MILITARY LEADERSHIP OLQ PARADOX – “YESMANSHIP” versus LEADERSHIP – HOW CAN GOOD FOLLOWERS MAKE GOOD LEADERS?

August 21, 2014

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: MILITARY LEADERSHIP – CAN GOOD FOLLOWERS MAKE GOOD LEADERS – “YESMANSHIP” versus LEADERSHIP.

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Link to my original post in my blog: MILITARY LEADERSHIP – CAN GOOD FOLLOWERS MAKE GOOD LEADERS – “YESMANSHIP” versus LEADERSHIP

“YESMANSHIP” versus LEADERSHIP

HOW CAN GOOD FOLLOWERS MAKE GOOD MILITARY LEADERS ?
Ramblings of a Retired Mind
By
VIKRAM KARVE

LEADERSHIP IN UNIFORM

THE “OFFICER LIKE QUALITIES” (OLQ) NON SEQUITUR

If you wonder why, at times, the military leadership seems clueless on taking decisions well within it purview and seeks “guidance” from politicians and bureaucrats, maybe the answer lies in the promotion policies of the Military Human Resource (HR) Management System.

The promotion policy of the navy (and army) is based on the premise:

“Good Followers make Good Leaders”

Yes, promotion in the military is based on absurd logic, a contradiction in terms, on the non sequitur:

“You have to learn how to follow in order to lead”

Is this statement not an incongruity in itself?

How can the ability to lead depend on the ability to follow ?

It is just like saying that the ability to swim depends on the ability to sink

Good Followers carry out decisions made by others. 

Followers are required to blindly obey orders without questioning.

Good Followers are not expected to use their own ingenuity.

They must simply “do what they are told”.

Good Followers must never act on their own initiative or “make waves” or “rock the boat”.

Good followers are “yes-men”.

The basic hypothesis of the military promotion system is: “good followers make good leaders”

Hence, in the military, it is mostly “yes-men” who rise up the promotion ladder and get catapulted to leadership positions.

Ideally, in theory, “officer-like-qualities” like professional competence, integrity, patriotism, honesty, straightforwardness, single-mindedness-of-purpose, brashness, and the ability to call a spade a spade by bluntly speaking out your mind, are desirable in combat officers.

However, in practice, especially in peacetime cantonment soldiering, these very same idealistic “officer-like-qualities” may adversely affect the career prospects of an officer in comparison to his more “tactful” morally-pliable peers who “ego-massage” their superiors, practice “yes sir yes sir three bags full sir” yes-man-ship and grovel with sycophancy in front of their seniors.

Well, I have seen this happen in the military services, but when I see so many“yes-men” masquerading as leaders in the civilian world too, especially in politics and bureaucracy, it seems that this absurd non sequitur paradox“Good Followers make Good Leaders” is universal in nature.

YESMANSHIP versus LEADERSHIP

ONCE A “YES-MAN” ALWAYS A “YES-MAN”

In his book “On The Psychology of Military Incompetence”, Norman Dixon quotes Liddel Hart:

“A lifetime of having to curb the expression of original thought culminates so often in there being nothing left to express”.

Similarly, after grovelling and bootlicking for 30 years to “earn” his promotion to high rank, how can you suddenly expect an officer to instantaneously metamorphose from “a dog in obedience” to “a lion in action”.

With continuous dedicated practice of  good “followership”, meek obedience becomes your trait and subservient yes-man-ship becomes your nature.

Once “yesmanship” becomes your natural trait, you will continue to be a good follower irrespective of whatever rank or level of authority you attain.

There is truth in the saying: Once a “yes-man” always a “yes-man”.

Good followers are competent at carrying out orders, while good leaders are competent at making decisions and giving orders.

Yes, a leader is required to take decisions.

“Yesmanship” stifles decision making ability.  

In the long term, continuous practice of “yesmanship” kills leadership qualities.

Thus, when a yes-man is promoted to a leadership position he cannot take decisions himself and hence he keeps running to his superiors for even the smallest of issues though these may well be within his purview.

Is this not visible in the senior military leadership of today who keep running to their political and bureaucratic masters seeking advice for decisions which may well be within their scope or may be purely tactical or military in nature?

Do you see this lack of good decision making capability in the political and civilian leadership as well?


FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Many of the greatest military leaders throughout history, who achieved success on the battlefield and victories in war, were notoriously poor followers, especially in peacetime soldiering. 

In fact, in many cases, had it not been for war, many of them may not even have been promoted. 

(One such example in India is Field Marshal Manekshaw who may have retired as a Major General had it not been for the 1962 war).

Let me end with a quote:

Thousands of moralists have solemnly repeated the old saying that only he can command who has learnt to obey.

It would be nearer the truth to say that only he can command who has the courage and initiative to disobey.

William McDougall, Character and the Conduct of Life (1927)


Dear Reader: What are your views on “YESMANSHIP” versus LEADERSHIP – CAN GOOD FOLLOWERS MAKE GOOD LEADERS?

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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Disclaimer:
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

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This article first posted by me Vikram Karve on 28 April 2013 at 4/28/2013 02:35:00 PM in my blog at url: DO GOOD FOLLOWERS MAKE GOOD LEADERS – Absurd Logic – The Promotion Paradox

Posted by Vikram Karve at 8/21/2014 01:55:00 PM

DOG CARE AND COMPANIONSHIP – ME AND MY DOG

August 3, 2014

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: MY DOG AND ME.

http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/08/my-dog-and-me.html

Click link above to read my original article in my creative writing blog

Article is also posted below for your convenience:

MY DOG AND ME
Poignant Ponderings of a Pet Parent
By
VIKRAM KARVE 

MY DOG AND ME

Till Sherry came into my life, I did not know that a human could get so deeply emotionally attached to an animal.

I never imagined that I would start loving my pet dog Sherry so dearly.

And I never expected that Sherry would love me so devotedly and become an inseparable part of my life.

For over 8 years, Sherry had been a tough healthy high-spirited dog.

And suddenly, Sherry fell ill, very ill, and as she lay in a critical condition on the examination table in the veterinary clinic, a frail skeleton, almost a lifeless shadow of her former self, the veterinary doctors painted quite a dismal picture – her blood reports were haywire, she had severe pancreatitis, her abnormal sugar levels indicated she had diabetes, so she could not be operated upon for her severe pyometra – things looked bad, very bad – it seemed that her chances of survival were quite bleak.

They gave us two choices:

1. Put her to sleep (Euthanasia or “mercy killing”)

2. Try our best to save her life and put in all our efforts and resources to nurse her out of her severe illness

While the first choice was being contemplated, I looked at Sherry.

Sherry looked at me.

I cannot forget the poignant loving look in her eyes.

I could read through the language of her eyes that Sherry was telling me that she wanted to live – the yearning look in her eyes indicated that she wanted to be with us.

We too wanted Sherry to be with us for as long as possible.

So we chose the second option, to try our best to save her life and nurse her back to health, and the next few days passed in a daze – daily visits to the veterinary clinic for Sherry’s treatment, her strict diet, her medicines, her twice a day injections of insulin, constantly sitting with Sherry, feeding her, talking to her and comforting her.

It was on one of these days, late at night, while comforting Sherry who seemed to be in agony, sitting with her and cuddling her, I switched on the TV, and what I saw was incredible – a fantastic coincidence.

The scene in the movie on TV was a mirror image of what I was doing at that moment.

Here, Sherry had put her head on my lap and I was lovingly caressing her neck.

And on the screen, there was an old man and a dog sitting in exactly the same manner, and the man was lovingly fondling the dog exactly as I was fondling Sherry.

Was it sheer coincidence, a quirk of serendipity – or was it an enigmatic message for me?

The scene on the TV screen before me was the episode of “Candy and his Dog” from the movie “Of Mice and Men”. 


OF MICE AND MEN

One of the most poignant books I have read is “Of Mice and Men” – a novella written by John Steinbeck, winner of the Nobel Prize.

OF MICE AND MEN was published in 1937 and it was John Steinbeck’s first successful book that brought him fame as an author.

The novel “Of Mice and Men” has been enacted as a play on stage and also has been made into a movie (which I was watching that evening on TV).

The setting of the story is a ranch in California during the Great Depression.

The narrative describes the volatile life on the ranch and the precarious relationships between human beings on the ranch – friendships and tensions between the migrant ranch workers (farmhands) themselves and also between the farmhands and the owners.

One of the book’s major themes, and its most poignant sub plot, revolve around Candy and his dog.


CANDY AND HIS DOG

It is said that a dog is a man’s best friend.

This statement aptly describes the relationship between Candy and his dog.

Candy has had his dog since he was a pup.

It is his only friend and companion. 

Candy has been alongside his dog for all of the dog’s life and has had a close relationship with his dog.

Candy remembers the time when he first got the dog.

He always proudly tells everyone that his dog was the best sheepdog.

Unfortunately, Candy’s dog, once a tough healthy impressive sheep herder, has now become blind, toothless, rheumatic, weak, and is in frail health due to old age.

A dominant ranch worker says to the ranch boss, and to the other ranch-hands present, that Candy’s dog is so old that he can hardly walk, the dog has no teeth, the dog is blind and deaf, the dog cannot chew, so Candy feeds him milk, and he asks the ranch boss to tell Candy to shoot his old dog.

All of them tell Candy that his dog is of no good to Candy, and the dog isn’t any good to itself too, since the animal is in misery due its old age infirmities – so why doesn’t Candy shoot the dog and relieve the dog of his suffering?

The ranch boss says that the dog is no good and remarks sarcastically: “…I wish someone would shoot me if I got old and (became) a cripple…”

All the ranch workers suggest that it would be best to shoot Candy’s old dog.

After hearing everyone, the ranch boss decides that since the sick old dog is a useless burden, it would be best to end its suffering by shooting it dead.

Candy is unable to “let go” and tries his best to hold on to his old blind, deaf and disabled dog for as long as possible.

Candy reminisces and tells everyone about the dog.

He describes the time when he first got the dog and mentions that it was the best sheepdog he has ever seen.

Candy harks back to the time when both he and the dog were useful and of great value to the ranch – he was the best ranch handyman and his dog was the best sheepherder.

Now Candy is crippled, as he has lost a hand in an accident, and he has become too old for vigorous work on the farm.

And Candy’s dog is in a similar situation – blind, deaf, disabled and too old to be of any use.

Candy has had his dog since he was a pup.

His dog is his only friend and companion on the ranch, especially after Candy is crippled after losing his hand the accident.

Candy pleads with everyone not to shoot the dog and begs to save the dog’s life: “…I am so used to him…I had him for so long…I had him since he was a pup…I herded sheep with him…You wouldn’t imagine if you look at him now, but he was the best sheep dog I have ever seen…”

But no one listens to his pleas, and the dominant worker called Carlson takes Candy’s dog outside to be shot and buried.

Candy’s dog is “put to sleep” and Candy is heartbroken when he hears the gunshot.


UTILITY VALUE – FATE OF THE “USELESS” WHO HAVE OUTLIVED THEIR USEFULNESS

The “mercy killing” of Candy’s Dog symbolizes the helplessness of valueless persons.

The dog is a metaphor for Candy himself – old and crippled and not of much use to anyone.

Maybe, for Candy, the fear he feels for his dog’s death is parallel to his own fear that when he has fulfilled his purpose and he is no long effectual, when he has outlived his utility, he too will be disposed of as readily as his dog.

The story of Candy’s dog serves as a harsh reminder of the fate that awaits anyone who outlives his usefulness.

To summarize, in the novel “Of Mice and Men” John Steinbeck has portrayed a poignant situation – the hapless ageing ranch worker Candy realizes that both he and his dog have “outlived their utility” when he helplessly watches the cruel way in which his beloved dog is treated.

Candy’s dog was once a great sheepherder.

But now the dog has become blind, deaf and disabled due to old age.

The dog can no longer herd sheep.

Candy’s dog has lost its usefulness – the dog no longer has “utility value”.

So, since the dog has become “useless” – the dog is shot dead.

Candy finds himself in the same position as the dog.

Candy realizes that just like his dog has lost its “utility value”, Candy himself has lost his “utility value.

Candy is anxious, and he is worried about his own future, and he speculates whether he would be fired from his job – if they could get rid of a “useless” dog, what prevents them from getting rid of a “useless” worker?


ME AND MY DOG

There was a time when I was the sole breadwinner for my family.

I provided for my family and I was “useful” to them.

I worked as a Naval Officer and I was “useful” to the Navy.

Today, after my retirement, as far as the Navy is concerned, I am a retired “veteran”, and I am not “useful” to the Navy anymore.

Also, now, after my retirement, I am no longer the “breadwinner”, and my wife and children are financially independent.

So, as far as my family is concerned, in the “material sense”, I am “useless”.

As I told you earlier, I have a dog called Sherry.

Once upon a time, Sherry was a great guard dog (and for me, a loving companion).

Unfortunately, Sherry has been ill for the past few months.

Today, Sherry is a blind diabetic dog – she has diabetes and has lost her vision due to her diabetes.

Like Candy’s Dog, Sherry too has lost her “utility value”.

So, aren’t we in the same situation as “Candy and his Dog” so poignantly described in John Steinbeck’s masterpiece novel “Of Mice and Men”?

I am “useless” thanks to my retirement.

Sherry is “useless” owing to her illness.

Me and my Dog – both of us have lost our “utility value” and have become “useless”.

Is that why we are holding on to each other?

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer: 
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

  

Defence Preparedness: An unforgiving opportunity » Indian Defence Review

July 30, 2014

At Rs. 2.29 lakh crore, Defence expenditure is the largest component of the national budget. But true to Parkinson Law, when the figures are astronomical an

via Defence Preparedness: An unforgiving opportunity » Indian Defence Review.

Does Spending Money Translate into Defence Preparedness

Click the link above and read the article

Defence Preparedness: An unforgiving opportunity » Indian Defence Review

July 30, 2014

At Rs. 2.29 lakh crore, Defence expenditure is the largest component of the national budget. But true to Parkinson Law, when the figures are astronomical an

via Defence Preparedness: An unforgiving opportunity » Indian Defence Review.

LOOKING AFTER MILITARY VETERANS and WAR WIDOWS : EX-SERVICEMEN’S WELFARE

July 29, 2014

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: EX-SERVICEMEN’S WELFARE.

http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/07/ex-servicemens-welfare.html

Click the link above to read the original article

Article also posted below for your convenience:

EX-SERVICEMEN’S WELFARE
LOOKING AFTER MILITARY VETERANS
Ramblings of a Retired Veteran
By
VIKRAM KARVE
It has become a fashion for Military Officers to blame Civilian Bureaucrats for the problems faced by ex-servicemen (Retired Military Veterans).
Why can’t the Military look after its own Veterans?
Why can’t each Defence Service Chief take on the responsibility to look after the welfare of Veterans of his own service?
(The Army Chief can look after his retired armymen, the Navy Chief can care for his retired navymen and the Air Chief can do likewise in respect of retired air-warriors)
Why have Senior Military Officers in Service Headquarters “passed the buck” of ex-servicemen’s welfare to Civilian Bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence?
Instead of assuming responsibility for the care and welfare of their own veterans, why has the military “outsourced” ex-servicemen’s welfare to the civilian bureaucracy?
Metaphorically, it is like modern day children who “pass the buck” of looking after their parents to “old age homes”.
In the same way, are serving military officers (“children”) passing the buck of looking after their own retired veterans (“parents”) to civilian bureaucrats (“old age homes”)?
If you want to evade responsibility of looking after your own veterans and if you “outsource” this task to someone else, then you have no choice but to accept how that someone else (to whom you have passed the buck) treats your veterans.
 
Instead of constantly carping about the neglect of military veterans (ex-servicemen), would it not be better if the military accepts total responsibility of ex-servicemen’s welfare and looks after the welfare of its own veterans?
 
 
VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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PLEASE DO NOT TREAT MILITARY VETERANS LIKE BEGGARS

June 17, 2014

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: EX-SERVICEMEN WELFARE – PLEASE DO NOT TREAT MILITARY VETERANS LIKE BEGGARS.

Please click the link above to read the original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Blog

The article is also posted below for your convenience:

PLEASE DO NOT TREAT MILITARY VETERANS LIKE BEGGARS
An Ex-Serviceman’s Earnest Appeal
By
VIKRAM KARVE
As a military veteran who has served his entire life in the armed forces, I make an earnest appeal to the all concerned authorities (“powers-that-be”) and all citizens of India:
“Please do not treat military veterans like beggars”
If you do not want to give any concessions to military veterans and war widows, please do not give them.
But if you do decide to give concessions to military veterans and war widows, please do not make military veterans and widows of martyrs run from pillar to post begging to get what has been promised to them.
For a true soldier who has worn uniform, dignity and respect is more important than concessions and sops.
Recently a leading English News Channel showed reports of how promises of plots of land made to widows of gallantry award winning martyrs were not honoured by the “powers-that-be” and how these hapless war widows were being made to run from pillar to post for many years begging for allotment of land that was promised to them many years ago when their husbands gave the ultimate sacrifice of lives for the nation.
Do the “powers-that-be” feel that they are doing personal charity to military veterans by giving them concessions and that is why they are entitled to make military veterans or their widows run from pillar to post and beg for getting what is their due?
Why make promises that you cannot deliver?
Why announce sops and then make the delivery mechanism so cumbersome that it makes things difficult for the retired soldier to get his due?
For those soldiers, sailors and airmen in uniform, who may be living under the false impression that they will get some special treatment once they retire, let me make it very clear that military veterans are treated just like any other citizen.
Let me share my personal experience which happened today morning.
Just before I retired from the Indian Navy, I bought a flat in the PCMC area of Pune as my retirement home.
I saw a news item and an advertisement that PCMC had decided to give 50% rebate in property tax to military veteran ex-servicemen.
I went to the PCMC Office to get the form.
As usual, the forms were not available, so I was asked to request a certain clerk to take a printout.
The clerk did this most reluctantly and made some sarcastic comments about why such concessions were being given to military veterans, as if she bore a grudge against the military.
After running around to complete all the paperwork, which involved going to a lawyer to make an affidavit, getting a “life certificate” from my bank, attaching attested copies of PPO etc, I submitted the application.
As usual, there was plenty of red tape, as my file went up and down, with some clerk even questioning my eligibility, and I had to make three trips to follow up.
Someone suggested that a bit of “speed money” or mamool may help expedite matters, but I decided to wait – I was in no mood to pay bribes for what was my rightful due.
After a couple of months, the sanction letter was finally issued, giving me 50% rebate on property tax.
The municipal officer who gave me the sanction letter told me that the 50% property tax rebate sanction letter was valid as long as I was the owner of the property.
He advised me to get at least 10 photocopies of the letter made since one copy would be required to be submitted every time I paid my annual property tax.
Later, I realized that the rebate actually worked out to be roughly only 20% of the total amount, since the 50% rebate was only on the basic property tax element which was half of the total amount comprising various levies and charges which were not exempted, and everyone who paid on time was anyway entitled a 10% rebate, and rebates could not be combined.
I decided to pay my property tax online.
But there was a hitch.
The property tax bill was for the full amount and the ex-servicemen’s 50% rebate was not given in the bill.
If I paid online, then I would not get any rebate.
If I wanted to avail the 50% ex-servicemen’s rebate, then I was required to personally go to the ward office, stand in the queue, submit a copy of my rebate sanction letter along with the bill to the cashier, who would then calculate the rebate, and I would have to pay accordingly.
I did this for three years.
It seemed to be working fine, except for the inconvenience that I was not able to pay my property tax online.
Today morning, when I went to pay my annual property tax at the Thergaon Ward Office of PCMC, I was in for an unpleasant surprise.
When my turn came, the cashier told me that the procedure had changed, and now I had to get a new rebate sanction every year, and there was a new form to be filled for ex-servicemen’s rebate and he asked me to meet a certain clerk.
I showed the cashier my sanction letter and previous 3 years property tax receipts in which the 50% ex-servicemen’s concession was given.
But the cashier was not impressed and asked me to meet the clerk.
The clerk told me I would have to go through the entire procedure once again as the “powers-that-be” had decreed that property tax rebate sanction letter was to be issued every year.
In addition, I was required to get a letter from the local municipal corporator, certifying my identity and that I am alive (the Armed Forces Retired Officers Identity Card has no value as far as these authorities are concerned).
I did a quick mental calculation.
Was it worth disturbing my peace of mind by going through all the hassle, paperwork, red tape, the running around, petrol costs and waste of time for the modest amount of money I was saving by way of the 50% (in effect 20%) rebate?
Besides, what was the guarantee that even if I went through all this trouble, the “powers-that-be” would issue the rebate sanction letter before the deadline for availing rebate 30 June 2014?
Worst of all, I felt bad at the way I was being treated, despite identifying myself as a military veteran.
There may be a lot of rhetoric eulogizing military veterans, but the fact of the matter is that civilians do not care; especially civilian government and municipal employees who seem have a dislike for ex-servicemen.
I did not want to be treated like a beggar and made to run around from pillar to post just to suit the whims and fancies of the “powers-that-be”, despite the fact that I had a proper sanction letter.
I decided not to avail the 50% ex-servicemen’s rebate and I paid the full amount.
Since I will not be availing the ex-servicemen’s concession, from next year onwards I will save myself the trouble of going to the ward office and I am going to pay my property tax online like all civilians do.
I was angry at the attitude of the municipal employees which seemed to suggest: “If you retired military veterans want a concession then we will make you run around from pillar to post and beg for it”.
If PCMC wants to give a concession to ex-servicemen, why not give it gracefully?
Is “ex-servicemen’s welfare” a myth?
Why does every organization which is supposed to help ex-servicemen and look after their welfare, be it CSD, ECHS etc, make military veterans run around from pillar to post for what is their rightful due?
By making procedures difficult, isn’t it tantamount to denying facilities to ex-servicemen?
Why not simplify things for military veterans?
Instead of having multiple identity cards for each entitlement/facility, why not have just one biometric ex-servicemen’s card (like Aadhaar) which is applicable for all entitlements of military veterans?
India has recently elected a new government under the leadership of a dynamic Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, from whom everyone has high expectations.
Military veterans have high expectations from the new Prime Minister and his Government.
We military veterans and ex-servicemen hope that procedures will be simplified, corruption will be eliminated, efficiency of the government machinery will be improved and a message will be passed down to civilian government employees to treat military veterans and war widows with dignity and respect and give them their due in a helpful manner.
We trust that “ex-servicemen’s welfare” will become a reality.
Once again I appeal to the “powers-that-be” and all citizens:
Please do not treat military veterans like beggars.
If you do not want to give any concessions to military veterans and war widows, please do not give them.
 
But if you do decide to give concessions to military veterans and war widows, please deliver seamlessly with grace, efficiency and dignity, and please do not make military veterans and widows of martyrs run from pillar to post begging for what has been promised to them.
 
JAI HIND

Infantry Regiments: The cutting edge of Soldiering » Indian Defence Review

June 13, 2014

Infantry Regiments: The cutting edge of Soldiering » Indian Defence Review.

FOODIE HUMOR IN UNIFORM – COLD CUTS

March 27, 2014

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: COLD CUTS – Humor in and out of Uniform.

Click the link above to read the original post in my blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal

The story is also posted below for your convenience:

HUMOUR IN AND OUT OF UNIFORM
COLD CUTS
Navy Foodie Memories
By
VIKRAM KARVE
This happened almost 30 years ago, in the mid 1980’s.
The moment I reported to IAT Pune, I was immediately given a “bum job” – Mess Secretary of the Officers’ Mess (of course, in addition to my primary instructional duties).
I duly reported to the President Mess Committee (PMC) in the Mess Office.
“Welcome to the IAT Officers’ Mess,” the PMC, an Air Force Group Captain said, “well, the first thing you will have to do is the valedictory dinner coming up this weekend – plenty of bigwigs are coming, so let’s have a grand affair.”
After uttering those words, the PMC disappeared, leaving everything to me.
I called the mess staff and I was delighted to see that there were two navy sailors – a cook and a steward.
I recognized the cook at once – he had served with me on a ship a few years ago and was now a Petty Officer.
I looked at the cook and said, “Let’s have a cold cuts spread for the valedictory dinner – like we used to have on the ship. I think it will be ideal for a hot summer evening.”
The cook’s face brightened up, and he said, “Very good idea, Sir. It will be a nice change from the usual butter chicken, mutter paneer, daal makhani menu.”
“Let’s have a Naval Pudding too,” I said.
“Sir, I can make Diplomat or Trunk of Tree,” the cook said.
“Let’s have both,” I said, “and we will have a lavish cold cuts spread which everyone will remember for a long time.”
On the morning of the dinner, I personally went along with the cook to the market and stores in Pune Camp to select the assorted cold cut meats and other ingredients.
 
I wish I could show you pictures of the lavish Mixed Cold Cuts Buffet Spread we had laid out on Banquet Tables on the plush lawns of the IAT Officers Mess, but this happened 30 years ago, so the best thing I can do to whet your appetite is to upload from the internet some delicious “food porn” pictures of cold cuts. This should give you an idea of what the delectable array of meats in a cold cuts buffet looks like and how scrumptious and fulfilling a cold cuts banquet is. I am sure your mouth will salivate when you look at these delicious pictures of the succulent cold cuts.
 
 
                                          COLD CUT MEATS
 
                                                        COLD CUTS PLATTERS
 
 
 

 COLD CUTS BUFFET SPREADS

COLD CUT MEAT AND SEAFOOD PLATTER

 (Just imagine entire tables with such delicious mixed meat cold cuts spreads)


The valedictory dinner was a grand success.

Everyone appreciated the cold cuts buffet spread.
The PMC and I were sitting in his Office, feeling good in a self-congratulatory mood, when Colonel “S” walked in.
Colonel “S” was most unhappy with the dinner.
“What sort of menu is this for a party dinner?” he complained.
“Everyone says the dinner was excellent – even I enjoyed the food,” the PMC countered.
“All of you are carnivores – in the dinner there were only meats and meats – ham, salami, sausages, mutton, chicken, fish, luncheon meat…god knows what all was there – but there was nothing for vegetarians like me.”
“Sir, there was Russian Salad…” I tried to say.
“S” interrupted me, “There was egg in there…”
“Egg? In the Russian Salad? I don’t think so – though they do put in a few chopped boiled eggs in Russian Salad sometimes, I don’t think last night’s Russian Salad had eggs…”
“But it had mayonnaise – there is egg in mayonnaise – and one of the puddings had egg too – in the custard – this is total injustice to vegetarians – the only thing I could eat was those bread rolls, terribly tasting cheese and a few raw vegetables,” complained“S” bitterly.
“Okay, your point is noted,” the PMC said.
After “S” had gone away, the PMC said, “These bloody Pongos can’t appreciate good cuisine – I think we will have the standard Army Style party menu next time.”
So, for the next dinner party we had the standard greasy “Fauji” party menu.
But “S” was still unhappy.
“S” started his sob story: “For the non-vegetarians there was chicken curry, fish fry, mutton…”
“Mutton..?” I said, surprised.
“In the small eats – don’t think I didn’t see the heaped plates of Boti Kababs, Seekh Kababs, Shami Kababs along with the Chicken Tikka, Fish Finger and Prawns – and for the vegetarians there were only peanuts and wafers…”
“And mixed pakoras – cauliflower, palak, potato, onion…” I added.
“S” interrupted me and asked, “Where is the equivalence?”
“Equivalence?” I said, nonplussed.
“Yes, where is the equivalence between the food served to non-vegetarians and vegetarians?” asked “S”.
“Sir, in last evening’s menu for vegetarians we had paneer, daal, palak, vegetables – all these have plenty of protein and vitamins just like non-veg dishes – healthwise they have the same, maybe even better nutritional value…” I said.
“Who is talking of nutritional value? I am talking of monetary value. I have calculated the cost of all the non-veg food you served last night – it is double the cost of the veg menu – and you charge the same amount of party share to veg and non-veg…”
“Sir, please…”
“And in that bloody western style cold-cuts party of yours – the disparity was even worse – it is total injustice for the vegetarians…” said “S” bitterly.
I was getting fed up of his diatribe so I said to the PMC: “Sir, let Colonel “S” organize the next party – let him decide whatever menu he wants.”
“S” readily agreed and the PMC gave his okay.
At the next party, the buffet spread out on the dining table was a bonanza for vegetarians – paneer shahi korma, mutter mushroom, malai kofta, dal makhani, Navratan Korma in rich Cashewnut gravy laden with pineapple and other fruit and a rich dry fruit embellished pulao – in short, the works.
 
And on the non-veg side of the table there was just a measly looking chicken curry, as if “S” had personally supervised it.
As usual, I was well prepared for the party and had built up a good appetite – a game of 6-a-side hockey, a swim in the NDA pool, followed by 6 large pegs of Hercules Rum had made me happily high and voraciously hungry.
I had a look at the measly looking chicken curry.
I ladled in a leg piece of chicken and some curry on my plate.
I noticed “S” looking at me – he had a gloating look of triumph and victory.
I looked at the array of delicious dishes on the vegetarian table.
I could not resist the temptation, so I crossed over and started heaping my plate with the vegetarian delights.
“S” suddenly appeared by my side, “You are non vegetarian. Why are you taking vegetarian food?”
“Who says that a non-vegetarian cannot eat vegetarian food?” I countered “S” – and then I said to him: “And who is stopping you from eating non-veg food? If you want you can also have non-veg food. In fact, you should have enjoyed the delicious cold cuts that day.”
 
The PMC was overhearing our tête-à-tête.
 
“Yes, a non-vegetarian has the best of both worlds, especially in the services,” the PMC commented, tongue-in-cheek.
 
 
MORAL OF THE STORY
 
If you are a pure vegetarian, it is best to steer clear of the navy (army and air force too).
 
And yes, the same applies if you are a teetotaller non-drinker too.
 
But that is another story which I have already told you earlier – remember the story of THE “MAUKATARIAN” FREELOADER ?
 
VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved. 
 
Disclaimer:
1. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
2. Pictures in this blog post are downloaded from the internet from free images websites with thanks and courtesy
Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)
     

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
 


Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: WOMEN NEED TO PLAY VOTEBANK POLITICS

February 17, 2014

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: WOMEN NEED TO PLAY VOTEBANK POLITICS.

Am I an Ageless Wonder – THE ETERNAL “UNCLE”

January 22, 2014

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: THE ETERNAL “UNCLE”.

Link to my original post in my blog: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/01/the-eternal-uncle.html

THE ETERNAL “UNCLE”

Last evening I attended a nostalgic and memorable get-together where many of my erstwhile colleagues and fellow officers, serving and retired, from the Navy, Army and Air Force were present.
 
Many friends who had met me after many years, complimented me: “You haven’t changed at all. You look just the same after so many years.
 
“Stop pulling my leg,” I said.
 
“Seriously, Sir,” said a young Commodore, who I had taught in this very same institute when he was a young Lieutenant; and then he added, “Sir, we last met in 1993, more than 20 years ago, and you look just the same. 
 
“Thanks,” I said, accepting the compliment, and then boasted, “maybe I am an ageless wonder!
 
And then I told them this real life story:
 
AM I AN AGELESS WONDER ?
A Real Life Story – The Eternal “uncle”
By
VIKRAM KARVE
 
 
NEW DELHI (1982)
 
In 1982, as a newly married couple, we lived in Curzon Road Apartments on Kasturba Gandhi Marg near India Gate in New Delhi.
 
Me, my wife, and our puppy dog (a small Lhasa Apso Puppy Dog given to us as a wedding gift) – all three of us lived in our neat cosy one room apartment with a small kitchenette and a lovely balcony high up on the top floor.
 
One evening, while on her way back home from work, my wife went to the convenience store to buy milk and the shopkeeper told her that her father had already bought milk a few minutes ago.
 
My wife was delighted at the unexpected visit of her father so she rushed to our house and on not seeing her father around my wife asked me, “Where is Daddy?”
 
“Your Daddy? He must be in Pune,” I said.  
 
“No. Daddy has come here,” she said.
 
“Who told you?” I asked.
 
“The shopkeeper,” she said.
 
“Let’s go down and ask him,” I said.
 
So we went down and asked the shopkeeper who pointed towards me and said, “He took the milk. I thought he was your father.”
 
“He is my husband,” my wife said, pointing at me.
 
“I am sorry, Sir, but I was really mistaken,” the shopkeeper said apologetically to me.
 
Then the shopkeeper smiled at my wife and said to her, “Madam, you look so young, like a schoolgirl, so I thought he was your father.”
 
It was true. 
 
When we were married, my wife looked very young, just like a schoolgirl. 
 
She was 21 and I was 25, and though the shopkeeper hadn’t spelt it out in so many words, I did look a bit older than my 25 years, with my “healthy” built and my formidable beard.
 
Unlike the so-called “metrosexual” men of today, I like to be who I am, so I don’t believe in “cosmetic engineering”.
 
I believe in the “old-mould” idea that a man must look like a man, tough and manly, and though hygiene and grooming are important, there is no need for a man to be excessively obsessed about his looks.
 
Of course, whereas having an appropriate dress sense and wearing good quality clothes is a must, there is no need for a man to “deck up”.
 
That’s why when the first strand of grey hair appeared on my head when I was in my mid 40’s, I never used hair dye, nor did I colour my copious beard when it started greying.
 
Of course, I must say here, that my wife too has a natural look and she hardly uses any cosmetics and nor does she colour her hair.
 
The fact of the matter was that my wife did indeed look much younger than me. 
 
Period.
 
So, even in those days, when a pretty young girl called me “uncle”, I did not mind it very much. Maybe, to her, I did indeed look like an “uncle”.
 
 
30 Years Later
 
 
PUNE (2012)
 
This happened a few days ago in Pune.
 
My wife was getting off an auto rickshaw. 
 
The fare was 52 rupees. 
 
She gave the auto-rickshaw driver a 50 rupee note and was desperately searching in her purse for a two rupee coin when the auto driver said magnanimously to my wife, “Never mind Ajji – it is okay if you don’t give me the two rupees.”
 
Now, in Marathi, the word AJJI means GRANDMOTHER.
 
I cannot begin to describe the emotion I felt when I heard this.
 
And just imagine, pretty young girls still call me “uncle”.
 
 
Disclaimer: 
 
Maybe the auto-rickshaw driver needed an eye checkup. 
 
My wife still looks very young – maybe not like a school girl like she did in 1982, but certainly like a college girl. 
 
And me? 
 
Well, I am an ageless wonder – The Eternal “uncle”
 
 
VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved. 
 
Disclaimer:
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
NB
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)
 
Did you like this story?

I am sure you will like the 27 short stories from my recently published anthology of Short Fiction COCKTAIL
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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse – his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile Vikram Karve: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve
Vikram Karve Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/vikramkarve
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog: http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/posts.htm
Email: vikramkarve@hotmail.com

Twitter: @vikramkarve
      

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

 
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