There is a ‘D’ in……..Diversity, Delicious & Dynamism……………………..….As also in day 4 of @blogchatterA2Zchallenge2021!
I have written many times of my life as a forces kid. It is seen in my writing in innumerable ways through incidents, anecdotes, people & a vast knowledge of our country’s historical and cultural scape. Most of the knowledge and understanding stems from the extensive traveling we did both as my father was transferred from one part of the country to another and when our holidays were planned around those places while we were posted in a station.
The enchantment with new places was kept alive throughout my childhood and growing up years by my parents especially my dad who would lay out the road maps and route out our trip, calculating the kilometers and planning a break. From Kashmir to Andhra Pradesh on one posting, from Uttar Pradesh to Assam in another – the adventures were infinite, and the learnings had the charm of the best kind of adventure.
Exploring the north east extensively especially since my mother was born and bought up in Meghalaya was something which makes both my brother and me so aware of a part of India, that most Indians just do not know about. One Dussehra (= An early October break in schools due to a major festival & also signifies half a school year/session is over.) we had our eyes set on exploring the small unique states of our Northeast.
During that trip we passed Dimapur, a city in the plains, in an otherwise mountainous Nagaland and considered the ‘gateway’ to the state (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimapur). It also led us onwards to Kohima the capital of the state. Amongst the many sights, one that has stayed with me along & with the haunting lines was at the Kohima War Cemetery – A Commonwealth War Graves Commission managed site, which was amongst the 140+ such sites managed by the Commission. The lines: “When you go back tell them of us and say for your tomorrow, we gave our today” from the Kohima Epitaph seemed so powerful for an 18-year-old that it stayed there inside me forever! The world-famous verse, its history and the subsequent history of the battle also known as The Battle under the Cherry Tree all became refreshed and known again to me due to Google baba!!
The Kohima War Cemetery, the travelling which has made me what I am today, the tall pines which make memories dreamlike, the delightful ducks who have become an integral part of our routines in New Zealand!
A force’s enriched life always helps get so much of history right. It also makes one adaptable, far-sighted, perceptive & discerning. That is the exposure which is offered and oft missed as the biggest plus point of life in the armed forces. Tolerance and acceptance of diversity, enjoying more in less, small gestures and comforts going a long way in making a happy heart, the army bus being a luxury, the cantonments our safe havens – far from the madding crowd, were something so taken for granted then and so remembered now.
Army children had a healthy tit-a-tat with the Airforce ones, and it all made so much fun. I remember their light blue, slightly upmarket school buses from the Indian Airforce Academy, Dundigal, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Force_Academy_(India)) as against our yellow and orange MCME ones while posted here in my city all those decades ago were much case studies in ‘rivalry’. And what it was! How lustily we cheered our driver when he would overtake the blue colored ones and he would beam feeling a war hero while the conductor of the bus would jump up aghast, asking us to calm down: “Baby and Baba’s please bait jao, mien phas jaunga” = “Girls & boys please sit down, otherwise I will be called to task”. (Baby/ Baba’s – was an address for the girls and boys in army parlance).
The magic in a lifetime is in every stage that we pass. The phase when one allows a new person to enter one’s life through marriage is a chapter which takes the maximum effort and energy. Years later veterans (!) like us, who have taken the up and the down, the lefts and rights, the speed breakers and the rumble-strips, the ecstasy and the tears, the successes, and the joys of living everything in ‘nothing but double’ (Thank you the Home Alone movie series for richness in expressions) – it all seems worth it. With an elite forces job as an IPS (Indian Police Service) officer and a training schedule from which he had taken a break of a week to marry me, led us to a nearby but then un-spoilt destination in the foothills of the Himalayas – Dalhousie. Apart from exploring the beautiful place, we had a chance encounter with the crew and the making of the epoch film: 1942 – A Love Story. Not much of a film person till then, it was fun anyways. And it made delightful anecdotal memory and I could re-count it later several times like I am doing now.
Films always seem so dreamy like. Transport you into another world. Of course, only when they are well made and pay necessary attention to detail, in terms of what one generally sees around in one’s own environment. Either in terms of the backgrounds or the people who crisscross our lives. Then the story, even if not tightly woven, seems so convincing. While travelling in New Zealand extensively each frame my eyes would capture seemed dreamlike and we thought we had seen it somewhere. For one may be those locales were used in films like that completely superb place off one of my favorite holiday getaways which was the place the mighty film – The Lord of the Rings was shot. (Shall share my amazingly beautiful pics from there in my letter ‘G’ challenge!). One such place like the one I have insinuated to above, which is marvelously beautiful and home to the gigantic Albatross as a protection center (https://albatross.org.nz/) and home of one of the most beautiful University campuses – Otago University – I have ever seen is Dunedin. My young, son wanted to be part of this University since he saw it many years before he was ready for Uni life. The city is unique on so many levels that one cannot decide which is the most fantastic aspect about it.
The Otago University; The Steepest Street in the World; The Albatross – a protected species & an endangered one!
Even as I travelled the world, in my own country there never was a place, till I got married, to which I could bind my roots to. Though it was always safe to say I belonged to the land of the Nawab of Oudh, it was not because my parents were based there. They settled in our national capital yet “Dilli mien dil khabhi nahi laga!” (= “My heart never took to Delhi!”). I attributed many reasons to it. None incredibly significant. Even though our biggest happiness and if I were to go by the cliched ‘bundle of joy’ phrase, was born there, so it should have been amongst my favorite but New Delhi could never quite charm the s*** out of me!!
We can never tell what dreams get made off. Each of us have had many a wish which we have named as our dreams. I remember writing essays about them quite a few times in school. My 8 year old nephew after seeing his Mom’s reference in the ‘A’ @BlogchatterA2Zchallenge2021 wanted me to feature him too. I used the opportunity along with his Mom to coax him into writing something with ‘D’. He came up with a delightful few lines, simply titled: Dreams.
The dynamisms of words can be a powerful tool to convey our thoughts – A poem penned by my brother-in-law, a civil servant himself!
The deliciousness of creations…..
Dreaming to make difference – The Dirty Feet organisation’s enigmatic founder and a dear friend – Ms. Nivedita (in blue); the fair with that twist – gypsies dreaming of another land; flowers for team members – me dreaming to change attitudes; Youngistaan Foundation’s – Educational Vertical: Bright Sparks, Head – Ms. Neha Mathur innovating with her neighbour at the height of the lockdown – keeping in touch despite the restrictions!
Dreaming on…..there’s dynamisms in the beliefs that make these dreams!!!!
The entire month of April, I am blogging from A2Z powered by #BlogchatterA2Z