pranjal  S kumar


Introducing Ms Pranjal Subhash

I first met this charming young lady in Neelambur, where her father, Dr Subhash Kumar was serving as the Principal of PEEVEES Public School, in Nilambur,  near Kozhikode (Calicut)  in Kerala. He had invited me for their Founders’ day. I must confess that I enjoyed every minute of my sojourn in that fabulous institution which was extremely well managed by Dr Kumar. Every member of the family has an academic talent. Consequently, Dr Kumar has been the Principal of several schools all over India.

 During this visit, I also got an opportunity to meet Brig PT Gangadharan, whom I admire for his courage and equanimity.

A few months ago, the family had gone to the hills in Himanchal Pradesh, and on their way back, they dropped in, to look me up. I learnt that Pranjal is now pursuing her graduation in a newly established Institution in Kalyani, near Kolkata. She shared a secret with me. She told me that in the hotel where they stayed, there was on Internet coverage. And that led to an unexpected phenomenon…the family  ‘discovered’ their own kinsfolk! For the first time in several months, they were talking amongst themselves!

As I was going through the ‘web’ I discovered that the English lexicon has invented a new word to describe this phenomenon. It is called ‘phubbing’. It means,

“The practice of ignoring one’s companion or companions in order to pay attention to one’s phone or other mobile device”

Indeed, this new invention has seriously invaded into our private lives. And, I am in total agreement with Pranjal. For those who may not know, the Hindi word ‘Pranjal’ means

Honest or soft, Dignified, Simple, Self-respecting, Sincere

And if you read through the piece, you will agree that the young lady has lived up to her name!



In a zone without a smartphone

by Ms. Pranjal Subhash

How often do we get out of our pretentious worlds to all intents and purposes enjoy what we pretend to be enjoying?  Scarcely ever.

“Have a nice flight”, said the air hostess handing over our boarding passes to us, with a smile that seemed plastered to her face, evidently under obligation to her job and nothing more. I smiled back so vaguely that after a moment I found myself wondering whether my minuscule smile even qualified as one. This in turn made me think of how difficult it has become these days to witness a genuine smile. A smile like that of my grandma back home, who greets everyone she meets with an ingenuous smile, simply bereft of artificiality. I wished I could smile naturally like that.

I walked ahead with my parents and brother towards our boarding gate. At about every ten metres people were busy clicking shots of themselves from a high angle, exaggerating the size of the eyes and giving the impression of a slender pointed chin, or simply put, “Selfies”, a fancy locution not many had a hint about until a few years back. Well, it’s a term that is so clichéd now that this whole description sounds funny (not funnier than the selfie itself however).

It would be after years that we’d be travelling to Himachal together. Seated in the lobby we were all busy with our own devices. My brother was busy playing FIFA on his iPad. My parents were busy on their individual phones. I, as usual, was pointlessly scrolling down Facebook. My thumb had been accustomed to opening the Facebook app on my phone, even subconsciously. There was a little boy, perhaps five years old, sitting next to me. He was looking at the picture of a tree in a magazine. With a pinch gesture he tried to zoom in the picture in the page. After a failed attempt he grabbed his Mom’s phone, clicked a picture of the page and then began to zoom in.  

In the flight, I occupied the aisle. There was a young girl sitting next to me. With an expression that somebody from my grandma’s generation might compare to a fish taking water into its mouth to breathe, she clicked a selfie. After a lot of trial and error she singled out a filter and posted her picture on Instagram after which she updated her Facebook status. (Point to be noted: you are not travelling if you don’t update your Facebook status!). I put on my eye mask and went to sleep.

After collecting our luggage from the Delhi airport we started moving outside, to where a pre-booked cab would be waiting for us. On the travelator was a boy of about 15, who was live on Facebook to telecast this amazing event of walking on a travelator! Suddenly he tripped over his own bag but managed to get up and walk away. (I’m sure that must have hurt).

The next morning on our way to Dharamshala from Delhi by road, we stopped for breakfast at Sukhdev, a restaurant that is renowned for its parathas. In spite of it being huge and spacious the restaurant was swarming with people. We had to wait for a while to get a table for four. One gentleman, clicked a photo of his paratha and posted it on all possible social networking sites with captions like “Enjoying the paratha at Sukhdev”. I wonder if he actually had time to relish the taste of it amidst the hectic task of counting the likes for his posts and replying to comments. (I know I shouldn’t have peeked in, but what else can one to do while waiting for a table). After a delectable breakfast and an elaborate photo session, we resumed our journey.

I couldn’t be sure if I was dreaming of the sight I beheld after I awoke in the car, a few hours later. “Wow. Look at those mountains”, I exclaimed to my brother who was already adoring the scenery, long before I did. After a while I asked my brother to pose for a selfie in the car. In awe of the sight I kept clicking photos all along, wondering which ones I could post. “‘En route Dharamshala’, should be a good caption for my post”, I thought to myself. I was lost neither in the beauty of the place nor in the wonderful company of my family, but in my phone’s photo editor.

Our stay was arranged amidst the woods in a place that was about ten kilometres away from the small town of Dharamshala.  The very reason we had chosen the place was that unlike other places this wouldn’t be thronging with people. Reaching the site we discovered that all mobile networks were scanty. To add to it, that evening my phone fell in water. I had to disassemble all its parts and leave it to dry.

pranjal III

The next morning all of us awoke at about four thirty, as planned the previous night. It was perhaps the first time in many years that I awoke so early. My phone did not work still, my dad’s phone was completely drained of charge and so was my mom’s phone. Helplessly we had to leave all our phones in our rooms. With our small backpacks on, we set out to tread and explore the woods.

In no time we were amidst the tall trees. The phantom silence was stunning. There was no movement initially except the breaking of twigs beneath our feet. I could feel the purity in the air. The different scents that drifted across the woods were a treat to my olfactory receptors. From the gaps between lofty trees a faint light of the rising sun revealed the various hues of brown in the woods. Mingled with the soil, grass and twigs beneath, rocks added their greys to the ground. And then to break the silence, at first light was a tremendous outburst of chirping birds.

pranjal IV

After the quietude was interrupted by the birds, we began to speak too. I rediscovered that my dad is well equipped with humour and precision comic timing. With his endless supply of wonderful stories and our own additions to it, the four of us were thoroughly entertained as we walked along. My mom unravelled her poetic side, amid which I too tried my hand at some impromptu poetry, though mine sounded more like a nursery rhyme than a poem! “How far can you throw this stone?”, my brother asked picking up a pebble from the ground. And we began challenging each other on who could throw pebbles farther.  The sounds of our laughter and pebbles hitting the tree stems resonated across the woods. Could I ever have captured this whole feeling on my phone? Never, but surely I could etch it to memory, which I effortlessly did.

pranjal V

As we walked further my eyes travelled to the edge of the woods, which now seemed to be a silhouette against a backdrop of the mighty snow-capped Himalayas.  The woods ended and we could now clearly see the sun peeking out of the majestic, white mountains, touching the pristine sky. We walked further down along a meadow, to reach a stream of clear gushing water on the banks of which sat rocks, beautifully carved by nature. I let my fingers run over the chilly flowing water. And there was a broad smile on my face, a genuine one this time. I did not have to wonder if my smile qualified as one, unlike I had wondered at the airport. We were a million worlds away from the concrete jungles and high-tech lifestyles. I was thankful that none of us carried our phones along. There was nothing that could shackle us against being at one with our own selves.

Prnajal I

In a world where selfies have become more important than being our own selves, where our Facebook statuses have become more relevant than the state of our minds, where we are so indulged in Snapchat that we forget to chat with people around us, where we have time to Tweet but no time to listen to the twitter of birds, where our true smiles are miles away from us, can we ever experience true contentment? It would only do us good to sometimes lift up our heads from our glaring smartphone screens and feel the world around us. 

Smart phones

I was fortunate to study in a few of the most premier institutes of the country, namely: 

Chinmaya International Residential school, Coimbatore

Peevees Public School, Kerala and BK Birla Centre for Education, Pune




Pranjal Subhash, in her own words:

I am a fourth year student pursuing my BS-MS in Physics in the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata which is a premier science education and research institute in India, created by the Government of India, through the Ministry of Human Resource Development(MHRD). I am a DST-INSPIRE fellow.  I’m passionate about public speaking and have a love for creative writing. Apart from academia, I have also been able to excel in sports. I am a keen enthusiast of sports. I love reading. I believe I have good leadership skills as well and I always make sure to give my best to whatever I do. I strongly believe in the quote by Aristotle that says, “Quality is not an act, it is a habit”. 



 A Tailpiece

I am impelled to recall a poem by Wordsworth, which I read during my school days:


The World Is Too Much With Us

By William Wordsworth


The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.



  1. Surjit Singh says:

    Good to hear from you, as always.
    We look forward to a piece from you. If you write something about the IMA, with the focus on your illustrious father, it will be very well received.
    Regards for Promila from both of us.

  2. Anil Sunita says:


  3. Manu Chaudhary says:


    Good evening
    It’s absolutely true. Family Time has become a Past Tense and it’ll be Good if we can break the Jinx and keep Technology on the back-burner lest we miss out on the more important things in Life_FAMILY

    Regards and Best Wishes,
    Lieutenant Colonel Manu Chaudhary,(Veteran)

  4. Samay Ram says:

    Dear Surjit,
    Thanks.I think we have lost our touch with the nature and everything appears so artificial. I think Ms Pranjal has a
    a message.
    Maj Gen Samay Ram

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Samay,
      The more I see of the next generation, the more I find that they think and write much better than we did.
      We are in safe hands…the future of our country is bright!

  5. ernest rozario says:

    Thank you Surjit!. Yes, I agree with the young lady. The Cell should have remained as a Mobile Phone to enable instant contact from where ever and whenever. The add-ons were, and are, inevitable Recall the RS-62 with its heavy btys and the relief when the light wt AN PRC made its appearance. I’m a dunce and can only use it as a phone and for SMSs.

    Cheerio for now, and take care, Ernest.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Yes. Excess of everything is bad. And mobile phones are no exception.
      Soon, the pendulum will swing towards the other direction…

  6. Mahavir S Jagdev says:

    Good one, Sir.

  7. Narindra Bhatia says:


    I read the article with GREAT interest & byoung author has awesome talent. I posted my comments as under BUT I wonder why it was NOT being accepted as message came ‘ You have already posted this comment’ or words to that effect. My comments are as under that may be shared for larger audience & specially I wanted them to be read by Lt Gen Vijay Madan (Retd).

    ‘I enjoyed her travelogue immensely..yes our mobiles ,ipads, laptops & selfies have overtaken our lives…I served in the army when our forces letters were the only means of communication & letters & new years cards fetched me on long range patrol (LRP) left before Christmas in end Feb of the next year in Mizoram!
    I though 75 years old love traveling with my wife, children, grand children & our pet lab ‘Happy Bhatia’. Those interested can read my two latest travelogues on Ghumakkar- Delhi to Ramgarh –
    & ‘Sojourn in Misty Lansdowne -
    Notwithstanding that the modern gadgetry has strained human relations and emotions, its benefits are immense. It bridges distances, space and times. Without reading this article & writing these comments, I would not have been able to trace Lt Gen Vijay Madan whom I served as GSO 2 (MI-23) when he went as the Military Attache in the Indian High Commission in London nearly 40 years back. He is coursemate of my late brother Maj PN Bhatia, VrC of 6 KUMAON of Walong fame & General Madan would be too pleased to learn that his late coursemate Prem bhatia’s son Arvind again 6 KUMAON has picked up rank of Maj Gen yesterday only (1 Oct).

    Warm regards,

    Col NN Bhatia (Retd)

  8. Vijay Madan says:

    Txs Surjit.
    My very sincere compliments to the young lady. May her pen continue to write as beautifully and powerfully with as much sincerity. Since she has quoted Wordsworth may I commend to her his equally apt poem, “Ode On intimations of Immortality From Recollections of Early Childhood”.
    Txs once again.
    Vijay Madan

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear General,
      Your blessings mean a lot to the young lady.
      She is a bright lady, and an IAS aspirant. I am sanguine that the Civil Services will benefit when she joins the Service.
      She comes from a family where the value system takes precedence over everything else. And that is rare in the world today.

  9. Dharam Paul Sabharwal says:

    Dear Sir
    Thanks for sharing a beautiful piece.
    The feelings of ‘young girl’ are shared by a veteran as well.
    I am giving the link of an article on the same subject penned by me.

    Wg Cdr DP Sabharwal

  10. Raj Kadyan says:

    Dear General,

    Ms Pranjal indeed has a perceptive mind and a racy, descriptive pen. Wishing her an illustrious future.

    With best regards,

    Lt Gen Raj Kadyan

  11. Gulu Hora says:

    Absolutely without a doubt God be with her always.Why the reduction in the forwards Sir.Cheers !!

  12. zal kabraji says:

    My dear General,
    Thanks for sharing this lovely piece. The young lady is very correct–I think at times we take modern tech gadgets far too seriously—after all when all this did not exsist we were still able to move on with our lives & at times in a much better fashion !
    One thing for sure we are losing out on certain human contact & values–I’m not sure if this is really a good thing–may also well be the cause for many social evils in today’s times.
    Thanks & warm regards,
    Zal R.Kabraji.

  13. Ritu Bhanot says:

    Namasté uncle ji,

    Thank you for your e-mail and sharing this article.

    I am unable to see this website but thanks to bhaiya now I know that if nothing works then all I have to do is use a Proxy Server i.e. Kproxy ( Server is the one that I use now.

    I will read this article and others as well now.

    I am working on a small translation project this week and of course, a transcreation work that we know :-)

    Hope to hear from you soon.

  14. J Thomas says:

    The cartoon has summed it up. I have escaped from WhatsApp and the smart phone. Life is better without them.

  15. SURENDRA says:

    Simply brilliant Sir

  16. SS Mann says:

    Dear Pranjal,
    Going through the list of Schools in which you have been educated, I think you would have developed a very well rounded personality.
    And what did it feel to be the daughter of the Principal? It must have placed a lot of responsibility on you to perform well. And I can see that you have not disappointed any one!

    • Pranjal says:

      Thank you! It sure was my privilege to have completed my schooling from a few of the premier institutes of the country. I shall most definitely pen down my thoughts some day, on how it felt being the daughter of a principal.

  17. Gul Dost says:

    Dear Gen Surjit,
    I think you have identified a talented writer. Let us hope that she will contribute more pieces for your blog!

  18. Surinder says:

    At the outset, I must say, that you have a very exclusive name. And I am glad to know that it has such a profound meaning!
    Indeed, you have been able to put across your views in a very effective manner. We also experience this nuisance, sometimes. I think some kind of an etiquette will have to be devised to keep this menace in check.

  19. Ramgopal says:

    Very well written. This young lady will go places. Wish her the best.

  20. Very good stories and ot of information

  21. Dave Sood says:

    Pranjal is a natural writer and a story teller. Makes it a smooth read.

    The poem written so many years ago holds good taday.

    Wish her great success in her well chosen career.

  22. Brig Surinder Singh says:

    I just returned from Dharamshala….saw many lovely places but the pictures in this blog are really pretty. The cartoons sum up the story.

    A lovely piece!


  23. Lt Gen RK Gaur says:

    I have forwarded this link to all my friends

  24. Brig PT Gangadharan says:

    Forwarded to all my friends,
    Brig PT Gangadharan

  25. yoginder says:

    Pranjal is truly gifted. She writes from the heart- so lucid and lyrical. My prophecy- this young lady is going places;and I wish her all the best in life.

  26. A great article by Pranjal . The art of living in a digital world , fighting a battle with virtual persona constantly at the cost of real life pleasures and fresh air is to blend it intelligently and avoid being a slave to the gadgets. Irrespective of the generational gap , we all face this situation everyday.

    A break from the gadgets is necessary occasionally to rewind and rediscover our true self – a freedom from Selfies.

    Thank you Gen Surjit for sharing the blog with us.

  27. S.M.SINGH WG CDR (RETD) says:


  28. Maj. Gen. Basant Bhatia says:

    An attractive & thought provoking article by Pranjal. Made me feel for a moment the futility of possessions like ‘smart phones’. May be it is a necessity to move forward in a digital world. Let us move on & meet more people in flesh & blood & not just be smart in expressing that we wish to meet them.

    Keep writing, I liked your content & style.

  29. Maj Gen Ashok Coomar says:

    An interesting account of mundane happenings during such family outings which most of us enjoy and soon forget without a mention in our diary or a personal journal. We realise this failing only when we read such essays by some one else.
    But this helps us recall our own memories which now appear far more precious that they actually were.
    Thanks Pranjal for enhancing the joy of recalling our distant past.

  30. Vijay Madan says:

    What an amazing and delightful article. Consummate writer. Bless you.
    Thanks Surjit.
    Vijay Madan (retd)
    Lt Gen

  31. Ajay Chandele says:

    Dear Surjit Sir,
    Well written by Pranjal.Agree with you about the rose and thorn analogy-Smart phones make us quite dumb too.
    Incidentally, Promilla and I were in Kerala from 15-24 Sept. Cochin, Guruvayur,Kozhikode,Marari Beach Resort. The trip to Kozhikode was only to meet Padma and Gangs- long time colleagues.

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