LT COL NOEL ELLIS | 22 OCTOBER, 2017
LT COL NOEL ELLIS
MUMBAI: Someone said uproot the Taj Mahal, thereafter people came up with an idea to demolish the Rashtrapati Bhawan and Parliament. Then a few suggested the Red Fort too should bite the dust.
I am amazed at how people think and add fuel to the already lit communal fire. One thing is clear, the way we are trying to tamper with history it will definitely have consequences.
Be that as it may, I was thinking why not rename the Grant Trunk (GT) road. It was named Sher Shah Suri Marg once. Who was Mr SS Suri? Please dig into the history books to find out don’t ask me.
A Punjabi song popular amongst truck drivers about the road was “GT road te, haye road te....” Bus drivers used to believe in, “Chak de phatte nap de killi, subha Jalandhar sham nu dilli”. I remember travelling this route by road as well as rail as a child and it used to be the most prestigious route called the NH-1 from Lahore to Calcutta. I have seen this road transform from a road to a Highway and that is history.
There was no direct bus or train service to Delhi from Kapurthala, my residence. The nearest place to get a bus or train was Jullunder now Jalandhar (change in history). A small bus stand on GT road Jalandhar used to be congested like hell. To identify a bus going to “Garha” village or Delhi was difficult. If the bus had its chassis bent, torn silencer, splattered with mud, doors missing, broken windows, hanging head lights and the radiator glaring at you over a half hanging fender one could assume this is a local bus. A nicely painted, well dressed driver, Jalwa horn blaring, cushioned seats, freshly cleaned if not painted body; with lots of hanging jhalars all around the bus was an indicator that this could be a long route bus.
Of course the shout in short bursts, Dilli-dilli-dilli-dilli. The conductor used to make it very clear “Rah di sawari koi na hove” (passengers getting down enroute need not mount) and mark my words Phillor and Phagwara people were dropped only at Ludhiana.
GT road was broad though but did not have dividers in between then. I have seen it grow from two lanes to six lanes and to what it is today. There were hardly any flyovers. In those days buses and trains used to race side by side. Closer to Ludhiana somewhere near Dhandarikalan, “Keenu” used to be a new citrus fruit introduced those days. The long route buses used to stop for a quick drink of freshly squeezed malta or keenu juice.
Ambala Cantt used to be a major junction and the trains used to halt long enough for dad to rush to Puran Singh da dhaba and get fresh mutton curry and tandoori rotis. From there reaching Delhi was either from the Meerut-Ghaziabad route for Old Delhi or the Kurukshetra route for New Delhi.
We mostly traveled to Old Delhi. Moment one heard the heavy sounds of those typical clangs and bangs on the common rail and Road Bridge on river Yamuna hugging the red fort walls one knew “Ab dilli door nahi” (Delhi is not far away).
If history has to be changed then the Bombay-Ferozpur Frontier Mail and Delhi-Amritsar Flying Mail also need to be re-named.
Why not change its name to Akbar road, no-no not the Azeem-O-Shaan Shahensha but our very own indigenous Akbar saab who is now a Minister. With no offence meant sir and no religious flavour as till date I am confused who was Akbar’s son, was it Babar or Humayun or neither. My history is pathetic as it is. I always get mixed up with the fathers and sons of that era.
With the present generation they won’t even care to find out who was who and we talk of changing history.
Why not name it Noel Ellis road? Half of India will not be able to pronounce it first of all. The only qualification I have is that I am a common citizen of this country. Why history can’t be created by renaming a road on the “aam admis” name. Why do we always look up in history to name things after all those oldies, or all those political figures?
Well, freedom fighters too now are being felicitated at many places. I gave my youth too for keeping the country’s sovereignty intact by serving the motherland by being part of one of the finest Armies of the world. Yes people may say I am a living person. I will argue let's create history by not naming something on somebody who is already dead.
These days I find only polarisation and hatred being spread. I do not accept it as a citizen of this country. All those who try to change history will become history themselves.
Today’s generation cares two hoots whether you name a road or a building on anything. We are a modern India so changing ancient history won’t work Mr Dhotiwala. Can you guys grow up? I wonder!
(Lt Colonel Noel Ellis is retired from the Indian Army after 23 years of service. He writes a blog)