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Army life on the frontier, regardless of where that frontier is situated, is much the same today as it was for the legions of Rome or the regiments of the East India Company. It is uniformly dull and boring, enlivened slightly by training maneuvers and war games, and made somewhat bearable only by routine dinners and social gatherings hosted by colonels, generals, and their wives.
Colonel Mahip Chadha spent over thirty years in the Indian Army. This novelized version of his experiences focuses mostly on the rather mundane existence of garrison life, including the challenge of raising a family on army pay and on army bases. “Life moved in its own tranquil manner at Almora,” writes the colonel of the small hill town near the fort where most of the story takes place. This is a region so dull and removed that “one could only become a drunk or an educated lunatic.”
Soljer, Soljer does have a few exciting military moments, however. While the Indian Army has not fought a major war in over forty years, it is on a constant state of alert for terrorists and insurgents who attempt to infiltrate the border from neighboring Pakistan. A few such incidents punctuate the book, and the resulting skirmishes and subsequent casualties serve as serious counterpoints to the otherwise quiet and pacific symphony that is the daily life of a garrison soldier.
There is also a rather spectacular, bloody, and exotic regimental barbecue centered upon the sacrificial slaughter of a water buffalo whose head must be removed with a single stroke lest the regiment suffer bad luck for the coming year. This and other events unique to the traditions of the Indian Army, and, in particular, its Gorkha Rifles Regiment, add spice to what could otherwise be the memoirs of any long-serving officer in almost any peacetime army in history.
Most American and other Western audiences will have difficulty with the colonel’s English. His prose is liberally splattered with Hindi and Punjabi words, titles, and sayings that only fans of Rudyard Kipling and other writers of the former British Raj will comprehend. A glossary of terms or footnotes would have been helpful for those non-Indian readers who are unfamiliar with this and other Anglo-Indian slang which the author uses.
The lack of such explanations in an edition meant for American readers is a serious and sad failing that makes this otherwise fine book far less accessible to any audience outside of India or the Indian community overseas. This failure is all the more surprising as the colonel apparently understands his own limitations on this score, noting after one humorous passage that “such jokes lose their flavour when they are narrated in English—they make you laugh your guts out only when narrated in Punjabi!”
Mark McLaughlin
October 25, 2012

 Mahip Chadha I have posted two reviews from two very well known outfits. I respect their views but veritably the knowledge of India ,its people and our customs are difficult to comprehend without visiting this country!Mark finds it tough going when confronted with Nepalese,Hindi,Punjabi and Indian English!We have no such issues when confronted with Italian,French and Hispanic or even Latin incantations!But yes --there should have been a glossary!HAPPY READING!

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Soljer Soljer

Colonel Mahip Chadha
AuthorHouse, 197 pages, (paperback) $16.95, 9781467067393
(Reviewed: October, 2012)
This novel tells the story of two generations of soldiers in the Indian Army, both serving in the same fictional battalion of the Third Gorkha Rifles. The story mainly focuses on the eldest, Surinder Singh Sahni, as he rises in the ranks and becomes a respected officer, but his son Jaskaran has a most unusual career, leading combat missions against terrorists. While Surinder's tale is more concerned with the routine of military life, with training, inspections, and postings to different camps, Jaskaran's is much more dramatic, involving pitched night assaults, amnesia, and unintentional bigamy. In fact, readers may wonder whether the novel should have starred Jaskaran.
While the novel certainly provides a strong flavor for life in the Indian military, many English-speaking readers may find it difficult going. The characters frequently speak entire paragraphs in various Indian languages, some of which are rendered into English afterwards, but some of which remain without a translation. The military jargon can also be difficult to decipher, especially when describing Pakistanis, variously referred to as "POK," "Pakis," and other names. In addition, an editor would have caught the numerous misspellings, punctuation errors, and overuse of exclamation marks and italics.
Still, the narrator's voice is quite distinctive and full of humor, and the locations described in such exotic detail will both entertain and educate readers willing to give the novel a chance. While perhaps not the best introduction to the subject, Soljer Soljer makes a powerful case for the virtues of India and its military.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.
Author’s Current Residence
New Delhi, India

 Mahip Chadha Americans cannot easily visualise the Indian sub continent and its nuances. The names are not familiar and the geography is not clear so as to provide a clear perspective of the story.They are more familiar with the Middle East.It is not entirely their fault because many of oir own countrymen are dumbfounded with the Southern and the North Eastern parts of our country!I hope readers will appreciate my first attempt--it has a few shortcomings but i hope you like the story and our customs!

 Mahip Chadha I wish to add a review by Ms Prem Chand of the India Post.
Colonel Mahip Chadha has written “Soljer, Soljer” published by Author House, an absorbing fictionalized account of an infantry battalion of The Third Gorkha Rifles. The book is crammed with stories of the 800 men, their lives, codes of honor, bravery, fortitude, national integration and more importantly the invaluable contribution of the Armed Forces to the country.

The Indian Army to many is an abstract image of soldiers in their glittering finery on Republic Day strutting down the roads of New Delhi or a vague stirring of loyalty when the soldiers are involved in skirmishes on the borders of India. There are no big wars at the moment but we are jolted out of our complacency by this compelling page turner of a book. In effective detail
Colonel Chadha writes with personal insightful detail of men who train rigorously with determination, intelligence, drawing deeply on physical and mental strengths and filled with an unswerving devotion to tradition, values, brotherhood, family and country. They are profiled in this engrossing book that blends reality and fiction.

It is the story of a father Surinder Singh Sahni and his son Jaskaran serving together in the Sixth Battalion of the Indian Armed Forces and introduces fascinating characters, dangerous missions and the hardships of military life. And then Jaskaran goes missing, believed killed after a skirmish with enemy militants. The daughter in law has to battle her own traumatic problems while Surinder Singh has to make a crucial decision as head of the family.

Within the parameters of the plot, the author captures the rigorous discipline of smart drill practice, marching at 140 paces per minute, and chronicles in interesting detail of bugle calls, boxing matches, celebratory bottles of rum , pampering Army wives, evenings of song and dance, marriage life in a cantonment, boisterous pranks on one another, bawdy jokes, and brotherhood.

And then there is the clarion call to duty. Hail, sleet, bitter winds, scorching heat and flies, the ravages of hunger, tasteless food. The book is fast paced story telling with vivid descriptions providing insights and often genuinely funny. Admiring portraits of soldiers and the breezy prose sets the tone for capturing the experience of the Indian Army.

Colonel Chadha served in one of the finest battalions of the world which distinguished itself in World War 1 by winning two of the first Victoria Crosses in the War. He himself served for 34 years in the Army and then worked in civilian jobs till he retired as the President of Helios Aviation, New Delhi. He is also the author of Grits, Guts and Gallantry a book that motivates young people to consider a career in the Army.

The book has a compelling Foreword by Lt Gen Mohan Bhandari of the Garhwal Rifles who commandeers our attention by stating there are a definite lack of awareness about matters military and the sacrifices of the Armed Forces for the country.


 Mahip Chadha I must thank Ms Prem Kishore for taking the trouble of writing a full page review about SOLJER SOLJER.Her effort is laudable because she has gone deep into the book and not just skimmed over it!I am grateful that small details have been covered and the crux of the content and its message laid bare!
Thank you!I could not have written a better review about an alien subject!

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