Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Category: CAPTAIN

INDIAN MILITARY ACADEMY TALES

[ninja_form id=1]IMA was supposed to be a cake walk for us “nangas” but it happened to be otherwise for me. I was very happy to see Baljeet Sandhu in my platoon, after all SAIKAPIAN school types. The term break after NDA had cast a spell on me as I went through a nasty cycle of typhoid; jaundice and malaria in one go. I could barely stand on my two feet. Thanks to Rajinder Bhagtana who took real care of me till Dehradun. He had accompanied me to NDA wing along with Hitesh Kohli also. Heesh do you remember Jalandhar railway station.  Hope my memory is correct.

On arrival at IMA they asked us to deposit our identity cards of NDA for new ones to be issued. Let me confess now folks I had lost my NDA I card in fourth term in Ajmer when I had gone to attend my cousins wedding. She was the sis of Sanjeev Vajpei (G/65) God bless his soul. Can you believe it I did the entire monthly I card checks including drill com without one?  Now don’t ask me how I did it, I just did it. As it is I was shifted from Charlie to India Sqn with 28 days restrictions which finished with 42 of them besides the EDs & Lal Makans. Had I reported this loss, I would have definitely been a Brigadier if not a General.

Loss of I-Card, 14 days Restrictions from the Bhagat battalion parade ground into the tea gardens became a routine for me. I think I finished with 42 here also. I lost count actually. This did not deter me from doing my monkey tricks.

I remember how the Keren Company diving team was selected. Maj Satinder Singh (PARA) landed in one of the PT parades. Typical of him, all those who have passed all PT tests to my left. Half the second termers moved there, all those who have passed all higher tests to my right, so half of the rest moved there. Then he said all those who have passed two first class tests come to me. Seven of us came forward including me. You are now the company diving team, ustad inko swmming pool main le jao. So I learnt to do the “pike” and “swallow”. Shammer that I was I chose spring board as maximum he could push me to 3 meters. Who wanted to dive from seven or ten?

I also had a cat. All winter she used to be in my cabin in my rajai and when it came to littering she used to go my next cabin an Iraqi called ALI. This man used to keep a brand new quilt in his cupboard for cabin cupboard. He realised it too late and the cat had done her job. Anyways she became our fond pet. CSM Johnny and I have a pic with him. Do you guys remember Najim abdul lateef, tofeek ali wali quli blah blah blah another Iraqi. He had twenty four names and his sir name was Mohammed. Bugger only asked for pondies.

We had an ACC course mate Dili P Gurung, (God Bless his soul too) we became chaddi-buddies. I had a heater and used to make halwa very often. Basic Punjabi instincts. We used to have a typical laundry cupboard. I had a false bottom in it to hide all my gadgets like the sauce pan, ghee and various masalas. One day I had gone to Dehradun on liberty, Daju as I used to fondly call him did not come with me but promised me that once I come back he will get fish from Prem Nagar from his old ACC connections. He used to fondly call me EL. I came back and had fantastic fish fry and as luck would have it Capt Rayan Peter Lobo landed up on a Sunday surprise check. Daju was on 14 days run and my heater was confiscated. I disowned it. I had more company running around the tea gardens with me. Daju touched his ears that this was the first and last time he ever cooked in his cabin.

I had a bhabhi in Dehradun staying on Nashville road. Doonites would know the road and so would Salim Asif. We had had khana once, remember Salim. So there was a wedding in the family so I and Daju were invited. We went through Thimmaya battalion short cut on our cycles. We had a blast. Enjoyed the reception, daju carried his guitar and played like hell with the live band there. It was close to midnight and we both were a little high, well fed and feeling confident that no one will catch us while entering Bhagat battalion. As we were passing the FRI gate we heard a voice STOP. Instinct was to scoot but now we were gentlemen so we stopped. In the dark we saw a lady sitting on a lambretta scooter and a “Surdy” roaming around. Bloody hell, it was GJ. He took my cycle, mam sat on the danda and off he went. I had no choice but to sit on Daju’s danda. GJ had newly joined so asked us which company, I said keren. Name I gave him. Next day morning a Sikh Regiment jawan came looking for me. A shinning bike was handed over to me and I was told to report to his office at 1.30pm along with Daju. We got 7 hackel orders for not maintaining our bikes. They were cancelled before we were marched out. That used to be the spirit.

Next outing both I and daju were at bhabhi’s place. It was late already and we could not have got back in time. We found both our bikes punctured. We dug into our pockets and we had no money for a vikram too. Bhaiya offered yaar take my scooter and we did. I brought it and parked it in Bhangi platoons first room which was used as a batty’s store room. Next Saturday we decided to scoot after lunch. It was winters so wearing monkey caps both of us started from Keren company tea point. By the time we turned from the swimming pool turn I got an inkling a scooter is following us. I told daju not to look behind and I did the typical, “Nap de killi”. It was difficult to manoeuvre along the canal due to the pot holes but nevertheless. Two scooters were on a race. We reached the FRI gate and I took that road which used to go to clement town. Soon we turned back to find Sarkar kicking his scooter. I think his petrol finished. We enjoyed the evening in doon and came back in a Vikram. Got down at Prem Nagar and sneaked in.

Once we had finished our camp in the Sharanpur jungles we were getting ready for camp fire. Daju and I decided to carry a bottle of beer each and we will sit somewhere half way for a boost as it will help us finish the march with ease. It was Daju’s idea. The beauty was we carried the bloody bottles of beer till the end and they got confiscated when our kit was checked at the end of the josh run. Patil was generous enough to issue us another couple of bottles with promise to pay next week after Daju’s pay day.

We were third termers and cross country practice was on. We used to run to Garhi Cantt and turn towards RIMC and then get back if I remember the route correctly. Daju had his Gorkhali friends in Garhi and we had decided to have tea with them. Daju’s girlfriend was standing there to receive us. A voice came from behind buggers if I don’t find you guys in the third enclosure you guys are in for trouble. Capt Sarkar was following us again. We saw the family waving but refused to recognise them. We just about finished in time and escaped his wrath.

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

A SHIP CALLED INDIA

I am not a sailor but when I peep out of the Porthole, all I see is beti jalao not bachao, bus jalao not chalao, dukan aur makan jalao not banao, if nothing else is left then burn tyres and effigies of all and sundry. Nothing seems to be hunky dory on this voyage on a ship called India.

At a drop of a hat we gather together to show akrosh. We gather in thousands without a thought, without an aim. Most of us are tamashbeen. Throw stones at a bus; break them and burn them. We are so illiterate & blind that we cannot even recognise a school bus. The poor driver, conductor and students have no defence but to let it happen.

Which way is India going? We can cause mayhem and destruction for a movie or a baba. Hold a city to ransom for reservations. Ignite communal violence for beef, throw petrol bombs on trains and blame it on hurting public sentiment. If I put it the other way around, are we not hurting the national sentiment? It is time for an SOS (…—…) call.

Issue is there are no more morals left. Today, the Zameer is dead, Insaniyat is finished, humaneness has vanished, tolerance has been subverted, patience has evaporated, humanity is in danger, compassion has been swept under the carpet and civility no more exists. Did the founders of India even dream of such things when they set sail on this voyage?

We can talk of projecting India as a super power. How can it be if we are so communally motivated? The negative energy thus being produced is actually not letting the wheel of progress turn. Everyone is exerting without being in sync and tune. If we have to find faults and pick holes in every system and oppose its implementation we can forget about progress. It appears that India is like a rudderless craft. It is carrying a lot of stuff but drifting with the current and the wind. The Captain is trying to steer it but the power train is not firing all cylinders. He often leaves the ship and goes abroad to accelerate its growth but comes back to find its crew has burnt quite a few of the ships compartments. Though the captain knows the ropes but appears to be caught between the devil and the deep sea.

On this Indian ship, the security is vigilant but the internal organisations are at loggerheads. The crew which belongs to various regions, ethnicities, speaks various languages and belongs to different religions is taking too much time to start functioning as a team. The diversity is difficult to fathom. The galley cannot cater for every ones choice. A thambi will have to get used to Chola bhaturas and a Punjabi to sambar vada. The engine room is the parliament and is so noisy that all issues get drowned in its noise and heat. The crew is just making steam without understanding the need of the ship, as they are oblivious of the weather, wind conditions and currents while they work deep inside their work stations. Hope time has not come to shout May Day.

The journey for us is long, moreover our own crew has become in-disciplined, the sea is rough with hazards popping up every now and then, course is being set and reset but the ship appears to be relatively static. The expectation is to move this 125 (crore) tonne ship at the speed 69 knots and even more. We find the engine room not responding, the oars are not being pulled in unison and attacks by pirates are stalling the progress. Why can’t we have all hands on deck?

Task is difficult and time is running out fast.  Let us not self destroy our ship by agitating and protesting. Let us not add to the misery by burning our own bunks. Let us for once think and act as one team India and climb the Jacob’s ladder to reach a different world. The Admiral and his fleet is as effective or efficient as each crew member. Individually all crews may be brilliant but when it comes to brand India the flotilla appears scattered, is a feeling I get. The star board side of each ship is not aware of what is happening on the port side and the stem doesn’t know what is happening in the stern. The saving grace is it is still afloat.

Let the Captain be the guiding light. All those who are trying to make a hole to sink the ship need to be taken care of. Let’s not create a situation to abandon ship. We need to be above board and leave no one marooned. When can we have such a BRAVO ZULU moment? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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