To Control or To Let Go – A Reality Check

The need to be ‘in control’ is so supreme in some mortals that it suffocates the others and what is more shocking is that  those trying to be in control do not even realize this.

Why is there a need to be the decision maker or be in control always? One can understand if one is trying to  be in control of one’s own needs and emotions. Good step. But to control the actions and desires of others in the name of love and concern! Seems unacceptable.

Where does the need to be ‘in control’ arise from? Out of insecurities, out of genuine concern, out of sheer ignorance or simply selfishness? Whatever be the reason, it doesn’t seem like the best emotion to have.

We barely have control

The one key learning that has come out of Covid 19 is how totally vulnerable we are and that nothing is in our control, be it the super-rich or the poverty stricken, the suave and intelligent or the illiterate homeless people, the extremely talented or the humble servants. Every powerful and powerless person has been rendered helpless and at the mercy of nature. A simple virus has confined us to our homes and brought lives of people all over the world to a standstill. Yet we live in the illusion that we can be in control of all that happens in the lives of us and our loved ones.

One can understand when one is concerned about a loved one, but to micromanage their lives to the tiniest detail is unfair. As a mother, my child’s well-being is of paramount importance. But I cannot micromanage the life of my child to the tiniest action of selection of the kid’s clothing unless I am asked for.

Presence v/s being overpowering

There is a very fine line between concern and control, between being a confidante and being entitled. More often than not, we may without realizing it, cross the line and cause distress. Being concerned about whether my child eats healthy stuff or not would be acceptable to even a teenager but trying to have a say on every item he/ she eats or trying to control him on what he/she buys is definitely not going to be welcome. Likewise, when my friend chooses to share something about his/ her day, I am being made a confidante but to expect him / her to do that often is behaving entitled.

I am guilty of crossing these lines at times and thus causing distress. Life is very simple when we let go of the need to control, to be an active influencer in the decisions of others, to be the key person a friend turns to for advice and to be expressive of our opinions all the time.

Nobody is indispensable and that rule applies to everyone. It is ideal to be concerned but not to the extent of choking the other. They survived quite well before us and they will do so without us too.

Maybe it pays to evaluate what is more important, to be a part of a person’s life or to be in control. For, in the process of trying to be in control, we may be left with nothing to control.

Is it only about the loved ones and friends in our lives or should we look beyond too?

I have been a voracious reader and despite the list of things to do, I try to take out time to read. My preference has always been the dreamy world of romance novels, where everything is about love and eventually all is well. Lately I have also dug into some self-help and motivational books (the transition to mid life I guess).

A few months back, a dear friend suggested the name of an author called Priya Kumar, along with two of her books which had been read and liked by him.  The names of the books made me assume they too belonged to the genre of romance and without much thought about it, I ordered for the books.

Once the books arrived and I read their blurbs, I realized they were far from romance. They were books rooted in philosophy, which were supposed to help us dig deeper and understand our perceptions, our reactions and thereby our lives.

Individual perceptions about life and the purpose of it

For a person who believes that we are all a means to a purpose, these books were thought provoking and they made me introspect. They made me question the fact if there really was a purpose of our lives or was it just about getting on with the routine actions of our lives. The introspection, the confusion and the skepticism of it all made me discuss this with a few of my best friends. Why friends and not family; because I have had the privilege of following my heart as far as my own self is concerned, as long as it’s not a hindrance to anyone else. So nobody in my family would have debated with me on this. It was a simple understanding that if I felt right about it, I could go on with it as long as I was not doing anything that would hamper my own wellbeing. But I was looking for answers, not just an agreement. I was surprised, albeit not discouraged to note that ‘purpose in life’ seemed like quite an alien concept.

My friends seemed to believe that living one’s life in a way one loves with its share of fun and struggle, doing what is one is supposed to do for one’s family and closest friends, is good enough.

However, I begged to differ. My question was what am I doing differently, how am I giving back to the society or humanity and making a difference in someone’s life. Their answer to that was why do we need to? I couldn’t make them see my point and I gave up. I have observed this a lot about myself that when I ask someone for an opinion, I do so expecting them to say what I want to hear. When they don’t do so I go about finding reasons to defend my stand.  This is what happened again and I realized that my ideologies are my own. If I feel that I need to make a difference in someone’s life I shouldn’t expect anybody else to believe the same.

What’s the Big Deal?

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My belief is captured in the musing above and thankfully in spite of my best friends trying to make me ‘see sense and just chill’, I continue to believe that maybe we all do have a purpose in our lives. Simply put, my presence ought to add some (even if it is a menial one) value to at least someone, if not many apart from my loved ones.

The legacy of wealth and material possessions that one many leave behind is perishable with time, but reforms or good deeds are everlasting. Isn’t it so? How many times have we been encouraged to do something we want to by someone?  Thanks to that one moment, we stood to benefit a lot in our entire life. This person was probably just a colleague. He didn’t offer wealth or anything materialistic, but what he offered was invaluable.  That kind of sharing is what I would rather strive for.

Each one on his own, so one’s perception may not necessarily be acceptable to all but there is never any harm trying. If it doesn’t anything good it wouldn’t be harmful either.

Thank you Priya Kumar for strengthening my belief further.

Republic Day Celebration alongside Veterans

From my childhood days, Republic Day ( R day)  for me has been associated with the colourful R Day Parade and nothing bigger than that. Over the years, the kids would go to the school for the flag unfurling there and simultaneously a flag unfurling would be held in the society too where we reside, culminating in a cultural event in the evening, followed by dinner.

This year however, I had the privilege of celebrating our Republic Day in a slightly different manner. A friend informed me about a function at Amar Jawan Monument, in far western suburb of Mumbai – Borivali, being organized by Veterans, supported by the Navy foundation, Mumbai Chapter.

Amar Jawan Monument

Lt Shreekant Bhende is credited with the resurrection of the Amar Jawan moment to its current glorious form with the help and Support from the Navy Foundation in April 2017 .  The story goes that, when Lt. Shreekant first spotted this statue sometime in  2016, it was in a dilapidated condition . The helmet on the statue was missing, its fiberglass was in tatters and the pedestal was broken at places. In October 2016, Lt. Shreekant approached the Municipal Corporation for erection of ‘Amar Jawan’ Monument and finally after consistent efforts , the Monument was erected in April 2017. Then Hon Secy of Navy Foundation Cdr. Vijay Vadhera organized the inauguration of the Monument and the same was unveiled by Rear Admiral R M Bhatia (Retd), President of Navy Foundation Mumbai Chapter.  Since then, these Veterans have been celebrating our Republic Day by placing a wreath at this monument. This Monument is located at the traffic island opposite Mary Immaculate Girl’s High School, I C Colony, Borivli West, Mumbai.

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The Function

Although we reached the Lawns of Mary Immaculate Girl’s School at 6 p.m., we waited for the dusk and once it got a bit dark, we all got around the monument. Needless to say that, it needed a bit of an effort to get in. Because of its height, one had to climb on a small step ladder (of about 3 steps) and then get it into the enclosure of the monument. Despite being told that some of them could stay at the Lawns and view the wreath laying from there, everyone chose to come to the monument. Not only that, most of them climbed into the enclosure, despite their age and in some cases overcoming their  physical challenges.

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Veer Naari Mrs. Samant laying the wreath at the Amar Jawan Monument
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Cdr Romesh from INS Hamla laying the wreath at the Amar Jawan Monument
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‘The Last Post’ being played

After the initial photo sessions, the wreaths were laid by Cdr Romesh from INS Hamla, the Veterans, one of them by Veer Nari Mrs. Samant and also by Lt Shreekant Bhende, to name a few. After the wreaths were laid, the ‘Last Post’ was played and a 2 min silence was observed.

All the then attendees moved to the Lawns once again and some of the Veterans spoke about their experiences associated with their time in the Armed Forces.  This was followed by dinner and we all parted. The felicitation function was attended mainly by Veterans and their family members. Barring a couple of us, there were hardly any civilians.

 

Takeaway

As always, it was heartening and inspiring for me to hear the Veterans speak about their experiences and the camaraderie of our Armed Forces. Also, while the Last Post being played at the Monument, I noticed two young ladies just walk up near the monument and stand till we all moved from there.

It is not that civilians may not want to be a part of paying homage to our fallen soldiers, it probably is just a matter of awareness. Although this function was supported by Mumbai Chapter of Navy Foundation, I am not sure how well this event was promoted. I happened to get to know of it because of certain Veterans that I know passed on the information about it.

It is not the duty of just the Veterans / representatives of our Armed Forces to be paying homage to our brave hearts killed in action. It is for each of us to be grateful for their supreme sacrifices. If we cannot do it always, doing it for a day may not be a big deal. I think it is not asking for too much to spare a few hours for those who sacrificed their lives for protecting our Nation.

May we never forget that ‘”Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.”

P.S: Pictures of this event were captured by the lovely Mrs. Meena Dutt. The blog would have seemed drab without the presence of these images. Thank you Mrs. Dutt !

A Day dedicated to our Real Heroes

Having been a music lover, I have been to a few music shows and since my kids are fond of football,  I have witnessed few live matches too. Many of us might have been through this experience of watching a celebrity’s show or a game live. So how does it feel when you are watching a celebrity perform live or watch a match which has celebrity players? There is a certain buzz in the air, there is noise all over, the fans are cheering for their celebrity and sometimes trying their best to get close to the celebrity, some trying to click a picture, get an autograph, some come with posters  etc.

Now, think about this. How does it feel to be in a room that also houses a few war veterans? There is a feeling of awe and respect in the air. There is a certain seriousness in the room when one thinks of the sacrifices of the comrades of these veterans, there is also a sense of pride. But at the end of it, there are Goosebumps galore.

I recently attended one such event on 15th Dec’2019. This was the 1971 Vijay Diwas Commemoration and Felicitation function organized by Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust. In other words, this function was being held to felicitate 7 War Veterans of the Indo Pak War of 1971. These were the men who had witnessed the formation of a nation (Bangladesh), they could proudly claim to be a part of those who helped liberate the people there from the various atrocities being inflicted upon them.

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Mrs. Sangeeta, the compere in her welcome address

 

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An auditorium packed to capacity, to ensure that our Heroes are not forgotten and that stay grateful to them.

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I was particularly very happy to see a full house for this function. The auditorium where this function was being held was packed. It was really heartening to see that people had taken out time from their busy schedule to attend this function on a Sunday morning. There were school students, NCC Cadets, defence aspirants and people from various walks of life, most of them locals but some of us who lived away from Bengaluru but were there for this function only.

The Beginning / Background

The students of Chaitanya Public School Yelahanka presented a song in Kannada. This was followed by a small presentation on the work done by the Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust.

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Students of Chaitanya Public School reciting a song in Kannada

For those who were new to Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust, this trust in involved in a lot of activities in schools and colleges. They educate the children on information related to Armed Forces. They make the school children aware of real life heroes who in their own little way have been contributing to the well-being of the society, and these were people not only from Armed Forces but other sections of society as well. Apart from schools, the members of the Trust along with a few Veterans also address college students with regards to a career in Uniformed Services and give them relevant information for the same. Apart from this, they also provide scholarship to select students and last year they were also able to get all weather school bags sent to students of a boarding school in Ladakh.

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Mrs. Meghna Girish giving a brief about the activities of Maj Akshay Girish Memorial Trust

Time for some History

After this brief presentation, it was time for the Guest Speaker Col D P K Pillay to take over. A researcher par excellence, Col Pillay, true to his style appraised the audience about the events to the run up to the 1971 Indo Pak War, the Battle of Longewala, Operation Trident, Operation Python, the  subsequent surrender, capture of 93000 POWs and their release later and the formation of Bangladesh. He reiterated that ours is a great country, Unity among people of all religions, keeping our differences aside and fighting for a common cause has been and is our key strength and our Armed Forces personnel have always strived to uphold the legacy and the true values of our nation.  On our part as citizens, we ought to do our bit and be worthy of the sacrifices made by these great men.

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Col. DPK Pillay giving a brief talk on the 1971 war, the events before and after. 

A token of appreciation and gratitude

The main purpose of this function was the felicitation of the War Veterans of the 1971 Indo Pak area and so it was time now to call on some of the Heroes of this important event in history.

We were first introduced to an Audio Visual (AV) clip of Sq. Ldr. J D Kumar, who was a part of the 1971 war but who has been MIA (Missing in Action) since then. His family awaits his return after 48 years and in his absence, it was his daughter (Mrs. Kavita Bhakoo) who was felicitated.

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Mrs. Kavita Bhakoo

Another AV of the Veterans followed, where each of these men spoke about their experiences, their inspiration to join Indian Army/ Air Force and about their role during this war. Of course, the AV certainly had this statement ‘If I would get a chance, I would join in and do this all over again’. A statement that I so commonly hear from the Veterans, all the time. This time it was Wg. Cdr. J C Gehlawat VrC saying it.

The Veterans who were felicitated at the event included Lt. Col A. Krishnamoorthy (I must mention here that he is 91 years old. He led 6 Garhwal Rifles in battles in the Western Sector), Maj Gen Ian Cardozo AVSM. Sena Medal (The first war disabled officer of the Indian Army to command a battalion and a brigade), Nk Subedar C D Vijaykumar (an expert in mine laying & bridge demolitions), Col TNC Vijaysarathy VSM (Madras Regiment, who fought deep in East Pakistan till it became Bangladesh) , Sub P. Kuppam (boxer, fighter, bridge builder & transporter) & Wg Cdr. J S Gahlawat, VrC (involved in many missions that destroyed important targets in Pakistan).

 

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From Right to Left : Lt. Col A. Krishnamoorthy , Maj Gen Ian Cardozo AVSM SM, Nk Subedar C D Vijaykumar, Col TNC Vijaysarathy VSM, Sub P. Kuppam and Wg. Cdr. J. S. Gahlawat VrC.

The Legend Speaks

This felicitation was followed by a brief speech by Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo. While his tale of courage and determination would be known to those who know about our Armed Forces but, to hear about it from the man himself, is an honour and experience to cherish. He also mentioned about how the 3 Jats Battalion, which consisted of 50% Haryanvi Jats and 50% Khemkhani Muslims captured Dograi. The camaraderie & the leadership skills of the Faujis is a well-known fact and he only reiterated it with more tales from his service days. Towards the end of his talk, he also quoted Field Marshal Manekshaw and the advice Maj Gen Cardozo had received from him. I am assured that the youngsters and defence enthusiasts present in the audience must have been deeply inspired by the words of encouragement and motivation at the end of his talk.

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Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo (Retd) AVSM SM

Let’s lighten up a bit

After a brief and somber narration of Maj Gen Ian’s injury and subsequent struggle, we enjoyed a video of a song sung by an Indo-Tibetan Border Police soldier. Like most Faujis, this young man too is very talented and did full justice to the song ‘Teri Mitti’ from Kesari. An absolute joy to hear him.

Time to remember those who have gone

As a part of the felicitation, Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust had invited the members of the family of some of our soldiers Killed in Action. It was time for the felicitation of some of these brave women who had lost their beloved for they had given up their lives in the service of the nation. These were Mrs. Charulata Acharya (Wife of Major Padmapani Acharya) , Mrs. Shakuntala Bhandarkar (Wife of Lt. Col. Ajit Bhandarkar) , Mrs. Salma Shafeeq (wife of Major Shafeeq Mohd. Khan Ghori), Mrs. Padma Sangali (Wife of Major Ashok Sangali) , Mrs. Beena Thomas (Wife of Col. Jojan Thomas) , Mr. Shivarajan  (Father of Lt. Col Niranjan E K)

There was a small presentation about these women and their children as to how they were before tragedy struck and how they had continued with their lives, brought up their children and some of them had even been working to give back to the society. The one thought that I had in mind at that time was that the person because of whom they were here himself was missing. (Certainly no intention to belittle the efforts of these family members)

I once read a post on Twitter saying that ‘God always found the strongest women and paired them with soldiers’. Seeing these Veer Naaris and interacting with them just proved it that this statement was true to the core.

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The Veer Naaris along with Mr. Shivarajan

Apart from the families of the brave hearts, the Kargil Hero from Bengaluru Capt. Naveen Nagappa too was felicitated.

Time to hear the views of another distinguished person

It is one thing reading articles about brave hearts and their families or our veterans but it is another thing to hear someone like Air Commodore Chandrasekhar speak. It was painful to hear about the efforts he had to take to set up the National Military Memorial and also for having the tallest flag mast in India for our Tricolor, at Bengaluru. The gist of his address to the audience was that we don’t need to be at a special place, hold a special position and have special qualities to do our bit for our Nation. We can do so in our own little way. We just need the intentions to do that and most importantly need to have that kind of respect for our country and for the men who strived to protect us and some of whom even made the supreme sacrifice. This is the least we can do for them. Rest all would be meaningless.

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Air Commodore M K Chandrasekhar (Retd) VM VSM

A special meeting

It was now time for a special meeting. A time to meet Major Akshay Girish, at least for those of us like me, who had never met him or knew him personally. We knew him through the various write ups and the memories shared by his mother Mrs. Meghna Girish. We were shown a video of the brave heart which had his pictures, right from his childhood till the time he was here. It had anecdotes by family and friends. At the end of this video, I was left teary eyed and with a lump in my throat. Immediately after this video was over, Mrs. Sangeeta came up on the dias and carried on with the function as normally as anyone could. Truly remarkable!

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Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.

I have read this phrase so many times and my presence amidst the distinguished people in this function only made me realize that this was absolutely true.

Time to sign off

Wg Cdr Girish, the trustee of Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust addressed the audience and thanked everyone who made this event a success.

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Wg. Cdr. Girish Kumar

The function was concluded with the song Ae Watan Ae Watan, followed by the National Anthem by the students of Army Public School. It is not every day that we get to stand and sing our National Anthem along with War Veterans.

I am a fan of Motivational speakers and watch videos of a lot of them such as Ms Priya Kumar, Mr Robin Sharma, Mr Tony Robbins and so on. But can there be any more motivation or inspiration than meeting and hearing people like Maj Gen Ian Cardozo, Air Cmde Chandrasekhar and Col. DPK Pillay talk. They are the epitome of courage, determination, persistence and resilience. They don’t seem to hold any remorse for what they suffered in their lives, but they only radiate positivity.

It is easy to buy tickets and watch a celebrity show or some Bollywood event but it may not be easy to meet such distinguished people as well as people whose family members made the supreme sacrifice for our well being. I am so glad that I decided to attend this function in spite of the efforts and the time it would take.

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The distinguished guests present at the Function

Thank you Mrs. Meghna Girish, Wg. Cdr Girish, Mrs. Sangeeta, Ms. Neha, Baby Naina & all the volunteers of Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust for putting together such a wonderful function and enabling us citizens to mingle with such esteemed people.

Major Akshay Girish, we owe this one too to you!

Jai Hind.

An Evening for book lovers, by book lovers 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We were all informed that our reading group would be having its meet on 8th Dec’19 and this one was our 2nd Anniversary meet. When I decided that I would like to attend this event, I was a bit unsure. This would be  my first time ever when I would be attending an event where there would be readers all around . I didn’t know what to expect, what sort of people I would meet, how was I supposed to interact with the fellow attendees and so on.

Nevertheless, as they say ‘there is always a first time’ and I decided  to attend this to get a feel of such events and also to decide if it would be worthy and beneficial to attend more such sessions in the future.

So here we were ( Me and my daughter)  in The Maharashtra Mitra Library for the 2nd Anniversary Meet of Did You Read Today (a group for voracious readers on Facebook). It was not a very huge place and the room was occupied to a certain extent .The chief organizers of the event Mrs. Prabha Kishore and Lt Cdr. Bijay Nair ushered us in. It was a room filled with strangers for me. However, the key motivation for me was to hear Mr. Shiv Aroor, Defence Journalist cum Author ( one of my favorite authors ) speak a few words.

A recap

The evening began with a welcome address from Lt. Cdr. Bijay Nair, followed by a video that showcased the activities of ‘Did You Read Today’ ( DYRT) since its inception two years ago. An idea which was thought about by 2 buddies over rum, has resulted in a group of 5000 members now.  Bijay elaborated on it by sharing with us as to how and what kind of activities had DYRT been involved in and also telling us about how the evening would progress. It was a privilege that Cdr Rajeshwari Kori, the first Lady Officer to be posted on board a ship had agreed to attend this meet and was amidst us. He went on to introduce the first guest author of the evening.

Guest Authors

It was time now to hear our guest authors speak. The moment that I was looking forward to, had arrived. Mr. Shiv Aroor began speaking about his journey of writing, from Operation Jinnah to India’s Most Fearless Part 1 and Part 2. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that it was divine intervention that a humble offhand blog written by him about an Air Force Pilot led to these two books on our Military heroes. He shared his experiences about meeting the families of brave hearts who had made the supreme sacrifice and how after each chapter he would take a break from writing further because it would be too overbearing to go on with it. While he was narrating his experiences, I noticed a few of them in the audience were actually weeping. I cannot fathom whether it was the storytelling acumen of Shiv or whether it was the grief of the family of the brave hearts that brought this reaction. The questions and answers followed. A brief talk but he had the audience hooked to him

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The next Guest Author was Raga Olga D’Silva, the author of Untold Lies. She started off speaking about the story of her life, which went back close to 20 years and how her life had turned around for better when she had walked out of her marriage after her realization that she would probably be happier with a woman as her partner. Her book Untold Lies, a description of this journey and more. She was asked questions pertaining to LGBT and the acceptance for it in our country, the diversity and inclusivity for them in India v/s other countries and so on. While much is read about LGBT and their experiences, to hear someone speak about it in person is a different thing and outlook altogether. It was a narration of the strength, the fear, the challenges, pressure from the society, the judgements and the freedom despite all of it.

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Smita Glk Parikh , our third guest author for the evening,  the first woman Radio Jockey (RJ ) of Mumbai spoke about not a book, but about the Lit o Fest that she has started in Mumbai, the reason which prompted her to do this and also about how this Lit o Fest encourages new authors. She urged the audience to follow Lit O Fest and spread the word about them because once a work was submitted to them and approved by them, they would be featured / published. She added that they encouraged new authors to the extent that even books at manuscript stage get included at the Lit o Fest. A wonderful piece of information for all aspiring authors. She also presented certificates/ awards to the winners of the poetry competition. Another interesting aspect about her was that she is a Hindi writer, a refreshing change from the burgeoning lot of English narrators.dyrt4

Open Mic

The winners of the competition Esha Dholakia (first place) Nandini Dholakia and Adv Swati Kumar (second place) recited their poems. In the absence of Swati, Nilesh recited her poem. The talent of these writers was extremely amazing.

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There was also a recitation by Rhyan Ansari, who read out his award winning story. An amazing bunch of kids. The future of the literary world I guess is in safe hands and no signs of dwindling soon. Kudos to the parents of these kids who encourage them to pursue their interest and don’t just brush them off as unnecessary waste of time.dyrt8

The guest authors too were presented with a memento of appreciation for their willingness to be a part of the 2nd Anniversary Meet of DYRT.

Awards

There were awards of appreciation presented to a select few people whose contribution was extremely valued by the members of DYRT. Swetha Amit and Manasi Samudra as the Best Contributor towards Reading and sharing book reviews,

Nilesh Samant as the Best Contributor towards writing ,

Sachin Shanbhag for Best Innovative award Secret Santa

Hemanta Kumar Pati for Debut Author Launch

Renata Pavrey for Best Literary

Esha Dholakia and Sanskriti Rao for the Best Upcoming Talent.

Last, but not the least, the most important, the erstwhile Mrs. Prabha Kishore, the backbone of both ‘Did You Read Today’ and ‘Did you Write today’ was presented with an award too.

Time for some tea and talk

We all had our fill of photo sessions with the Guest Authors and they even signed our books for us.

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After such a literary evening, our taste buds were not to be left unattended, hence the evening ended with a cup of hot steaming energy infusing tea (not that we needed any energy) accompanied by some snacks.

Hats off to the organizers for this event. One can only imagine the hard work, the time and the efforts that must have gone into the planning, coordination and organization of this event.

My apprehensive evening had turned into a fulfilling one and I came back vowing that I should try not to miss the future meets of this wonderful group.

It is heartening to know that a group of people on Facebook can be so passionate about reading and pushing everyone towards it that they take time out to conduct such events, despite being busy professionals. There is still hope for more population to get added to the world of readers. Smartphones and PS4s, well the competition from books is here to stay. We aren’t giving up yet.

More power to the gang of Did You Read Today. Keep reading and make sure Everyone Reads. This amazing bunch of people can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/groups/298335837333979/permalink/762347777599447/

Where the Final Step is a First Step

The transition from being a graduate to being a professional is a common one. Most of us have been through this stage in our lives. But when you are taking the last step of being a trainee and tread on to becoming someone on whose command others may be willing to give up their lives that is something which is not for everyone. This belief of mine was reiterated when I was privileged to get a tour of The Indian Military Academy, one of the cradles of the Indian Army Officers.  What a unique feeling it was. Certain things are best experienced, not explained.

There was nothing lavish about this place, yet it had an atmosphere that wouldn’t be found elsewhere. Every single thing about this place was disciplined Nothing out of place, including the trees, in a particular row, a particular way. Spick and span with the utmost decorum maintained.

Anticipation of the visit

When I was being driven through the gates of the Academy, I was thrilled with anticipation as to what all I will be able to see. To get a glimpse into the making of the Officers of Indian Army or to even be on such premises seemed like an honor to me. True to my awe for this fraternity, when I got out of the place, I got a subtle understanding of how these men turn out to be what they are

Physical training

While being driven around the premises, we were shown the places where the Gentleman Cadets (GCs) do their physical training. One look at that ground and listening to the description about the kinds of exercises that these cadets are made to do would make a civilian like me be stuck with wonder. I was trying to imagine a few cadets do the exercises and the thought itself was daunting. And to think that such exercises are a part of their regular schedule every day for at least a year or a year and a half, only adds to the respect.

Our guide there was telling us about how the Cadets were made to perfect their movements for a parade and the measures undertaken for that. We were left speechless, just by hearing him talk about it. The aspect about physical training and mental preparedness of the officers is something that is well known. Anybody who likes to read about our Armed Forces personnel would be aware of all the training sessions and routines. So while I was aware of a bit of the training, to be able to actually see those grounds and those obstacles in person made it seem challenging to me, which of course is not how it is for the cadets in uniform. These were the men who ran 16kms just like that.

Mental training

An observation I made while I was there was that in the course of their training these cadets knowingly or unknowingly ( I am unsure) get immune to all kinds of reactions to things around them; be it humiliation, maybe not so pleasant living  conditions  (definitely not at the Academy)  or even the grandeur or luxury of a place or a person. Maybe I would be right in saying that all that matters to them is discipline and protection from danger (nation first, the comrades next and finally the self). Probably this is how it is with all the Nations and all Military, but I cannot help mentioning this as they are awe inspiring. What is tough or adventurous for us, they do it routinely. Impossible……. Well, that word doesn’t even exist for them.

A look at the War Memorial within the Indian Military Academy and the names therein is a testimony to the fact of how well the Chetwood Motto is ingrained in these men and how they will not only live up to their Dharma but will also die for it.

True to their Motto

I for one would be exceptionally proud and consider it as an accomplishment if I had to be a part of the Indian Military Academy for an entire year doing all that is being taught there and being commissioned into the Indian Army. But for the officers there, it is all about Veerta aur Vivek (Valor and Wisdom). So they just believe in acting with valor yet be humble about it and let their acts of bravery do the talking.

Honor and Pride

I haven’t been to the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy yet, but I am sure the feeling of a visit there too will be one of awe and honor. I can go on and on about the Indian Military Academy and describe the entire premises because the memory is still fresh in my mind even after almost 4 months, but it doesn’t seem like a sensible thing to do . As for its officers, well one just needs to read the blogs of any of the Veterans or the Officers or listen to them talk about our Indian Army. Nothing that I write will match that pride.

So for now, I will end this on a piece of imagination. Picture this, sitting in the audience, with the MiG aircraft roaring over the academy for the final ceremonial salute of the cadets, each of the cadet walking past the door sill which says ‘Through these portals have walked the finest men’ or being able to witness the ‘Antim Pag’ or ‘Passing out Parade’ of one of your own and at the end being able to pip the first rank on the shoulders of your ward and getting the first salute in return; what an honor and what pride! Some of us can only try and visualize the entire event while some of them are the chosen ones to be the recipient of the shining brass star being pinned on their shoulders.

More power to all the officers of our Armed Forces and a big salute to all our brave hearts Killed in Action and to their families. As they say, ‘Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.’

 

 

 

Simple Observations – Newer Lessons 1

Often when I write an article, I quote some instance or my own decisions in my write up so as to let the reader know the basis of my views and write further on whatever I am trying to convey. With this article I am going one step further and writing about one of my experiences and learning thereof.

Today I went to our regular grocery shop and was observing the boy there who sells hot snacks like Idli, Vada, Samosa and so on.

The incident

One of the men who had just finished eating some of his snacks was asking him for the final bill and also trying to confuse him with regards to the total amount. Probably he did so in jest. But as is normal human tendency, I was quick to assume that he probably was someone who was stingy with regards to money. Nevertheless, the customer paid the money and walked away. But in a matter of seconds, he returned to the boy and asked for another plate of Idli. This plate of Idli was for a beggar girl who is normally outside this shop always. I also noticed that the other beggars there were all savoring a plate of Idli each.

Learning

A brief incident, a 5 minute action and simple yet important lessons out of it. When the man was joking about the payment with the snack seller, I was being a bit critical about his behavior and jumped to a conclusion about him as to how could somebody be so stingy and bargain with someone over food? How easily we judge people just by an act or two? Had I looked away and not observed more, I probably would have assumed him to be a miser whereas he was actually a charitable man. Of course, he was not related to me in any way, but maybe we are making such mistakes in our daily lives with our loved ones and maybe colleagues too.  We often don’t see their point of view or maybe just pick up half information and assume things around it.

The second thing I learnt was that it took the man only 5 minutes and maybe around 150/- Rs to bring a smile on the faces of around half a dozen children who were begging. Indeed, it doesn’t take a fortune or special occasions to make a difference in someone’s life. It is all about one’s intentions. One act of kindness and an abundance of Good Karma which eventually will come back to him in some form or the other.

Common occurrence or a lesson to emulate

Someone may say that this is such a common occurrence and there are many people who do this. Maybe so, but yet there are many who just look and walk on. Many of us may not pay attention and many of us who do may not learn anything new and may not wish to emulate. Each to his own.  Just as Lao Tzu, the Buddhist Saint says giving is a natural tendency for us and by helping others more we may find joy in the fact that we have made people’s life easier in some way, even if it is for a short while.  Finally, all lessons are not learned through books or in a classroom, some can be found on a busy street too only if one is open to learn and change.