Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Plane Ride On Bicycles..

Prakash was posted in Agra at that time.

'Posted' is the term used to indicate the place where an Army man is stationed, placed or sent.
These are common questions in defense circles," Where is he posted?"
 "When are you expecting your posting?", Or the more dangerous, "When I was posted in XYZ...." Run for your lives when you hear that because you are in for an hour long story of the man's exploits when he was a strapping lad in the Army.

Don't run if you like war stories and stories of extraordinary adventures that these men had even in their normal day to day lives.

Well, when Prakash was posted in Agra, he received a letter from his father.
 Yes, the story belongs to the time when letters were the only mode of communication.
Fathers wrote to sons in the Army, about the family, village life, fields and crops, buffaloes and cows, marriages and quarrels.
They also wrote about deaths and births.

Many days and some times weeks passed before the letter was received and read.
Prakash read that his brother Ram Saran Das and his wife 'posted' in Ambala had lost their little daughter after a short illness.
His father also asked him to condole the death of the baby with his elder brother through a letter.

Prakash thought he could do better than that and he could visit his brother and bhabhi (brother's wife) in Ambala.

As it happened there was an Air Force transport plane scheduled to go for a routine sortie (training flight) to Ambala the very next day.

Prakash took courage in his hands and asked the pilot if he will give him a lift to Ambala and back in the plane. He explained why he was keen to go.
The pilot was a kindly soul and smilingly agreed.

The next day Prakash asked one of his friends to accompany him to the aerodrome. They were both on their cycles.
They loaded the cycles into the huge plane and got in themselves too.
You have to believe this because it is true.
 Air force transport planes are nothing like the planes that fly us from one city to another when we have the money for it.
These are cavernous caves with benches along the sides for the passengers if any. The load is in the middle on skids that can be rolled on and off.

So now both the young Air men in gleaming uniforms are on the plane with their royal cycles.
Both are grinning from ear to ear at this mad cap adventure.
Only if their friends and family could see them then. How proud they would be!

 After a short flight they landed in Ambala and both Prakash and his friend unloaded their cycles and rode off to the local Army cantonment, a few kilometers away.
By bringing their cycles they had taken care of their local transport issues.

They found Ram Saran Das in his office. He was shocked to see them as he was not expecting this visit. The brothers hugged. Prakash condoled the death of the baby.
Ram Saran Das told them that his wife was inconsolable and was not in any condition to meet them.
He ordered tea and snacks right there in the office.
After spending an hour or so with his brother Prakash and his friend rode back to the aerodrome.
The plane was getting ready to fly back to Agra.
Well, the cycles and the Air men got on again and were in Agra before you could solve a decent cross word puzzle.
They off loaded the cycles and rode off to their respective houses thrilled with this flying visit to Ambala in the course of a morning.

Prakash then wrote to his father telling him how he had personally gone to condole the death of the baby.
His father was mighty impressed at the fast lives his sons were leading.

He read out the letter to every one who cared to listen.


  1. Very nice Madhu..reminiscence of life earlier. Charm of letters..it brought back memories of being close to closed ones inspite of the distance!! Nostalgia!!

  2. lovely read !
    Army Life had a craza decades back.. and explains why ! Not all could think of flying to and fro one city to the other .. same day ..for armymen it was possible .. and with cycles ?? I mean .. amazing !! Can we do that even now ?
    It sounded like a private chartered plane of a friend and you ask him to give you a lift :D
    thanks for sharing Madhu :)

    1. Mysay no trade secrets will be revealed here. ;-)
      Thanks for the appreciation.

  3. Beautiful ... it all the words say to me ... Where there is a will ... there is a way.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks OurJaipur. I am missing your posts with amazing photos.

  5. Those were different days, and different time. What nostalgic memories of the time gone by....

    1. Yes indeed Desi traveler. Thanks for visiting.

  6. Pleasant reminiscence Madhu!
    BTW, with ref to your recent comment down my poem, was it your future or my future? really I'm curious ummm...

  7. Ok thanks for the clarification Madhu ji :-)

  8. The good old days of Army life. My husband is an army kid and I keep hearing similiar stories , stories of brotherhood and love. Good one Madhu

    1. Thank you Mynascence. Army kids are kindred souls. They understand each other instinctively.


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