Personal Stuff

1965 War – PAK Comment on Battle of BUTTAR DOGRAN DI 16-17 Sep 1965

Posted on June 29, 2015. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personal Stuff |

It was most heartening to receive a mail from Sikander Pasha , curtsy whom there shall shortly be posts from Maj Shamshad Ali Khan of 25 Cav re this battle in which 8
Garhwalis lost a Commanding Officer each day. Over to Sikander Pasha

Dear Brig Bhullar,

I am a Lahore based retired engineer with some interest in indo pak military history. While surfing the net, I bumped into your most interesting and amusing writings describing the operations of 8 Garhwal Rifles during the 1965 conflict.

Totally impressed, I wanted to congratulate you for penning down your admirable memories, I undertook the daunting task to find your identity as you chose to write under the name of Getafix 7. Considering my basic IT skills, it was one hell of a job tracing you to Brig JS Bhullar and then to Jogi Bhullar. Finally, I came across your facebook last year but found it inoperative since 2013. I hope you are fine and haven’t lost any of your vim or vigor that you displayed in 1965. Saw your pic on Facebook wearing a hat and you look handsome at 74.

Coming to your articles, I would first like to draw your attention to the one describing the battle of Buttar Dogran di on 17 Sept. You write:

“Suddenly a shiver went through the whole company because coming towards us were two Pattons, one behind the other. I was surprised to see them come rather hesitantly and very very slowly.
.
Poona Horse was evidently fighting its own battle somewhere and we were on our own. I got Gulab, with his antitank grenades to my command post. I thought of taking the shot myself but thinking that it would be bad for morale if I missed, I coached Gulab who was pretty jittery and forgot to rest his rifle in the corner of the trench.
.
As he fired, we saw the grenade take a slow curved flight towards the leading tank. For a split second I thought that my range estimation had been low. But no, the grenade managed to just reach the tank and it hit and burst on the tank tracks. The tank shuddered and came to a dead stop.”

The above tank troop belonged to 25 Cavalry and was commanded by Lt Shamshad Ali Khan who happens to be an internet friend living in Karachi. A couple of days back, I had sent your narration to Major Shamshad who now acknowledges that it was his very tank that was disabled by Gulab that day. But Maj shamshad wasnt really amused to read what was further written as to how the crew of the tank clambered down and ran back to the rear tank. ( LOL).

However, the good part of the story is that both you and shamshad survived that battle and both have written down very interesting narrations of their experiences, and above all both are alive today after 50 years of the conflict. If you want I can email you the writings of Maj Shamshad covering the 17 days conflict.

Secondly, while covering the events of 8 Sept, you describe an ambush laid by a Pak Recce and Support Battalion on the coloumn of 16 Cav before it contacted 25 Cav, where in you describe destruction of a near dozen tanks.

In no way do I doubt what you write, but this major event goes un noticed by most historians of both countries. The reason that I buy you narration is that by the evening of 8 Sept, when 16 Cav accounted for its losses, they found themselves short of 16 tanks.

B Squadron of 25 Cavalry which contacted 16 Cav near Gadgore claims destroying 4 tanks during the first skirmish. C squadron 25 cav did not establish contact with 16 cav and as such has no claim during the first battle. A squadron was in engagement with Poona Horse.

So summing up the losses of 16 Cav on 8 sept, the total figure of 16 appears to be closer to reality, if we take into account the ambush by R&S platoon which according to your narration claimed near 12 tanks.

Bhullar sahib, would you be able to throw some more light on this ambush as a friend of mine who belongs to 13 FF R&S has been claiming this very operation alongwith destruction of a battery of 101 SP regiment near Kingra area perhaps on 8 sept, but many appear to be not impressed. I thought you would be the best person to reverify this.

You have some exceptional writing skills besides fighting skills. Keep them up.

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The One and Only Capt Jojo Sengupta passes away – 31 Aug ’13

Posted on September 6, 2013. Filed under: From a Services Career, Indian Thought, Personal Stuff, Personalities, Searching for Success |

This is from his Family –

Capt.JK Sengupta was one of the founding trustees of Vidya Valley School. We will miss him very much.

Our family called him Jojo. His friends from NDA and IMA called him Chotu or Shorty. On the Honour Rolls of NDA and the IMA he is Jayanta Kumar Sengupta.

For us at VidyaValley he was the one who gave us our name. “Call the school Vidya Valley“, he said. And it was perfect. It could not have been better. Through his sightless eyes he saw the place in perfect color – verdant green surrounded by undulating hills on three sides. In his vision he saw the perfect school.

In distant Siliguri he set up the PreranaSchool for very severely handicapped children. He was also the pillar of the North Bengal Council for the Disabled which he founded in 1990. He strove to make all these institutions perfect, just as he had always tried to do with his own life.

Today, 31st Aug 2013, he breathed his last. A fortnight would have made it 48 years to the day when his tank was hit in the 1965 War and he was nearly killed.

Jojo breathed his last after a ten month battle with cancer. It was a hard battle and ugly to see. Till the end his mind remained sharp and alert. We are certain that he is watching over us. We will have to strive for perfection because Jojo will not accept anything else.

Jojo schooled at RIMC – the RashtriyaIndianMilitaryCollege at Dehradun. He excelled in everything – on the playing fields and in the class-rooms. Very specially in swimming. As a young school boy he became a legend.

It was inevitable that he would join the NDA. Of course he excelled and walked away with the Gold Medal of the 22nd course in Dec 1962. On to the IMA at Dehradun. Once again Jojo walked away with the top award.. Already at 21 years Jojo was a rarity. A soldier with intelligence, spirit and ability is born rarely. But more was to come.

Jojo opted to join the 16th Light Cavalry at Ahmednagar. It is the oldest armored regiment of the Indian Army. As a young officer on the Tank Course, he received the Silver Centurion award.

Everyone believed that he was destined to be one of the great Generals of the Army. But fate had other plans. In the 1965 war he lost both eyes. He was just 22 – strong, vibrant and brilliant. For anyone else that would have been the end but for Jojo it was a new beginning.

After four years in hospitals he was back as a civilian – ready to battle life. He proved, once a soldier always a soldier despite the unexpected turn of destiny. He knew that the bigger ‘Battle of Life’ can still be won!

Jojo’s perfect record, his humility and wit, his genuine kindness to everybody, made all who met him his deep admirers. He never lost a friend or made an enemy. No one can quite explain what made him attract most everybody. Probably it was his unsullied and abiding genuineness.

I could go on and on about Jojo.
But let me just say that Capt Jayanta Kumar Sengupta had profound visual impairment resulting in hundred percent disability due to a direct hit on his tank in Sep 1965 n the Indo Pak War. Thus for 48 years out of his life span of 70, he was wholly blind.

A Personal Tribute – from a Rimcollian, a few years his senior and wounded nearby,  who stayed for near nine months in the same hospital and whom Jojo later accompanied when he bought a Standard Herald from Madras and drove to Bangalore, Secunderabad, Ahmednagar, Pune, Bombay, Delhi and then for whose marriage in a dusty, decrepit Punjab village he came to from Calcutta – will follow.

Meanwhile consider. Jojo’s daughter’s husband – an Army Major who stepped over an IED in a counter insurgency operation and lost the vision of both eyes. Can life be more cruel???

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Become a Travel Warrior – Five Tips …

Posted on May 10, 2013. Filed under: Guide Posts, Personal Stuff, Searching for Success |

RULE @ 1 – UPGRADE EVERY THING – Status is more important than miles.

There are alternatives to flying on the same company 50 times a year to get to a certain status level that, trust me, will make your life a lot easier. Some credit cards, like American Express, give you access to lounges, even if you fly economy, and other advantages. So select one that provides those nice features, and use them.

Make sure to aggregate your Mileage and Rewards programs by alliance. Sign up to all of them. Also, sign up to all car rental loyalty programs. It takes a bit of time, but it’s totally worth it.

Store all your frequent flyer, and loyalty program numbers somewhere easily accessible. I use Evernote for that, and for many other things.

Once you’ve set up memberships to the appropriate programs, you can upgrade your status, get hotel discounts, and deals that are worth it if you travel a lot.

My favorite subscription service for this is Founders Card (use this link for 30% off). It enables you to upgrade your status tier on a bunch of airlines, car rental companies, and some hotel chains.

If you travel a lot, breezing through security is almost a necessity these days. Sign up for CLEAR (discount from Founders Card if you become a member), it’s now available in most airports, and it can save you as much as 20 minutes on a busy day.

If you travel in and out of the US, Global Entry is an absolute must. It’s a pain to sign up for, but it can save you hours clearing immigrations after you land Stateside. And added bonus, you don’t have to fill in the customs form every single time.

RULE # 2 GET THE RIGHT APPS n TOOLS 

Having the right information available when you need it – ahead of other passengers can be really helpful, but more importantly it decreases your overall stress level. And lower stress levels mean less fatigue, and less jet lag side effects.

An absolute must-have is Tripit. Tripit will store all details of your trips, and update them with real time information on flight delays, driving directions to your hotel, weather conditions, and a lot more. But more importantly, it enables you to have one place where all your travel data is, and makes it accessible and updated from any of your devices. Getting data into Tripit is as easy as forwarding your booking confirmation via email to plans@tripit.com. Once your trips are loaded, I strongly advise adding the Tripit iCal feed to all your devices’ calendars. No more manual calendar entry of all your trip details! Also add the iOS or Android app on your devices.

Want to get rid of the awful experience of showing up to the airport only to learn your flight has been delayed by two hours? Generally this happens when you’re late for the original departure time, and you rush like crazy to the airport only to be frustrated like there is no tomorrow. The app I use for that is FlightTrack. Good news is that it syncs with your Tripit data, so no need to input anything manually. It uses push notifications to inform you of any flight delays, gate number update, and arrival time based on near real time data provided by various airlines and airports systems. This is must have too.

Getting to and from the airport, and around in most cities where you don’t go for a car rental can be a painful experience. Plus for cabs you have to get cash in foreign currency and manage the hassle of receipts. To get rid of all of these issues, I use Uber a lot, available inmost cities now, and you get the added benefit of riding in style with only a slight price premium.

Use Evernote, snap a photo of your passport, and other ID cards so you have them handy with all your frequent flyer numbers, and other loyalty and status programs.

Make sure to install the app from the airline you’re about to fly with, and when available check-in from that app and use a mobile boarding pass instead of the paper version.

Finally, install the app from your mobile carrier on your phone, and buy an international data and voice plan before departure to avoid horrendous roaming charges.

Ok. So now you’re setup with all relevant programs, you’ve upgraded status where available, and you have all the tools you need on every single device. Let’s book that first trip!

RULE # 3 BOOK LIKE A TRAVEL WIZ 

Some of my friends and colleagues don’t pay attention to airline or hotel reservations, and blindly always book through the same airline because of the single mileage program they have decent status on. I find this truly bizarre. Why would people make an additional 2+ hours layover on an intercontinental flight, add 5 or 6 hours total travel time, and fly in planes that are forty years old just because they want to rack more points on their loyalty program. Completely irrational. Especially if you follow the tips above, and you now have a lot more airlines you can fly on with decent status.

Never rely blindly on a travel agency to book your trip. If you have to use one, do your own research on price, flight times, lowest number of connections, and more. I use both Kayak, and Hipmunk for this. Hipmunk has a neat sorting feature that let’s you sort various options by “agony” level. Seat selection is also key, look for your flight number on SeatGuru to ensure you get the best seat.

When you book a flight for business, try to at least keep a few hours of free time in your schedule if possible. Life is short, and if work takes you to great cities, take the time to discover them a bit. Even a good hour walk in a city is a great way to get a feel for history and culture.

About Hotels, most people choose chains they’re familiar with, like Hilton, Hyatt, or Marriott. While some of these hotels can be really nice, you can miss an opportunity to discover hidden gems that will make your trip so much more pleasant. I like using Gogobot as it allows you to see recommendations made by people you know and trust, and who are more likely to have similar tastes as you.

Also, if you’re a foodie, you’ll find good restaurant recommendations for that business dinner or to unwind at after a busy day.

RULE # 4 PACK LIKE A PRO 

Cheap baggage does not survive a year, so you don’t end up saving in the long run. I really like Tumi for sturdiness and convenience. Use an international carry-on sized luggage, so you never have to check-in your bag.

NEVER check your bag! Put liquids and others in ziploc bags, and store them in external compartments so they’re easily accessible. If you pack a suit, and shirts, check out a video that shows you how to pack them to ensure you won’t have to iron them when you get to your hotel.

If you skip that step and your shirts are wrinkled when you reach your destination, unfold and hang all of them on hangers. Hang it in your hotel room’s bathroom and turn on all hot water faucets, close the door, and let the steam do it’s un-wrinkling magic (remember to open all sink/bath/shower drains —       Yes… it happened to me, and it wasn’t pretty :)).

Electronics: I travel with a MacBook Pro (will switch to an Air when Apple releases one with a retina display), an iPad, an iPhone, and an Android smartphone (remember, I’m a geek…).

But I also pack a Kensington international plug adapter, a Mophie juice pack, a PoweRocks external battery, a Verizon LTE MiFi Jetpack, a 10W iXCC dual charger, and Eastern Collective cables (they’re pricy at $20 a pop, but since I hate cables, these make me feel better about carrying so many of them), and a Parrot Zik noise canceling headset (the best by far). Always charge up your devices the day before your flight.

RULE # 5  OWN JET LAG 

If you’re going somewhere with more than 3 hours time difference, try these tips to beat the effects of jet lag:

  • Before takeoff, set your watch to the destination time zone. Try to mentally project yourself to that time from that point on.
  • If you’re flying East, and you’re on a 10+ hours flight, try to avoid sleeping more than 3-4 hours on the plane, this will enable you to get a better first night’s sleep your at destination.
  • Avoid sleeping pills. You’re better off not sleeping at all on that flight.
  • Drink plenty of water. I mean, PLENTY of water. Whatever you’re drinking, it’s not enough. You need to keep yourself hydrated as altitude, and the dry air of the pressurized cabin dehydrate you fast.
  • Avoid the booze. One or two glasses of wine are ok, but avoid hard liquor at all cost.
  • Eat moderately, and pick the healthy options if available (avoid bread and processed foods if you can tolerate it). Focus on the nice dinner you’ll have later in the day at your destination.
  • Pick an in-flight movie that’s entertaining, but not one you’d feel bad if you miss the end of it by falling asleep.
  • When you get to your hotel, no matter what time! if it’s mid-afternoon or morning, jump in the shower (not the bath).
  • On the first few nights, I always take a dose of ZzzQuil (any Diphenhydramine light sleep aid will do) it used to be used as an antihistamine, so it’s not habit forming, and it doesn’t knock you out like real sleeping pills such as Ambien, and one of Melatonin 5mg.
  • Every morning, take a multivitamin. Most are completely inefficient, and never dissolve in your stomach — a good way to test the quality of your multivitamin brand is to drop one in a glass with a bit of vinegar in it. If it stays like a rock a few minutes in, switch to another brand. Good ones should dissolve fairly quickly. Gel caps always do.
  • Exercise every morning. Go for a run outside and discover the city you’re staying in, hit the gym, of if you really don’t have time, complete a 4 or 8 minute Tabata high intensity interval (HIIT) training in your room. This will boost your metabolism, and kick you into the right time zone much faster.
  • If you’re staying for more than a few days, eliminate the ZzzQuil or similar after night 2 or 3, but keep on taking Melatonin.
  • When you get back to your hotel room, avoid staying up until 2am doing emails (ok … I must confess I’m still working on that one).

On your flight home, assuming you’re flying West, repeat the above, and when you get home, avoid taking a nap or going to bed before 9:30-10pm. Fight the urge to sleep.

Use Zzzquil and Melatonin for 2-3 days if that works for you, exercise every morning, and you’ll be fine.

Also don’t forget to stop your international data and voice plan through the mobile app of your wireless carrier. Most prorate the plans, so it’s a relatively cheap thing to do.

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Marriage Vows – Dussehra Day, Oct 24, 2012 …

Posted on January 10, 2013. Filed under: Personal Stuff |

Please join hands and face each other.

We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of R and R and to celebrate the new chapter in their lives.

Marriage is a promise that is made m in the hearts of two persons who truly love and respect each other. It is a pledge be loving friends partners, to appreciate and cherish one another’s uniqueness and to help one another through life’s ups and downs.

Marriage is commended to us to be honorable among all persons and it should not be entered into lightly but rather with reverence for its responsibilities. Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be nurtured.

In marriage, the little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say I love you. It is never taking each other for granted. It is speaking words of appreciation and showing gratitude in thought ful ways. It is never going to bed angry but having the ability to forgive and forget.

It is not marrying the right partner but rather being the right partner.

R do you take R to be your lawful wedded marriage partner? Do you promise to love R and comfort, honor and keep R, in sickness and health richer or poorer, in good times and bad, for all the days of your lives?

R and R, today you have made the commitment to each other which has been symbolized by the joining of hands and the exchanging of vows. May you continue to love each other for ever as husband and wife and remmembering to be each others best friend.

BY VIRTUE OF THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN ME AS DEPUTY COMMISIONER OF CIVIL MARRIAGES, and in the presence of these witnesses, I pronunce you as husband and wife.

You may now kiss your bride”!

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That Self Confidence Thing …

Posted on September 23, 2011. Filed under: Guide Posts, Personal Magnetism, Personal Stuff, Personalities, Searching for Success |

Wonderful discussing this Self Confidence thing over the phone in the middle of the night.

Set me thinking.

Most have it for no justifiable reason. Others, with all reasons for having it, remain plagued with Self Doubt. With an over powering desire to be passengers.

Then there are the run silent run deep types. They maintain a low profile but come out, when needed,  swinging. Others of this ilk, silently deliver the coup d’ grace!

From long experience as a passenger, allow me to say a thing or two.

This guy here has just about Every Thing. He has brains, knowledge, temperament and  self deprecating humor. Also presence and looks to boot! Most importantly he is, in his quiet way, a kind person.

But deeply ingrained is this Self Doubt.

Reminds me of Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, a double VC, who seeing the ‘A’ Bomb on Hiroshima – as Churchills representative – resigned from the Air Force and went on to found the Cheshire Homes, one of which is in Dehra Dun.

The guy was so innately modest that he at one time, geniunely did not know that he had  WAAF Driver – till she reminded him that she had to go for lunch even if he did not!

To return. Usually the back bencher types have more confidence than the showy variety. When their back is to the wall they come out, guns blazing and hold center stage, before retiring with the emergency attended, to their chosen low profile position.

This here guy is hardly shy. Rather, being sharp and a good judge of people, he is acclaimed as a bit of a consular in matters of heart and head.

So where in hell is the Achilles heel?

Maybe the guy’s backside is not on fire. Without that no one can go anywhere. So choose your poison and GO! There is just no other way.

As for me what gets me going is simply cursing, just about every little or big thing, long and hard. Leaves one with lots of balance and dash. Note that dear old George S Patton could go on cursing for over two minutes w/o any repetition!

More seriously what works for most persons is, funnily, Posture and Bearing. Believe me when I say, if one consciously maintains posture and bears oneself right, the confidence thing comes striding in.

At rock bottom, posture and bearing mean just two  things.

First is  the way the head is carried.  It should be held straight up. The trick is to consciously maintain one’s ear lobes over ones shoulders. This gets the head in the right place. The result is the king of the world, monarch of all one surveys feeling.

The other thing which gives courage, strength, power is a simple  habit. The diaphragm is the flat muscle above the abdomen. This must always be maintained in the lowered position.

This muscle rises and falls as one breathes. It can be maintained raised or lowered while breathing. Keeping it raised results in weakness. In rapt attention, surprise, shock and in death it is in the raised position.

One can breathe deep and hard with the diaphragm in the raised or lowered position. Breathing with it raised results in physical and mental weakness. . Breathing with it kept lowered, results in strength – mental and physical.

The proof is in the pudding. If  you make this a habit, you can have the cake and eat it too.

Bon Voyage!

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On Starting Your Venture …

Posted on August 16, 2011. Filed under: Business, Personal Stuff |

At this stage in life it is fascinating to come across bright and talented yet unhappy, dissatisfied young men and women. Most are unhappy where they are regardless how well they maybe doing financially and materially. Some want to change professions while others are passionate about doing their own thing.

Some have listened and made a go of it. Happy at their success and achievement, here are the Five things guaranteed to take you places. The self styled Guru’s may mock but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

First  – Confidence and Courage

Whether you want to change your profession or start doing your own stuff, the first thing that is needed is a whole lot of confidence bonded with stark stubborn raw courage.

This is the one thing that will help you pass times when you fail, feel rock bottom hopeless and miserable. Such times may last days, weeks, months and they occur ever so often too. Such periods always seem pathetically long and unending. You will feel lonely and terribly alone.

What matters and is needed is confidence in yourself and what you are doing. The steely resolve within is the only thing that can pull you through. People, even the nearest and dearest will laugh, mock, deride. There will be many a, “I  told you so”.

It is human nature. The world enjoys the frustrations and travails of those in the pit.

Deep down you need to analyze the bad decisions. This could be on a daily basis specially before retiring. Always but always you and you alone have to know where you are at the moment and in which direction you are headed.

The beauty is that many a time you may have to move in reverse gear. But you must always be in the know of just about everything gong on. They say knowledge is power. It helps build confidence too.

Second – Knowing your Stuff

What ever your dream, you have to know and learn all of its nitty gritty. This applies to the big Picture as well as the detail; the macro as well as the minutiae.  You gotta know stuff which is not known to even the experts.

If you do not know this then you have no biz being here and had better go back to where you came from.

Always start with the basics. You need to make the others in the field look stupid. This is the one thing that will take you places.

Third – Doing Stuff and Moving. Moving, moving all the time

Once you have rock hard confidence meshed with the secret nitty gritty of your field, then its time to be doing things instead of sitting on your behind dreaming. Remember movement is life; stillness is death.

Move, move and keep doing stuff here there and just about everywhere. There is just no time for play and you can not afford the pleasure of sitting back and enjoying the scenery. Otherwise mighty unpleasant things will most certainly happen.

You gotta keep the positives or what is needed, happening every day, every minute, all the time – 24×7 .

Fourth – Have Fun

Now whether you are making ground or are mired every once in a while you need to look from the outside and have a good laugh at your antics. This will help you know that though you maybe making a monkey out of yourself yet you are enjoying the roller coaster.

You will learn not to take anything too seriously. Somebody wrote that when Thomas Edison’s work shop went up in flames, he called just about every one to come enjoy the once in a lifetime bonfire!

Every once in a while laugh at your self and try see the ludicrous in the serious.

Fifth –  Bigheartedness and Generosity

Small hearted folk seldom achieve much. Good to be generous to those helping you and even those fighting you. Nothing to lose.

Being big will help you laugh at yourself and give confidence every which way. And help make good friends too.

Good Luck, God Bless.  Enjoy Life in Every which Way. 

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Rommel – A Tribute …

Posted on June 10, 2011. Filed under: Personal Stuff, Personalities |

Rommel

Born Mar 5, 1998. Went to His Maker Jun 3, 2011. 

His Life was Gentle and the Elements so Mixed in Him that Nature might Stand and Say to all the World –

‘Here was Gentleness laced with Strength,

Beauty without Vanity; Grace and Elegance aplenty.

And, above all –  a Heart of Gold!’

Rommel

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A Prayer and a Regret …

Posted on June 9, 2011. Filed under: Personal Stuff, Personalities |

“Well, as you can imagine, its been a little crappy over here. Our Dear Rommel’s presence is very much missed’.

‘I hope he is OK, where ever He Is ! … Simply put – He Was My Friend.’

‘There’s one thing I regret though — I wish I had spent more time with him.”

It was a cold cold winter - Rommel around Xmas '09

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Just Rommel …

Posted on June 7, 2011. Filed under: Personal Stuff, Personalities, Uncategorized |

This is Rommel as he plays by himself. Just look at those fangs!

And read how safely he used to take Parle’ Gs from the two year old Suhana and Sanjum …

Hi Folks,

We are all very very sad that Rommel has left us.

We are not used to the house without him. We have never closed the door to the garage and the front door area.  The backyard feels empty without him .

I always felt safe and secure with him present. He was so very wise and comforting.

Rommel enjoyed Suhana and Sanjum petting him and giving him Parle – G. He always followed me when I came home with Prasad from the Gurdwara. As you know he loved ‘prasad’ and you used to ask me to make it for him.

I remember going hiking with him. Whenever I got tired, I held his leash and he was pretty good at pulling me up the hill. He was so very strong and lion like.

Reiya used to take him out when she used to cone back from School and he used to get very excited to see her.

Suhana, Sanjum, Reiya and I loved seeing him rolling on the grass in the front lawn. He was such a joy.

He was perfectly fine on Friday, very active and happy to be running around the 4Runner when Shaina and I got home from the Library. He passed away so fast and sudden that he has left us all in total shock.

Reiya is not doing so good. I catch her crying many a time. Shaina and family are here at present but when they leave, it’s going to hit us even more.

I hope you both are taking care of yourselves. Please remember that Rommel will always be in our thoughts and prayers and will always remain a part of us.

May God make his Soul rest in Peace.
R.

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Rommel – Nobility, Gentle and Dignified …

Posted on June 4, 2011. Filed under: Personal Stuff, Personalities |

A four year old Rommel

Tomorrow is Jun 5 and Rommel would have turned 13 yrs 3 months – which is 92 yrs and 9 months in human age. I had wanted him to go on till at least he was 16 but alas, it was not to be! 

 ‘We buried him darkly at the dead of night. No useless coffin enclosed his form. In sheet and shroud we wound him as he lay like a warrior taking his rest. Few and short were the prayers we said, as we steadfastly gazed on him who was dead. We carved not a line, we raised not a stone. We left him alone and prayed that he rest in peace in his home’.

The End for Dear Rommel came on a Friday evening – after we were back from work and with near everyone present. A Merciful God made it peaceable and quick for this truly great Soul.

That evening I reached home and he was, as usual, very excited to see me -indeed a trifle more than usual and he very much tried to climb onto me. I decided to take him for a short walk. We walked slowly and his breathing was heavy but that was because he had a larynx problem.

There was this gradient which he had always taken in his stride but alas not this time. He walked up a bit but after a couple yards just sat down. I tried to pump his chest but it was no use as he rolled over and his eyes became dull.

His doctor had predicted that the end would come this way – that excitement together with his breathing difficulty would strain his heart. The doc had said it would happen on a warm day. Here she was wrong as it was a nice and cool day.

The gallant old gentleman was suffering from a host of ailments. He had suspected cancer and his testis were very enlarged, making walking a chore. He had the prostrate problem and he had this larynx thing.

And then he had muscle atrophy. Indeed it was only the chiropractic guy who had got him up and going. His doctors were just too great. They were as good as they come – as doctors and as lovers of animals. Both these ladies can give the great James Herriot, a run for his money – anytime!

With all these problems it had been an uphill year and he had needed to be taken to the doctor frequently. Still with his massive dominant frame, made bigger with his rich rough hair, his was a formidable presence as he powered forward.

He used to plough in very much like a locomotive from the back yard, into the kitchen and onward to the garage. The two year old twins just loved him calling him ‘Momel’. He was kind understanding personified as he gazed at them. Reiya their seven year sister simply adored him.

Still, the end seemed very very sudden –  enough to  smother the life out of us all!

It was early ’98 and I was 22. i had lost Snowy, a white pom, back in ’93 and I was very keen on taking in a pet. My folks were leaving for Stevens Point, WI and I was strongly warned that under no circumstances was I to get a pet – mainly because they doubted my ability to take adequate care – specially when working and living in the US without help.

No sooner had they left,when I saw this ad re the sale of  Long Haired German Shepherd pups. It was a long way off but having talked to the lady, I set off. There were a number of them but this guy was the most muddy, dirty and wet. More importantly he wound his way towards me.  I picked him up and have never regretted it ever.

Jim Corbett has written about Robin, his spaniel of doubtful pedigree. He has said that he paid a small sum but later all the gold in India could not have made him part with him. Same went for me. I lied to my folks saying I had gotten him for free as the lady was moving and the guy was so adorable and irresistible etc etc.

We named him Rommel, after the legendary German Field Marshal. He shared his name sakes’ decency, dash, chivalry bonded with boundless energy and aggression.

He was an American Kennel Club certified pure bred and I got two certificates giving his particulars. One certificate gave the names of his parents, their parents, their parents – and so on, going back five generations on both his Moms and his Dads side. I doubt if any of us has such details about ourselves and our forebears. Most likely we may not even know the names of our Grand mother’s moms parents?

We framed both these certificates together with photographs of his growing up years. They remain where one and all can never miss them and  enjoy them most  – in the guest bathroom!

He was a really very very handsome chap with huge paws and a solid heavy’sh head, which as a baby he used to drop with a thud once he had sat down. One of his ears took its time to stand up and indeed had me worried for a while.

My dad would take him for walks and frolics in the park and pick up his litter. My Mom, sitting in the living room would shoo him through the back yard into the park for his No 1. He looking at her for approval, would bend his hind legs  and do it!

One day without Mom noticing, he slipped out through the small gate which had been inadvertently left open. We tried our best to find him but no luck. We were very worried. Fortunately very soon we got a call from his hospital telling us where he was as the ladies, who had taken him in had got the hospital No from his collar.

When we went to pick him up, we found him sitting straight upright and thoroughly enjoying being made much of. He was very very comfortable, on a choice sofa, enjoying the gracious hospitality of the two dear ladies.

I again say he was a real handsome creature but he really did not seem to care. People in parks would always stop and admire him and every where but everywhere heads would always be turning to look at him.

He always but always attracted attention and adulation – even from the K -9 Police officers. ‘How pretty!’ … ‘Look at his paws – so big!’ …  ‘What a lovely coat!’ At all leash free parks where we took him, he always had admirers despite his tendency to brow beat most of his species.

Once on a Beach near San Diego, a lady comes to me and observes, “He has such an imperial gait!”

He was my dog and ‘My Mate’ – disdainful and impervious to all temptation, attention, compliments – what ever!

Of his loyalty. He was a year old and we were living alone. There was this guy who I had to take in but dear Romsii never did not cotton onto him where as all others he tolerated. He would bark so angrily that the poor guy would  stand on the sofa for safety. Towards no other did he show such strong antipathy.

Once a friend left a young pit bull with me. This creature, who was also a young one, clinged to me and would just not leave my side. He seemed to want me for himself all the while with poor Rommel left watching. No way! I asked the friend to take away the pit bull because only Rommel and I were for one another.

We were leaving for San Diego in Sep of ’98. We had left this guy in the back yard while we went to say our byes. Some how he crashed through the mesh wired open window and, of all things, waded into the large vessel of melted butter Mom had made for us. He had eaten all he could and then had got himself covered with it and also covered much of the kitchen. Of course cleaning up was some chore – and of course the poor guy had an upset stomach for days!

Next year, I was all alone and he was allowed in my bedroom. In the morning the the poor guy had to nudge me  some half dozen times to make me get up and take him out! How he mus t have controlled himself and suffered!

He had this imperious contentment written all over him and he was so very very rich in body, mind and soul. Never ever have I seen him attack his food with haste or any sign of greed – no matter what was offered him. Rather he would look at his bowl carelessly and on occasion even with disdain and slowly get up and having sniffed it to his satisfaction, would he begin eating in an off hand leisurely fashion.

When offered tit bits he would very daintily, making sure he was not hurting the fingers that were holding it, would he pull the delicacy and enjoy it ever so casually.

Indeed as we grew up together, he would not eat his food till I sat with him. Only then would he begin eating it – slow and with style.

Well into middle age, he always preferred to sit some distance away from me. He never did have any desire to be touched and petted like most of his species. Perhaps this was his manly thing. However as he began to age, he used to draw near – maybe he got comfort from being close to me.

Another thing, when in the back yard, he loved to sit outside the kitchen door – facing inwards by day and outwards by night. This practice was perhaps inherited from past generations and in is blood. It was this need for self preservation and protecting what was his own.

So very alert and sharp was he that he could differentiate the sound of my 4Runner from all and any other vehicle going past. Only on hearing my arrival, would he rush to the gate to welcome me. Till he began to age, I could never ever surprise him despite trying so very many times. He always knew what tricks I was up to.

Our back yard opens to an open patch with a mountain stream running below it. As such ever so often and nearly every day in the spring, deer in numbers would come and nibble the grass in the open patch. Rommel would of course have a field day barking and when set free chasing them all the way up hill. Having failed to catch them, he would sheepishly make his way back. It took him years to learn that they were much too quick for him. Only then did he give up chasing them.

Indeed once he chased them a bit too far and reached a highway miles away from our house. It was a kindly Chinese who saw him, understood that he was lost and slowly and carefully escorted him safely as he made his way back to the house. He did not ever wait for our thanks as he seeing Rommel safe, waved and drove off.

I loved buying toys and small and large size balls for him to play. In deed his exercise consisted of fetching the ball thrown across the open patch in the rear of our backyard. This he would do at first near a dozen times but as the years went by it reduced to a couple times. In the last couple years he found it hard to negotiate the stiff last few yards up to the backyard.

In the back yard when ever Reiya or Mom and Dad when they were here, went to play or sit in the Swing, Romsii would pick a ball or some other toy and bring it to them and ask them to play with him. Sadly the older folk, to their regret, often did not! He never minded and went on playing by himself as he felt energized by their mere presence.

Yet as far as others of his species were concerned, he was a bit of a bully. His gentle demeanor was laid aside and it was his native aggression that was on display. We went to near most dog parks and I would have a hard time preventing him bullying all and sundry.

Where ever we went, and we visited most dog parks in the Bay Area, no matter whereor how far he was, he would always keep me in the corner of his eye. Once when he was way off and with this guy near me, I put my cell  to my ear. In a sudden burst he was with me and ready to attack the guy as he thought we were going to be  at blows.

And once when going up Mission Peak in his young days, he charged straight at a sitting cow at cud. He probably thought that the cow would get up and run. The cow thought that he would stop short and bark away. Both were proved wrong. He did not stop and to his amazement as well as the cow’s, he banged right into her. Much surprised she got up hastily and cantered away with dear Romsii left shaking his head to clear it.

On another instance, this young bull charged right back at him and he ran straight towards me. I thought that now the enraged bull would maybe forget him and get his horns into me as Rommel was coming to me for protection!.

Later, once we were resting in a park for leashed dogs when suddenly Rommel got loose and went straight towards a deadly silent, straining Akita who along with a Pitt bull was pulling and yanking at the leash held by a struggling young lady. But for Rommel’s hairy coat, the Akita would have got his throat. Luckily there was this friend who, with his heavy boot, kicked the Akita in the head as this dangerous chap had eyes only for Rommel. A real narrow shave!

There were some great adventures, loaded with fun, we shared. He was a great physical help too. Once there was this steep slope with loose shail and a deep gorge like drop below and I found my feet slipping but he gave me that extra pull up and that made me reach safety. It was his leash which helped Dad up! This was on the last Sat before the black 9/11!

On many occasions he would yank me or any other, up a steep slope. Once he helped Mom up a stiff, steep gradient by just pulling and yanking her up and forward for the entire hike of a some miles.

There is one memory etched in my memory where this Pointer type, of doubtful pedigree but who was probably the most playful creature I ever laid eyes on bar only dolphins. This chap just taunted, challenged and ran circles around Rommel who tried his utter most just to catch him.

This guy would nonchalantly come near, tease and challenge Rommel and then run circles around Rommel, who would chase fast and furious but to no avail. Each time the heavy Rommel had to brake hard as the chap would suddenly make a right angle turn. At times the little creature would jump right over and across a dumb founded sweating Romsii.

A right playful and tantalizing creature! Unfortunately the owner was quite opposite to his playful pet and did not respond to my friendly overtures. I very much wanted and hoped to befriend him so that the two could enjoy and have fun with repeat performances.

On our visit to Clint Eastwood’s quaint little Carmel by the Sea, we were in a amall street and there was this very very pint sized creature, who just kept challenging and barking at Rommel, who was at least ten times his size.

He was a pretty aggressive pint sized who just wanted to maybe tear apart Rommel, who in  turn would refuse to so much as glance at him but rather ignore him as he looked elsewhere. Such scathing indifference infuriated the tiny creature even more – much to the enjoyment of the large crowd that had gathered around and were enjoying the scene. The crowd cheered on the little gutsy creature and enjoyed the supercilious  Rommel’s indifference.

His sense of direction, intuition or what ever was so sharp that regardless of which direction I took, he would know from miles away re the park where we were headed! He would at once stand up and begin to bark happily!

Initially as a baby he had really not liked the sea and I was upset because maybe I had been abrupt in introducing him to the water. But once he had got the hang of it, he just would not like to leave. Most memories are of a creek which is a leash free dog park where he really revelled. Me too as I could treat him to  a real good hot bath afterwards!

In my Maxima or Jeep or 4Runner, which by the way I got just for him, he went on a host of road trips. Mostly to San Diego and once right upto Denver and back. I hated leaving him in a dog pound on those rare occasions there was no one to take care of him but rather left him with relatives as he hardly needed any looking after bar a small walk morning and evening.

He was with me on my first trip to the Grand Canyon. i would have made the trip down to the bottom and back up much earlier had pets been permitted. They were not and that was my great regret. Thus he was not with us when we did make the trip in Jul 09.

Another of the few trips he missed was to Wyatt Earps’  Tombstone and the rocky Cochise County. He would have really enjoyed but we had an extra passenger and the poor guy was left home.

In the back yard he had a really large collection of toys which he really adored. When ever Reiya would go there to play, he would bring his toys to her and want her to play with him.

Age is age. Note Paul Newman[‘s response in ‘Hombre’ to Richard Boone who swore that he would send him  to Hell — “We all gotta die. The only queston is when?”

For Dear Old Rommel, who was the companion of my manhood years, it was on June 3rd 2011!

I remain grateful to a Merciful Providence that it was not earlier or at another time but rather when we were together with him by my side.

‘Large was his bounty and his Soul sincere. Heaven did a recompense as largely send. He gave to misery all he had – a tear. He gained from Heaven all he wished – a friend. No further seek his merits or draw his frailties from their dread abode. There they alike in trembling hope repose on the bosom of his Father and his God’.



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