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Guwahati
Monday, March 4, 2024

Celebrating 75 Years Of Independence

It is a matter of pride for an air warrior in participating Station Parade. The cheerful atmosphere had given way to a festive mood. There was music from military bands filling in the air, adding a nationalistic vibe. For the first time, we felt a sense of patriotism that put in pressure and excitement. The Adjutant led the parade followed by the pipe and drum bands, buglers, and trumpet playing popular tunes like Saare Jahan Se Achcha behind the marching contingent. An impressive parade gave a guard of honour to the Commanding Officer.

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By Kamal Baruah

All of a sudden, the spirit of freedom is fluttering in the air. There are rallies from school children on the street to a mass of bikers for defining patriotism; political activists and cultural setups are now being organized for flag hoisting events with a colourful parade across the country. But I have a profound feeling of disquiet in my early days in the 90s, while my memories reminisce Independence Day. The nation today celebrates its 75th year of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav (elixir of freedom), where hoisting the Tricolour is not just only above the Lahori Gate at Lal Qila but today’s ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ to commemorate the freedom from the British. It pays tributes and reminds us of the struggle of freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives.

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But my celebration on that day was unusual. One of my earliest memories was of joining the first Bada Khana. Armed forces have the tradition of organizing big feasts on special occasions and we were part of such events often. In truth, we were avid foodies during ab-initio days when we newly enlisted joined for basic training at Bangalore. The skills and bravery may speak later but IAF trainees can be assured that they have a complete wardrobe change for a living. As we reported to Air Force Station Jalahalli, we got our kit bag on arrival.

The hairline needs to be tapered and that awful haircut was the first step towards a fauji. No matter how handsome you are, soldiers get their heads buzzed, run in shoes 24×7 and shave every day. They are in the midst of a transition that could differentiate them from a civilian. It was indeed exciting fun besides rigorous drills to instill a sense of discipline. The boots and the bands went synchronized along with great coordination. After a hard day of fitness tests at PT, a full mug of chai and bread pakoda appeased our hunger. We had undergone a gruelling practice schedule from dawn to dusk.

We ought to crawl across the ground. It doesn’t matter who the recruit is, we were getting yelled at the parade but physical training builds our strength and endurance. Our energy of ours was blatant in addition to improving skills for wireless telegraphy. We marched as a group, ate as a group, and slept as a group in the dormitory. Recruits have no privacy. After six months of toil and determination, the final D-Day arrived. Polishing shoes, whitening belts & anklets, and ironing uniforms were hectic schedules. The billet sleeps compulsory at night 10. Believe it or not, the men in blue slept on the floor instead of a bed before that day for the ceremonial kit layout. There are arbitrary rules for folding mosquito nets and we had worn only what we were told to wear from the list of inventories.

It is a matter of pride for an air warrior in participating Station Parade. The cheerful atmosphere had given way to a festive mood. There was music from military bands filling in the air, adding a nationalistic vibe. For the first time, we felt a sense of patriotism that put in pressure and excitement. The Adjutant led the parade followed by the pipe and drum bands, buglers, and trumpet playing popular tunes like Saare Jahan Se Achcha behind the marching contingent. An impressive parade gave a guard of honour to the Commanding Officer.

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It holds us a ravenous feeling all day long. Military food is rarely praised. We were delighted to call for the big feast at Trainee Mess. The aroma of food was wafting through the air. Bara Khana is organized for all ranks to dine, wine, and make merry together in a relaxed atmosphere. It’s like a war scene – congregate and feast after hunting. We found meals with an appetizer to a dessert. A mouthful of everything from the buffet was spread out at the counter. The challenge was from fork to shovel food into a spoon until tasted on my tongue. We enjoyed every bite of meals from the joy of others. The banquet was a sumptuous, luxurious meal indeed. All I can say today is that Bara Khana was made easy and tasty on those days. The joy was that never ends there and we proceeded one-month Mid Term Leave after that big feast and glorious event.

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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