On either sides of the winding road was lush greenery as far as my eyes could behold. The mountainous path wove and wound through dense forests. On one side was the deep gorge and on the other was the steep mountain side. Looking down from heights always gave me jitters. In my childhood I used to think that even the weight of my tiny fingers holding onto the window bars was enough to overturn the bus into the deep ravines. The bus screeched to a halt, tired of its climb uphill and bringing me to the present.


Being the last stop and my destination I rose to get down but stood back looking at the scramble for the door. Though the bus would halt here for the night all were elbowing their way out as if they would be taken away the next minute to the next town. Men lifted little children out, some little ones even handed out of the window to those waiting outside ready to prove that they could be good enough for the cricket fields as catchers. Those old enough to walk on their own were pushed from behind by their parents lest they slow down to watch others or talk to them.


The lady in a green saree, typical of the types worn by the women of the locality, with her toddler perched on her left  side shouted out loudly opening wide her pan stained mouth to the woman in front of her to make way. Men and women had different exits marked in the bus but all the passengers dashed to the nearest door to jump out first, ahead of the others. It was fun observing the pushing and pulling. When finally the rush had died down I disembarked and on my way out the conductor gave me a pleasant smile as a reward for my patience.


As I walked down the path that I had treaded years back I felt a strange feeling.  Was it nostalgia? No. Was it happiness? No. Then what was it? I had no idea. This is a feeling that was totally new and unknown to me. The wayside tea shop and the vendor looked a tad older than the last time I had seen them. The tea vendor called out to me in the local dialect with a smile on his face knowing very well that most of the passengers alighting from the bus stopped to have tea at his stall which was the only one in a long way. Having undertaken quite a long and tiring journey I smiled back and sauntered into his stall for a quick munch and a cuppa.

As I continued walking towards the guest accommodation that was arranged for me in the beautiful hill town my eyes fell on a gentleman walking way ahead of me. His clean shaven face and polite manners towards other passengers had developed in me an affinity towards him. Not knowing how to address him I quickened my pace to catch up with him. Reaching beside him I tried to strike up a conversation in the broken dialect I knew to which he flashed an all knowing smile and talked to me in my tongue. Happily we trekked the remaining distance talking about our holiday plans and secret desire to devour the beauty of the untimely blossoming of the “kurinji” flowers, if we were lucky enough. The mountains turn an indigo or a blue when the kurinji flowers blossom once in twelve years thereby lending the name “Nilgiris” to the mountains. Feeling relaxed at having found a companion in my place of stay I checked in promising to meet my friend later.


Mothers are made in heaven

Strange are the ways of the world. Unexpected events occur causing shock and changing lives drastically and the expected occur at an unexpected hour. Our dear Ammachi has moved on to be with the Lord after having led a fruitful and contented life with her children, grand children and great grand children. She was supportive of the kids and their pranks always.

 A very sweet lady with a broad, innocent and heartwarming smile,  whom I love very much has left for her heavenly abode. She was not my mother nor my aunt nor in any way related to me by blood but proved that there can be instances where the old adage “Blood is thicker than water” can be proved wrong. She was no ordinary woman, a centurian whose ways could put youngsters to shame. A lady whom you would be drawn to often, if you once met her. Ammachi, a well wisher of mine, was very dear to me. Her true and selfless love and kindness will always be with me. A pious lady, she would always assure me of a place in her prayers. The storms in my life have been kinder to me because of the prayers of Ammachi and my mother, I believe.  

My sincere prayers to God to keep her happy and peaceful in His care. Ammachi, you will be in our hearts forever. Please continue to keep us in your prayers and bless us too. Will definitely miss you.      

Truthful Transition 

Today India or rather Indians globally celebrate Her Republic Day. With a sense of deep pride and much fanfare the Tricolour is unfurled from every mast worth it’s salt, speeches on her history, tall claims of accomplishment made by each of the speakers, be it an individual or a political entity are made, welfare schemes for the future are proclaimed and citizens are honoured. 

Ten heads of States from the ASEAN countries were the chief guests for the Republic Day celebrations in the national capital this year, a goodwill gesture or a calculated move is food for thought. The grand event at the main venue commenced by commemorating the supreme sacrifice laid down by an army personnel, who laid down his life fighting extremists along the border of our Motherland. His widow stood before the President to receive the title bestowed on him posthumously while the episode was being narrated briefly. 

As the young lady stood motionlessly like a statue with her head bowed down I wondered what her thoughts could have been. She would have already undergone so much of trauma in solitude. Here she stood expressionlessly before the dignitaries from all over the world and the media focusing on her every move and relaying them instantly on their channels. Was she bound by protocol? Listening to the commentator my vision blurred as I watched the television, my eyes brimming. Having received the award the lady walked away and after taking his seat I did not miss seeing the President take out his handkerchief, remove his spectacles and wipe his eyes which might have also welled up like mine. 

Life is so mechanical that very few people spare the time to contemplate. We are here today because our soldiers guard our frontiers, waterways and the skies. They brave the harshest of climates be it the scorching heat, the freezing cold or the torrential rains. They are everywhere dutifully safeguarding the lives of the civilians from the enemies, natural calamities, riots and any other disaster, even though they are away from their families and loved ones for long durations of time. 

We find may people walking around arrogantly little realising that all that they think they have conquered is only momentary. Heads held high, chests swollen with pride and moving as if the entire universe abides by their command they hardly get time to analyse themselves. Every homo sapien is not necessarily a human. How can someone who just does not give a thought to the feelings of others be called human? 

Life is so uncertain, short for some and never ending for some. Little do we realise that a person whom we meet today may be the last time, tomorrow we or the other person may just be a memory. Some of our accomplices leave us midway suddenly due to a host of reasons, terminal illnesses being one such and after battling it out for as long as they can some succumb as if in answer to the prayers. The vacuum so created by many take a very very long time to fill leaving their near and dear ones devastated. 

Death is a certainty for every being that has taken birth. Just as the page of the calendar is turned at the end of the month and finally a new one replaces the old at the end of the year, life moves on. Beliefs, myths and fables have given us different interpretations. Some believe in life after death, some in attaining oneness with the Creator, the Lord of the universe, whereas some differ from both. What the soul goes through during transition is only hearsay. Nobody has come back to narrate their tales to us. 

Having come across many who are terrified with the transition, I wonder what causes the fear in them. Death is an irreversible truth, why hesitate to accept it. Live a life as useful to others as you can and leave memorable footprints on the sands of time. Live in the hearts of those whom you leave behind. 

Tigress in Olive Green 

Sharing a true story that I read as a friend sent me……

Hats off to the tigresses in olive green!                            

This true anecdote written by Maj Gen Raj Mehta as a salute to our lady doctors who serve selflessly on the front will make your chest swell with pride.

The true life war zone incident involving a lady doctor of rare grit which follows – if it has humour – has black humour as well as the disciplining of a man about Hippocrates Oath that Doctors serve under.

It was past the witching hour in Baramula, where militancy in Kashmir began in 1988 and still goes on……

I must have dozed off in the first interlude of sleep in an active, 18 hour day when I got a call on the phone. The operator displayed his urgency by prefacing the call as Urgent. IED phata hai, Sahib, Capt Devika Gupta aap se baat karna chahti hain. MI Room se bol rahi hain.

People in Kashmir sleep with their weapons and I was no different. In two minutes, I was in uniform. The QRT was ready too and we were racing out of the GOC’s Bungalow nestling on the banks of the Jehlum, the ancient river on which Alexander the Great had written India’s destiny in 326 BC by defeating brave 6 foot 6 inch tall King Porus (A Katoch King from Kangra) on one dark, rainy, May night over 2300 years ago.

The MI Room was close by and when I arrived, there was subdued activity. The RR soldier was part of a Unit crossing Baramula for a night domination patrol when he had stepped on an IED disguised as a transistor. His intestines had spilt out and his team had rushed him to the MI Room, where the Medical Officer, Capt Devika Gupta her hands encased in bloodied white gloves right up to her shoulders started stitching him skillfully to stop his intense bleeding. It was touch and go. My staff had reacted fast and placed an Armoured Car – a South African made mine proof bullet proof Casiper- and a three vehicle duty Gurkha QRT to escort the lady doctor and patient to the Base Hospital at Srinagar 60 kms away if that was needed. All Standard Operating Procedure during my time as GOC.

Sir, Dipika told me on arrival. It is touch and go. Have put almost 150 stitches on him. He has to reach the ICU at Srinagar for immediate operating as his vitals are collapsing. I need to monitor him and hold a drip otherwise he will die on my hands. Need an open jeep, not this “tank” she called the narrow ceilinged Casiper that was meant for war, not casualty evacuation.

It was past 1 a.m. now and the Baramula – Pattan road was notorious for terrorist fire on our convoys because the road was cut through low hills and gullies near Pattan, a very trouble prone area. I was the GOC and was morally responsible for any orders I gave. In this case, I felt that she had to go in a Casiper if she was not to lose her and the patient’s life in an ambulance Gypsy and told her the same in no uncertain terms.

Generals are trained to anticipate trouble and the moment I said what I had to and my men started jumping to respond, a quiet, firm, authoratative voice intervened. Just a minute General Sir. That was Devika in a voice that wasn’t hers, so my mind registered. She was dressed in a blood spattered Green military Sari and had just got up from her stitching of the soldiers abdomen. She was actually just five feet tall, soft, petite, mannered, very good in her job but for some reason, when she pulled herself up and snapped her beret on over her short hair that dark night, with about 50 odd soldiers and officers watching, she seemed to me to be taller than I.

She was. She walked up to me close enough for I to see her angry, flashy, blazing eyes. Sir whose the GOC?
Have you any doubt? I asked her?
No, she said, I have no doubt. Now tell me, who is the doctor who’s treating the soldier?
I understood. GOC’s arent stupid. Anyone would understand and I certainly did.
Sir, the boy is my patient. Do not interfere. If you do, you will carry the responsibility for his death. I will carry him in the open Gypsy, NOT the Casiper. If I die, my husband will grieve for me. You need not bother (he was a Medical Specialist at the Base Hospital, a great lad whom I had met at the BH while looking up my wounded soldiers) and Sir, you can later court martial me if you wish but let me go now.

With all my men waiting for my reaction at being “dressed  down” by this chit of a girl with three years service to my 36 years, I did the only thing any officer and gentleman would have in a war zone.

I saluted her. Devika, I am sorry I interfered. Go. God is with you. There were at least two people hiding their tears that dark night and she was just one of them.

The drama had yet not unfolded. At Pattan, the area I was most worried about, one of her Gurkha escort vehicles broke down at about 2.30 a.m. The brave gutsy doctor asked her escort to catch up after repairing the broken down vehicle and proceeded the last 30 kilometers unescorted in her open Gypsy unescorted by other than her courage and God who was with her.

On the terror grid, no one is given special privileges, man or woman as everyone is committed to specific jobs so it was with enormous relief when Devika called me up at 4.30 a.m., Sir, the soldier has been operated upon and will make it. I joined in the operation.

It is Sunday. Can I have half a day off? You are aware I am 6 months pregnant and my hubby has arranged for my term tests.

That morning I called up the Corps Commander. The Army Commander was in station and was spoken to. So was the Chief. Three days later, she was awarded the Chief of Army Staff’s Commendation Card for her heroism and devotion to duty, a rare honour.

Months later this Tigress had delivered a baby. A child who would one day hear about a great, fiesty Mum, a woman who sorted out a protective General…and won.

When some of my peers say or write that women are not suited for the Uniform, I react very strongly in their favour because the women I have seen and interacted with were Tigresses in the main.

Jai Hind.

Be a Parent not a Superhuman

Really nice article …..Every Parent Must read

A few weeks ago, I had attended a birthday party of my daughter’s friend. There they played a game, the age old ‘Passing the parcel’, however, what was different was the way it was played. The child who was caught with the parcel when the music stopped was asked to leave the circle, but with that parcel as the gift, and then a new parcel was introduced. The game continued till every child got a gift. I asked the mother what was wrong with the earlier version, the version we had all grown up with.

She said – “I do not like kids to be disappointed. See, here every child is happy as he or she gets to take a gift home.”

In another instance, I was in the park with my daughter. She was playing lock and key with her friends. Now, one of her friends fell down. Her mother, who was on the other side of the park ran to his son, all confused and upset. She scooped her son in her lap and started inquiring – “Are you hurt? Let me see! Do no cry! Shush, mama is here.”

The child, had a scraped knee, who was perfectly OK till then, started crying earnestly.

I was at a friend’s home for lunch. Her 5-year old daughter refused to eat what was cooked for lunch. My friends felt so guilty that her daughter would go hungry, that she cooked up her favourite pasta immediately. According to her, it was not the first time this had happened.

At the School Sports Day, there are no races, no competition. No first, second or runner ups. Because, everyone is equal, there should be no competition between the kids.

Kids today have a room full of toys and games. Some they ask, some they do not. But, they still get them. Everything in excess is the new mantra of life.

Our parents taught us self-reliance, while we hover around our children and want to protect them at all costs. We like to hold our babies closer to the protection of the nest. We go out of our way and rustle up something when they don’t eat what’s cooked at home for everyone else, because we don’t want them to sleep hungry. Instead of letting them play outside, we organize indoor  activities for them. We do their homework and their assignments. We even resolve their conflicts for them.

It makes me wonder, what will happen to these kids when they grow up?

Will they get a gift everytime they fail? Will they be able to handle disappointment? A child who has never been denied anything, how will he cope with rejections? There are a growing number of cases when kids run away from home or commit suicide because they are not able to deal with low marks in examinations or when they fail to secure an admission in an institution of their choice.

Will their parents keep them hidden in their bosom all their life? Our mothers never ran after us, a scraped knee was just that. She would ask us to wash it with some water and then forget about it or apply a few drops of Dettol but, there was no drama that followed. Falling and hurting was a part of daily life for us. We cycled, climbed up trees and jumped from the stairs. Today, kids travel in elevators and escalators (because they might fall down the stairs and get themselves hurt). Earlier, kids walked and cycled. I hardly see kids walking nowadays, unless it’s for a kids’ marathon and they are required to pose for selfies with their cool mommies. I never see kids climbing up the monkey bars, do you? Do they have parks with Jungle Jims, see saws, monkey bars, slides and swings anymore? Do local governing bodies take any initiative in the healthy childhood of the future generations?

Will the kids shy away from competition or be able to survive it? OK, so we can accompany our kids till the college gate and sit in the waiting area while they appear for a job interview. In one-child China, parents have been known to put up tents outside their college kids’ dorms. This is an invisible umbilical cord we are just not ready to cut. And, what happens after that? A child who is never used to losing – how will he survive in the big bad world?

We are raising our kids to be adult babies.

So what should we do?

Stop telling our children that they are special all the time. They are not, at least not always. So reserve the praises for the times when they actually deserve.

Stop going out of the way to create happiness in their life. Life is a mix of joys and sorrows, and it is for a reason. We have no right to interfere with  nature. So let’s stop pretending that everything is all right when it’s not. Let the kids have their fair share of disappointments at an early age.

It’s better to fall at 10, than at 40.
Stop giving them things when they don’t require it. We had fewer toys, but did we ever complain? Were we unhappy because of that? No, right?  So why are we teaching our kids to be materialistic? Why should they find happiness in toys and games, and not people? We give them iPads, iPhones…we are teaching them it’s all right to speak to the technology, rather than people. Today’s kids have more virtual friends than actual friends.

Stop hovering around them. Let them take action and be responsible for it. If they have done a wrong deed, they should take the punishment or the consequences for it. Do not protect them unnecessarily.

Let them fall. And, do not cushion their fall. Also, let them get up on their own. Only when they fall, will they get up. Let them learn things on their own.
Stop feeling guilty. For things we can’t provide them. We are the parents, not superhumans or Gods. Make kids understand our limitations.

It’s not the kids who are at fault, but us, the parents. Let’s sit with our parents and understand how they raised us – independent and fearless. We can take a leaf or two from  their parenting book. It wouldn’t do us any harm, but might save our kids!

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