Friday, February 25, 2005

14,600 feet above Sea Level

Location : Se La Pass (Arunachal Pradesh)
Height : 14,600 Ft above Sea Level
Month : April
Temperature : Freezing (-4 C)
Visisbility : 100 mts (Approx)

I was on my way to Tawang which is approximately 40 kms from the tri-junction of Bhutan,China and India, when we passed Se La pass. Se La, Situated at a height of 4,190 meters is the gateway to the Jang-Tawang Sector. It can be said to be an impregnable defensive position due to its horse-shoe formation, rugged peaks and great height. The Flat area on top is extensive and includes two small lakes bordered by large patches of bushes. We got down from our Tata-Sumo to capture a few snaps at this exotic location. The cloud cover and the fog slowly cleared, as if Se La wanted us to see its beauty. The Lake was frozen, sitting snuggly between the snow covered mountains. There had been a blizzard around 30 hours back, the effects still visible. Few yaks were grazing at the bushes, a solitary army bull-dozer was clearing the snow off the road. While clicking away with my camera I came across a monument built in the memory of soldiers who laid there lives protecting this strategically important post during the Sino-Indian war of '62. Suddenly the fog started setting in very rapidly, the whole place became very silent. The chugging of the bull-dozer fell away. Se La wanted to take us back to in time. It wanted us to relive that moment of history. It wanted us to remember and pay homage to those martyr's who laid their lives in the line of duty.

November 16th 1962. There had been a lull in fighting for around 10 days during which the Chinese tried certain diplomatic measures which were totally unacceptable to India. The Indian troops had abandoned Tawang and set up their defenses in Se La, Dirang Dzong and Bomdilla. The approximately 100kms route between Bomdilla to Se La was of utmost stategic importance for the protection of NEFA. The whole route is through treacherous mountains at heights above 5000 Ft above sea level. The most difficult task for the Army was to maintain regular supplies for the troops deployed at these locations. The troops did not have proper winter clothing. They were not acclimatized to the high altitudes and were falling sick. The Chinese had utilized this time in replenishing their troops at Tawang and to rebuild some of the bridges destroyed by Indians on their retreat from Tawang.

What followed between 16th Nov from the first attack on Se La till 18th Nov when Bomdilla finally fell to the Chinese can only be considered as a series of blunders by the top commanders of the Army. Indecision, Unawareness of situation on ground and lack of Intelligence about the enemy location,strength and movements led to the falling of Se La, an impregnable natural fortress, desertion of Dirang Dzong by Indian Army without putting up a fight, and finally Bomdilla where the soldiers put up a brave fight. In all these incidents at no point of time the bravery and valour of Indian Troops could be questioned. Wherever there was a fight, the Chinese (who outnumbered Indian troops 9 to 1) suffered 5 times the casualties suffered by Indians.
The Chinese were able to cut across the Dirang Dzong - Se La Sector. This led to Se La being open to attack from behind. On getting this information the various companies posted at Se La were ordered to withdraw. The plan of withdrawal was to be implemented between 17th and 18th November. The plan of withdrawal was not implemented in an orderly fashion which led to confusion among troops. Moreover one company of 4 Sikh LI and 7 Mahar (Medium weight Machine Gun MMG) never got the information of withdrawal. Unaware of the Infantry's withdrawal and in absence of any orders the MMG Section continued to occupy its position. Later they were encircled by the Chinese and attacked in the cover of darkness. The Chinese hurled grenades, the full burnt of which was borne by Havildar Gobind Kamble, the section commander. His both legs were blown away. Undaunted by this, he took over the MMG and ordered his troops to withdraw and gave them cover fire. Even in his injured state he kept the enemy at bay till the last round in his gun inflicting heavy casualties and ensuring safe escape of his troops. Hav Gobind Kamble was awarded the Vir Chakra posthumously.

As the fog cleared and once more I came back to the present having solemnly paid my homage to the brave soldiers who lay there. We resumed our journey towards Tawang. Oh! What a journey it is! Uncountable twists and turns, snow covered mountains on all sides, yaks grazing on bushes, dangerous ridges, deep gorges! Every moment of the journey is thoroughly enjoyable(ie if you don't get mountain sickness). Famous for the holy Buddhist monastery the "GALDEN NAMGYEL LHATSE", Tawang also has more than forty exquisite lakes in its vincinity. P T Tso (Tso meaning lake in local dialect) is the biggest and the most beautiful of all lakes.

If adventure tourism is your cup of tea and mountains are what you love, then a trip to Tawang should be on cards for you.
For information about tourism in Arunachal Pradesh click here or mail me.

More musings next week

Cherio

[ctsy: www.bharat-rakshak.com, www.arunachalpradesh.nic.in ]

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Eagle has Landed

   War Movies always have always facinated me (feel the same....). In the past few weeks I saw few of them. Among the new one's were Pearl Harbour, Saving Private Ryan, Behind Enemy Lines. Though these are good movies, somehow I felt a bit disconnected. Well I was not just feeling the same thril. So went ahead and saw some of the old war movies viz. Bridge on River Kwai, A Bridge too Far, Tora Tora Tora . Now these are the real classic World War II movies. The efforts spent on details, the realistic settings and actors is what makes you see them again and again. The other day when I went to library, guess what I asked for?? A god war novel (But of course you might say!!). The Librarian suggested "The Eagle has Landed" by Jack Higgins. After reading the first question that came to my mind was how could I have missed such a classic.
The plot is an audacious plan to kidnap Winston Churchill, if possible, else to assasinate him.
eagle    Bouyed by the daring rescue of Germanys' ally Benito Mussolini by German special forces Hitler asks Admiral Whilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr, (German military intelligence) to prepare a feasibility report for kidnap/assasination of Chrchill. Canaris thinks it as a passing folly of the F├╝hrer, and asks his subordinate Lt. Col. Radll to prepare the same.
   Things fall into place and Radll prepares a report which demonstrates that the plan is very much possible. When he takes the report to Canaris,he brushes it aside calling it utter rubbish. To Radll's surprise he is called by Himmler (Head of SS a large paramilitary organization belonging to the Nazi Party) who puts the plan into motion giving Radll absolute authority to execute the plan.
   Radll recruits Colonel Kurt Stiener a discredited War Hero and his paratroopers, Liam Devlin an IRA activist to Paratroop into Studley Constable a remote village in Norwhich county, England where Churchill is going to spend a lonely weekend. What happens in the end should not be difficult to guess at all, but what ensues in between is really thrilling. I was so gripped by the novel, that I went and picked up the movie too. Starring Micheal Caine (Stiener), Donald Sutherland (Liam Devlin) and Robert Duvall(Lt. Col Radll), the movie was a bit of anti-climax as compared to the novel. Lot of incidences depicted in the book are not shown. Couple of plots are changed. But overall not a bad way to spend a lazy afternoon.    Coming back to the book, Higgins has done a lot of research and the way it has been written makes you belive that the incidence really happened (did it??). Well I just started reading the sequel "The Eagle has Flown", which is equally gripping. If you like reading books, and that too about wars, this is one book that you cannot afford to miss. That's all for now....until next week

Charlie Out

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Put your hands together for these BRAVEHEARTS

The Week gone by will always be memorable for all Indians. A couple of Firsts have happened for Indian Sports. And guess what they have not been in Cricket. I guess everyone knows what I am talking about, yes Sania Mirza winning the Hyderabad Open and Narain Karthikeyan getting his F1 super licence.
The Queen of Indian Tennis has had an omnious start for 2005. Winning her first WTA title in her home tournament was just the icing on the cake. Let's pray that this was the first of many titles in her career. The confidence displayed by her on court and also off court showed maturity beyond her age. Hope that other upcoming tennis players take inspiration from her performance and we get to see few more players breaking through and making it big in the WTA tour.
Having free entry for the matches was a very good move by Globosport. The overwhelming response of the hyderabadis was heartning to see. Hope the organizers of Chennai Open take a cue from this. The only sour point of the whole tournament was the very un-Tennis like (more cricket like) behaviour of the crowd. I guess all the players (including Sania) would have found the crowd's behaviour a bit disturbing. The other unfortunate event was Anna-Lena Groenefeld's injury. Not only did it wash out the second semi-final, but more importantly it robbed Martina Navratilova of progressing further in doubles.
Narain Karthikeyan "The Fastest Indian on Earth", is going to be just a bit more faster. Another example of patience and perseverence personified. This man has been around for sometime. An ordinary human would have given up on his dream by now. But I guess that's what differentiates the achievers from the rest of the crowd. Modesty is another virtue of this extraordianry coimbatorian. Setting achievable targets (completing races, getting into points table and somewhere down the line a podium finish) will not only see him getting better race by race but also see take him to greater heights. All the best Narain !!!
The other day I was seeing a special program on NDTV. It dealt with the certain International and National level women hockey players from Jharkhand. Felt really sad to see plight of certain players who have nothing in their hands even after having been an International player for the country. The apathy towards sports by the state government is really irksome.
Well that's all for this week. More of my musings next Sunday...
Till then over and out.....
essdee

Friday, February 04, 2005

I will do my own thing

   To work in a MNC is something that happens pretty naturally these days to an average Indian. The work in most of the cases is pretty good and the remuneration is also not bad (though we always feel that the company is cheating us!!!). So life is good. But somewhere deep within some of us feel "If only I could do something which was closer to my heart". Most of us just dream about it and never think of doing anything about our innermost wish to do something different with our lives. But there are a few who say "I will do my thing..." and they do it too!!
   I have had the pleasure of meeting few such First Generation Entrepreneurs who are running their own businesses in lines where they feel their talent lies. A couple of them are seasoned professionals who after doing long stints with corporate companies have now started their own consultancies and are doing very well. They built their financial security and then ventured out. A couple of them treid their hand at Training as their forte. With good education and a some expierience behind them they launched into a company of their own. Things were going good for them. But at some point they opted back into corporate jobs with a promise to be back into there Entrepreneural ways at some point of time.
   Then come the guys who facinate me the most. They have selected "Theatre" as their call of duty. "So what's different about that, haven't most of the bigshot actors done something like this?",is what you may ask! Well have you heard of couple of guys giving up their corporate jobs and starting an entertainment company of their own after just a year into their jobs?? Well I hadn't before I met Karthik "evam" Sunil. These guys are Entrepreneurs in real sense. In one year that evam has been in exsistence they have done 5 Plays, which have been the toast of entertainment in Chennai. With plans to go real big in their second year things look real bright for them.
   It takes a lot of guts to break away from tradition and venture out into something off the beaten track. I may not have that in me as of now. But I really admire those who take that bold decision. Hats off to you guys. Do your own Thing......

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I too join the BANDWAGON

Hi all, Inspired by a very good friend (Keerthivasan http://avyukta.blogspot.com) I too decided to have a royal timepass. What kind of posts will I be putting on this???... That is a billion dollar question as of now.. Why a blog by me?? ... Another good question !!! Well the name of the blog is Atah which means that's why. What I want from this blog is a lot of thought provoking questions been thrown around and equally thought provoking comments... That's why Atah. Just to get started did anyone see CITY 60 (A news program on Star News) a couple of days back. They showed about a school boy of Calcutta who was thrown out of the school by the principal cause he came wearing a full sleaves sweater where as the uniform prescribed is a half sleaves sweater!! Outrageous isn't it! He is still not being allowed to attend school. But what amazes and irritates me is that this news got prime time slot on TV. What was shown was the student protesting outside the school campus and shouting on the principal. Do children all over deserve to see such things!!! or is it just me who feels that the Media these days has got no sense of responsibility. soo long till my next post Cherio Essdee