Friday, June 11, 2010

The NDA in Pune

I like to compare the old with the new. How it was then and how it is now.
For example the first Passing Out Parade (POP) at NDA was reviewed by Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru.

This was 55 years ago. As you can see all the three chiefs (Army, Navy & Air Force) were present at the POP. And that was the basic idea of starting the NDA, to train all the three services together.
West Point, the US Military Academy on which NDA is modeled, has a poignant unofficial motto: “Much of the history we teach was made by soldiers we taught.” The same holds true for the NDA too.
To cite a few examples, one is Lt Arun Khetarpal.
It seems one evening he surprised all present by suddenly announcing that, in the coming war, he would die and would be rewarded for gallantry. Something in his demeanour made everyone believe his premonition.
Deployed across the Basantar River on 16 December 1971 his last radio message was “No Sir, I will not abandon my tank. My gun is still working and I will get them”
He did, dying as he knocked off his fourth Patton tank. He was awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously.

From left: Capt Salaria, Lt Arun Khetarpal, Capt Manoj Pandey.

38 years later Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, an ex NDA, did the same by his heroic death during the 26/11 terror strike at Mumbai.
“Do not come up, I will handle them.” These were probably the last words which Major Sandeep told his men as he was hit by bullets while engaging terrorists inside the Taj Hotel, Mumbai during the Black Tornado operation.

Had been to the NDA (National Defence Academy) recently and was impressed by the way they have maintained the standard and the surroundings even after half a century.

The dining hall is one such place. Apart from the wood work, and the grandeur, the quality of the food is something worth mentioning. Had poached eggs after a long time and washed down with cold coffee (forefront above)

I am sure the cooks must be having a tough time, but then it’s a daily routine for them.

The regimental flags adorning the entrance to the dinning hall.

That’s a view of the Sudan Block.

And this one is from the Sudan Block

Incidentally the Sudan block was built by the donation given by the African republic which gifted a hundred thousand pounds in 1941 for the construction of a suitable war memorial, in grateful recognition and commemoration of the gallantry and sacrifices of Indian troops in the defence of Sudan in WWII (inaugural photo below)

You can get more information at the official website

It was not surprising to see monkeys, deer and peacocks roaming around with no fear.

The cadet’s gym may look a little out dated but just have a look at the things they had to do at the Gym on a daily basis.

Coming back to the dining hall, at the entrance of the hall there is a table set for one, with the chair tilted forward. I found this interesting and had a closer look. This table is set for the Prisoners of War who are forgotten, but holding on to the hope that they will return one day.

There was a placard placed on the table with the following written on it:

The table set is small, for one, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner against his oppressors.

The single rose displayed in a vase reminds us of the families and loved ones of our comrades-in-arms who keep their faith awaiting their return.

The Red Ribbon tied so prominently on the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapel and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of our missing.

The candle is unlit, symbolizing the upward reach of their unconquerable spirit.

The slice of Lemon is on the bread plate, to remind us of the bitter fate.
There is salt upon the bread plate - symbolic of the families’ tears as they wait.

The Glass is inverted, they cannot toast with us this night.

The chair – it is empty. They are not here.

Remember ! All of you who served with them and called them comrades, who depended upon their might and aid, and relied upon them, for surely, they have not forsaken you.

Remember until the day they come home.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Most of us detest uniform or rather wearing an uniform to work. Maybe its because we were forced to wear it in our school days and this is a form of protest.
But I am fascinated by the uniforms that are used in different aspects of life. The most common ones are the military uniforms.

How smart Isac Stevens would have looked when he led his men against the enemy.

Or the Indian Army wearing their Khaki uniform which was introduced in India by the British.

The nurses in the Army had their own set of uniforms. It must have been very difficult being in the field hospitals and the rough life, but they are a clan who has decided to take up the life of Florence Nightingale where care and compassion comes naturally to the dedicated ones.

The Finnish nurses in the early 20s had the head gear similar to a nun and with arm bands (above)

The two pics above are from the early forties.
While surfing the net I found some uniforms which may look like nurse’s uniforms but they were not.
For example the one below may look like a group photo of the complete hospital staff, but they are actually the spooling room workers of a Lancaster Plant for spinning which was clicked in 1929. (I appreciate those two guys perched precariously on the sides)

This one (below) looks like a line up for a lighting the lamp ceremony, but they are the elevator operators of the Sterick Building (late thirties)

Then there was the Carry on Doctor series which was ....ummm... some say funny, but I found them under the category “forced humor”
As time progressed these uniforms kept changing based on the needs of the time.

The latest ones are more comfortable, easy to wear, and colourful too. And why not? Nothing like cheering up the patients, like the ones that you can see here on this site for Nursing Scrubs.
The best I liked in this was White notched collar top. So cool and convenient to move around.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The night stalker

This happened about 3 years ago.
One night (or rather early in the morning around 4.30 am) I heard some movement at our bed room window. First I thought that it must be some pigeon trying to settle down on the window ledge. But the commotion did not die down and I had to get up and put on the light. Imagine my surprise when I drew the curtain aside. There was fully grown Barn Owl staring at me, or rather we both were staring at each other sizing up the situation. Or so I thought.
It flew inside and landed on where ever it could find a perch. My wife scrambled up and ran out of the bedroom. Now it was only me and the owl in the bedroom. I kept the windows open and tried to shoo it away. But that did not work. Then it dawned upon me “why not some photographs before I send him out” So I opened the cupboard slowly and took out the camera and clicked some frames without the flash. (in case our little friend did not like the celebrity status)
Barn Owl giving me the side profile.
Meanwhile he kept hoping from one thing to another (was it posing in different angles?) And finally he settled on my music speaker (the tweeter) which I had kept temporarily on my World Space box. Now this was not acceptable to me. I could imagine the harm those claws could do to my speakers. So I quickly took some more shots (this time with the flash) When I went a little close he spread his wings (maybe that’s the best it could do as a threatening stance) I said good, and took a picture of that too.

The bedroom stalker

Then I continued the task of shooing it away. Slowly I realized that the poor thing could not see well with the bedroom light on. I found that he was going and banging himself straight into the wall. I inferred that the white wall must be appearing as some blank space for him to escape. (the things you learn in the middle of the night) The poor thing was going to hurt itself. How to prevent him from banging against the wall ? I took the bed sheet and threw it over him (remember the Gladiators in Spartacus ?) I was surprised that he did not struggle when I bundled him up and picked him.
Meanwhile the bedroom door opens a crack and my wife pops her head inside “is it gone? Eeeks you are holding it in your hand?

I carried him out on to our terrace and set him free. Now he was on familiar terrain as it was dark out side. He sat on the ledge of the terrace, turned back, gave me one last look and flew away. That last look could be deciphered in many ways, but for me I think he was saying “thank you
Now coming back to grandma tales, I don’t believe in them but this one came visiting one day before we were shifting house. That may be a coincidence, but here comes the funny part. Two years prior to this incident, when we shifted house there was a visitor who was silently sitting on the window grill. (see picture below)
Owl (also on Explorer)

Was it the same guy coming back after 2 years to wish us good luck ?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


The man in the iron mask is a gripping story by Alexandre Dumas. Imagine staying behind a mask for a life time. But that was a story woven into some real facts that happened three centuries ago.
In the present era, when I think of Mask, the first thing that comes to my mind is Jim Carrey and his movie The Mask.

The story was a bit far fetched but extremely entertaining, thanks to the antics of Jim.
But come to think of it what if things really come true like in the movie. What if we are bestowed with some special power when we wear a mask?

For example if I wear a mask of a cat will I be able to climb a tree like a cat ?

Or if I wore the smile mask will I be always smiling and happy ?

Came across these masks on a site of Venetian Masks which has a collection of some real good Masks. While going through the site I found the history and the making of the masks really fascinating.
As for me I always co relate things. For example,

the mask Arlecchino (above) reminds me of the “angry wig” that Rumpelstiltskin uses in the movie “Shrek forever after” which I saw last week. (enjoyed the movie especially with the 3D effect)

Coming back to the masks, the one I liked the best was Full face Tiger mask.

The lower part of the mask is so perfect that one can mistake it for a real face (except for the white colour) Maybe the perfection comes from the fact that each mask is hand made in Venice.
It seems some of these Venetian masks were worn by Tom Cruise in the movie Eyes wide shut.
So when I make my next trip to Venice I am definitely going to pick up a few of them.
Nothing like hiding behind a mask.