solar system ed



A few minutes before the Sun rises tomorrow, I will have turned seventy three years old. In our part of Punjab, when a person showed the first signs of senility, the people around said, “this man has become ‘sattare bahattare’  (which means seventy-seventy two years old) Therefore, do not take him seriously!” Now, I have crossed even that milestone! I beseech you to forgive me my trespasses. My words and deeds must not be taken seriously. And, whenever I am indiscreet, I should be forgiven, in view of my age. For one thing, my date of birth itself is incorrect. Personally, I was too small to note it down and now, I find that our father’s diary reveals that I was born on the 28 June 1941 while the official records show it as 26th June 1941. The difference being insignificant, I have not made an issue out of it.


Come summer, and my friends start planning for a jaunt. Some go out to the hills to beat the heat.  Others go to coastal areas to chill out on the beaches. And those whose children or kinsfolk have migrated to the ‘white peoples’ lands’ start making the rounds of embassies and travel agents. Then begins the process of ‘mothballing’ and preserving the domestic appliance for the period of absence. Indeed, the most difficult part is to pack bags. We want to take all that we will need and yet keep the baggage light, since there are no coolies in the ‘developed’ countries. My personal experience is that hard as we try, we leave some essential things behind, and I have rarely returned from a journey without forgetting some of my clothes or tinsel behind. Indeed, the worst part is that the medical care in those distant lands is not tailored to our needs. Most often, we can not find a good dentist, an optician or a physician to help us. And indeed, the pharmacists refuse to sell medicines unless they are prescribed.

And then, there are other problems. Their food habits are different, and we have to do many things which are done by our domestic help here. Their newspapers are thick and heavy, but contain very little news which is of interest to us. All in all, I for one, begin to miss home and start counting days left to get back.

A Discovery of Sorts

With each passing year, and as we are getting older, the urge for travel is diminishing. We have been to most of the places and the sights do not attract us as much as they did before. The process of packing bags is getting more and more tedious. The medical assistance we need has become more complex and we are literally dependant on our doctors and chemists. The worldly needs are simple and readily available here, and therefore, we are becoming more and more home-bound. 

Then, last year, as I was sitting on my study table I made a discovery. I suddenly felt that my table, the chair and in fact the whole room was moving. And in fact, the complete environment was in a state of motion. A little more introspection revealed that the motion was neither random nor directionless. And here is what I found:

  • My table, my chair, the room or rather the house itself…along with the neighbours and the market and all that exists on the earth is moving at an incredible speed of 30 kilometres per second, on an endless voyage around the Sun. And we dare not slow down, because we have the Celestial duty to complete our journey of about 940 million kilometres within the allotted period of a little over 365 days. No one knows what will happen, if we get late; or arrive a moment too soon.  At this speed, we can travel from Delhi to New York in about 6.5 minutes and cover the distance to the moon in a little over four hours.

  • The ride is smooth. No jerk, no vibration, no noise. Around us, we have seven more planets (eight, if you count Pluto in), and a few hundred dwarf planets, natural satellites and comets. Despite all this ‘traffic’ there has been no major accident or collision in the recorded history. To control our road tansport, we have an elaborate police ‘bandobast’ and at the airports there is an Air Traffic Controller (ATC) but as far as we know, there is no Space Movement Controller and yet all this motion is so well organized. Given below is a picture of this scene:

  • solar system dynamic   

A Perquisite of Life on the Earth

I discovered that “Life on the Earth may be expensive; but it includes a free trip around the Sun every year!” Some of the features of this Celestial journey are:

  • You neither need a visa nor a ticket.

  • The kith and the kin are allowed to accompany you. Even the neighbours go with you.

  • No need to pack bags. The whole house goes with you.

  • The journey is so safe, that you neither need to wear a helmet nor even a seat belt.

  • All your creature comforts remain with you. Your dentist, optician and the chemist are booked to travel with you. Even the domestic help will accompany you!

  • As a very special privilege, our one and only moon goes with you. In fact it shows the same face to you all through your annual odyssey.

The above ‘discovery’ diminished my urge for wanderlust. Along with every one else on the Earth I had performed this voyage several times before, but this time I became more conscious of the earthly phenomena this year. When I started making notes for the travelogue, the Sun was hot and bright. The days were long. Then came the monsoon, in all its glory. And that was followed by the autumn. The length of the day began to diminish, and soon there was winter. The days were short and the Sun was feeble. On one such cold day, I went to the Sukhna lake and clicked a picture of the Sunset. The water was cold and the breeze was chilly…and I saw that the Sun did not set in the West. It had shifted significantly towards the South. Here is that picture:

sunset dec 13

 Our evening walks on the lake continued all through the winter and the spring. But when the summer came, it was no longer a joy to walk by the lake. But four days ago, we had a pre-monsoon shower, and it cooled the environs. We went back to the same spot. The water level had receded and the lake did not look as pristine as it had looked in the winter. And the Sun had moved so far towards the North, that my camera could not capture the scene in one shot. I took two pictures, and these have been joined by my friend, Ashwani. However, since there was a time lag between the two snaps, there was a difference in the colours and hues of the two pictures. Ms Mansi Bhambri has done the necessary image enhancement to produce the following joint picture:

new sunset mansi 

 A Flashback

Some of my friends might recollect that a few months ago, we had observed that the Sun does not always rise in the East and set in the West. And this is not the only phenomenon which changes with time. Indeed, after a complete revolutions around the Sun the seasons repeat their cycle. If, somehow, we could ‘fast forward’ some of the pictures, we would get an idea of how things change. A friend has sent me some pictures of flowers blooming. This is how we would see the other changes, if we could use technology to produce pictures of such slow moving changes.


 And, here is another one:


And one more, to complete the bouquet

flower-gifs-lily II

  The Tailpiece

My personal voyage on this planet called Earth began many years ago, at Peshawar Cantt. In our father’s diary, the following sentence is recorded ”A son was born, just before the Sun rose on Saturday, the 28th Jun 1941” As per this piece of information, I have travelled around the Sun exactly seventy three times, today. All the other journeys which I have performed are insignificant when compared with this astronomically large distance. And so, when the Lord is Himself taking me places, holding me safe in His hands, where is the need to run around to the offices of travel agents and to pack bags?

In this context, I am reminded of a poem from Gitanjali written by Gurudev Tagore, more than a hundred years ago. Early in his life, great poet had discovered that you do not have to go running around for pleasure…just look around, and savour all the awesome bounties the Lord has given to us, unasked!

Psalm XIV - Gitanjali

MY DESIRES ARE many and my cry is pitiful, but ever didst thou save me by hard refusals; and this strong mercy has been wrought into my life through and through.

Day by day thou art making me worthy of the simple, great gifts that thou gavest to me unasked-this sky and the light, this body and the life and the mind; saving me from perils of overmuch desire.

There are times when I languidly linger and times when I awaken and hurry in search of my goal; but cruelly thou hidest thyself from before me.

Day by day thou art making me worthy of thy full acceptance by refusing me ever and anon, saving me from perils of weak, uncertain desire.

Acknowledgements and a reference

I am indebted to Mr Ashwani Tohana and Ms Mansi Bhambri for having taught me so many things about picture management and handling of text. They seem to drop in just when I need them the most. How, do they find out? I wonder.

Finally those who may like to know more about the motion of the Sun and the Earth may click on the following link for a more detailed piece on this subject:



  1. colls says:

    wash my eyes
    Brother Surjit

    much time/water
    has flown in the
    the Brahmaputra
    the Jumna
    25 APR 2020

  2. Manjit Singh says:

    What imagination !
    What expression !
    Fantastic, fabulous, creative, original, interesting , humorous, ………..
    I have run out of adjectives.
    I feel proud to call to be your elder brother !
    Love and regards.
    Wish you many more years of ‘FLIGHTS OF FANCY’

  3. Amar.................Bawa Bhalla says:

    Hi Surjit,thoroughly enjoyed your superbly written travelogue.Writing has always been your forte.Please keep it up.
    I can well relate to your desire to shun travel to distant lands,I stopped visiting children and brothers in USA since june2010.Now they visit us during their harsh winter season and we happily reciprocate their hospitality enjoyed by us earlier.We have not yet suppressed our wanderlust but have suitably modified it to cater to changing needs…for example,our maid servant likes to go on leave during summer vacation of her children,we dare not stop her and plan visits to nearby places not more than three to four hours away from ECHS hospitals. Such travels are with like minded friends of our age group.Sohanpals are our favorite. They love to drive particularly Big caars and we enjoy their company.Why don’t you join us?
    Fond regards,

  4. Col J S Bath says:

    Dear Sir,

    Since the First of July have had the pleasure of joining the सत्तर-बहत्तर crowd.

    Was pleased but not surprised to know that we are both ‘Cancerians’.

    ‘Beyond the Destination’ is a piece right after my heart.


    With warm regards,


    • COlls says:

      so am i forgot it Bath
      take a fresh bath
      like we did in

      kabhee woh din bhee yaaad karloee
      nahatey thei hum tubh
      jaisee NDA mein

      aaj zamaana badal gaya hai
      duniya key mele mein
      naheen rahey insaan aap kay aur hummarey jaisse

      waqt ka andazza kisskoe hai
      aaj nahetyey hain akeley main
      USA /Canada mein
      beaches sey..
      awaaz sunoe humaree dost
      kyun hoe gaye abh khamosh!

  5. Anuraj Dua says:

    Hello Surjit uncle,

    Hope you and aunty are keeping well. I do very much enjoy reading your posts – I loved the one that had the poem by Fareedji, so simple yet so deep in meaning.

    We look forward to visiting you and aunty on our next trip to Chandigarh.

    With love and warm wishes,


  6. Dear Surjit,

    Despite your imaginative joy in going round and round, I still feel that there is a lot more travel ahead of you. To begin with, a trip to Kasauli is scheduled on 12th July.

    May God give you many more years of travel so that you can keep writing such brilliant pieces.


  7. Kohli Veena says:

    Our Dearest Surjit ji ,

    Firstly happy sunny rotation…

    glad to see you are still in rotation..

    we all are still in perpetual commotion…

    WE reside in Canada mostly

    last sibbling VIRJI, living in UNITED KINGDOM

    we meet seldom

    hence no chance to unite

    I had met him last in 1990…..

    we both it seems are living…

    chasing the same sun

    being followed by the only moon

    save, a different one at night

    in our bedroom…

    I nearly posted this one….

    on your intelligent sojourn

    but then something went off

    wrong button pressed as usual you know

    these words didn’t seem to glow

    and all went forlorn .

    well u and we are one to one let any kingdom come

    fair thee well my grandson comes now on skpe


    Maj Gen Surjit Singh

  8. Anil Mathur says:

    Dear sir,
    Please accept my heartiest congratulations on your b’day. Sorry for
    the inordinate delay, which has been due to my schedule which kept me
    away from my laptop.

  9. Vijay Mayadev says:

    Dear Surjit,

    Please accept our birthday greetings and wishes that you remain as Un senile as ever. Come to think of it, most of us that joined NDA with the XIX are turning satter-Bahatter. Let us thank the good lord to have permitted us to stay on while many were taken away.

    Like someone said “Do not complain about old age because it is a privilege denied to many”. I know you are not complaining but some do.

    Let us instead say Satter se bhi behettar.


    • Surjit Singh says:


      I can see the advantages. There are many. The commuted part of the pension has been restored. We can now play around every day, without having to do anything. Travel as much as we like, and if we do not like that, we can just sit down ad look at our old albums!
      I think I like the slogan: “Sattar se bhi behetar!” I will pass it around at the next XIX course meet!
      Best wishes,

      • Vijay Mayadev says:

        Thanks Surjit,

        Nice to get your response. I do read and enjoy your blogs on our sites. Internet is such a blessing.

        We are in the Supreme Court to get our pension restored. Some sadistic babu refuses to restore our full pension; we get only 43 % since we commuted 100 % that too at pre historic rates.

        But that doesn’t prevent enjoyment of life with golf, bridge and beer thrown in..


  10. Talat Zamir says:

    Dear Surjit ,

    It is always a pleasure to go through your articles , comments and observations . This was indeed very unique and interesting .

    Many happy Returns of the day , although a bit belated .:-)

    Will catch when I get back from Sydney , in a couple of days .

    My love to Surender


    • Surjit Singh says:


      You are Great!

      If Columbus had not made that path breaking voyage, I think you would have sailed to the new world!
      Why don’t you send me a travelogue? Tell me, out of all the countries you have visited, which is the best?
      Please do send some pictures.
      Surjit Surinder

  11. A G Bewoor says:

    My dear General,

    Good wishes to you on turning the milestone. May you continue to enoy good health with an odd tablet now and then, nothing serious just a vitamin maybe.

    Look forward to your email on every 28 June.


    anant bewoor

    • Surjit Singh says:


      Thanks. You have given me the impetus to live at least one more year! The fact that some one will be waiting for my mail will keep me going.

      And whenever I hear from you, I am reminded of your revered father. In his very effortless way, he told me to read ancient history of India. And I discovered what a rich past we have! Our civilization makes me proud of being an Indian.
      With best wishes,

  12. Brig Viren Bajaj says:


    Clearly, it shows you had the makings of a 4 star General and a politician.

    That you did not, can be attributed to that fact that you belonged to EME and one of the elite arms..

    Have fun.


    • Surjit Singh says:


      Your mail makes me feel as if I am a Six star General! (And politician I never wanted to be. They are depicted in cartoons and rightly so…most of them are Jokers!)

      Thanks for the kind words.


  13. Harindar Bedi says:

    Dear Surjit,

    Before I go through “Beyond the Destination” I am taking the opportunity on behalf of myself and Sarab of wishing you a very happy birthday with many more to come! God bless you and may we be privileged to continue to have the benefit of your excellent articles so full of pearls of wisdom. Our congrats once again.

    With our best regards to you and Surinder.

    Harindar – Sarab

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Harindar ji,

      Thanks for your greetings and good wishes. We have both enjoyed your company and are very happy to learn that Sarab ji is back to her vivacious self. May the Lord give you many years of togetherness.


  14. Maj Gen Gurdayal Singh says:

    My dear Surjit

    I admire the flight of your imagination. It is wild and knows no bounds. You started with an error of two days in your official and actual B’Day; meandoured through ” Satteray and Bhatteray”, a bit of Sukhna lake,your house/Table revolving at great speed, and finally landing on the topic of revolving around the sun 365 times in each year of yor life. You just stopped short of Universe and its origin which could also be included in the wide sweep of your thought process.

    The beauty is that you have woven all these varied topics together in a masterly way and it makes a very pleasant and harmonious reading.

    Army teaches you to think within well identified parameters and objectives and not to run wild .

    The effect of training in disciplined thinking might have constrained your natural instincts in flight of imagination. So a great loss to humanity at large. It might have been deprived of a great Poet , Philosopher and a Writer.

    Please keep up your imaginative flights. I always look forward to it.

    Wishing you all the Best.


    • Surjit Singh says:

      Your comments are so well worded that I have picked up a few expressions and noted them down for future use. It is my belief that if you were to sit down and write a piece yourself, it will have many readers and admirers.

      I think you have summed it all very well. And indeed the Army does curb creativity. Many of my bosses were angry with me for taking up jobs that were not assigned to us. They believed that I was diverting attention from our given role.
      Only towards the end of the service did the ‘system’ find the right job for me. In the Simulator Development Division, I got an opportunity to do something creative. And of course, thanks to Gen Banga, I was taken by Ashok Leyland, where they liked us to ‘think out of the box’

      Be that as it may, I wish to thank you for your kind words.

      With best wishes,


  15. Ram Gulrajani says:

    Dear General

    I have always liked and admired what your write. You make life feel good with small incidents and anecdotes from your personal and professional life. I see you as a transparent man … nothing to hide and nothing to crib about. Happy with life as it comes despite apprehensions about future.

    I share many of your apprehensions and have lived through them successfully … not because I have any extra blessings from God but because I surround myself with people who laugh; remain open to learning from the new generation rather than pontificating; believe in mother nature’s healing powers than doctor, hakim, vaid or ojha. I have learnt to live each day as it comes rather than be worried about tomorrow. I am ready. He can all me any day anytime. I turn 80 in next 50 days.

    Best wishes for many fruitful and happy days ahead.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      You have said some thing which very few people like to talk about.
      Death. It is inevitable. Yama has made a promise to us at the time of birth, and He never lets us down. If a friend says he will come, you can never be sure. But it must be said in the honour of Yama that He never forgets us. When the time comes, He is sure to come and take us. I believe that we must, forever be ready for His call. And go with a smile on our lips!
      I propose to write on this subject also, one day.
      Your comments are always very profound. Thanks you.

  16. Brig Tilak Mullick says:



    • Surjit Singh says:

      Thanks for your good wishes.
      You and Rekha mean a lot to us. Do come to Chandigarh and look us up.
      Or, just call us once a while!

  17. Brig Narinder Sapra says:

    Dear Gen,

    Please accept mu Heartiest Best Wishes. Pray for your long and healthy life. Look forward to receiving more such pieces from you



    • Surjit Singh says:

      Whenever I hear from you, many old memories come back. And now, your cousin Manocha has joined us. You remind me of our common heritage.
      God bless you!

  18. Col BB Ghai says:

    Subah hoti hai, sham hoti hai

    Yoon hi zindagi, tamaam hoti hai!

    Withbest wishes,

    BB Ghai

  19. Bhanu Kumar Rai says:

    Dear Surjit

    I enjoyed the piece. It comes from a happy mind capable of recall and introspection.

    Bhanu Rai

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Coming from you these words are a blessing.
      They shall inspire me, always and every time.

  20. Brig AJS Behl says:

    You are no where sattar bahattar gia.
    You are a brilliant man& we are proud of you.
    Many happy returns of the day again.

    • Surjit Singh says:


      I have known you for nearly six decades now…and you are right nearly every time.

      So, I believe you! I shall from today stop counting my years, and get on with whatever is in my hand!


  21. Its always a great pleasure reading your super-duper articles. I always send your articles to all my friends…

    Wishing you a very happy birthday. May we keep enjoying …reading your articles for many many years.

    Profound Regards.

    Col N Mahajan

    • Surjit Singh says:



      Your greetings mean the Earth to us! In fact I get the impetus and motivation from your messages.

      With best wishes,

  22. Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi says:

    Dear Surjit,

    Heartiest congratulations on completing your 73rd circuit of the sun, today or two days earlier!!

    I read your latest Blog and am fascinated by what you wrote about the sun rising and setting with lateral shifts of the seasons. Very interesting!

    Warm regards.


    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear General,

      Our cities have become concrete jungles. We do not sleep on the roofs any more. And so we do not notice the motion of the Sun and the Moon. People who live in the villages notice this phenomenon regularly.

      Here in Chandigarh, the Sun shifts about 28 degrees towards North and South of the West at Sunset during the Solstices.

      Thanks for your kind words,


  23. Lt Gen Manmohan Singh says:

    Dear Surjit,

    It is a gr8 pleasure, as ever, to read ur piece u spun on ur BD. U totally defy the old ‘hypothesis of satra-batra’. Add-on yrs have made u increasingly
    sharper, & ever more analytical. Do keep it this way. May God be with u.

    With best wishes & fondest regs to u both,

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Bhai Sahib,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      You have contributed a great deal towards my progress. I can never re-pay that debt of gratitude.

      Dev must be a big boy. And Ladee and Dr Anand would have matured as doctors. Please give them and Mrs Manmohan our best wishes,


  24. Lt Gen C Sundara Rao says:

    Dear Surjit,

    Yet another masterpiece of narration, which is thought provoking. Being about 20 years older than U I now realise how much I have travelled around the sun by God’s grace.

    Sundara Rao

    • Surjit Singh says:


      Thanks for the kind words.

      We youngsters have learnt a lot from you. And we can never re-pay that debt of gratitude. More than anything else you have proved that age is no bar for learning and filling life with ‘sixty seconds worth of distance run’



  25. Admiral R H Tahiliani says:

    Dear Surjit,
    You are still young. Last month,I finished 84 years.I feel fully fit and going about my work as hitherto. Warm regards,
    Ram Tahiliani

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Admiral,

      You always raise the bar for me!

      After seeing you, I have now revised my plans…I am going to take on bigger challenges!

      About ten years ago, you told me, “63 is no age!” I believed you and started writing. Now you tell me that 73 is young. And I trust you are right…I think on must sail on and on, until the Lord sends you a call. Age is just a number.

      We wish and pray that you are always there to remind us of this fact!


  26. T S Surendra says:

    Dear Sir,

    Wish you a very happy birthday. You have always been a well wisher, friend, philosopher and guide. You also had facilitated my finding the girl of my choice at IITD.

    Update about myself and my family. Latha has just retired from her PG College where she was teaching for close to 20 years. My son ARJUN, holding a MS degree in Environment Science from Rutgers NJ, is getting married on Mon 7th July. He is working at Hyderabad and his bride-to-be at Mumbai. He may relocate to Mumbai in due course of time. The invite is attached. Maybe you and Mrs Surjit can make it. We will be honoured. My daughter, Vaishnavi, after her IIT Madras course (5 year integrated MA program in Economics), MSc program at the London School of Economics has now been offered scholarship for a 5 year Ph.D program in Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. She leaves on 20th July. She is not interested in marriage right now.

    As for me I retired from the College where I was working for 10 years- HOD, Principal and finally Director. I now teach part-time in a Private Engineering College (3 times a week) and am a Guest Faculty at BITS PILANI, Hyderabad Campus. I am also involved with two private companies in an advisory role. This gives sufficient time to olay my Golf.

    How are things with your sons? The elder one and his wife are lawyers if I am right. How about the other son?

    My best personal regards to you and Mrs Surjit.



  27. Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh says:

    Dear Surjit Ji,

    As always, your writings are so interesting. Thank you very much for enlightening us on the continuous motion we are undergoing every minute.

    Happy b’day and may you celebrate in three figures.

    Yesterday I was attending a technical kind of discussion on M2M. One of the locals told me that a person was Chairman and CEO of a company till he passed away at 93!!! And he said whenever they went to him to discuss some issue or brief him, invariably they came out of his office with some bright ideas!! So no Sattar Bahattaria in his case!!

    Yes, as you have stated, we are with our children and grand children in California. Are scheduled to be back in mid Aug.

    Kind regards and best wishes.


    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Gen,

      Thanks. You are always kind to your younger brother!

      Whenever I see you, erect and soldierly, I feel young.

      Hope to meet you when you return.

      With best wishes for happy landings!


  28. C Udai Bhaskar says:

    many happy returns general saab….

    wishing you many more years of good health…..purpose….cheer and tranquility….

    u r far from ‘senile’……

    i have been reading your mails….with interest for some time

    warm rgds

    uday bhaskar

    navy – retired

    and recently turned 63….!…:)

    • Surjit Singh says:


      I am an admirer of your analyses and communication skills. Keep it up!

      Lage Raho, Munna Bhai ! You have many many years to go…and many ports to berth at!!!

      God Bless,

  29. Lt Gen T K Sapru says:


    Many Happy Returns of The Day.

    I sure do admire your outlook!!!

    May you go round the Sun another BAHATTAR times!!!!

    Warm regards,


  30. Vinod Bahl says:


    Many Happy Returns of The Day.

    I sure do admire your outlook!!!

    May you go round the Sun another BAHATTAR times!!!!

    Warm regards,


  31. Vinod Bahl says:


    Your writing is brilliantly simple, and also simply brilliant …..

    Vinod Bahl

  32. Lt Gen Avtar Singh says:

    Dear Surjit

    Wishing you a belated happy birthday
    I do not find any signs of senility.Your writings show you are becoming wiser and innovative.Every blog is better than the previous one.You may need more powerful glasses for reading but you intellectual vision is getting sharper.Looking forward to get your next blog.regards Avtar
    Sent from my iPad

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Avtar,
      Thanks. I think you are being kind.
      My grand daughter thinks differently. She tells me, “You tell the same things over and over again! Why don’t you make a note of all that you tell me so that you remember!”
      I suppose we are alright when in each other’s company…

  33. Col ABS Sidhu says:

    Hi Surjit ,

    Heartiest congratulations for crossing very important mile stone

    in your journey in this world .

    Gurmeet joins me in wishing you a very long , happy , healthy and

    fulfilling life . May all your wishes come true . God bless you .

    May we continue to hear wise words from you .

    With warm regards and best wishes .

    ABS Sidhu

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Your messages give me the strength and the motivation to do all this!
      Army gave us a decent life…but the camaraderie is the most precious!

  34. Suhas Thakar says:

    Dear Sir,

    Read your wonderful blogs and found them fascinating. Didnt know that the 19 th NDA had presented a sun dial to NDA as part of their 50 th anniversary. I am from 37 th NDA and Pune. Will make it a point to look it up when I visit NDA next.

    Pls keep writing and keep me on your mailing list


    Suhas Thakar

    Rimcollian /7318/I & 10786/Keren

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Suhas,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      I envy you Poona (or is it Pune?) wallas…You can just hop across and go down memory lane as often as you like!

      I have added you to my mailing list.

      Best wishes,


  35. Kohli Veena says:

    In continuation,

    Saturday 28th suits you fine but the date 26TH troubled me all along , till I read today ur time of birth… I had always known as before sunrise…. calculated over 2000 years ago and based on my COLLS- ZODIAC evolved over time…. I calculated Mahatmas tyme and General SK Sinha’s ,which he generally agreed as per his mom’s version of time… and Jesus Christs also, sad the Mahatma and Christ couldn’t confirm, till I read years later over the Internet ..also Princey Charles

    and based on my own and my pops and 200 of known relatives and friends lives …. I evolved the COLLS-ZODIAC …

    you have a rife and intellectual* mind… and always correctly laughed…. calling me a sooth sayer.. when I wanted to discuss…you never told me ur tob ….

    I have one* also minus the kind of ur intellect

    as I often tell folks…

    my mind is like Einstein’s … he had six cortices …normal human beings have 5 …and I have seven, his all worked …mine only does the seventh …hence the difference

    well whether you appreciate it or not … you were born on night 27/28th early morning …. ere sunrise

    thus your correct dob is

    27th Jun 1941 and Friday … a kindness EXALTED…… thus you became a Col Comdt I right?

    27 6 1941=30 ==CREATIVITY which undoubtedly is your forte par excellence … more later when you accept me not as a sooth sayer… but a pseudo scientist

    regards and warm wishes cee u


  36. Kohli Veena says:

    Our Dearest Surjit ji ,

    Firstly happy sunny rotation…

    glad to see you are still in rotation..

    we all are still in perpetual commotion…

    WE reside in Canada mostly

    last sibbling VIRJI, living in UNITED KINGDOM

    we meet seldom

    hence no chance to unite

    I had met him last in 1990…..

    we both it seems are living…

    chasing the same sun

    being followed by the only moon

    save, a different one at night

    in our bedroom…

    I nearly posted this one….

    on your intelligent sojourn

    but then something went off

    wrong button pressed as usual you know

    these words didn’t seem to glow

    and all went forlorn .

    well u and we are one to one let any kingdom come

    fair thee well my grandson comes now on skpe


  37. B S Karpe says:

    Dear Surjit,
    Bharati joins me in wishing you a very happy birthday and many happy returns of the day!
    You are just 73 years young, Surjit! As the old saying goes—woman is as old as she looks; a man is as old as he thinks. You are still young, Surjit, the white beard notwithstanding!! Keep it up, young man!
    With best wishes,
    Bhalu Karpe

  38. Rita Toor says:

    A very happy birthday to a very dear person who knows how to make other person feel good. May You complete a century so that we can enjoy your company for a longer time

  39. Kishan Bhatia says:

    Please remind him that in this age and date, 73 is not an old age. I turned 78 a few days ago. He has many years to go!
    Kishan Bhatia

  40. Col Sundara Raman says:

    Dear General,

    I had the privilege of visiting your website on the eve of your turning

    Seven scores and Two. And yes, I do appreciate you not contributing

    to the DOB controversy – we’ve enough of that anyway !

    Your write up is a perfect prescription for the restive minds of youngsters

    like me (65). I retired last month and since then am bothered about NOT

    having to run around any more. Your travelogue covering max distance in

    min time is truly something to ponder -and to reconcile to.

    Pray HE grant you Surjit Sir, a long happy life and us , the benefit of your wisdom.

    With best regards,

    Sundara Raman

    P.S: My only crib is your tail piece of tech info regarding the solar

    system. That somewhat dilutes your ‘emphis-maine’ which I’m sure

    is not on the magnitude but

    on the direction and purpose of travel of humanity.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Thanks for the kind words.
      Indeed, your complaint is justified! But as an Engineer, I tend to drift away into technology, and the poet in me gets diluted!
      I must learn to separate these two parts of my being!

  41. Maj Gen ashok Coomar (Retd) says:

    Dear veteran Surjit, though it is customary to present gifts to the the lucky person on his birthday but I find that you, on your birthday, have given us all such a wonderful gift by drawing our attention to the stark reality of the rat-race in which we waste our lives ignoring the celestial gifts the creator has endowed us with. In not too long an essay, you have so smoothly taken the reader from the worldly to the spiritual culminating into that piece from Geetanjali.
    Thanks and many many happy return of the day. May you keep enlightening us as skilfully to transform us into better humans.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear General Coomar,
      I find that you are just a year younger than me and a writer in your own right. Why not contribute something for this column!
      Regards, and thanks.

  42. Maj Gen A K Sharma says:

    Surjit,Unlike others who wish you a happy birthday,I have ventured to extricate few facts(only retrieved) that should give you lot of joy and hopefully add to so many facts about the proud race you belong to and we rejoice in having someone like you as friend.Here it is;
    The Sikh Review, Jan 2013, pages 43-46, gives some interesting details:-
    1. Sikhs raided the capital, Delhi, 17 times, finally deciding to capture it on 11 March 1783.
    2. Sikhs did not enter the Zenana Enclosure, since they respected womenfolk, where the Emperor and his courtiers had taken refuge.
    3. Sikhs did not plunder Delhi, but protected it with regular military horsemen patrols day and night, and crime went down during this period.
    4. Hari Ram Gupta, historian, reports in Volume III of his “History of Sikhs”:-
    (a). Sikhs appeared early in 1774 near Delhi, and the Mughal Emperor could not summon forces to oppose them. On 18 Jan 1774 Sikhs devasted Shahdara.
    (b). Sikhs attacked Crown Land near Delhi in Oct-Nov 1776.
    (c ). Sikhs ravaged outskirts of
    Capital in Sep – Oct 1778.
    (d). on 11 March 1783 attacked the Ref Fort under the command of Sardar Baghel Singh, and Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwlia sat on the Throne of the Emperor.
    (e). Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia captured 4 guns and a large variegated slab of stone measuring 6ft x 4ft x 9inches, which is still preserved in Ramgarhia Bunga at Amritsar.
    (f). Begum Samru arrived in the Capital on 12 March 1783, since the Emperor wanted her to negotiate with the Sikhs. The following terms were negotiated by the lady and Sardar Baghel Singh, which were then approved by the Emperor under his signature and Royal Seal:
    • The major portion of the Sikh Army would retire to Panjab
    • Sardar Baghel Singh would remain in the Capital with 4,000 troops
    • Sikhs would build 7 Gurdwaras at the places sacred to the Sikhs in the city of Delhi.
    • Sardar Baghel Singh would establish his headquarters at Sabzi Mandi.
    • To meet the expenses of his troops and the construction of Gurdwaras he was permitted to charge 6 annas in the rupee (37.5 percent) of all income from octroi duties in the Capital.
    • Sikhs would not misbehave in any way during their stay in the Capital.
    • Construction of the Gurdwaras must be finished as early as possible, but not beyond the current year.
    5. The Gurdwaras were completed by November 1783.
    6. Sardar Baghel Singh retired from the capital in December 1783.
    7. Sardar Baghel Singh was given a Khillat, fully caparisoned elephant, a horse, and a necklace of pearls. Four other Sardars, including Duleha Singh, also received Khillats.
    8. Sardar Baghel Singh was granted 12.5 percent of the octroi duties of Delhi to be remitted to him at his headquarters at Chhalondi, annually, on the condition that he would check the Sikhs from attacking the capital.
    9. Sikhs took away the stone slab on which sat the Emperor’s Throne, and this slab can be seen at the rear of Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple), in the corridor around the Holy Sarovar.
    10. Ghulam Qadir Khan captured the Red Fort and gouged out th eyes of the Emperor with his own dagger. He also made his queens dance naked. Three servants and two water-carriers who tried to help the Emperor were beheaded. This is in sharp contrast to the way Sikhs had behaved towards the Emperor, who was still treated with respect, although he had been militarily defeated.
    From me this is an appropriate birth day wish and I am sure,despite 73 yrs,in some measure, people like you will, for ever follow in the footsteps of stalwarts mentioned above. May you have many more years of a satisfying and blissful life.
    With best wishes-Ashu & Pratibha

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Ashendra and Pratibha ji,
      I have always considered myself as a part of the larger family, that is India or even mankind. Communities are meant to serve the whole, without seeking reward for every little thing done.
      As for the Sikhs, the masses are guided by their leaders. We have had good leaders, even great ones. But there have also been times when we have been burdened by self seeking and myopic individuals, who sullied the image.
      My prayer is”:
      Sabko sanmati de bhagwaan


  43. Surinder Dhaliwal says:

    First of all, Surjit ji we wish you a fantastic Birth Day. Healthy and fun filled many, many years to come.
    Thanks very much for such an interesting article. Love your view of travel and the facts on our celestial journey. Keep us entertained with your humour and unique point of view on mundane evry day things. God bless you and Surinder

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Gaddy ji,
      You are very kind with your words and liberal with affection! May the Lord give you good health and happiness.
      we look forward to your visit to India next month.
      Surjit & Surinder

  44. Surinder Dhaliwal says:

    First of all, Surjit ji we wish you a fantastic Birth Day. Healthy and fun filled many, many years to come.
    Thanks very much for such an interesting article. Love your view of travel and the facts on our celestial journey. Keep us entertained with your humour and unique point of view on mundane evry day things. God bless you and Surinder

  45. Satish Manocha says:

    Great Sir. Best original way to express our sojourn on this planet Earth, in a wise set of paras. Wish this journey could be longer & longer after attaining maturity. You have spoken from heart with beauty well observed from Nature, all gifted by the Almighty for all of us to enjoy; & not many of us notice. Wish to read & fully enjoy ( like this one) many more such paras again from you. Our wishes are not horses, and our senses are under-used, I feel. My family joins me in wishing you excellent health, Peace, Joy, the Best of Bliss on this important day,today; the day you were first welcomed to planet Earth. Lucky for me, that I also came to this planet 3 & half years later at the same place ( Farukha near Silanwali) where you were welcomed by Mother Earth. From my inner heart Greetings Sir.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Your mails always remind me of Faruka…and Shiv Lal uncle! Indeed, I suspect that you may not be able to remember much about Faruka. Even I was only a little over six when we left (or, were forced to flee)
      With love to every one in the family,

  46. Ram Gupta says:

    It looks that you joined the army by accident.

    You could have done much better as a writer or a creative artist.

    God bless.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      I am told life itself is a result of an accident!
      As far as I am concerned, it was our father’s posting to the IMA in 1949 which drew me into the Army.
      And Sir, Army also permits creativity!

  47. Vipan Passi says:

    And wishing you a very happy birthday and good health.

  48. Vipan Passi says:

    Sir, how beautifully described …. how sweetly written ! A pleasure to read.

    May I add my two-penny’s worth …. We are also enjoying a permanent free ride of a merry-go-round, sitting on the earth rotating on its axis at a blazing speed of 28 km/min, (Noida to Gurgaon in one minute), without ever feeling dizzy, watching the day and night pass by!

    There’s so much wonder everywhere around us, and still we talk of only seven wonders of the world!

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Thanks. Just for the sake ‘guftagu’ permit me to add that the speed of motion depends on the latitude. At the Equator, it is 28 kmph. But it drops to about half of this figure in North Europe and of course on the Poles, it is ZERO!
      But there are a few more forms of travel. One is on flights of imagination. That can exceed the speed of light. And during the youth there are fantasies which most of us indulge in!
      Love to all of you.

  49. yogi says:

    Brilliant and moving account, Surjit.
    My blessings and best wishes on the A nniversary of the journey.
    Gurudev’s quote is telling about the elusive destination.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear General,
      Thanks for your kind words. They mean a lot to me.
      Gurudev Tagore has been a great source of inspiration for many of us. His poems have the same depth as the Scriptures. I think he attained Sainthood early in his life.

  50. Joseph Thomas says:

    ”A son was born, just before the Sun rose on Saturday, the 28th Jun 1941”
    Add the 9 months you piggybacked with your Mom and you have travelled a wee bit more than calculated.

    Happy birthday and best wishes for the next 73 orbits.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Thanks. I considered your suggestion, but did not accept it. Because those nine months are not in my account. For one thing, I could not see the Sun and the moon with my own eyes.
      Now, Gen Passi has suggested that I should add the journey performed with the rotation of the Earth. It does add to the distance, though not too much.
      The Sun is in motion on a spiral path and that might add another dimension. But the journeys which I perform while day-dreaming would be another feature to consider.

  51. Dave Sood says:

    Happy Birthday Surjeet!

    We all know that we travel Round the sun but your description and speed is very impressive.

    Travel abroad is a must as my Susral is Ina NYC. The urge to come back is very strong after a stay of one or two weeks.

    May all your travels this year bring you much happiness.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Dave,
      You are always amongst the first to respond to my ‘flights of imagination’
      I think you and Mrs Sood should write a piece (duly illustrated from your rich collection of pictures) for the ‘Guftagu’ It shall be of interest to many of your friends and even strangers!

  52. K.P.Deswal says:

    Totally agree with you.Still remember Lt.Gen.A.S.Bhullar’s advice of making a check list for all the jobs to do. Did so when I proceeded abroad first time but as you point out things get added and the list gets bulkier. Still love to travel though having been around the sun a number of times. But always of the view no place like home and to sleep in your own bed.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear General,
      Indeed, going around the Sun (struck to the surface of the Earth) is no substitute for going places ON the Earth!
      My piece was a mere flight of imagination…like a day dream. And that is yet another form of visiting places and meeting people.

  53. K.P.Deswal says:

    Totally agree with you.Still remember Lt.Gen.A.S.Bhullar’s advice of making a check list for all the jobs to do. Did so when I proceeded abroad first time but as you point out things get added and the list gets bulkier. Still love to travel though having been around the sun a number of times. But always of the view no place like home and to sleep in your own bed.

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