Are you a Communist ?

What is the most outstanding and significant event of the last decade is a question posed to the protaganist in Ray’s movie Pratidwandi at a job interview during the turbulent sixties and early seventies.Was it Vietnam or Landing on the moon is still to be answered?But,that the job-seeker was a signature Communist has not changed,since.The four minute clip of the witty exchange,sharp but smart replies followed by a clipped and abrupt closure quite captures my childhood and adolescence with my family and friends,both at school and college and maybe my subsequent years in the Air Force to becoming a Veteran and even to this day.

I studied at an English medium school,played most games with claims to ability of no consequence,watched a few movies,was glued to radios for a BBC that rarely got thru for the infamously truant short waves and read mostly stolen(flicked)comics, borrowed sports magazines and a few on current affairs.Text books were the only books I had read in any language.Most of us friends


had quite a similar journey.Our erotic impulses were more than satisfied by watching a Mumtaz or a Helen who co-starred with our parent authorised and parent-permitted favorite, Dara Singh on the silver screen.As for the school girls we had little time or were too shy.”Pocket-money” was a term we became familiar when it’s necessity had far exceeded its useful life.We were unusually well informed – though it was : each according to his ability and to each as per need . Not everyone had the same heroes and if they had a different sense of history or politics; Ah,well ! – we loved each other too much to scarcely notice the diversity.

If you are still with me and curiouser, be aware, that I was born into a political family of staunch Congressmen , my mother had been a proud part of the Indian Freedom struggle while my father, was a small-time Zemindar embroiled in bleeding litigation mostly, residents for over three generations at Cuttack, Odisha – a Bengali immigrant of sorts. Sheikh Mujibur’s Ghare Ghare Durgo Godhe tolo(Build citadels in Every Home) or the rallying cries of Aamar Nam, Tomaar Naam -Vietnam (My name,your Name, Vietnam) for Ho Chi Minh and Amaar Badi, Tomaar Badi – Naxal Badi in praise of Charu Majumdar ( My Place, Your Place_Naxalbari) as much as the undigested morsels of extreme subversion seen in the life and struggles of a Bhagat Singh or a Jangal Santhal excited and stirred – to boggle our infantile minds.Nehru and Gandhi hung unfavourably on our halloed, rebellious walls as against a Mao or a Fidel.These were my or our folk heroes.
Violent ways,shedding blood to gain any kind of freedom or Victory and irreconcilable hatred of anything British were important imperatives of our lives.Else why would one adore reading Ashok Mitra, almost salivating in savage glee, describing a Vivian Richards belt every ball of a Botham,Willis or a John Snow, as if in revenge of every whip-lash that his proud ancestors had been subjected to as black-slaves.We loved action and war movies and some Hollywood slapstick caricatures of revolution.Ours was a generation that identified with political protest and fraternal solidarity almost spontaneosly.Seamlessly.Or am I talking of a region that was still to become integrated with the idea of a nation-that was Bengali and chauvinistic- perhaps nihilistic?Or was it ceaselessly seeking a perfect world much ahead of its times?Remember, Siddharta Chowdury almost rhetorically thinking aloud in the Interview clip “Nation?

In time We, the Six,

went our different ways to get into the business- of- earned- living : our political passions very private and quiet.While me and my broad-shouldered elder brother Lalloo chose the military,Pappu ,the ever persevering Bihari became a specialist doctor while Gopi, a large-hearted Marwari settled, quite literally in his father’s “Gaddi”to continue with the parental stock-in-trade -Business.The steady Tokon and macho-man Subuda, the two Bongs got into Accountancy and Medical sales.Tokon and Gopi remain bachelors while the rest of us went on to get married and have children.

I spent my military life confused about the ideas of Partition,Indian National Army Nation,Patriotism,Pakistan and China as enemies of India.All my life,I had learnt about the love and unfailing bond of brotherhood of the peoples of the world and here was I confronted with the worst of contradictions.My sense of discipline must have faltered often for my peers and superiors saw in me a potential insubordinate.Many wondered of what use was my Masters in Political Science in my profession called soldiering – much like the smug Corporate honcho questioning the honest but naive hero of Pratidwandi. In bars or crew rooms light discussions frequently descended into verbal brawls.That said – I had still managed learning well the Chetwoodian Honour Code- that I came last and my subordinate – first and uppermost.My patriotism never got challenged though in the thick of battle for a war never happened in my time.At least, the regular one !Immodestly though,I must add – My men (those I am sworn to protect and care for) I believe,would have had no qualms, if ever, I was leading them into one.

After three scores and a quarter of our lives spent- We, the Six

pappu 10

watch TV, movies and sports most of the time, if not,screaming at each other on our politics and compromises so far.It is now, more than ever, I get to know, for sure, on the questions of what is a nation,Freedom,state of the woman in India, Is the Muslim an equal partner,who and what is a Hindu,patriotism,development, equality, caste, religion and ways to go about it we think and feel so differently while we still sit and sup together.

Behind us,the TV has come alive with images of the young protesting ,singing hand- in- hand of no jobs ,unending hunger and the brutality of the police and the State repression right within the premises of the Jamia,Jadavpur,JNU and Aligarh Muslim University and many places else.What has changed after these many years? I ask. They fight bolder and stronger against the State in Free India comes the anguished cry.The same fire in the belly…

The march or the drum roll has not ceased…but,the Question still haunts deep and long – “Are you a Communist”?

not so blue skies


Yes Balakot is done and dusted.But the adversaries instead at a different venue are arraigned today. People die as usual in K and bus loads in an AN-32 go missing only to be found done to dust after almost a week.
Business is pretty much back to the usual.The gladiator slaves shall be always there at the Collosseum.And so shall the galleries be full always – a crazed community baying for each other’s blood.

With all of it still going on behind and in front of us comes this deep and dark analysis from a former Naval Test Pilot telling quite a related tale of our mindlessness and infantile imagination with reminders on what-to-do if we collectively not wish, to be defeated,yet again by man-made disasters.

We owe it to them who died for no fault of theirs !🌹

Akashganga: They also Serve, who Just Stand and Wait – XV

Behind the risk of life and limb stood the woman by his man. Running from sick quarters to banks and schools, buying groceries riding cycles or by walk, receiving and seeing off loved relatives all by themselves, while her loved man was away is a quality taken for granted and an unwritten part of the wife’s job description. Cooking late meals without notice with nothing in store for an unannounced number of gatecrashers, the free-flowing rum and groggy men being the proverbial last straw. Do not get it wrong here! These were still early days for the women to enjoy much less taste the tabooed liquor. It took a while before the docile and submissive Nari came into her own. In her Sunday best, she soldiered on with a smile. Tears there must have been and many at that but these were to be borne and shared by each husband in the dark corners of the bedroom.

Source: Akashganga: They also Serve, who Just Stand and Wait – XV

Akashganga: Daffodils in the Sky and Butterflies in the Belly – XIV

Akashganga never had it so good. Enthused and awed by the sense of spectacle, for the first time in the history of the Air Force, a full load of 37 skydivers in spanking new and fancy dungarees jumped to join an assembled parade contingent on ground consisting of nine Squadrons of three flights each of about a thousand Vayuputras, in 1989. They then joined the ceremonial march past in the august presence of Mini Bawa, the Mukhya Deva Adhikari of the Central Command. Banjo was commended by the Chief of Air Staff for this unique planning and exhibition of military freefalling skills imbued with the spirit and festivity of sports skydiving. Sunil tells us more about the thrill and threats of Akashganga, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

Source: Akashganga: Daffodils in the Sky and Butterflies in the Belly – XIV

Akashganga: Trails of Stardust and Swirling Black Holes – XIII

Members of Akashganga moved on to multi-tasking and become a lean mean fighting machine. Sport and military parachuting complemented each other. for more

Source: Akashganga: Trails of Stardust and Swirling Black Holes – XIII

Akashganga: The Old Maketh way for the New- XII

What a Fall !

On having reached a destination or goal is not to be at the finish line.The struggle begins only then and afterwards.To nurture,develop and sustain the new born. Akashganga the Indian Air Force Skydiving Team was poised to undergo that much known journey.For more read on…

Source: Akashganga: The Old Maketh way for the New- XII

Akashganga: The D-Day and Lift-off – XI

The An-32 got airborne with 37 Dhartiputras on board for the inaugural jump of Akashganga. Chugh was the Devaputra, who did the honours in getting this

Source: Akashganga: The D-Day and Lift-off – XI

Akashganga: A new Star in the Galaxy – X

Gomes worked silently to convert into reality the ambitions and aspirations of the illustrious predecessors – to make an Air force Skydiving Display Team. The

Source: Akashganga: A new Star in the Galaxy – X

Akashganga: The Unsung Backroom Jumping Jacks – IX

Into the melting pot of trial and tribulations at ADR&DE the baby-faced but stylish, dexterous and skillful Ajoo, our very own whiz kid brought his medicine

Source: Akashganga: The Unsung Backroom Jumping Jacks – IX

Akashganga: From Rounds to Squares, a Mann-Date! – VIII

After the solid cloth round canopies had been modified with low porosity, turn and drive slots, an apex with additional steering lines for better stability and

Source: Akashganga: From Rounds to Squares, a Mann-Date! – VIII