If I were a twelfth class student today, fresh out of the exams, would I have already thought about my career? What would be going on in my mind? I think there would be utter chaos and confusion of selection of a stream triggering random thoughts to do this or something else? The twelfth mark sheet would be instrumental in further planning. Retest is besides the point due to these leaks.
If I get about 70-80 percent in twelfth, will I have a future? What career options do I have? Is there a scope for me to pursue something of my interest? Actually, do I know what my interests are in the first place! I am now transiting through a phase from a school going kid to adult life. I definitely need a career which should fulfil my dreams, excite me, suit my temperament, allow me to continue my hobbies and also pay me well.
Mom and Dad have generally been struggling all through their lives. We don’t have our own house as yet. Mom always picked up jobs in every place father got posted. They always insisted on savings. I saw them buying gold for obvious reasons. Everything used to be on a tight rope, there was a kind of an unseen discipline which we loved to hate. For them books and studies were the only priorities.
Dad preferred his scooter to the car. Mom would never let us feel lonely and dad always boosted our morale. Now was the time for my transformation to step into new shoes, walk my own steps and face my own challenges. Dilemma in the mind was eating me up.
Easiest for me was to continue studies. Now it will be college time, freedom, independence, new place, new friends, time to experiment with life, learn new things, get worldly wise and enjoy. Second was to become a professional as professional could be.
Donations were a big no from Dad. He was there for guidance, sharing knowledge and unflinching dedication for us. Mom had additional virtues of love, care and affection, besides being the best cook. Will I survive in this mad bad world without them? Will I miss home and homemade food? Will I be able to take on a hostel or paying guest? Percentage of marks was below the cut off of a good college, so admissions on merit would be an issue.
Suggestions from people were overflowing to do this & do that. The final decision was ultimately left to God. He would be the guiding light. As the saying says “God helps those who help themselves” so it again boiled down to me. The confusion kept compounding.
Had I scored well, my mark sheet would have spoken for itself. Medical is too tough, engineering I can’t even spell, Literature is not my cup of tea, arts is Greek and Latin to me, Law is difficult, then what else is left.
I decide to join the forces. I love adventure, mountaineering and sports. I love to travel, I like to meet new people and I love to drive. Dad doesn’t know I have been driving the car on the quiet. I can name all kinds of battle tanks existing in the world today. Let me give a try for NDA.
They will not only make me a graduate but give me all that I desire. I don’t have to worry about marks much plus they do give a good pay. I just have to be an upright, truthful, hardworking and an honest person. I have been standing first in debates and declamations in school and participated at state and national level and won prizes, which should help me.
Mom with her heart of wax said “mera sona beta” will not join forces. They have a very tough life. No food, no water, inclement weather and terrain. On top of that these militants. If he gets posted to Kashmir what will happen. He should never go to the North-East, it’s too dangerous. Deserts are too harsh. Dad just sits and watches all the rona-dhona and winks at me.
Phew! I won’t have to appear for JEE, CAT, NEET, TOEFL, PMT, CET blah blah blah. One day, Mom wakes me with a registered letter from UPSC. I open it and see that I am 200 in the merit list and on 01 June I have to join NDA. I pick up mom and give her a swirl; she is like what the hell. I say mom “zindagi ban gayi”. I pull that letter from her hand and rush to announce it to the world.
Can I have a better career after twelfth other than the Forces? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis
I wish I had a job like these guys who come on a programme “Highway on my plate”. Some appetite those guys have. 30 years back I could have beaten them hands down. I like the one who is a non-vegetarian. Ghass-Phoos is not my cup of tea to be frank but due to dietary restrictions and age catching up, perforce I have to munch on my veggies and sprout salads. Nevertheless, I want to understand how they control their weight. For me even when I drink water, it goes and gets stuck on my waist like the after effects of Desi Ghee.
Imagine one gets paid for eating. This is some naukri I must say. Their crew must be dying salivating. The beauty is that they publically announce whether they liked or disliked the food. I wish they have a NDA second termers “square meal” as a daily ritual for their diet. In case they ran away from learning table manners I would send all the Drill and PT ustads hunting for them till the time they not only have a “flat foot” but a flat belly too.
Be that as it may, how can one eat so much and not have acidity. I am sure ENO salt people would have them on their cross wires. I think better would be “agar pet safa, har rog dafa” kinds. Kayam Chooran can claim to reduce the emissions of their obnoxious gases for free. By the way, these guys must be farting and farting non-stop. The only way to make way for the next morsel must be to release some gas. I pity the crew who accompany them as their car would be no less than the Nazi gas chamber of sorts.
When these guys must be reaching homes they must be insisting on their wives to make that “patli peeli wali khichiri”. People don’t get to eat two square meals and here we have two chaps who polish of meals for twenty chaps without even belching. I am sure they believe in the adage “pet bhar gaya par neeyat nahi bahri”.
In NDA, I and my cousin used to go to a tamarind jungle near Kondwa gate? We used to target the ripest pods, get them down with a fagot and squeeze the sweet, sour and tangy pulp on the slices of bread. Call it a “Tamrindwich”. We used to sometimes pick up “mixture” (namkeen) from gole market, mash a few “boondi ladoos” in it and stuff the “thing” in buns and wash it down with water, as going to get tea room on a movie day for a second termer meant trouble.
Many moons back my wife once asked me yaar we have been married so many years and you have never told me that what you would like to eat. You just eat what I make. So please tell me. I said OK make Chicken Mayonnaise. All hell broke loose that day. “Don’t you know there is no chicken”. “First get chicken and then demand such a thing”. “We also don’t have mayonnaise”. “You do it on purpose”. Well I said you asked for it, what’s my fault. “No, you don’t love me and just want to embarrass me”. I learnt my lesson to keep shut and eat what you get ever after.
A few years later, when love overflowed again she said. “Yaar you never tell me how I cook”. “You never find any faults with my dishes”. “You just say “theek hai” never say “achha hai ya kuch kam-ziada hai”. One fine day I said “Namak kam hai” and all hell broke loose again. “How many times have I told you salt is not good for health”. “Don’t you find the salt and pepper shaker in front of you”? “This Tata chap is not making good quality salt”. “If I have forgotten to put it once why do you have to highlight it?” I said my dear, if I don’t say anything you have an issue. You coaxed me to say something, now there is an issue. Just tell me will I get dinner today or not. Believe you me there was double the salt in the dinner and I ate quietly. She sat with a grumpy face and decided to eat quite late. Then meekly came and said sorry and asked me how I ate with so much of extra salt. I told her I am Ex-NDA from 66 course. I can eat anything which moves or doesn’t move. We are Lakkar Hazzam and Pathhar Hazzam. (We can digest wood and stones)
Since that day I have been saved the agony of commenting on any food. By the way she is a terrific cook. My paunch reveals everything. Nevertheless, when will I get a chance to just taste food and be paid for it? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!
As I sit back and look at the journey of my life, had I continued in the Indian Army, I would have retired at the end of this month. In the civil where I work with now, I may go on for another 6 years if all goes well. Well, I am not sure will I be able to last that long because of my nature which does not go very well in civil, which is to take a stand for my subordinates or for something which my conscious does not allow. Well, this attitude has cost me my job many times. I still continue to bash on regardless without bothering about the outcome.
This brings me to a question. Which is the right profession then? What can be termed as a satisfying career? In which job can you keep working till the day you like, keep earning and enjoy the best of life? Is it the forces? The answer is an absolute no. Is it the corporate? My answer is an absolute no again. I find two professions which might fit in the bill. One is to become a politician and the other is to become a holy man.
Be that as it may, the thought that triggered me to write this piece was the way armed forces are being used in the country today. It has been proved that the forces will come to the rescue of this nation for anything and everything including building a foot over bridge or cleaning the mountains besides all that we keep doing routinely in Aid to Civil Authorities. Why do we do it so professionally? It is because this comes from the ethos the men and women in uniform imbibe in them.
The simple formula we follow is Z-KIT-BM. The landmarks (Zamini Nishan) are given to get familiar with the terrain and area of responsibility, the information of both, own side and the enemy is given in great detail (Khabar dushman ki aur Khabar apni), the aim (Irada) of the operation is made crystal clear. It is short, crisp and precise. The modus operandi (Tarika) is then told so that no doubts are left lingering, including various contingencies. Thereafter, we discuss the administration (bandobast) and finally are the communications (Milap) between all parties participating in the operation.
Last but not the least we also synchronise our watches (Ghari Milao). This is the most important ritual, as we do things time bound. We then get to work even without orders. In case our leader becomes a causality or is not available, the next senior assumes his position automatically. We work, we rest and we get back to work again amidst all chaos till we achieve our aim as given out in the Irada. We fight till the last man last round, if rounds finish we get our bayonets on, if bayonets break, we don’t give up even then, we use are bare hands to achieve the aim even if we perish in the process. That’s our culture.
All this I do not see happening in the civil. First, I find the main aim is “paisa banao” (make money). Second, is to paisa bachao (save money), by not paying well and cutting down on salaries, amenities and manpower. To achieve greater heights the formula becomes lick, lick and lick. Butter every side of the toast. The formula used is, “KAAM NA KARO, KAAM KI FIQR KARO AUR FIQR KA ZIQR APNE BOSS KO ZAROOR KARO” (Don’t work, just worry about work and keep telling your boss that how worried you are) is the key to success. Secondly, for any fault, blame all and sundry rather than own up responsibility. Make someone the scapegoat. Let truth never prevail. If caught, run away or go to court.
Sit long hours in office twiddling your thumbs. In fact your boss does the same but apparently it should appear that you are the most sincere employee. Bring a pin and describe the process as if you bought an aeroplane. Discuss it repetitively in all meetings the efforts you put in to research about it, the hurdles you faced in the selection process, the difficulty with which you could convince people to pass your budget, not to forget how many mails you sent and the paper work you did. How you almost visited the vendor, got the pin loaded and followed it through every octroi post. Blame the delay on the non cooperation by some who did not give a crane to unload this pin especially if you hold a personal grudge against him. At the end expect a complimentary mail for you to keep in record to show it during your appraisal. Life actually sucks.
The profession of babas and baby’s I don’t have to discuss. Politics I don’t know and about politicians I won’t utter a word. One thing I may like to tell the people who run this country is that, Sirs, if you don’t make the profession of the Armed Forces the best career option in this country, if you don’t give the serving and the veterans their dues and Izzat, then your profession will be jeopardy someday. Politics as a career is alright but will you be able think beyond the petty politics and pay heed to the writings on the wall called “Khabar Apni”? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!
I was listening to Mehboobaji on the issue of Article 356 and the flag of J&K. I thereafter heard various discussions on what she said, what she meant, what does it signify, what does it imply etc and made my own conclusions which I shall reveal as this article unfolds. Is she right? I doubt, but if she is wrong, then there is an issue of a very large scale brewing to explode. I am convinced Kashmiri’s can only give a solution for Kashmir. But are all Kashmiri’s on the same grid? Is the present J&K Govt on the same grid with the Govt in Delhi? I as a common man feel that communication is lacking. There is a weak effort to resolve what needs to be done. Calling for a plebiscite doesn’t work in democracy. When you madam represent the people of Kashmir, (if you really represent them), then tell us where do you stand and the measures you propose to stop this mayhem. Expecting only Central Govt to give solutions is passing the buck.
I say if there needs to be a plebiscite, let there be one with a question that do these elected representatives actually represent the voices and aspirations of Kashmiri people? If not then who are their real representatives, solution to Kashmir will automatically start evolving. Are these leaders of Kashmir capable enough to lead their people? The picture will start getting clearer. If war is not a solution and talks are the only solution then let us talk internally first. Today we are falling in our own trap, where the political parties of J&K especially of K, the separatists and the terrorists are taking advantage of our lack of clarity amongst us as to what to do, with whom, when and why.
Be that as it may, let Mehboobaji keep her flag and article 356 for the time being. Can she give out a road map to solutions to the Kashmir problem? Let her speak to the “stake holders” in our Kashmir, what they want and discuss with the PM that this is how it needs to be implemented. Let her, Omar and Farookh sit across the table with all those who believe in India as their nation and tell how are they going to seal the borders? How is she going to stop terror funding? How is she going to convince the Hurriat to forget Azadi and come under the tricolour? Let her give a method to convince and control the stone pelters. Let her government take over the internal situation of Kashmir and show she can govern and protect everyone fairly and effectively, rather than only giving the consequences of removal of the articles.
Yes the Central government should continue all its support like hither to fore. Let Mehboobaji give a manner she proposes for employment generation other than Sarkari naukris. Let her reveal plans as to how she will develop tourism, fisheries, agriculture, power, infrastructure, industry etc and set a time frame to address these issues to wean away unemployed youth from nonsense. Simply by sucking Central Govt of funds and resources and leaving Kashmir to be governed by God doesn’t work out. She has the mandate, she has to do it. She needs to create history. She has to have her intelligence grid going and sorting out those who throw stones or fire weapons or support such things, after all the J&K flag flutters today because the Tiranga flutters there, is there a doubt?
Let her come up with a method of utilising her state forces. CAPFs and Indian Armed forces deployed for the protection of the state may be utilised if she needs them. I feel we need to take a big chance if we agree to withdraw all central forces. Let Mr Rajnath and her sit down and plan with the civilian “Mehakma” how to police and keep every citizen safe from harm’s way. I would rather say it would be an ideal opportunity for the armed forces to take a breather. I know my military expert friends shall shoot me down that this will give the militants a breather to regroup and rejuvenate. So be it friends. Imagine by then all terror funding would have stopped. All people with separatist tendencies put in the clink, all hawala money choked, traced out and seized if possible. Infiltration as good as zero as the armed forces would be able to beef up the borders, all those infiltrating through the third country would be scared enough to take a chance to reach Kashmir alive.
Won’t police operations by the sons of the soil stop stone pelters? Stone pelters may not do so to their own kith and kin. Locals if taken on board will reveal most of the caches or routes to them thus bringing a halt to availability of arms and ammunition. Even if many of them take up arms, good for us. Now the forces can take them on without hesitation with definite information available. Moment militants engage security forces they will ensure they are dead meat. The residual militants thus get wiped out. Let it be deterrence for future militants. Let us give them a lose rope to hang themselves. Pakistan by then should be warned to be prepared for some roughing up with every breach and every cease fire violation. You do mischief, we would slap you hard, needs to be conveyed loud and clear.
All this needs meticulous planning, guts and decisions which can be game changers. The key issue remains getting Mehboobaji and gang to get on the job. Today, I find the home minister running up and down, political leaders visiting without reason, Army Chief meeting her for courtesy sake? Let us stop it. Today, there is a government, there is state machinery, there are the people who want peace but there is no strong will and clear intention to sort out this mess. Each day of delay is costing money, resources and precious lives. They are Indian lives, our people. Because getting martyred has become routine doesn’t mean that this should be allowed to continue. If every life counts, out of box solutions have to be found by Mehboobaji first and now.
I heard General Musharaff on a channel who clearly stated that Pak will do Kargil like operations again. He also stated that they call those people mujahedeen whom we call terrorists and this India and US need to understand, they won’t. He also was emphatic about CPEC which is already in advanced stages of construction. If it hurts India, Pak will do it. Let’s be clear then whom are we dealing with. All this people to people contact, aman ki asha chaps wake up. Indian Biryani is far better.
We need to sort out our internal Kashmir thing first and fast. We need the present J&K government on its toes besides being careful of Pak at all times. We have the wherewithal to make it happen. Mehboobaji aur Modiji, Abhi nahi to Kabhi nahi, will you please take note of it, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!
I was a happy go lucky chap in school interested in everything co curricular. I had no particular aim in life as such. Then one fine day my “brainwashing” started. I was in a school which wore a uniform, had a kind of military discipline; it also had strict teachers as also officers of the Armed Forces such as Colonels, Squadron Leaders, Flight Lieutenants, Captains of the Indian Navy and Army above all my dad was more OG (Olive Green) than OG can be. I was made to focus on only one thing and that was NDA. So I actually got used to this indoctrination technique, where everyone you met did not ask you how were you, but how well your preparation for NDA was. I did not disappoint anyone as I joined the illustrious institution.
My second makeover was done in NDA. Whatever shades of the civil life was left in me got converted into becoming a cadet? My morning prayers used to start with I love my country and continues as such. This cadet could manage a cup of cold coffee to a bicycle valve, a KD (Khaki Dress) to a raincoat out of thin air. I could roll in my sleep and crawl while resting, eat doing a head stand. I could dance without music and enjoy my supper in empty plates. I could produce a pen and paper even while wearing an under wear, though we hardly wore any. I fought daily battles with bedbugs which is a torture technique I mastered. I could let a bee or a fly sit on my nose without scratching or swatting at it. I could blow hot & blow cold in the bathroom sessions; I could roll up hill and up a staircase. I could jump in blind wells of the “Charlie” kind. I could navigate with no map in all out of bound areas. My nose was so sensitive that I could detect a fag three squadrons away. I did “Savdhan Chal” to every scooter, car, horse and dog on a leash. I could watch movies with my back towards the screen. I could run fifteen miles between dinner and lights out. I could beat Shivaji in climbing Singharh fort. I could sham, I could pill, and I could feign the biggest limp. I could improvise conjunctivitis with paste rubbed in my eyes. I could sleep 25 hours in a day if I had the choice. I could only keep awake if a lady teacher took my class. Overall, I was brain washed in such a manner that I forgot who I was. It was surprising they conferred on me a graduate’s degree at the end of it. After all I was on a journey to be in the noblest profession.
My brain washing continued in IMA. Well, I was promoted from Cadet to Gentleman Cadet. You learnt the honour code, you learnt military law. One mastered the art of disguise, not to camouflage for battle but from the Drill Ustad to go to Dehradun to meet some girls. I was drilled hard to keep the integrity of my motherland till the peril of my life. I promised to go where my duty needed me by land, sea or air. I pledged my life to the nation and the tri colour, to keep it safe from all external aggression and internal disorders. I was put through my paces of everything what I needed to lead men to battle. I was conditioned to keep the safety welfare and honour of my men foremost always and every time, the honour of my country came next and my own safety and comfort came last always and every time. I was now transformed into becoming an Indian Army officer, young, full of josh, rearing to go.
I joined my unit in the deserts and was conditioned to become a desert fox. I was trained to not only fire weapons but to strip a vehicle apart and put it back together again. I was accustomed to learn to change oils, open a BMP track, taste petrol or diesel depending on the flavour of the day. I could munch on sand with food, and live on limited water. Above all, I was hardened to be happy in all circumstances. I was skilled to be a jack of all trades. I was supposed to know what a pink Gin was as also a Molotov cocktail; I memorised names and numbers of everyone in my Unit. I could fill a 3008 or a 958 as if writing letters to my “would be”. I learnt to ride a camel and drive a BMP as a second profession. I could communicate with hand, flag, radio, eyes, bird calls, and you name it. I was taught to remain silent and avoid even the rustle of my clothes. I was tempered to walk in the sands survive in the heat, snow and jungles. I was determined to eliminate the enemy before they get into our side of the border. I was at ease to look after the ladies as well as children, I was told to be compassionate and kind. I was taught how to live and work with the men; overall I was made into a unique fighting machine, tough, resolute, upright, caring, honest, dedicated, and professional, a man proud to adorn the uniform, a man proud to lead his men.
As I led my life’s journey I learnt cultures from the north to south, east to west of this country. I learnt to ski with the same ease as I could jump with parachutes from all sorts of aircrafts. I mastered the art of being a champion rock climber. I mastered many languages including three of foreign origin. I soon became a professional logistician during near war situations and moved everything by rail, land and air including the dogs we befriended at our posts. I learnt to balance between private and professional life. I learnt how I could live without my family especially my child whom I could never see taking her first steps or when she started to talk. I was sent to the Capital where I saw the highest offices of the government of India function. Overall, my indoctrination continued unabated.
I one day brainwashed myself to revert back to the civvies streets. I let myself to be trained again at India’s finest management institute in Ahmedabad. I prepared myself that hence forth no lunch is free. Privilege to get a gypsy at the railway station with a glass of tea won’t be there anymore. I will have to stand in queue if I want to pay my bills. I must re-learn to ride a scooter, buy milk and vegetables. I brainwashed myself to iron my clothes and go to the market for a haircut. I prepared myself to wash my own car, polish my own shoes and shine them better than while in service. I just transformed myself to now live with and live for my family. I geared up that now my priorities in life are different from what they used to be but I shall continue with India first and a veteran for life.
In a life span of 54 odd years, I would have adapted myself to 54 types of places, circumstances, living conditions, bosses, situations, state of mind and state of affairs; basically I learnt to remain cool under any circumstances that life can throw at me. My blood and DNA will always remain Olive Green. Will I keep learning as I go? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!