Beyond Horizons

  • I just don’t share my Single Malts but I would love to have a toast with Maj. Singh.
  • The best part about this autobiography is that it has been written not for targeted readers.
  • And it certainly does not look like that this is his first foray in book writing.

I haven’t met many army men but who so I have met are quite deceptive, obviously so. They all show that they are very naive go happy guy. Go happy guy they are but very bright, intelligent and ….one can add more adjectives. Maj. Singh is no different. I have known Maj. Singh for more than two decades but meeting sporadically. For me he was another army man, having a good knowledge of machinery, (he has three-four or may be more vehicles, some modified by himself, others though he has not modified himself but has knowledge about them) and the person who sailed around the world in a yacht.

Now on to the book:

The book can has this as its tag line: Sailing into the Rainbow

Major A.K. Singh, the first disabled person ever to sail round the world on a sailing boat,  manages to demystify various notions for the common readership : simplicity is part of dreaming, courage can be –in fact is – an affair of simply getting it done!

The reader is taken on three simultaneous journeys – While one is a delightful travelogue which kindles the desire to visit all the exotic lands and people that Trishna and her crew sailed to round the globe, the other is a hair raising adventure of survival round the world tossed about on a small boat, thousands of miles from anywhere at all, where only their sound and sturdy boat and their seamanship comes between them and imminent disaster. The third is the parallel journey of demystifying what goes into the making of – as Asha puts it – ‘These  bloody Army guys’ from the raw ‘bloody civilian’ who joined military training, either at age eleven to the military schools, or aged sixteen to the defence academy.

Delightfully different for an Army man writing!

To those who do not get charged up and bristles rising, on the description of raw nature’s fury,  and – at times – its grandeur;  the description of the sailing may drag a bit, but is amply covered up by the insightful and absorbing descriptions of small yet significant happenings around boat and crew – each one conveying in simple words the level of vigilance, seamanship demanded for a small boat crew to simply survive a storm, or a whale attack, in the middle of the Pacific or Atlantic – thousands of miles from anywhere.

We are thankful to Major Singh – unless told in the vivid yet simplified way in his style – it would have been impossible to really imagine what all has gone into the voyage – right from planning, paucity of funds, – on one instance at a port, paying for their frugal dinner with the last postage stamps they had, which had been purchased to post their letters with,   or – not having money to enter world renowned museums in historical Crete, despite being at the museum gates!

Asha’s descriptions of AK’s amputation, his deep unshakable urge – simply translated as ‘will power’, to sail round the world, their letters to each other as the voyage progresses, takes us into the mind of a woman of courage – It becomes easy to understand who is behind an army man on our frontiers, and how and why he delivers – as AK says – every ‘clone’ ‘manufactured’ by the phenomenal ‘officer factory’ – our military academies –  delivers in face of odds, almost to the man.

The book is set to win the hearts of readers across the spectrum, as it weaves values, pride, courage all woven into an amazing story – of six men on a small boat on a mission to sail round the world.

Team spirit by the crew of Trishna is woven into the story in anecdotes. When his watch mate Bharti and he are working on the wildly jumping foredeck in a fierce storm, and AK has a nasty fall on his jaw, nearly cracking it, Bharti grabs him by his collar, only to have an equally nasty fall himself. The interdependence of the crew for the sheer sake of survival and the success of their mission to sail round the world is amply clear as AK takes us on the amazing journey round the world in a sailing boat.

It is a book will that rivet the reader, taking him from one story within another story, a book that may be un-put-down able for many, certainly one difficult to beat in the field of ‘civilian’ story telling by an army man.

It seems Major Singh has followed in spirit the words of his mentor, the legendary Ronnie Pereira who is quoted in the very last line of the book – “Your voyage has entirely been a most memorable one, and I do hope someone will sit down and write a book. I think it is absolutely necessary for the younger generation.”


From Good read

In 1987, thirty-seven-footer Trishna, crewed by army officers, became the first Indian boat to circumnavigate the globe. They braved rogue waves sweeping away life-saving equipment, sailed through pods of whales frolicking perilously close, survived the worst storm to have hit Sydney in nearly a century, taking over fifteen months and covering over fifty thousand kilometres.

Major A.K. Singh, one of the members of this historic crew, vibrantly describes the epic voyage. His impressions of training at the National Defence Academy in Pune by men of integrity, who shaped his values in life, are humorous and sardonic. Later, as an army officer, he planned a sail around the world in a sailing boat. Fate struck—his leg was tragically amputated consequent to a hang gliding crash. Could he still sail round the world? Did he still want to?

Disclosing the making of the Indian army officer with anecdotes and real-life examples of his comrades, several of whom have since lost their lives in valiant action, A.K. dwells upon the richness of life, irrespective of tribulations and disabilities. ‘Living it right’ for him is larger than the record he sets inadvertently—becoming the first physically handicapped person to sail around the world in a yacht.

Beyond Horizons describes a rousing adventure, and is a humbling yet inspiring tribute to the indomitable human spirit.

Major Ashok Kumar Singh is the first physically handicapped yachtsman to sail around the world in a yacht. Schooled at the Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun, Major Singh is also an alumnus of the National Defence Academy (NDA) and the Indian Military Academy (IMA). He was awarded the President’s Gold Medal at the NDA, and the Sword of Honour as well as the President’s Gold Medal at the IMA. He was commissioned into the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army. He has been decorated with the Kirti Chakra and the Sena Medal for gallantry by the army, and the President of India’s Tenzing Norgay National Award for adventure.

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