Book Review – 1971: Charge of the Gorkhas and Other Stories

Brave men in uniform have paid the price for political battles

Book Title: 1971: Charge of the Gorkhas and Other Stories

Author: Rachna Bisht Rawat

Publisher: Penguin Veer

Format: Paperback

Pages: 200


On the fiftieth anniversary of the 1971 Indo-Pak war, revisit its battlefields through stories of bravehearts from the army, navy and air force who fought for a cause that meant more to them than their own lives

Why do the Gorkha soldiers of 4/5 GR attack a heavily defended enemy post with just naked khukris in their hands?

Does Pakistan find out the real identity of the young pilot who, after having ejected from a burning plane, calls himself Flt Lt Mansoor Ali Khan?

What awaits the naval diver who cuts made-in-India labels off his clothes and crosses into East Pakistan with a machine gun slung across his back?

Why is a twenty-one-year-old Sikh paratrooper being taught to jump off a stool in a deserted hangar at Dum Dum airport with a Packet aircraft waiting nearby?

1971 is a deeply researched collection of true stories of extraordinary human grit and courage that shows you a side to war that few military histories do.

Rating: 5/5

Review: Books written on wars don’t qualify for a review. They hum tales of the forces fighting for the nation. I have read a couple of books on the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Every time, I read about the war where soldiers lost their lives and I felt we don’t recognize their sacrifices enough as a nation. The author has written about 10 books on the Indian Defence Forces. Every book spoke volumes about the unsung heroes of the country.

Soldiers don’t die on battlefields, soldiers die when an ungrateful Nation forgets their sacrifice!!

There were many soldiers who never returned back from the war front. The author interviewed their comrades and their families. I am not sure how gut-wrenching it was to describe the war after four decades. But I am sure that it brought tears to the eyes for the loss of loved ones. I cannot forget the way, the author described the story of Flight Lieutenant Vijay Vasant Tambay. A beautiful rendition where an officer’s wife described her day at home romantically.

Her response to his ‘Aaj tumne ghar mein kya kiya?’ has always been ‘Intezaar!’

I agree with the author that – ‘Remembrance is all that we can offer them in return for what they did.’

Even after four decades, the war memories haunt many soldiers who survived. We must honor the sacrifices of our soldiers yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Beyond You

DO you still check my display picture?

Would you still call me, if I am MIA?

Would you bring a smile to my face again?

Would you miss my compliments on your leather jackets?

I would miss everything about you

Beyond You!

You and I are glued by stars up in the Heaven

You and I are different yet so similar

Our hearts beat the same

Your love for the tricolor is more than Mine

Your love for self is more than Mine

Your existence is my world

You are more surreal than my dream of a lover

Is this platonic?

Book Review – Atomic Habits

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement

Book Title: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Author: James Clear (Goodreads Author)

Publisher: Avery Publishing Group

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 309

Blurb: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving–every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.

Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.

Learn how to:
 make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
 overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
 design your environment to make success easier;
 get back on track when you fall off course;
…and much more.

Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits–whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.

My Ratings: 5/5

Review: ‘Atomic Habits’ has been on my TBR for a while now. This year, I promised myself that I would read books of my choice. It’s not a mainstream self-help book. This book is a well-researched book with theory and diagrams to emphasize the importance of Habits. I have been reading this book slowly at the pace of a tortoise. I read one chapter every day in the morning. This habit of reading a chapter in the morning changed my perspective on my hobbies.
The author divided the book into six parts, where he discussed laws governing your habits. Every chapter quotes an example to draw the readers closer to the possibility of building habits. The author also worked towards adding a summary of every chapter as a closing statement. While I continued reading this book, I started blogging again. When you make progress, you inch closer to your life goals. I wouldn’t summarize my learnings from the book, but I would like to recommend this book to everyone.
‘Atomic Habits’ would make you a better person for yourself. The book speaks volumes about the author’s transformation. Throughout the book, the author has quoted writers, comedians, sportsperson. This book should be the beginning of your life journey, where you pay attention to your good and bad habits both.

My favorite lines from the book:

Every habit should have a home

Habits are dopamine-driven feedback loop

Habits are the backbone of any pursuit of excellence

Circa 2007

People always judge you based on your behavior. No one gives a dime about the actions which molded you. In my life, I have been hurt million times, and I have reciprocated it. Back in 2007, I gave my heart and soul to a boy. I let him play with it, walk all over it, and smile back again. When I look back today, I realize I was in a toxic relationship. He wasn’t toxic, I let him use me which made me a toxic personality altogether. I stopped myself from opening my heart to anyone after that. You don’t realize the toxicity prevailing around us in form of friends, family, and partners. I remember my teachers asking me to build peer bonding in school. I left my inhibitions behind and shook hands with my classmates, enemies, and sometimes allies. I have opened my heart many times and every time my friends have made fun of my life choices, my one-sided love, and at times me. I have fewer friends from school now and fewest from college. I didn’t earn many friends in life, but I think I can do with the few in my laps for the rest of my life. All my college life, I looked at ‘him’ as a life partner. I was naive then. Maybe I am naive today when one movie brought back a zillion memories. We watched 120 movies together or maybe more than that. I sealed every ticket with a bit of gum on my diary. We watched every Shahid Kapoor movie at least thrice, those days when we lived only on our pocket money. A scene from the ‘Jersey’ movie reminded me of a younger self. A girl screaming out loud without knowing a few of the batsman’s stances. She was standing at the stands for her boyfriend who batted in whites and looked impeccably handsome. It reminded me of days when I tanned myself playing volleyball so that I could be on the same ground as you. I remember running for bottles of drinking water, just to see him bat once. I remember the match where you scored 47 runs. I remember your coach hated girls screaming in the stands. I remember screaming at the top of my lungs ‘Rohan’ (coz it was Shahid’s name in a movie). I remember your face walking in disappointment when you got out. It was just a movie after a decade, but it reminded me that once I was deeply in love with you. It reminded me of my old self when I cared about being in love. It reminded me of myself when I loved with all my heart. Now, after a decade of being a different person, my heart stopped loving without fear of getting hurt. I guess I would raise my kids better. I would teach them to never break a heart beyond repair.

Fragrances called You

Have you thought about the fragrances you leave behind? Every human has a unique scent, which might be coined scientifically as pheromones. We recognize people around us by the smell they leave behind us. Your grandma would have a fragrance bringing back your childhood days to life. Your ex-boyfriend had a peculiar smell reminding you of an expensive perfume you gifted him. Women remember the fragrance of their stalkers, colleagues, or even acquaintances.
Amara, a city girl, was no different from all of us. She had a great taste in perfumes. She spent her date night with a man who had no interest in alcohol. He was the perfect man with that six-pack abs you would have seen women drool on. Amara couldn’t take her eyes off him. He swept her off the ground that very moment when he opened the door for her. The date night did end with a steamy night at Amara’s residence. Even though she liked being with him, she disliked his fragrance lingering in her apartment. Her hair smelled of him, the aftermath of last night mingled in red wine. Amara did loads of laundry, starting from her clothes to bedsheets. She headed into the shower, cleansed herself, and looked calmer now. She smelled like herself, with a bit of strawberry and shea butter lingering in her apartment again.
Have you ever felt like Amara even after your date smelled like a greek god? Have you ever washed someone’s aura from your body? Have you ever tried to forget someone’s smell so hard? Have you ever loved a fragrance that you wished to bottle?

Poems the paper can’t handle

I promised myself to write every day for 365 days. It has been three and half months into this year and I haven’t written a masterpiece so far. I thought I would be sad if I don’t achieve my writing goals this year. Astonishingly, I am not sad or anxious that I haven’t achieved a substantial number in my writing career. I read about authors who published their first book at the age of 40. I read about actors who gave their first movie at the age of 50. I have decided to let my thoughts run wild and one fine day, I would pick up myself and sit to write the best manuscript of my life. I have struggled with writer’s block and even reader’s block in the past few months. I am glad I am returning back to my schedule of reading books of my choice. I want to look out for my next story hidden inside the Pandora box of my mind. I want to explore my genre by reading extensively. Currently, I am reading three books at a time. My morning starts with a chapter from the book ‘Atomic Habits’ written by James Clear. I am half way through the book and I tried to make some lifestyle changes to achieve my goals. I switch between ‘1971 Charge of the Gorkhas’ written by Rachna Bisht Rawat and ‘The Tiger of Drass’ written by Meena Nayyar and Himmat Singh Shekhawat. I am looking for answers within myself to understand how all authors bring out a magnificent book. I think it is fine to relax and take some time to figure out what your next action could be! In my case, I am looking for my next manuscript. But, before that I am looking for that motivation to type or think out of the box. I am just another writer figuring out a way that readers would remember me for a lifetime. But, then my brain says – “Maybe in another lifetime.” There are some poems that paper can’t handle, I am one of them!

Genocide, not an Exodus

“I was a refugee in my state. Sixty years later, I am a refugee in my own country.”

We have scaled through three months of the year 2022. We are resuming normal life with a forever looming fear of another COVID wave striking the shores. Every day, I think of writing my experience or my journal to keep my writer-self alive. Yet, every day I fail miserably or get over-occupied with work. I took a vacation with friends recently and my insecurities took a leap of faith. It was an escape from the monotony of life, but I am sure that made me happy. Two days ago, I watched the movie ‘Kashmir Files’ and my heart is numb at the moment. I gathered the courage to watch this movie and halfway through it, I thought I made the worst decision of watching the movie alone. Well, at times you don’t have the alternative of choosing for yourself. I don’t want to write about the movie and the characters. I cannot bring myself to the conclusion that the Kashmir Pandits have lost their homes forever. It’s gut-wrenching to watch the movie, but it happened to the Kashmiri Pandits. I still remember reading the book ‘Our Moon has Blood Clots’ during the pandemic and I never wrote a blog on that book. My brain couldn’t process the tragic life Kashmir Pandits were subjected to. As Rahul Pandita said – “I was a refugee in my state. Sixty years later, I am a refugee in my own country.” ‘Once they were a majority and currently, they are a minority.’ On January 19, 1990, ethnic cleansing was ordered to free Kashmir and turn it into the Islamic Republic of Kashmir. How they were dragged out of their homes, burnt alive, left to die in Jammu camps, and killed, would put you to question humanity. You won’t be able to witness a rape scene in the movie. Imagine they saw their wives, daughters, sisters, being raped in front of their eyes. The slogans screamed by the terrorists would give your spine chills, imagine they witnessed it. Everyone blamed the government has taken down internet access from Kashmir. People in Kashmir are suffering. No one remembered how the Kashmiri Pandits suffered. Many of them died with the dream of returning to their homes in Kashmir. Why removing Article 370 from Kashmir was necessary? What the movie and you will get an answer to it!
I returned from the movie that night and I couldn’t contain my tears. I spoke to my brother a couple of weeks ago discussing a poem he wrote after watching the movie. Everyone told him, it is controversial to publish it. I agree it is. But I don’t blame him for writing the poem. You won’t be able to control your eyes when you see a woman being slaughtered in a wood cutting machine. It was not just a movie, it happened to Kashmiri Pandits. I tried sleeping that night and I couldn’t. All the scenes kept flashing in front of my eyes. I woke up many times thirsty and sweaty. I felt the constant urge to talk to someone, but the misery of my life is another story. My brain has been numb since that day. I don’t have the heart to research the topic and read anymore. 1990 was also the year, I was born. I don’t know how the government officials lived a peaceful life, knowing that they burnt Kashmir alive. If you have a strong heart, I would request you to watch the movie. If you don’t have one, I would understand and recommend you not to watch it. I want you to know about Article 370, but I also want to spare you peaceful nights.

After more than two decades, the Kashmiri Pandit community has still not been able to return to their ancestral land. They are dispersed all over—from Jammu to Johannesburg. – Rahul Pandita

Man with a golden heart

Have you dreamt about your date? I would like you to hold that thought for me now. I am a person who has been hopelessly in love with people, places, and songs. I met my friend from Instagram after four years of battle. Yes, conflicting conversations, we never agreed on a couple of life choices. I wasn’t even sure about meeting him in person. I took him to the most romantic place for dinner. Then, I never thought it to be a date. The place was dreamy. I wanted to dine looking at the magnificent Qutub Minar. We went on the topmost floor of the restaurant, from the Qutub Minar was visible standing illuminated in the night. I was in love with the view at that moment. People were clicking a gazillion pictures with the Qutub Minar at the backdrop. As adults, we choose to order our food first. The waiter serving us was one of the jolliest waiters I have ever seen in Delhi. We were mesmerized by the view, where every second an airplane would buzz the Qutub and fly over our heads. I realized meeting someone in person allows you to look into their eyes and nudge their heart. I loved the conversation where we discussed life which mainly revolved around marriage. Most people aren’t ready to open their hearts to anyone. I realized they aren’t afraid of love, but the tantrums coming together. Officially, it wasn’t a date, but it felt more like one with a beautiful backdrop soothing our eyes and the wintry night of Delhi. We spent quite a fun evening admiring the view and thinking of Burj Khalifa. As soon as he left for the washroom, I called the waiter for the cheque. When he returned, he called for a cheque too. I smiled at the waiter, and he smiled back at me. The waiter said, “Sir, the bill is covered.” He gave me a stern look, and I laughed. The waiter heard our conversation where I was getting scolded for the bill. He even searched my jacket pockets for the receipt. Then, the waiter said, “Sir, how does it matter who paid the bill. Everyone is equal.” I couldn’t hold my laughter at that point when the waiter was on my side. The waiter continued, “Sir, we should be proud of all the women who are working shoulder to shoulder with men. Look at ma’am, she is happy paying the bill for you. I also have a daughter, and I want her to be independent. I don’t know why people still ask for dowry. Sir, in our culture, we don’t appreciate taking dowry.” His lines won my heart, and of course, Sir was speechless. I narrated this story for the golden heart man serving us and not for the date night. Sometimes, the underprivileged people teach us a broad-minded life. I want to narrate this story to everyone who came to ask for dowry. We loved the waiter for his heart.

67 of 365

I have the urge to write again about love and love stories running inside my head. My heart feels happier with each passing day. I may have lost two years of my social life to the pandemic. But, I am glad to be back in the city of my dreams. I visited my friends after a while now, and nothing has changed. Everyone has matured in their own space. We have grown to accept ourselves as adults and adhere to adulting changes life planned for us. It’s overwhelming to have a mature conversation with people who aren’t judgemental. Every individual needs a safe space to discuss their mental health and adulting issues. I am glad that I built a safe space in form of ‘people’. No one is glad that the pandemic happened. A lot of lives were lost, but did you find yourself during the pandemic? If the answer is yes, you have sailed through the difficult phase of your life. You survived along with a deadly virus by your side.

Every day I get up and thank god for every breath. I usually wake up around 7:30 AM. After I freshen up, I open the door of my balcony for fresh air and a morning pack of Vitamin D. Every day without fail I witness an elderly couple washing and drying clothes together on the terrace of their house. They have synchronized this daily chore and the sight is delightful. A generation would yearn for flowers or a diamond ring as proof of love. But, I want what this elderly couple has! A reason to live for one more day in my old age. I would like to share my evening cup of tea, looking at the sunset and holding those wrinkled hands. I want to fight for not taking the medicine of dementia, even though he already had it. I want to have a platonic connection in the world of fake smiles. I want to get up every morning to hear that heart beating. I know someday I would sleep and never wake up. But, I will be resting in the arms of my world.

“For she has a heart of fire, to warm you and to burn you to ashes”

Happy International Women’s Day

Every female child and woman would have faced gender biases during their growing years. Our struggle started while we were still in the womb, and the whole family wished for a boy. We have fought all the odds and made a place in society.
As a country, we have seen women entrepreneurs bring the change. But as a country, were we able to punish rapists? Were we able to capture the statistics of domestic violence cases during the pandemic? The answer to all these questions is NO. We have failed as a society every time a girl/woman is being raped. We failed as a society every time a father was asked his net worth to gauze the dowry coming with the marriage. I might have achieved milestones in life, but at the end of the day when I look at the struggle of my father, it breaks me. Even though women have progressed to be self-sufficient, at various levels we met patriarchy even today.

The United Nation’s theme for 2022 observance is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.”
Over the years, society has seen a transformation in its thought processes. Women have surpassed the gender biases and moved ahead to create their own identities in this world.
Gender equality could bring a positive change in workplaces where women are struggling to get recognition for their hard work and talent. India witnessed a rise in women entrepreneurs who made it to the top business magazines representing their brands. We have to build an environment every individual holds the right to express themselves. Together we can create a better world for the next generation rather than fighting a gender-based tug of war.

I wish these aspiring show-offs don’t last for this day alone. Every woman is a beautiful soul walking around in all shades. For once, if the world stops materializing them and learns to nurture the soul. “For she has a heart of fire, to warm you and to burn you to ashes”