Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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








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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


© Noel Ellis


[ninja_form id=1]Ek hook si dil mein hoti hai,
Ek dard jigar mein rehta hai !
Main raton ko uth-uth rotan hoon,
Jab sara aalam sota hai.

This couplet reminds me of the condition of our dear “Sallu” who is now placed in the same barrack as our very own and very dear Aasa Ram Bapu. Suffice to say, it is amply proven that venison is not easy to digest. Courts have been ruminating over it for the last twenty years and still not got to the bottom of the case. It took so long for the judges to understand that the buck was killed. Finally, they had the guts to stop this buck-buck. For bhai it must be another film set as “quadi number 106” now is in his correct place.

I know he has his die-hard fans and millions at stake. Many lives must be waiting to be touched by his being human campaign. For once he must have thought that this trauma and torture of court-kachehri must end. I am convinced that our judicial system, courtesy our great lawyers can turn tables upside down. Thank God it was not proved that the deer’s committed suicide in front of bhai which transformed his heart and he opened his NGO just to take care of nears and deer’s. Sau Sau choohe kha kar billi haj ko chali.

I was a Captain when this incident had happened and I was posted in Jodhpur, I still find Bhai so much attached to the city. Probably it is the Mirchi-Baras, the Maave ki kachori’s, the Makhaniya Lassi, the Ghewar and the smells emanating from Rawat and Janta Mishtan Bhandar which pulls him back. I hope the jail authorities will allow visitors to bring all these delicacies. Bhai, remember to tell someone to get Gulab Jamuns from Tripolia bazzar. I know the chana dal  and patta gobhi sabji will not be palatable. Mom’s homemade Biryani cannot be delivered to this jail “set” for sure.

I am amazed people of my age are grand dads and you are my age, give or take a year. You defy aging. I am sure by now you also must have forgotten the count of the long list of judges who would have changed and also many witnesses who would have kicked the buck-et. As per my knowledge a black buck lives about 15-20 years, so that generation of deer’s would have been either eaten by someone or would have gone to heaven and you still rot in quagmire of judicial jargon. Thank God they decided to make you peeso chakki at last and be done with it.

Most channels are only interested in his conversations with his fellow inmate “assa ram”. There are a number of jokes going around including people requesting bhai not say his prayers, for obvious reasons. News channels had gone to such extent to do non-stop “buck-waas” and find out reactions from the murder convict who was lodged with him previously. I hope the “buck” will stop there.

I am looking forward to the prawachans which our bapu would give bhai, in case he is within hearing distance. Someone told me that Bapu has started dancing while singing a song, “Bambai se aya mera dost, dost ko Salman kaho…………..” well rest I leave to your imagination.

Bhai actually would need to eat a lot of Chavanprash to survive the harsh climate of Jodhpur. To add to the misery I am told today about 80 judges of Rajasthan have been transferred yesterday including the one dealing with his case. So the bail application may only see daylight till the new judge saab arrives which may take many days. Till then Bhai you can remember all the ads you endorsed and kill time but remember to eat something for the fan’s sake.

Finally, kanoon could hear guns fire, pin point the person who fired them and understood our black buck was dead. The long arms of justice saw through the “buck-waas” which had been going on for the last twenty odd years.  The amount of “Bucks” bhai would have spent for this case could have been better used for another charity, Had Bhai just told the truth then; judges might have taken a lenient view. Now, if courts find him guilty that means he never understood what being human is all about.

Be that as it may, five years is not a long time in jail. I hope you are not looking for any special treatment or “Buck-shish” from anyone, as now “Being-a-Man” is what should save sallu from the media which has made him a Bali-ka-Buck-ra. Have you understood mere-bhai? I wonder!!!!!!!!


© Noel Ellis

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