Book: Grit, Guts and Gallantry
Author: Colonel Mahip Chadha
Publishing Date: 2010
Publisher: Rupa & Co
Number of Pages: 237 pages
About the Book:
Colonel, I believed are frightening people- Don’t laugh at me- the books and movies I have watched gave me such a terrifying idea. So when I was asked to review “Grit, Guts and Gallantry”- I was jittery. I had asked my chief- “Why me?”- The reply- “You are a puny hearted boy- your mom will be proud- you are going to apply for NDA- after finishing the book!”-She winked and busied herself.
There was a time when young men would line up to apply for the army- when the country was at war. It was a patriotic act- no doubt! And now they are shying away from being brave and responsible and are reluctant to think beyond their little world. Parents are afraid when their kids adamantly plan to apply for the Defense. A newspaper review written long back quoted: “Here the author’s aim is to make the Indian youth aware of the Defense Forces - the rank structure, the selection process, the hardships the soldiers endure, excruciating physical training and adherence to rules and regulations along with a mix of fun and adventure “. But Grit, Guts and gallantry is much more than that.
It is not a text book that just informs you about procedures of joining the “fauj”. It is brilliant autobiographical work of Colonel Mahip Chadha- that gives you a peep inside the tough training the men at the borders get. And prepares your reluctant parents for the same. You can actually feel the baritone voice of the writer talking to you. It so seems like you are tele-ported inside the rattling train compartment- right beside Ashok, listening to the encouraging words of the Colonel in rapt attention. Funny thing- even a man of honour had to face the dilemma of a young caller- “Why don’t you spell colonel with an “R”!
Being an autobiography- the book brings the reader closer to the occurrences in the life of an army man. It tells you how respect is earned and duty is God. Giving your lives for the nation is an act that calls you a martyr. You success lays in the victory and your strict vigil- while you lead your peaceful life tied up in the daily humdrum. It throws light on how different regiments function and also about the perfect amalgamation of culture and sect in the Army ranks. An inspiring fact by itself- we are ONE strong force- waiting for the Call!
I am still living in the trance of Grit , Guts and Gallantry. It did have blood boiling effect- army movies fall short and are dramatic – now it so seems. Enough of the stream of consciousness!
Language is enticing, lucid and reader friendly- making nonfiction a good companion and a prized possession. The author’s style has Victorian elements- medium to long sentences that wind and unwind the narration as w proceed. Life in uniform gets blurred as you start noticing the men wearing them. You actually feel the presence of dignified individuals- who are capable of joking, giving in to merriment and can save the situation by adding ‘bitter ice cream” in a high profile dinner event and target amusement. A brilliant book indeed.