Archive for March 10th, 2017

“Politics” in Uniform – Humor – Story from my Navy Days

March 10, 2017

“Politics” in Uniform 

The “election season” reminds me of this story from my Navy Days.

So – Dear Reader – here is some “political” humor in uniform…

“POLITICS” IN THE WARDROOM

Unforgettable Vignettes of my Glorious Navy Days

A Spoof By Vikram Karve 

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/03/humor-in-uniform-politics-in-wardroom.html

WARDROOM ETIQUETTE – TABOO TOPICS

When I joined the Navy – I was told that certain things were not to be discussed in the Wardroom (Navy Officers’ Mess).

Firstly – Officers should not “talk shop” (about work) in the Wardroom.

Secondly – Three Topics were considered “Taboo” in a Navy Wardroom:

  1. Religion
  1. Politics
  1. Women

I am sure the same was true for Army and Air Force Officers’ Messes as well – you were not supposed to talk “shop” – and you were not supposed to discuss religion, politics or women in a wardroom or officers’ mess.

But this was all in theory.

In actual fact – I found that things were vastly different.

On my ship – and in other ships and shore establishments too – officers invariably “talked shop” in the wardroom – even during PLDs and Parties.

Of the three taboo topics – the first – Religion – was never discussed (at least in my ship’s wardroom).

On my ship – with so many young strapping testosterone charged bachelors around – the third topic (women) was always a hot topic of discussion.

Our ship was based in Mumbai (then called Bombay) – and those were laissez faire halcyon days in the Navy.

Guests were freely allowed on ships – in the evenings and on holidays – and many “smart” libidinous bachelors brought girl friends (or “fleet auxiliaries”) on board ships – for an amorous drink in the wardroom – or a “quickie” in their cabins – and these “peccadilloes” were hotly discussed with great excitement by the envious sex-starved puritans – who were secretly yearning for female company.

POLITICS IN THE WARDROOM

Towards the end of 1979 – General Elections were announced to be held in the first week of January 1980 – and suddenly – everyone started discussing politics.

I was surprised to see the political awareness – and keen interest in the elections – among Naval Officers.

Of course – this may have been due to the political instability due to the disastrous performance of two successive shaky coalition governments since 1977 – which kept on splitting – till they collapsed – and elections were announced after 2 years.

Or maybe – this interest in politics was because we had many “politically connected” officers on board.

The father of one of the young officers was a veteran politician – and he was contesting this election too.

The brother of another officer was a politician too – and he was also contesting elections – albeit from a different party.

Many other officers evinced keen interest in current affairs and held divergent political views – which led to lively discussions.

Yes – politics was definitely discussed in the wardroom.

However – there was one officer who showed absolutely no interest in the proceedings – he seemed totally “apolitical”.

He came to the wardroom to drink – in fact – it seemed that he had joined the Navy to drink – and – like some people who “live to eat” – this officer “lived to drink”.

While everyone was engrossed in animated “political discussions” – he would sit disinterestedly in the corner downing peg after peg of Scotch whisky.

Voting day was in the first week of the coming January – and – as the elections approached – some of us got our postal ballots – and some did not.

Outside – in the civilian world – political temperatures were getting heated up – and inside the wardroom too – there took place rousing political discussions – stimulated by the imbibing of enormous amounts of alcohol.

Of course – our “apolitical” friend kept aloof.

The “apolitical” officer remained indifferent to the political goings on – despite imbibing even greater amounts of alcohol than the “political” officers.

At last – voting took place.

The next day – counting of votes began.

(Those days – they had single day elections – and – votes were counting the next day)

Since they used paper ballots those days – the counting process was slow – and – the early trends started coming in only by late afternoon – and – it was only in the late evening that the first hints of the political picture would start to emerge.

In the evening – carrying our whisky-topped hip-flasks in our pockets – we trooped down to the Indian Express Building at Nariman Point – to watch the election results unfold.

Late at night – it became clear that Indira Gandhi was heading for a massive victory.

(Her party – Congress (I) – would win 353 of the 542 seats)

Most of us were happy – because now – there would be a stable government for 5 years.

The two “politically connected” officers were happy too – their relatives – father and brother respectively – both had won in the elections too.

A celebration was called for – so the wardroom bar was opened the moment we returned back onboard at around midnight.

The “whiff” of the wardroom bar being opened mysteriously reached the “apolitical” officer sleeping in his cabin – and he joined us in a jiffy – topping up his glass with whisky to celebrate.

“There was so much political excitement going on during these elections – and you were totally disinterested in the elections…” someone said to the “apolitical” officer.

“Actually I was worried…” he said.

“Worried…? You were worried…?” we asked, puzzled.

The “apolitical” officer took a gulp of whisky – and he said to us:

“I was worried about my booze. The previous guy was a prohibitionist – he even wanted to stop booze in the defence services and give dry fruits in lieu of liquor. I am happy he has lost the elections – at least the new guys who have won will let booze flow freely. Come on. Cheers. Drink up. The next round of drinks is on me…”

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:

  1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
  2. 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)

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/03/humor-in-uniform-politics-in-wardroom.html

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This Story was written by me 3 years ago in the year 2014 and earlier Posted Online by me Vikram Karve in this blog at 4/13/2014 03:21:00 PM at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/04/humor-in-uniform-wardroom-politics.html  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/05/humor-in-uniform-politics-in-uniform.html  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/10/politics-in-uniform.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/04/humor-in-uniform-apolitical-officer.html

Why “M” Joined the Navy – Humor in Uniform

March 10, 2017

Humor in Uniform 

In a few days – it is the colourful festival of Holi.

Holi is associated with Humor.

Here is a “Memoir” from my Navy Days – apt for the ocassion…

WHY DID YOU JOIN THE NAVY…?

A Fictional Spoof By Vikram Karve  

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/03/humor-in-uniform-my-coursemate-m.html

WHY DID YOU JOIN THE NAVY…? 

The moment we reported to Naval Academy (NAVAC) Cochin (Kochi) – we were asked the quintessential question:

“Why did you join the Navy…?”

Most of us gave unimaginative stereotyped answers which everyone had heard before.

Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” was different.

Sub Lieutenant “M” said:

“I joined the Navy to drink good Booze…”

 

(Those days – the Junior-most Officer Rank in the Army/Navy/Air Force was Second Lieutenant (2nd/Lt), Acting Sub Lieutenant (Ag Sub Lt) and Pilot Officer (P/O)respectively.

In the year 2006 – thanks to the AVS Cadre Review Bonanza – this junior-most officer rank was abolished – and Defence Officers were commissioned directly as Lieutenants/Sub Lieutenants/Flying Officers in the Army/Navy/Air Force respectively – which were the ranks above the erstwhile “2nd Lt”/“Ag Sub Lt”/“Pilot Officer” – the lowest officer ranks earlier

Dear Reader: After this digression – let me start telling you the story again):

 

The moment we reported to Naval Academy (NAVAC) Cochin (Kochi) – we were asked the quintessential question:

“Why did you join the Navy…?”

Most of us gave unimaginative stereotyped answers which everyone had heard before.

Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” was different.

Sub Lieutenant “M” said:

“I joined the Navy to drink good Booze…”

“What did you say…?” the Officer-in-charge bellowed at Acting Sub Lieutenant “M”

Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” nonchalantly said: “Sir – I said that I joined the Navy to drink good booze.” 

The Officer-in-charge and Staff Officers of NAVAC thought “M” was joking – but “M” was dead serious – he had indeed joined the Navy to drink.

We were “University Entry Officers”.

We were selected via the “University Entry Scheme” (UES) – an “Earn while you Learn” Recruitment Scheme – which was highly successful in attracting the best Engineering Talent.

Under the UES – Navy Selection Teams visited premier Engineering Colleges/IITs/RECs (NITs) at the beginning of our pre-final year – and they interviewed and shortlisted suitable candidates – who had to appear before a Services Selection Board (SSB) at Allahabad, Bhopal or Bangalore.

Those selected by the SSB – and found medically fit – were offered a commission as an Officer in the Navy from the beginning of their final year of Engineering.

So – we were Naval Officers drawing handsome pay during our final year of Engineering – owing to which we enjoyed great prestige and relative affluence as compared to our fellow student classmates.

On completion of our B. Tech. / BE courses – we joined the Naval Academy for Basic and Divisional (B&D) Training.

We had heard that during his final year in Engineering College – “M” had taken his appointment letter (as an officer in the Indian Navy) to a Military Unit near his college – and he had managed to get a Liquor Card from the Unit CSD Canteen which enabled him to enjoy his full “Booze Quota” of “Military Rum” during his final year of Engineering.

Coming back to the Naval Academy – on our very first “liberty” a month after joining training – while we headed for Movie Halls and Restaurants in Ernakulam – Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” rushed to nearest Bar to get gloriously drunk.

In fact – “M” enjoyed himself so much – downing peg after peg of Rum – to “cure” his “thirst” – that he passed out ‘dead drunk’ in the Bar.

Luckily for “M” – a ‘Good Samaritan’ saw his Navy ID Card.

The ‘Good Samaritan’ carried the blissfully ‘comatose’ “M” into his car – then he drove down to the Naval Base – and deposited “M” outside the OOD’s Office.

This episode resulted in some heavy “punishments” and “restrictions” for “M” – including cancellation of his ‘liberty’ (‘shore leave’ in Navy Jargon) till the end of the term.

The “powers-that-be” realized that “M” meant business – as far as his reason for joining the Navy was concerned.

However – “M” was not to be deterred from his aim – and – within a few days – he used his initiative to get access to booze.

As I told you – we were already Officers when we joined the Naval Academy (NAVAC) – and we were drawing full pay and allowances.

So – we dined in the Officers’ Wardroom – the Southern Naval Area (SNA) Wardroom Officers Mess.

[Yes – those days it was a Naval Area – not a Command. A few years later – SNA was upgraded to SNC (Southern Naval Command)]

Of course – since we were not allowed to wear stripes during training – we dined in a separate “Gun Room” – but – we were full-fledged members of the Wardroom Officers Mess.

There were no “free” authorized rations those days – so – as officers – we paid for our food – unlike cadets – who dined in cadet dining halls in the Academy and got free food.

During Basic Training – we were not officially allowed to drink liquor – but we were permitted to smoke – and we bought our cigarettes at the Wardroom Bar by signing chits – since we were full-fledged members of the Wardroom Mess.

On working day evenings – we dined in “Red Sea Rig” uniform.

On Weekends/Sundays/Holidays – we were permitted to wear “civvies”.

One Sunday evening – while we were buying cigarettes at the Bar – “M” asked the steward for a Large Peg of Rum – and – with confident flourish – “M” signed a chit for the Rum.

The steward served “M” a Large Peg of Rum.

It was as simple as that.

From then on – every evening – “M” would sneak out from his cabin during the pre-dinner “Study Hour” – and head for the Wardroom Bar for his daily quota of Rum – and then – after quickly downing a few pegs of Rum “down-the-hatch” – “M” would  join us for dinner in the “Gun Room”.

Once our Basic Training was over – and we passed out of the Naval Academy – we could officially drink all the liquor we wanted to – especially top class premium “duty free” foreign liquor on ships.

For “M” – the choicest “duty free” foreign liquor was a bonanza – the very raison d’être – for which he had joined the Navy.

EPILOGUE

“M” enjoyed his bachelor days “soaked in alcohol” – imbibing all the booze he could lay his hands on.

For “M” – it was the happiest time of his life – and the Navy was the best thing that had happened to him.

Sadly – one day – “M” got married.

And – even worse – “M” got a “tough cookie” wife – who cracked down heavily on his drinking.

In fact – his redoubtable wife banned alcohol in the house – and she kept an “eagle eye” on her husband at parties.

So – “M” would surreptitiously gulp a few quick “down-the-hatch” pegs of Rum whenever he got an opportunity – followed by some cardamom (Elaichi) to mask the smell of alcohol.

A few years later – “M” landed up as a “student” for an advanced specialization course at IAT Girinagar Pune – where I was his instructor.

Every evening – “M” would tell his wife that he wanted to “clear some doubts” about the subject I was teaching him – and he would land up in my house.

Of course – there were no “doubts” he wanted cleared.

“M” would have 3 quick pegs of Rum at my place.

And then – “M” would head home feeling “high” and “happy”.

When his wife questioned him on his “happy” state – “M” would plead that I was his instructor – and I had offered him a drink.

“M” told his wife I would get annoyed if he refused my generous offer of a drink – and this may affect his grades in the course.

M’s wife blamed me for “spoiling” her husband.

One day – M’s wife had her revenge on me.

On Holi evening – when I was taking a long evening walk to sober up from the boisterous morning celebrations – M’s wife waved out to me and she called me to her lawn.

“M” was probably sleeping inside.

While celebrating Holi with full gusto – “M” had “passed out” in the morning after surreptitiously downing huge amounts of a deadly cocktail of  “Rum and Beer”

(“M” had taken advantage of the fact that his “beloved” wife had magnanimously permitted “M” to have one bottle of Beer – as a special case for the occasion of Holi).

M’s wife looked charmingly at me.

“You drank too much in the morning. I will give you something really good to cure your hangover…” she said with a tender smile.

I accepted her kind invitation.

M’s wife asked me to sit on a chair in the verandah – and then – she went inside.

After some time – M’s wife emerged from kitchen – and – with an innocent smile – she served me a glass of Khus “Sherbet”.

What I did not know was that M’s wife had laced the cool green Khus “Sherbet” with a heavy dose of “Bhang”.

Yes – she had spiked the cool drink with deadly intoxicating Bhang (cannabis)

M’s wife had slipped me a potent “Mickey Finn”.

And – I naively drank the “Bhang” spiked cool drink.

What happened thereafter…?

Well – that’s another story…

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:

  1. This is a fictional spoof, satire, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
  2. 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)

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/03/humor-in-uniform-my-coursemate-m.html

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Updated, Abridged and Revised Version of My Story WHY DID YOU JOIN THE NAVY posted online by me on November 16, 2015 in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/11/why-did-you-join-navy-humor-in-uniform.html  and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/01/humor-in-uniform-why-acting-sub.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/06/humor-in-uniform-why-did-you-join-navy.html

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