Friday, May 30, 2014

 I was coming to Mhow, kind courtesy of Lt Gen Pant, Commandant MCTE, Who had invited me to deliver a talk on ‘Signals in Sino Indian Conflict of 1962 as it effected me.’ and also join the planned get together of SODE 41, as the   Faculty Commander during the tenure of the Course in FCE.
      It was   a home coming for me, unfortunately without a home to come to. Our home, where we had lived during our last stint at MCTE, some time during 19 79-82, a Second World War Hutment on Generals Road existed no more It gave me no joy to see that the dilapidated hutment that we had moved in to and over time with love and effort    nurtured it into the most coveted dwelling of its type on Generals Road.. had been   razed and in its place had sprung two modern characterless looking bungalows, the hutment, with the No T 214, marked in bold letter and figures on the General’s Road  was in an advanced dilapidated state, derelict, about to fall and with all rooms leaking during the monsoons. General’s Road was indeed a very prestigious sounding address as Lt Gen Sundarji the Commandant College of Combat also lived on the same road.
     On the earlier posting to Mhow we had also lived in a hutment the only difference between then and now was the up-gradation from dry to water borne sanitation a giant step in technology from 1963 to 1980.
     The hutment had a number of rooms in the long arm of the ‘T’ with the living room in the top of the ‘T’ with the kitchen and the pantry at its extreme end. Any exercise that I needed was provided by the long walk for a glass of water in the night from the bedroom, through the guest room, the sitting-room and then to the fridge kept in the pantry.
     The rooms had a number of rickety doors and windows with innumerable glass panes, as a matter of fact so many to check and bolt that one or two were always left unsecured in the night or whenever we went out.
     There was also a detached garage, a bit away, which I never used as I could drive my Conifer Green Herald through the rickety gate, crunching the gravel of the driveway straight up the ramp on to the wide veranda.
      What struck us when we went to have a look before taking it over was the majestic and massive Banyan tree dominating the compound. There was also a large Keekar tree in front.
     The,  by now, unkempt and untrained creepers, courtesy some previous occupants, Morning Glory, Floribunda Roses and a few of Bougainvillea climbing up the numerous pillars of the extended veranda right to the tiled roof though a welcome sight, it did bring  out the dilapidated state of the hutment in a greater relief.
     The Lantana hedge, unkempt and with many gaps,  with a few of strands of barbed wire, the one side hanging wooden gate, more to demarcate the line of actual control than any thing else, constituted the total security. About the interior condition of the hutment the less said the better.
     For company we also had a live-in ‘Owl’ who had made his abode in one of the crevices in the outside of the living room wall. Fearless of us he would welcome us with a dour expression, his large round eyes shining bright in the headlights of the car as if reproaching us for returned home so late in the night.
              We set about making a home of the house and improving its looks and the interior with and without the help of the MES. Jeet, fond of flowers, potted plants and a green patch in front, got about organizing the same.  Though discouraged with the daunting task ahead both of us got down to making the structure liveable and carve a home out of it, entailing frequent visits to the MES yard for some decent furniture and telephone calls to the GE (Garrison Engineer), a harassed individual, with one Lt General, two Maj Generals, innumerable Brigadiers and a plethora of Cols in station, struggling some how to cater to their innumerable demands. My requirements were simple and not exhaustive-­­­ just the leaking roof, tiles in the toilet, the cracked sink and WC and a coat of whitewash in the rooms.
      Jeet had a large collection of potted plants at Delhi; Monster, Dracaena, Benjamin, Araucaria and  rubber plant among others which she had got loaded in the EVK along with the car, trunks and the packing cases and brought them along to Mhow. Having a common gardener with the General also helped in the addition of a few more exotic plants from the Flagstaff House. Some plants went inside to put some life in the living room while others added charm to the till now bare and desolate veranda     
     We developed a small lawn, Jeet planted some seedlings which soon bloomed in to multi coloured flowers. Over time the joint efforts paid and soon the derelict became the cynosure of every one in the station.
     The small pond with a tap for storing water for the garden had some Lemon Grass growing the recipe of the exotic tea, a favourite of the casual visitors dropping-in a few bit of the same added to the tea leaves in the pot was no doubt her best kept secret when in Mhow.
     We also fashioned a swing, the ropes hung from one of the branches of the Keeker tree. Dimpy, Minni and Sandy, the adorable children of Lt Col Gurdeep and Juli, his non practicing, doctor wife our next door neighbours, were soon attracted as if by the magnet to the swing and so did the two daughters Anu and Anjana of  Lt Col Ravi Kumar both Directing Staff at College of Combat, living across the road.
      From the posting at Kalimpong I had brought a couple of Chinese lanterns with wooden frames with glass sides. We hung one of these with an electric bulb inside on one of the lower branches of the Keeker tree. The rays of light the lantern, swinging slowly in the mild breeze, filtering through the innumerable needle like Keeker leaves would weave an ever-changing pattern of light and shade a pleasant and soothing sight. Both of us sitting on the easy chairs in the veranda late in the night watching the shifting, pattern listening to the soft strains of music emitting from speakers of the 'Norge' amplifier with one of her  favourite record from her large collections of LP's was relaxing enough after a stressful day in the Faculty. It was magic a different world, as long it lasted.
            As the car drove  on the Generals Road  with me  I  expectantly looking for the dear hutment I was not ready for the shock that awaited me, it was a  sad sight  to see the characterless concrete structure that has replaced our home of  yore., it was indeed a home coming  (to Mhow) with out a home to come to.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


It is early night, late evening and we are merrily cruising on the well lighted, and now with the hectic construction activities around on pause for the night, and less frequented with sparse traffic roads of Noida.

 Noticing a suddenly emerging obstruction ahead, Ranjit floor the brake paddle and the car comes to a grinding halt.

 Ahead    an on coming Santro has also come to a screeching halt as also an  stopped Auto that is now facing across the road in the process.

 The three  vehicles make a virtual triangle in the middle of which, unmindful of the danger, sit  two emaciated  and hungry pups who, possibly  searching  for the mother, away forging for some food,  have dragged  themselves  there .

 The tableau, with ever one in a bit of shock, remains frozen till the reverie is broken by a good Samaritan who jumps out of the car, picks up the two from the cuff of their neck and places  them   at a safe distance  on the side of the road ,when it dissolves and each one speeds up in their own direction.

 Compassion is not dead yet, people still feel for animals if not for human beings, I keep mulling as we speed up towards AVI where we are due for a get together of Noida Signals Forum.