20 Mar 2012


There is a poem that I read every night before I slept for three years while I was in NDA Khadakvasla (1966-69). It was framed and kept besides each bed of all cadets in NDA. With such frequent reading before I slept, the poem was bound to have an immense affect on my subconscious mind and my psyche. Though it was written a 140 years ago, it still has a profound significance to a youthful mind, ‘What is it that I want to be when I am grown up ?’ The poem helps to irrigate the mind so that it is fertile and productive.

This poem may come handy to you, I would like you to please read it as often as you can.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!
...................Rudyard Kipling

16 Mar 2012

Draupadi In Uniform

I had a partial brain stroke in 98-99 and a portion of my hard disc got wiped out. I have no recollection of large parts of my life. Strangely, what little I can remember is microscopically clear. Sometimes, when someone mentions something, or when I see or hear something,  all of a sudden the flood gates open and I get inundated with bits and pieces of old memory, a trip down the memory lane at Mach-3.

Recently, in a mail from one of my friends whom I have not met for long, he mentioned about how well he liked my performance (my presentation) to the Strike Corps at Ambala. All of a sudden the mention of Ambala Corps opened the flood gates, bits and pieces of memory, about my experiences as the Commanding Officer (CO) of an Attack Helicopter Squadron came at me like a Tsunami, after almost 22 years.

This is a Mahabharata like story between Pandavas and Kauravas and of poor Draupadi.

In order to bring peace and amity between Army and Air HQ on long standing grievances pertaining to close air support and army’s need to have their own air assets, the Vice Chiefs of Army and Air Force got together in 1987 and signed a very silly document called ‘Joint Implementation Plan Of 19887(JIP-87)’. I think it had something to do with their Rimcolian association, haunching together in NDA  when they were young, or it may have been due to the beer they drank after hitting birdies on the golf course. Nothing momentous happened after the document was signed except that control of the Air Op Sqns went to the Army. However, the operational control of three other AF helicopter Sqns were also handed over to the Army as bonus. I was given command one of these bonus Sqns around 1988, armed with a new incredible weapon system called the MI-35.

One of the first things that my predecessor JKK told me was to read and comprehend the JIP-87. It was a long document like Mahabharata and took me all night to comprehend it’s portent. Basically the JIP-87 put me in a ‘Draupadi’ like situation. It said that while I will remain married to AF, and the AF will feed, clothe, house and pay me, it will be the Army who will write my annual confidential report (ACR) and also sleep with me when it suited them – I was not to have any sexual liaison, with the IAF (frankly the JIP-88 couldn’t write ‘Sex’ word, so they simply said ‘Operations’, which to my mind at that time meant the same thing).

So the first thing I did was to go and meet my first sexual partner, the Brigadier General Staff (BGS) of the Corps in Bhatinda. Fortunately he was a venerable immensely likable Rimcolian, sagacious and wise like Yudhishtir  and our intercourse consisted of paternal petting with no sex. It was a very pleasant and joyful experience. Yudhishtir was too kind to keep me to himself. So he advised me that I must now onwards stay exclusive property of Arjun, an Independent Armoured Brigade Commander in Suratgarh and that Arjun will husband me on regular basis. Yudhishtir also advised me that because the experience was new to the Army, I must prepare myself to service the entire Pandava clan and help prepare a doctrine.

So I went to report to Arjun who in-turn visited me several times and gave me a ‘very fit for sex’ certificate. Because of this, I was invited to visit and explain doctrinal aspects of my employment and special skills in bed, in every possible formation under the command of the Corps HQ in Bhatinda (the Pandavas). I was invited to perform on sand models, tactical exercises with and without troops, and made to go do it in Ditch Cum Bundh, sometimes in double ditch, mostly in doggie style nodal positions and also in the frenzy of frontal assault and breaking out with W- Front armoured underwear.

One of my most exhilarating experience was an encounter with then Brig Ray in Sirsa, a Dronacharya of Psy War,  where he taught me the concept of ‘Think Two Up’. Learning to think '2 up' made me a very supercilious man. 'I know it Sir', I began to say habitually, even before my bosses could explain 'It'. I knew what he was going to say, because of Brig Ray's '7 up' cold drink formula. Subordinates those days was not supposed to offer cold drinks to superiors, and say 'I know it Sir'. They were supposed to say 'I don't know it Sir, please tell me', and show explicit sycophancy !  

The only one who was most unhappy with me in the entire Pandava clan those days was the venerable and most illustrious CO of 44 Armd Rgt, who felt that I should leave Arjun and marry him. A preposterous thought since I was considered and treated like the Caesar’s wife, though temporarily married to Arjun.

Very soon the Kauravas heard of me in Amabala Corps HQ and asked that I be married to them exclusively for breaking out with W- Front armoured underwear, one of my own doctrinal special sexual preferences. By then I had had quite of bit of sex with Pandavas in double ditch and Nullahs and like the historical ‘Begum of Sardana’ who used to live on GB Road (Bhagirath Palace, now an electrical market) I decided that a change of allegiance may do me good. It really excited me that on page 14 of the JIP-87 it said that I could choose to become either the Army or the Air Chief if I wanted to. At that time I really did not know about Army or AF lists and well hatched ‘Succession Plans’. Being a helicopter pilot I felt that I stood no chance of being the King of the AF but I quite liked the swashbuckling idea of giving it a shot at being the Emperor of the Indian Army.

With that kind of mindset,  I completely refused to have sex with AF and my Station Commander, Air-I and even the C-in-C became completely alienated. Though each counselled me individually to have loyalty and be sexually liberal ,  I superciliously reminded them of my aversion to wearing multiple caps (condoms), one with an AF logo and the other with an Army Logo, which was forbidden in Mahabharata (JIP-87). I obviously then ruined my chances of becoming even a courtesan in the AF Kingdom. I had hoped that the Army will honour my destiny on page 14 of Mahabharata (the bloody JIP).

My visit to Ambala and presentation of my performing skills that my friend referred to, first on stage and then above sand dunes, was in this context. Unfortunately, like Draupadi, I fell in love with Karna in Ambala Corps and hence alienated both  Pandavas as well as Kauravas. Everyone started to quarrel including the Prince of Subroto Park, on nuptial rights to Draupadi. I was sent into quarantine and encouraged to retire prematurely, deemed disloyal, the only beneficiary as well as victim of Mahabharatha (JIP-87). The Station Master Bhatinda was given an AVSM for my sexual and doctrinal expertise and endeavour. I have no quarrel with that, he deserved it even if it was for ceaseless pursuit after my modesty and charm.

I discovered to my horror recently in Suratgarh that despite the passage of 22 yrs, Mahabharata still continues. But the COs have learnt their lessons well. They now either avoid multiple sex or voluntarily use caps (condoms) with both the Army as well as AF logos printed on either side. I recently asked the Additional Director General Army Aviation (ADG AA), my old student, about what he sees as future of Mahabharata. He assured me that polygamy will soon be out and that the Army will have its own concubines and will not have to borrow from the AF.  The AF still is harping on old sexual doctrines of ‘Indivisibility Of Air Power’, coined by an archaic exponent of air power. They also still have a tactical nuclear Bhramastra called ‘Air Space Management’ to kill Army aspirations. I am confident that the ADG AA will get adequate help from the Centre For Land Warfare, strategically located next door, to find Biblical passages to counter Mahabharata like arguments.

‘Cheers to all those who wish us well, let the rest go to hell’ (this I believe is the battle cry of the Kumaon Rgt). These days I am quite confused whether I should take JIP-87 seriously to write Wg Cdr (Rtd) or Col (RIP) after my name . So I write nothing, just Mr, which is what I have finally become, Draupadi is now a prostitute like the ‘Begum of Sardana’ on GB Road.

Not a laughing matter, though I want you to kindly laugh at this story. It is just a silly story, of the follies of youth.