RAKSHIKA ACTIVITIES

Here we are ---The 60th---one month into this year that promises to be exciting and exhilarating!


ICE BREAKING PARTY

2020 heralded the arrival of NDC 60 to the National Defence College – the proud and privileged Diamond Jubilee Course! Kick – starting the Social Calendar was the Ice Breaking Party on 17 Jan, a typical Delhi wintry day preceded by a spell of rain, shrouding the capital in fog.

But, come the evening and there was nothing grey or cold or wintry! Indeed, NDC had spread it’s warm embrace to welcome the course and the College looked royal and resplendent from foyer to flower beds in the canopied lawn. As we made our way through the immaculate lobby to be greeted by the faculty and staff, the uppermost feelings were of deep joy to be there in the coveted precincts and the eagerness to meet friends- old and new, especially our guests from friendly foreign countries.

The evening unfolded with polite introductions and courtesies all round, to be soon replaced by jovial laughter, to the accompaniment of delightful snacks and starters. Soon enough, the foot tapping music and the pull of the dance floor prompted whatever inhibitions were there to be shed – the ice had well and truly been broken and melted!

Going by the energy one saw and was part of, and a peek at the singing talent among course members, one thing seemed apparent – the Diamond Jubilee Course sure was going to glitter and shine! And like all good things, the evening ended just when the Dil wanted More but the flavour lingered on... all thanks to the considerate planning and warm hospitality of the College senior faculty and staff.

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DELHI DARSHAN

The Delhi Sightseeing Tour for NDC 60 was organised on January 18, the morning after the Icebreaking Party. This set the tone for the morning…making new friends and catching up with old ones amidst the majestic monuments of Delhi.

On the itinerary were Qutub Minar, Lotus Temple, Delhi Haat and Humayun’s Tomb. Buses had been arranged and were to be boarded from Raksha Bhawan and Vikram Vihar. We were to meet up at Qutub Minar. The Minar, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque (the first mosque to be built in India) and the famous 7 m-high iron pillar in the courtyard of the mosque constitute the complex. The Delhi Tourism Department had kindly provided two guides to enlighten us and answer any queries we had. The Qutub Minar was constructed by 3 rulers of 2 different dynasties and serves as a reminder of the great feats to be achieved through cooperation and collaboration.

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Our next destination was the Lotus Temple, one of the most visited buildings in the world. Although the distance between the two monuments is just a few kilometers, the span of time between their construction is immense. Furiburz Sabha, the architect, designed the temple as a lotus as the symbol is common to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Baha’i and Islam. Adherents of any faith can visit the temple to pray, meditate or simply look around. The atmosphere in our little group was more somber and reflective as we absorbed and admired the architecture and syncretic vibes of the temple.

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The colourful and vibrant Delhi Haat was our next destination. The variety of folk and tribal handicrafts on display persuaded the most exhausted of us to buy something. The food stalls were so inviting that we couldn’t resist partaking of the sumptuous regional delicacies available. We had such a good time at the Delhi Haat that we were left with time for only one more monument.

The iconic Humayun’s Tomb was our final stop. It was the first garden-tomb to be built on the Indian subcontinent. This architectural innovation is believed to have culminated in the Taj Mahal. Because of its proximity to the sacred shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya, the complex also houses the tombs of other Mughal and non Mughal nobility and royalty. The perfect proportions and geometrical designs of Humayun’s mausoleum were a sight to behold, even after a hectic day of sightseeing and socialising.

Soon it was time to return home; replete with an insight on the complexity of our history, a wealth of memories and gratitude in our hearts.

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LOHRI

The winter this year was by far the coldest in many years, and what a way to start the 60th NDC course!! Everyone was bundled into layers of clothing and was reluctant to leave the warmth of their homes. This was only till Brigadier Panjrath and his cohorts sounded the bugle call for celebrating Lohri, the popular Punjabi folk festival that marks the passing of winter. Invitations were forwarded by jungle drums (called Whatsapp in India) for everyone to come and revel in the merriment in the evening.

The organisers were busy ordering eats, firewood, drinks and of course, the dhol, for how could you not ring in the spring without a drum?

Everyone gathered at Rakshabhavan and after the initial courtesies were over the bon fire was lit. Everyone performed the ritualistic dance and invocations of the fire with the ladies taking great pains to explain the relevance of the rituals to our friends from other countries. Breezers and ritualistic Lohri snacks were consumed in copious quantities and even a downpour could not dampen our spirits. We just moved inside the garage and continued where we had left off!

Dinner was a very appetising biriyani served hot along with tasty gulab jamuns and ice cream. People left the fire and dance only to partake of the sumptuous food and returned to dance with greater gusto, fully charged up. The merriment continued till the members were dying down and very reluctantly the revellers returned to their homes. What a way to break the ice, at the very beginning of the course!!

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WELCOME MEET

The Welcome - Ladies Club

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment till it becomes a memory.” Dr. Suess has aptly summed up the value of gathering such precious moments which will become memories of a lifetime for us.

As service wives, we have always known and understood the concept of women-power. The bonding that happens collectively between us when we meet as “Just Ladies.” Be it coffee mornings, soirees or the Ladies Club. We love the connections we make when we’re just us and we love our exclusive girl-time luxury.

So, one cold yet bright Wednesday afternoon, ladies dressed in their resplendent sarees alighted the buses at the NDC. Their first peek into how and where the husbands spends their days. It was with awe that they looked around familiarising themselves with the lawns, the impressive foyer, the colonial and majestic building, etc.

The birds of a feather, we can’t say yet but surely the birds who were familiar flocked together for the first bit as the hesitation of treading into unknown waters was still rife. As they all walked in, they were greeted by a wonderfully warm and welcoming fraternity of the lady wives of the Directing Staff ably spearheaded by Mrs. Chaudhury.

Once the welcome drink service was over, the ladies found themselves being ushered into the hallowed hall which was a bit overwhelming with the theatre style seating and the mikes placed in front to speak. As the afternoon unfurled, and Mrs. Renu Ahlawat started to welcome the ladies, it was a reassuring and comfortable experience. The aura got further warmed up with the confident and easy going welcome by Mrs. Chaudhry which alleviated all apprehensions and set the mood for a fun afternoon.

The ladies of the staff welcomed themselves following which each of the ladies whose husbands were attending NDC 60 introduced themselves. They were rechristened Rakshikas@60. The entire year calendar was explained so well to enable the ladies to map out their busy days and free days to plan effectively.

Thereafter, the work of various committees was discussed and the volunteers and coordinators were announced. That set the ball rolling and the buzz began. Over a sumptuous spread of teatime treats and a steaming cuppa there was suddenly informal, incessant chatter which completely defines the bevy of beauties. The exchange of numbers, creation of whatsapp groups, planning the year ahead together and so on….. the course for the spouses had just begun and each one was filled with anticipation towards the fun which will unfurl on the road less travelled!

One could see the transformation within this couple of hours in the comfort level acquired and the anticipation of the fun which had just begun. I couldn’t help but marvel as the words of Roald Dahl rung so true in my ears- “There are no strangers in here, just friends you haven’t met.”

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REPUBLIC DAY

The roads near Raksha Bhawan had been riotous every morning resonating to the sounds of bands and marching contingents. All the residents had got used to martial music in the background with their early morning cuppa. This was all the practice for the Republic day celebrations that were soon to follow.

26 January 2020 dawned misty, yet filled with promise with no signs of rain/clouding. roads had begun forming in the road since the wee hours of the morning and we, the more fortunate, had to only get moving by 0630 hours. Once in the stands we headed towards our enclosure taking care to stay together, as a group as the crowds were rushing to get to the better, front seats. Despite the morning chill, there was a sizeable number of people to watch the spectacular event that was to follow.

The show started (for us) with the fly past of Mi-17 helicopters in immaculate formation showering petals on the audience perfectly timed with the unfurling of the national flag. This was followed up by the presentation of gallantry awards to all awardees who were roundly cheered by the crowd. Next followed the march past by the veterans and PVC awarders followed by the marching columns of the various regiments of the Army, Air force and Navy contingents and Paramilitary forces. Dare devils display on the bikes was thrilling. Tableaux of various states were displayed. The grand finale was the Flypast of the aircrafts. All went back to their homes fully satisfied.

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Academic Plaza

BEATING RETREAT

"May the pride of the Tricolour add more colours to your life"

Beating Retreat ceremony is organized on 29th Jan every year at Vijay Chowk with the stately Rashtrapati Bhavan in the background. Steeped in glorious martial tradition, it marks the culmination of the four day long Republic Day celebrations. Beating Retreat is a centuries old heritage drawing back to the time when troops would return to their camps at the end of the day's battle to the call of the pipes and drums.

It was a cold and blustery evening this year, but it could not dampen the spirits of people who had gathered to be a part of the celebration!

The ceremony began with the arrival of the President Shri Ram Nath Kovind escorted by the elite President's Body Guard, the only mounted cavalry regiment of the Indian Army. The PBG Commander ordered the National Salute to the tune of the National Anthem and the unfurling of the National Flag. The typical fauji swag and full on josh was palpable in the massed bands of the three Services with the soldiers resplendent in their uniforms. The Army, Navy, Air Force, State Police and Central Armed Police Forces bands performed over two dozen mesmerizing tunes, a mix of traditional songs and popular Bollywood numbers providing a distinct patriotic flavour. The foot tapping music and soulful classical renditions made everyone's heart swell with that familiar feeling of pride. In compound march and with deft movements, the men made beautiful patterns in the form of a ship, aeroplane and battle tank depicting the Navy, Air Force and Army respectively. A regular feature of this ceremony has always been the last tune played before the Retreat with soulful chimes - the famous poignant hymn written by Henry Francis Lyte, "Abide With Me", one of the favourites of Mahatma Gandhi .This was followed by the bugle call at sunset by the buglers and the National Flag was respectfully lowered with camel mounted sentries in stately vigil. The ceremony concluded with the Band Master marching to the President to request permission to take the bands away. As soon as the bands crested Raisina Hill to the timeless melody of Saare Jahaan Se Achcha, a beautiful and mesmerizing display of lights illuminated the Rashtrapati Bhavan giving rise to a spectacular ambience, soaking the Vijay Chowk and all present.

  Truly, Saare Jahaan Se Achha, Hindostan Hamara !

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VISIT TO PRERNA

The aim of Prerna is to provide emotional support to cancer patients at R&R. Volunteers at Prerna give their time and an empathetic support to patients suffering from this dreaded disease called cancer. Today on 06th February, 13 volunteers of NDC - 60 went to Prerna for their orientation visit. A presentation was given to them by secretary Prerna Mrs Daisy Malhotra about the history, aim and functioning of Prerna. The Chairperson Prerna Mrs Asha Suchendra and Mrs Geeta Vig, NDC faculty coordinators were present for the occasion. After the presentation, the NDC volunteer team was taken for an orientation tour through the 6 wards of oncology including the paediatric ward. The dos and don'ts and code of conduct was shared with the volunteers and all the queries of the volunteers were addressed by Mrs Madhu Rawat, Mrs Manjari Kripekar and other ladies working for the cause. It was a very educative and inspirational visit.

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VISIT TO THE SURAJKUND MELA

A unique International craft festival, the Surajkund Mela is a platform for artists across the globe to showcase their culture. Over 20 countries from South Asia, Africa and Europe actively participate in making this fair a huge success. Surajkund, meaning 'Lake of the Sun', is 'Surajkund International Craft Mela'.

A cultural ethos, the Surajkund Mela, offers a stunning insight into the historical background and traditional beauty of hidden India. Each state exposes a part of their culture at the Mela, providing an aesthetic indulgence for both Indian and foreign tourists. The team of fun loving Rakshikas were looking out for a rustic experience that celebrates both indigenous talent and the candid culture of locals, the Surajkund Mela was on our bucket list.

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Enriching and exciting trip it definitely was. By the end of the day we had shopped till we dropped, danced till our feet hurt and ate to our hearts content.

Hoping with cheers to many more!

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Academic Plaza

EXHIBITION - PADHARO MARO RAJASTHAN

An exhibition of exclusive hand block prints, Leheriya, Bandhej, Mothra were on display at the community hall Raksha Bhawan.
The star products were from mud resistant indigo block prints from village of Pipar and Ajrak from Bhuj.
Ladies were seen on the pathway eagerly waiting for it to start. We had friends from Raksha Bhawan, Vikram Vihar and Overseas !
Kudos to the ladies who turned out in large numbers braving the cold and traffic. Cheers to many more!!

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LADIES MEET - RAKSHIKAS OF RAKSHA BHAWAN

Shopaholics United

The first ladies meet to be hosted by the student officer’s wives was organised on February 19th by the lucky damsels residing in Raksha Bhawan. SHOPPING, an activity close to the heart of all women universally was to be the theme.

Dressed in vibrant colours, the guests were welcomed at the Community Hall by the hosts who wore black. The Hall where we had had our meals during the initial days of settling down had been transformed into a trendy shopaholic’s paradise: shoes, make up, clothes, accessories, designer wear, antiques.

The customary reception table was ably manned by Shikha who handed out tickets and change with panache. Our guests then had to guess the cost of a delightful hamper of cosmetics prepared by Rajnie,without the assistance of Google!

Once everyone had settled down, Renu set the ball rolling. Ganiv walked in from the rear entrance singing a parody of an old ladies meet favourite. This was merely an indication that the evening would be a roller coaster ride full of twists and turns and unexpected twists to cliches. Shubhra, Arti and Suman sang a medley of songs that got everyone into the mood for shopping. Alka narrated a humorous story during which the audience had to spot Tag lines associated with advertisements. Poornima solved a dilemma that all of us face when it comes to wrapping presents. She demonstrated how cloth could be used for gift wrapping and decorating a wide variety of gifts. The group game conducted by Shyamanjali had Team Furla winning the first prize. They were able to successfully construct and enact a humorous advertisement for Prill. Shubhra’s one liners, couplets and announcement of numbers garnered everyone’s attention and gave a twist to the customary round of tambola. The evening was held together by our very talented and witty MCs, Ganiv and Shweta.

Chandni accurately guessed the price of the hamper and won the first raffle. The numerous shopping receipts in Claude’s purse won her a prize. The presence of an astounding 17 shopping cards was deemed enough to warrant another prize.

It was now time to move out for the sumptuous eats in the Community Hall courtyard. The Décor Team had artfully turned this drab space into a colourful eatery. Numerous photographs were clicked, memories made, and friendships formed during the meet. But the best was yet to come. The organisers had arranged for small potted plants as return gifts.

The evening had all the elements to be a truly memorable one: the obvious camaraderie amongst the hosts, jokes, witty one liners, the company of friends, good food and to top it all environmental sustainability!

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ARMY SOCIAL

“Independence is not free….it costs soldiers.” The Indian Army pays a very heavy price in the form of the blood of its valiant soldiers to earn the freedom of its countrymen. The Army Day Social was one such evening to celebrate and salute the spirit and the being of The Indian Army, the army which fights only to win, for there are no runners up in war!

The glittering evening was graced by the Commandant and his better half- Air Marshal D Chaudhry, AVSM, VM, VSM and Mrs. Vayjanthi Chaudhry. It was also attended by the entire fraternity of the students and staff at NDC was a memorable one. It was held at the befitting venue of The Manekshaw Convention Center which is dedicated to the memory of the legend – Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

The customary welcome was followed by a few interesting thoughts about the valour, bravery and sacrifices made by the men in olive greens ably supported by the unsung heroines who manage the well -being at home in their absence.

Thereafter, the audience was asked to step out in the open to witness a rhythmic, energetic, dynamic and powerful amalgamation of two different displays from two different corners of the country- The Kalaripayattu from the South and The Gatka from the North.

Kalaripayattu is ancient South India’s gift to the modern world and the mother of all martial arts. Legend traces the 3000-year-old art form to Sage Parasurama- and the Dhanurveda.

The martial art from Punjab is called the Gatka. It is not just a martial art of the Sikhs, it is the whole way of being, thinking and believing. It is the Adi-Shakti yoga or the yoga of empowerment. The unity of miri-piri- a key concept of Sikhism.

Both these displays were very well received and thoroughly enjoyed by the guests. This was followed by a few foot-tapping renditions from the talented army ladies and officers – Mrs. Shubhra Kabthiyal, Brig Rajeev Chauhan, Mrs. Ganiv Panjirath and Brig Berry. The evening turned into an entertaining and exuberant one filled with laughter, precious moments, photographs, music and good food- in all, it was a memory forever!

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HOLI

HOLI HAI

Holi, the festival of colours and one of the most awaited in our country, is celebrated with great enthusiasm, abandon and joy. It heralds the arrival of spring, the season synonymous with natural colour and vibrancy in the surroundings. People celebrate Holi by playing with colour and often with water too. Eating pakoras laced with bhang is considered traditional. Excited kids rush about with their water guns, balloons and colours of all types – from the benign scented herbal to the stubborn pucca colour that tests all forms of soap solutions to wash off! The festival brings out the child in people of all ages, such is its infectious appeal. Holi with the Diamond Jubilee NDC Course was no different. The morning was nippy but the bright sun and clear blue sky provided just the perfect setting for the revelry that ensued. There was the customary Dhol, bright colours and music, pakoras being passed around which everyone ate happily! It was indeed especially wonderful to see the enthusiasm and gaiety of our foreign friends and their families who participated in the celebrations whole heartedly. People danced together and sang impromptu to lend the event a memorable flavour....!

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