Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Category: GABBAR

RAKSHA MANTRI IN THE DESERT

It gives me a good feeling when my Raksha Mantri (RM) finds time to visit forward troops. I recently saw her in the desert sector atop a BMP modified like a chariot. The crew would have been, the Army Chief as the Commander, the Army Commander as the gunner and the Brigade Commander, no you guessed it wrong, poor fellow must be hanging on for dear life as the driver would surely be the senior most Havildar. Can’t take a chance with Brigadier saab’s driving and giving jhatka’s of a life time to the minister. (With no offences meant please)

 

Be that as it may, I am reminded of the good old days when I started my career from the deserts. Jaisalmer Sector was the place I joined. The then Army Commander was on an operational tour and I was made the official photographer with one pip on my shoulder. My location was in the navigation party led by open jongas of the Motorised Battalion. For me map of the desert meant nothing as I had just come from IMA Dehradun, where I could never make out the difference between a spur and its contours. We all just did “Bhed chal” to reach Bhadraj top behind Mussorie. There maps were green and shades of it. Here I had a khakhi blank sheet of paper with one odd marking of a toba, taal sar, khu, talai, tibba and an odd Dhani (hamlet) after two map sheets. This jonga was modified for carrying many tubes. One could mistake them for missiles. Actually they were stuffed with map sheets and tons of them. That was my abode for the next fortnight and I was off on my maiden desert safari thereafter.

 

These motorised guys taught me how to join maps in a sequence as every 10-15 odd kilometres the sheet used to change. My CO used to be in the gunner’s cupola and the Army Commander on a Tatra’s seat welded behind. A jeep’s seat was also welded in the rear for all and sundry. This was the Army Commander’s chariot (BMP). Our two waiter’s Gabbar Singh and Jagjit Singh were stuffed into the stick compartment in the rear of the BMP.

 

Hats off to the waiters, as moment there used to be a halt they used to stick their necks out from the gunner’s cupola in between CO’s legs with some beverage. Our CO had catered for thanda pani, garam pani, neebu pani, narial pani, meethi lassi, zeera lassi, garam chai, garam coffee, cold coffee, frooty, unit soda in three flavours and you name it. There was one officer detailed to keep fetching ice from wherever he could. Our ice supply never ran out. Administration was perfect.

 

Yours truly had no clue of Mechanised tactics. So I hung on to dear life on to that leading jonga with a “hot shot” camera and clicked away merrily. One of my photos of the BMP tracks on a virgin desert stretch was later used to design the Recce & Sp logo showing the track marks. Well, we did move bound to bound, the Pakistani rangers were following us, there were no border fences that time and we used to take the shortest cut between the border pillars. It used to be a pleasure to relieve oneself on the other side of the border. Somehow it gave a kind of sadistic pleasure and a feeling of satisfaction deep within that we watered Pakistan.

 

I learnt to read a map, I learnt to bear the heat, I learnt to face sand storms, I learnt to navigate a little, I learnt navigation by stars while moving cross country at night, I understood what a mirage is. I learnt to identify blind wells and how to avoid them. I learnt how to use a magnetic compass while on the move, I learnt to survive on limited water, I learnt to handle start a jonga, I learnt how to negotiate a vehicle in absolute lose sand, I learnt to recover a stuck vehicle, I learnt to enjoy cold meals, I learnt to enjoy the sandy crunch in the meals, I learnt the importance of a “patka” and sand goggles and this learning stood me in good stead later in life as more than half my service I did in the deserts and above all I learnt to use my seventh sense and instincts.

 

It took us lot of reconnaissance and practice to achieve the mastery of the desert. Yes I also learnt a lot of Rajasthani. I learnt what a KHOJI was. He is a person who tracks down animals in a village. Their expertise was such that they could tell by the footprints of the camel that was it laden or empty. They could identify number of camels in a group by hoof marks & foot prints. They could tell how long the animal was sitting in a particular place by the droppings and urine. They could make out that the animal is tired or fresh by the belly marks on the sand; they could even say whether a particular animal is injured or had a natural limp by the imprint on sand. They could indicate the direction of the move of the animal, was it running or walking. Basically they were the most sought after people. Later in life we used to take their help for navigation to reach our objectives.

 

Well I transformed from a desert novice to a desert fox many moons later. But it was nice to see our RM on the “Mechanised ship of the desert”. Madam I hope now you will try and understand how life is in the deserts especially while operating such equipment. I hope now you will change your opinion and understand that life in the sandy wilderness is tough too. Will you? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

JAI HIND

CHOTA BHEEM AND DOREMON BECOME FRIENDS

Abe-O-Shinzo, kitne admi the? This is how “Gabbar” would welcome the Japanese PM. To add to the flavour he will ensure many Helen’s dance on the song Mehbooba-O-Mehbooba all along his way. The way my Amdavadi friends are sending pictures of the welcome of PM of Japan Mr Shinzo Abe by our very own Thakur Modi Saab, it appears that Atithi devo bhava would melt Japan to give one bullet train free. Before Mr Abe leaves for Japan a bullet train might be standing at Sabarmati Railway station I reckon. As a citizen I feel proud and floored by the preparations and gestures. Keep it up sir, I am with you. We must take lessons from them as Japan transformed “do bigha zameen” to what Hiroshima and Nagasaki look like today. We can do it too.

I am convinced Abe saab will start playing dandiya at every drop of the hat during his visit. Last time our PM played the drums this time he shall definitely teach them garba. I won’t be surprised if soon in Japan “Sushi” will be replaced by “Khichoo”, “oden” by “handvo”, “yakiniku” by yakhani. Apno Gujju Bhai can do anything for Bijiness. Time is not far when we shall find Ohayō being replaced by “Kem Cho” and sayonara by Aawajo. I just hope judo doesn’t replace ludo on the Sabarmati front. It appears that soon Doremon and Chota Bheem will join hands and sort the world out. Well, let me not let my imagination fly too wild before I start find Japanese speaking gujjus and gujarati speaking Japanese all over.

Be that as it may, I have a suggestion regarding hosting any of these foreign PMs. Why only Ahmadabad? Why can’t it be one town of each state? The town need not be the one earmarked as part of the smart cities which the government has planned. If I see the figures on the MEA website, various PMs who visited in the previous years, the figure roughly works out to 10-12. Therefore in one year as many smaller towns and cities can be cleaned up and brought to the standards of Ahmadabad. Delhi is always available in case nothing works out. Let the states suggest the venue & menu and let the PM approve of it. Let the infrastructure and amenities be brought up to the mark. We will have minimum a dozen cities face lifted every year. Thereafter maintaining those assets should be left to the state.

Can someone tell me the effectiveness of various government schemes? We already have JNNURM, AMRUT, HRIDAY, UDAY, NHUM, ICDS and many others. Many of you would be aware of them and many of you will have to look up Google like I did. These are not the end all schemes of development but merely the tip of an iceberg. On ground what are they translating into is ambiguous. State of roads, infrastructure, schools, civic amenities, health care, garbage disposal, town cleanliness and power cuts etc should be the benchmark to assess all these. Let me give food for thought to the media to carry out audits of small cities on the parameters I mention. Then let us see.

Alibaug should be the next host city, which is about 20 kms from the place where I stay. It should take not more than 20 minutes to reach. I can assure you if you reach there in 60 minutes you will break all speed records. It is another issue that someone shall be picking up your car parts which will fall off as you go. You will have at least two shock absorbers broken, front or rear bumper in your hand, a free treatment of spondylitis and a free lesson in the dance form called “shake”. One should drive on the left of the road and not on what is left of the road. The pot holes are so deep that you may miss a small car if parked in it. Most dangerous are the bikers, which side will they swing is directly proportional to which side is the “Ghadda”.

Let me get serious for a change. I learnt that the PMs have laid the foundation stone for the bullet train. Well, I live in a place where bullock carts still ply, there is no rail connectivity, sea connectivity is in fair weather only and I have to travel 3 to 4 hours to reach Bombay. There are no AC busses which ply to Bombay. God forbid if one gets a heart attack; it is Jai Hind in most of the cases. May I request you to come here from Mumbai by road in a State Transport bus? If not then let us make Alibaug the destination for the next visiting PM. Can it be done? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén