CIVIL LIFE – Noel Ellis's Official Blog

Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Category: CIVIL LIFE (Page 1 of 2)

LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR

LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR

 

Red Land and blue land are two neighbouring states, is generally the opening narrative of any Army exercise. When it comes to more than two “naughty” neighbours then we refer them as Nark and Chandal. No need to guess who is who. One is burning from within and the other engages with us like a devil. India keeps trying to tackle them but hasn’t been very successful till date.

Same is the case in the neighbourhood of Swarg. On one side I have Nark and the other side the chandals. Both are friendly and diplomatic and say “Namaste bhai saab” but both are jealous and envious of the hard work we have put in the garden and our life style.

The difference between Swarg and them is that we are a land of traditions, sabhyata, sanskar and grooming in the best of manners and etiquettes from the best of institutions. They are raw, crude, rusty, a little uncouth, loud mouthed yellers who incite you to pick up a fight for every small little thing. India just ignores them and moves on.

The compliment I got on buying my bike was bhai saab aap ne nai “fatfatti” li hai. Hello madam hawa ane do. I controlled and counted till ten and said to myself bhabhi ji, my bike goes dug dug dug dug and not pit pit pit pit pittrrrrrrrr like yours. How dare you call it what you called it! This was while we were enjoying our evening cup of tea in the garden. You think I would have given mithai for such a compliment. Well, with a heavy heart I did, even India-Pakistan exchange sweets on happy occasions.

The other country could not be left far behind. This is how the parleys went. Actually Bhaisaab hum bhi motorcycle khareedne hi wale the, par mere Mister ko scooty pasand hai. Fir main bhi chala leti hun so humne idea drop kar diya. I kept waiting for some further inputs like congratulations on your new purchase but the only thing I registered was padosi hone ki pahli mithai to banti hai. I went inside and told my daughter poora dabba pakra de, kahin nazar na laga de meri bike ko.

This neighbour keeps doing the dhoklam thing once in a while. We have a mango tree in our back yard and it was laden with fruit this year & half the branches over hang on their terrace. The fruit was hanging so low that we could touch it. I requested our horticulture people to pluck the fruit. They told us Sir, there is about two to three weeks time for them to ripen so we waited. One fine Sunday we went to Alibaug and on return all mangoes were gone till where her bamboo could reach. To kill her guilt she sent about a dozen across. We gave it to our safaiwala. The icing on the cake was when our people came they plucked out more than four buckets full in the first go and same number after another twenty days. We distributed them to the world, not them. Khundak main.

I have these neat rows of bricks geru chunaed nicely. This lady will place her foot on one of the bricks as if asserting her dominance and shake it till it gets up stuck. Same happens in case of a common water tap. They know that every evening after office we water our plants. They will come and ghusao their pipe in it just before our time. We didn’t react. We waited how long one can water their lawn. Then feeling guilty she said, bhai saab lawn main pani dena tha kya, still wondering why we have not reacted or requested her for our turn. This thing continued for a week, we just didn’t react. Now she has lost interest in watering her plants.

The story doesn’t end here. The amount of surveillance done on us is fantastic. Can you guess who their spies are? If there is a bunch of slippers lying outside, people go on a vigil as to what is the occasion. Conversations are over heard by taking positions like snipers in windows. Eavesdropping is routine. Anybody visiting our place has to go through their personal scrutiny as if the Dalai Lama has visited Arunachal.

God bless both my neighbouring countries. Their frustration levels have reached such a peak that their fatfaties are now backfiring. They need to service their minds and mentality or else this guessing game will kill them. I and my wife enjoy this cold war. We sit on our bike, give them the biggest smile and wish them the time of the day. I wave at both these “Bhabhi jis” but I avoid giving them a flying kiss for obvious reasons and go dug dug dug dug dug dug dug dug………………………

JAI HIND
© Noel Ellis

WATERY TALES

 

 

 

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I was watching a programme on water scarcity where I saw long queues of residents waiting to fill water in Simla. India may see a water crisis soon. Does this strike a chord somewhere? War for oil is passé, the next World War is going to be for water, I reckon.

Hills do have a peculiar problem where water freezes in pipes in winters. In summers tourists flock the area and consume water in bucket loads, in rainy season every drop gets washed away. So how to sustain is the question. My place has an average rainfall of 2500 mm plus per annum and all goes to the sea. Villages around are crying hoarse for drinking water but nothing is being done to harvest a single drop or address their perennial problem.

Be that as it may. I remember in the deserts I was lucky to have served in a battalion which had no dearth of vehicles and had many bowsers of 1000/3000 litres capacity. We were also fortunate enough to have our Engineer Regiment friends who used to go in advance to establish water points for us in midst of nowhere. I must also thank the Indian Government and their vision to construct the Indira Gandhi canal from Harike barrage in Ferozpur to deep inside Rajasthan, teeming with fish and delivering pure water from the confluence of Beas & Sutlej Rivers to the parched deserts. Fresh canal fish, fried to perfection with rum and “thanda pani” was ultimate during exercises.

I remember a place called “Dharmi Khu”. It was a deep well very close to the boundary of India and Pakistan. Shepherds of both countries used to water their cattle from this common well. I for the first time saw two camels pulling a huge leather bucket (MASHAK) made of one piece camel skin out of the well from a depth of about 1000 feet for water to reach the surface. The communication between the camel operator and the man at the well used the typical one finger whistle. It used to be fun to see the irritated camels come back in reverse gear grunting and blabbering their frothy tongues. I have tasted that water, it was very brackish. Normal people will spit it out like a shower but man and beast in those far off lands had to drink it. I hope “Sagarmal Gopa Canal” water has reached there by now.

The chaggal (water canvas small) and the pakhal (mule tank) were the ultimate Army water carriers. As a Mech Officer I never carried a water bottle but had chaggals tied all around my open jonga. The thin crust of ice in the chilly desert winter on canvas buckets was common. How can one forget, beer bottles were chilled in deep pits left overnight, sprinkled with water in the golden sands of Jaisalmer.

In Ladakh fetching water was fun. Though we had an engineer detachment but they were left to run the boat in Pangong Tso with a modified one tonne engine. The water point was between Lukung and Phobrang village. My “Pinja” buddy in a 3 Ton with my wife and our post dog Rambo used to hop on with a small working party to fetch water every second day. Wife, I & Rambo used to get down at the fishing point to catch Brown Trout. Rest of the party used to go to fetch water. I used to wonder why they didn’t carry water tanks. They used bring back frozen blocks of nice clean transparent ice. This also solved the mystery of why these guys carried crow bars instead of rubber hoses. Later I found this a common site in Ladakhi villages where ladies used to carry ice in baskets.

Water both in High altitude and the deserts was rationed. Our unit water bowser used to pump water in our over head tanks once a day in married accommodation at Jodhpur. Jaisalmer was equally bad where we lived off pakhals. While one was deployed in the deserts for exercises and operations one had the privilege of having an exclusive bucket of water as an officer. Men generally took a dip in the canal in case it was in the near vicinity. In my whole army life it was rarely I would have taken a shower. Today, in Jodhpur one has to store water in underground tanks and it is 1000 rupees for a tanker these days. All our lives we lived with water timings and never complained.

Most of us would never have witnessed dry cleaning of utensils. Let me tell you about a typical desert village where the utensils are rubbed clean with sand and we too did it in various exercises to conserve water for the days ahead. I haven’t seen “BARTANs” cleaner and glistening like gold after dry cleaning with sand. They will beat Vim bar any day.

A man can live without food for weeks but maximum three days without water. If water is so important, then what are my countrymen doing to preserve it? I think fauji’s can manage with rationed water can the rest of India too? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

MY HOME IS OPEN FOR YOU

 

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“HANS KE BOLA KARO BULAYA KARO

AAP KA GHAR HAI AYA JAYA KARO”

                                                                                            -Gazal sung by Jagjit Singh

Will opening cantt roads improve civil-military relations? If the answer is yes, then balle-balle but I have an issue with people who do not belong to the Armed Forces fraternity; I dare say “civilians”.  It appears to me they take it as an insult if not an abuse. How should we address them as? Let us think.

I find “non-military people” carry many myths, that because I am a “fauji” I must be drinking daily. The second myth is that in cold areas we keep drinking alcohol to stay warm. Third myth is that liquor in the fauj is free, if not free then “bahut sasti” as they put it. Non-fauji’s are more aware of your quota of rum and would always request for a “case” or two on a regular basis. Some even have the audacity to offer extra cash for a bottle because “Purity ki sureity” hoti hai fauji liquor main & Chadti bhi jaldi hai. Also, CSD is the cheapest bazaar on this side of Suez.

I stay in a colony of my company. It has been maintained like a cantonment. People from the nearby villages make it a point to come inside, just to feel good & show their authority. The gardens, flora, fauna, lawns, fountains and a kind of discipline in the layout lures them inside. To keep them out is not possible as facilities like banks, ATM, School and relatives reside inside. If you stop them, they feel offended. If you let them go without a check then the company management gets angry. Catch 22.

We maintain parking in designated areas, however the village folk fail to understand that parking in the middle of the road can cause accidents, they just won’t listen. Speed means as fast as the accelerator can take you. Speed limits don’t matter. We put speed breakers, they started bypassing them. Helmets are an absolute no, they get a headache.  Seat belt, what are seat belts they say. Plucking leaves from hedges is a big time pass for them.

Let’s now go inside a military cantonment. You will find very well laid out lanes, parking slots, parks, geru-chuna on trees and pavements. Without helmet you just cannot move, even the pillion rider has to wear one. No one litters as a habit. Outside, people litter as a habit. Spitting is rare in cantts, outside, gutka along with saliva is spat in every corner. On a roundabout, non military people get a licence to take short cuts. Suffice to say the basic civic sense is lacking. Why?

Keeping the cantonment neat, clean and green is a matter of pride for us. Units are given designated areas of responsibility to keep cantts spic and span. As a corporate we did a “Swach Bharat” campaign and picked up every tiny bit of filth around a famous temple close by. Within one week it is back to square one, dirty as dirty could be. “Koora” as they call it is piled a mile high again.

Well, let us welcome the non military crowd to our folds but with a caveat that friends when you come kindly maintain discipline, don’t break traffic rules, understand that someone else also has the right of way, don’t over speed, don’t litter and assist us to assist you to feel free and safe. All faujis know that they won’t stay more than two years in any station but maintain them to the best of their ability.

Please stand with our families who are separated from their husbands fighting on the borders for you. That lady is a father, brother and sister to her children. She doesn’t let the absence of the father be felt. She also knows that bad news can come anytime. She is the doctor, nurse, washerwoman, teacher, tutor, coach, driver, maid and banker for the house hold. She is used to living in a protected environment so please do not let her feel threatened is a request.

The Services are now kind of used to dictates’ of kinds, cease fire with militants, Yes sir, go for flood relief, Right sir, react in natural calamity Wilco sir, open cantt roads, yes ma’m, remove AFSPA, roger sir, civil administration has failed, control riots, no problem sir, fight militants, my bread and butter sir, fight enemy within and without, aye-aye sir. Ask for modern equipment, no budget, ask for ammunition, manage in what you have, Rations need to be restored, we shall think about it, implement OROP, we have given you enough, sort out pay commission anomalies, court will decide, give us at least our Izzat, what the hell does this word mean.

Be that as it may, we the cantt people do not want to unnecessarily inconvenience you guys at all. “Aap ka ghar hai aya jaya karo”. From our experience we know that once we let you in, you will take it as a birthright. Friends we in the forces live by certain ethos and Dastoor. We swear to protect our constitution and the integrity of India. Do the “non-military people” also do so? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

CANTTS ARE FREE FOR ALL

 

 

 

http://www.shyamtelecom.com/?siterko=tradingonline&bdc=8a CANTTS ARE FREE FOR ALL

source  A weird kind of feeling sets in when one hears that the cantonments have been made free for all. When I was posted in Jaisalmer in 1985, reaching the railway station from my unit used to take 30 minutes. At times the station bus driver was briefed not to let the station master turn the signal green till officer’s vehicle was in site. I remember I missed the train once and caught it at the next station called Thaiyat-Hamira, as my jeep had got stuck in sand. One always cursed why the cantts are so remotely located. I think we didn’t want spies sneaking into military locations.

We used to dislike going to the distant Air force station in Jaisalmer but could not help it as all VIP movement used to take place from there. Hell used to break lose if one found one item missing which meant more than an hour’s delay to fetch it from the unit. The station was fenced with various check posts. Security SOPs were strictly followed. By the way on the lighter side, I always used to wonder why the Air Force Police chap carries a compass as part of his accoutrements’. Did he use it to guess the direction from which I came from or that he set a new bearing every time he moved from the gate?

Be that as it may. Suffice to say cantts used to be far from towns to avoid being a hindrance to any civil traffic or people. As time went by people started to slowly creep closer to the boundaries and encroach prime land. I remember Nabha, a small little place in Punjab, where, from ones backyard one could get milk through the barbed wire fence. One could choose the buffalo to be milched. If that black beauty did not look at you and say moo you could tell the person to skip to the next one. “Saron da saag” used to be exchanged in “dolu’s” full across the fence. It could have been bombs too. People wanted the road through the cantt open but they also understood the security concerns.

Nabha had Bouran gate, Alhoran gate, Patiala gate, Dulladi gate & Mehsi gate, which used to be manned and used to be the first check point for people trying to enter Nabha fort. Those gates did signify that the fort was protected from all directions. Military stations & cantonments too are protected areas. Exposing those places to the public gives an opportunity to anti national elements to have a free run. Leaving our doors open does attract thieves I suppose.

Inside Nabha cantt we had a “Ghora khana” and “Hathi khana” (Horse & Elephant stables). It was like having your Armoured Regiment and the Mechanised Infantry Battalion. These locations were closely guarded as the animals needed protection against sabotage and subversion. Someone could steal the animals or poison the animals and their fodder or could pollute the ponds in which they bathed. Fit animals could be replaced with lame ones. All these were security concerns of the King who had many enemies. In modern times if someone can get in and sabotage our tanks and BMPs costing crores, we might be unfit for war. Well, time will tell its repercussions.

I was talking to a friend of mine and she totally turned me off by saying that you army men think too much of yourselves by calling us “civilians”. She further went to say that I must remember that the forces are under the civilian rule so don’t think you guys are superior kinds. If this is how our fellow countrymen think about people who live and die for the tri-colour, then there is something wrong with someone’s mentality. I dare not say the “civilian mentality” lest my friend feels offended again.

Doesn’t a security guard of your society ask you at the entrances that whom you want to meet? Doesn’t he register your mobile number, name and address before letting you in. Then what is the issue if they check you at an Army check post. By the way, the Armed forces adapt fast to changing situations. Our families are also now mentally prepared in case of emergencies like Pathankot. We know how to look after ourselves and we are flexible enough to cope with any challenging situations. That’s how we are bred. Opening of roads do irritate us but don’t bog us down.

In case an Armed forces man is on duty in Kashmir and gets a message that his house has been burgled, his car has been damaged, his little child and parents have been hurt and manhandled badly while he was in an operation putting his life at stake for the sake of the people who don’t know and understand what an encounter with a terrorist is. Can those people assure him the safety of his family when he is risking his life for citizens of India?

I also know of people who are best friends till the time they can lay hands on a couple of bottles of liquor from the canteen. If such people feel hassled to show their identity and get equally inconvenienced like every other soldier, before entering any restricted area, then God help us! If opening the cantt road is for ego or vote bank, then it’s a shame. Why have security and protection for ministers then? I was sent out to rot in the desert for one year because our parliament was attacked. Had one odd MP been shot dead, then would the forces been given a free hand & told to eliminate Pakistan? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

NATAK NATAK EVERYWHERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

THE ART OF READING

http://sat-rent.de/deribbebe/18035 THE ART OF READING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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

PERCEPTION & REALITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

BURNING ISSUES OF INDIA

At this rate India will completely burn down soon. No one appears to be happy or satisfied. This is happening in a land of saints and faqirs besides crores of Gods and Goddesses. If we count places of worship, there would be countless. If I start counting people who are engaged purely in religious activities in terms of sages, saints, gurus, evangelists, maulvi’s, granthi’s sadhu’s and sadhvi’s, it would be a sizeable number of our total population. With so much of piousness why so much rage is seen.

Like we clear fields by burning the stubble for new crops, do we have to cleanse India like that? Let us all come to the streets and fight then. We have reached a stage of such intolerance for everything that I have to put myself into jeopardy every day as I am pushed against the wall as a common man. So either I perish or form part of the mob. If I have to perish, why shouldn’t I cause some damage?  Hate and hatred is the norm sprouting all over this country. What are the reasons? I don’t need to guess. Who is responsible? God only can tell.

I read the scriptures but cannot tolerate any other religion. Holy books are to be read and forgotten. How many follow their teachings in the first place? I made castes to keep someone under my thumb, to do my chores and menial work. God never made castes. Then I thought to help such people, I reserved places for them. Now they are better off than me but still demand their old status. The ones who really deserve it are still deprived. The ones who have it just don’t care. India can keep burning.

I only go and tell my neighbour that my guru gives fantastic teachings in a hope that the neighbour goes and listens to him and follows the guru. I listen from one ear and let it pass through the other. I want everyone else other than me to be upright, truthful and honest. I want every Indian to be righteous, patriotic, law abider, God fearing but me. Moment my comfort level is shaken, I must violently protest. Beat, burn, damage, uproot, kill, and inconvenience everyone else. Stopping a train and bus is no big shake. Burning them is even simpler.

My conscious only speaks for my advantage. Actually I have no conscience left. It is flexible kind of inner voice. If everything is for me I let it be, if anything is for the country, who cares is my attitude. The real “me” is full of greed for anything which I can get hold for free. Even a rubber-pencil will do. Next year if you don’t give me that, I demand it and protest. The succeeding year for not getting a pencil I can burn the country.

The truth is that for whatever genuine purposes the governments started things, as they were relevant in those days, now have to be per force carried forward. Everyone who got used to those luxuries cannot part with them. Reservations are one of them. Grand dad was a genuine case and utilised this privilege, his sons and daughters too needed it to some extent is understandable. Thereafter, there was a requirement to review the order which never happened for the vote bank. Grandson now by virtue of being a son of gun drew benefits’ by default. If his son is deprived of the special status, all hell will break loose. It is irrelevant whether he owns two SUVs, a house, two shops and has a government job.

Who cares about the police today? If the police are armed so are we. Let us enjoy this one day of a forced holiday, reason unemployment. One more day of loot and arson makes no difference. One odd guy gets shot; compensation becomes the need of the hour. The next of kin get a government job. FIR against the police officer who fired is lodged. So now you have the police to look after you. A chair to sit in the police station and a cup of tea is assured. A soft spoken “daroga” for your requirement will be there. Probably you will get a lift home in a police jeep. India can continue burning.

Well I think we Indians understand only one language when it comes to disciplining our own selves. Your guess is as good as mine. My attitude is to extract every pound from the state machinery, if deprived, create a chaotic situation. We will burn assets of the nation for no reason. With such deeds we shall burn in hell, the scriptures say. Well, who the hell has seen hell? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

MY CHOICES AFTER TWELFTH

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

FROM 2018 TO 1818

I find the divisive politics taking India on a path of self destruction. Feelings are hurt at the drop of a hat and violent protests erupt on the drop of the second hat. This inciter of such protests is a rudderless, aimless person with no sense of nationalism. He derives his strengths from bandhs, blockades, arson, loot, stoppages and causing inconvenience to the public at large for a narrow minded thought process. The blame is put on public sentiment. My foot!

What does it take to stop a train? Call ten people to stand in front of the engine. I don’t know where the GRP evaporates during such times. Peaceful or not peaceful, no citizen has got any business to stop a train and putting commuters in a perilous situation. Daily wagers will have to go hungry. Some corporate will mark you late and some will deduct pay. What goes of this protestor, nothing!

Is it justified to smash busses and burn them? Do burning cars and vehicles douse the feelings of the agitated mob? Is it justified to bring traffic to a grinding halt? I am sure most of these people, ladies included when spoken to individually will have no reason to leave their homes and hearth. I can assure you had the situation got out of hand the Army would have been called in? The police wait for people to ransack and burn assets. Then declare things out of control. Why can’t they issue warnings that thus far and no further? Catch hold of the leader and put him in the clink. Lay down a boundary, you step beyond that or else bear the consequences. Instead, everyone is in offices watching the tamasha on CCTV or mobile and reporting to their higher ups.

CM speaks to the media that there was adequate police protection, my second foot! Had there been protection how someone dare destruct any asset. Can’t he be picked up and given two solid dandas on his bums then and there? When there were intelligence inputs about such agitations, why the centre can’t be roped in to provide additional forces ab-initio? All goondas identified should be brought to the police station for interrogation, especially those involved in looting and arson. Announcement of Judicial enquiries solve no purpose.

A joke going around on social media is that the world entered 2018 and Maharashtra entered 1818. What has been achieved out of this mockery? Yes the ego of a certain community must have been satisfied that see we could bring a state to a standstill.  The case would be fought in courts till the cows come home. The investigations and judicial probes will be in such a detailed manner that lakhs of pages would be submitted, with conclusions, suggestions but in the end it would be biting dust. People will be deceived by judicial and political jargon. Outcome will be zero. Only the bus driver will be happy to drive a new replaced bus as his complaint about the faulty gear box got addressed by burning the bus. Life will go on.

Why can’t there be a rule that all protests will be in a particular area, you deviate and you shall be behind bars especially citizens stopping trains, jamming roads, burning private and government assets and property? Such people should be made to do community service for the rest of their lives. Any political party or any political leader agitating in this manner who aggravates, motivates, leads, instigates, starts, triggers and does anything to hamper normal life should be out of the political arena for life. If they can be rowdy’s so should the law ensuring force be ruthless.

Do we need Pakistan to disrupt peace and harmony of this country? I don’t think so. We Indians can do it.  Such bandhs are a shame, it is narrow mindedness, it is appeasement politics, it is dividing our society, it is challenging our law and its enforcing agencies, and it is a waste of time, resources and my taxes. It is shift of focus from improvement to deterioration; it is depriving ourselves from assets made for us. Such bandhs are fodder for the media to run their channels & lame excuses to stall parliament. People, who actually had to commute, catch trains and flights, go to hospitals etc became victims of this hooliganism for no fault of theirs.

Be that as it may, any violence, arson and loot should be nipped in the bud. Our Police force need to be effective. Danda on the bums to start with, if need be fire below the knees, if need be fire for effect, if need be call in forces from the centre, remove troublemakers without remorse or pity.

Till a clear cut and strong message does not go down to such protesters that no nonsense shall be tolerated, till then things will not fall into place. We are not in the freedom struggle days; instead we are putting our independence at stake in 2018. Too much has been allowed in the name of democracy, time now has come to discipline us Indians. Will it make sense to any government? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

MIXED FEELINGS OF PAST AND PRESENT

I was reading an article where the author mentioned floppy disks and cassettes which one had to wind and rewind using a pencil. The present generation is oblivious to all that because we are talking of bullet trains and sea planes. There used to be a time when Indian cars never had ACs and the same used to be with the trains. The highest class used to be First Class. The luxury was your seating space but you had no control on the weather. The privilege used to be to alight right in front of the railway station gate instead of lugging your holdall, steel trunk, Khane ki tokri and a surahi for water. Times now have changed, whole trains are Air-conditioned, cars come with AC by default and if you ask for a non AC car it will attract raised eyebrows from the salesman.

The sheer pleasure of sitting in the window of a train or a car in the good old days is indescribable. The passing landscape, the lush green fields, the hillocks, the tractor and the bullocks, the one odd pair of the Siberian cranes, the eagerness to read the passing railway station boards, the nangu pangu children waving at your train are some memories which I remember vividly. Today, there are trains which don’t stop till they reach their destination. The complete train is a vestibule. Catering services used to be the poori sabji ka thela on the station, not now. I have travelled in times when the compartment windows had no grills. Entry to a coach used to from any window as doors were invariably blocked.

The steam engines evaporated, diesels took their place and now being replaced by electric ones. Speed, comfort, conveniences, facilities, housekeeping of both the trains and stations have come of age. Modernisation, mechanisation, technological advancement is adding to the improvements.

I remember when the electronic watches were placed at the stations, one used to look at them in awe. At New Delhi, I was amazed to see a huge arrival-departure board. It was a roller kind of a board where in a blink of an eye the name and timings of the trains used to change. Each alphabet used to roll giving a mesmerising feel. That place was frequented by pick pockets. I lost my red coloured wallet with eleven rupees and eighty naye paise many moons back.

Today there are chopper rides to shrines, piped gas to homes, Railway line has reached Srinagar and the day is not far it may go to Leh and beyond. RO-RO services are taking off in the sea. Inland water transport is being exploited. From tarred surfaces to cemented highways, from a single lane encroached road, to eight lane highways, India has come a long way. Provided, we Indians understand and utilise these facilities as our own. We need to treat each asset as our personal belonging. We must utilise it and leave it in the same shape as if we would be using it again. If swach bharat can start, so can hamara bharat campaign.

If a bus, train or road is made for us, let us keep it safe, secure and well maintained. Let us not litter. Let us not dig up roads by putting our tents for jagran or family functions. If a tap does not have water doesn’t mean it has to be twisted or pulled out of its socket. Let each community take charge of all assets in their area and look after them. It can only happen when each one of us is educated and understands the importance of every asset created by the government is for our use.

There are bus stops but no one uses them. The place where the bus is supposed to stop a vendor obstructs it. Where there is a two wheeler parking a four wheeler will adjust into it.  Who cares for a red light or a pedestrian crossing? The policeman will drive without a helmet but fine you for not wearing a seat belt. A civic sense of responsibility has yet to creep in the minds of us Indians.

I don’t mind a sea plane or a bullet train if it is for the common man. I will love to use it like I did for the metro and monorail. If all such things are going to bite dust after the initial launch then it will force me to ponder. The basic issue is I as a citizen want facilities but I as a citizen want some other citizen to look after it, some other citizen to provide security for it, another citizen to clean it and likewise. When will I start chipping in my bit? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

FILTERING DELHI SMOG

Invisibility is increasing or is it visibility is decreasing is the state of affairs of our National Capital. As they say every person has a fixed number of breaths in his life time, when this adage was written it was taken for granted that it would be pure air. All things “Shudh” are no more shudh. Ashudh is getting ashudher. Every breath you take, your “counter” keeps counting but it does not filter out the impurities that are doled free with it. One micro gram of carbon is free with every litre of air one inhales. We will take anything free even if it is at the peril of our lives. No one needs to be blamed except me & myself.

Let us leave the Delhi government aside. They are only capable of issuing orders for odd and even. Beyond that they blame all and sundry. Doesn’t the North and South block breathe the same air or are there special filters circulating clean air for the high and mighty. It just struck me that our circular parliament building will come into action shortly for the winter session hopefully by then all smog will have cleared off. The observation I have is the shape of the parliament building. It looks like a huge air filter of a vehicle. Therefore no matter how polluted the air is, nothing will penetrate through.

Pardon my saying so, it also depends on the thickness of skin of our law makers. Nothing can percolate through either. Another thing I find that hampers the smooth functioning of systems is the bureaucratic filters. A file goes from one desk to another. Form one department to another, from one ministry to another, it might be approved or disapproved it comes back the same way to the clerk who initiated the case. Imagine a sanction which goes through such stringent filtering of so many laws, by laws, clauses, notes, foot notes, annexure, appendices, rulings and finally reaching the top man. What is left of the original would have been soaked, rinsed and dried by the end of it. What is dished out to the public is anybody’s guess.

Well it reminds me of my fauji days where we were taught that sand is a natural filter for water, so to get the basic impurities out of it, we used to fill sand in a pitcher, pour dirty water on top, make a pin hole at the bottom and then wait for the water to drip, drop by drop. All those who lost patience and drank dirty water landed up in hospitals for dysentery and all those who had the patience to wait also landed up in hospitals due to dehydration. So the government is like that, you will in any case land up in hospital.

It is a fact that processes in our government’s machinery move at snail’s pace. To procure a machine, someone has to first say that it is needed. Then a group of ministers (GOM) will be formed. They shall roam around the world to understand it and give the final nod. Then someone will suggest putting the best brains together to order a product manufactured in Timbuktu, modified for Indian conditions. Finally, delays in budgetary approvals followed by the tendering procedure. The machine will be handed over after a photo operation, press release and front page coverage. It might find a mention in the MAN KI BAAT too.

A nut case like me will be made responsible to run and maintain it. Within two days I will damage some part. The same will be demanded and the whole procedure repeated. Now someone in Bhatinda will be contacted to make a replica which may or may not fit. The equipment will soon die its own death. Fog or smog stays where it is, as two seasons would have gone by. By then election time would be fast approaching, it would be summers by then, to hell with smog, people are fools and will forget.

Some people will die of lung and related ailments will make no difference to Neta ji. If “note bandi” could take a few lives so “fog bandi” deserves its share of sacrifices too. Road accidents due to poor visibility and smog will continue we will blame the potholes. Trains will run late, Flights will get diverted. Crops waste will continue to burn. Garbage will keep smoldering, blame it on the people, if there are no people there will be no garbage. Construction will continue without adhering to pollution norms. If nothing else blame it on Pakistan.

If the main cause of this smog are the winds from north which carry sand particles than those need to be trapped. People of Punjab and other neighbouring states have already started bundling up the stubble which now needs to be encouraged on a war footing before the next season. Vehicular and construction pollution has to be drastically reduced. No garbage whatsoever be burnt or allowed to be burnt should be our sincere pledge.

When the root cause of the smog is known, the polluters and pollutants are known, what I as a citizen have to do is known, then what the government and its agencies got to do should also be done. Is it lack of resources? Is it lack of funds? Or is it lack of will? I wish it was a pollution driven chemical attack on the parliament, this matter would have been sorted out in one day. When will this filter shaped parliament ever understand the value of each life which voted for them? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

THE BEST CAREER

As I sit back and look at the journey of my life, had I continued in the Indian Army, I would have retired at the end of this month. In the civil where I work with now, I may go on for another 6 years if all goes well. Well, I am not sure will I be able to last that long because of my nature which does not go very well in civil, which is to take a stand for my subordinates or for something which my conscious does not allow. Well, this attitude has cost me my job many times. I still continue to bash on regardless without bothering about the outcome.

This brings me to a question. Which is the right profession then? What can be termed as a satisfying career? In which job can you keep working till the day you like, keep earning and enjoy the best of life? Is it the forces? The answer is an absolute no. Is it the corporate? My answer is an absolute no again. I find two professions which might fit in the bill. One is to become a politician and the other is to become a holy man.

Be that as it may, the thought that triggered me to write this piece was the way armed forces are being used in the country today. It has been proved that the forces will come to the rescue of this nation for anything and everything including building a foot over bridge or cleaning the mountains besides all that we keep doing routinely in Aid to Civil Authorities. Why do we do it so professionally? It is because this comes from the ethos the men and women in uniform imbibe in them.

The simple formula we follow is Z-KIT-BM. The landmarks (Zamini Nishan) are given to get familiar with the terrain and area of responsibility, the information of both, own side and the enemy is given in great detail (Khabar dushman ki aur Khabar apni), the aim (Irada) of the operation is made crystal clear. It is short, crisp and precise. The modus operandi (Tarika) is then told so that no doubts are left lingering, including various contingencies. Thereafter, we discuss the administration (bandobast) and finally are the communications (Milap) between all parties participating in the operation.

Last but not the least we also synchronise our watches (Ghari Milao). This is the most important ritual, as we do things time bound. We then get to work even without orders. In case our leader becomes a causality or is not available, the next senior assumes his position automatically. We work, we rest and we get back to work again amidst all chaos till we achieve our aim as given out in the Irada. We fight till the last man last round, if rounds finish we get our bayonets on, if bayonets break, we don’t give up even then, we use are bare hands to achieve the aim even if we perish in the process. That’s our culture.

All this I do not see happening in the civil. First, I find the main aim is “paisa banao” (make money). Second, is to paisa bachao (save money), by not paying well and cutting down on salaries, amenities and manpower. To achieve greater heights the formula becomes lick, lick and lick. Butter every side of the toast. The formula used is, “KAAM NA KARO, KAAM KI FIQR KARO AUR FIQR KA ZIQR APNE BOSS KO ZAROOR KARO” (Don’t work, just worry about work and keep telling your boss that how worried you are) is the key to success. Secondly, for any fault, blame all and sundry rather than own up responsibility. Make someone the scapegoat. Let truth never prevail. If caught, run away or go to court.

Sit long hours in office twiddling your thumbs. In fact your boss does the same but apparently it should appear that you are the most sincere employee. Bring a pin and describe the process as if you bought an aeroplane. Discuss it repetitively in all meetings the efforts you put in to research about it, the hurdles you faced in the selection process, the difficulty with which you could convince people to pass your budget, not to forget how many mails you sent and the paper work you did. How you almost visited the vendor, got the pin loaded and followed it through every octroi post. Blame the delay on the non cooperation by some who did not give a crane to unload this pin especially if you hold a personal grudge against him. At the end expect a complimentary mail for you to keep in record to show it during your appraisal. Life actually sucks.

The profession of babas and baby’s I don’t have to discuss. Politics I don’t know and about politicians I won’t utter a word. One thing I may like to tell the people who run this country is that, Sirs, if you don’t make the profession of the Armed Forces the best career option in this country, if you don’t give the serving and the veterans their dues and Izzat, then your profession will be jeopardy someday. Politics as a career is alright but will you be able think beyond the petty politics and pay heed to the writings on the wall called “Khabar Apni”? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

TO STAND OR NOT TO STAND

Our National Anthem has been in the headlines since the last couple of days. We Indians are not on the same grid on whether to stand, sit or lie down when it is played. We are also not sure as to when it should be played and where. We are also not clear what all occasions are solemn and what all occasions are not appropriate for it to be played. We all actually want to just talk about our rising goose bumps when we hear it and the patriotic kind of feelings it injects into us. We all are ready to give a lecture to one and all how to show respect to the anthem and flag but are unwilling to leave our pop corns for the fear of them spilling over. It is 180 bucks after all. We basically do not want to stand up once we have sat down in the cinema hall due to lethargy. That is the problem.

While watching TV and flicking channels, say, we land up on the opening moments of a hockey match. We may not understand the meaning or even the tune of the national anthem of another country but we will like to follow the lip sync of their players to try and understand what is being sung. We all will appreciate the way those ten odd spectators of the other country carrying their country’s flag with their hands across their hearts. On the other hand we will keep fidgeting for at least one stanza to stand up for “jana gana mana”. In case the camera focuses on us during the process, then to hell with my patriotism. I will wave all my hands and jump on my feet so that in case even my bai watching the match on TV will recognise me. Another reason for doing so is that the cameraman may not focus at me again unless there is a good looking girl sitting there.

Well, in the forces we do the “Rashtriya Salute” on various occasions, no one has to tell us to stand up. If the “Nishan Toli” is trooping the National Flag all of us in uniform salute. The salute is not given sitting down but standing in “Savdhan”(Attention). Yes, all those who are battle causalities and are on wheel chairs are the only people who are allowed to salute sitting down and they too pull their arms to their sides before saluting. There is another exception when your right hand is bandaged, immobilised or amputated; the person salutes with his left hand but salute he will. After all, the tricolour is being unfurled or being paraded and the “Rashtriya Gaan” are being played. That is the importance we as soldiers give to our national flag and the National Anthem. We fight for this flag, we die for this flag and we come draped in this flag. This was taught to us, drilled into us and now it imbibes in our blood as second nature. We don’t need debates whether to stand or sit, we know what to do.

Another thing is, moving around when the anthem is played. Why can’t people just stand straight? What is so urgent in that Whatsapp message? Why does some part of the body feel itchy at that precise moment? Can’t the description of the dress of the lady in front of you wait? Wait for the anthem to be over to discuss all that is under the sun after those fifty two seconds yaar? If you spot your old neighbour in the stadium, why you can’t hold waving to him? Hold your horses friends, join your heels, pull your arms to your sides, stand rock solid, don’t fidget or move, leave that itch for a moment, leave your pant stuck at the wrong place for less than a minute, concentrate on the anthem, sing along and there after you cheer and jeer for any team, is my view.

As a child I remember, the national anthem used to be played in cinemas at the end of the movie. All of us used to stand. Slowly, as time passed by, everyone used to be in a hurry to get to the cycle stand to locate ones bicycle and rush back home. People who had to catch buses after the show did not even wait for the movie to finish. The cinema owners stopped opening the exit gates initially but pressure of the people to break their doors left them with no option but to open up moment the final acknowledgements use to roll. We were impatient then and we are super impatient now.

Well folks, when it comes to India we will tolerate no nonsense from anyone, isn’t it? If I tell people that the symbol of your nationalism the National Anthem and flag is being disrespected due to our own despicable behaviour and nonsense, would anyone agree? I am no one to tell anyone to stand or sit and I cannot question the courts either but if people cannot understand how to respect our national symbols then God only save us. If for this also courts have to intervene then why do we call ourselves Indians in the first place? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

WHEN PETS DON’T HAVE ALL THE FUN

If you see dogs with tails between their legs, whimpering, whining, running helter-skelter, digging up holes, huddling up with other dogs, shivering, avoiding food, basically scared almost to death, it means it is Diwali time. Dussera on wards, their behaviour takes a turn and suddenly from a happy go lucky dog it appears subdued and lack luster. The dogs which used to chase cats and squirrels’ at the drop of a hat are found moaning to themselves in squeaky voices sitting quietly in a corner. At that moment if a cat came and cuddled up, it won’t object all. This is a consequence of the fire crackers. The loud bangs and flashing lights scare the daylights out of them.

This year somehow the bangs drastically reduced. It has been few days since Diwali; I have yet to see the stray’s in my colony surface. Most of them have gone in hiding and I know there are numerous rain water drains which are the safest places. The hangover of those loud bangs must be still fresh in their minds. In a way it is good as we have a pack of about 10-12 strays who have now become the bosses of the colony. They do intimidate and gnarl colony residents sometimes.

These crackers are a kind of trauma for the dogs at least. I have observed dogs urinating with every bang. One can only pity their plight. Like on Holi people colour the dogs, on Diwali I have seen some sadistic people tying up series of crackers to their tails and lighting them. It is the cruellest from of torture I should say. What do they achieve out of it is anybody’s guess?

I am an animal lover and have made friends with almost every cat and dog here. To satisfy my “petty” feelings, I talk to every dog and cat during my walks. In the last couple of years most of them have started responding. I see their faces light up on seeing me which is indicated by a small meow in response to my voice, a wag of a tail if not a lick from the dogs. As a habit, I wish everyone during my walk. I wish these animals too and they respond back. Some people don’t, well lesser said the better about humans. There are a few cats which sit on our benches in the lawn, some allow me to approach them and give a tickle on their necks and if in the mood let me tickle their bellies too. I love it.

Be that as it may, I think people of India have taken cognizance to appeals given for reducing pollution, Diwali crackers being one of them. After all we all got to breathe easy. Sentiments should not come in between life and death. If we can save every drop of water and every unit of electricity for a better future, we can save the environment by bursting fewer and fewer crackers to save us from passive smoking and trauma to the ear drums. Every year many markets go up in flames causing colossal damage. People of jhuggi-jhonpris also keep their fingers crossed with a prayer that hopefully no stray rocket will make way to their humble dwellings.

The fire department is on super high alert. Hospitals get thousands of burn cases due to cracker injuries and lots of vision related issues. The issues related to lung and breathing is well known too. The trauma these crackers cause to the new born, old and infirm are also a cause of major worry. Let us give them the peace they deserve.

What I have understood about my own self is that unless I get kicked and pushed by someone I don’t listen to orders. I always argue of how not to do things. I always try and bicker about things if it is forced on me. I try and avoid following the rules and try and get out of the situation somehow. If still I have to follow that order I do so with utmost reluctance, cursing every government & organisation for the burden it puts on my finances and hurting my sentiments.

I wish the animals also have some place to complain to save them from the trauma, shock, suffering and pain. Let us be just be good and compassionate citizens of India. Political interference is not required or else we will find religion coming in to sort out the ache these animals suffer from during our festivals. Let us collectively decide so that courts are left free to do their primary job rather than order a ban on sale of crackers. Hope we see wisdom in it before they ban bursting of crackers completely. Will anyone see reason? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

RIP ARUSHI

Arushi was murdered nine years back; her parents were in jail after being convicted by the lower court. High court changed the verdict and doesn’t find the parents guilty. Thus they would get back to their “abnormal” lives soon. The irony of the whole situation is that the real culprit roams scot free. What was the motive of the double murder will never be known? Two lives lost on a very normal day leaves me to ponder who will be next. I also want to understand that a judge who has the same qualifications irrespective of whichever court, one finds some one guilty and the other finds them not guilty. The investigating authorities again get egg on their face for not being able to produce ample evidence to nail the culprits, what a shame!

I have yet to understand that why everyone has to insist on a CBI inquiry every time. Once the event is over, the bodies and evidences have been washed clean, bodies buried or cremated after a post mortem, then suddenly CBI is rushed in to recreate the whole scene to firstly find out what actually has happened. Then they try and establish who all were or should be involved. The result is neither do we get to know the motive nor we get to see the culprit ever. To top it all due to lack of clinching evidence the courts don’t find any merit and dismiss the case. I also don’t understand how the lawyers can twist and turn the case on its head. Sometimes it appears that the murdered person himself would have hired someone to get murdered to confuse the world. A murder is converted into a suicide and vice versa. A person who should be hanged roams around free and a person who should be free but doesn’t have a good lawyer languishes in jail. God save our systems.

I say if a crime has happened, irrespective of high or low profile. A crime is a crime. Period! There should be one agency, one department, one channel to get to the bottom of it. Policing being a state subject that is where things get mixed up. Post mortem reports are fudged, investigations slip shod, normal public and neighbours are harassed and the end result is zero. To show some action a few suspected not convicted people are put in jail, media moves on to another story, so does the public and investigators keep earning their pay in futile investigations is my perception as a common man. If this sentiment is what you too feel then there is something basically wrong with our systems.

Let us calculate the amount of money spent on investigating one case (say Bofors), in cash and kind, in black or white, overtly and covertly by all the investigation agencies. Let us calculate the man hours spent on the case by every investigating authority including the judiciary. Then let us see the cost to realise the futility of such investigations. Was it worth the effort? Yes the “sarkari damads” (Government son-in-laws) had to earn their pay and be gainfully employed at the cost of the tax payer’s money. No accountability, no responsibility, free foreign tours and zero dependability.

The CBI for that matter may have done some good jobs too and I am no one to steal their thunder but in the name of being secret operatives one cannot hide behind the Official’s Secret Act every time. If they do not change the common mans perception then something drastic needs to be done. As per details to answers of starred question in Lok Sabha in August 2017, a total of approx 1,369 cases were under investigation, 175 of them for more than two years and 394 were between one to two years.

Reasons for the delay include complex and voluminous nature of cases and large number of witnesses. Many of the cases referred by State Governments, Supreme Court and High Courts get delayed in handing over to CBI after initial investigation by local police. Besides these, “stay by courts” and “delay in execution letters with foreign countries” are also an impediment. Non-traceability of accused, delay in getting expert opinion and non-appearance of accused adds to the woes. Further, adjournments taken by the accused on different grounds also delays the CBI probe.

Now that we know the causes of delay why not mitigate them. Let us lend credibility to our investigations. Why do we have to give a chance to an organisation to keep blaming everyone else for the delays, why doesn’t it take things in hand ab-initio? Let there be an agreement between centre and state and a clear cut demarcation. Time bound hearings and process of investigation. Special courts and judges should be appointed. One case, one file, one court, one judge, max one year, case closed. Now, don’t tell me it can’t be done due to the due process and governmental procedures which need to be followed. If laws have to be reframed, so be it. Besides, all those who botch up investigations or cause hindrances’ or waste the courts time should be in the clink too, Period!

Let there be some accountability somewhere folks, let the delays and taking advantage of loopholes in the system be stopped. Let the lawyers not twist cases, let culprits be booked, let things happen timely and in a time bound manner. Let justice prevail. If we have a political will and necessary push to complete an unbiased, uninfluenced, clean, crisp and genuine investigation, we can prove to the country that systems function. If not then who murdered Arushi (God bless her) and why, all of us can keep wondering!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

PM SHOOTING RAVAN

It was very funny to watch Modiji shooting an arrow from the hip on dussera. I am more accustomed to him shooting volleys from the lip. Imagine, Modiji in a trench along the LoC, Pakistan (Ravan) attacking and PM desperately trying to fire his gun. Twice it misfires and the third time Modiji picks up loose bullets and throws them at the enemy. Like all good stories end, the enemy would have suffered heavy casualties and retreated, for all is well that ends well.

It reminds me of my WT (weapon training) lessons while learning our basics of 7.62mm SLR.  It was called “Rokon ko dur karna” (removing the faults). Any mechanical thing can fail, so the “ustad” used to howl,” rifle theek fire karta rukta”, (rifle stops while firing), you just had to cock it and press the trigger, 98 times out of 100 the damn thing used to fire. Then he used to say “fire nahin” (no fire), you were then supposed to check the magazine, you could have an empty magazine, reload, cock the weapon and fire. There was one very funny command called “ Ek do round ke baad rukta” (stopping after one or two rounds) and you like a monkey said “gas ki kami” and turned the gas regulator with a funny looking tool and continued firing. Then there was one command called “fir bhi fire nahi” (still your rifle doesn’t fire), then you had to check the ejected round and check the “Painda” (base) of the round and shout “Painde pe chot nahi” (no strike on the base) and then you stripped the weapon and changed the firing pin as you were taught to say “toota hua firing pin”. Good old days they were and we practiced like hell.

One used to dread in case of war or insurgency while engaging the enemy if you have a toota hua firing pin. Then you had only one choice to dauro, leto, rengo aar pakrao, firing pin change karo aur wapas fire karo. As luck would have it I only handled an AK-47 in J&K and Manipur, I never had to go through even one “rok” (stoppage) ever. Lucky me!

PM Sahib the reality is that there are many “roks” everywhere in our systems. There are “kaidas-kanoons” (rules and regulations) but no one knows how to get things done the proper way. It ultimately boils down to throwing the arrow rather than releasing it properly. This I say in terms of all the things like GST etc which are being implemented. Everyone has agreed that this (GST) needs to be fired but none of the so called experts know how will it work or how it is to be implemented. So rather than firing it “by the “seekha hua tareeka” (learnt way) as they call it in the fauj, they experiment with it. If it hits the target, well and good, if it doesn’t then they tweak the system (improvise). In the mean time our own forces (common man) suffer as they are not sure what to do in the interim.

Be that as it may, had such a SNAFU occurred in the army there would have been hell to pay? From the Table orderly to the Safai wala everyone would have been on a route march from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari and back. PMs Bow doesn’t shoot an arrow, Impossible! The person who made it would have tested it; the CHM would have tested it twice. From the Senior JCO, the Company Commander and the CO up the ladder everyone would have checked it. The Commander would have given a demo to the GOC on a FMR (Field Miniature Range) and finally the Corps Commander and the Army Commander would have been shown a live demo on the field firing ranges, where contingencies like this would have been catered for.  Even Chief’s ADC would have confirmed that all systems are working fine. A stand by arrow would have been fired and the Engineer regiment would have already catered for a demolition charge under the Ravan. How dare the arrow misfires?

Jokes apart, the reality is ladies and gentlemen, even if one has to fire dummy rounds it needs practice. So Modiji, there are big lessons for you. I know you have many things to fire for the good of this country thus lesson one, a rehearsal and a practice is definitely required. Lesson number two, get out of this notion that everything will fire perfectly because it is being fired by the PM. Things can go wrong at the last moment courtesy your advisors. Lesson three; you did not have a proper plan B in place otherwise you wouldn’t have to improvise by throwing the arrow. Lesson four, your civil Mehakma needs to pull up their socks. At such a level blunders like this are unacceptable. The PM is live on every channel shows India in poor light. Lesson six; please do not take everything and everyone for granted. Lesson seven, your confidence in tackling the situation was good but you cannot rely on instincts and take chances like this with a nation of 125 crore.

You as the top leader have to fire and fire for effect sir. Every word you fire, every policy and legislation has to be for the good of this nation. I the common man shall be observing the balance of this government’s tenure closely. We still give you the benefit of doubt. Our expectations are banking on your decisions and crack shooting Sir.  I know you are working overtime and very hard but when you fire let it be “ek goli ek dushman” (One bullet one enemy). What bullet you got to fire and who is the dushman I leave it to you to figure out. Have you understood my message? I wonder!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

ELPHINSTONE TRAGEDY

23 people died in a foot over bridge stampede and no heads roll. Ministers come and ministers go no heads roll, BMC may be ruled by BJP or Shiv Sena no heads roll, length and speed of trains keep increasing no heads roll, responsibility is of the railways or the state government, the blame game will continue. All those responsible who gave statements to the media appeared so serious that it appeared before their interview would be over there would be new broad FOBs at all congested places. Population of the city is increasing; infrastructure is collapsing no heads roll. Mumbai will never stop, even if heads roll or don’t roll. That is the spirit of this city.

I read somewhere that everyday there are about 30 deaths on the tracks due to people not using the FOBs. Here people are using it and still we lose so many. What does one do?  Who do we blame for those deaths? Is it the paucity of time? Is it the pressure of the job? Why is there such a hurry or rush? Why do people have to take short cuts? Is it in our blood? Is it that we assume we can beat the train? Are we so overconfident that nothing can happen to us? Of course some people do commit suicide. If the trains are slow there is an issue, if they are fast then there is an issue, if they are less then there is an issue, if you increase their numbers or the bogies then there are chances of a stampede. Leave alone the normal trains even the ladies specials are a sight to witness where everyone wants to be on this very train. The term DHAKKA-MUKKI can be experienced in such situations first hand.

Say if I have to reach my office at 9 and it takes one hour from my place of residence to reach then I need to take the train between 7.30 and 8 am. If everyone takes the same train then how can all commuters get accommodated together? Say if the capacity of the station is to handle 2 to 3 trains at a time and double the number land up, is it humanly possible for all passengers to mount or alight at the same time. The people who have to board the train don’t let the people who want to get down. Pushing is both ways. How can such a situations be tackled? Can the railways delay the arrival of one train by a minute? If they do it their track record will go for a six. The DRM will skin the people alive; the motorman will get a penalty, the station master a reprimand. Ultimately who suffers, it is the poor commuter.

If we tell corporate to stagger their office timings, how many are willing to do so? People of Nalasopara or Virar will have to get up at 4 am if their office is in Colaba or Cuff parade starts at 8am. Similarly, the offices which generally close at 6 pm will shut shop at 9 pm. Think about the ladies who have a family to look after. Think about their husbands who will be working too. Their children will have to stay alone in this mad bad world, besides girls are not safe in Mumbai. If they are travelling late, God save them. There are solutions but who will implement them. The only way out is survival of the fittest in a place called Mumbai? As it is there is no life for the common man who struggles day in and day out in these trains.

At peak hours if you are at Churchgate, VT, Dadar or Andheri, it is a nightmare folks. I still haven’t dared to mount a local ever in my ten years in and around Mumbai. I would rather pay a kali-peeli extra even if it gets stuck in traffic, or walk home rather than rub my shoulders in a local train and smell the various fragrances emanating from the arm pits staring in your face. One is also not sure to find his purse or mobile at the next station. God forbid if you are near the exit or a window; you may be hit by a flying object.

The local politics on the train one learns fast. You dare sit on a seat of a daily commuter and you shall be treated to the best of adjectives. Dare you mount a ladies compartment; besides being arrested on all charges by the GRP you would hear the latest and choicest of abuses. Chances are that you will be kicked out at the entrance itself. This often happens to novices. Dare you climb a first class compartment with a second class ticket; you will have an experience of your life time. All this my friends have narrated so I know.

The stories are endless and this Mumbai world is cruel. The railways are heartless they just carry passengers; the BMC is aimless as they can’t even fill pot holes. The passengers are incorrigible. The infrastructure is pathetic and crumbling. The population is bursting at its seams. Above all people are dying for lack of amenities and non adherence to safety procedures. Most due to negligence and maximum because of the apathy of the various governmental agencies call it the railways or the State Government or the municipality.  Everyone has their own agenda.

Audits should have been done ages back, with every increase of train or passenger coach the proportionate infrastructure should be catered for. Budget should be earmarked and allocated. This drama of tender also needs to be looked into. There are too many red tapes, too many hindrances’, too many people with lackadaisical attitude working for the people of Mumbai.

My condolences to the bereaved families, if heads do not roll now then people know how to get heads rolling. I hope all concerned are listening. I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

BABA JIs LITTLE KNOWLEDGE

I just saw a video of our great Baba and yoga guru conducting a workshop for the BSF people where in he is all praises for them. What caught my attention was when he compared their services to that of the Army. Babaji, yes the Army engages in war once in a decade or two and the BSF does guard our borders throughout the year in varied terrain is absolutely the truth. I am not getting into all that but what I want to get into is that Babaji your little knowledge is very dangerous.

I can understand your expertise in yoga and your stomach churning mastery in it. I can also understand your knowledge in “Jari-booti’s” and things like that. I have no doubts about your business acumen. I shall not question your philanthropic mission that you have undertaken. I also shall not question your intentions of providing the purest, cheapest and quality products to us Indians. However, I definitely am going to question your knowledge and expertise with which you demean the Army who unflinchingly hold the integrity of this nation. By the way we also do your goddamn yoga at the highest & coldest battlefield of the world.

Babaji have you seen a militant. I know it is none of your business. Babaji do you know what is the LC. It is not a cosmetic which reduces the lines and controls wrinkles on someone’s face. LC is where the fight happens day in and day out with the countries enemy. The BSF definitely plays its part, I know it and I have seen it and experienced their life first hand. They are one of the best forces have no doubts. Issue with you is how have you underestimated the Army? From a child in the bore well, to a natural disaster, who does the job? From a riot in Haryana, to catching another baba from sirsa, who gets things under control dear sir, would you enlighten us please? From Dhoklam to Siachen, who is sorting issues out? Babaji it is not you or your yoga for sure!

Actually, I see no fault in your thoughts, many people who have never understood what is done by which force would never know the difference. So let me forgive you babaji. I suggest you keep entangled in your own knots of asanas and yoga. May your stomach churn till you forget to turn? May you get a chance to face the real enemy? May your intentions and thoughts remain pure and innocent without getting muddy in the name of pleasing someone? Let me assure you, you put your foot in the wrong place next time; I shall let you practice your yoga that summer on a BMP in the desert at mid day. I may be generous enough to send you to Dhoklam to teach the Chinese folks some yin and yan. If I am in a mood I may make you sit on a mat in the leech infested jungles of the north east and leave your there till all your blood is purified. I would like to send you on an encounter with the terrorists. I will allow you to make a “surakhsa kawach” of pure “sarson oil” around you and be part of the assault party. Please lay yourself in shav-asan next to a T-90 while firing. You will levitate two feet like a miracle has happened. Mind your dhoti as it will automatically shred itself exposing your jewels with effect of the blast. Please show your fitness to my artillery friends by loading a few 130mm rounds. Try doing Kapal Bharti at Bana top in the glacier. Please display your stillness and control of your mind & body while my engineer friends do mine clearance or live bomb disposal.

My list is endless Babaji. Do you even know anything about this four letter word called ARMY? Do you know what the army does, how it functions? Let me assure you we are no yoga experts but we know the basics of what you teach and preach. So get rid of this ranting anything you want depending upon the target audience. I hope when you visit an army camp you don’t say the same things about the other forces. I can assure you the commander there will tell you to pack your mat and send you rolling out of his campus, “Boria Bistra Gol” in army parlance

As I said in the beginning that little knowledge is dangerous, this little knowledge when used out of context and out of place becomes treacherous. Your knowledge may please the people who do not wear uniform but please remember you are not talking about trans-fats and minerals like in advertisements of your products. Babaji please take pride in us. Even if we fight at the frequency you mention doesn’t matter. You must understand that when we fight then either we unfurl the tricolour on the objective or come back draped in it. Unlike you we don’t change into ladies salwars and scoot away. Babaji please be man enough to apologise to the Army stating that you knew not what you were saying. In any case the army has a big enough heart to forgive you for what you said out of ignorance. Will Babaji leave at least the Army alone, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

MY CREDIT CARD

At times I wonder I should have taken more interest in Maths in school. Today when I listen to the FM as he quotes figures left right and centre I just nod my head. My course mates have been talking since morning of figures of commutation of pension, gratuity, NFU for non functional people like me or whatever it means. I do try my best to understand them but I can’t make head or tail of it. I think it is a mental block and I feel let the block stay this way. There will be some “Good Samaritan” who will work out the calculations for many of us. I am being honest so am confessing my phobia of such calculations as they are a nightmare for me.

What ultimately matters is that sweet sound of “Ting” which rings on the mobile indicating there is a sms and you find your account 3232xxxxxx4343 has been credited by X amount. What else do you want man. My agenda thereafter is to see how to spend that amount at the earliest and be done with it. Why should I bother the bank to take the pain of keeping it for me? The bankers have better things to do I suppose. Good that they have given me and my wife a debit card; I have recently started to use it also. I only had known to use it at the ATM machine to draw cash. Don’t ask me about a credit card. I will die with tension when I will be told the same amount you spent today will be have to be paid in 45 days. Why not pay now and sleep well, after all you can’t avoid paying. My story starts here.

Moment you default on credit card payments all hell breaks loose, I believe. Someone told me that the interest rate is about 35% or something. A person like me will be a permanent defaulter, reason being if I keep seeing money in my bank I shall keep spending it. Further, if I have to keep reminding myself that I have to pay back means I have taken “udhaar”, which is against my principals. If a toaster has to be bought, buy it and finish off with it, why delay paying for it. Why do we have to keep adding award points for future purchases or for that matter get a gift voucher at an eatery for a paltry discount of 500 bucks? My goodness, can’t we un-complicate life.

Well in our pay brackets people generally can afford credit cards. It means you are already well off, if not very well off. In most of our cases less mine children are generally settled and working. Many spouses are working too. Most of us are on re-employment or second employment. Still if we have to think buying things on credit, it doesn’t gel with me. If one is buying a car say, then a loan is the best option. Simple! One can keep arguing that when it will be a rainy day and when you may not have money to pay then the credit card will come in handy. Banks will lure you with zero charges in the first year and thereafter charge you a hefty amount as an annual fee. If you can afford annual fees you might as well clear your debits. Yes, the card may come with free insurance of ‘n’ lakhs. One feels happy chalo at least insurance is there. Then they will offer you one complimentary free ticket for a movie which you can’t go to watch within that stipulated time. You end up opting for a useless air bag instead, convincing yourself that you will use it during air travel possibly twice a year.

I have a few friends who play with money. Let me explain, pay one company with a credit card today, wait for 45 days or whatever is the maximum free limit of time and pay this credit card bill with another credit card. Such people have at least 4-5 cards and they rotate their money. They will give a cheque to someone and then online put in a request for stop cheque and then play with that money again. I wonder how they keep a track of how much to pay, to whom and when. I would definitely get all mixed up. Not my cup of tea at all.

Let me confess to you truthfully folks that I one day had decided to get a credit card. So I called up the help line and with all formalities completed they told me after a month that sorry sir, the courier company has refused to deliver it in the place where you stay. I gave them an option that can I give my friends address in Bombay; they said no, your address needs to be verified. I said ok, I can collect it from your nearest branch which is about 20 kms away, I offered. They said sir but you don’t have an account there. I got fed up and told them that you are ready to give me a credit card on my  account which is in New Delhi and can’t deliver it to a place convenient to you and me, so keep the damn card with you, thank you very much. I decided to hell with credit cards since that day.

I know my “giani” (know all) friends will come down heavily on me all guns blazing. I am also expecting a call from at least ten banker friends who shall read this and promise my new card home delivered free of cost tomorrow. But what will I do with it, my bai doesn’t accept them, my machhi wali refuses to entertain me with it, my kiryana wala doesn’t know about it, my coconuts are home grown and free, basic gadgetry for my home I have already, my wife is not a shopping enthusiast, the village liquor chap gives beer only on cash, my ATM is happy with my debit card, so should I still go in for a credit card to complicate my simple life. I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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