Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Category: OBITUARY

FAREWELL MY COMMANDO BUDDY ASHIWINI CHEEMA

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binäre optionen broker mit hauptsitz in deutschland Can someone suggest a better word in any dictionary to describe a Gentleman? Is there a better description to mean more than a friend? Is there any superlative to describe sincerity, dedication and devotion? Could there be a better partner than this man called Ashwini Cheema. Mike squadron NDA was where I came across him for the first time and later he was my buddy in the commando course. Let me just recollect few funny moments we spent together as a tribute to the finest Commando buddy.

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mujeres solteras cuenca ecuador A power house of strength, witty, with a subtle sense of humour he had. Man of few words he was. It was very difficult to make him smile but when he did smile, he used to take anyone’s breadth away.

One day Capt KK Arun was with our group for a raid. As usual buddy did all the preparations. The LMG landed with us. I cursed in choicest Punjabi, he said in his gruff voice, buddy tu fikar na kar. As luck would have it I dropped the LMG and Capt Arun went berserk. Buddy was on me in fireman lift. I would have carried him for ten minutes and then I threw him down. He knew me so he decided to carry me. I slept all the way to the commando base. How he carried me and the weapons? I almost kissed him out of the love and affection that burst out of me.

Another raid, most of us were sleep deprived, tired and at the end of our tolerance limits. Buddy stopped so I stopped. Buddy moved, I forgot to move and slept off standing. I got up when my knees buckled. I was all alone. I didn’t know where to go. I tried following the footprints but soon they disappeared, so I sat down with my back to a tree waiting for almighty to do a miracle and dozed off again. Around first light I hear a sound Noel-Noel, lo and behold it was buddy. I got my quota of adjectives in chaste Punjabi and he told me to follow him quietly into the commando base. The raid had gone without me; my buddy covered for me. Once things got settled he had come looking for me.

Another patrol, I asked buddy what chocolate are you carrying, he said BHOOTNI KE its not chocolate it is my barrel in your mouth, as it must be in shikari position. I was sleep walking and dreaming of eating chocolate it seems, I was cursing why Indian manufacturers can’t make better chocolates, as the taste of rifle oil and sand was not to my liking.

Buddy used to prepare for briefings, I used to sleep. Buddy used to make khichiri I used to sleep, once buddy offered me a stone as a pillow at night. I thanked him and slept off. At first light I found it was semi-dried cow dung. What peaceful sleep I had! That day I cooked for my buddy on that piece of cow dung.

During escape and evasion we were supposed to cross a dirty pond with improvised water crossing expedients. Buddy warned me not to touch the pond water, I never listened. I drank so much that I would have drowned. Thereafter, I had such an upset stomach that with the dungarees I couldn’t run to ease myself every ten minutes. Well at the end of the day we had those 40 kms to do. Buddy suggested tear off the dangri from behind and I had no choice. He walked with me and used to support me when I had to go for natures call. Ashwani did 40 kms again and got an ‘I’ on the course.

Brother, I spoke to you two years back. I feel so heartbroken to see a powerhouse like you leaving so early. I salute your spirit; I salute your grit and determination to fight. I am happy that now you are relieved of all the pain and suffering. Hats off to Mrs Cheema and Shauraya, we are with you in this time of grief. Buddy as I sign off let me say that you live with us. Cheers brother till we meet again.

AN IMAGINARY ACTORS REAL LIFE

There is a difference in being actually blind and acting and emoting to be blind. There is a sea of difference when a real blind person walks with his cane and an actor does a scene. Actor has countless supporting staff to ensure everything is perfectly placed for the shot, just in case the actor stumbles and a costly set is ruined. If the actor gets hurt there would be hell to pay.

The final word is of the director who shouts CUT, till he finds the actor has been able to portray the exact emotion he wants. The original voice is dubbed; tears are artificial but the end product of all this makes a film hit or a flop. Do we have retakes in real life?

Our film industry has produced umpteen brilliant actors. Many of them have tried their hands in politics, some were successful and some not. Some got nominated to the parliament. It indeed must be an honour and a matter of pride for all those who have graced the temple of democracy. How many actually were able to do justice to the political cap? Your guess is as good as mine.

Wealth is another thing which comes with stardom. Thereafter how they spend it or rather flaunt is their prerogative. The needs remain the same as shoes go from Bata to Gucci, shirt from Peter England to Diesel. The same actor who lived on cutting chai now goes to a five star to have a cup of tea. From a thirty rupee haircut at the road side barber shop, he goes to a spa. The water from the committee tap now is replaced by imported mineral water. He needs body guards, a few cars, maybe his own caravan & personal staff as now memsaab and bachha party too need to enjoy that luxury.

Soon age starts to catch up; the greys in the hair can be camouflaged by dye but the wrinkles under the skin need to be surgically removed. The shapes of the eyes & nose have now to be designer made. The feel good factor is now replaced by the look good factor. Next movie depends on the looks, as acting has already been mastered over the years.

There comes a phase of winning awards. The pinnacle is getting a national award. Market price shoots up. You become a celebrity of kinds. Magazines and news papers are after your blood. Fan & twitter following sky rockets. With name and fame comes socialising, with it comes drinks and partying. With all this comes one night stands and flings. Stealing the affections as per your requirement becomes an in thing. So now you are married, re married and all that stuff.

With money comes charity. Suddenly you get attracted to causes of humanity. You open an NGO. You become benevolent. You then get associated with the philanthropic circuit. You start lecturing on the art of giving. All this is done under arch lights to make at least page 3 news if not the headlines. News sells, if it doesn’t, media is paid to sell it.

Everything cannot be hunky dory always. From acting one moves to producing. With that come its own hazards of the mafia and the goonda elements. Huge sets need huge budgets. Large crew needs to be paid off. Basically a gamble starts, if the film is a hit nothing like it, if not gamble continues.

A time comes when the government decides to felicitate you for your colourful life by a padma series of awards. If you have made enough money you can join a party. For that you need to pledge and contribute to its “chanda”. The actor is now on national and international platforms.

You die one day actually acting all this while. Media tears you apart. Then a tri-colour is seen hugging you on your last journey. The national flag appears to be a kind of prop, like they are used while shooting a film. Even the procession appears stage managed. People of the fraternity gather solemnly to pay their respects. It appears as if it is a huge set where actors wear tons of makeup to show emotions with bruises and cuts with blood gushing out from sauce bottles to emote death.

Though the situation is real, the body is real, the near and dear ones are real, the emotions of the family members are real, crowds are real but somewhere there is a feeling that after this there will be part two of the film where this person will be live again. However the truth is that the actual director of life has finally said cut. Can the almighty do a retake? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

THE SADMA OF SRI DEVI

Life has become so uncertain that will we meet the next moment seems unsure. A beautiful soul has gone. This I say in context of Ms Sri Devi, may her soul rest in peace. She really had come to “girao bijali” in her hey days and now has become “Hawa Hawai”. Sad indeed but that is destiny.

My generation grew up with a kind of crush on her. Though, I was never a very big movie fan however still we had moved on from Rekha’s generation to hers. She added a different flavour to various characters like the typical south Indian accent and the real Indianess to the roles she played. Sari never looked so ravishing ever. If I can say that the typical figure of an Indian woman was enhanced by her without an iota of vulgarity and crudeness.

In the last two days, media has gone hyper to cover her death. Where Nirav Modi and gang have evaporated? It appeared that media discovered a secret tunnel from her room in Dubai to India and channels had posted sentries all along the route, as if her soul will stop at each check point before her mortal remains are consigned to flames. Channels brought in doctors, cosmetic surgeons et al to find out the side effects of all drugs and surgeries. I was amazed to see bath tubs being put in front of the panellist who were calculating the displacement of water as per the Archimedes principle and various buoyancy theories. Well, I can only tell those channels that please drown in “Chullu bhar Pani”.

Stories of her liquor consumption and its effects on body temperature were hot news. All theories how heart fails were headlines. Reporters getting hold of the post mortem reports through their so called “sources”. Channels were trying to pick faults in those reports as if doctors in Dubai are clueless about procedures. Conjecture, speculation, guesses were the only things flying left right and centre. Reporters were even trying to speculate the embalming time as if it was a special final make up session for the actress. It appeared kind of a mockery being made of her death.

Think about the family, they too must be watching TV to get the latest updates. Discussing her personal life, her habits must be really heart breaking for them. I would appreciate if news channels run hit movies of hers during prime time as a tribute, for the next one year. Let me see how many channels dare do so. Across the spectrum of news channels there was nothing else being discussed.

I stand with the film fraternity as she was a respected senior member. The way news channels were trying to take reactions from co-stars through leading questions like, according to you could she have drowned in a bath tub? Obviously the person would say no. Could she have suffered a heart attack while sitting in a tub? Pathetic questions from sick news anchors. I switched off everything.

As responsible citizens I feel we should leave the technicalities to the technical people. Let us also not encroach on the personal space of a family which is in grief. By taking a byte of a co-actor she will never come back to life. I am sure as an adult and a mother of grown up children who are about to release their own movies what she did with her life was her own conscious decision. Why are we force feeding it to the world that what could have happened and what could have gone wrong?

The last thing I would tell the media to refrain from sensationalism. Terrorists are supposed to follow that line. India has its own issues, let’s high light those. Her extraordinary life was not like that of a common man. She lived a luxurious life and had enough money to afford it. We can’t even think of such a life style.

Well Ms Sri Devi, you definitely left a mark on many of us. I wish you peace for ever. I offer my condolences to the bereaved family, may you all find strength to bear the loss. I also convey my displeasure as a common man to the media that there is a limit to everything. The power of Google, power of the mobile and the power of your media platform is well understood but the art of framing stupid questions, the guile to conduct endless futile debates about a soul who ruled millions of hearts is not worth it. We definitely have forgotten how due respect needs to be given to any departed soul.

When will our Media Rest in Peace? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

CONDOLENCES ARE NOT ENOUGH

It was sad to hear that four more brave hearts fell to Pakistani shelling. “Condolences” have become such a common word now and are not enough. The whole country stands with the armed forces, we know. Solidarity is not enough. Today, condolence has become more akin to pity. Solidarity appears to be just a verbal support and assurance. Though every show of support is welcome but to mitigate the loss of a martyrs family is impossible. A person in that fraction of second when a bomb explodes next to him lives no more. That very second he is on a different journey leaving behind shaken comrades, ladies beating chests and wailing children.

In the line of duty there are already enough hazards. Inclement weather, hostile terrorists, enemy fire, illness, accidents, besides politicians getting FIRs lodged against own armed forces. This adds on to the misery and lowers the morale of a soldier. Every man in uniform lives with these risks. In that bat of an eyelid he is gone. Risk increases many fold if they get engaged with the enemy. With every step closer to the enemy it is a fifty percent chance of survival. To make his sacrifice count, what all does this man do is unimaginable by many of us.

Last 70 years we have borne the brunt of the enemy. What we get in return is condolences, pity, sympathy, empathy and all those bombastic words. The huge bhashans, the endless debates, veterans boiling their blood and the next day it’s the same routine. Tri-colours are in constant demand and so are the wooden boxes to carry the mortal remains. Firing squads, wreaths and guard of honour has become a SOP of every Military station. All these things are done internally by the armed forces and on the quiet. Who else will care?

Are we doing enough to stop this constant flow of bodies home? Why can’t a living being come back to live happily ever after?  Talks don’t work out; retaliation doesn’t work, then what next. People say war is not a solution; then what are the means to sort out Pakistan. Is it diplomacy? Is it international pressure? Your guess is as good as mine. Passing resolutions in parliament and making a hue and cry on TV doesn’t work. It has to be action on all fronts. Question is when, how and by whom?

What they portray in movies is very different from reality. In movies the emotions are faked, the josh is faked, blood is fake, ammunition is fake, the smoke is fake, the explosions are controlled, blood sweat and grime on the actors face is the artistry of the makeup artists. Even the panting is faked, the firing is faked. The hospital, doctors, and nurses all are faked. Tears are faked. The storms and winds are faked. The pain of a wounded soldier is faked too. The reel life is nowhere close to the real life.

In actual war nothing can be faked. We keep hearing of fake promises on the political front every now and then as also of political battles. Terms like maidan-e-jung, chunaavi akhara,  ran bhoomi  are common parleys during elections, well sirs, verbal volleys and an MMG burst are totally different. You may shoot from your mouth and influence a few people but when it comes to the real bullets it takes a life and limb with it. It maims, it injures the heart and soul of not only one individual but his whole family and his armed forces fraternity very deeply.

Words like hum un par naaz karte hain, naaz marne ke baad quon karte ho bhai. They are very bahadur, we are where is the doubt. Hum Pakistan ko sabak sikha denge, which text book lesson are we talking of. Hum nakon chane chabwa denge, hope you know your biology right. Aar paar ki larai hogi. Kis ke aar aur kis ke paar, I ask? How many politicians have lost their lives taking a bullet on their chest? What has been done to stop this bloodshed by those who run this country? Enough of cannon fodder we have been. No more death is acceptable.

I will accept that we don’t need an unnecessary war. I will accept what the political decision is but I will not accept politics over the dead bodies of the martyrs’. I am ready to face enemy bullets happily for my nation provided my nation’s representatives promise me to finish this issue from its roots. If diplomacy is the solution, so be it. If the Armed forces can find the best solution for you, give your orders but kindly stop showering condolences as they appear artificial. Are the corridors of power listening? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

FAREWELL MY FRIEND PROMOD

I read this heart wrenching news today that Promod is no more. A NDA Brigadier rose to be an actual Brigadier, hats off to you brother. Well for all those privileged people let me confess, we used to feel jay of all those who had one star* on their satchels. We used to admire those who had two of them and were called Generals**. In fact all of us still take a bow for those who had three stars and continued as Field Marshals***.

I and Promod were from the same battalion in NDA, he was in Alpha and I was in Charlie. Basically we clicked as we attended many French and English classes together. Promod was a happy go lucky person with dopey, sleepy, large but glistening eyes. He was fun loving, jovial and a spirited person who would win any ones heart. I am sure his nature was such that even if he would be angry he would not be able to show it. Well, what bonded us instantly was that we were smokers. Once I moved to India Squadron in V term, I met another Brigadier called G Prakash. Both these guys were class mates from Sainik School. My interactions with Promod increased as fags used to be available with me as a last resort. He only taught me where to hide them. He taught me how to smoke a Panama non filter till your finger tips and lips got burnt. In fact I got introduced to panama and got hooked on to it. My last empty pack of the luxurious Wills Gold went out of the window and saved me my budget imbalance.

This bugger was good at billiards, so one fine day I was introduced to the night billiards in India Squadron. But as luck would have it the DS of Air force caught us. We were given a stern warning and imagine an Alpha squadron chap went scot free in India Squadron as the DS was new. Then one fine day we all decided to have a nonstop billiards session. Sixth termers never gave us a chance during earthly hours, so we decided to do something at unearthly hours. So if I remember correctly, I, G Prakash (He is an Admiral now I suppose) Ajay another naval dope* and rest my memory fades decided to report sick. Reason we decided was conjunctivitis. Now how to ensure we look devastated with this communicable disease as one used to get 7 days SIQ (Sick in Quarters) for that. Promod suggested let us rub Colgate in our eyes and see the effect. I had never reported sick in NDA nor had been SIQ ever and it was close to end of term. I fell for it.

Dr Maj Mrs SK Singh looked at all of us sitting in the corridor of the MH and signed our SIQ slips without questions for a change. Knowing her reputation we were expecting to be told to attend all parades with closed eyes. With blood shot eyes all of us came to India Squadron smoked a fag each, slipped our SIQ slips under the door of the CSMs undie and off we rushed to the billiards room. The game started and to our utter surprise the DS body of India and Lima Squadrons landed up and shooed us away. Later we found the whole billiards room smelling of dettol and phenyl as we were told they got it disinfected seeing our condition. “Mokashi” the Batman used to wait with breakfast till almost 12. We used to quickly gobble bread, jam and eggs with a fresh plan, how and when to play the next game.

It was decided that we will now play night billiards; whole day we shall sleep and play at night. First task was managing blankets that we did with ease. Next was hanging them on the anteroom windows, with a little ingenuity we did that also. The game and fags began. We played and played billiards. The in offs and pots suddenly started falling in place. The long shots and flukes were perfected, the fouls and misses reduced drastically. We became experts in repairing tips of the cues ourselves. Game was top class. Company was top class. Time was ours. A jam session used to be on every day. We were the kings of billiards in NDA.

My room was on the first floor ante room flank, basically a safe haven for all the billiards playing stalwarts. So one fine day after being fed up having the same old cold bread, squished eggs, liquidy butter and jam in those huge tiffin’s we decided to “seko” our toasts in the morning. I had managed a heater from the helper on which he used to melt wax for our drill boots. Unfortunately the electricity went off. So another fag session and a decision of playing a twenty point game and be back to toast our slices. We peeled off the blankets and forgot to switch on the lights and the game begun. Suddenly there was shouting of AAG-AAG (fire), bloody hell my room was drenched as drenched could be. All of us were in pyjamas and shorts, nothing on top. DS body was lined up in my flank. My lock broken, as it is it used to be a piddly one? My heater with the squaddy and on the last day of our SIQ I got 14 restrictions for cooking in the room. We had left the toasts on the lid of the tiffin and forgot to switch it off while going for our World billiards Championship. The lights came on, we had left the toasts which were ready to be toasted but they got smoked and burnt down to cinders.

Promod and rest of the gang evaporated into thin air. I think MK Sandeep* was also there. I was marched up and till end of term I must have done 28 more restrictions. Well my dear Promod, we may not play billiards anymore but I fondly remember you as a super soul with a heart of Gold. Rest in Peace my brother. We shall miss you. A small thank you from me and LXVI course for all the lives you touched and all the friends you made. Cheers Buddy, wish you better times wherever you are and we shall remain friends for ever.

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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