Wednesday 20 February 2019

A NATION  BLEEDS - Fateful February 2019

Touched by a  Heart-wrenching catalytic write-up by my Friend Mrs Sumana Ganguly........Our Bravehearts being sacrificed by cruel destiny, in 'line of their Duty' to the Nation ..And all top class Sons of the Soils...... This write up is so good, it deserves a place in your Hearts...Do Share if you so appreciate.

50 days, 2019…49 recorded deaths and many unknown
These 19 days have been an upheaval for most of us. Tragedy and a series of it have been keeping our Nation active, have been testing our patience, tolerance, endurance, patriotism, language skills, tone, perseverance and a lot much more. Unable to bear the pain alone anymore, a person like me with a penchant for writing would only take up the pen (read hit the keyboard) to let release her pain, agony and the hurting of the lump in her throat. My chest pains, my eyes burn, often they water too, my breathing remains heavy…yes, I am sure my BP is fluctuating too as I have been testing myself on the tolerance scale…each day…for the last 19 days…

1st Feb –
The cursed month (yes, I can well address the month by that by now) saw two young Indian Airforce test pilots crash to death on the very first day…Squadron Leader Samir Abrol and Squadron Leader Siddharth Negi…what was their fault? Two young Air Force officers in charge of testing the ageing Mirages charred themselves to death…they were surely not martyred. But were they then killed in action? Were they in an operation that we can call their deaths as KIA? They were sheer victims of apathy & ignorance…
Days passed and their shocked parents, families & wives & few of us Indian citizens lamenting their untimely deaths were slowly coming to terms…we accepted it as an accident and moved on while Mrs Garima Abrol kept reminiscing her unanswered questions. Who had the guts to answer her? Has anyone tried framing an apt answer for her?

12 Feb -
The heat of the avalanche did not melt him. He lay buried under layers of the white frozen snow as the ill-fated afternoon witnessed a disastrous avalanche strike Major Nisheet Dogra's makeshift transit tent... Well, I would love to call it his home for the moment that got hit and stashed away and became debris as the heavy weight of the snow and ice ensured that it hid Major for hours. Its cruel impact kept the rescue team away from reaching the location where he had fallen. Fallen right? Or was he KIA? Killed in Action... Was he? No... No... Neither was he a martyr... But again, a victim of the situation. He was from the OG tribe... He led from the front... He vibrated the ethos of the Indian Army... The week-long lack of electricity or basic facilities did not deter him to set up his home in the remote and desolate place, open to the wrath of Nature. He was an officer par excellence...Major Dogra... We were not ready to part ways with you... So soon...

14th Feb –
Red was the colour of the day and we got busy clicking our Valentine’s day selfies with our besties and most of us were even lunching out late, skipping office, enjoying some loving moments with our loved ones when the Blue Bird with no eyes (read Twitter) chirped in the news of the dastardly & cowardly attack on the CRPF convoy at Pulwama. It was a pall of gloom that descended heavily on me…and the Nation…the count started from 8 and went on to record 40 of them. At least that’s what CRPF official PRO declared in records…not sure what happened to the grievously injured ones. Well, we shouted & cried War War and cursed the never friendly neighbour of ours. We changed our DPs on Social Media (I still have mine changed, feel ashamed to show my smiling face), lit candles, took out marches to India Gate, made videos of the anti-nationals who spread hate India messages on their Social Media handles, made them viral…and then the wait began, the anticipation of the vengeance or revenge in any form. The heart burnt as the coffins landed at Palam Air Base. Camera smart political honchos made their headline appearances, saluted to the Tri-Color wrapped coffins that carried the bits & pieces of our CRPF jawans who were the victims of the terrible act of terrorism. My heart goes out for them as they are differentiated out by each state in the rates of compensation. Time heals they say and here the wound was gradually seething…were they killed in action?

16th Feb-
The beautiful red heart shape on the card invited us to save the date as the couple stood close smiling & framed. Major Chitresh & Ankita mam, we have saved the date and in red it is, it will be 16th Feb and not 7th March that would have seen you taking the wedding vows. We have the invite but won’t be able to keep, as we are mourning your loss, Major. You could have ignored, but as the true Indian Army ethos depict, you as an officer lead from the front. The IED ticked and even before you could diffuse it, it took away the hopes & aspirations & dreams of a young bride to be who must have been waiting for her big day & planning out her wedding trousseau. Red it is…you were killed in action…the wound inflicted two days back with 40 deaths was fresh…your news bled it again.

18th Feb –
Our Army knows its duty, when & how of everything…so the everything Operation was on…the blood boiled, the eyes teared, the lump in the throat was painful…the hunt was on. The masterminds had to be nabbed and scores settled, the wound still fresh was bleeding, it had to be balmed. Eye for an eye? No, we won’t turn blind, but the bleeding of the hearts needs to stop and so the Operation was on…night long…again…Indian Army ethos at work…

Early morning news was like a widowed shroud…leading from front, taking the bullet was our young officer Major Vibhuti Dhaundiyal, married for less than a year, he led his team to a successful encounter, killing the horrendous masterminds behind the suicide bomber attack at Pulwama just 4 days back. Major Dhaundiyal was not alone, his 3 team members never forgot to leave him alone even in death. Killed in action? Yes, they were…all 4 of them…

Mam Nikita, your “I Love You Vibhu” send shivers down my spine…never was Love so proclaimed, in public, in midst of the strict Army decorum…you make us proud…more power to the Officer Ladys like you…You etch your feelings in history as flame engulfs Major’s mortal remains and burns my lamenting soul. Sorry mam, we took away your happiness of celebrating your first anniversary.

19th Feb –
Air Force team were you getting jealous? Were you feeling left out as the coffins covered with Tricolors increase in the shades of OG? So, you too? But you are superstars…super heroes. Then how come? What was the need to join the OG tribe too?

The Indian Air Force Aerobatic team Surya Kiran, with its super colourful planes, were flying up for rehearsal as the Aero India Show starts tomorrow at the Yelahanka Air Base near Bengaluru. All good, all set, all planned, well groomed…but tragedy struck today as the team lost two of its aircraft in a mid-air collision and crashes one pilot to death. Two of the pilots were destined to live on to share the story of how their other partner fell to death. And so, as Wg Cdr Sahil Gandhi went down in history, the little Indian Flag that I carry in my heart, went up in half mast. For me, I mourn, each fallen soldier is a loss to my Nation.
Supposed to be a month to celebrate love, is the fateful February 2019 testing our love for our Nation, our love for our Brothers in Uniform, our love to bear all the pain in silence…
Misery, anguish, depression…what more is awaited? As a writer, my words are emotionally charged. Such incidents one after the other makes me bleed, they give me pain as they test my tolerance, tolerance level to such an extent that it numbs my soul.

But, let it be that’s all till here today…not many words, too small a photo frame to fit in the huge loss my country has incurred. Where will I fit in so many smiling faces of our Bravehearts…and the tears of the aching souls…?

50 days, 2019….49 recorded deaths…the eyes burn, the lump in the throat aches…no more please…no more…

                                                          - SUMANA  GANGULY

Monday 11 February 2019

Even as the Navy Foundation Mumbai Chapter celebrated the 3rd Veterans Day on 14 Jan at a grandeur scale in its quest to create awareness amongst Mumbaikars towards this section of the Society, it was heartening for Veteran ex NCC officers to receive an invite from ADG NCC Maharashtra to witness and be part of the NCC programs at Colaba on the Mah Contingent’s return from Republic Day Parade at New Delhi. The Mah Dte this year have been adjudged second Runners up among the 16 Dtes at the All India level.

              04th Feb was earmarked for an interaction of the fortunate 108 cadets with H.E. Shri C Vidyasagar Rao, the Governor of Mah at Raj Bhawan, where the cadets put up a scintillating program that was breathtakingly amazing and the Governor was highly appreciative of the Gp Song and Dance that was showcased at Delhi. A similar dazzling performance by cadets was at display in the evening at ‘Sahyadari’ in honour of Shri Devendra Fadnavis, the Chief Minister of Mah.

             Meena and I were invited for the functions on 6-8 Feb at Mulla Auditorium, Azad Maidan and Sailors Institute ‘Sagar’. LtGen SK Parashar, GOC M&G Area graced the first function in the ‘state of Art’ Naval Auditorium, where the Cadets put up an enchanting program of colourful Dance and Music demonstrating the history, culture and traditions of our state. A projection was also zoomed on the screen, showcasing the Republic Day Parade of this year, where the NCC Platoons of Boys as well as Girls was being commanded by Cadets of Mah Dte. Cadet JUO Sagar Mugale from Deogiri College Aurangabad was selected to lead the combined NCC Platoon, an honour for our State..... "Do watch the clip below".... Mah this year had jumped up 3 positions from the Last year’s 6th to bring in a number of trophies to secure the Second Runners up position. After the fantastic colourful presentations on stage, we had the opportunity to interact with LtGen Parashar, GOC M&G Area, Maj Gen G Prasad, ADG NCC, Brig Dhaila, DDG NCC,  Col Satish Hange-AD Trg, Col Sanjiv Bakshi, Capts S Ravindra & VK Shukla commanding the two NCC units, Former COs Capt Amit Sanyal & Cdr SD Singh, Dr LtCdr S Kamble, Dr Maj L Sarkar, Dr Capt Nilima Prabhu, Dr Madhav Rajwade Principal Sathaye College, Dr SL Matkar Principal Patkar College  and other officers and ANOs of NCC. 

           The next Day Mr Vinod Tawde, the Hon Min of Sports and Educ of Mah was the Guest of Honour for the NCC Parade and cultural program comprising Gp Song, Gp dance and Lazium show, that were performed immaculately followed by the Semaphore Drill that conveyed a msg for the Minister which was delivered to him in the Signal Pack. This was followed by Aeromodelling Line control flying by the Air Wing Cadet who has bagged the Gold medal in RDC. The last item was the Section Battle Drill conducted with full Josh by the Army Wing cadets. Before we all moved on to witness the motivational stalls, it was heartening to see the Minister interact personally with all the cadets at length bringing out the concessions being offered to NCC cadets not only in Exams, but offering them 10 % reservation in Govt jobs. He spoke to them for about half an hour, drawing out a big round of applause.

                  On 8th Feb noon, we all were invited for Bada Khana organised in Sailors’ Institute ‘Sagar’ for all staff of NCC including the civilian staff. It was a sheer delight to meet and catch up with all the clerks and other civilian staff of the last NCC unit that I commanded and get ourselves group photographed in this jubilant occasion.

              We thanked the ADG and DDG for an invite to the exceptional extravaganza conducted by the RDC cadets, where we not only interacted with the future youth of our country but also the wonderful civilian staff of my last Unit.

           While the efforts are afoot this year to regain the top spot, that the state had glorified itself in bagging two successive Winner Hat tricks of the PM’s Banner as well as the Top honours from 2009-14, during the Golden era that I, Brig Mahesh Mathur, Brig RS Grewal, Col Rajesh Saxena , Cmde RR Iyer, Capts LG Louis George Meprath, N Someshwar, VS Salathia, Amit Sanyal and many others had been a part of, here’s wishing the Mah Directorate ‘Top honours for 2020’.

Saturday 9 February 2019

              The 300 yds long straight road out of the Lion’s Gate of Naval Dockyard Mumbai, K Dubash Marg, is a fairly wide road leading to the former Air-India Building across MG Road right ahead and the Jehangir Art Gallery on the left end of this Road. The Road Junction at the end of Dubash Marg is a triangular Island on which stands a tall pedestal that adorns a riderless Black stallion that Christians the Junction, ‘Kala Ghoda’. The area around this monument has a large number of the city's heritage buildings and is full of museums, art galleries and educational the Jehangir Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Modern Art, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya and The Arts Trust. The area is quite familiar to me as I used to commute to my office in Lions Gate diving through these roads for 5 yrs. It was my passion to train the cadets to join the Armed Forces, in my NCC Office. Coming to Dubash Marg... Each year, the area hosts the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. The area is sandwiched between Mumbai Port's docklands to the east, Regal Cinema to the south, Fountain to the north and Oval Maidan to the west. The Bombay Stock Exchange is to its North East.

              As per Wikipedia, The name Kala Ghoda derived from Black Horse, a reference to the presence of a black stone statue of King Edward VII (as the then Prince of Wales) mounted on a horse that was built by Jewish businessman and philanthropist Albert Abdullah David Sassoon, although this statue was removed from the precinct in 1965 and subsequently placed inside the Byculla Zoo. In 2017, the 'Kala Ghoda' returned to the area with a new statue of a similar looking horse without a rider, being commissioned by the Kala Ghoda Association. The statue, titled 'Spirit of Kala Ghoda' was designed by architect Alfaz Miller and sculpted by Shreehari Bhosle.

              20 years ago, Kala Ghoda Association was formed with the idea of giving back to the city we call home - the thriving megapolis of Mumbai. And, thereafter was born the biggest street art festival that India has - the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is the country’s largest multicultural festival, taking place in early February every year. The Festival draws visitors in large numbers, not just from the city but from all over the country, and the world. Meena and I have been visiting this Fest year after year since our pre-retirement transfer to this Financial capital of our country. It's always a sheer joy to get oneself snapped against the artefacts crafted and displayed by the amazing artists of India. This year the Fest has started from 02 Feb and shall culminate on Sun 10 Feb.

           Enjoy glancing over the snaps that we clicked past Sunday, 03 Feb at the Fest.