The door of the lift opened and I saw him sitting on a stool in neat brown uniform. His hair fluttered under the fan, which was throwing a strong gust of wind.
‘Which floor’ he asked? I was holding the hand of my father and must have been five or six year old. I was in awe of the man who pressed the button of the lift and the door closed softly as the upward ascent began. While coming back, again I noticed the young man in the lift who brought us back from where we had started. This is an interesting job! Keep going up and down throughout the day with breaks for tea, lunch etc.
Next, we were going through a market and I saw a painter sitting with a huge drawing board in front of him and deeply engrossed in sketching the face of a boy, almost my age sitting in a small chair. The picture was fascinating and he had drawn a face which resembled the boy! Not bad at all!
You must be wondering by now why I am narrating these small incidents which are totally unrelated. Yes, they appear incoherent but these meant a lot to me at that time and at my tender age. These were the professions I was contemplating for my future! In fact there are so many more. Each time the postman delivered letters at home, even that job was considered as fine, as it involved meeting people especially to deliver the telegrams or money orders. The one which was most impressive by far was the newspaperman in the morning! He would wrap the bundle of newspaper and sometimes the comics ( Phantom/ Mandrake) or my favorite magazines, ‘Parag’ or ‘Nandan’ and hurl it up in the air, for the packet to land neatly on our second floor balcony! He had a perfect aim and I wondered why he was not picked up in the different marksmanship games played that time.
There we no computers and mobiles so most of the games were played outdoors and the only time we played indoor games was in the hot summer months or during rainy days.
We would watch ‘Ramlila’ being enacted on stage and wait eagerly for Lord Rama to wed Sita and thereafter see her being kidnapped by the demon king Ravana. These would fire the imagination to no end. The time went by and the ones who impressed me now were my uncles in Army who would visit us in vacations. They would be dressed in immaculate Olive Green with glittering stars on their shoulders! These people were the real life heroes who impressed me more than the cine actors. Other kids in the colony wanted to become like their father or uncles. Some wanted to even become doctors and engineers. One way to fulfill the dream was to enroll for Boy Scouts and NCC ( National Cadet Corps) in the school!
During the years of Indo China war, in 1962 and subsequent wars with Pakistan, the stories of heroism of likes of Abdul Hamid who destroyed seven Patton tanks, Keelor brothers (Denzil and Trevor) both had shot down the Sabre jets , Fg Officer Nirmaljeet Singh Sekhon who shot a couple of Sabres jets before loosing his life were the tales on which I was brought up. The stories of raw bravery set afire the imagination of doing something good for the country in one’s lifetime. These stories were continuation of a saga beyond the epics, Mahabharta and Ramayana and Ramlila days. These were the stories written in my own life time by the soldiers who were as brave as legendary Arjun or Lord Rama. The die was cast and it was decided early in life to follow the footsteps of these great achievers.
I eventually did don a uniform after completing my college and joined the Indian Navy to start my career. A long and a satisfying inning involved a lot of adventure and learning besides getting disciplined. I was fortunate to join the world of telecommunications, soon after, which was just on the verge of crossing ‘The Tipping Point’. The first place I visited was
Israel and was
surprised to see the discipline. Everyone is required to serve the Armed forces
after completion of school on reaching the age of 18 years for three years for
men and two years for women. They are on ‘Reserve Call’ to join when asked for
the rest of their lives. This helps in instilling discipline besides a love for
the motherland. One does not come across petty crimes. One can see the young
men and women manning the Golan Heights in North border with Lebanon to all along the
up to Eilat in South. The preparedness to fight wars and terror by the state is
known world over. A link to an inspirational video of what women have achieved in Israel Defense Forces is a must watch!(www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4kjNIL8prM) Negev Desert
Our country has grown by leaps and bounds in many areas but I am sure most readers would agree with the downslide in values, the growing corruption, environmental degradation and many more ills, are the offshoot of this lopsided growth. A sense of discipline is what is lacking and one of the ways to instill discipline is to engage every citizen in serving the armed forces and para military forces for one/ two years . The greatness can only be achieved by people and a nation which is disciplined. Many a young dreams can still be achieved just by leading a disciplined life!
Hold fast to dreams for if the dreams die life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly- Langstom Hughes
PS- Image kind courtesy Google and You Tube link