Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Category: CHAI

DANCING IN THE RAIN

DANCING IN THE RAIN

Petrichor is that earthly smell which emanates when parched earth receives the first drops of rain. I just love “Mitti ki sondhi khushboo”. I remember a grass root called “Khas” which was used in the desert coolers. It used to emit a very unique earthy smell too. I also remember smell of tea in a Kulhar or Sakora at a railway station. The taste of the tea used to be transformed by this small earthen pot.

Rains have brought much relief from the heat and humidity. Here when it rains, it rains like hell. Not like Cats and Dogs but like Elephants and Rhinos. The brown and burnt terrain has suddenly turned lush green. I have yet to see so many shades of green. With the sky overcast, these shades vary & add beauty to the landscape. It is 10 am now and it as dark as 7.30 pm. “Kaali ghata cha gayi hai”.

The chicks of nesting birds have flown. Ponds are overflowing; Ducks and Cormorants are flocking in them. Frogs and toads have gotten busy fluffing their wind bags and croaking sweet melodies. I have yet to see one worth a kiss though. Earthworms have left their holes and are easy pickings for Mynah’s. They devour them like noodles. Ants have now got wings & are flying in swarms. Street lights are clogged and the frogs are having a “barakhana”.

Waterfalls have come alive and are in gusto, sprinkling and spraying water on passersby. All sorts of contraptions besides the conventional umbrella and raincoats are out. White cement bags slit from one side are a common site. Ladies wearing polythene bags instead of shower caps appear funny. Motorcycles with handle covers and seat covers, kids with school bags under wraps are a common scene in this part of the country. A kind of “wetty” feeling is in the air.

You open a packet of namkeen it will go soggy in a minute. The crunchiness just doesn’t stay. Biscuits many drop off from your hand before dipping them in tea, just exaggerating. The only saving grace is the garma garam pakoras which my wife makes for me after office.

The man who cannot just do his job is our poor dhobi. How hard he may try and how hot he may iron the dresses, they are going to stay soggy. The bed feels soggy, the sofa feels soggy & the towel too feels soggy. I just can’t stand that typical stink which creeps in from somewhere in wet towels and baniyans. Clothes now take three to four days to dry. Imagine if you have to wear soggy underwear.

Soon algae will start greening everything. Mushrooms have already started sprouting all over, not the edible ones but the decorative woody kind. Flowers pots are on a musical chairs spree as one has to keep shifting them. In our place plants actually drown. For plant lovers like me, our green house has been converted into a makeshift shelter, with all of them huddled together to face the wrath of rain. Small embankments to divert water, besides water blocks to stop flooding are being made. Digging and freshening of drains is in progress. Tough times I must say.

I somehow love rains. The pitter-patter is such a soothing sound punctuated by the roar of thunder and a crack of lightening. It shakes your soul out in a way. As I drove my bike with my daughter through villages and farms yesterday, it was very soothing to see light green grassy patches. On closer look we found them to be paddy seedlings. Oxen standing in the fields with their ploughs hooked up. They too have their raincoats made out of fertilizer bags. Their horns brightly painted and tinker bells making music as we saw them obediently reacting to every whistle, shoo, shout and sound of the farmer. I wish the farmers luck. May they have a bumper crop and may million hungry mouths be fed.

My only issue is why all this water is flowing down to sea without being harvested. Villagers fight for this precious resource in lean months. People blockade our company gates if water is rationed. Villages which had two hundred people twenty years back now have two thousand. I do not see any government water pipeline or even an effort to mitigate their water woes. Funds come and go down the drain it seems.

Be that as it may. Next three months are going to be wet, wetter and wettest. Getting drenched is a ritual as work will never stop. Schools here do not have a rainy day holiday. I like one thing about the honesty of local people that no one runs away with your umbrella or your slippers.

Rain is a blessing indeed and my garam piyali of chai has arrived. Let me stand in the corridor and appreciate the rhythm of falling rain. Is anyone coming to dance with me? 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

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

CHAI PAKORA TALES

I came across a byte how the “pakorawala’s” shot into fame when they were mentioned in certain despatches in the Rajya Sabha. The famous “chaiwala” has already left a mark and now is a chance for this man to come to lime light. I saw many news anchors; mind you head of news channels going around their studios tasting various types of pakoras made by these hard working simpletons. I am convinced that to become successful in this country one has to either become a chaiwala or a pakorawala. This reminded me of days many moons back when “khalis doodh ki cha” and “garma garam pakoras” were in vogue.

I honed my skills of making chai as a little boy. The cuppa tea I used to brew used to be one litre of pure “bhains” milk, two big table spoons of tea leaves, two green elaichi’s nice and crushed in a “kharal”, four or five big spoons full of sugar and boil all these together. Tea used to be a minimum “dus ubala” which meant the concoction used to rise and fall at full heat in the “degchi” ten times. The dancing tea leaves would come up to the brim and then I used to lift the vessel off the “pump wala stove” to let it settle down and repeat. Then put one tea spoon of tea leaves in the “channi” and pour the liquid into my mug enamel. The brownish colour used change to coffee colour and that’s what I called a good cuppa steaming hot tea.

Well, if chai comes can pakoras be far behind. My favourite used to be bread pakoras. The “besan” coated ones I used to relish “aloo bhar ke”. All these were deep fried and in fact in the good old days it used to be in Dalda or Rath ghee. I recall dalda used to be a yellow colour tin with a few palm trees and Rath used to be a sky blue one with a chariot printed on it. Later they started calling it vanaspati, I couldn’t make out the difference. Much later refined oil came in. Today, if you tell the doctor that I had ghee, he will start looking at his watch as if my time to walk this earth is over.

They say that my dad’s era used to be of desi ghee, my era was of dalda and the present generation are the refined oil kinds. Meaning that all the desi ghee kinds were strong and hard working, the dalda kinds worked hard but the refined oil ones just don’t (pun intended). Never heard my dad or grand dad fall ill or had cold or cough. Their sweet dish used to be a hot cup of sweetened milk with a big spoon of desi ghee and a dash of haldi. Halwa of any kind meant ghee floating on top. “Tarka” meant shudh home made desi ghee ka tarka. Roti always had ghee “chipor” ke.

I remember in my ancestral home town doodh & jalebi made in pure ghee used to be a staple breakfast. There used to be long queues to get that crispy, juicy, entangled piece of sweet. The way the halwai used to “fainto” the milk and jalebi’s together was a treat to watch. The milk used to drop more than a meter and a half & not a drop used to spill. The attraction to eat was not only to do with the taste but the presentation of the milky wonder.

In Punjab it used to “chola bhaturas”. Deep fried ones in ghee. The small flour ball was pressed and lifted in the palm. Two or three claps of the hands used to turn it into a bhatura. Then with an artistic throw in the piping hot Jacuzzi of ghee with the anti clock wise rotation it used to be chucked in. Swirling and turning as it went down. Before the bhatura hit the bottom of the “kadhai” it used to start rising. A huge sieve used to press upon it. Out of the bubbling ghee used to pop a crispy bhatura which was flipped in style while the next one was thrown in. All of us used to wait for our turn, mouth salivating all this while.

One could never master was the chutney these “rehriwala’s” used to make. Mom could never replicate that taste. Their green and red chutney was different from our home made ones. Everything was served on a “pattal” and licked clean by us. At the end of it asking for additional free chutney was our birth right. The “committee ka nalka” was the only source of water for the burns in the mouth. If we were lucky, it used to be a bottle of “milk badam” or “bante wala soda” from the next thela.

Life has moved on, the place where I am is “vada pao” and “kanda bhajia” territory. Let me assure you the taste is out of the world. Order a plate and you will repeat the order before finishing it. I dare say should these pakorawals go on strike; there will be hell to pay. Will they be able to live a life of dignity as was mentioned in the august house? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

THE-LIT THE PRIVILEGED OR THE TORMENTED

I went into the synonyms of the word dalit (oppressed) and found so many different meanings like, afflicted, harassed, beaten down, maltreated, persecuted, subjugated, suppressed, tormented, tortured, trampled, abused, crushed, troubled, tyrannised etc. Basically they were “untouchable” people of an era. Wikipedia has put them lower than the shudras. Now dalits have embraced various religions like Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism etc. My goodness the burden of the words is too heavy. Do we have such atrocities being carried out on our people still?

Why after 70 years a dalit is still a dalit. One dalit is the President’s of India, one gave us the constitution, some became Chief Ministers, and some of them are MPs and members of the legislative assemblies. Quite a few of them are part of the Indian Bureaucracy. We have doctors, lawyers, engineers, police forces yet that word is attached to them. Many of them adorn uniform as part of the Armed Forces; thank God we don’t have any such differentiation.

I have served in various regions of India and I did not find any untouchable people. Yes, I met poor people and often shared a meal and shook hands with them. I did see illiterate people but with deep knowledge of the weather, terrain and life in general. I saw areas where tap water and electricity were unheard of. I served in areas where means to commute was only walking. I did see areas where there was no health care at all. Yes people were sturdy and healthy due to their life style. If you ask them how many camels or yaks do they have they used to quote in hundreds?  Multiply it with a cost of the animals; they will be richer than many crorepatis by miles. They were super rich from their hearts.

Hasn’t India marched into the 21st century?  I can understand that caste divides are there, mostly so in the minds of my and a generation prior to mine. This too shall have no meaning soon. I wish we could follow what we do in the armed forces that whatever trade you belong to you are soldiers first. Religion, caste creed doesn’t matter. The focus is on the enemy and the aim is to defeat him at any cost. Who cooks, who cleans, who serves, who fires and who drives does not matter. Everyone is a combatant, everyone has to fight. It is a team that matters. Enemy bullet is not selective; it pierces everyone in its path. The blood which spills is of the same colour irrespective of its group. The same blood is given to save life without asking which caste or creed the donor belonged to. It is precious so don’t let it spill on the roads unnecessarily.

Our society is all mixed up with divisions which are self created. If the people of the lower rung of the society do not want to raise their standards then who is responsible for it? I know everyone wants to be rich and fast. Everyone wants a job, which is highly paid with only perks & maximum privileges. Everyone wants VIP treatment by getting reservations for self and all the next generations. No one wants to walk the talk. Very few do it and reach great heights but still want to be attached to that word for more gains. Sad but true.

The age relaxations, the percentage reductions for qualifications, the lowering of physical standards for a certain category of people will lead this country into dark ages. The deserving will be left out and the undeserving will rule the roost. The PM too sold tea but is the head of our state, we proudly acknowledge. Tea vending was a phase, how he worked hard to reach this position is what matters. The President of India today, is also from an untouchable caste I am told. Well, his credentials and hard work made him a Governor and now the President. Isn’t it a matter of pride and honour?

If the old definition still applies to PM & the President then they should not even shake hands as they are untouchables or dalits. What I say is, let us remove this word dalit completely. Every human being is a creation of God, some have lesser opportunities, agreed, give them special attention, give them equal education and let them prove themselves. May be after a few generations their progenies would be better than the best. Let us be Indians and not divided into ST, SC, Dalit, shoshit, vanchit, peerit, etc. We need to change the way we think. We have to think we are Indians first. We need to unhook ourselves from the word Dalit and pave our own way.

Let us move away from untouchability to touching lives that make a difference. Too much of reservations have actually ruined the fabric of this country. When will this stigma of gradation of humans in India be eradicated? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

CHAI LASSI AND KHICHIRI WHEN MIXED MAKES GST

I am totally enlightened after a marathon session of changes in the GST announced by the FM yesterday on TV. So far so that even if I don’t like to pay even a pai as tax I have been motivated to pay advance GST till the time this government’s tenure is over. You may ask me why? Well, let me pay it and be done with it. Tomorrow if the council decides to increase the rates I will just have to pay only the difference, in any case if tax rates are lowered I am on the safe side. Thora ziada de bhi diya to koi vanda nahi.

I used to love saying abracadabra, as what will come out of jaitley ki kaitley is never known. The kaitley is symbolic for dishing out chai, isn’t it. Naturally when his boss is an expert on this beverage his FM better dole out the best but I found him making lassi earlier and now it is khichri of kinds.

Actually my mind got all mixed up with this fresh GST announcement. I also found GST being diluted in a way or was it catering for some state elections. The spiced up concoction which was laid for the country turned out to be unpalatable for many. Thus as the lady of the house does on the quiet, once she gets the taste of it she tells the bai thora pani daal do. Two things happen then. The same now can be eaten with ease by more people & many can be satisfied with the quantities given out. The choice is spicy khichri, less spicy khichri or watery khichri. You better eat what is served. Right!

In the same breadth, I have an apprehension that if the govt finds that the tax collection is reducing now, as now government will be collecting Rs 20,000 crores less, so how will this loss be made up. Possibly some khichiri ingredients might be tempered with. Say if you can afford a room of more than Rs 7000 a night clearly indicates one is in the top bracket of pay packets, therefore, the government may tell you to pay additional before you check in. Government will make up its numbers by hook or by crook. I have decided I will find a relative or a friend in case I have to go somewhere, Jaitley ji you can keep spicing up your khichiri, I will find a jugad to circumvent it.

I have also decided not to use after shave. Sir, I shall go back to the good old days to use “Fitkari” after shaving. Perfumes I cannot afford. I shall try not to smell bad so you better provide me AC trains to commute. Reduced taxes on Chewing gum may only reduce bad odour from my mouth.

You will be glad to know that I don’t pay any “sin” tax. I kicked the habit of smoking and drinking long ago. The beauty is that you cannot charge me tax for calling you names. Till date I tried my best, worked hard and sincerely paid my taxes. I could never reach the figure of One crore including assets and property in my name. Business acumen I do not have but the only business I love to do is to love my country. A few lakhs which I have saved for enjoying in future I might as well use up fast or else tomorrow you might levy another tax on me.

I find that what you do is smart jiggrey-poggrey of words. The council you have created is responsible for all that you announce and not the government per se. The centre has 1/3rd votes, rest 2/3rd are with the states. Every state has one vote irrespective of its size. Decisions are made by 3/4th majority. 18 states you already have in your kitty. Life is balle balle for the government. BJP states cannot say no, centre government votes are secure then if you mix water in the khichiri or ghee makes no difference. Even if the Khichri becomes all meshed up due to overcooking that no ingredient is recognisable makes no difference either as there is no way one can avoid it.

My only humble submission to you is sir; I don’t mind you experimenting with the country’s money. However, the common man needs respite from exorbitant prices of everything. He wants to taste this khichri but the poor fellow is not capable to reach the dining table. The government can if it wants to add the best of tarka but why is the government taking back so much tax from us. Besides why are the basic ingredients like dal, chawal, namak, haldi getting out of hand of a common man? I wonder!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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