It was a lunch invite to Chandimandir and the route followed was from Madhya Marg to the serene and beautiful cantonment located at the foot of the Shivalik Hills. The life story was to unfold in the 6-km patch. First to catch my eye was the funeral ground. It struck me, more so as a veteran, that death makes life more meaningful — life is rarer and thus more valuable. We start appreciating time, it enforces us to appreciate the presence of others, it keeps society and life cycle going, and finally it gives us customs and rituals. I also thought that some people in your family would come miles to bury or cremate your body, but won’t cross a street to come and support when you were alive. Indeed, death gives life so much meaning.
Two kilometers ahead was the Command Hospital. I was reminded that one should never take good health for granted. To be able to take a deep breath, to hear, to see, to walk, to eat and to be free of pain; it is so precious. Who has health has hope and he who has hope has everything. To quote the Dalai Lama, ‘Happiness is the highest form of health.’
Next on the route was the Armed Forces Tribunal, meant to impart justice to the forces with regards to disputes about promotions, appointments and conditions of service. The whole complex looked organised with few vehicles parked in the open. Few vehicles meant few people, meaning few cases of injustice. It too reminded me of a quote, ‘Where there are too many policemen, there is no liberty, where there are too many soldiers, there is no peace. And where there are too many lawyers, there is no justice.’
I was now entering Shakti Dwar of the elite HQ Western Command. Clean environment, green belt, well-regulated traffic, well-maintained walking tracks; all seemed to indicate that discipline was the centre of gravity and soul of the Army. It makes small numbers formidable. One wonders whether there is a case for our elected representatives to be taken on conducted tour of stations of the armed forces to enable them to attempt Swachh Bharat.
The message to be delivered next was by the presence of too many speed- breakers. Sometimes reality works as a speed-breaker, which slows down the speed of your dreams. To be a good and caring human being one, needs a speed-breaker between the mind and the mouth. Life is like a straight road with lots of speed-breakers, but these are meant to slow down, and not to stop.
And finally, I land at the lunch venue among Army veterans of the tricity. I see elegant couples who are through with their responsibilities towards children and the family, and are now in their second innings of hobbies, heading NGOs, contributing to print and electronic media, keeping physical and mental agility in place by golfing and bridge sessions. And to sum up the message: ‘Army is a way of life and it makes a man out of you for the rest of your life.’
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