On life…and learning

Archive for December 2012

Super Manoos. Waiting For The Next Ball…

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Sachin Tendulkat in OutlookAs an ardent Sachin Tendulkar devotee (fans are for mortals, aren’t they?), these are not good days for me. Jury has been out for long on his impending retirement. Yet, I have kept my faith. Howver, as Sachin got bowled out yet another time today at Nagpur, I am really into a reflective mode.

Amongst hundreds of books that I have, there’s one specially treasured magazine – the only one amongst the books. It is a copy of ‘Outlook’, a leading Indian magazine. A distinct edition, it was published as a ‘special commemoration in honour of the first man to score 50 centuries in the Test cricket.’ Issued in Dec 16, 2010, it is an exactly two years old copy and I have cherished & safeguarded it since then.

Several luminaries – cricket legends, sports journalists, writers & editors – wrote with adulation and flair about Sachin in this collector’s edition. Rahul Dravid, Mike Coward, Wasim Akram, Harsha Bhogle, Vinod Mehta, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath…the list is so long that I can write few more lines only with their names!

However, at this moment what I recall particularly is a short piece written by Krishna Prasad, an Editor of ‘Outlook’. In his brief article, titled ‘Super Manoos, he calls Sachin ‘the little boy who turned life upside down.’

There is some reason this article has stayed in my memory all these years. The writing style is quite intriguing; the author asks a lot of questions, and builds upon his praise for the master in quite an interesting manner. One of the question he asked, rather started the article with, was – ‘Is Sachin Tendulkar human?’

I am quoting from the last paragraph he wrote, which according to me, is quite relevant to the times today we are in…

“If Sachin Tendulkar really is like the rest of us, if he really is one of us, if he really is human, why doesn’t he show us sometimes, so that we can be reassured?”

Ironical, isn’t it? As we now experience that he is very much human, we also hear Nasir Hussain, an English cricket great, questioning the ‘attitude’ of some of India’s ‘God-like’ cricketers…

My heart goes out to this Super ManoosI am not sure how does it feel to be in his shoes right now. Don’t want to use words to even guess that. After all, everyone else is doing that these days, albeit rather crudely, I would say.

I believe in underdogs, always have. Today, Sachin is one; still burdened with the never-alighting weight of expectations riding upon his shoulders…

In this hour of my own despair as Sachin’s aficionado, I find solace and hope in the words of a very old advertisement I had read. It was by Bajaj Auto, and if I recall right, was a campaign for the motorcycle brand ‘Bajaj Caliber.’ I read it long, long ago, loved it and noted it in my diary. It has, since then, helped me sail through some of my own tough moments;

What are we going to do when we fail?

When we find the wrong kind of tears,

running down our cheeks.

When we look at our Gods

and see mortals instead.

When the sports page

reads like an obituary.

When we know all others are

celebrating our grief.

What are we going to do when we fail?

We’re going to look up from our toes.

And into the sun. Without flinching.

We’re going to walk out there alone.


Grit our teeth.

Take guard.

And wait for the next ball.


The Sachin we know, I am sure, is waiting for the next ball…


To read the complete ‘Outlook’ article, click here – ‘Super Manoos’

Written by RRGwrites

December 14, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Lest We Forget…

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Capt Saurabh Kalia“Today I am proud that I have joined 4 Jat regiment and one day, 4 Jat would be proud that Saurabh Kalia joined this regiment.”

Late Capt. Saurabh Kalia, Indian Army, echoed these sentiments when he graduated from the Indian Military Academy and joined the Jat Regiment in January 1999.

Who knew then that destiny would prove him right in less than 6 months?

Today, these words came back to my mind as I was reading the news that Dr. NK Kalia, bereaved father of the Kargil martyr, along with Rajeev Chandrasekhar (Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha), has approached the United Nations Human Rights Council, seeking justice.

Since the memory of the commoners is short-lived, let me share what Capt. Kalia’s brother saw when he was called upon to identify his body. If I recall it right, he mentioned seeing a badly mutilated face, only distinguishable through eyebrows. Shocked to read this? Well, there were no eyes, no jaw, and what was clearly visible were the cigarette burns all over his face…

History to this – Capt. Kalia, then a newly inducted officer, took with him a patrol party of 5 men, comprising of jawans Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhikha Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh, on May 14, 1999, in the Kaksar sector. Not to be on seen alive, ever…

This patrol party went missing for nearly two months; it was on June 9, 1999 the grieving father heard that Pakistan had returned the badly mutilated bodies of six Indian soldiers.

One of those bodies was Capt. Kalia, whom his brother went on to identify.

As it were found and reported later, these officers were captured alive by the Pakistani authorities, tortured brutally for weeks and were killed dishonourably whilst under illegal detention.

Citing ‘Army rules and regulations’, the postmortem reports of these brave men were never handed over to their families.

However, this is what the Death Certificate of Capt. Kalia recorded – both eye-balls were damaged; ear drums were wounded by a gun-shot; nose, upper & lower lips were crushed; right hand, right foot, forearm & right shoulder broken; (cigarette) burns were visible all over the chest…

Add to it details noted in postmortem reports of others – their index finger was cut, their private parts were chopped; back of the head was smashed by the butt of a rifle so badly that the skull was visible…

Once done with this torture, they were shot – all six of them – alive. The Pakistani Army handed the bodies to the Indian Army on the June 6, 1999.

Then Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh, wrote to the parents of Capt. Kalia:

“Captain Saurabh Kalia made the supreme sacrifice in the defence of our Motherland. He displayed great valour, courage and determination in the pursuit of his goal to push out the Pakistani forces… History will record Captain Kalia’s deeds in golden letters and his name will be a beacon for many generations not only for… the armed forces, but for all Indians. You have been blessed to have had such a gallant son.”

Well, that said, harsh reality is that none of these six men were given any gallantry awards.

Harsher reality – they weren’t accorded justice either…

13 years and counting, the battle of this aggrieved father is on. Encouraged by thousands of letters written to him by a grateful nation, and supported by few righteous men like Rajeev Chandrashekhar, he has refused to let the fight go down.

Failing to see successive governments do any more than offering lip-service, Dr. Kalia recently petitioned the Supreme Court of India, requesting its intervention to direct the government to raise the issue of his son’s brutal torture and murder at the International Court of Justice, for the blatant violation of the Geneva Convention by Pakistan.

Recent news reports tell me that both the current Army general and the Foreign Affairs Minister have echoed their support.

I hope and pray this, should I say, ever-offered verbal support gets converted into actions & results and the culprits are brought to book; quite like the western world, where such an atrocious and dastardly war crime would have never gone unpunished. We know that even over six decades after the World War II, the war criminals are being relentlessly uncovered, investigated and prosecuted successfully by the European nations in the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.

I will leave you with what Dr. Kalia said recently;

“This matter is about dignity and honour of Capt. Saurabh Kalia and five soldiers and a national issue where country’s prestige was slighted due to such heinous crimes which go unchallenged.”

Is the nation listening?


Photo-credit: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

The Ghumakkar In Me…

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2012 has been really exhilarating. It brought back the biker alive in me…

Just received a flattering commendation from Ghumakkar.com; the Motorcycle Diaries earned for me ‘Featured Author’ citation – a much coveted acclaim amongst the traveller’s fraternity. Ghumakkar is a well-known travel-website, which is home of many like me who believe ‘Travelling is Good’. They had earlier acknowledged the travelog series ‘Motorcycle Diaries. Road to Ladakh…’ as their ‘Featured Story’ in October 2012.

Vibha Malhotra, editor of Ghumakkar, wrote in the citation:

None other than our own Rishi Raj Gupta, whose Motorcycle Diaries have touched new heights both literally and figuratively, is the Featured Author for the month of December 2012. He is an avid bike rider and for him, riding a bike is one way of being one with your surroundings while travelling. He has climbed mountains, defeated difficult terrain, and worked his way through stark, desert landscape on his faithful companion, his bike…

Later, in the month of December 2012, Ghumakkar interviewed me and published the same. Read on…

It all began when in December 2011, Neha, my better half, who doesn’t take no for an answer for long, persisted and booked the new Enfield. However, as she ordered the bike, I still had some dilemma playing in my mind. Whether I’d be able to ride it to my fullest enthusiasm of old times or the hectic work-life would take over after the initial euphoria of a month or so? It was a tough one. Yet, when the desire prevailed over the dilemma, next big question was – should I go for the height of selfism – the single-seater option – one I always wanted to cruise upon?

Neha again came to the fore and supported the decision of bringing home the single-seater pleasure that I later named ‘True’. As I rode it home, I remember making a resolution to myself in January – I would ride to Ladakh.

For a much-employed professional like me and with the nature of the job responsibilities that I have, to many it appeared nearly an impossible task. 18 days off work! Not easy…

Well, I did keep the resolution, and how! You all have travelled to Ladakh with me on the Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey’. And not only Ladakh, I ventured on to many more rides this year – Pushkar, Badrinath, Munsiyari…

With Motorcycle Diaries clocking over 11000kms in 2012 till now, and readers & Ghumakkars being more than generous with their admiration, it feels really nice. It is wonderful to resume riding again just like the old times, humbling to receive accolades for these rides, amusing to inspire people for joining the league of leisure-biking, fun to be able to belong to the road, all over again!

Motorcycle Diaries have many more pages to come; that is something I am sure of…


You can read all travelogs written under ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ here.

Written by RRGwrites

December 3, 2012 at 3:02 AM

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