, now were freely flowing across the table. The echoes of laughter and the interjections added to the flavour.

Another thing that had changed was that most of us had retired. Most of us were enjoying the second innings, some still working and some in no mood to work. What did not change was the josh and gusto. What did not change was the brotherhood. What did not change was the camaraderie. What did not change were the spirit, love and affection for each other. What did not change was the mutual respect for each other. Ladies looked more beautiful and stunning was another thing I noticed.

Yes perceptions did change and especially about me. Everyone praised my writings, though there were critiques too but they were for me to improve. It was an honour to be commended by very senior officers who saw me with one pip on my shoulder. The way I received blessings from them, I shall continue to look forward for more and strive hard to write better.

People who were not there were missed and stories of such people were the most interesting ones. A little “tarka” to the tales was an added bonus.  Unlike in the good old days when you were supposed to just listen as opening your mouth had its dire consequences.

Another nostalgic thing that happened to me was that I could share a room with my buddy and room partner of Infantry YOs, Commandos and Mech YOs. The only thing is that the bugger snores like a road roller. I did hear a lot of people confessing about their snoring sins. Well very few admit it openly like me. I have mastered the art of answering back my wife in snores perfectly.

Well, Arjit & Pooja, Ila & Shubhanshu, I wish you all good luck and God speed, may almighty shower his choicest blessings on you all. Also to my seniors and juniors and their better halves may our bond grow stronger. There is one life to live and one life to love and our children helped us to relive it. Thank you children and be blessed. Let me live up to the new name Noel Ram Gharjore.

Three Cheers to the “Satrah ka Parivaar” and HAR MAIDAN FATEH.

MY RELIGION IS SAFFRON WHITE & GREEN

Splintered is a feeble word I would use for India today. We are kind of disintegrating as a nation. Fragmentation has become a new norm of our society. Even our ethos is crumbling with every passing day. The whole world is our family is way too big a statement. Today, we are split down the middle, even in our families. Then we have our social gradation which separates us, followed by our religion which makes us drift apart further. Now we also have various kinds of fringe elements adding to the chaos. Is this the India of our dreams?

The segregation starts moment a child is born. The difference is being born in a municipal hospital or a super speciality hospital. The gap is seen between the haves and the have not’s. Then comes our schooling, in that comes gradation due to Vernacular medium, English medium and International schooling. Religious schools & institutions shred us further apart. We stand divided at every step but are united to fight for destruction of this nation.

In the armed forces we too have groups called Combat groups. We have squads, sections, platoons, detachments’ and Combat teams. We have Brigades, Divisions, Corps and Commands. However, we train together and fight together. We are divided into such groups to unite our Hindustan. We carry our religion, which is the national flag on our sleeves.

A crew of a tank, a gun or a BMP is an ultimate team. Everyone is a cook, sentry, gunner, commander, operator and stick. If the driver doesn’t switch on the master switch, nothing functions. If a loader doesn’t load, the gunner can’t fire. If the commander doesn’t designate a target, the driver will not be able to position his vehicle correctly for the gunner to fire. If all of them do not come together as a well oiled team, they cannot fight the enemy. Where does religion come in here?

In battle there is only one aim, annihilation of the enemy. I don’t know if religion, caste, creed, ethnicity is becoming our biggest enemy.

In an army convoy if the leading vehicle is too fast, the vehicles following will get scattered. If it is too slow, they all will bunch up. If they do not follow SOPs & drills and adhere to speed limits, there is likely hood of convoys getting mixed up and accidents. Aim is to get every vehicle, men and material to the designated place, at the right time, in the designated order, in the best state of preparedness, for accomplishing a mission. That is what India needs. There cannot be a hindu-muslim-sikh-isai convoy. Yes, the “mandir vehicle” as it is called is also part of the convoy. Anyone so desirous of “tekoing his matha” can do so while on the move but without breaking convoy discipline.

During war water and food is limited and rationed. It is distributed equally to everyone. There is no discrimination. In battle if a man is thirsty and you offer him a sip of water and a tonne of gold, what will he go for? What will a soldier carry in battle? Is it ammunition or his religion? Religion has no place in war, it is the country that comes first always and every time. Rest doesn’t matter.

We have one organisation which is above religion and politics that is the Armed Forces. The seeds of animosity and bitterness cannot be and should not be planted in our blood. Every officer loves his cook as much as he loves his gunner. Every man counts, every trade has his role to play. The doctors don’t see your religion to treat you when you have a bullet in your chest. When blood is infused, no religion is printed on it except its group. Life and limb needs to be saved not religion.

If this much is clear then at least on the day when soldiers are being laid to rest after making their supreme sacrifice for the nation, let news channels not debate, as they show scenes of coffins and the last post being played with politicians this Hindu-muslim-sikh-isai issue. Let that soul depart in peace.

My country is supreme; rest all has no place in military ethos. I have pledged my life for the tri-colour, I shall go by land, sea or air, where ordered, to defend it from internal disorder and external aggression is the pledge I have taken and a promise made to my countrymen. If I die in the line of battle, the only place where my religion comes in is to give me a befitting farewell on my last journey. Otherwise I have no religion. Is my religion loud and clear? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

IF WISHES WERE HORSES

As we grew in service we realised that there were some things we did not like and some things were not done in good taste by our seniors too. There used to be many things which were required to be done due to the circumstances prevailing at that time and sometimes we had an indecisive person. Some were welfare oriented, some were strict disciplinarians, some were hard training masters, some were party people, some were professionally focused and some were technological wizards. Only some were perfect thorough bred Officers and Gentlemen. However, there was something good about everyone. There was something to learn and emulate from each of them.

I remember we had a boss who used to say, if a senior officer opens his mouth shove a chicken leg in, if he opens it wider shove the second one too, nothing wrong with this approach. One day the Army Chief landed up in the unit, I was told. It was midst of summers and the unit was under canvas (tents). You name it and every imaginable cold beverage on earth was catered for. The unit baniya’s tent was co-located and on a pre-designated signal, he was to start piping out hot jalebis. As a courtesy the dignitary was asked, Sir what would you like to have? He said a hot cup of tea. It was like a nuclear bomb which fell on the tent. Mess had not catered for it; baniya was already churning out jalebis, so our waiter just warmed the kettle of chai from the langar and served it. The Chief was so happy to drink it that all officers whose smile had been wiped off suddenly breathed a sigh of relief. Life goes like that. No one thanked the waiter and his presence of mind.

There was another VIP visit in a different operational sector. No stone was left unturned to make it a memorable one. Waiters and cooks were mustered from every unit and formation. Due to his reputation even the cooks wore a helmet to prepare the banquet. The menu was continental. We all proceeded for lunch after the operational briefing. The spread looked delicious and sumptuous. As the dignitary went around shaking hands with all lesser mortals like me, one senior officer asked him sir how about a glass of beer. He said do you have soup, the answer was affirmative. Sir you want a hot one or a cold soup, the answer was cold. It was served in a jiffy. He asked for a slice of bread and shouted loudly; friends’ lunch is served “CHARGE”. No one moved, then he told his story which went like this, “Jab Khane peene ki umr thi to kisi ne khane nahi diya, ab umr nikal gayi hai to tum khila rahe ho” (When I was of age no one offered me a meal like this, now I am at an age where I can’t eat all this). I can only have soup as permitted by the doctor. Well, we ate till our belly’s ached.

Be that as it may, it disillusions me to find our “pradhan sewak” acting like a “pradan alochak” for whatever that means. Had he been in place of Nehru and Gandhi what would he have done is a matter of conjecture. Why, what those people did at that time is history. Why are we digging those old graves? It is quite obvious that elections are around the bend. The need of the time is to look ahead by at least fifty years if not half of it or are we so myopic that we can’t see beyond 2019. Your time is now Mr PM, do it for the country. Tomorrow, the next generation should not start cursing you for your decisions or indecisions of today.

As my experiences tell me that every new incumbent takes time to settle down, you have had four years already. In the army, before a CO says Jack Robinson his successor is in. The new one goes around changing things. If nothing else he will make a trophy with his name and change the curtains of the guest room. The very thought that my predecessors were nincompoops should never happen. One must keep adding values to enrich and improve, rather find faults and curse the founder fathers.

So dear PM Sahib, I am looking forward to achhe din. The founders of this country have left a legacy. It is now your duty to take it to greater heights. They gave us India in whatever shape, should not be questioned. They freed us from the Union Jack. Their intentions can never be doubted and their integrity cannot be tainted. What have your party predecessors achieved for India, if I may ask? There will be no end to the argument then.

What does this country have in store in this century you cannot predict? What will be the circumstances, what will be the resources, what will be the compulsions, what will be the world order, if Gandhi and Nehru could have predicted this 70 years back, India would be in “bahut achhe din” phase.

If wishes were horses and beggars could ride and turnips were watches I would have one by my side! Sahi ya galat? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

CONDOLENCES ARE NOT ENOUGH

It was sad to hear that four more brave hearts fell to Pakistani shelling. “Condolences” have become such a common word now and are not enough. The whole country stands with the armed forces, we know. Solidarity is not enough. Today, condolence has become more akin to pity. Solidarity appears to be just a verbal support and assurance. Though every show of support is welcome but to mitigate the loss of a martyrs family is impossible. A person in that fraction of second when a bomb explodes next to him lives no more. That very second he is on a different journey leaving behind shaken comrades, ladies beating chests and wailing children.

In the line of duty there are already enough hazards. Inclement weather, hostile terrorists, enemy fire, illness, accidents, besides politicians getting FIRs lodged against own armed forces. This adds on to the misery and lowers the morale of a soldier. Every man in uniform lives with these risks. In that bat of an eyelid he is gone. Risk increases many fold if they get engaged with the enemy. With every step closer to the enemy it is a fifty percent chance of survival. To make his sacrifice count, what all does this man do is unimaginable by many of us.

Last 70 years we have borne the brunt of the enemy. What we get in return is condolences, pity, sympathy, empathy and all those bombastic words. The huge bhashans, the endless debates, veterans boiling their blood and the next day it’s the same routine. Tri-colours are in constant demand and so are the wooden boxes to carry the mortal remains. Firing squads, wreaths and guard of honour has become a SOP of every Military station. All these things are done internally by the armed forces and on the quiet. Who else will care?

Are we doing enough to stop this constant flow of bodies home? Why can’t a living being come back to live happily ever after?  Talks don’t work out; retaliation doesn’t work, then what next. People say war is not a solution; then what are the means to sort out Pakistan. Is it diplomacy? Is it international pressure? Your guess is as good as mine. Passing resolutions in parliament and making a hue and cry on TV doesn’t work. It has to be action on all fronts. Question is when, how and by whom?

What they portray in movies is very different from reality. In movies the emotions are faked, the josh is faked, blood is fake, ammunition is fake, the smoke is fake, the explosions are controlled, blood sweat and grime on the actors face is the artistry of the makeup artists. Even the panting is faked, the firing is faked. The hospital, doctors, and nurses all are faked. Tears are faked. The storms and winds are faked. The pain of a wounded soldier is faked too. The reel life is nowhere close to the real life.

In actual war nothing can be faked. We keep hearing of fake promises on the political front every now and then as also of political battles. Terms like maidan-e-jung, chunaavi akhara,  ran bhoomi  are common parleys during elections, well sirs, verbal volleys and an MMG burst are totally different. You may shoot from your mouth and influence a few people but when it comes to the real bullets it takes a life and limb with it. It maims, it injures the heart and soul of not only one individual but his whole family and his armed forces fraternity very deeply.

Words like hum un par naaz karte hain, naaz marne ke baad quon karte ho bhai. They are very bahadur, we are where is the doubt. Hum Pakistan ko sabak sikha denge, which text book lesson are we talking of. Hum nakon chane chabwa denge, hope you know your biology right. Aar paar ki larai hogi. Kis ke aar aur kis ke paar, I ask? How many politicians have lost their lives taking a bullet on their chest? What has been done to stop this bloodshed by those who run this country? Enough of cannon fodder we have been. No more death is acceptable.

I will accept that we don’t need an unnecessary war. I will accept what the political decision is but I will not accept politics over the dead bodies of the martyrs’. I am ready to face enemy bullets happily for my nation provided my nation’s representatives promise me to finish this issue from its roots. If diplomacy is the solution, so be it. If the Armed forces can find the best solution for you, give your orders but kindly stop showering condolences as they appear artificial. Are the corridors of power listening? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

BUDGET CAME AND BUDGET WENT

It was nice to hear about the increase of pay of the topmost people who are involved in governing India in this budget. I feel it is less. On deeper thought, this way it is the easiest for the parliamentarians to justify their salary hike. Actually, they don’t have to get it passed through the budget directly. All of them sit and decide, move a bill and the motion is passed by a voice vote as the “yay’s” always have it. FM is capable enough to cater for that amount without a bat of an eyelid.

Be that as it may, I would like to thank the government for whatever we got for the OROP and the serving people through the 7th pay commission. Yes, there are issues to be sorted out, let us give it time and I shall leave it at that. With this the armed forces have definitely been looked after. So “Jai Jawan” stands good. You may or may not agree.

This year’s budget also shows a quantum jump for the rural and the agricultural sector. “Jai Kissan” must be in mind while doing allocation.  People will always argue it is far less. Well, we are still a monsoon based agricultural economy. Come drought farmers are in for trouble, come floods the crop is washed out, come good monsoons, we have a bumper crop thus prices fall. Our “ann daata” needs to be resurrected.  If this budget can uplift them, nothing could be better.

Frankly, budget was “Greek” to me. My “Choti si asha” was to see my income slab shift a little higher but FM saab left it untouched. People in the tax bracket should not ask for more he means. For every hundred rupees we earn, you take back 30 rupees. My company pays me salary and government takes tax before I even see my pay. Yaar ye kya baat hui. For my services to the nation I earned a pension. You cut tax from my pension too. If I save and make an FD you don’t spare it either. I invest in stocks; you take the devil’s cut from it also. Catch 22 for me.

I pay GST on a sliding scale which goes up to 28 percent. So out of my 70 rupees left with me after 30 percent is cut, you snatch 28 more, so effectively I am left with 42 rupees. Overall what message does it convey that more you earn more tax you pay, right. Who will set out this definition of “more”? I don’t know.

I think let us forget about saving and shaving both. Enjoy what you get; blow it off today, tomorrow one doesn’t know what all will be taxed. I like this term “Cess” which pops up every now and then. If they find that the tax collection is lesser than expected, they levy a cess on it. Wah bhai wah, tax bhi lo aur cess bhi. Paisa bachao to tax, kharcha karo to tax, karo to kya karo.

On the eve of the budget I and my neighbours got together in our lawn to watch the lunar eclipse and there was an eerie kind of discussion on the budget. The gist of it was to hell with the budget let’s admire the moonshine. I was lucky, I was in office yesterday so missed out on the FMs bhashan. I was also lucky to have gone to attend the Raising day of the Indian Coast Guards in the evening and missed out on the discussions on the subject. Swear I am feeling relieved. As I don’t know what FM said and now I am not interested in what he meant.

I can understand FM saab, it is a tough job. You can’t keep everyone happy. To visualise it across the length and breadth of the country considering India’s diversity, must be a herculean task. I am also convinced that to dole out a financial system which will help this country grow needs a visionary with a third eye and a million brains. I also am convinced that one has to take risks and experiment. What might work, what may not, will only be seen in times to come? I fully understand that FM saab you also need votes in the next elections.

My wait for the next budget has already started. Let me assure you sir, just raise the tax slabs by five lakhs which is less than five thousand a month, more than 75 % of the salaried class will vote for you and dare I say you shift the slab by another five you shall have all of us in your kitty. Will the common man be “bambooed” too much this year? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

DREAMING OF BUDGET 2019

 

DREAMING OF BUDGET 2019

As budget is approaching I am getting a little excited. At least this year I hope to add a few bucks to my savings without the government poking its nose and sniffing out every rupee I save. Not that a single pai is hidden from them. Everything is in their knowledge and everything is taxed, my pay, my pension, my FDs, even my arrears too have been “axed” at source. I actually get a little sceptic when I do not see achhe din (AD) on the horizon even after being taxed so heavily.

Definition of AD will vary from person to person. A farmer will give you a very different story; a soldier will tell you his version. For an industrialist it is the EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation) or whatever that means, for me is what have I saved at the end of the month after paying all undy-fundy taxes and EMIs.

I, the common man needed a roof on my head that meant I take a home loan that meant I live from EMI to EMI. The bank is charging me exorbitant interest. After having paid my loan for ten years now I still find I have yet not paid the full interest back. By when will I pay the principal amount, intrigues me?

Just in case I kicked the bucket the banks insisted that you insure every EMI. I did that at a premium. Then one fine day the bank approached me that the interest rates have reduced will you be interested in changing your plan. My face lit up and I fell for it and I paid a premium again. When I checked the bank’s website recently it still doesn’t say that the tenure of your loan has been reduced. I spoke to my inner self and decided to just stay happy. At least I have a roof on my head.

The story doesn’t end here as I stay far away from my home. I pay society & maintenance charges every month. If I miss out they charge me interest. Besides they have installed an electricity meter recently, though I have yet not fitted a single light bulb but have to pay the electricity bill with a penalty. I think I will have to live with it.

The situation today is that during the good old days gol-guppa’s were ten to a rupee which is exactly the opposite today. I wish the value of my money too would have sky rocketed the same way. The only saving grace is that our thelawala doesn’t charge GST but go to a restaurant you have no choice but to pay for the sake of your country.

This is a crucial year for the government so I also expect it to be a popular budget. After all it is a question of our votes for elections 2019. I can be rest assured there would be some more taxes. I am hopeful though I should get some relief on the direct taxes that I pay. Some slabs will be tampered with, some good English will be spoken in the parliament, some boo-booing will happen and the budget will be passed. Rest of the sessions will be drowned in the usual hungama that happens. Common mans “uncommon representative” would do a “peaceful but boisterous” protest. Parliamentary proceedings will be disrupted. Sessions will be adjourned in the garb of democratic rights by loud sloganeering and walking out to have their hot cuppa tea, can’t expect much from them.

Cigarette smokers will stock up fags as they know particular brands will be in short supply. The pan wala will ensure more than adequate stocks are available including home delivery but at a premium. Same will be the case with wine shops. Everybody knows that these are two items will be taxed to the hilt. Will it reduce the number of smokers and drinkers is a different matter altogether?

Somehow, the common man is the biggest stake holder in the unorganised sector as per the PM. From a labourer to a fisherman, to a helper in a garment shop, to an outsourced housekeeper everyone has big hopes from the government. The industrialist, the entrepreneur, the auto wala to a bus river to a brick klin worker all want to live well, all want to educate their children, all want safe drinking water and good health services above all they all want to save a little for the marriage of their children, if not the rainy day.

If DAVOS will help I have no issues, if BHRAMOS will help I have no issues either but if every Indian has to vote for a “false promise” of achhe din then I have an issue. If communal politics will be the foundation of our democracy then I have an issue as well? Will someone clarify? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

 JAI HIND JAI BHARAT

A movie has become such an issue that most of India has decided to see it moment it is screened. The rest of them are waiting to get a free show. The judges have seen it, the jury has seen it, the judgement has been given but egos cannot see it. Some people have decided to carry batons to the hall. Just in case they find things going out of hand they would at least sort out people selling popcorn at exorbitant rates. A movie today can hold a country to ransom is a new high of sorts. With all due apologies to the people of the toughest martial clan and all the sons of Raja’s as they are the “poots”. I just want to ask where their Raj is and where is their Rajwada (Kigdom). Many of them are unemployed and most of them are living in their Jhooti shaan (false pride).

Be that as it may, I have one suggestion that as Pakistan continues with relentless firing every day. Kindly take your naked swords to charge at the real enemy. By intimidating a few artists, producers, lawyers and maker of movies if you all are achieving that sense of pride & honour which was achieved after conquering the enemy’s garrison then I will not utter a word. However, if this Dhakosla (pretence) is going to cause destruction to national assets and loss of life, it would be the most shameful thing a warrior clan can do.

Times have changed; those forts of yore do not exist anymore or are in ruins. People have even looted their stones. Most of the haveli’s have been converted into hotels and resorts why not object to your traditions of the bygone years for this. The place where decisions were taken to fight the enemy is being used as dancing arenas. Place where horses and elephants were stabled are now nowhere to be seen. The place where troops used to rest are now places of entertainment, why not object to all that. The chivalry has gone.

When you can’t afford to continue that royal life style then how can these few meters of celluloid hurt your sentiments? I think the issue is not with Rajasthan alone. That’s how we have splintered ourselves in India. Instead of binding and bonding we are looking for opportune moments to disintegrate besides spreading hatred and spewing venom.

Well let me then get to my clan, the clan of the Olive Greens, where someone is committing Jauhar for the Izzat of India on a daily basis. The actual enemy are the insurgents, militants, terrorists, jehadis & pakis or are they the corrupt which we don’t address but find a movie maker our biggest enemy.

Let me take an objection then to all movie walas that stop making movies about fauj and faujis. We are not rum drinking, merry making, and partying type of characters. We don’t jump off aircrafts and land in our girlfriends arms. We are not gun trotting people who shoot anyone and everyone. We are not Rambos who kill by the dozens and don’t keep a count. We are through professionals. It’s a shame to show faujis selling the country by movie makers then. My engineer friends would love to have girls hanging upside down from bridges while they diffused IEDs. I can assure you if that happened, no challiya, or challiya ki girl friend would walk this earth again.

I then also want to say that why is it that only “Micheal” daru pee kay danga karta hai. What about people of all other communities. Let me not get into it as we are just two percent of 125 crore deshwasis. Who all like to speak English, especially after 8 pm, who all are into “chitta” (drugs), Kala (Black money), Dab-Khadabba (spotted, tainted with corruption and criminal cases)? If all of us start taking objections to such portrayals then this country will only move towards self destruction. If we don’t educate ourselves & continue to stick to the old virtues, we will never progress. Choice is with us to go back to the dark ages.

Let us stop doing this nonsense. I suggest in case one is so touchy then better become a “Kamikaze” pilot and go across and sort out the enemy. If that is not workable then get after the corrupt. Two things will happen, one, India will have peace, and second, India will progress. Bharat and Hind will be saved from the enemy without and evil within. When we are going to unite as one? When we say one for all and all for one, I see one for one and all for none. Can we make our Bharat Mahan this way? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

FAUJI DRIVERS

I just happened to see our RM take a Sukoi ride. I am sure after a hectic 24 hours on our Air Craft carrier Vikramaditya, to fly in an aircraft would have left her flabbergasted. My salutes to you Mam, it needs a lion’s jiggra (heart). What you went through in a sortie or a day at sea, these men in white and blue do it on a daily basis. You must have spent some time with the folks in Olive Green too and I am sure you would have cherished every moment. You can be rest assured that the country is in safe hands. You can bet your life on them. They won’t let India down is now stamped, signed, dated and sealed with your visit.

Be that as it may, moment I saw the SU-30 rolling out with the RM, the first thing which came to my mind is that the Air Force would have put her in the cockpit with the best pilot. In all probability it would have been the Commanding officer. My mind wandered as I was just thinking had she sat in an army vehicle then everyone would have gone looking for the best driver. Reason for detailing the best driver is that he avoids all dhachkas (bumps) while the memsaab is sitting in the gaari (vehicle). In other words the lady has to have the smoothest ride. Saab ke saath, parvah nahin.(If makes no difference when sir sits) Ask the pilot mam, what he must be thinking while you were on board. He would have ensured not a “G” extra. They are indeed the best of best.

This reminded me of my good old days when we were in a place called Lalgarh Jattan. It was so God forsaken that the nearest STD booth was in Ganganagar about 20 kms away. We had just been allotted a house and were busy setting it up. Wife complained of severe back ache one day, probably she might have got a catch, shifting the black steel trunks around. Simple fauji drill I did, took her to the MI (Medical Inspection) room, got medicines and off we went. However, the pain did not subside. The third day she just could not get up from the bed. I panicked and decided to take her to MH (Military Hospital) Ganganagar. Whole night she cried in pain and I could just do nothing about it except rubbing Iodex.

As luck would have it, due to mobilisation practice I was not able to accompany her. My company driver Rajjan Lal was detailed and Major Kandari volunteered to accompany her. I spoke to Rajjan and told him that make sure the drive is smooth. My wife was furious because I wasn’t going along. She said “your office is more important than me” etc. Rajjan gave me the most assured look, half pitying me and said memsaab aap fiqr mat karo (madam you don’t worry). I bade her good bye at about 9 am and at 11.30 Rajjan was back. I asked him what happened as I could see him totally white faced and with dried up lips. I knew something was not right and just hoped my wife was OK.

With a stammering voice Rajjan sheepishly said memsaab theek ho gaya (Madam is alright) and he has dropped her home. I exclaimed, what! How can this miracle happen? Sheepishly he said sir, I was driving very slowly till Khayali Wala (a village), suddenly the road became good and I sped. It slipped out of my mind that madam is sitting behind and I missed a speed breaker. The jonga jumped over it, she said Bhaiya main theek ho gayi, ghar chalo. (Brother I have become OK take me home)

I picked up my bike and rushed home and found she was happily in the kitchen. I asked what happened. She said the sprain (CHOOK) in my back was straightened out by the driver as they jumped over a speed breaker. She landed with a thud and heard a crackling sound and suddenly all pain subsided. I thanked my stars and thanked “Dr” Rajjan. Rajjan thereafter never missed a speed breaker till retirement.

Well, Madam, I don’t know how many of your aches and pains the Army, Navy and Air Force would have removed. However, you definitely need to look into what pains them the most and that is their IZZAT. For every Indian’s tomorrow they are giving their today. Do take a closer look at issues of all those serving and of all those who gave their yesterday too. You will then always be given the smoothest ride. Do you get my point madam? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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