Saturday, December 20, 2008


Renu has tagged me, because she did not find it appropriate to tag 20 somethings. I am not very good at all this but would definitely do my best, as Renu has put so much faith in AGE - and I cannot let her down. So, here is my take, without any further ado.

My Oldest Memory: The oldest memory that I can remember is when i was about 4 - 6 years old. We lived in an Air Force camp, which had a movie hall that used to get various kinds of movies, including 'Tarzan' and 'Zimbo' movies. I was very fond of these movies, and remember going to watch them initially with my father, followed by him picking me up from the hall after the movie and finally all by myself. The movie hall at that age appeared very far from our house. (However later when I was posted at Pune as an adult, I realised that the movie hall was just about 1.5 - 2 kms from our house). The shows would start during daylight hours but end up when it would just be dark. I remember enjoying the movie, coming out of the hall, waiting for someone going towards our house and then slowly follow him home. In case the person turned away in some other direction, I would wait under a street light for another person and then follow him in the direction of our house. Once i found no one going in the direction of our house. I waited under a street light for some time and then remembered my parents exhortation to be brave and not fear - 'any time you are afraid just recite the Gayatri Mantra and nothing will happen to you'. I remember reciting the Gayatri Mantra on that occasion and reaching home without any problem.

Ten Years ago: December 1998. I was re-employed with the Indian Air Force and living in our own flat in Noida. I had not applied for extension of my re-employment and was thus waiting for 31 Dec 98, to be out of the uniform. A neighbour of my in-laws, who is an astrologer had forecasted that I would continue in a government or government related job, as the Sun was sitting in my house of career until Sep 1999. I remember arguing with her that this was not possible and that I had not applied for extension and my term expired on 31 Dec 1998. She said that she did not know about all this and was just telling me what the planetary positions on my charts were indicating. It so happened that the 5th Pay Commission was on and they could not reach any decision on the re-employed officers and we were granted automatic extension for one month initially, followed by two more one monthly extensions, without applying. Later I did apply for extension in March for personal reasons and served until 31 Dec 1999.

I was dumb founded by this incident, and similar incidents before and after this one. Where do I fit in? in the scheme of things? if everything is pre-destined as per my planetary positioning. What do I control??

My first thought this morning: Yet another day! Actually I am down with some sort of a flu and have been having fever, running nose, sore throat, and bodyache for the past couple of days. Did not feel like getting out of bed this morning, as the back was also hurting today. They say this flu gets okay in 3 -4 days and i am on my third day - in any case, i donot give too much importance to all these illnesses - they come on their own and leave of their own accord. Poonam is not there to force me to have medicine. 'Bund naak, badan dard, Kuch lete kyun nahin'? I can do my own - gargles and rest. I hate medicines.

If you built a time capsule, what would it contain: It would contain magnificient nature - the hills of Kulu Manali where I trekked with the Youth hostel in 1994 and 1995 - those mountains dwarfed me and made me feel like a small insignificant speck of dust - these hills helped me meet simple folks who were willing to share what little they had, kids with running noses running behind us for one sweet, crying 'tata tata bye bye'; it would contain the mighty oceans over which i have flown at very low level and seen the massive tankers being tossed around like match sticks; it would contain war, philosophy and spiritual books - i was always a man of war and enjoyed serving with the Indian Air Force - however, i now realise the value of peace which only a military man can; i love war books though, because they bring out how spirit can overcome the body and also the selfless pursuit of an aim; philosophy to help answer the numerous questions that keep arising, and spiritual books to keep me grounded to reality; to help me overcome my massive "I"; and finally would love to have my dear wife who is the only one who could tame me, and the only one who helps me with the supply of my favourite music - some of it gets garbled though when she gets into one of her 'not so beautiful' moods.

This year: This year has been a mixed bag - some good and some not so good, but is finally dedicated to the little angel who adorns my desktop (photograph is reproduced below), my grand daughter 'Meher' who was born on 29 Sep 08. She gave us some very tense moments initially, but has given us much more happiness in return during the past 3 months approx, and would continue to do so in the years to come.
Unadulterated display of happiness.... when does one start loosing this ability??

I started the year recouping from my bypass surgery performed on 28 Nov 07. Got on my feet and fit i felt, only to be declared permanently unfit for flying and thus came to end an eventful chapter in my life - a chapter that gave me immense pleasure, helped me defy gravity and explore the third dimension where i had occasions to see the sun rising before lesser mortals could, where i could race with the setting sun by flying westwards - the sun always won though.

Sunrise at 37000 ft.... clicked as a passenger on 09 Dec 2008

I say good bye to flying, Chennai, and Blue Dart Aviation on 31 Dec 08. Our son settled into a job of his liking this year after completing his BA Hons from York University - he is enjoying himself with the Toronto Police. Our son-in-law and daughter bought their first house. My parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Many other events happened - it's been an eventful year.

14 years from now: God knows.


Indian Home Maker said...

This made an interesting read. I had come here after reading your comment on Ajit's blog.

Just wanted to say I was really glad to read, "I would pray to God, like Gandhiji said, 'sabko sanmati do Bhagwan'. Keep the passion and the faith and you will be amazed at the change."
I also believe this. Thank You for such wise thoughts.

Poonam J said...

Band naak thi, badan dard tha, galey mein kich kich.......toh kuch liya kyon nahin? Loved the article..but if u take the oceans and the hills with me into the time capsule, i would only be busy looking for u Joe...unless u promise to always stroll with me into the darkness and sunrise..always

Renu said...

Wow ! See my faith in age was right:), but seriously ,my young bloggers also wanted to do it, so i was wrong not to tag them:)
But very intersing post, about ur child hood experience of movie reminded me that I used to watch movies in an open theatre type, as I was living in a village with no permanent cinema hall:), and whenever we had rains, we will open our umbrellas:):)...

Usha Pisharody said...

Would like to echo, IHM... :)

God Bless, that you may carry on with zest for life, much much more than you ever thought of :) :)

You have an easy, natural way of sharing that makes one instantly connect to the experiences, and yet take away a quiet profundity.

Thanks for the sharing :)

J P Joshi said...

IHM: Thank you for your comment. Sometimes I tend to loose faith in us humans and that is when i urge my Creator for help, and today in India, i feel we desperately need His help. My exhortations to fellow humans is as much an appeal to my own self to strengthen my own resolve to believe, and have faith in the collective wisdom of India. I donot want this idea of India to fail because this will have major consequences on the whole of humanity. Ajit's post and that sentence reminded me of 'The more tolerant you are, the less you tolerate the intolerant'. This then leaves no space between the tolerant and the intolerant. What then is the difference?

Poonam:I do.

J P Joshi said...

Renu: I am happy that i did not let your faith in age down. Your tag made me re-live many of my seemingly forgotten memorable incidents of life. Thank you for that.

Usha Pisharody: Thank yor for taking time off from your busy schedule, these days. Really appreciate that. I do believe that life is all about learning, and unlearning, and my blog is also one such attempt in this direction in today's information era, where the world has become a global village and one's physical neighbour's have become very distant.

Balvinder Singh said...

Lovely post. Loved your concept of driving away fear by prayer. Yes astrologers sometimes really hit the buuls eye. I adore Kullu Manali mountains where we used to go for our NCC camps and ocean in the time capsule. Lovely idea. And yes how can u leave Poonam out.

Sad to hear about your not flying any more but good that you have flown till today.

Renu has tagged me also. Will be writing soon.

J P Joshi said...

Balvinder: Thank you for your comment. Yes, Kulu Manali is actually very beautiful, outside of Kashmir (nothing to beat Kashmir though.. yeh wadiae kashmir hai, jannat ka nazara), and is the place i finally want to retire in...God willing. Yes, as you say, i was lucky to have flown till age 55.

Ajit said...

"Unadulterated display of happiness.... when does one start loosing this ability".

I suppose that happens when one loses his/her innocence....

brilliant article and the reference to "being a pilot"...
Maybe in another lifetime, I could be a pilot or maybe better, a bird :)
Get well soon Sir and also the photo of the sunset was great....

J P Joshi said...

Ajit: You are right... I am well, it is just that the doctors can't clear for flying though. Yeah, we learnt flying from the birds. Have you ever read 'Richard Bach'. You'd love his books like 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull' and others too, i am sure.

How do we know said...

such an enriched life! Here's to many more such years.. (not the bypass.. the jobs of choice and the houses owned and pretty bundles of joy)

J P Joshi said...

HDWK: Firstly, thank you for your comment and more importantly for clarifying your position... in lighter vein!

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello JPJ :)

Many thanks for sharing little drops of your past and present life which was very interesting to read.

Watching movies,praying to get rid of fear, astrology, watching the sun from aircraft, bye pass surgery, watching children settling down, becoming a grandfather,missing your life partner during sickness,retirement from active service and looking forward to 14 years from now -- all made a fantastic gripping read.

You have outlined in a nut shell what is life and the possibilities of good, useful, productive and purposeful living inspite of ups and downs.

The photos are breathtaking!

Nirad C. Chaudhury took one whole book to write AN AUOTBIOGRAPHY OF AN UNKNWON INDIAN. You have just taken a few paragraphs to beautifully portray your charming life :)

I take this opportunity to pray and wish you an exciting life full of happiness, peace and joy upto a minimum of 100 :)

Here is a hand shake across the miles :)

J P Joshi said...

JP: Thank you for your comment. It was quite an effort to remember incidents of a specific period, but then this brain and memory are a fantastic resource when you actually wish to use them, i realised.

I have always enjoyed nature but could not capture its beauty for posterity, until i got hold of a digital camera, and more importantly, got inspired by your example on how to use it in one's day to day life. Thank you for showing me 'life in motion'.

May I also take this opportunity to wish the same to you on this week of festivities and celebrations. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thank you, and am honoured.

Indian Home Maker said...

And now Santa has left something for you on my blog here :)

J P Joshi said...

IHM: Thank you!!!! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Poonam J said...

We had this heated discussion last nite, as to y India dhud not attack Pakistan, more so now that we have proof that the Mumbai attacks were masterminded by them. Sadly people closest to me wanted a war, and felt that the Indian Govt. was incapable of doing the right thing about going to war, The govt. is not listening to the voice of the people who feel that it is time to let the world know that nobody could attack our homes and get away with it...what is your say, do our soldiers want war?

J P Joshi said...

Poonam: Let me put things in perspective.
- Soldiers are always ready for war.
- War is the last resort of any nation, when all other means have failed.
- In a democracy the political leadership, which represents the people, decides on going to war, based on advice given by the military leadership. PM is meeting with the three Chiefs on a daily basis.
- Every war has to have an aim. In case the aim can be achieved without a war, that much better.
- Fighting terrorism in this case is fighting a deeply ingrained ideology that the military is least equipped to do.
- The best people to neutralise ideologies are the democratically elected governments - both in Pakistan and Indian govt. Military can only contain, not eradicate ideology.
- War leads to wastage of national resources, human as well as others, that can be better utilised to eradicate poverty in the case of both our countries.
- US has already spent number of years in Afghanistan and Iraq and achieved nothing. Their claims are hollow and they too know it. Ideological wars are not winnable by the gun alone.
- History teaches us a number of lessons, if one is willing to learn, other wise one can continue to repeat the same mistakes again.
- In case required, after due deliberation, war may be also an option, but I firmly believe that time has not yet come. Now is the time for diplomacy; getting the world to do what is needed. IG did this beautifully before the 1971 war. MM is also doing a good job now. He briefed all the Ambassadors in Delhi the other day. This is the right approach.
- Wars are not waged on emotions. Does this answer the question as to why I believe this is not the right time to go to war.
- Who are these people who want war? What is their experience about war and its nuances? Democratic governments donot go to war like this. There are a lot of other issues but it is already too long.

Poonam J said...

Thanx are right, in sanity, nobody wants destruction.War is not the solution and neither is what is the solution, how do u change the mindset of people.....

Renu said...

very informative reply, We also feel the same, war can never solve the problem, rather in other areas we must take a strict action....stop the bus and train, comb the pakistanis living in India after their expiry of visas,give the capital punishment to the terrorists without any hesitation, may be seal the borders and then develop all the areas of our country so that nobody feels dprived and can be exploited by the other side.

J P Joshi said...

Poonam: "so what is the solution, how do u change the mindset of people". This is a very good question. Let me give you my take on this question.

We need to firstly put our own house in order. Ramayan tells us about Vibhishan and 'ghar ka bhedi lanka dhai'. No external terrorist can enter our soil without someone from within supporting them. But why do Indian citizens do it? We need to find an answer to this question. Also, why do the others in the know stay neutral? Why do they not expose these individuals? Why do we have an ex-CM of Maharashtra, and a sitting cabinet minister, come out with an outrageous demand? Why are the minorities a commodity even today, as far as vote bank politics goes?

The solution to all this has to come with each one of us. I need to change, you need to change, we all need to change.

First, Religion should not come into our identity of being an Indian citizen. Our voting should not be governed by religion, caste, or any other divisive issue. It should only be based on who can deliver on what are the greatest needs of our country at this juncture - poverty eradication; development of individuals, and their surroundings; job creation to give dignity to humans, and so on.

Secondly, rule of law should have the highest priority, irrespective of who is at the receiving end. Constitution should be respected in letter and spirit. Police should be freed from political control to make them more effective. No more Babri Masjid, 1984, Gujarat and Mumbai. Cases should be disposed off expeditiously in a manner, 'where justice is not only done, but is also seen to have been done'. Rule of law implies each citizen should not try to corrupt the system, but try and strengthen it.

Lastly, we must all understand our responsibilities as citizens and effectively participate in effecting change in our society. We must start to respect diversity and respect differing opinions and views.

Our political class is a reflection of our society. When we start to change our political system will also start reflecting the change.

Are we ready for this challenge? Remember how hard one strives to do well as an individual. Can we strive equally hard to ensure our society and nation does well?

J P Joshi said...

Renu: Agree with you on the need to put our own house in order, and also to give the deprived people of our country a chance to live a life of dignity by providing them with education, jobs, and HOPE for a brighter future.