Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Category: CHILDHOOD

ANUSHASAN IN KASHMIR

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I am reminded of my school motto, “Vidya, Vinay, Anushasan” (Knowledge, Humility, Discipline). As one went up to senior classes one used to be interested in who will be our new class teacher. All teachers had their peculiar reputation, from being strict to being darlings. One thing was clear, if the class teacher was that no nonsense chap then a certain type of discipline and decorum used to be automatically maintained.

I think it is similar in Kashmir. With the changing of baton to the Governor’s rule, a wave of strictness and discipline is in the air. It is being felt that now no nonsense will be tolerated irrespective of how unruly certain Kashmiri people are. They also know that the teacher may use a muscular approach and the consequences are that someone will get thrashed badly to bring anushasan.

In school, we used to be have “cuts” in the morning assembly. When things used to go beyond the class teacher and house master, the school administration used to get involved. The procedure itself used to be terrifying. There used to be a desk on which our Harmonium used to be kept. After the charge sheet was read, the boy being punished used to come and place his hands on that desk. The PTI used to appear with a five foot long cane. The site of which used to give the rest of the school shivers. Whack! It used to land on the bums. I think maximum used to be four cuts.

Now two things used to happen, one this boy used to become a hero in some eyes, that see I defied orders and so what if I have been flogged in public view. What else can the school do? Second, it also used to become a deterrent for the others that look dear it hurts both physically and mentally to act against authority of the school. It is better to behave and stay within limits.

On the funny side this used to become a game in hostels where people used to tie pillows on their bums and practice. Some students used to wear twenty borrowed under wears sometimes. All this was fine & for fun but the fact remained the rod used to hurt badly on impact and left a mental scar too.

Now how do I know danda hurts is a different story?  I used to do something to give Dad a chance to get the cane going on me. He used to tell me to go and fetch a stick for myself. Now just visualise the scene that if you have to select a “Baint” for your own bums. I used to take my brother along and tell him to hit me just to see if I will be able to bear the pain. Imagine Kashmiri’s telling that what weapon is alright to be used against them.

Now if you argue that there has been too much of beating already done in Kashmir and people have become rebellious, I will agree. As students used to reach the stage where they continued to defy authority and had to be withdrawn from school. Same is the case of all those who have now taken up guns against the Indian State, they will have to be withdrawn and eliminated. Some like me will get beaten up for no reason and that has to be accepted and expected.

My mom used to be very loving and she used to plead to dad, “apna bachha hai”. So was the thought process of Mehbooba. She actually never knew how to tackle her people. She in her heart of hearts knew that her own children are on a wrong path but could not exert her authority to effectively bring peace and rather she put pressure, like the security forces to cease fire and also released stone pelters for cheap popularity. She thought she understands her “awaam” as a mother but she didn’t realise that “maa da ladla bigar gaya”.

Be that as it may. Discipline in personal life or public life is the key. You can revolt, be rebellious, be in disciplined, be violent, be dissatisfied, be discontented, be displeased and be disappointed with systems. You can think radically but finally you have to be part of a process. If you think you can fight the system, go ahead and do it. It may not work out. During this time your satisfaction level may further decline leaving you distracted and disillusioned. Loss is whose?

If today all love and affection is poured on Kashmir by meeting their maximum demands, will it resolve the issue? Will they stop all revolt after that? The answer is no. But, if they decide to come under one flag, one constitution, start believing in the security forces & change their stance to realise that Kashmir is India there would be no need of any danda or a strict teacher at all for anushasan to be enforced. Am I making sense? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

HAPPY BIKING

 

 

 

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This week end was out of the world as I became a proud owner of a new Royal Enfield bike. Bikes were my passion & my first bike stayed with me for 20 years plus. Secondly, the monsoon has started and the weather is lovely. The water falls have come alive with greenery everywhere. Old memories got rekindled. My eyes got moist, as to drive a bike after ages awakened the child in me.

The relation I shared with my first one called “Christine” was sublime. Though, I used to get posted out to field stations where she could not accompany me but on return she used to come to life moment I used to touch her. Half a kick and she used to purr. Even though her battery used to get drained out, her indicators used to be broken but never ever did it stop or trouble me.

In Staff College, Wellington, Christine took me and my wife to every nook and cranny of the Nilgiris. Not a single lake, not a single tea garden and not a single vineyard we missed. Ooty used to be like Kapurthala-Jalandhar. A bottle of chilled beer used to be always handy at home in Gorkha Hills. We used to pick up biryani from Conoor. The Pack-08 (Fauji jhola) was a standard fit on one side and used to be stuffed with a durrie, daru and roti. Piercing through the cloud and fog we used to explore the area like adventurers. Pykara Lake was our favourite haunt besides the famous chocolate shop at Charing Cross in Ooty.

This Friday, keys of the new Thunderbird were handed over to me. The first halt was at the Gas Station and the first command was Bhaiya tank full kar do. She was filled up to the brim. Now I tried locking the petrol tank back, the damn thing just won’t lock. My daughter got a little perturbed as the line behind was increasing and the irritation of the people was showing through the honking.

I pushed the bike to the side and tried to get my helmet off. That damn thing also got stuck as it had a new kind of locking system. Somehow, I was able to open the chin strap after some wrestling and at the last moment my dark glasses got stuck in the strap and flew off. Fauji instinct and reactions caught hold of it. We lumbered and toiled but the fuel tank just won’t close. I told my daughter baitho. She said papa how will we go, I said don’t worry as the duplicate key was also hanging with the main key. I left the fuel tank open and with the fuel cap hanging, shoved the duplicate key in the ignition and started the bike. The thunder and lightning was giving me the shivers lest rain water gets in but we drove on as the show room very was close by. Those people laughed at us as I didn’t know how to remove the key. He just press fitted the fuel tank cap and the damn key got ejected automatically. I looked at my daughter and she looked back at me. We smiled and moved on. I was a novice afterall.

Well we had to pick up the customary mithai. I bought Kaju Katli, Rasgoolas and my favourite “Palang Tor”. Daughter in the meanwhile picked up coupons for gol-gappas. I enjoyed them. I said to hell with it even if the pani of the poori gets stuck in my moustache, so be it.

We started on our home run from Alibaug to Salav. I suddenly realised that the speedometer is not working, now was the dilemma to turn back or continue. I decided the former. Showroom chap was shocked “not again”. They realised that they had disconnected the cable for RTO passing. Then the “Neutral” light won’t glow either. He told me sir, the gear lever needs to be kicked hard and I did and poof the green lamp of “N” showed up on the console. I told him “anymore surprises” tell me now or else I know how and where to kick you too jokingly.

We got back home, did a small photo op. Then for old times’ sake I took my actual girlfriend (my wife) on her first drive on the Thunderbird. It was fun because of the overcast sky. All old memories of our motorcycling adventures as newlyweds came rolling back. She held me tight and we drove off into the wilderness and relived those days. Nostalgia had set in and we shall revive the best days of our lives again.

On father’s day, papa and beti went for a long drive on the beast in heavy rain. I was the happiest as my daughter insisted on buying a helmet for herself. I as a habit wear it even for a 50 meter ride. Will our example be a motivation for the crowd over here to wear a helmet always? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

JUGADU TALES

 

 

 

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Necessity is the mother of invention and in India it is called “JUGAD”. We can modify anything, copy anything & duplicate anything. To make any contraption, the brain is Indian, the brawn is Indian, tools are Indian, finance is Indian, the consumer is Indian and it is best suited to our Indian needs. The “jugaadu” in me was waking up as I walked around my colony yesterday.

I was astonished to see countless mangoes strewn on the ground. With so many children around how come this fruit hasn’t been touched. Reasons could be like; this year was a bumper crop, so now we are fed up of eating mangoes, it has rained once and people avoid eating the fruit as it becomes infested with worms and insects. Another reason could be that fruits of a particular tree are either very sour or very feeka (Tasteless) but one thing that caught my nostrils was the smell of fermented fruit, that fruity-mangoey kind of liquory smell.

This reminded me of a conversation with a colleague who won panchayat elections a few days back. Country made Daru and non-veg is a make or break for any election here he claimed. More the daru flows the probability of winning is directly proportional to it. This has to be continuous for many days before voting. I said you must have spent a fortune. He nodded.

How do you procure and transport daru without getting caught? He said sir; for police there is a jugad. There is a distillation plant in my backyard and has been brewing nonstop since last few months. He refused to part with the recipe. I was very curious to know the mode of transportation. He took me to his car and opened the dickey and I found a huge inflated truck tube along with smaller tubes. He said all these are the left overs. I touched them and they went “thull-thull” like a water bed. I was thinking to myself that thank God we are going tubeless.

I went into flash back of the good old days in school. During the summer vacations we used to be vagabonds roaming around every nook and corner and it used to be fun collecting used test tubes from behind the chemistry lab. I saw a broken distillation set & picked it up. I brought that equipment home and buried it in the backyard fearing dad’s wrath.

I also got hold of old rum bottles and made out a concoction in which if I remember correctly I made a slurry of jaggery, lot of “peesi hui long & elaichi”, sugarcane juice and some home fruit juices. I filled about ten bottles and buried them close next to our guava tree in the backyard. All this was done in total secrecy, in the afternoons when mom and dad used to take their siesta. This was in class XI. As time flew by, we got busy with NDA preparations and later for XII boards, those graves were never dug. Mom kept wondering where her fridge bottles evaporated.

One fine day, dad decided to put manure in the fruit trees. He dug those circular pits around the trees when he accidentally dug out one bottle of that concoction I had prepared. It had turned jet black. I confessed to dad that all this “jiggery-poggery” I had done. I was preparing for getting a solid thrashing. He said let’s try distilling it. That reminded me that I had a distillation set buried too. How effective or defective it was time would tell. The rubber hoses had worn off and glass had broken at places but we did a jugad for all that.

Distillation started and the end product was an absolute clear tasteless liquid, flavoured with elaichi. I had tasted dad’s rum chori-chori but this damn thing had no taste at all. Patience was running out as it was taking hell of a long time and finally the first bottle was left with a gooey black residue. In the evening an uncle came to visit. Dad said let’s try Noel’s special brand. Uncle used to be an occasional drinker and used to make a weird face when the first sip of Hercules or Sea Pirate XXX used to go down his gullet. Dad also proudly told him ghar ki bani hai, two years old hai. Dad stuck to his usual rum. Uncle was all smiles and laughing. Just as he was about to leave he just could not get up from the sofa. All hell broke loose.

It hit him so badly that he had to leave his scooter at our place as we could not figure out how to open a Bajaj Chetak due that typical twist of the handle with which the lock opened. Dad was impressed that for the first time I did something practical in Chemistry. How hard my chemistry teachers tried, I could never balance an equation but I balanced the whole contraption of this distillation process which started from a make shift “chullah”, to pipes from the kitchen tap for cooling and finally collecting the “liquid gold” in another bottle. The “pahle tor di daru” as it was called in Punjab, was a success.

Should I do a jugad to make some mango liqueur for old time’s sake? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

CHANGING TIMES

 

 

 

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I was not aware of this thing called Netflix, except for a few advertisements I had seen on TV. My daughter came to me and said papa there are very good programmes and movies on it so please take a subscription. She said she will watch them on her mobile. I gave her the nod.

She told me Papa I would like to pay for my connection with my debt card, as recently I have activated it. Well, I was more than happy because of the confidence of this young girl and her enthusiasm to learn online payment. Honestly, I am so sceptic to use debit cards online and avoid transactions. I have a level of discomfort in doing so. Though, I had to download “Paytm” on my mobile. Modi ji had given us a scare of our lives to go cashless. Things have become easy these days and children are at ease with technological advancements. I must learn and keep abreast.

In the good old days In Kapurthala, Punjab, we were addicted to Pakistani and English serials on PTV as kids. Dhoop Kinare, Uncle Urfi, Buddha Ghar pe hai, CHIPS, Six Million Dollar Man, Here is Lucy, Mind Your Language, Nilaam Ghar, Walt Disney Cartoons, plus late Friday night English movies were never missed. Dad used to put an alarm and wake the whole house up for this Friday ritual. Thursday night, sofas used to be pushed to the sides and mattresses laid out on the floor. Chitrahaar and Hindi movies were banned. Anything in English would do, after all Dad was an English teacher.

My duty used to be to climb the roof with a half broken bamboo ladder to a banister from where one had to get hold of a pipe going up to the water tank on the roof. Antenna used to be balanced on a 25 feet high pole tied to the chimney of the kitchen. I had to twist it from direction of Jalandhar to Lahore. Younger brother used to stand outside the drawing room as a relay station, relaying my voice “aa gaya”, “Nahi aya” used to be relayed back and forth. It used to be such a relief to hear “aaaaaa gaya”. By the time I used to get down, half the serial would have gone. By then Dad would have turned the tuning knob 360 degrees many times and kicked the TV just to ensure it behaves.

I remember in Jaisalmer, one of our COs wanted CCTV installed. He wanted RAMAYAN serial beamed to every company dining hall including officer’s mess. Complete India used to come to a standstill for it. I distinctly remember “Satayam Electronics” located at Falna Rajasthan were the CCTV experts. Yours truly was made in charge. One 3 ton, a couple of chaps and an electronics expert along with my favourite Havildar Azad Singh (Now Honorary Captain Retd) were given the task to get this whole contraption and get it functional.

We proceeded with all documents and cheques and landed up in Falna. Our electronics expert learnt how to join the “dabbi”. Dabbi was the splitter from where the cable could be sent in three directions. Then there used to be a “dabba” which used to be the booster for the signal. So with dabba, dabbi and chattri (Dish) we got back to unit.

Three days of hectic driving in midst of summers from Jaisalmer to Falna and back was some drive. On arrival CO gave orders that tomorrow’s serial he shall see in unit lines being a Sunday. We were dead tired and stinky but “CO Saab ka hukum” cannot be turned down. I asked Azad, kya karen, he in his typical jatoo said “gaad denge saab” meaning we will do it. At 3 am my eyes started to close. I had not had dinner as the task at hand needed my presence for many small things. I dozed off sitting on a red velvet folding chair. I told Azad I am breaking off. He said “saab eeb to jhanda gaad ke hi chodenge”, “re chore, saab ne garam chai pila saath anda bujia banwa liya langar tai”. (Sir we will finish this job and in the same breadth told a chap to get some anda bhujia from the cook house with a hot cup of tea to keep me awake).

At first light we tested our signals from a VCR as DD used start at 7. Every one said, aa gaya, What a relief it was! Dot at five to nine CO arrived. Our eyes were red and bloodshot. He went to one of the cook houses and saw the signal. I don’t remember whether I got a pat on the back or a kick about one foot below but I missed my favourite serial and slept off that Sunday. How I wish we had Netflix in the good old days. What all new inventions are in store for us in future? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

FISHING TRIPS TO KANJALI

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River fish was my staple diet as a kid. That too caught fresh from Kanjali by none other than my Dad. My favourite was fried fish and sweet milk for dinner. All the aunties and uncles used to do hawww! They believed that my skin would turn white at places. It was considered to be more of a curse I suppose. In Punjabi they used to say that I would turn into “ http://caboclonharaue.com/?kreosan=estrategia-op%C3%A7%C3%B5es-binarias-5-minutos&13f=bf Dab-Kharabba” (spotted or patched in black and white). Well, I am still short, dark and handsome for some.

If Dad was in a happy mood, meant he is going fishing. On happy days he could pardon you for murder “ watch Sare khoon maaf”. His fishermen’s circle used to range from professional anglers, Trombettato involtarti ostlia zavorrassero Super alert pro option binary Circostanziavi livellino steccavate http://www.prestatraining.com/anys/brokoli/509 desi fishermen, village folk, see kabari’s (ragpickers) etc. Depending on the inputs from these people, he used to prepare his bait for the catch. “ Gandoya” (earthworms) & Atta (flour) were the two commonest baits. Special ones used to be Jhinga (prawns), live fish, guts of table birds, frogs etc. He also was a collector of recipes of fish baits. Recipe ingredients were mashed into clay balls and thrown weeks in advance for fish to congregate at his favourite spot. Roasting and toasting various condiments used to send aromas for miles. Imagine what must be happening to the fish.

He never used a fibre glass or synthetic rods. He preferred the pure bamboo ones which used to be lightly roasted and oiled with “Alsi ka tel” (Flax seed oil) for days together to get that “latchak” (flexibility) to perfection. These bamboo rods were fetched from as far as Barielly in UP. I still have his collection of hooks, lines and sinkers. The variety is unbelievable. From a six inch hook to a 3 mm almost invisible hook. The knots which he has tied on lines, I fail to unknot them till today.

Kanjali River was an off shoot of Beas River; actually it is a flood water drain to divert excess water which passes through Kapurthala and Kartarpur. It was fondly called a “Bein” (rivulet). Only licensed fishermen could catch fish in it. In 1962 Dad had an all India angling licence. We learnt this after he passed away when I saw his licence for the first time.

There was a check dam which Maharaja Jagjit Singh of Kapurthala had made on the bein. The Royal boats, sculls and canoes later became our school property and boat club. Initially, our school used to have river swimming, rowing and diving competitions there.

I was not that patient kind to wait for a fish to get hooked. I used to run from uncle to uncle who used to have one on the line and dad used to scold me that I will disturb the fish. Sitting quietly for hours together as a boy was not my cup of tea. Some “khurafat” had to be done. While we used to be standing on the narrow Kanjali bridge, Dad would be concentrating about fifteen meters below where the fish used to be. I used to be standing alongside counting trucks passing by, which used to almost kiss your bums. I used to drop one chappal into the water. Dad used to fret and fume and finally hook out my floating hawai chappal as I won’t stop crying.

If on Saturdays he used to get “keema” (mince) from the market it was a hint that tomorrow is picnic. Mom would make “keema-pooris”. After dinner, all fishing equipment used to be displayed in the drawing room. Small rods with little hooks to keep me, mom and brother amused catching fingerlings used to be made. We all used to hang on to dear lives on our orange coloured Lamby. Brother cramped in front, Mom and dad on the seats, I on the stepney. The rods used to be laid on the foot rest on the right with a blue plastic bucket tied to the seat handle dangling alongside. That is how the Ellis’ used to travel.

The bucket used to carry a frying pan, a bottle of sarson oil, a masaladani (Condiment box), and a durrie besides lunch. Our duty on reaching the spot used to be to run and get a few bricks to fabricate a make shift choolah, then to collect firewood for freshly caught fish which were fried as snacks with beer for dad. There was a “baraf ki taal” (ice shop) enroute from where we used to collect ice for chilling beer and water. Beer bottles also used to be strung and lowered in the river to chill if ice was not available. Mom, within minutes used to dish out the crispiest fish. Mooli, gajar and shalgam for salad used to be pulled out fresh from the fields. After lunch it used to be “Lassi” (butter milk) sessions courtesy Kundan Singh, the boat club in charge.

Dad was very superstitious and used cuss words often. A particular person he used hate, if he met him on his way to Kanjali he used to abandon his plan of fishing that day. Then while casting his line in case it used to get stuck in the tree above or the hook used to get stuck in some piece of his clothing or overshoot or undershoot the precise point he had in mind then Saali, ullu ki patthi could be heard from miles.

Often we used to take a canoe or a paddle boat for a spin. We used row to the other bank where the weaver birds used to nest. It used to be teeming with birds of all kinds. We used to hide in the over hangs, chase swimming snakes, drop messages in bottles etc. One never wanted to return home in the evening. We used to come back tanned and dead tired. The other treat we used to look forward to that day used to be “dhabe ki daal and tandoori rotis”, as mom was given a night off. At the end of the day there used to be a prayer to thank God for all the bounties he had provided.

I loved to go on bi-cycle with dad to Kanjali. How many times I did susu sitting on the cycle carrier behind him, I don’t remember. As soon as I told him that pressure is high he used to give a code word “sprinkle”. This meant that one could turn around and do the job making zig-zag patterns on the road. Why I used to accompany dad was actually to listen to so many stories and tales and the way he used to narrate them. He used to do the same at night too but the feeling to listen to them over and over again is inexplicable. Sometimes he used to carry his air gun and if partridges posed on the road they used to be assured a place in the bag. If he did not get fish, then doves cooing on the telephone wires were dinner. If that too didn’t work out then egg curry was assured. Good old days they were.

Can we turn back in time? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

OUR DEER PINKY

 

 

OUR DEER PINKY

It was a cold wintry evening when two people clad in white dhoti, kurta & Loi’s (shawls) came to our house in Sainik School, Kapurthala. On enquiring they said they were parents of Bishnoi of Sarojini House of which Dad was the house master. They were carrying something in their lap which was very fidgety. They requested for old news papers. A very unusual request it was. As they stood up to greet dad, this twitchy bundle jumped out of their lap. It was a small, dainty, wet nosed brown baby deer (Chinkara).

We all were startled for a moment. They said that having heard of your love for animals Ellis Saab, we present to you “PINKY” as a token of love and respect for teaching our children. I saw my Dads eyes getting moist for the first time. In those days it was not banned. On asking what you feed it, they gave the details of how to feed it with a bottle and otherwise it would graze the lawn grass. In case some wheat can be made available it could be palm fed.

Dad took the leash and took her to the adjacent room as they left. We had spread many news papers for the droppings. The story was that this fawn was orphaned as the mother was shot by some people. It was raised by the Bishnoi’s and now they had found a suitable home for it.

It was extremely difficult to control the inquisitiveness of our dogs. Their barks was making pinky panicky. Curiosity amongst Ellis’ was also at its pinnacle. This little darling had done a 7 hour journey by bus from Hanumangarh to Kapurthala. It must be tired and disillusioned. We tiptoed into her room, I with a bottle of milk, mom with a fistful of wheat followed by brother with some grass and father to oversee things.

In came Coco, our Tibetan Apso, then all hell broke loose. She panicked and darted through all of us and the main door and escaped into the darkness. Dad told us that we have to get pinky back at any cost. It was dark and the colony was a jungle in itself. Pinky had evaporated into thin air. The front yard, the back yard, the dhobi ghat, everywhere, we ran helter-skelter looking for her but no luck.

I and my brother went on a search mission. It was close to midnight in that freezing cold of Punjab & we were quite dejected. As we were combing the area we reached the chota swimming pool. Stories of various “bhoots-prets” and deadly cobras were running parallel in our minds when my brother& I heard jingle of bells tied in her neck. In pitch darkness with fog also creeping in, we saw two eyes glistened & staring at us. The first reaction was to bolt as it could be a bhoot. We spotted her & breathed a sigh of relief. Dad was anxious, mom was crying and we were white faced, cold, damp with running noses. I put a blanket on her as she dozed off. What a first night it was!

There used to be a competition between me and my brother who will feed her. Filling milk in a beer bottle and attaching feeding nipples was fun. Soon, Pinky started considering me as her mother. She used to crave for milk thrice a day. Dot at the precise hour she used to give her grunts. I used to call her back in the same tone.

Our dogs got used to her and pinky to the house. Cats started to cuddle with her. She was so friendly that we freed her. Within minutes she jumped the wall and was hopping and skipping merrily. All of us were afraid that the strays will kill her, well; they were no match to her speed. Once all the hostellers “gheraoed” her in a circle, she just took off & jumped over their heads. Her typical “deer jumps” on all fours together were a treat to watch.

She started accompanying dad to the cricket field and used to stand next to him where the Umpire stands. Once she got hit by a straight drive and collapsed on the pitch with all four legs stretched & the tongue hanging out, stiff as stiff could be. The batsman ran away fearing the wrath of Dad. She closed her eyes and we thought we have lost her. For 10 minutes we all were in tears. Then suddenly she sprung up and bolted away. Phew!

I had joined NDA and came back on my first term break. Dad was sitting on his haunches and hoeing his garden bed. I was explaining to him the “ragra” and in particular the front roll. I don’t know what came to pinky’s mind, she came charging and butted dad on his bums with her head. Dad did a beautiful somersault and I said now you know dad.

As time went by she started loving music and the school band playing. She used to stand with the band leader and walk along the march past of the school parade. She became the school mascot.

One day pinky was nowhere to be seen. There was panic and a sense of loss as a story was afloat that someone had killed her. Fourth day, while dad was on his angling trip a “Kabari” (rag picker) who used to come and collect small fish gave an input that she has been seen in the cantonment. Dad wound up and came rushing five kilometres from Kanjali River. She was not there but dad found her droppings. On a lot of pleading someone told that she had been sold to a “Kasai” (butcher). Dad rushed to find that “kasai” who just won’t admit. With folded hands and 400 rupees did he take him to the shed where she had been confined to. She would have been butchered the next day. Four days without water and food she was a wreck. She couldn’t even stand on all fours. People who had caught her had bruised her very badly. Dad left his cycle as mortgage and took a rickshaw to get her home. We were delighted to see her alive.

Within days she was frolicking around as usual. She lived with us for 10 years and one fine day we found her dead in the wheat fields. Probably she ate too much of insecticide which had been sprayed on the crop. It was a sad day. Her grave is still there behind our house 12-A.

Thank you for being part of our lives PINKY we all still remember you fondly and miss you. Can we relive those good old days again? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

POTS & PETS

POTS & PETS

 

The response I get on photos of my garden is tremendous. In the bargain I get to hear a lot of stories of my Dad who was a die hard gardening enthusiast. If I talk about chrysanthemums’, he had every variety, colour and variant of the flower.  The assortment of crotons and the array of fruits in our house was mind blowing.  Rajnigandha (tuberose) and Narcissus (Nargis) were his favourite. That sweet scent still lingers in my memory. Geranium was another of his darlings. He only could manage his three hundred pots and numerous flower beds. I rekindled this hobby after ages and it gives me so much of solace. Hibiscus (Gudhal) is my weakness.

We were born and brought up in a house surrounded with fruit trees. Cheeku, Malta, Guava, Custard Apple, Kagzi Nimbu, Grapes, Gal-Gal, Dhurunj (a huge citrus fruit akin to Chakotra), Peach, Papaya, Louqaat, Banana, Mango, Faalsa, Ber besides the wide variety of vegetables which were organically grown in our kitchen garden. Shakarkandi (sweet potato) one used to love digging out.

Our house was a mini zoo too. Dogs, cats, Australian pigeons, partridges, hens like the Red Rhodes and black “desi” ones. He didn’t like the white leghorns. A speaking Parrot called “Mithoo”, Angora rabbits etc used to be all around the house. Mom used to handle all their tantrums from feeding them to looking after the sick and the infirm. Watching the chicks hatch from eggs was amazing. From those small little cracks in the eggs till they emerged out of their shells, I have seen it all. Hatching goose eggs under a hen was also done at my place. The dog-cat team fighting a cobra in the courtyard, I have witnessed that intense fight. The dog engaged the cobra from the front and the cat tore it to smithereens from the rear. Chickens riding cats and bitches feeding kittens were not uncommon.

Twenty odd hens meant fifteen odd eggs a day. The song “ande hi ande khana-meri jaan meri jaan” was apt. Mint, coriander and onions were home grown, so making a ten egg omelette was no big shake. The day cocks fought amongst each other or cock-a-doodle-doed in the afternoon disturbing Dad’s siesta, it was assured a place on the dining table the same evening.

We lived in a colony of a school with hostellers living very close by. Boys were always trying to steal fruits. Dad used to be way ahead of Sherlock Holmes. I remember, Mom used to delicately tie paper envelopes around the grape bunches to save them from the birds. She never realised that it became easier for boys to identify their targets. Fed up with the losses, one fine day dad collected hornets and wasps and placed them inside those envelopes. He caught the culprits red handed literally.

One day I found him setting up his air gun near the papaya tree after dusk. We knew dad was up to something. He connected the trigger to one end of the rope and the other end to his bed side. He was a light sleeper. Moment he heard footsteps of the boys scaling the wall to pluck the fruit “bang” went the airgun. It was not loaded with a “Charra” (Pellet). One only heard thuds and screams as boys fell over each other and got bruises and cuts. Next day, all the culprits were lined up and caned, which used to be the norm in good old days.

All injured bird and animals were brought to our house for treatment. Haldi and Mirchi in pure Sarson oil were used for fractures. I remember mom used to peeso a tablet called “Sulphadiazine” and another one called “APC” if they had fever or infections. All those who could not fly away or be released used to become our pets. We had Herons, Owls even Maynah’s for company many times.

We kids were also crazy. Moment we came to know that there are puppies somewhere; we used to bring them home with their mother. Once we brought two Alsatian looking puppies. One of our family friends came to our place and fell in love with them and took them along thinking they would turn out to be German Shepherds. Their daughter confirmed from me ten times and I told her a white lie about the breed. They grew up to be such junglee pie dogs. We had a hearty laugh when we met years later.

Once, mom got fed up of the cat, as every day she used to polish off milk. Dad was ordered to leave her far away never to return. The cat and her kittens were huddled up in a gunny bag. Dad on his ladies cycle left them between villages Lakhan Kalan and Hamira about 15 kms away. Two days mom was erratic. Dad, I and my brother were fired left right and centre for anything and everything. She loved the cat like hell and was missing her. On the seventh day kitty was back sans the kittens. All of us just didn’t react except mom who ran to the kitchen for a bowl of milk. The cat was starved for sure. Thereafter cats were never even scolded in the house men were.

It is good to have pots & pets but in manageable numbers. They pose restrictions as they can’t be left unattended. We can’t keep pets in the colony we stay in but I fulfil my urges through the stray cats and dogs. I am keenly watching pair of Kingfisher’s (Mallya) making their nest. There is a water crisis here too. I don’t know how long I will be able to carry on this hobby of gardening without adequate water. I am waiting for the rains to come desperately. Here, monsoons start in the first week of May. Will the rain Gods bless us on time? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

 © Noel Ellis

CRIMINALS AMONGST US

[ninja_form id=1]The name “A” does not strike a chord with me but as I read and see news coverage; I feel a sense of belongingness towards her as if she was my daughter. Today, my guts churn when I hear her name because people of this nation have turned into “Darinda’s”. I feel helpless that I could do nothing to save her. I clench my teeth in disgust to see the culprits roam alive. I wish they would have thought about their own daughters before drugging and hurting this angel, all of eight years. Definitely, morality has died in them; humanity has no value for them. Insanity has made way into their psyche. Well, heaven and hell is here only, the little one is in heaven but these B’s need to be in hell today.

Nirbahya’s (N) case is still fresh. The scars and wounds are yet to heal. Those culprits too roam free. Today I heard, another girl has been raped & destroyed mentally and physically in Surat?  Rape cases are just figures to be rattled out as a statistic in the parliament. All “Kotwali’s” maintain a crime chart. They maintain a rape case graph displayed on their notice board. The reality is that the numbers of reported rape cases are on the decline, as the mental rape done by the police to the girl and her family dissuades them to report. Rapes can be done in police stations by “wardi wala goondas” too.

The PM can’t do justice. He says there are enough laws. The CM can’t do justice, the DC and SP can’t do justice. The beat constable can’t do justice. Courts delay justice and take their own sweet time.  They want a witness for a rape! My foot!  CM says that he has suspended a few people. The DC says that his district is too big to handle, the SP says he doesn’t have enough man power. The beat constable says that no one has reported any incident, after all someone needs to lodge an FIR. My second foot! When the citizen is asked what should be done, they say hang the rapist in public but when asked to co-operate, everyone slams their door as if nothing happened. The whole cycle then keeps repeating itself. Asifa’s keep perishing.

I will avoid politicians and politics; however, ministers do discuss what the previous governments did not do and what they have done in the limited time they had. Nehru and Gandhi are always going to be the ones responsible for the condition of the nation that exists today. No one will talk about the deteriorating moral systems. No one will talk about intolerance & hate crimes. No one will talk about citizen safety. No one will talk about how to make our policing strong. Every politician has his own agenda, get elected, make some noise, become a minister, perks and privileges’ galore, make big money, dharna, bandhs and when it comes to brass-tacks they hide behind the petticoat of our justice system.

Rape has raised its head to such an extent that it is becoming more of a prestige issue for some. What do the dastards want to prove by doing this heinous crime should be the focus? As it is the common citizen is afraid of mafias & goondaism. I as a citizen am happy if nothing happens to me and my family. If it happens in my neighbourhood I will definitely go and pay my respects and condolences. If it happens in some other city or state, the first thing which comes to the tongue is “bach gaye” but I will not do anything to help the state machinery or my fellow citizen.

I am saddened to my very inside for all the A’s. I shiver at the very thought of it. I pray for her soul and her parents. I also pray that at least once we should have quick justice like in Saudi Arabia. One man court, verdict-guilty, criminal taken to the city square, firing squad prepares the place, order given to fire, criminal shot in the head and finished, he is hanged on a boom till evening for all to witness. Period!

Issue here is that the criminal will be finished but the crime will still remain. When will be able to control that criminal instinct of future rapists? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

A BUS CLEANERS DAY AT WORK

In India quality of life is nowhere to be found for the common man. The reason why I make this statement is in view of the brutal murder of this little child in Gurgaon. It could have been any school for that matter. Many schools will wake up and do a self audit to plug any loop holes. Many schools will continue the way they were, taking chances till something drastic like this happens again. My issue is not with the schools, my sympathies are with the parents of this child, how heart wrenching it would have been to bid farewell to this small soul who had yet to begin his life’s journey.

I am just supposing that after his education in such a prestigious school a child would have got admission to a good college. I assume that the child would have got close to 90 % marks and could have been refused admission to Delhi University. The parents would put in their efforts to even pay capitation fee which exists in various forms and got him admission. Maybe his life would be much better off thereafter as career prospects would be multiple. Say this child would have got close to 80% marks; I can assure you except for a private college the child would have nowhere to go. Two things would happen then; either the child would pursue his studies in all sincerity or become a vagabond and be part of the educated unemployed people of India. My story starts here.

Say he becomes a conductor of a school bus. What is his life? Start early in the morning on a fixed route, meet the same people and children every day. Reach the school by the stipulated time and then do what! While away time, waiting for the 2’o’clock bell to ring and same routine in reverse order to leave the children. How much will he be paid for this duty? Peanuts are an understatement. Those hours spent inside or outside the school premises wasted playing cards with other conductors or listening to stories of other drivers and cleaners, just waiting. Curse the traffic, the government and anything on earth. Smoke a few biri’s or cigarettes sitting on haunches, abusing and picking up a fight with the other driver if that bus is parked wrongly or has taken his permanent space. People intervene, a compromise struck, a black eye and life moves on.

With the mobile era a few of them would be busy with them. I have yet to understand that such people get so many calls from all over especially while driving the kids around. The prime minister will also feel that they are busier than him. What content from the internet they would be watching I should not comment on that. What they discuss about the children and especially the bai’s/moms who come to leave the kids to the bus stop, kindly let your imagination run.

Let me now imagine the place where this person might be staying, or the colony in which probably he would find a shelter. Any guesses? The same fights for dominance of space and no place for ablution. Can we imagine his issues, no latrines, no water supply, no PDS kerosene for stoves, one small KHOLI, and probably he too will have a family. If God has been kind he would have two children, no system of health care, landlord mafia pressurising for payments, wife in family way expecting her third, pressure on him not to be late for duty, children playing next to the dirty muddy, murky Nala near the railway tracks, life goes on for him. He won’t even have enough money to buy a detergent for his uniform if he has one. Will he stink of sweat or of the firewood he burnt to keep himself warm on a winter’s night? One can keep conjecturing.

Where is his quality of life? What is his mistake to walk this earth even if he is educated but could not find a job matching his qualification? Why can’t he be given the same dignity of life as anyone else? Why is he insecure of his job? Why has he no access to boarding, lodging, healthcare, basic civic amenities? Why has he to survive every day? His children don’t go to school, his wife is dealing with her own problems, he comes back home with provisions then only she cooks, he now has got into a habit of drinking so besides the load of the household this lady has now to deal with abuse. The area stinks, the neighbours are no better, he lives life and that’s it.

Well folks I am not taking sides of this brutal killer but I am trying to imagine his psyche. Though he might be educated, might have a family but his thinking and mentality cannot go beyond the company he keeps. Governments and NGOs must be doing a herculean job in trying to give him his due but overall he doesn’t care. For him every day is survival, just survival to make two ends meet.

What came into is mind at that particular moment, needs through psychiatric investigation. Drivers and cleaners using toilets used by children need to be thought through by the schools. Definitely all schools need to pull up their socks. To expect total integrity from the lowest paid employee in the school chain is asking for too much. Lots need to be done, lots need to be introspected; quality of life needs to be improved for him, you and me. Who will do it? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

 

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

LET ME CHANGE MY NAME

The jokes going around today is that we are soon going to change of name of Chowmein to lachhas of some kind to boycott anything Chinese and Rogan Josh to whatever. Will our love for the noodles die? Or will our stomachs revolt if we get something with a different name. Lesser said the better.

The pleasure we get in changing names of places, streets and roads etc is something which I don’t understand. As far as my memory goes as a kid, I remember JULLUNDER becoming JALANDHAR. This was very prominent on its railway station as we were frequent travellers unlike frequent fliers in those days. Our summer or winter holidays used to start with a steel trunk, a big holdall, a basket full of food, a surahi, loads of comics and long waits at Jalandhar for our connecting train. We were excited to see this change of name. As the train from Kapurthala chugged in, I had my eyes fixed at the board of the station which used to be the first thing one saw. My curiosity did not end at that till I dragged my dad to that board. The engraving of the old name was still there. The old name was clearly visible under the fresh paint. I am sure the old engraved name still exists even today on all boards as they too are part of our heritage.

What changed with the name, was it the location of the station? Was it the train timings? No. The ticket window remained at the same place. The milk booth did not shift. The aloo poori stalls did not change their menus; the water taps did not start pouring coca cola. The “pappar wali rehri” still sold papar. The cleanliness of the stations remained pathetic even after change of name. For the local folk the pronunciation remained the same even if the spellings in English had changed. As far as Punjabi was concerned the spellings in gurmukhi didn’t change. The only people who worked overtime were the painters. I am sure this painter would not know the English alphabet nor would have understood why this change. His job was to paint, that’s it.

My name has its own derivatives and people have called me Neol, Nawal, Novel, Nole, Navel, Ellie, Ellias, Alice, Alish, Elle, Elsh uffffff. In my unit many called me Elli Singh as I spoke fluent Punjabi. Did my character change? Did it make any difference to my personality? I tried changing my name in the Voter card thrice now but somehow these fellows have to make a mistake by interchanging a vowel or a consonant. Thank God my address and date of birth is correct and they allow me to vote and I vote for my candidate. My political affiliations don’t change.

I hope you people know where Rajiv Gandhi Chowk is in Delhi. Of course it is Connaught place. The auto wala will fleece you if you use the new name and may take you to your destination via Kirby place. Bombay became Mumbai and people take offence to calling it with a B. Fountain became Hutatma Chowk, Kings Circle became Maheshwari Udyan, Zoo became Jija Mata Udyan and Marine drive is Netaji Subhash Chandra Marg. What do we all call them in our daily conversation is the point I make? VT still remains VT and so does Jacob’s Circle. Some change I must say.

I used to love the name CAWNPORE now rhymes with ear-pur. As a child I have many memories of this mill and its chimney on which this name used to be written as ELGIN mills. I remember my mother used to pick up a lot of those white Turkish towels which were sold in the open market at dirt cheap prices. I believe Jubbulpore was one of the first to be renamed in 1947. Cochin, Madras, Waltair, Mysore, Bangalore etc are all in front of us with changed names. Has life transformed there? Has the infrastructure transformed the way of life? Has the name change cleaned the place better? By changing the name does governance improve? Does unemployment reduce? Does illiteracy vanish? Does health care come to your doorstep? I think all of you know the answers.

I am convinced that all the politics that goes into just changing names if devoted to things that are constructive would serve a better cause. If you try to obliterate history, it doesn’t happen. Faith, religion, beliefs, sentiments even if they take the centre stage we should preserve our heritage. Slowly and steadily I see our “virasat” turning to ruins as in case of most of the palaces. Our forts are falling apart, our heritage buildings slowly decaying; our names are going into oblivion. If just by changing a name our destiny can change, nothing like it but if it is done only for cosmetics and the heck of it, then is it worth it, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

 

RAKHI A FINE THREAD

It is touching gesture to see ladies tie Rakhi’s to people of the Armed Forces. There are so many who make lovely handmade Rakhis and send them across to soldiers guarding the borders. I salute this love and affection and this warm gesture. This is true culture of India. This shows all those who many not be directly or indirectly related to people of the armed forces show solidarity with an unknown person, on an unknown mission, in a God forsaken place to feel that people are with me, people love me and care for me. Above all he gets the morale boost that he has to carry out his duty even better as now he is duty bound to protect all those who have taken time out to remember their “God Brother’s”.

I have seen moist eyes with tears on the brims when soldiers remember their beloved ones and especially sisters. The tears are a symbol that we too are humans and have feelings and care when they remember folks back home. Tears are for sisters who used to tease them, sisters who have now got married and gone away, sisters who are no more walking the earth, sisters who were their best companions; sisters who gave all the instructions till one got married. Many of the soldiers don’t have sisters but feel a sense of pride that now they too have one. It is sentimental friends, it is moving.

Be that as it may, behind the brave face that a soldier puts up is actually a wax like heart. He might appear tough in front of the enemy but a small letter from home melts him down. A soldier when he sometimes comes across a child who resembles his younger sister or even daughter actually wants to lift her up and throw her in the air and catch her like he used to do back home but his duty prevents to show his emotions. His feelings don’t change even if that child is related to a militant or any other family. This I speak from my own experience while deployed for OP Parakram. My six month old child did not know why papa is going or where is he leaving for. She could never question me as to why do you have to leave me when I need you most. She could not even speak then. Every child I came across, I used to remember her and felt like hugging the child, to play, to blabber, to make the child laugh, tickle her just to get a feel that through this child I feel at home.

The oath that a brother takes is to safe guard his sisters and to keep them away from harm’s way. It does not translate on ground. Sisters are murdered, raped tortured and groped everywhere. Therefore, I ask this question why can’t this promise be fulfilled by the people who are is positions in the government to look after women in particular. Don’t the women of this country want freedom to move freely, wear what they like, study what they like, work in which ever shift they want to, make friends with boys and feel safe in this country? I have a feeling that it happens because my sister is my sister and rest of the ladies I don’t care. If anyone who dares to cast a dirty look at my sister, I will tear him apart but if the same thing when happens to someone else’s sister, I will leave the scene as why should I get involved in it.

What about ladies who don’t have brothers or fathers or husbands. What about ladies who cannot protect themselves. What about ladies who are infirm, or differently abled. Who will look after them? I think it is the citizens and people in politics who are responsible to give ladies the confidence that they are free citizens of this country. Therefore, the onus of repaying the commitment when this band is tied on a minister’s wrist doubles. He has to ensure that the policing set up and vigilance to protect ladies is top class. The politicians are totally accountable and responsible for their safety and freedom. They shall fail in their duty and promise of Rakhi, if they can’t deliver on women’s safety.

Ladies and gentlemen many of us have daughters. They will walk into this mad bad world as they grow in age. They will be career women, home makers, soldiers, sportswomen etc tomorrow. Why can’t we give them a tension free life, a free atmosphere, a country with a broad minded mindset, the freedom to feel as a privileged citizen of this country rather than a person, who constantly remains in fear of being ogled, molested or being looked down upon?

This can only happen when our temples of democracy decide that time now has come to change. Time now has come to ensure that this change in mindset is brought about in their constituencies. The way PM Sahib is concentrating winning hearts and minds of voters for elections; I would suggest this same team should also concentrate on safety and security of women. All elected representatives should take a vow that they will not allow anything to happen to any lady under their jurisdiction. For this what means and methods they want to employ I leave it to them. Remember dear sirs, the soldier will never let the women of this country down but this thread of love tied on your wrist should not be just symbolism, it should translate into action. Will the brothers listen? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

BATTLE TANK VERSUS WATER TANK

As a kid I remember when Dad used to take us to an Army cantonment we used look at every piece of military equipment in awe. My kindergarten school had many army kids and they used to come in those old TMBs (Tata Mercedes Benz) or SHAKTIMAN trucks modified as school busses. We could spend hours sitting on our haunches imagining what all attachments it used to have, like the pick axe, the shovel, the jerry cans, mule tanks etc. Some trucks had winches on their front bumpers. The numbers painted on them used to be a mystery especially with an arrow pointing upwards. We at that time had gone through a phase of the war of 1971 with Pakistan so as boys our basic game used to be fantasising using all the military equipment we had seen in our lives to defeat of Pakistan.

I subtly remember while passing through Jalandhar Cantt there used to be these Pakistani Patton tanks at the entrance. I cannot describe how proud one used to feel just looking at them as Indian Army got these as war trophies. Even till today if I happen to pass by military equipment displayed in any town, I make it a point to have a look. I remember having clicked many photos on the tanks that used to be displayed in front of Sudan block in NDA. The feeling of elation and a sense of pride that crosses your mind moment you see a military convoy passing by is indescribable. One has seen many of them as a child, huge guns in tow, all covered with tarpaulins. Even one saw many military special trains passing by. One always waved to the faujis and wondered is war imminent. I used to long to be part of them, as I wanted to live that life on a train, with a tarpaulin tent made on a barrel of a gun, eating cooking and yet cheerfully waving to us going towards the border.

We used to have military equipment displays in school. One used to speechless when an NCO used to describe an Artillery gun or an Air Defence Gun or an APC (Armoured Personal Carrier) of the BTR-60 kind or SKOT. Heavens used to break loose when a KRAZ with a 130mm gun in tow used to come for a demo deployment. Though one could never understand the words of command but the whole process used to leave our jaws open. I clearly remember touching those practice rounds and getting bewildered at the size of the 130 mm shell. We even used to follow those tyre tread marks of the APCs. One could never imagine that APCs can fill air in them from inside. One used to think of one’s own bicycle, if this could be possible. The way the baffle plate used to go up and the propeller used to be exposed at the rear. To imagine that this huge beast could float was pure fiction. Though, I later joined an outfit which had both the BRDMs and BMPs as my bread and butter.

One really dreamt of joining the forces as a child. The starched dungarees with big pockets close to the knees were something fascinating, crisp uniforms, shining stars, glistening equipment everything used to mesmerise us. The wooden pointer with a white tip in a pocket on the shoulder was awesome. I even remember going through every detail of an army ambulance. One was very impressed by the fans inside as one had never seen them in cars also that time.

Today, during Republic Day Parade, the main highlight is the equipment that the country displays. It gives an inherent sense of security as the commentator gives the description of the various tanks, guns and missiles. The mind starts appreciating the skills of the pilots who do formation flying, or refuel midair, or do a vertical Charlie right in front of your eyes. Your mind doesn’t register when you hear that all these aircrafts have come from faraway air bases like Pune, Delhi Ambala etc on a precise call and accurate time. How can one stage manage a machine moving at double the speed of sound to fly past exactly when the last marching contingent has just saluted the President? Well friends, the coordination, the discipline is mindboggling and that is what impresses us.

The marching contingents are no less matter of pride and honour when all those Gorkha hats tilted at just the precise angle do an eyes right. The “turras” of the pagris suddenly appearing broadside like a peacock displaying its feathers is an awesome experience to see. The front foot lifted higher than the shoulder and dug in the tarmac for Dahine Dekh (Eyes Right). The dipping of the tank barrels and turning towards the President as a mark of respect is mind blowing. The commentator when he starts listing out the decorations of each passing contingent, one is really baffled to hear what mettle these people are made of. Yes one does get a lump in the throat and moist eyes when a widow of a brave heart comes to the President to take a medal which her husband won. It is heart breaking on hearing the citation about his bravery. Ones head bows down in respect and gratitude and a small prayer to thank the martyr that brother because of you we all are alive today.

I do not know what JNU people are made of. I am sure they would be more patriotic than all of us. Fortunately or unfortunately I too am a graduate from JNU only thing is my campus was in NDA. I wish you guys learn to make peace and also learn to be prepared for war. All those who oppose a tank being displayed in the campus deserve a water tank to remind them to save water. Please take inspiration from water tank and debate whether we stand by our Army or otherwise. If installing busts of personalities they want to emulate satisfies them, so be it. I only have one request friends that please ensure that no bird droppings are seen on those busts. Ensure every student knows whose statue it is and what he did in his life time. Please make sure that at least once a year you all go and salute this great man rather than sitting under the shade of the statue and make plans of how to create the next kanhiya like episode.

I having served my motherland more than 20 years in the Army would request you if you are so interested in history and are so vehement against putting a tank, kindly put a bust of all Param Vir Chakra winners with space for more to come for a change. I am sure they too shall form part of Indian history. These war heroes have definitely given you the freedom to attack your VC to fire verbal salvos towards him with words which neither have direction nor will meet any target. Will they ever understand why we say Jai Hind and Bharat Mata ki Jai, I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

GULLY CRICKET MATCH CONTINUES

Yesterday I came across the same little fellows playing cricket on the road again. Today, the venue had shifted a little but the road under construction was the same. I again had a little time at hand to observe them closely as my wife had gone into the cream and shampoo shop and I had to twiddle my thumbs waiting for her.

The “arena” today was much neater and cleaner than the last time but was dug about two feet deep and a layer of cement had been put to level out the road. The whole field was 20 meters in length and about 20 feet wide. On one side was a water pipe line which they had earmarked as the boundary for the match. The other side boundary was the edge of the road itself. The wickets were a high metal stool given by the chicken wala uncle on which a big burly cat of the Garfield kind generally sits. The long on/off boundary was the beauty parlour board which was exactly 20 meters from the wicket. Today they were 9 of them including a wicket keeper in that virtual cricket stadium. Vehicular traffic was totally cut off as a little ahead of the parlour board was a road roller standing, waiting for its turn to roll the road.

Well, it was interesting that today they were batting as per a sequence; except for one aberration things were much smoother since last Sunday. One fellow who picked up the bat out of turn was called a YEDA God knows what it means. My main focus was the rules they made as to how one could get out. You hit the ball, one bounce and someone caught it you were out. You hit the ball over the dug road on either side you were out. Any ball going ahead of the parlour board you were out. Any ball cut and went behind the wicket keepers legs you were out, besides, bowled, caught and leg before as normal ways of getting out.

My goodness, what pressure it must be putting the batsman! In the given circumstances one could barely survive a single over. As I observed turnover of the batsmen was quite fast. The beauty was that none of the bigger boys wanted to run and do fielding. So the youngest of them was made to field at long on so to say. The only favour he got was for fetching the ball from far was a baby over that is he bowled three balls for his over in which rest of the rules were the same.

The guys were so meticulous in counting the number of balls left in an over. I heard even the batsman counting the balls announcing it loud like, three to go, followed by two to go in English mind you. The icing on the cake used to be, in case there was a controversial shout for out.  This was referred to a lady running this auto spares shop on the opposite where I was standing. Every one used to make the sign of the replay towards her, as done by the umpires. Auntie’s decision used to be final. Everyone used to cry in unison “out hai” instead of How was that. By the way all sockets in auntie’s shops were plugged in with mobiles of these fellows. In between they used to run to take their calls. They took incoming calls at the peril of the shouts by rest of them not to leave the field. Punishment of attending a call used to be missing your turn to bowl an over.

Well in those twenty minutes they would have bowled 10 overs, about 4 people got out; there were about 10 controversies whether someone was out or not. There were similar amount of referrals for decisions to auntie. Two fist fights for dropping catches. One chap kept picking up pebbles and hitting the fielders who were not concentrating on their job. As the heat of the match picked up my wife had finished her shopping. I had some change in fact a ten rupee coin and called their batting captain of my last encounter that do you need a coin to toss, to which they said “chal foot yede”. What did that mean, I wonder!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

KOI LAUTA DE MERE BEETAY HUE DIN

I remember as far as my memory goes mom used to take care of all small little things in life that one just took for granted. From waking me up, to bathing me, to dressing me up, making breakfast and tiffin, polishing the shoes, filling the water bottle, (though one drank from any tap or hand pump in those days), checking homework, tying the knot of the tie, ensuring the school badges are put correctly, check all the books were in the satchel, last minute peeling the pencil with “her” spare sharpener, knowing mine must be hiding in the mystic maze of my school bag. Let there be a button missing she could produce one and stitch it in a jiffy.  I used to dilly dally, refusing to dress up. I would hide my belt sometimes. I would lie on the floor and “faaat” used to come a tight slap. Simple words, behave or I call dad used to turn the tables. Drink your milk or else the dog is waiting and the milk used to go glug glug down the gullet. A neat little hanky used to be attached with a safety pin on the shirt with instructions to blow my nose, who cared. A small prayer at the door was the norm.  She never forgot to give a curt reminder to bring back my tiffin which I forgot yesterday. The list is endless and all this was done like clockwork and a whirlwind.

Moment you left the house your world was different, your school friends became the world. Maths teacher was the most dreaded one, the moral science teacher used to be the sweetest one; the best period in the day was games period, followed by arts and crafts. Pine cones used to be footballs during recess, every stray dog was a target for throwing stones. One odd fight a day used to be routine. How difficult it must be for mom in those days without washing machines, I can imagine now. Your tiffin was for friends and friend’s tiffin was for you. Lovely days they were!

How I got inspired to write this piece was that yesterday while on our weekly shopping trip to the market I observed a few kids.  After having had my hair cut I was waiting for my wife to join me and these kids in the street were ready to play night cricket under the street lights, five six of them, ranging from 5-8 years of age. I couldn’t help but laugh because I had been there for more than ten minutes and they could not decide how to toss. The toss winner was supposed to bat I assume, so one of them picked up a shiny packet of “gutka” with mangoes (AMBA) printed on it on one side. They agreed to throw it up in the air. “AMBA”, was the call by both teams and AMBA it was but then how can both win the toss. In the mean time one chap brought a thrown away carton to make the wickets, so they decided to call the toss once again after a heated discussion on who will call as I assume all were captains of their own kind. So one chap again called amba and he lost the toss. Well, he had the bat so he decided that sorry this is no way can a toss be held. So one sensible chap suggested yaar lets not waste time and finish with the toss as it might rain in another minute. It was no less than the national team so toss had to be done I suppose.

This time they decided to throw that gutka wrapper higher and they did. The wrapper got caught in a gust of wind and landed up in a wet mud pile standing straight. The road is under construction that’s how they were playing on the main road. So another controversy started. Heated debate and parleys, so ultimately they decided to flip a coin. Issue was none of them had a coin. Now how do they toss without a coin? Again discussions and debate to change the mode of toss and they found a piece of mirror with a deep orange colour on one side. Up it went in the air and down it came and got shattered, shattering the toss again. Now things were getting out of hand. Standing and watching the chaos and commotion took me back to my days. Then one of them approached me “uncle ek rupya cha nane hai kaye” (Uncle do you have a one rupee coin). I being the only vela and the only spectator was the person they approached. I peeped in my purse, unfortunately there was not a single coin inside, I meekly said “naye” (No) and sheepishly grinned at them. Just then I heard my wife say good haircut, I said thank God you came to my rescue and both of us scooted from there. Those kids must be thinking what a “fokatia” chap this guy is. Only thing he has is a big mush.

Well, nostalgia set in the way we used to write numbers under the bat and draw straight lines outside keeping the bat face down to decide the order to bat in the good old days. “Koi lauta de mere beetay hue din”. Well, I relived them seeing those kids yesterday. Would you like to relive them too? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

BEATING THE HEAT

 

Temperatures are heating up all over. The political ones are boiling for the post of President; the Pakistani posts are being pounded and roasting. The heated valley is being Gogoied. Congress and AAP are evaporating from minds due to heat of their inefficiency. Naxals are adding fuel to the fire. Here, the mangoes are falling off the trees and watermelons ripening fast due to the sweltering heat. The heated news debates are cooking only bitter venom. The retired Generals have gone “grey” in the heat of arc lights at the studios trying to drill in their two pennies worth. The bheja of the common man is being fried as he doesn’t see “ache din”. The farmer is waiting for rains after the summer heat. My wife too has decided to start heated arguments moment I refuse to get ice cream. Worst is all the colony bitches are in heat too. “Udi Baba” hot is getting as hot can be.

I remember as a child summer holidays used to be a time to beat the heat. In one of our windows dad used hang lots of “KHUS” bound together in wire mesh. On top of it used to be a perforated tube made out of old ghee tins rolled up into a pipe with lots of holes for water to drip down evenly across the “CHIC”. The pipe was drawn from the tap used for watering the garden. Inside the room used to be a “KESSELs” table fan running full speed. Mattresses were put on the floor. Mangoes were chilled in the buckets and watermelons were cooled by covering it with a wet cloth. Hand churned ice cream in those wooden churners was ultimate. Everyone wanted to eat but no one wanted to churn. Getting ice from the ice factory for the ice box on a cycle used to be my duty when I grew up. Empty rum bottles were used to chill water. The expertise to use the ice pick came with age and experience. We had no fridge, TV or scooter then. I remember as a child sitting on the carrier of my dad’s cycle, with 5 Kgs of ice, covered with four to five gunny bags. My bums used to be chilled by the time we got back home but the ice remained intact. In case there would be a party at home additional ice was put in a pit dug behind the house covered with saw dust. Good old days they were.

Summer holidays was a time to play, we never felt the heat, never got dehydrated, never bothered to cover our heads. We drank water from the first available tap. We actually never knew what temperature was. We sat on hot swings without hesitation. After that initial burn, the metal plate used to cool down automatically after a brisk rub on the bum. Cycles were put on road and additional valves purchased as they were the first ones to leak. Competitions used to be climbing the highest on any given tree chosen at random. At mid day, time used to be to run to the tube well for a bath. Odd time was preferred because the operator used to go for his lunch break, imagine having a chilled bath at 12 noon. Clothes used to be smeared with purple stains of jamuns. Half of us had only one eye to function with as the other used to be invariably swollen due to a wasp or a honey bee bite. Knees were always raw with bruises and cuts, elbows black and dirty; hair didn’t matter till they were on your head. Mine used to be short so used to be the saving grace during fights.

We used to know every tree, every shrub and every bush in the vicinity. We knew every fruit which was in common areas, we also knew all the pits where the litter of our favourite dogs used to be and play with them. We knew where parrots were nursing their little ones. Putting on socks on our hands, climbing on each other’s shoulders to get to the nest, getting bit by mom parrot, falling down like a pack of cards as red ants would have bitten the friend on the ground, then changing tactics to climb again used to be favourite pass times. We did not have even landlines in those days. Parents never bothered nor came looking for us. In case one got hurt, one knew the infirmary and Mr Succha Singh used to keep cursing under his breath but apply tincture or that bluish liquidy medicine for all cuts and bruises. That one neck less T shirt used to last whole summer till all the alphabets used to blur and mom used to decide to use it as a “poncha”.

Morning sleep used to be till 6 am, and if dad used to be in a good mood it used to extend till 6.15. Dogs used to be waiting for us to give that slight inkling of life and jump up and wash your face with licks. The excitement to go for a morning walk with us without any leash used to get them scratching the mesh door till there was no mesh left. Running and coming back just to see that you are still coming used to excite the dogs like anything. Your one call and all of them at your heels were the ultimate playoffs of that time. Cricket used to be next in agenda. The eucalyptus tree was the wickets with three parallel straight lines dug into the bark as stumps. To add authenticity, one perpendicular line used to signify as the bails. Evenings used to be pittho or satoliya. Play till the streetlights came on. Get home where dad used to be waiting watering his pots before he shouted for you. We were bathed and cleaned and pressure washed with the same pipe from the grime outside the house itself, even if you didn’t feel like having a bath. Dogs used to frolic along side and enjoy the artificial rain.

We never bothered for food. Wherever we were, in whom so ever’s house and whatever we got to eat was gobbled without any questions. Mom used to be shocked that we ate “lauki ki tari wali sabzi” at so and so auntie’s house. At home, there was no way anything of the gourd family would be touched, even by dad. Well, today things have changed, we have Maggie and lays. Everyone has a big smart phone, there are no playgrounds left. Outdoors has changed to online. Your status on whatsapp matters more than the real state of affairs I suppose. Tolerance levels have come down, patience levels have drastically reduced, broad mindedness has narrowed, open mindedness is nowhere to be seen. Social security of the child has been shaken for reasons best known to us Indians and our society.

The camaraderie has evaporated the number of friends and their love and affection is now limited to social media. The wrapping your hand around your friends neck and keeping it that way the whole day has long gone into oblivion. We are now living in an artificial world, where the heat generated in our thoughts is generating only hatred. In my hearts of hearts I am finding it difficult to balance between the past and present times. I think I need to chill more. Will I? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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