Vijay Diwas

“Tomorrow we start our fireworks”

17 years is a long time but I remember his phone call like it was yesterday. I could literally hear the excitement that he was so trying to mask in an attempt to quell my anxiety and fear that threatened to swallow me.

Indian Air Force was cleared to launch air-strikes against infiltrators on 26th May 1999. The Kargil Conflict which lasted almost three months began early in May 1999 with the Pakistani intrusion and capturing and inhuman torturing of soldiers of Indian Army patrolling the area. The situation escalated soon enough and Air Force was called upon to provide air support to our men in olive-greens around mid-May.

For any fighter pilot worth his salt, being trained in air warfare, an opportunity to engage and thwart the enemy is the biggest high. But while all the warriors of sky at Srinagar prepared for show of strength, the families back home sat glued to television fearing the worst turn of events.

When the Kargil conflict reached its frenzy, I was engaged for almost seven months and eagerly waiting for month of October when I would finally be in arms of my beloved. That phone call from my fiancé, a pilot posted in Srinagar, on 25th May 1999 set the tone for coming days till next two months for me.

No sooner had Air Force struck on the enemy when two aircrafts were shot down by Pakistani stinger missiles with one of the pilots taken prisoner of war and another brutally murdered by the Pakistanis. The news sent fear waves among all the families of pilots participating in the Kargil war.

I can only imagine what the martyred pilot’s wife must have gone through on hearing about her husband’s sacrifice. Though I was yet to be married but the news had made me numb….never had I prayed as much as I did then….everyday.

The day began with newspaper. Only after scanning each and every page would I get on with rest of the day. The most routine work seemed never ending and incomprehensible. I kept checking the wall clock willing the day to end soon….I often thought the clock wasn’t working and would check other clocks of the house to reaffirm that time was indeed slogging past.

We did not have cell phones then. The air base at Srinagar had all but one public phone booth and obviously everyone wanted to call back home to assure their families of their well-being. Every night at eleven I would sit by the telephone waiting for his phone call before calling it a day.

Even during such times he would call up and whisper sweet nothings from the public telephone booth unburdening my worried heart. Everyday I made him promise that he would call me back the next day….it was my way to assure myself that he would be safe next day and talk to me again…

As we celebrate another “Vijay Diwas” for the victory of Indians over enemy, for reclaiming the land, for remembering the brave hearts and for honouring their sacrifices and indomitable spirit, I feel immensely fortunate that my soldier is safely back with me.

Wars are most devastating for the families of men in uniform….the casaulties are merely a number for others….Yes, our husbands, brothers and friends are paid for their jobs…but how many of those who say so will be willing to go and stand before the enemy for same amount of pay?

This ‘Vijay Diwas’, I wish people start respecting defense services and their personnel with more compassion….and not measure their sacrifices and their committment to duty.

I am proud to be associated with these brave courageous men who put their family life and comfort at stake for the service to nation.

May they always win all battles of life. Jai Hind

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Catching up

Tired after 15 years of roaming and setting up home at small-off-the-regular-route towns as a military wife, I finally put down my foot to settle down at one place even as husband dear carries on with the service to nation.

The decision to create a permanent base brought biggest change in my teenage daughter’s school life. As she started school in the new place, not only she needed to make new friends but also she needed to ‘catch up’ on all the missed syllabus for the impending exams.

Over the years I have not been available for birthdays, marriage ceremonies and college get-together meets simply because the places we were located at were not easy to travel from. My friends and relatives, elated with my decision were quick to remark, “Great! we need to catch up soon now!”

I realized, isn’t it all that each of us do all our life…. the catching up? Almost all of us in those rhetorical moments have advised “The greatest wealth is health”. But seldom do we follow our own advice. We run and run…after success,  money,  relationships, happiness…never ever however really getting there because the thirst never stops…there is always something missing…that one more thing to achieve…that last thing to possess….and the rat race continues…We always are in need of a lot of catching up to do!!

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In our blind race to catch up with our desires in life, we tend to overlook and loose out on our health….is that the example we are setting for our next generation to emulate? To run after material things… but what about catching up on growth?

Isn’t it our responsibility to teach them young about a healthy body and mind? the World Health Organisation defines health thus:

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

For a healthy mind and social well-being, the body needs to be fit and well-developed…the right weight, right height…pink and robust, devoid of lethargy. For only an active child will make friends, harbor curiosity, will be inquisitive and chart his own path in life…

Often our day-to-day regular food falls short of required growth supplements and that is where Horlicks Growth Plus steps in. This specially designed nutritional supplement is perfect for growing up children specially the three to nine-year-olds….’catch them young’ never sounded much more apt, really!

With its high quality whey protein and added nutrients, Horlicks Growth plus aids in gaining height and weight enabling the under-nourished children to catch up on the lost growth..

Yes, in this fast paced life where even adults as young as twenty somethings are falling victims to stress and depression, the onus is on us, the generation of adults who have grown up on much healthier home cooked food than today’s junk food eating children to introduce them to a healthier lifestyle and food.

For only with our kids growing up as healthy individuals, will we become a better progressive nation…ready to take on the world…ready to leave our imprint….and catch the elusive successful life by its horns.

Live life to fullest with a happy healthy growing up...

Live life to fullest with a happy healthy growing up…

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Book Review: Karachi Deception

Book: Karachi Deception

Author: Shatrujeet Nath

Genre: Fiction

Publishers: Rupa Publication

Karachi DeceptionWar stories,  espionage and spy stories easily attract me to a book store. Obviously this book attracted me enough to apply for reviewing it.

The story is about three army commandos, best among all, who are chosen to carry out a covert operations and enter Pakistan to eliminate dreaded underworld head Irshad Dilawar.

Through nail biting events, the three commandos traverse through enemy territory putting their lives on line. However the Pakistani intelligence service and the don seem to elude them always.

The story is set amidst secrets, politics, mind games with the enemy. And as the blurb says, it does keep the reader hooked till the end.

The surveillance tactics taken up by the commandos, the way they cover their identities, the patience required to carry out such operations, procuring arms and ammunition and intelligence amid the enemy has been described in very detail and brings the picture alive. The locations can be imagined in vivid details from the imagery created by the words.

It is a very tightly woven story and a very gripping one at that with twists and turns that make you turn page after page.

However, when the mystery of the dangerous operation that was undertaken by the commandos is revealed, I was not convinced. I am not sure if any country would endanger its best commandos for an operation that never was….

But in all it is a wonderful entertaining read. go for it if thrills you to read spy stories.

Also read on:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1677830039

https://www.amazon.com/review/R1SHX6U6A4K4XA/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv

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Book Review: Battles and Warriors

Book: Battles and Warriors

Author: Subhadra Sen Gupta

Publishers: Rupa Publications

Battles ans Warriors by Subhadra sen GuptaThis is the second book from the series of “Exploring India” by Subhadra Sen Gupta, the author of “Kings and Queens”.

This book follows the similar pattern as the earlier with stories of important wars that have shaped the history of Indian sub-continent.

The five major battles between Greek warrior Alexander and King Porus at banks of River Jhelum, the Emperor Ashoka’s life changing battle at Kalinga, Babur and Ibrahim Lodhi at Panipat, Rajenra Chola and Srivijaya kingdom and the Pallasey war between Siraj-ud-Daula and East India Company  along with the events which led to these wars are precisely described in short story formats in the book.

While the text books in schools do introduce the history to the children but academic books fail to generate excitement and inclination towards history of wars and warriors. However this book with its attractive illustrations by Tapas Guha not only raise the interest among young and old but also give a glimpse of what the then warriors might have dressed like, arms and armoury they used and how the war scene might have looked like. The illustrations have made the story easier to comprehend.

These books are a commendable effort in taking the past to growing up kids….in fact I found it an interesting read myself. The book reminded me of the Amar Chitra Katha books that I have grown up reading.

Read to revisit history and introduce kids to story reading and historic facts in small doses.

Also read at:

https://www.amazon.com/review/R11NV1O4MMX8OR/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv

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Book Review: The Tantric Curse

Book : The Tantric Curse

Author: Anupama Garg

Genre: Fiction

Publishers: Rupa Publication

Tantric CurseBlame it on television serials and movies, the word ‘Tantric’ invokes more often an image of a man with evil look in his eyes and  unkempt long white hair dressed in red toga performing black magic with bones of dead around him…

I remember many years ago travelling through Orchha, we stopped at a place opposite a temple complex which was unusually dark for a temple. My fellow traveller just hinted that it was frequented by ‘tantrics’ and not very safe place to be around.  We naturally did not stop for much longer at the spot.

When the team of the Tantric Curse contacted me for the review, I was at first sceptical as I hardly knew anything about ‘tantra vidya’. I thought the book would be like some religious handbook describing the guiding principles.

I was surprised however to read the blurb. The story is about an eight year old Rhea whose parents are killed in an unfortunate event and the little girl lands at the doorstep of a tantric’s house of worship in a state of trance. The tantric Satya, a learned man and devotee of Goddess Kamakhya takes the girl under his fold realising her intrinsic unusual faculties. The girl is blessed with a vision and can foretell events that might happen in future. The tantric’s own lineage is weighed down by a curse.

As Rhea grows up and is trained in principles of the ancient order of religion, it depends on her whether the curse would break or she too would succumb to the curse. Her journey to master the knowledge and discipline of ‘Tantra’ takes her through difficult times. Overcoming all challenges and hurdles she achieves success and masters the knowledge of Tantra.

The story keeps the reader intrigued as the mystery of what the curse is revealed much later. The subtle love story in the background adds a flavour to the story of learning and discipline. The story is sprinkled with information on Tantric knowledge and practices without forcing its beliefs on the reader. Most times tantric vidya because of lack of information is considered akin to black magic. As the ancient practice of transferring the knowledge to a chosen and deserving disciple is followed hence the awareness about this order of religion is surrounded by mystery and rumours.

The book tries to dispel common man’s fears associated with the practices of tantra with simple subtle suggestions. I found the book quite interesting though I am not sure whether real tantrics with genuine knowledge exist in today’s world. And if they do I would like to meet and understand the practice properly.

A good read with easy pace.

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For The Love Of Writing….

To be able to let your emotions and deepest thoughts flow on paper(or on keyboards these days) in coherent words is what writing is all about.

Quote on my art work via https://www.textasimage.com/#

Quote on my art work via Text-As-Image

Encouraged by an Anglo-Indian English language teacher at school, I fell in love with words. Every new word that was added to my repository had to be used at least once in prose and absurd little five-line rhyming poems that my young mind conjured up.

A second-hand book of quotes with frayed yellow pages, picked up from a footpath shop, became my prized possession. I would often scour through its pages for that perfect quote that would become an embellishment for my essays.

The progression to journal writing was a natural course in my love for writing. Writing became a cathartic experience for me…I would pen down everything from my annoyance at being scolded by parents, fights and make-up with friends, crush on the handsome new boy in school, pulling a prank on the snobbish girl and getting away with it, heartbreak on discovering the new guy had crush on somebody else to school farewell, dreams and aspirations, special requests to the almighty and happy feelings when the wishes seemed to get fulfilled….

And though appreciation for poetry was my most desirable little secret but self-criticism made me shy away from sharing with people.

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Clipart of my choice coupled with quote and added filter for image via Text-As-Image

Blogging came to me much much later. By that time I had overcome my inhibitions and the desire to be read and lauded had taken roots. The love for seasoning my concoction of words with words of literary greats drove me to surf internet for ‘quotes and sayings’. It afforded me a plethora of options…..some quotes were available as text but I found a huge stash of quotes in image forms too. These text images made me fall in love with writing all over again….

A new desire however tip-toed in the subconscious mind…that of using words of my choice in text-image or using my photographs for displaying famous quotes as text-images. The help was at hand in the form of Text As Image site.

This is one-stop site actually. All I had to do was open a free account and start making image of text of my choice. I even had the choice to select font style, size and place of text on the image. I could change the background colour, select from gallery of background images or upload an image from personal collection, add filters, change the size of canvas and play around with words!

The pro-account bought at a little price gives a little more freedom. With a pro-account I could do away with the site logo that appeared at left corner of the text image with a logo of my own! Alas but, I have yet to learn how to make my own professional logo…..so I could not really use the feature. Instead what I did was to opt for switching off the display of site logo.

And the best part is that once the image was ready to my satisfaction, I could not only download it to save for future use but also share it on my social media!

Writing is but a lonely journey and nobody really understands if you sit staring at white page and pencil in hand or at a blank white screen….you are playing with words in your mind arranging and rearranging them, trashing them and formulating the succinct beginning and people wonder whether you are fooling them or avoiding some work.

Above all a writer can never boast of knowing everything that is to know about writing….you can just have a love for writing and keep reading more and more to learn writing better and better.

Writing is as vast an art as the Pacific Ocean beyond... (photograph from my collection)

Writing is as vast an art as the Pacific Ocean beyond… (photograph from my collection)

But like me if you have a love for writing and want to glamorize your own golden words and thoughts as an  image with your logo to boast for eternity Text-as-image is your go to site. Try it…you will fall in love with writing over and over again!!

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Book review: Into the Abyss

Book: Into the Abyss

Author: Ayush Ansal

Genre: Crime Fiction

Publishers: Rupa Publication

Into the AbyssI was introduced to a world of thrillers quite early since my father had a collection of Jason Bourne Series, Godfather by Mario Puzo and Robert Ludlum books. In school as a teenager I was allowed to read Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Alfred Hitchcock but at home I had access to my father’s collection.  Later in college I read Sidney Sheldon, Tom Clancy, Robin Cook and many more….It has been a few years now that I have laid hands on books by foreign authors of crime fiction and thrillers.

On receiving the book Into The Abyssby an Indian author Ayush Ansal,  I was quite intrigued to read a blurb with characters and story set in London and Scotland Yard detectives appearing now and then.

The story is about a kid Sam Winterfield who witnesses goons kill his parents. He has his heart set on revenge. Growing up he comes across people who play a role in moulding him into a cold young lad. His innocence is lost forever when he kills two other goons without flinching.

Story builds up on a failed embezzlement plan resulting in some gruesome murders. And what I liked was that there was no slackness in spinning the story…events follow and story goes on gradually. The mystery of killer unfolded in small doses and kept me hooked to the story till the very end. And the end was a bit of surprise for me.

The one thing that the author seems to have overlooked while writing the story is that the killer after killing parents of Sam Winterfield, a boy of ten, remarks “When time finally comes, I will be at the end of your road awaiting your vengeance”

But the boy never gets to take revenge himself. Somebody else kills the killer for some other reason. It was not emphasised to the killer that it was for Sam Winterfield’s revenge that he was being shot at.

I was expecting the boy to face the killer of his parents again instead of relying on a mobster to kill him.

Overall the story is gripping and I am ready to excuse the way revenge was taken. Author has made use of his stay in England very well with detailed descriptions of characters and backdrop of story.

A good engaging read for all.

https://www.amazon.com/review/R2SCT916GPN6QP/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv

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