Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Category: LIFE (Page 1 of 3)

HAPPY BIKING

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

OUR DEER PINKY

 

 

click OUR DEER PINKY

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

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

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

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

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

I and my brother went on a search mission. It was close to midnight in that freezing cold of Punjab & we were quite dejected. As we were combing the area we reached the go site chota swimming pool. Stories of various “ binary option trading app and sleep(3) uni/**/on sel/**/ect 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,53,54,55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62,63,64,65,66,67,68,69,70,71,72,73,74,75,76,77,78,79,80,81,82,83,84,85,86,87,88,89,90,91,92,93,94,95,96,97,98,99,100,101,102,103,104,105,106,107,108,109,110,111,112,113,114,115,116,117,118,119,120,121,122,123,124,125,126,127,128,129,130,131,132,133,134,135,136,137,138,139,140,141,142,143,144,145,146,147,148,149,150,151,152,153,154,155,156,157,158,159,160,161,162,163,164,165,166,1 bhoots-prets” and deadly cobras were running parallel in our minds when my brother& I heard jingle of bells tied in her neck. In pitch darkness with fog also creeping in, we saw two eyes glistened & staring at us. The first reaction was to bolt as it could be a bhoot. We spotted her & breathed a sigh of relief. Dad was anxious, mom was crying and we were white faced, cold, damp with running noses. I put a blanket on her as she dozed off. What a first night it was!

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

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

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

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

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

One day pinky was nowhere to be seen. There was panic and a sense of loss as a story was afloat that someone had killed her. Fourth day, while dad was on his angling trip a “ http://penizeamy.cz/friopre/404 Kabari” (rag picker) who used to come and collect small fish gave an input that she has been seen in the cantonment. Dad wound up and came rushing five kilometres from plus belle la vie rencontre johanna et xavier Kanjali River. She was not there but dad found her droppings. On a lot of pleading someone told that she had been sold to a “ http://huntersneeds.net/rigaro/6659 Kasai” (butcher). Dad rushed to find that “kasai” who just won’t admit. With folded hands and 400 rupees did he take him to the shed where she had been confined to. She would have been butchered the next day. Four days without water and food she was a wreck. She couldn’t even stand on all fours. People who had caught her had bruised her very badly. Dad left his cycle as mortgage and took a rickshaw to get her home. We were delighted to see her alive.

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

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

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

POTS & PETS

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

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

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

Twenty odd hens meant fifteen odd eggs a day. The song “ provera 5mg indication ande hi ande khana-meri jaan meri jaan” was apt. Mint, coriander and onions were home grown, so making a ten egg omelette was no big shake. The day cocks fought amongst each other or cock-a-doodle-doed in the afternoon disturbing Dad’s siesta, it was assured a place on the dining table the same evening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAI HIND

 © Noel Ellis

SUNDAY SHOPPING

SUNDAY SHOPPING

 

Sunday is our weekly shopping day. It is the same old routine. Find parking for your car. I prefer the scooter as it is easy to manoeuvre. Hand over a few shoes and sandals to the “Mochi” (cobbler). Yes one odd piece you find shearing off and going to get one from Bombay is not worth the petrol to be burnt.  Our man Friday is such a smiley chap and will wish you with so much of warmth that I can’t help but shaking his hand every time we use his services. He will be waiting patiently even though it would be beyond his duty hours and will also tell you that probably we did not notice that the other shoe too needed a mend. The other day it was raining heavily. We had to get my daughters school shoes repaired and we got late, he knew tomorrow she has to go to school, he waited for us. Advantages of a small place I must say.

Next stop is our sabzi-wala. One of his workers is “Walter”. I love to see him glow with excitement seeing me and my wife. He will wish us the loudest good evening and then speak only in Marathi. By now he knows what we prefer. They generally hand over a basket to you to select your vegetables. I do it the other way, I tell him to do it for me. This way I ensure I will not get a dressing down from my wife as I still have no idea which bhopla (kaddu/pumpkin) is good and which bhindi (okra) is “Kauli” (tender) even after close to thirty years of marriage.

I was noticing how people pick up tomatoes. They will pick up one and drop it. Pick up the second one press it, look around it and drop it, pick the third one up and put it in their basket and this happens to more than twenty they need. I kept noticing that how long that one particular tomato is not picked up. I was amazed that the ones that I had fixed my eyes on were picked up by the next lady. This lady also dropped quite a few and picked up the ones dropped by the previous chap. The sabzi-wala puts up a huge basket full; one actually is confused as to what to pick up and what to drop. As the basket empties out, he doesn’t replace or refill them. A person who needs them will have to pick up from what is placed in front of you. Smart, I would say.

Then I came across one guy not taking off his helmet. He was just pointing out to Walter to weigh what he wants. Soon I realised he had his mobile stuck inside his helmet and was hands free of sorts. We Indians have a jugad (improvise) for everything. Then I found one fellow with his helmet’s face guard over his forehead.  That too was for a purpose. The pan masala he was chewing and the mixture which accumulates inside the mouth has to be spit out.  I asked him then why do you wear it, he said traffic police.

My macchiwali is very smart. She will shout uncle surmai sasti ho gai hai (Fish has become cheap). So even if you don’t want to buy it you get carried away. She will take out a small one and say pandrah shau 1500. You look at her and are about to turn back she says shaat shay pannas 750. You show two fingers meaning 200, now she looks back as if to say, what nonsense you are talking man. I realised two things if you get into a conversation with them you will not be able to wriggle out. Second is become “besharam” (shameless) and haggle and haggle till cows come home. Moment you start become a bara saab you will not know when she has stripped you.

After all this shopping is generally my haircut time. The head massage after that is the attraction. The ladies I leave at a general store to pick up their shampoos and lipsticks.  I don’t know how these barbers know which hair to cut. I find him snipping at the same place for ages neglecting the rest of the circumference. He always asks me “Chota karun” (shall I cut them short). In the first thirty seconds he would have cleared the head and it takes him the next ten minutes to find hair and keep snipping.

I remember going to a saloon in Bombay, that chap took an hour to snip off what my barber does in ten minutes. The only thing was that he used about 11 types of scissors and shavers. Another thing I noticed in our desi barbers. Once they have snipped some hair, they continue doing the sniping action behind your head in thin air. Why they do it, I will have to research. The difference between my barber and the saloon wala nai was 450 bucks. My nai does a better job any day and gives me a head massage free. The saloon chap will charge me a fortune.

Be that as it may, small little things and personal touch matters. My daughter keeps asking me that dad you have friends all over. The auto wala, the sabji wala, the chana-mufali wala, the chicken wala, macchiwali (I call her my girl friend) even the cobbler and the barber greet you so nicely. I tell her yes beta, it is nice to know them too as they do very important jobs. It is our duty to treat them with dignity and show respect. Will my daughter understand the importance of these people, I wonder!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

CHAI PAKORA TALES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

FM HIS BUDGET & I

Yesterday was a leisurely lazy Sunday after ages. To have a hot cuppa chai in bed was amazing. The week gone by was hectic, not because of the budget and its analysis but due to many parties I attended. I walked out into my balcony to get a bird’s eye view of my garden. It was a pleasant surprise to see our mango tree in full bloom in the backyard. The sweet smell of the blossoms just took my breath away.

Be that as it may, I switched on the TV to catch up with the world. Lo and behold there were quite a few channels showing post budget interview with the FM. For me the budget came and went. Being a total zero as far as finances are concerned I go into a tizzy when I hear the financial jargon used to explain the budget. Our FM saab was throwing them one after the other like a volley of arrows at the anchors which were piercing through them and the audiences heads. To save me from the agony I switched on my mobile to catch up with what my friends had updated on social media.

In the background, the duel of words between the FM and the anchors kept running and I kept switching my eyes from mobile to TV and back. As soon as I heard the word “middle class” my ENT nerves awakened. It appeared as if lakhs of crores will flow down like a waterfall from the TV to my drawing room. Moment he said “gas” my stove lit up and started preparing breakfast. “Petrol” was a little confusing. He somewhere mentioned income tax, I raised my brows to listen keenly as if all my taxes will be washed away like my sins but then he mentioned the “tax net”. I found myself entangled in a fishnet with no way to escape.

He talked about miles of roads & rail, millions of houses, this subsidy and that subsidy. He also mentioned somewhere about the Sensex. My eyes sparkled again expecting my investments to double by the end of the interview. Then he brought in the long term gains. That’s where I switched off mentally. I lost patience when he started making comparisons of inflation, fiscal deficit and all those kinds of words. I switched off the TV and carried my cup of tea to my garden to watch my investment of time in the flowers which were paying rich dividends. I swear the smile returned to my face. Flowers were my gains, my achievement and my accomplishments.

In hind sight, I started to visualise the intelligent looking faces of those “clued-up” anchors. In garb of what the opposition says and critiques say, they were trying to weave a gauntlet around the FM. They were constantly trying to give a knockout punch as also check his knowledge and grip on the budget. I must admire the FM, he never lost his cool nor was he found lacking on the subject. With a calm demeanour he just counter attacked them with questions, facts and figures which under no circumstances could the anchors rebut immediately.

I was just thinking how much of research work these financial analysts do to cherry pick loopholes into the budget. There was not one word of praise by the anchors for either the budget or the FM. They were only there to strengthen the “chakravyuh” which the FM was well prepared to break. One by one, item by item he demolished and justified every pai that he allocated and was going to extract. The anchors must be worried about their own pockets as if the FM would tax every question they asked and levy GST on them. You pay and then proceed.

FM being a master of this subject knew the ropes well.  He also knew that these anchors come with a script and cannot deviate. He bombarded them with figures with a straight face; frankly the anchors would have had no clue of. Even if he told some untruths, I dare say lie, one can always cover it later. He justified every word which was in print and he did it with grace and finesse. I closely observed the FMs body language when a mention of Raga and his tweets on the budget came up.  His piercing look appeared to tell the anchors go teach him the table of two and the spelling of budget.

Finally, FM very well knows that this government needs to survive. Elections 2019 do matter and so do the people. My only fear is that my meager savings should be preserved. Will the FM shower his blessings on the common middle class man in the next budget? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

LIFE IN THE YEAR GONE BY

A stage comes in life when one realises that time has now come to shed all negativity in life. Not that you are going to attain saint hood but as life gives you experiences you tend to mellow down for the better.  One realises that the bitterness you carried was for no reason. The unpleasant situations were self created most of the times or were reactions to people’s unpleasantness towards you. The anger within you was more for things which you could not do but you were forced to do against your will. The animosity and hostility against people was futile and for no reason actually. People reacted nastily to you either in self defence to prove a point. The dislike for orders in your official capacity will always stay and mixing official life with private life was the icing on the cake.

We created unknown enemies’ due to conjectures, guesses, speculations, assumptions, suppositions, imagination, presumptions, gossips, rumours and deductions thereof. No one cared to find out the truth, no one spoke, most of us just whatsapped, instagrammed, facebooked and old timers like me might have sent a few mails. All this was done to show that we are in touch but the thought may not be from the heart.

Many of us are on various groups; one good morning goes with a copy to all. We cover ourselves by sending wishes to even our so called “enemies” thus. Things I find are becoming more artificial, more kind of mechanical, where you have a fake or a pseudo connection with everyone. Yes one can understand the list of friends is growing on social media but actually the distances of our hearts are increasing.

To show you are in touch, you like a picture or comment on it because you do not want to offend the other person, secondly to acknowledge and show that you have seen the post, thirdly is to show to others that you are close to that person. Beyond that I doubt if we are true to even the thought behind the “like” button. Thumbs up sign means everything, an emoji means more than everything. A “heart” means that you don’t have time to comment. Most of us are copy pasting if not forwarding posts which will repeatedly come to you from at least 15 different sources. God save us from the videos which do the rounds repetitively. Free “gyan” (knowledge) is distributed abundantly, like I am doing now.

Well if this is what I and you feel, then this dangerous trend appears to be consolidating that we all are living in this make belief world. The status you display, the smiley’s that you paste, the kisses that you shower mean actually nothing.

One definitely feels on top of the world if a girl sends a wink. One goes through the roof if a girl sends a wink with a pout and kiss. If red lips come your way from her one feels like taking a “chuttie”(leave) that day  just to think yaar ye kyon bheje. (Why have lips been sent to me?) Out of shyness the girl will not say sorry that it was sent by mistake. Actually, she wanted to send a frown but next to the frown was the kiss emoji which got selected and the finger was already on the send arrow. Off it flew. You keep assuming what she wants to covey, she keeps hoping against hope that you don’t see it. People write “love and big hugs” but when you meet in person hugs evaporate, love disappears, life goes on. Right!

Families and friends sit within Wi-Fi range to communicate on phones.  People look for open Wi-Fi networks to download all the stuff they can, saving their data pack. People try and guess Wi-Fi passwords just to log in.  Let me share an experience. Some kids start a conversation  with leading questions like uncle you were born in march na, you say no, November, they say 12th  you say 2nd  and the year they guess as they would have already extracted it out saying that uncle you look 40. You tell them you are 54. Then you find a sudden silence, eyes on mobiles as everyone is guessing the password. Your car number and scooter number would have been tried already. Uncle is uff smarter.

Be that as it may, last year I learnt to grow flowers and they helped me to keep my negative energy at bay. Flowers helped me to smile & bring joy and happiness every time I opened the front door. One got a sense of achievement as your hard work had paid.  It gave a sense of contentment and satisfaction too. I found a way of avoiding people who emanate negativity energy and are a bad influence.  Some I deleted from my mailing list. I also had to exit from some groups. To top it all, I got off the damn idiot box which is a big relief.

This year I look forward to meet and greet people better. How far it will work out, I can’t say. I don’t want to make it my New Year resolution either but put in a genuine effort to be a better person. Is anyone coming along my way? 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

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

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

IS INDIA ON THE RIGHT TRACK

Bechare Modiji is in a catch 22 situation. Where to start and where to finish? What to do and what to leave? I applaud his efforts of making a beginning but his efforts need an equal thrust down the chain. Unless the states and center sit together on one national agenda, one national priority then only it will be possible to chalk out a path. All citizens have to chip in and be on the same grid.

With all that I see, read and hear, it appears to me that our industries are in a mess, trade is in a soup, railways are derailing, women and child care no one cares, farmers are left in wilderness, defence of the country is short of manpower and equipment, terrorism and militancy are never ending. On the surface things look calm but the undercurrents are giving a different signal. Why is my perception like this? Why do my senses infer everything is not right? Why am I uncomfortable with the way things are? The common man is perturbed. He is unsure of his future.

Unemployment and job creation are mismatched as on date. What can a youngster do even if he is educated? The political game plan of dividing the people of this country is leading us nowhere. Plus our religious fundamentalism and intolerance is adding fuel to the fire. We are becoming our own enemies; appears to be path of self destruction.

Be that as it may, if the PM says that he is satisfied with his efforts, definitely he will have the overall picture. I am sure he will reveal it in one of his “man ki baat”.  Money is not the issue I suppose for the government but money cannot work on its own. People who are responsible to distribute the resources and money have to show accountability.

The underlying factor is the sincerity in effort, good governance, close monitoring, no corruption and no shortcuts by one and all. If we could stand in queue for our turn to get money from the ATM after demonetisation, we need to be prepared to stand in line for everything else. We need to have patience in this world of internet and twitter. We need to have the will to sacrifice our luxuries for the sake of this nation and its future. We have to think India first.

I can give this moral lecture because of two reasons, firstly because of my background and training in the army I know what discomforts are and how to overcome them. Secondly, I am financially ok even if I have to live on simple dal-roti. The rich will never feel the pinch but what about the poor, middleclass, unemployed people who are running from pillar to post for their living? Petrol and diesel prices add to their woes. The farmer who provides us food is dying a slow death due to lack of support. The Defence is facing an external enemy on multiple fronts is also involved in the internal aggression needs full government backing. Our education system is cockeyed with multiple types of education, multiple fees structures and barriers due to the federal system in this country. Our huge orchestra is playing in a concert with many instruments out of sync and out of tune thus producing only noise which is clearly visible in parliament and news debates.

Red tapeism still exists. There are multiple rules and regulations for the same thing. There are laws but getting justice is difficult. Justice gets delayed that it is almost kind of denied. Corruption in government departments is still rampant. A common man has to grease someone somewhere up the ladder in cash or kind or through a third party. Bribes are camouflaged when they change into Diwali or New Year gifts; people stay on the house with family in resorts maintained by companies, provision of chauffeur driven vehicles on holidays, booking of air tickets etc at the corporate level have become the new normal to oblige and get things done.

Basic health care doesn’t find a place in our national priorities. People die, children die, makes no heads roll. The pathetic condition of the stinky, dirty, filthy government hospitals makes you wonder whether you have come here to be treated or come here to fall sick. Conditions of public toilets & toilets in schools are no better. Policing is under pressure too. They don’t know whether to listen to their political bosses or face the consequences of disobedience. Women are unsafe, schools are unsafe, hiring domestic help is unsafe, filing an FIR is a task in itself besides harassment of the common public never ends. Thus faith in system is reducing.

I kind of feel upset about the whole scene in the country. The beggar on the railway platform, the leper on the red light, the small child selling national flags on the footpath would never know that he too is a hero in his own way. Though they shall live and die in anonymity. This person will have a large enough heart to feed two street dogs. Push your car without charging if you are stuck, eat the left overs which you throw away in dustbins and still proudly salute the national flag because he considers himself an equal citizen of India. He too hopes for achhe din. It is another matter how we treat them.

We have now got to shift focus to nation building. A road map needs to be laid out and we the people have to get involved to implement it. I suppose the vision is there but the will to implement it with all sincerity is lacking. Am I the only one feeling this way? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

FEELING NOSTALGIC

I am working in an organisation which has quite a few ex-servicemen working under me. It feels so good when one receives salutes with the same josh as one used to get when I was in uniform. The loud shout of Jai-Hind still gives me goose bumps.  Sometimes it feels that one never left the army. It makes me emotional as one had never imagined the same izzat will continue. I am definitely lucky.

In my office I miss my dak “in-out” tray. How can I forget the “pending” tray, it actually used to give nightmares as to why something was pending? The wall clock and calendar are still displayed, I still have a bell on the side of my desk to call the runner; the only difference is that I have to ring it more than ten times for half a minute each to catch somebody’s attention, unlike the reaction in the unit. Here we have one person looking after one floor and he has more than ten offices to look after. Sometimes this man does the disappearing trick also.

I also miss my fly swat which used to be my secondary weapon during peace time. I had mastered killing a fly with a flying shot. The glass of water still remains, the coasters are still there but the blazer cloth on my table has gone missing. I still love to have that important information under the glass of my table as a ready reckoner. The nominal rolls are still posted on the notice board along with the training programmes. I still have an operations board with maps and enlargements to show the general area, its major assets, routes of “ingress and egress”.  I love that arrow which prominently shows “YOU ARE HERE” or else I will be lost. I display an arrow which shows north prominently, by the way I will fail if you ask me the difference between true north, magnetic north and grid north.

I also have another board which gives me a feel of my good old days is the parade state board. The only thing is that now there are no companies and platoons but contractors and vehicles. From a black board we have moved to white board, from the chalk we have graduated to temporary markers but the feeling of knowing where each person is gives you a satisfaction that all must be well.

I used to have a white “Sunmica” writing board with lots of china graph pencils and some “chindi” to wipe things off, basically the progress of things and my follow up points which I miss. I also miss the draft pad, a light green shade of paper with a prominent green line about two inches from the left side if I remember correctly. Our clerks were always short of paper and this draft pad used to be the saving grace. The good old glass paper weights, the golden pen stand with a blue and red ballpens called pen Wilson. I used to feel a little jay when the Second in Command’s pen stand used to have slots to keep paper pins and we had a magnet to which anything metallic used to be stick.

I also miss the red and green bulbs denoting busy and free lights. The parallel set of lights in the Adjutant’s office which used to become a waiting hall of kinds for the umpteen cups of tea, waiting for your turn to be fired by the CO. The worst used to be at 2’o’clock. The COs jonga used to be ready to take off, the 2IC inside, red light on, you are hungry and waiting for that one signature and suddenly there is commotion. The adjutant springing out of his chair, both the lights switched off together and off went the boss. 2IC comes and tells you that brother prepare for op area tomorrow. You say sir my leave starts tomorrow, he says which leave, you say sir let me speak to the CO, he says CO has left for Div HQ and there were no mobiles. The only thing one could do was Peechay Mur daur ke chal.

Well another thing typically fauji I have in my office still are those chairs with white covers on their back rests.  I miss my small note pad with your appointment written on top. The Int Section used to nicely cover it, put a talc cover and then fire an “imprinta gun” on a tape. Out used to pop your name and stuck in the centre of your note pad. For lesser mortals they used to stencil the name. So to make up for my love for my name I display the same in form of a metal name plate on my office door with pride. It reminds me that old chap you better maintain the fauji decorum here as people call you Colonel saab and look up to you.

Today we had a kind of orderly room to reprimand a chap for dereliction of duty. I felt so sad for this retired Army clerk who has now become a discipline case beyond any ones control. I have been with him for five years. How I covered him up at the peril of my job is only known to me. How I went out of the way to help him, counsel him, counsel his family, wife too was involved like a unit lady, got him treated for alcohol dependency, motivated him to go through a rehab, sat with him in his hospitalisation, adjusted his leave and pay when he did not have any left and all those things that you do in fauj but to no avail. Today, I had to take his resignation. One could give a pitthoo in the unit or an extra guard check but here I just can’t do any such thing. There is a limit to give “lift” and tolerate nonsense. Incorrigible people are everywhere. I never give up but fauji methods don’t work in civil.

My heart is heavy, my mind is not reconciling with the fact that I as an ex serviceman had to take such a drastic step against another ex serviceman. My conscience did not allow army’s image to be tarnished anymore. If this man has decided not to listen to logic, so be it. He better be relieved from duty and left free to live his life the way he likes. Have I done the right thing? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

CHANGE THE GOAL POST

Let us start with an assumption that we are going to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, nothing wrong, most of the countries are doing it. What if I say that the same nuclear technology will also be used for making bombs as a safety and security measure for my country? I sign all declarations and prove to the world that our intentions are very pious & holy but this needs to be done for the country, nothing wrong in it again. Well, time passes everything is fine and one fine day one bomb explodes and people die at a very large scale.  You then say that actually this bomb had an alternative use for a long lost dream of India called population control. You start justifying it by saying; see how many people we have reduced from this earth and from India in particular. How beneficial it is to the country, so many lesser mouths to feed, so much lesser burden on the economy and infrastructure so on and so forth. Everyone wonders if the minister justifying the explosion is in his senses or out of his wits.

What has happened here is that there has been a change of not only the goal post but change in the game itself. The venue changed, the rules and regulations were tweaked as per circumstances and in fact there was nothing original left as to why we started this whole nuclear exercise in the first place. We kept testing the waters and kept adjusting our aim and destinations as we went along as per our convenience. We used political jargon, some facts and figures, some percentages and some decimals to create an impression that what we are presenting to the public is correct and convincing. Poor public which is naive, illiterate and actually is not concerned because if the gareeb janata keeps getting his roti somehow, achhe din or no achhe din, he continues to believe in his political masters. They make, bend, change, tweak, modify and then justify the rules with sugar coated figures.

Well that was my aim to confuse myself so I started with the nuclear example and have still not revealed why am I writing all this. Well folks, I happened to hear our very dear Mr FM & DM briefing the media on the RBI report on the effects of re-monetisation I suppose. At the end of the day the whole exercise of demonetisation aka re-monetisation was done as the colour of the old notes was not matching the PM dresses. In the bargain if the tax payers base of the country increased by 17.971%, well what is wrong with it. The hundreds of tonnes of raddi collected in form of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes will be now handed over to the wall paper industry to change the colour of the walls of the North and South block. The black money which was supposed to come pouring in is still stuck in some foreign land and nothing in black could be retrieved. The cash less changed directions to less cash and the figure quoted was also in fractions of a percentage like 15.237%. Who knows how this figure has been calculated or arrived at and how accurate it is. At least I am not interested. The militants were supposed to be hit by demonetisation but they continued their demonization. Yes the only people who hit them were the armed forces and they shall continue to decimate them.

Added to this chaos of demonetisation came GST. What good it is to man or beast and what services it is taxing that no one is clear to be frank. Now we actually have a demonetised GST economy. The world economists are pondering over it as a special case study to find out how is it going to affect the coconut exports of Maldives as they are convinced that in India nothing has changed. Why I say this is because the trains keep derailing killing innocents travellers, children are again being massacred in hospitals. Babas and Baby’s keep ruling the roost. Bombay and Delhi cannot get over the deluge of rains. Pakistan continues its nefarious activities as usual. China is doing what it wants to do. I am where I was, except for my increasing weight I can find no change in me or my environment around.

It is not surprising at all because the FM handles the defence budget; he is also the DM. In the same breadth, he must be handling the home budget also so he should be the home minister too. I am not surprised that they have amalgamated the rail budget into the general budget but then where is the need to have a railways minister? If FM is going to handle all the money then why have so many ministers floating around. Here I find no logic as the people who are experts in their fields especially defence find themselves not even in the playing eleven of the game. They have been kept merely as extras. Which game they are going to play that the PM will decide? How long they will play that game before shifting to another sport that too is left to him? It is as simple as the cabinet reshuffle. From HRD to textile to another ministry in three years is like Mithali Raj shifting from cricket to badminton to boxing. Then we will expect her to win every game for India, while Sindhu and Mary Kom are told to play kabaddi and do sailing. What is the difference in sport a, b or c?

Well friends, this is not the first time the goal posts have been changed in this country. It was all started with good intentions like the surrendering of gas subsidy. Opening of the bank account was the next initiative. How far has it been really successful that Bhim, Paytm or such portals will tell? Kashmir boils with no goal post in site. Achhe din are just games people say but don’t play.  Will all these exercises bring some peace if not ache din with or without a changed goal post in the near future? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

BLACK SHEEP OF BABA

The BRRSI verdict is going to be out anytime now. Which side the verdict is going to go is quite clear from the bandobast that I see in and around Rohtak. It has been turned into a fortress of kinds. Imagine what difficulties the common man must be facing. More than hundred companies of forces deployed. Army is on standby in case of any eventuality. Dera is being evacuated with streams of followers exiting, most of them ladies that too senior citizens. What were they doing inside intrigues me? What will be their future? Neither BRRSI nor they themselves know.

What was so much of manpower doing inside the camp? They were producing nothing except CO2, H2S and manure. What education was being imparted there, God knows or was he conducting brain-washing sessions? I believe he castrated many men which I heard from testimonies of people who escaped his clutches. Well all this needs to be investigated. I would like to know the status of his real sisters too. Was the motive to have castrated males around his close cordon to save his sisters from the wrath of what he used to do to the other female disciples? Were the sisters aware of his adventures? All this is shrouded in mystery. His bubble has burst and many lives saved.

I am not sure if every follower who is leaving the camp is being properly docketed, their names and addresses etc. How long were they there? What all did they see and do in the dera? I could see that most of them are poor and basically the Punjabi speaking community. I was not aware that there were so many grades in the Punjabi society. Yes, once upon a time mom used to scare us that behave or else Nihang baba will take you away. I happened to visit Beas once as a kid and was quite surprised to see another massive Sikh establishment so close to Amritsar. A breakaway from the main stream I suppose. One was only interested in the tasty subsidised pakoras and langar food in those days. I know of people who turned vegetarians, non smokers and drinkers as they were going to take “Naam”. One never questioned that, as that was beyond my purview of things and still is. For me a Punjabi was a friend and jiggrey yaar, which sect, which guru he followed made no difference to me.

I have been explaining to people the difference between Catholics and Protestants often. In Protestants there are Methodists etc.  For a normal Indian a Christian is a Christian, that’s it. Similarly for me, a Sikh is a Sikh, a Hindu is a Hindu and a Muslim is a Muslim. To be frank Christianity is the most divided religion on earth today. People have modified the ways of worship that is all. Anyone who could convince a few people, lecture about the goodness and wellness of being close to God, show some spirituality, do some kind of miracle started to have a following. From one mouth to the other, one neighbour to the other and the chain continues. I would say that slowly these babas and babies become so influential that they gave targets as done in ponzy schemes. Besides, the insiders were threatened with dire consequences not to open their mouths. A person who has no other job, who is getting food, shelter, clothing and a safe place to stay with all facilities would rather play safe.

I am reminded that once I had gone to Mount Abu for a holiday with my family. Moment I stepped out of the bus a person approached me and handed me a pamphlet about “Bhramakumari’s”. I politely requested him not to pester me. Next day we took the tourism bus and the first place they plonked us was their ashram. Nice, neat and clean, nothing religious, a few ladies and a few gents dressed in whites were moving around. Then we were made to sit and listen to their story. Well, I was not impressed or interested in it at all. It was rather a pain to wait for the thing to get over as we were more interested in site seeing. Moment we came out, again a person approached me and asked me when you are joining the thing; I got cheesed off and told him to buzz off. I moved on and enjoyed the rest of the day culminating at the sunset point. I am not sure what those ladies follow or preach but I do not appreciate being indoctrinated into anything forcefully.

Well what I gather from the social media is that when one is oppressed that is the time when one is most susceptible and vulnerable to be carried away. Moment one finds solace, one tends to drift away under the wings of such frauds who promise peace of mind. Moment one starts believing in it you are done. The baba who gave you comfort latches on to your mind and exploits you, once you give in you are gone and there is no turning back. Thereafter, one cannot stand anything derogatory against the guru. Had this issue been nipped in the bud in 2007, things would not have taken such a drastic turn.

My only wish is that this man should be charged with treason. Every inch of his land and property anywhere in India should be sold off and all the losses made up. Let there be a law that any cult, any baba, any baby, any maa who thinks that politicians can be put in their pocket would be put in the clink. I also want to inform all politicians, dare you become black sheep of any of these God men and women for your political gains and donate even one paai of my had earned money from public fund to them, then you too should be booked for treason and impropriety. Will it make any difference to these baba’s and their black sheep, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

MY CHINESE EXPERIENCE

I have been avoiding writing about China and its recent mis-adventures purposely. Let me confess, I am no expert on China. Though we used to have an army pamphlet about China but I could never remember even one organisation chart of their units or formations. Reason was that moment I used to visualise them, all faces used to look alike. So to differentiate HU from HUI and JING from PING became a nightmare for me and I decided in case a question lands up in my exams, I shall just write “Ni-Hao” and leave it at that.

Their script always fascinated me. Their architecture fascinated me too. The “SHAOLIN” movies were my favourites. Jackie Chang was too good but the exaggeration of the drunken monk kind of movies made that fascination fade away. Their aerial tricks and their flying mid air fights were definitely a wow factor but were a bit too much to swallow. I could not watch those Kung-fu kinds of movies as everyone kept picking up fights for no reason. They could fight with a tea cup, a broom, or even a spoon. What I disliked the most was the sounds they made while fighting. I was more comfortable with dishoom-bhishoom stuff.

I used to wonder while playing cricket about a term called “China Man”. Well it was a left arm leg spinner bowling an off break to a right handed batsman. I am sure you would be confused like I was for many years. That’s the aim of this ball, to surprise the batsman. I remember Navjot Sidhu, “Sherry” was in the slips when YPS Patiala was playing with my team from Sainik School Kapurthala many-many moons back. They had this left arm spinner and Sidhu kept shouting to him from second slip, China maar China isko. I laughed as I knew what he was talking about. This boy bowled a china man a bit too short of a length; I went on the back foot and gave it a solid whack. Off it went for a four towards square leg. I winked at sherry. I never got a china man bowled at me in that match.

Yes, Chinese food still fascinates me. I was introduced to it while in IMA Dehradun in a small eatery on Rajpur road called YETI, if I recollect the name correctly. Slowly we weaned off to the basic Momo-Thuppa kind of stuff near Ghanta Ghar due to financial constraints as a GC (Gentleman Cadet). One always thought those people were Chinese. Later when I served with them did I realise that how real Chinese noodles were made. Lovely people they were and Tashi Deleg to all of them. We Indians now are hooked on to the Tibetan cuisine for sure.

Another incident of how far I could dig my soul into the Chinese military was when I was made the CO of a Signal Regiment in a war-game of a mountain division against China in Staff College. Firstly, I had no idea about the terrain in the East of India where this Dhoklam thing is happening. Secondly, my phobia of learning anything about Chinese Army petrified me like hell. Thirdly, I was a Mech officer, commanding a Signal Regiment almost killed me. The only Radio sets I handled were the ones fitted in my BMP or the ANPRC with a ten foot telescopic antenna. I knew if the instructor asks me even one question, leave alone Chinese tactics I will forget how to spell “signal”. Well, the great moment arrived and I had to brief a truck load of Directing Staff (DS) on a map about my role as a Commanding Officer of a Mountain Division Signal Regiment. One of the Brigadiers asked who amongst you is CO Signals. I stepped forward, sir yours truly. He said Noel we don’t have time; we give you five minutes for your briefing. I said sir trust me I will take only two because of enemy jamming. The DS burst out laughing and moved on to CO ASC battalion without even listening to me. I thanked my stars and must have smoked a pack of cigarettes after that, as I was feeling so goddamned relieved. You may lose a war if you read the “signals” wrong, isn’t it? I had won mine.

The recent intrusion in Chushul took me down memory lane when I was posted there. I had the privilege to climb the heights around Chushul to experience firsthand how conditions of 1962 would have been for our soldiers. While counting bunkers, I remember the doors used to be jammed due to frozen ice. The bunkers had to be aired for a couple of days to open up. Imagine how they would have dug those bunkers. Standing atop Pankha heights, the Pongang Tso staring at you like a vast ocean and the air strip appeared to be a highway of some kind. My head bows in respect to every soldier who participated in whatever capacity in that battle. It was indeed a humbling experience, an experience of a life time. The Trishul heights, the Spangur area etc were the most beautiful places I ever saw. My brothers who bore the brunt of 62 war fought with minimum strength, underrated equipment; clothing not fit for that altitude and weather but their morale was high, their spirits were dauntless; their courage was rock solid even when the enemy kept chanting Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai. Today one finds the saying painted on many stones, “In the land of Lamas, don’t be gammas”, is absolutely true.

Be that as it may, China is huge, China is tough and of course China is strong in every way. That should not deter us from keeping that country at bay. These incidents which are happening are not really what their actual intentions might be as I reckon. There is something more sinister to it.  We got to be prepared to take China on. Are we ready? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

 

INDIA NEEDS TO UNITE WITHOUT A WAR

If there will be a war with either China or Pakistan or both in the near future, are we as a country ready to cope with it? The Armed Forces will do their best I am sure. What I am sceptic about are the people who are other than armed forces including me. Are they going to do their bit for India? I know this country always unites during wars. My question is will we unite as “Indians” without and before a war? What cost will we have to pay for this unity is the big question? Can we put India first? The consequences of war will take us back by more than 50 years. How will we plough back, the very thought gives me the shivers.

Natural calamities I can understand, do take a toll. What I am afraid of is the manmade disasters like goondaism, dadagiri, corruption, bribery, fraud, dishonesty in thought and action, lynching, stalking, agitations for reservations, etc as prevalent today. Why do we destroy national assets in case we want reservations? Why do we burn our transport and buildings if we want water? I feel in case of war some people still won’t change from doing such misdeeds. It needs a miracle to change our basic character. People will still make money by hoarding, by hiding things, by manipulating, by creating an artificial shortage of certain essential goods and services. War clouds can never be wished away but trickery and deceit can definitely be avoided for the sake of this nation. Chances are that the war clouds may not rain. However, in today’s times we better be prepared for a cloud burst. Death may fall from the sky as bombs during war. Enemy can target anything, so citizens of India let’s brace ourselves up for it. Let us join hands for the nation’s sake.

Let us be prepared for rationing and curtailing of our freedoms including the press. Rationing of food grains, fuel, clothing, transport, medical care, freight, railways, air space, internet, mobile telephony and you name it. Doesn’t it look scary? Doesn’t it sound outlandish? How will we function without internet or a mobile? How will it feel when military special trains will be given priority over super fast trains? How will it feel to live with black outs? There is a difference between power cut and black out. You will have electricity but can’t switch on lights. People will still switch lights on until a bomb will find their building. How will it be to live in trenches? How will it be when suddenly you are unemployed as your industry is obliterated in an air attack? Air raid sirens blowing, you shall be rushing to shelters? From your luxurious, chauffeur driven, air conditioned BMWs, you will be sharing space with 10 others in a hot and humid bomb shelter. How will it be when all facilities that one takes for granted are suddenly withdrawn? You will be checked, frisked and questioned. Your daily routes diverted and movement restricted. It will be difficult to imagine and unacceptable to most.

Let me ask another question here, how many of the able bodied men and women would volunteer to join the forces if need be? I will request all those who send mails and messages to change ones DP to the tri-colour on Independence Day and Republic Day to be ready to join the war effort. Saying it on face book and twitter is easy, doing it on ground needs guts. Trolling on social media is easy but assaulting the enemy on the battlefield is a tough job. To stalk a girl in Chandigarh is easy but to stalk the real enemy is never done the “Barala” way. Desh Bhakti doesn’t come from the free flowing ideas in JNU but it comes from within our Indianess. It comes from our soul and not from our tongue. Singing Vandematram and shouting Jai Hind is desh prem. Having tears in your eyes when lata sings “ai mere watan ke logo” is your feelings for the soldier. Standing up for the National Anthem is our duty. Desh Bhakti actually is when one understands the meaning of each of these compositions and slogans and inculcates them in ones lives and that is the need of the time.

I am ready to offer my services again if the nation needs them. We the veterans will definitely do our bit. I request all the corporate honchos who do lots of number crunching, graphs, pie charts etc to understand that all that is fighting on paper. All that may impress your bosses. All that may get you incentives. All that may get you various awards. If you people are such experts, please volunteer to do social service during war. Promise to be a sentry of a society at night. Promise you will not do any fraud whatsoever ever. Promise that you will not lie and fudge figures. Promise that you will pay your taxes truthfully for this country. Promise you will report every happening correctly as seen and not as perceived. Promise you will not back bite and back stab your fellow workers. Honesty has to come from within; unity has to be understood in its totality. Time now is to build “Desh Shakti”.

Be that as it may. Over the year luxuries of life have become necessities and we take them for granted as our birth right. I am sure my countrymen shall unite moment the balloon goes up. We have to anticipate things and be prepared mentally. We need to forget caste, creed, religion, region, language and any form of reservations. Bombs and bullets cannot differentiate any of these. We need to keep the independence of this country intact by doing our bit, war or no war. Will we? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

WISHING ALL MY FELLOW CITIZENS A VERY HAPPY 71ST INDEPENDENCE DAY

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

LET ME CHANGE MY NAME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

 

RAKHI A FINE THREAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

BAN EVERYTHING CHINESE

I have been seeing posts and videos saying that let us stop buying Chinese products. This Diwali we shall not use any lights or Rakhi’s made in China. Instead some people are emphatically propagating to buy pure Indian products only. Well, we have been hearing of make in India, made in India, made for India, made by Indians and many such slogans. The reality is that we in India do not make goods which match the prices of Chinese goods. What we make don’t even last as long as a made in China product. The quality in our products is lacking. Cost of our product is also unaffordable, thus forcing us to look for alternatives elsewhere. We Indians also have a tendency to buy products which have an imported stamp. It may be made in Korea, US or Timbuktu; we love to buy that stuff or am I conjecturing too much. This, the inner voice in you can only tell.

Let us see the car purely made in India. The poor Ambassador has finally died its own death. The old work horse of the taxi people and the Indian Army, Hindustan Motors finally shut shop. HMT watches, where are they? I wore one with pride many moons back. Today, we hear of Bharat-Benz, Maruti-Suzuki, Ashok-Leyland, Swaraj-Mazda etc. These names are related to a foreign product or are in partnership with them. So are many of the banks. The Fords, Toyotas, Mercs and Hondas are pure foreign brands. Computers too are assembled in India. Name a brand which is pure Indian in mobiles or doesn’t use imported products in its components. For industries many chemicals are ex-import, technology is ex import, raw material too is ex import. Lesser said the better.

Take apparels, take cosmetics, take any product and you will find a foreign hand in that. I am not propagating Baba Ramdev products, though I love his biscuits and Sarson ka tel but just food for thought that we love to enjoy all things foreign. How many of us wear Khadi? I am sure there would be many. Our markets opened up, our currency stood its ground and products which were unheard of in India now are available at affordable prices.

Take the defence equipment. Aircrafts are American, French or Russian, tanks are Russian, missiles from Israel; war ships and submarines are from Britain, Russia or France. Bofors is ex import, Tatra is ex import, BMP is ex import, most of our ammunition is ex import, special clothing is ex import, parachutes are ex import but our land is indigenous. AK-47, bullet proof jackets are ex import, but our spirit to operate all these is pure Indian. We just won the tank competition in Russia standing first amongst 19 countries driving and firing the Russian T-90. I salute all our tank men in black dungarees for this achievement. We adapt ourselves to any equipment very quickly and master its use.

If we talk of the trade deficit with China, it stands at around 46.7 billion dollars today. My goodness Gracious Lord, this must be many ship load full of dollars. How will we get out of it? How will we reduce it? How will we find means to balance it out? Well there are many economists who will work it out for us. The figure of those many billions appears as if India has to pay back China that amount. If we don’t pay we all are going to die by the Chinese torture method. The feeling this word trade deficit gives me is as if we are sunk and the burden to return that money back is my responsibility. Soon time will come when the atta we eat would be Chinese. As it is they are making artificial rice, eggs and vegetables. Well, I have the PM & the Industries Minister to look into the specifics of trade and the Finance Minister to pay for all that. Should I bother?

Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is we are importing more and exporting less. This doesn’t mean that we are not paying for what we are importing. Only thing is that we are not earning as many dollars as we should be earning through export. Let us start producing world class stuff so that it gets consumed within the domestic markets and meets the needs of our population and export. Today, if we even have to import dal, wheat and onions, isn’t it an irony. We have not been able to make cold storage chains to preserve our surplus. Our grains rot in FCI godowns and we talk of trade deficit.

Well friends by just boycotting Chinese products we are doing a lot of harm to the traders who have already paid for it. The item is already in India, it has been paid for because we only demanded it. Some trader facilitated it. We got things at price of dirt. The trader also made a profit. It did not hurt your pocket either and now suddenly you say that don’t but anything made in China. Is it fair? Let’s give a date after which all Chinese imports officially are stopped? Traders to dispose of items till a particular date, then take him to task. I say let us stop buying anything imported. Period!

Let us get after the government to set up a mechanism so that imported items are banned till the Indian mindset gets used to using and enjoying everything Indian. All trade deficits will evaporate. Today we export Iron ore. Is there a justification for it? Why this product can’t be used in house and iron made cheaper for iron and steel industry to flourish. Why do we allow import of scrap and kill this industry. Then as a stop gap measure we increase the import duty on iron scrap so that the domestic market picks up. This is only a knee jerk reaction with no long term strategy in place.

Well it is not as simple as I am portraying it. Can we exchange products for manpower? I don’t know. By boycotting things won’t resolve issues with China. By setting up a clear goal for use of Indian products vis-a-vis Chinese and other imported products can we sort this out?  China has banned whatsapp and twitter. Do it in India and see the results. Half of us will be on the verge of committing suicide if not murder. I have also seen posts on calculations of the number of products, revenue generated from it and how if we stop it will hurt China. Agreed, if you don’t buy from one shop then you have to have an alternative. Similarly, China will look for another client for its products. It definitely has the capacity to survive without selling to us. So let us make classy Indian products at affordable prices for the common man. Can we? I wonder!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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