Archive for the ‘writer’ Category

“Lovey Dovey” Couple in Uniform

August 4, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: Humor in Uniform – PUBLIC DISPLAY OF AFFECTION (PDA).

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

PUBLIC DISPLAY OF AFFECTION – PDA
Story of the “Lovey Dovey” Couple 
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE


PUBLIC DISPLAY OF AFFECTION (PDA) IN UNIFORM

My first unforgettable memory of Public Display of Affection (PDA) was almost 40 years ago – in the late 1970’s – during my early days in the Navy.

There was a young newly married couple who just could not take their hands off each other.

A Naval Officer is not permitted to get married before the age of 25.

But in this case – the Navy had made an exception.

In a rare gesture – the Navy had shown “compassion” for “passion”.

It was a whirlwind romance – and parental opposition had necessitated a quick “hush-hush” wedding – and the Navy was presented with a fait accompli.

The young Sub Lieutenant bluntly stated that he was prepared to quit the Navy for the sake of his “ladylove”.

So – permission was granted as an exceptional case – and the young couple was allowed to stay in the Wardroom (Officers Mess).

They were allotted a cabin in the old barrack where married officers awaiting allocation of proper married quarters lived temporarily.

The newly married husband and wife were passionately in love.

Their fervent love was visible to one and all – because the handsome husband – and his beautiful wife – demonstrated their obsessive affection for each other quite explicitly in public in a most uninhibited manner.

Dear Reader – remember this was the India of the 1970’s – and this brazenPublic Display of Affection (PDA) was happening in a remote cantonment – in full view of sailors and their families – who were mostly from rural areas – and had rather conservative values.

Now – in the orthodox and conformist environment of a cantonment – an officer and his wife indulging in such titillating physical Public Display Of Affection (PDA) was viewed as scandalous conduct.

The officer was warned to mend his ways.

The wife was “counselled” by ladies.

But there was no effect.

In fact – the “advice” seemed to have the opposite effect.

The young lovey-dovey couple continued their amorous PDA with even greater ardour and passion – which seemed to be attaining new heights.

One evening they were observed kissing and “making out” in the dark corners of the base cinema hall – with their hands all over each other – when the lights suddenly came on.

Next morning – the officer was read the riot act – and threatened with disciplinary action if he did not mend his ways.

“We will throw the book at you…” he was warned.

“We will charge you with Section 53 (indecent behaviour) and Section 54 (conduct unbecoming the character of an officer) of the Navy Act…” they threatened him.

But despite all this – there was no salutary effect of the officer and his wife – who continued their brazen PDA with increasing passion.

Soon everyone turned a blind eye to the PDA – because all realized that the officer and his wife were madly in love with each other.

The officer completed his training a few months later – and was transferred to a ship based at Mumbai.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief – in a cosmopolitan place like Mumbai – PDA was no big deal – even the Navy in Mumbai had a progressive culture as compared to other places.


3 YEARS LATER

I saw the officer three years later at an official function.

He looked like a ghost of his earlier self – as if he had gone through a serious bout of illness.

When I commented on his emaciated appearance – someone said to me: “Don’t you know what a terrible tragedy the poor chap has gone through? He has been through a most acrimonious and nasty divorce – and the distressing marital discord and bitter divorce has taken a big toll on his health.”

“Divorce…?” I was stunned.

I could never imagine that such a lovey-dovey couple who publicly demonstrated their intense love for each other would ever get divorced.

How could a husband and wife who were so passionately in love with each other get divorced?

It did not make sense.

The couple had been so much in love – that they did not hesitate to publicly display their affection for each other despite societal disapproval – how could they get divorced?


20 YEARS LATER

Twenty years later – I once again met the officer – this time at an airport.

He told me that he had quit the Navy – and that had taken up a job in the industry.

There was a lady standing next to him along with two children.

He introduced his wife and children.

So – he had got remarried.

Looking at his kids – I estimated that he must have got remarried around 10 years ago.

I remembered the officer and his first wife – the lovey-dovey couple – and their passionate, unrestrained and uninhibited Public Display of Affection (PDA).

But – now – there appeared to be a sea change in his demeanor with his new wife.

There was absolutely no Public Display of Affection (PDA) between him and his new wife.

In fact – from the way they were conducting themselves in public – it did not even appear that they were husband and wife.

What an irony?

The “lovey-dovey” marriage with PDA had broken up within one year.

And – the “loveless” marriage without PDA had lasted for more than 10 years – and it looked like this marriage would last forever.

I still cannot fathom the paradox.

A relationship with “100% PDA” is fragile.

But – a relationship with “Zero PDA” is durable.

Such are the mysteries of marriage, romance, love and relationships.

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 spoof, 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 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.



Revised Version of My Story PDA – PUBLIC DISPLAY OF AFFECTION posted online by me Vikram Karve earlier in this blog on 21 Jan 2015 at url:http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 8/04/2015 10:10:00 PM

Humor in Uniform – Military Wives – “Lady Like Qualities” (LLQ)

August 1, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: The Navy Wife with “Lady Like Qualities” (LLQ).

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

The Navy Wife with “Lady Like Qualities” (LLQ)

It is heartening to see so many “faujans” (Military Wives) in the Blogosphere. 

I am sure there are many talented Bloggers among Defence Wives who write on a variety of subjects. 

I particularly like 3 Blogs which feature interesting posts about the unique life of Army Wives:

1. A Curious Army Wife 

2. Aditi’s Monologue 

3. Half a Cup of Happyness 

I hope to discover more such blogs about “fauji” life as I am sure there are many “faujis” “faujans” and veterans blogging away in the blogosphere.

Browsing through these blogs and reading delightful posts about life of Army Wives evokes memories of some unforgettable Navy Wives I came across in my long Navy Career – so – here is one memoir about The Navy Wife with Lady Like Qualities (LLQ)


THE NAVY WIFE WITH “LADY LIKE QUALITIES” (LLQ)
Hilarious Memories of My Wonderful Navy Life
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Officers of the Defence Services (Army Navy and Air Force) are required to be Gentlemen.

Accordingly  Wives of Defence Service Officers are expected to be Ladies – hence the term “Lady Wife” for Wives of Military Officers.

All Military Officers are required to possess OLQ (OFFICER LIKE QUALITIES)

But do all Wives of all Military Officers display LLQ (LADY LIKE QUALITIES) ?

Let me delve deep into my Humor in Uniform archives and pull out this story for you to enjoy and ponder over:


LLQ – LADY LIKE QUALITIES (A Spoof By VIKRAM KARVE)


Part 1 – THE OFFICER

“Can you carry a small packet and deliver it to my wife?” the officer asked me.

“Sure Sir,” I said.

“Thanks. Just some Ayurvedic Medicines, that’s all. I’ll come on board your ship tomorrow and give it to you,” he said.

“Sure Sir, no hurry, we are leaving day after tomorrow morning,” I said.

The officer was a friend of my ex-shipmate who had been posted to Cochin a few months ago and with whom I was having a drink in the Navy Club at Cochin (now Kochi).

The officer had joined us for a drink – my ex-shipmate had introduced me – and when the officer came to know that my ship was going to Bombay (now Mumbai) he requested to me to carry a packet and deliver it to his wife in Bombay.

Since my ex-shipmate was calling him “Sir” – I too addressed him as “Sir” – and when he came on board the next day – I noticed that though he wore two stripes of a Lieutenant like me, he had the green 9 year long service ribbon.

(Those days it took 3 years to become a Lieutenant – and then one remained a Lieutenant for 8 long years – so there were “junior” Lieutenants like me – and “senior” Lieutenants like him).

Next afternoon just before lunchtime, the officer came to my cabin onboard my ship and gave me the packet.

He also gave me a slip of paper on which was written his home address in NOFRA.

“I am stuck here in Cochin for the next 3 months doing a bloody course,” he complained, sipping his beer.

“Cochin is a lovely place,” I said.

“I know – but my wife is in Bombay – and, as they say, there is no life without wife,” he remarked.

“Sir, we are stopping over for two days at Goa and we plan to reach Bombay by Friday, so I will deliver your packet on Saturday or Sunday,” I said.

“No problem – I have already posted a letter to my wife in the morning about the packet,” he said.

(36 years ago – when this story happened – writing letters was the common mode of communication – because junior officers did not have landline phones at home – so – a “trunk call” was inconvenient – telegrams were for emergencies – and – of course – mobile phones had not yet been invented).


Part 2 – THE OFFICER’S WIFE

On Saturday evening I rang the bell of a flat on the 6th floor of a high-rise building that housed Married Accommodation for Lieutenants.

A beautiful young lady opened the door.

I introduced myself.

“Yes, yes, do come in,” she said in a mellifluous voice, “I got my husband’s letter two days ago – I have been expecting you today.”

“Sorry Ma’am, I could not come in the morning…” I said – and I handed her the packet her husband had sent from Cochin.

“Oh, come on – it was so nice of you to get the packet – do sit down – I will get you something to drink – what will you have?” she said.

“Just a glass of water…” I said – and I sat down on the sofa.

I looked at the lady as she opened the fridge – took out a bottle of water – poured some in a glass – and brought the glass in a tray towards me.

I was impressed by the way she carried herself – she had so much élan, grace and poise.

She excused herself, went into the kitchen and then she came out and asked me: “Come on – have a drink – the bar is over there – and then we will have dinner – you like chicken, don’t you – or are you a vegetarian?”

“Ma’am – please don’t take the trouble…”

“What trouble? There’s no trouble at all – my maid will do the cooking while we talk – in fact it is you who have taken the trouble to deliver the packet and the least I can do is to offer you a meal,” she said.

I felt uncomfortable having a hard drink alone in her company – so I asked for a soft drink – and she had one too.

I think she realized that I was feeling a bit awkward – so she tried to put me at ease.

We talked – we had dinner – and the evening passed in a haze of delight.

As I rode my scooter back to ship I thought about her – she was a perfect navy wife – her social graces, her etiquette, her polish, her refinement, her poise – well, it is difficult for me to describe everything about her in words – so I will just say that she had all the “Lady Like Qualities”.


Part 3 – THE OFFICER and HIS WIFE

A few months later – I ran into her in the US Club Library.

“Good evening, Ma’am,” I wished her.

“Oh, hello – how are you?” she said politely.

Suddenly – her husband came in.

He looked at me – he recognized me – and he smiled and said to me, “Hi – How are you?”

“Hello, Sir – welcome back to Mumbai,” I said.

“Come – why don’t you join us for a drink – let’s go to the bar,” he said.

“Sure Sir,” I said.

I walked down to the bar with the Naval Officer and his wife.

We sat down in the club bar.

Those days – it was the custom that the senior officer signs for the drinks – so the officer signed the bar chit to order drinks.

I noticed that his lady wife was giving me a rather curious look.

I smiled at her.

“Why are you calling my husband “Sir” – you are senior to him – aren’t you?” she asked me.

“No Ma’am – your husband is senior to me,” I said.

“Really? Are you sure? I thought that you are senior to my husband,” she said.

“Of course I am sure – your husband is senior to me,” I said.

“That is surprising. You look so old and mature – that is why – when you came home the other day – I thought that you were senior to my husband,” she said.

I did not know what to say.

I certainly did not look that “old” – as if I were an elderly senior citizen.

But with my copious beard – bulky body size – and rather podgy physique – I certainly looked older than my age.

So – I said, “ Yes, Ma’am – you are right – I do look a bit older than my age – and many persons do think that I am more senior than I actually am – in fact – once a senior Lieutenant mistook me for a Lieutenant Commander – and he was surprised when he saw me in uniform next morning.”

“Oh – all that doesn’t matter,” remarked her husband, the senior Lieutenant.

It may not have mattered to him – but it did matter to his wife.

As far as his wife was concerned – it was obvious that my inter-se seniority with her husband did matter to her.

The moment she realized that I was junior to her husband – her demeanor towards me changed drastically.

Earlier – she had treated me with courteous obsequiousness – on the day I had visited her home when she thought that I was senior to her husband.

But now – the moment she realized that I was junior to her husband – her behaviour changed totally – and she was cold and frosty towards me.

The disdain with which she ignored my presence – her scornful vibes – all this made me feel uncomfortable – and I excused myself from their company after a drink – saying that I had to go somewhere.

On my way back to the ship – I had a big laugh.

It was evident that her “Lady Like Qualities” – her LLQ – was quite selective.

Yes – she certainly had selective LLQ.

In fact – to put it bluntly – this Naval Officer’s Wife was lacking in “Lady Like Qualities(LLQ)

Her Naval Officer husband may have been a “Gentleman” – but she certainly did not display the attributes of a “Lady”.


Epilogue – LADY LIKE QUALITIES (LLQ)

THE NAVY OFFICER’S WIFE 

(Hope this is applicable to Army/Air Force Officer’s Wives as well)

Here is quote from a NWWA (Navy Wives Welfare Association) booklet which encapsulates some prudent advice for a Naval Officer’s Wife:

“You don’t wear his (your husband’s) stripes … there is no such thing as a ‘Senior Wife’. There are Senior Officers. They have wives. There are Junior Officers and some of them have wives. All wives are ladies … You will not fawn over others and not expect others to fawn over you. You will be yourself. And your own manners, breeding and natural charm will shine through leaving you with no need for any borrowed stripes or other borrowed plumage”

I have seen many such elegant navy wives who were perfect ladies – military wives who had excellent LADY LIKE QUALITIES or LLQ

Do tell us if you have seen military wives with perfect LLQ?

And also do tell us some hilarious episodes about “faujans” sans LLQ – stories of military officer’s wives who are not “Ladies”

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 blog post is a spoof, 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 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)

Revised, Updated and Collated Version of My Humor in Uniform Stories Posted by me Vikram Karve in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog at 6/10/2014 12:09:00 PM at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…and url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…  and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201… 

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 8/01/2015 02:14:00 PM

Classic Wildlife Adventure Film – HATARI – My Favorite John Wayne Movie

July 28, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: Movie Memories – HATARI.

Amazing Romance – THE MAID – An Awesome Love Story

July 13, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: THE MAID – A Love Story.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

THE MAID
Short Fiction – A Love Story
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE


A RAINY NIGHT

It was a scary night – dark – windy – thunder – lightning – and heavy torrential rain.

After the official ‘cocktail-cum-dinner’ party was over – my friend said to me: “It is raining heavily. Why don’t you stay over for the night in the mess – you can sleep in my cabin if you want.”

“No,” I said, “I will go back to my ship.”

“You have had quite a bit to drink,” my friend said, “Do you really want to drive in this heavy rain…?”

“I am okay – you don’t worry – I will reach safely…” I said.

“Be careful,” my friend said, “Drive slow…”

I put on my black oilskin raincoat over my evening ‘Red Sea Rig’ uniform.

I wore my helmet.

Then – I started my motorcycle – and I drove off in the rain.

A few minutes later – while I was driving through the married accommodation area – there was a sudden ‘cloudburst’ – a huge torrent of rain – a flood of water on the road.

I lost control – my motorcycle skidded – and I fell into a gutter – and I got totally drenched in the deluge of water.

I struggled and got up – hauled up my motorcycle – and dragged the bike into the parking lot of the multistory high-rise married accommodation building nearby.

I was totally drenched – soaked to the skin – and my oilskin raincoat was covered with muck from the gutter.

It was raining very heavily – and – in this torrential rain – it was impossible to drive my motorcycle – yes – in this terrible rain – and the flood of water on the roads – even going back to the mess was out of the question.

And – from the way it was raining – it did not look like the downpour of rain was going to subside very soon.

I stood shivering in the parking lot of the multistory high-rise building – wondering what to do.

My eyes went to the wooden board on the wall – on which the names of occupants of the high-rise building were listed.

I was delighted to spot the name of ‘course-mate’ – against Flat No. 303.

I had not met this ‘course-mate’ after leaving the academy – in fact – I did not know that he was in Mumbai – but then – that was the ‘Bombay Culture’ those days – where everyone was on his own trip.

I took off my stinking oilskin raincoat and helmet – and left them on my bike.

Then – I walked to the lift – and pressed the 3rd floor button.

I stood outside Flat No. 303 and rang the doorbell.

After some time – a young woman opened the door.

It was obvious that this charming young woman was my course-mate’s wife.

She was dressed in her night-clothes – and it was evident that she had been sleeping.

“Sorry for disturbing you, Ma’am…” I said.

She looked at my wet uniform – but she said nothing.

So – I said to her: “I am a course-mate of “X” – he lives here – isn’t it…? I had a small accident on my motorcycle – and I thought I will spend some time here till the rain lessens a bit…”

She smiled – and she said, “He is not here – he is away on duty…”

“Oh – I am sorry – I will go…” I said.

“No…No – it is raining very heavily – please come in…” she said.

“Thanks…” I said.

I walked in – and I sat on the sofa in the drawing room.

“Shall I make you a cup of coffee…?” she asked.

“No – Ma’am – I have already troubled you so much – please go to sleep – I will relax here on the sofa – and I will quietly go away once it stops raining…” I said.

She smiled – and she went away – leaving me alone in the drawing room.

I do not know when I dozed off to sleep on the sofa.

What I know is that when I woke up – and opened my eyes – the first thing I saw was my course-mate’s wife looking at me.

She was freshly bathed – and she looked very beautiful – incredibly alluring – and I could not take my eyes off her.

She gave me a sweet smile.

I felt ashamed of having eyed her so brazenly – so I quickly moved my eyes away.

“Good Morning…” she said.

“Good Morning, Ma’am…” I said.

I looked out of the window.

It has stopped raining – in fact – there was bright sunlight.

“What time is it…?” I asked.

“7:30…” she said.

“Oh – I slept whole night – I am so sorry – I must go…” I said, filled with embarrassment.

“At least wash up – have a cup of tea…” she said.

“No – Ma’am – thanks a lot – but I have already overstayed my welcome – and I have to get back to my ship quickly…” I said.

“Okay…” she said.

“When will “X” be back…?” I asked.

“He should be back by tomorrow evening…” she said.

“Okay – then I will come over – and we will have a proper dinner…” I said.

“Yes…” she said.

“Thank you again, Ma’am…” I said – and I left.


3 DAYS LATER

I asked around – and I found out the “X” was posted in an inconsequential appointment in the back of beyond.

No wonder I had not met him all these days.

Three days later – in the morning – I called up his office.

“Yes – “X” had reported back the previous day from outstation duty – and he would be in office by 9:30 AM…” I was told.

I reached his office at 10 AM.

“X” was happy to see me.

I shook hands with him and said: “I have come to thank you for the hospitality when I was stuck in the rain the other night – it was very sweet of your wife to let me stay…”

“Wife…?” he asked – looking confused.

“Yes – I was all drenched in the rain – I took shelter in your building – then I saw your name on the board – and I just barged into your house – and it was very kind of your wife to let me stay all night…”

“Wife…? How could she be there…?” he asked.

“Of course your wife was there…” I said.

“Impossible…” he said.

“Then who was that charming lady…?” I asked.

“She was my ‘Maid’ – not my wife…” he said.

“What…? She was your ‘Maid’ – she was not your wife…?” I blurted out – totally bewildered.

“Yes – the woman who you met is my ‘Maid’ – she told me that some ‘course-mate’ of mine had got stuck in the rain and slept on the sofa – she didn’t remember your name – so it was you…?” he said.

“Oh – I am very sorry – your ‘Maid’ is so smart – that I mistook her for your wife – yes – I really thought that she was your wife…” I said.

“Ha Ha – I must tell my wife this…” he said, laughing.

“No – please don’t tell her – it will be very embarrassing…” I said.

Tea arrived – and we sipped our tea.

I noticed that “X” wasn’t telling me anything about his wife – so I asked him: “By the way – your wife – is she out of station…?”

“She is an ‘air-hostess’ in an international airline – so she is out on duty for around 15 days in a month…” he said.

“Oh – that’s great – we must meet sometime in the club – I owe you a dinner…” I said.

“Sure – my wife should be back by weekend…” he said.

“One more thing – please don’t tell anyone about my faux pas – it was a stupid blunder on my part in thinking that your ‘Maid’ was your wife…” I said.

“X” laughed – and said, “okay…”

But – alas – “X” told everyone about my stupid goof-up – and I became a laughing stock.

This angered me – and I did not visit “X” again.


3 YEARS LATER

I was flying abroad for some work.

An air-hostess came to me – and she asked me my name.

I told her my name.

Then – she said, “Come – we’ll upgrade you to ‘business class’…”

When I was comfortable in my new luxurious seat – the air-hostess came over to me and said, “You didn’t recognize me – of course – we have never met – I saw your name on the passenger manifest – and I guessed it must be you – well – I am your course-mate X’s wife – remember – the ‘Maid’ episode…”

“Oh – yes – how can I forget – your husband “X” told everyone about it – and I became a laughing stock…” I said.

“He told our ‘Maid’ too…” she said.

“What…? Did your husband “X” tell your ‘Maid’ that I thought that she was you…?” I asked.

“Well – my ‘Maid’ did have some inkling – she told us that you kept addressing her as ‘Ma’am’…”

“I wanted to come over to your place – but I was so embarrassed to face your ‘Maid’ again – after my faux pas…”

“Well – you can meet her when you are in Delhi – the same ‘Maid’ is still with us…”

“You’ve got the same ‘Maid’ even now…?”

“Yes – we took her along when we were posted to Delhi – she is a big boon – it is because of her that I am able to do this job which requires me to be out for so many days…” she said.

“Yes – I saw that your ‘Maid’ was very good…” I said.

“She looks after everything at home – in fact – I have handed over all ‘homemaker’ duties to her – she manages each and every thing – she even looks after my husband so well – and she is so good – that I just don’t have to bother about anything…” she said.

There was a call for her – so X’s wife smiled a ‘good-bye’ – and she left to attend to her duties.


10 YEARS LATER

Ten years later – one morning – while driving down from Mumbai to Pune by the Expressway – I stopped at the ‘Food Court’ for a cup of tea.

A car entered the ‘food court’ parking lot.

I could not believe my eyes.

My course-mate “X” was in the Driver’s Seat – and sitting next to him was his‘Maid’.

Both of them got out of the car – they walked to a vacant table and sat down.

Obviously – “X” hadn’t seen me – or if he had seen me – then “X” probably did not want to meet me.

But I was curious to meet “X” – and yes – I was quite intrigued by his rather intimate demeanor towards his ‘Maid’.

I wondered why “X” had seated his ‘Maid’ beside him on the front seat of the car – and even now – they seemed to be talking in a rather friendly manner.

I picked up my cup of tea – and I walked towards their table.

“Hello…” I said to my course-mate “X”.

“Oh – Hi…” my course-mate “X” said with a smile.

“May I join you…?” I asked.

“Of course…” he said.

“I’ll just freshen up and come…” the ‘Maid’ said – and she left for the washroom.

“So – I heard that you suddenly quit the Navy…” I said.

“Yes – I quit 5 years ago – I am in the Merchant Navy now…” he said.

“That’s great…” I said.

“Yes – the Merchant Navy is much better – especially moneywise…” he said.

“So – are you going to Pune…?” I asked “X”.

“No – I am driving down to Mahabaleshwar…” he said.

“You’re going to Mahabaleshwar – with your ‘Maid’…?” I asked, shocked.

“She is no longer my ‘Maid’….” he said.

“What…? She is no longer your ‘Maid’…? Don’t tell me that you have married her…!” I said, totally baffled.

“Not yet…” he said, nonchalantly.

“Not yet…! What do you mean by ‘Not Yet’…? Are you saying that you intend marrying your ‘Maid’…? So that means that you two are living together…?” I blurted out, baffled out of my wits.

“X” did not say anything – he looked down at the table.

His silence spoke volumes.

For me – the whole thing was unbelievable – most bizarre.

Then – after I recovered my wits – I looked at “X”  and I said to him, “Have you gone crazy…? You have dumped your wife for your ‘Maid’…?”

“X” did not answer – he just looked away.

I followed his gaze – and I saw the ‘Maid’ come out of the washroom and walk towards us.

I got up from my seat.

“Okay – Bye – it is time for me to move on…” I said to “X”.

Meanwhile the ‘Maid’ had reached our table and was smiling at me – so – I looked at the ‘Maid’ – and I said to her: “All the Best, Ma’am…”

Last time – calling her “Ma’am” was a faux pas on my part – but – now – as my course-mate’s consort – she had earned the right to be called “Ma’am”.

Then – I turned – and I walked towards my car.

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 spoof, 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. This story is 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)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.


Posted by Vikram Karve at 7/13/2015 01:14:00 PM

HOW TO WRITE FOOD REVIEWS AND RATE RESTAURANTS – Guide

May 30, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: FOOD REVIEW – HOW TO RATE RESTAURANTS.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

FOOD REVIEWS

HOW TO RATE RESTAURANTS
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

This happened 37 years ago in the 1970’s during my early days in the Navy.

We were sitting in our ship’s wardroom enjoying our first drink of the evening – when some shipmates peeped in and asked me: “Hey – we are thinking of going to ‘XXX’ restaurant for dinner…”

“…3 Large…” I said.

My shipmates promptly downed 3 Large Pegs of Whisky each – and then proceeded for dinner to ‘XXX’ restaurant in the heart of Mumbai.

I was – and I still am – an avid ‘Foodie’.

During my early navy days – I was lucky to be appointed on ships based at Mumbai – which gave me great opportunity to explore the culinary delights of the best foodie city in India.

If you have read ‘food reviews’ – you will notice that most restaurant reviewers rate restaurants on a scale of 1 to 5 – with 5 meaning ‘Excellent’ – 4 (Very Good) – 3 (Good) – 2 (Average) – and – 1 (Poor).

These food reviewers consider various parameters like food, service, ambience etc to rate a restaurant (and some even give sub-ratings for each parameter).

Some restaurant reviewers use ‘stars’ instead of numbers – but it is basically the same rating system.

My restaurant rating system is different.

I rate restaurants on the number of pegs of booze (rum/whisky) you are advised to imbibe before proceeding to eat food in the restaurant.

Yes – I rate restaurants on a scale of ‘0’ to ‘6’ – ‘0’ Pegs’ to ‘6 Pegs’ to be precise – and – of course – the ‘Peg’ referred to is a ‘Large Peg’ – which is ‘60 ml’ of rum/whisky.

And yes – this rating mainly applies to Indian Cuisine.

It is my experience that alcohol does not go well with Indian Cuisine which is highly flavorsome.

Alcohol dulls the taste buds, and olfactory sensation, and encumbers the unmitigated enjoyment of good food.

So – if you are going to have an authentic Indian ‘Pure Vegetarian Thali Meal’ prepared hygienically with pure ingredients in clean surroundings – you will ruin the eating experience if you drink alcohol before, or along with, this pristine food.    

This will therefore qualify for a ‘0’ Large or ‘Zero Peg’ rating.

On the other hand – hard-core street-food like oily spicy greasy mutton curry prepared in most unhygienic earthy manner and eaten in noisy, crowded, polluted, filthy surroundings – ‘robust’ food which requires a ‘cast iron stomach’ to digest and fit only for a seasoned trencherman – will qualify for a‘6 Large’ rating.

You have got the drift – haven’t you?

At one end of the scale (‘Zero Large’) was delicate refined pristine food to be savoured by the high-falutin gourmand.

At the other end of the scale (‘6 Large’) was fiery robust earthy food fit only for a tough trencherman.

My shipmates were going to a ‘3 Large’ eatery for Mutton Biryani in the heart of the city.

There was a ‘2 Large’ eatery nearby too which served a more “refined” biryani – and – of course – there were a few ‘5 Large’ street-joints where you got earthy “Kababs” and “Bheja” dishes too.

In my entire life – I have rated only one eatery with the top ‘6 Large’ rating – and I have never dared to go there again.

Of course – I have eaten in many ‘pristine’ restaurants which qualified for a‘Zero Large’ rating.

Later – I started applying this ‘0’ to ‘6’ “Large” rating whenever someone called me home to dinner.

Those days – I was known to be a passionate drinker.

We had been invited to dinner at a friend’s place – and my friend was surprised when I declined his offer of my favourite ‘Rum-Pani’ drink.

“You don’t want a drink…? What’s wrong with you…?” my friend asked me.

“Nothing is wrong with me. Your wife is such an excellent cook – and I have seen in the kitchen all the delicious dishes she has made for dinner – so I don’t want to spoil my eating experience by drinking alcohol…” I said.

Another friend’s wife overheard our conversation – and she gave me an angry look.

She had called us for dinner a few days ago – and I had downed 5 Large Pegs of Rum at her place before daring to sample her cooking.

In fact – after tasting her ‘mutton curry’ – I had insisted on ‘one more drink’ – yes – it was truly a mutton curry worthy of a ‘6 Large’ rating…


PS:

You may ask me why limit the rating to ‘6 Large’…?

Simple.

‘6 Large’ is nearly half a bottle of rum/whisky – and after drinking so much alcohol – your taste buds will hardly be able to discern the taste of the food you are eating… 

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 article is a spoof, 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 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)


Posted by Vikram Karve at 5/30/2015 12:05:00 PM

 

Humor in Uniform – THE HAPPY NAVY – Hilarious “Memoir” from My Wonderful Navy Life

May 25, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: Humor in Uniform – THE BOOZY NAVY.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

HUMOUR IN UNIFORM

Here is a “memoir” from the happiest days of my life – my early days in the Navy.

This hilarious story happened more than 37 years ago – in the 1970’s …

THE BOOZY NAVY
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE


TÊTE-À-TÊTE

Lieutenant “Z” was transferred to Kolkata (or Calcutta – as the city was called in the 1970’s – but I will use the present name Kolkata in this story).

The “powers-that-be” thought Lieutenant “Z” would be very happy since Kolkata was his hometown.

But Lieutenant “Z” seemed very upset and he rushed to his ship’s Captain to get his transfer cancelled.

“We thought you would be happy – Kolkata is your hometown,” the Captain said.

“Sir – I don’t want to leave the ship…” Lieutenant “Z” said.

“Oh – it’s good to see that you are a true ‘sea-dog’ and you like the tough life at sea – but then – you have to go ashore…” the Captain said.

“But – Why – Sir…?” Lieutenant “Z” asked.

“See – you got your ‘watch-keeping ticket’ last year – and you have served for more than one year on board as a sea watch-keeping officer – and you will be due for your ‘Long Course’ after 2 years…” the Captain said to Lieutenant “Z”.

“Sir – I can spend these 2 years on board this ship – or some other ship – but I don’t want to go to Kolkata – especially in that shore appointment…” Lieutenant “Z” said.

The Captain was getting exasperated – so he said a bit angrily: “Look here Lieutenant “Z” – there is a bloody shortage of ships and sea billets – and we have plenty of young officers waiting for their watch-keeping tickets – so you will have to cool your heels ashore for 2 years till your ‘Long Course’ comes through…”

“Okay – Sir – if I have to go ashore – then please change my transfer to some other place – I do not wish to go to Kolkata…” Lieutenant “Z” said.

“I just don’t understand you – what’s wrong with Kolkata – it is your hometown – you can be with your parents, family and friends – I personally talked to DOP to get you this appointment – your CO at Kolkata is my friend and he is an excellent officer – he will give you a thumping ACR…” the Captain said.

“Sir – I don’t want to go to Kolkata…”

“Lieutenant “Z” – I am warning you – if you act funny – we will send to ‘Kala Pani’ in the Andaman…” the Captain said threateningly.

“Sir – please send me to the Andamans…”

“Are you crazy…? Why don’t you want to go to Kolkata…? Have you some family problems…?” the Captain asked.

“Sir – Booze is expensive in Kolkata…” Lieutenant “Z” said, matter-of-factly.

“What…? What do you mean ‘Booze is expensive in Kolkata’…? Is that the reason why you do not want to go there…?”

“Sir – the only worthwhile perk we get is ‘concessional liquor’ – that is why I want to remain on board ship so that I can enjoy ‘duty-free booze’ – but if I have to go ashore – please send me to a place where ‘Military Booze’ is cheap – Sir – the price of CSD Quota Liquor in Bengal is 3 times more expensive than the price out here in Maharashtra…” Lieutenant “Z” said.


(This story happened in the 1970’s – when CSD Quota Liquor was cheapest in Maharashtra. However – since tax concessions are given by State Governments – and local taxes/concessions keep changing from time to time – the situation may be quite different now – but even now – the prices of CSD Quota Liquor vary from state to state – so ‘Military Booze’ is cheaper in some states – and more expensive in others)

Now – after this brief aside – let us continue with the interesting tête-à-tête between Lieutenant “Z” and his Captain…


“So – you wanted to remain on board this ship so that you can enjoy cheap ‘duty-free booze’…?” the Captain asked.

“Yes – Sir…” Lieutenant “Z” said.

“And you even prefer to go to the Andamans because booze is cheaper there…?”

“Yes – Sir…”

“It seems that you joined the Navy to drink liquor…!”

“Yes – Sir…”

“What nonsense…? Are you crazy…?”

“Sir – the main reason I joined the ‘Boozy Navy’ was to enjoy the best of ‘duty-free’ booze – that is why I want to be on ships – but if I have to go ashore – the least I can do is to enjoy my full quota of CSD ‘Military Liquor’ at the cheapest possible rates…”

“Are you mad…? Are you saying that the only reason why people should join the defence services is to drink alcohol…? That means – according to you – teetotallers should not join the Navy – or the Military…?”

“Sir – I told you before – the only worthwhile perk we get in the defence services is ‘concessional liquor’ – so what is the point of wasting your life in the military if you are not going to enjoy this exclusive ‘Fauji Perk’ of ‘Military Booze’…? And if you don’t drink – if you are a teetotaller – you might as well take up a civilian job, live a comfortable life, and earn plenty of money…” Lieutenant “Z” pontificated.

“I am a strict teetotaller – I don’t touch alcohol…” the Captain said, “…are you saying that I am wasting my time in the Navy…?”

“Sir – just think of all the ‘Duty-Free’ Booze and CSD Quota Liquor you have missed out on in all these 25 years of your service…” Lieutenant “Z” said – with genuine regret in his eyes.

“You are a crazy bugger…! Just get out my cabin…” the Captain shouted at Lieutenant “Z”.


EPILOGUE

Two things happened after this amusing tête-à-tête between Lieutenant “Z” and his Captain.

Firstly – the Captain picked up the phone and spoke to the DOP who was his course-mate.

The DOP had a big laugh when the Captain told him the reason why Lieutenant “Z” wanted his transfer changed.

Since there was no billet available in the Andamans (where booze was the cheapest those days) – DOP did the next best thing possible – and – Lieutenant “Z” was transferred as a Divisional Officer to NDA near Pune where the price of CSD Quota Liquor was the same as in Mumbai since both were in Maharashtra State.

Secondly – the Captain asked his steward to serve him a chilled can of premium imported beer (available dirt cheap at ‘duty-free’ rates on board ship).

This was his first sip of booze ever since he joined the Navy more than 25 years ago.

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 spoof, 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. This Story and 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)

 

MY LOVE STORY – THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE

May 9, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: MY VERY OWN LOVE STORY – THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

MY VERY OWN LOVE STORY

Do you want to read an old fashioned romance?

Here is a love story from my creative writing archives, once more, for you to read:

THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE
My Very Own Love Story
Short Fiction
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Part 1 – THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE
(Mumbai – Thursday, 14 October 1976)
  
Do you remember the happiest day of your life…?

I do…!

Yes, 39 years may have passed, but I clearly remember what happened on the happiest day of my life.

Here’s how it began…

“Excuse me,” a feminine voice said from behind me. 

I turned around.

“Mr. Avinash…?” she asked.

I stared blankly at the smart young woman, tongue-tied. 

“I’m Sheetal…” she said with a lovely smile.

“Oh, Hi…” I stammered, quickly gathering my wits.

I looked at her. 

Avinash had been terribly wrong in describing how Sheetal looked like.

The Sheetal standing in front of me was no podgy pedestrian suburban unpretentious “back-home-type behenji female” as he had imagined.

She was a real beauty, chic, smart, ravishing, a stunner, and I could not take my eyes off her.

Her eyes were extremely beautiful – enormous, dark, expressive eyes. 

And suddenly her eyes began to dance.

Sheetal must have seen the frank look of genuine admiration in my eyes.

So she gave me smile so captivating that I experienced a delightful twinge in my heart.

“You are Mr. Avinash, aren’t you…?” she asked mischievously.

“Yes…” I lied, “How did you recognize me…?”

“You were the only person looking lost and out of place out here…the odd man out…” she laughed vivaciously.

“Oh…” I said unconsciously.

I stood still, mesmerized by her gorgeousness, and by my natural instinct, I let my eyes linger, travel all over her exquisite body.  

“Hey – are you going to stare at me all day or should we grab a bite? I am hungry,” she said playfully.

“Yes…Yes…” I said.

“Okay…come…let’s go to Samovar…we can talk there in peace too…” she said.

Sheetal led me from the art gallery to Samovar, the restaurant in the veranda.

Thus began the happiest day of my life.


Part 2 – LIFE IN THOSE “GOOD OLD” DAYS
(Pune – 1976)

Dear Reader, please permit me to tell you a little bit about how it all started.

In order to tell you this story, I am going to transport you back into time 37 years into the past.

Yes, we are going 37 years back in time to 1976, when Pune was a Pensioners’ Paradise.

Believe it or not, Dear Reader, but, in the 1960s and 1970s, Pune, the Queen of the Deccan, with its lovely climate, pure fresh air, lush green environs, salubrious, spacious and friendly laid back atmosphere, was indeed a “paradise”.

Yes, those days, Pune was indeed the best city to live in.

In fact, 37 years ago, in 1976, Pune was not even a “city” in the literal sense.

Imagine a Pune without Malls and the Multiplexes, with hardly any traffic on the roads, when the bicycle was the popular mode of travel.

The nearest “city” was Mumbai (those days, in the 1970’s, Mumbai was called Bombay – and much earlier in the 1960’s, Pune was called Poona).

The best way of going to Mumbai was to travel by the Indian Railways, by charming trains like the Deccan Queen, enjoying the scenic beauty of the lush green Sahayadri Ghats while savouring the delicious piping hot breakfast served by the restaurant car.

There was no expressway, and the “Bombay – Poona Road”, as it was called, was quite terrible, and it took around six hours to drive down, as the winding road through the Khandala Ghats was quite treacherous.

Just imagine – there were no mobile cell-phones, no internet, no PCs, no STD.

You had to book trunk-calls on a landline telephone and wait for hours for the call to materialize, or if you were in a hurry, then you had to make expensive “lightening” calls.

Black and White Television had just arrived and was a novelty which very few lucky prosperous people possessed.

And everyone in the neighborhood barged into their homes to watch popular TV programmes like chitrahaar, chayyageet, or a cricket match. 

The main thing was that there was no internet, and hence there was no email, and one had to write letters and send them via post as there were no courier services either.

Of course, gadgets like mobiles were a long way off, so you could not even imagine things like SMS and applications like “whatsapp”.

Social interaction was face to face, relishing yummy bhel in the numerous picturesque parks, or over tea, in the Amrutatulayas, Irani cafes and Kattas, as there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Google, no Blogging, no cell phones, no blackberry, no iphones, no smartphones, no SMS, no MMS, no nothing, and as I said, way back then, the concepts of “cyberspace” and wireless mobile technology just did not exist.

Those days, a B. Tech. from an IIT did not get you a huge pay packet – yes, an IIT degree surely ensured that you got a good job, but once you were in the job you were on par with the other guys from various Engineering Colleges. 

Yes, only guys did engineering then, maybe there were a few gals, the rare exceptions, but I hardly met any pursuing a career as an engineer, maybe most of them got married, or shifted to softer professions.

Both of us, my IIT Classmate Avinash and I, joined a leading engineering company located in the suburbs of Pune.

Well that was the trend at IITs those days.

Either you went abroad, to America, to pursue higher studies.

Or you got a good job in the campus interview in a prestigious engineering firm, unless you were one of those few who preferred to be a white-collared manager via the MBA route.

Way back then there were hardly any management institutes, I think maybe there was just one IIM, at Ahmedabad, or maybe there were two, and there was FMS at Delhi and Jamnalal Bajaj at Mumbai.

The majority of engineers studied engineering to practice engineering, so we were quite happy to hit the shop floor doing hard core engineering.

We worked hard, for six days a week including Sundays, and we had our weekly off on Thursdays – the industrial holiday in Pune.

We rented a house near Deccan Gymkhana from where we commuted to work and back by the company bus.

Life was good. 

It was easy to be happy. 

The threshold of happiness was so low that small things made us happy.

Yes, simple things like a relaxed chat over a cup of tea made you happy.

I can never forget those happy moments.

Yes, every evening after work, we would get down from the bus at Deccan Gymkhana bus stop, relax over a Bun-Maska and Chai at Café Good Luck or Lucky, and then walk down to our rented apartment on Bhandarkar Road nearby.

One of our most enjoyable highlights was our weekly Thursday visit to Pune Camp – to see the latest Hollywood Movie in royal style relaxing on those unique easy chairs at the inimitable West End Cinema, relishing tasty mouth-watering bites and soothing thirst-quenching sips at the Soda Fountain during the interval, followed by delectable Mutton Samosas, Bun Maska and refreshing Irani style Chai at Naaz, then a leisurely stroll on Main Street (now called MG Road) and East Street, window-shopping, bird-watching and snacking, sandwiches, chicken rolls and cold coffee at Marz-o-rin, maybe a browse at Manney’s bookstore, and then a hearty Chinese meal at Kamling or Chung Fa, or a Mughlai repast at Latif, or Punjabi Food at Kwality, Biryani at Dorabjee or George, or Sizzlers at The Place (which boasts of being the first Sizzler Place in India) next to Manney’s.

And then we would end the day with a Meetha Masala Paan at George to carry home the lingering flavour and fragrance of the delightful evening.


Part 3 – AVINASH ASKS ME A FAVOUR
(Pune – Wednesday Evening, 13 October 1976)

When there are two close friends, one assumes the role of a leader and the other becomes a de facto follower. 

Amongst the two of us, Avinash, a tall, strapping, confident, flamboyant, handsome man endowed with an excellent physique with a dominating personality, was the natural leader. 

“Shekhar, can you do me a favour?” Avinash said to me one Wednesday evening while we were sipping chai at Good Luck cafe in Deccan.

“Favour?” I asked.

“Go down to Mumbai tomorrow and see a girl in my place,” he said nonchalantly.

“See a girl…?” I looked at him, confused.

“Let me explain to you. There is some back-home-type behenji girl.”

“Back-home-type behenji girl?”

“Yes. Someone visited my parents in my hometown with a marriage proposal for me. They want me to marry their daughter. She works in Mumbai. My parents want me to see her, but I am least interested in getting involved with any back-home-type behenjifemale.”

“So?”

“So, you go to Mumbai and see her and come back. And I will tell my parents that I did not like the girl,” Avinash said.

“You want me to go and meet her? Are you crazy! Tell me, why don’t you go to Mumbai and meet her?” I asked.

“Listen yaar – I have managed to patao a solid cheez – I met her during that management seminar which I attended last week…” he said.

“But you didn’t tell me…” I said.

Arre Bhai … first let something happen … kuch hone to do … but uske liye you will have to help me out. I have fixed up a solid date with her tomorrow taking her for a drive on my bike around Lonavala and Khandala – we planned it during the seminar, she agreed after lots of my pleading. And, suddenly this morning, my mom calls up in the office and tells me to go to Mumbai tomorrow to meet this marriage proposal girl. I told my mother that I was not interested, but she said that she had given her word, so I had to go and meet the girl tomorrow as a formality. Please Shekhar. Help me out. Just go to Mumbai tomorrow and see the girl. I told you that it is just a formality. Then we can all forget about it,” Avinash said.

“But how…?” I protested.

“I have already booked your ticket both ways by Deccan Queen. Just go in the morning and come back in the evening. This girl I am supposed to see is called Sheetal and she will meet you in the Jehangir Art Gallery at 11 o’clock. It’s a working day for her and she told my mother that she would take some time off and be there to meet me at Jehangir Art Gallery which is near her office.”

“But how can I masquerade as you? She must be having your photo. I will get caught and it will be very embarrassing,” I said.

“There is no photo, nothing – she doesn’t know how I look like and I even don’t know how she looks like. It all happened so suddenly. Our parents got talking back home last evening, my mother spoke to the girl by trunk-call. My mother knows I have Thursday off, so she fixed up the meeting with the girl and then my mother rang me up this morning to go and see the girl tomorrow.”

“But what is the crashing hurry? You can meet next Thursday.” I said.

“It seems that the girl is going back to her hometown near our place, in themofussil, by the Friday evening train. She is going away for a month’s leave and there are some boys lined up there for her to see – apparently my mother is quite keen on this girl, her family is good, she is the only child, so maybe they promised plenty of dowry. But I am just not interested. She is seeing so many boys back home, I am sure she will like someone and she will forget about me; I mean – you, she’ll forget you” he said.

“No…No. I am not going…the whole thing is preposterous…I can’t do this…” I protested.

Yaar please – don’t ditch me – I have already told my mother that I will meet the girl at 11 tomorrow in Jehangir Art Gallery,” he said.

“I don’t understand all this…” I said.

“I have told you all this before. My mother said her office is in Kalaghoda – so Jehangir Art Gallery is the nearest and best place – there in Mumbai. She works on Thursdays – only we here in Pune have industrial off on Thursdays – so they fixed up tomorrow as the girl has to leave for her place on Friday evening on a holiday. Don’t argue – just get it over with. You have to meet her for 10-15 minutes, that’s all. Then she will go back to her office. You loaf around in Colaba, have some biryani at Olympia or Delhi Darbar, and see a movie at Regal, Eros or Sterling, New Empire, Metro or somewhere – there is so much to do there. Then catch the Deccan Queen at 5 o’clock in the evening. I will come to pick you up at Pune railway station. And, after you come back, from the STD booth there I’ll ring up my mom tomorrow night and I will tell her I did not like the girl and the whole thing will be a closed chapter,” Avinash said.

“No. I don’t like all this,” I protested.

Then Avinash put his arm around my shoulder and pleaded, “Please Shekhar – I have to go for this Lonavala date – the female is too good yaar and it is a solid opportunity. I promise you Shekhar – agar woh pat gayee – if things work out and my Lonavala romance succeeds – I will give you a big treat – whatever you want.”

So, for the sake of friendship, early next morning, I boarded the Deccan Queen to Mumbai masquerading as Avinash for my rendezvous with Sheetal.


Part 4 – RENDEZVOUS IN JEHANGIR ART GALLERY
(Mumbai – Thursday Morning, 14 October 1976)

The Deccan Queen reached Mumbai at 10:30.

I walked down DN Road, past Hutatma Chowk (or Flora Fountain as it is polpularly known), and by the time I reached Jehangir Art Gallery at Kalaghoda it was almost 11.

For a few moments I stood in the foyer, looking around at all the girls, searching for someone looking like a back-home-type behenji female who may be Sheetal.

Dear Reader, I know it will be difficult for you to imagine how different and archaic things were in those days, 37 years ago.

Today if you want to find out about someone, you can just Google their name, and, presto, so many details will show up about that person – you can easily see everything about her, her present, her past, her family and friends, the places she has visited, where she has studied, worked, you can even see her pictures, her entire web identity.

Today, pictures can be instantly clicked and sent on mobile phones; even photos can be scanned and sent instantly on mobiles and by email.

In the 1970’s, the only way to send a photograph was by post and a letter took many days to reach.

That is why it was not possible for Avinash and Sheetal to exchange photos.

That is why I could masquerade as Avinash.

And that is why, at 11 AM on the 14th of October 1976, I was standing in Jehangir Art Gallery waiting to meet a girl called Sheetal but I was totally clueless about how Sheetal looked like.

After a few moments, I went into the exhibition hall and started admiring the paintings.

“Excuse me,” a feminine voice said from behind me. 

I turned around.

“Mr. Avinash…?” she asked.

I stared blankly at the smart young woman, tongue-tied. 

“I’m Sheetal…” she said with a lovely smile.

“Oh, Hi…” I stammered, quickly gathering my wits.

I looked at her. 

Avinash had been terribly wrong in describing how Sheetal looked like.

The Sheetal standing in front of me was no podgy pedestrian suburban unpretentious “back-home-type behenji female”.

She was a real beauty, chic, smart, ravishing, a stunner, and I could not take my eyes off her.

Her eyes were extremely beautiful – enormous, dark, expressive eyes. 

And suddenly her eyes began to dance.

Sheetal must have seen the frank look of genuine admiration in my eyes.

Yes, I was genuinely admiring her beauty with the unspoken language of the eyes which was worth more than a thousand spoken compliments.

Sheetal must have felt it, so she gave me smile so captivating that I experienced a delightful twinge in my heart.

“You are Mr. Avinash, aren’t you…?” she asked mischievously.

“Yes…” I lied, “How did you recognize me…?”

“You were the only person looking totally lost and out of place over here – like the odd man out,” she laughed vivaciously.

“Oh…” I said unconsciously.

I stood still, mesmerized by her gorgeousness, and following my natural instinct, I let my eyes linger on her, travel all over her exquisite body.  

“Hey – are you going to stare at me all day or should we grab a bite? I am hungry,” she said playfully.

“Yes…Yes…” I said.

“Okay…come…let’s go to Samovar…we can talk there in peace too…” she said.

Sheetal led me from the art gallery to Samovar, the restaurant in the veranda.


Part 5 – A ROMANTIC DATE WITH THE “BACK-HOME-TYPEFEMALE”
(Mumbai – Thursday Afternoon, 14 October 1976)

Samovar restaurant was situated next to the art gallery in a long rectangular veranda and resembling a Railway Dining Car.

We sat down opposite each other, on the comfortable cane chairs, and I looked at the expansive green lawns of adjoining Museum.

The moment we sat down a waiter came and asked us what we wanted to eat.

“I am hungry,” she said, and she ordered stuffed Parathas and Dahi Wada.

“I’ll have a cutlet,” I said, “and some Pudina Chai after that.”

“You’ve come here before,” she asked.

“Just once, a few years ago, when I was at IIT,” I said.

“Oh yes, you studied at IIT Powai – but that’s quite far away.”

“We sometimes came down on Sundays, to have a loaf around Fort, Colaba and Churchgate, and see movie once in a while.”

“I come here quite often. My office is nearby. That’s why I suggested this place – we can sit here and talk undisturbed for as long as we want and get to know each other better. This is a nice place for a relaxed chat over lunch.” she said.

I was in no mood for a relaxed chat over lunch.

In fact I was feeling nervous.

The more I talked to her, the more was the chance of me being unmasked – suppose I slipped up, and what if she came to know that I was not the Avinash she was expecting, but a phony masquerading as Avinash – it would be terrible – I could not even imagine the consequences.

I also felt qualms of conscience.

I had taken a liking to this girl Sheetal, sitting in front of me, and I felt I was not doing the right thing by pretending to be Avinash.

I could not bear the mendacity – telling a blatant lie and cheating this decent girl.

So, I blurted out, “Hey, Sheetal. I think I need to go. I cannot do this any longer. Bye, I must go now.”

“Go now? Is anything wrong? Are you feeling okay?”

“No, I am not okay. And, everything is wrong.”

“What happened?” she asked looking surprised, and worried.

“I want to tell you something. I want to confess…” I said.

“Confess? What?” she asked.

“I am not who you think. I am not Avinash. My name is Shekhar,” I said.

She gave me a puzzled look, and then she said, “Why don’t you tell me everything.”

I told her everything.

Yes, I told her everything – from the beginning to the end – each and every thing.

I felt relieved once I had got it off my chest.

I thought she would get angry.

But she smiled and said, “So you are Shekhar who has come to see the marriage proposal for Avinash – that is me – the prospective bride.”

“Yes,” I said sheepishly.

“And the real Avinash is having a good time with the hot-chick in Lonavala.”

“Yes.”

“So you will make a fool of me by masquerading as Avinash and pass some time with me and go back to Pune.”

“Yes.”

“And the moment you reach Pune, Avinash will ring up his mother and tell her that he did not like the girl – that is me.”

“Yes.”

“What was the need to for this charade?”

“I don’t know – Avinash said it has something to do with your conservative families – if he refuses to see you then relations may get spoiled. But please, I don’t want to discuss all this – I am feeling very bad doing this to you – I am very sorry.”

“You don’t be sorry – it is your friend Avinash who should be sorry.”

“I’ll go now?”

“You are booked by the evening Deccan Queen, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“So, now that we are stuck with each other, why don’t we make the most of it?” she said.

“I don’t know…”

“Don’t worry – I am not going to eat you up. We’ll do whatever time-pass you were planning to do after getting rid of me.”

“But you have got office – that is what Avinash told me.”

“I have taken the day off. Come, let’s spend some time together – then you can catch the Deccan Queen and I will go back to my hostel on Marine Drive.”

Our food order arrived.

Sheetal asked for extra plates and we shared the stuffed parathas and the cutlet.

“Now what?” Sheetal asked, after we had finished eating.

“Let’s see the Museum,” I said, looking out towards the imposing Museum building.

“The Museum?” she asked, looking surprised.

“You don’t want to go – okay, whatever you say.”

“No. No. Today you are taking me out on a date. I will come with you wherever take me,” she smiled and said, “come to think of it, I have been in Mumbai for 6 months, work so close by, and have not seen the Museum.”

I must say that Sheetal was really beautiful, and as we walked side by side, I realized that all the men were looking appreciatively at her; in fact some men were giving her quite yearning looks.

For the first time in my life, I felt the natural pride of possession that any man feels when he has the company of a woman that other men desire.

After we came out the Museum, she asked me, “Now what?”

“Let’s walk down Colaba Causeway. We can go to Olympia for a Biryani, and then have Gulab Jamun at Kailas Parbat.”

“Okay.”

“Now what?” she asked.

“Let’s browse books.”

“Browse books?”

“Yes, on the pavement bookstalls near the CTO – sometimes you get good books there quite cheap.”

“And how are we going there? I hope you are not going to march me down!”

“Yes – I was thinking it will be a good walk.”

“Please – I am feeling quite tired – and my legs are aching – the high heels I am wearing are not exactly made for cross country walking!”

“Okay – let’s take the bus.”

“Bus? You want to take your date in a bus?”

“Why? Is something wrong? I have no experience in these sorts of things.”

“You haven’t dated a girl before?”

“No.”

“Okay, let’s go by bus.”

We browsed books.

Then we went to a quaint Maharashtrian restaurant opposite VT called Kelkar Vishranti Gruha and had Sabudana UsalKanda Thalipith washed down by a delicious Piyush.

Sheetal looked at me and said, “I have gone out with so many boys, but you are different.”

“Different?”

“No one has made marched me down in the hot sun, no one had has made me browse books on pavement stalls – and no one has taken me to these food joints which I didn’t know even existed.”

“You didn’t enjoy?”

“Of course I did – but what I am saying is that I have never seen anyone like you – you are different from the rest – you are so simple, you act so natural – I have met all kinds of men, but you are truly an original,” she said.

I felt good, blushed – but maybe she was just being kind.

We strolled in Fort, window shopping.

I lost all track of time.

The day had passed in a haze of delight – for the first time in my life I had experienced the joy the company of a girl can bring in a man’s life.

We passed a shop selling clocks.

Sheetal looked at the clocks and said, “Hey it is already 4:45 – you have to catch the Deccan Queen, isn’t it – I think we better head to the station.”

“Okay, bye…” I said.

“What do you mean, bye – I am coming to see you off,” she said.

I did not refuse.

I longed for a few more moments of her delightful company.


Part 6 – THE CLIMAX OF THE STORY
(Mumbai – Thursday Evening, 14 October 1976)

It was 5 o’clock in the evening.

The blue-and-cream Deccan Queen stood beside the platform waiting to start its evening journey from Mumbai to Pune.

We, Sheetal and me, stood on platform outside my coach.

“You are the first boy I have met who did not try to impress me,” Sheetal said.

“I know. But what can I do? I told you that I have no experience of dating girls. But I should have tried and treated you better. I am sorry,” I said.

“Hey, why are you sorry? You are really nice decent guy. I really enjoyed your company.”

“You are just saying that to console me. I am such a bore, and such a cheapie. I am sure I ruined your day.”

“No. No. I really enjoyed your company. I have never gone a date like this before. It was real fun.”

“Thank you, Sheetal. I am feeling so good that you said that.”

“It is true, Shekhar. You make me feel good. No one has made me feel so good before. I really enjoy your company. You are one person with whom I can be myself – yes with you I can be my own self. I don’t have to fake it. I don’t have to put on an act. I don’t have to wear a mask. I don’t have to be someone else. I can just be myself and forget about all those social graces.”

“Me too…” I said.

“Maybe we should see more of each other. I think I will come down to Pune next weekend.”

“What? You want to come to Pune?”

“Why? Don’t you like my company?”

“No. No. Of course I like you. But Avinash will be there in Pune. It will be very awkward.”

“Avinash? To hell with him! In any case, I am not getting married to Avinash now. In fact, by tomorrow he would have told his parents that he has rejected me. That is what he told you, isn’t it?”

“Yes. In fact, Avinash told me that he would call up his parents tonight only, the moment I reach Pune.”

“Shekhar, you make sure Avinash calls up his parents tonight. Because I am going to call up my parents from the STD booth over there the moment the Deccan Queen leaves and tell them that I don’t want to marry such a dope.”

“Dope? But Avinash is not a dope. He is not like me,” I said.

“And suppose I told you that Sheetal is not like me,” she said, looking at me directly in the eye.

“Sheetal is not like you? What do you mean? You are Sheetal aren’t you?”

“You still think I am Sheetal, don’t you?” she looked at me mischievously.

“Yes,” I said, a bit bewildered.

“You know, Shekhar – I like you so much – you make me feel so good – and you were so frank and honest with me – I can’t cheat you any longer,” she said.

“Cheat me…?”

“Yes. I have been deceiving you and making a fool of you. But you are such a good guy that I have to be honest with you. I am going to come clean.”

“Come clean?”

“Shekhar, in the morning you told me the truth that you are not Avinash – now it is my turn to tell you the truth. I want to confess…”

“Confess …?”

“I am not Sheetal …” she said.

“What? You are not Sheetal? You are not the girl Avinash was supposed to see?” I asked – I was totally taken aback, feeling puzzled and perplexed.

“Yes, Shekhar – I am not Sheetal,” she repeated.

Then who are you…?” I asked her, trying to recover my wits.

“Shweta – my name is Shweta. I am the girl Avinash he was supposed to meet in Lonavala,” she said.

“Lonavala? Don’t tell me that you are that hot-chick who Avinash was so crazy about. He was desperate to patao you…!” I blurted out, instantly regretting my words.

She laughed.

She really gave a hearty laugh.

I looked at her dumbstruck, feeling embarrassed.

Then she said, “Yes, I am the hot-chick your friend Avinash met last week at the management seminar.”

“Why have you not gone to Lonavala to meet him as planned? Poor Avinash. He must have waited for you all day. Why did you ditch him?”

“Don’t worry. I have sent Sheetal to Lonavala to meet Avinash.”

“What? Sheetal? You have sent Sheetal to Lonavala to meet Avinash?”

“Yes, the same Sheetal – well, she happens to be my best friend.”

“Oh?”

“Sheetal told me that her mother was forcing her to see a boy called Avinash who was coming down from Pune. She told me that she did not want to see any boy – in fact, Sheetal is not that interested in getting married so fast.”

“So?”

“When she told me details of the boy I got a bit suspicious – could it be the same Avinash who had called me to Lonavala? How could he be in Lonavala and Mumbai at the same time? Was he two-timing me? Or was he going to stand her up? I was curious, very curious.”

“So you decided to swap dates?”

“And we wanted to get to the bottom of things – to find out who is who and what is what – doodh ka doodh aur paani ka paani – as they say in Hindi.”

“So you came to meet me masquerading as Sheetal,” I said.

“Yes, and the actual Sheetal has gone to Lonavala by the same morning train on which I was supposed to travel. Sheetal must have been there on time at the rendezvous point where Avinash was going to meet me. I am sure they have met each other.”

“Oh, My God…”

“Why? How do you know that they won’t like each other? We liked each other didn’t we? I am sure they are spending some quality time together. You never know – they may even decide to get married,” Shweta said, with a mischievous smile and twinkle in her eyes.

Suddenly I heard the guard blow his whistle.

It was almost 5:10 – time for the Deccan Queen to leave.

“The train is going to start. I have to go now…” I said to Shweta.

“Let the train go,” she said.

“What?”

“I want to spend some more time with you. Let’s walk on Marine Drive. Watch sunset. Then we’ll go to Chowpatty. Let’s walk on the sand by the sea, having some yummy bhel. And then you can treat me to that green chilly ice cream you were telling me so much about…” she said.

Suddenly the train jerked and started moving.

“Hey, the train is leaving.”

“Let it go,” Shweta said, and she pressed my hand.

I pressed her hand back as I watched the Deccan Queen leave without me.

The evening passed in a haze of delight.

Never before had I enjoyed the company of someone so much.

For the first time in my life I experienced a new emotion – a kind of thrilling happiness and blissful joy that the right girl can bring in your life.

And Shweta was certainly the right girl for me.

I realized the meaning of love – I knew what it was like to be in love.

We sat on the parapet enjoying the cool night sea breeze on Marine Drive opposite the working women’s hostel where Shweta lived.

Time flew.

I looked at my watch – it was 11:15.

The last train for Pune, the overnight Passenger, left at 11:45.

It was time to say good bye, at least for now.

I called a Taxi.

“Bye,” I said to Shweta.

“Bye,” she said.

“I want to ask you something,” I said.

“I know what you want to ask me and my answer is YES,” she said.

My heart ached as the taxi moved and the distance between us kept on increasing till she disappeared into the distance.

But I knew that this was the beginning of a long and lovely relationship.


EPILOGUE

Shweta and I got married.

And, by the way, Sheetal and Avinash got married too.

Two best friends married two best friends.

What an irony of life – the conservative me, I got married to the mod-chick Shweta – and the mod-guy Shekhar got married to the “back-home-typebehenji” Sheetal.

We got married in 1977 and it has been a long time since, more than 36 years, and till this day, we all live happily ever after.

All is well that that ends well.

We always taunt them, Avinash and Sheetal, that ours is a “Love” Marriage and theirs is an “Arranged” Marriage.

We have all relocated to Mumbai.                                                                    

Do you want to meet us?

Okay, try your luck on Sunday evenings at Bachellor’s opposite Chowpatty and you may chance upon us enjoying Green Chilly Ice Cream.

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:
This story is 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)



First Posted by me Vikram Karve in my blog at 10/14/2013 08:19:00 PM at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

STORY OF ARMY BATTLE HONOURS MESS – WAR OF THE MESSES – Humor in Uniform

May 8, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: Humor in Uniform – BATTLE HONOURS – WAR OF THE MESSES.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

HUMOR IN UNIFORM

Last week I met an Army Officer currently posted to New Delhi.

He said that he lived in Battle Honours Mess.

“Oh – the one on SP Marg?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“I have lived there almost 35 years ago, in 1981-1982,” I said.

“How is that possible? The Army Battle Honours Mess is for Army Officers only,” he said.

“Those days it was a combined inter-service officers mess,” I told him.

Then – I told him the story of the “War of the Messes” where “Battle Honours” were won.

So – Dear Reader – let me delve into my “Humor in Uniform” archives and tell you the story of the “War of the Messes”… 

THE WAR OF THE MESSES
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Various Wars have been documented, studied, discussed and analyzed – and relevant literature is readily available online and offline for all those interested in the subject.

But have you heard of the “War of the Messes”?

Do you know that this “War of the Messes” took place in 1982 on the “battlefield” of New Delhi?

This was a unique “war”.

In conventional wars – junior officers and men do the fighting – while Generals and Admirals watch on.

The “War of the Messes” was “fought” by Generals and Admirals – while junior officers watched on.

This is what happened.

Till 1981, Army and Navy had two common Officers’ Messes in New Delhi – a brand new mess at SP Marg and a rather antediluvian mess at Kota House.

Young Army and Navy Bachelor Officers lived together in these Officers’ Messes in great harmony with a spirit of camaraderie.

Of course, the Air Force, which always believes in keeping a safe distance from the “pongos” and the “sea dogs”, had its iconic Central Vista (CV) Air Force Officers’ Mess on Janpath.

If you were a young bachelor – you could choose your mess.

The ageing Kota House Mess was conveniently located in the heart of New Delhi and was preferred by the slightly “elder” bachelors.

The younger officers preferred the modern SP Marg Mess located at faraway Dhaula Kuan.

(35 years ago Dhaula Kuan was considered a “distant” place on the “outskirts” of New Delhi).

SP Marg Officers’ Mess was a lively place with a laissez faire atmosphere.

I spent some of the best days of my life in SP Marg Officers’ Mess – and even today – as I hark back to my Navy Days – I fondly cherish my glorious days at SP Marg Officers’ Mess.

Relations between us Naval Officers and our Army Messmates were excellent.

We made a lot of Army friends.

In fact, it was at SP Marg Officers Mess that I first made close friendships with fellow Army Officers – lasting friendships which endure even till today.

We young bachelor officers lived happily together in SP Marg Officers Mess and there was an atmosphere of bonhomie in the evenings when we all sat together on the lawns or in the bar enjoying our drinks.

If you wanted to see an example of authentic “jointmanship” and genuine “inter-service camaraderie” – SP Marg Officers” Mess was a shining example.

I am sure it was the same happy spirit at Kota House too.

Everyone was living happily – but, sadly, it was not going to be a case of “happily ever after” – because suddenly the “War of the Messes” erupted.

Most of us junior officers did not even know that a “war” had broken out.

As I said earlier – this was a unique “war”.

This “war of the messes” was not fought on the “battlefield” of SP Marg and Kota House Messes.

Conventional military tactics and weapons were not used in this “war”.

This “war” was “fought” in air-conditioned offices by Generals and Admirals using the far more potent bureaucratic weapon – paper.

The “war of the messes” was not a physical war – it was a “paper war”.

By the time “cease fire” was declared, the Generals seemed to be on the brink of victory – and the Admirals appeared to be on the verge of defeat.

The “spoils of war” were divided.

The “victorious” Army won the coveted modern SP Marg Officers’ Mess.

The “vanquished” Navy was banished to the ancient decrepit Kota House Officers’ Mess.

To commemorate their “victory” over the Admirals in the “war of the messes” – the Generals renamed the SP Marg Officers Mess as the Army “Battle Honours” Mess.

It was a well-deserved coveted “Battle Honour” won exclusively by the Generals (without the help of their “Troops”).

In order to further “celebrate” their “victory” in the “war of the messes” – and in the true spirit of “jointmanship” – the Generals evicted all Naval Officers from the SP Marg Officers’ Mess.

In a retaliatory gesture of “jointmanship” – the Admirals evicted Army Officers from the Kota House Officers’ Mess.

It was quite sad to see friendly messmates who were living together as buddies being wrenched apart and separated as per the colour of their uniform just to suit the whims and fancies of a few Generals and Admirals.

The scene was reminiscent of partition days – when friends who were living amicably together had to leave their homes and go to another land just because of the decisions of a few politicians.

Metaphorically, junior officers were like happy children who had to separate due to the “divorce” of their parents – one parent getting “custody” of one child, and the other parent of the other child.

While the senior officers fought the “war of the messes” with each other – it was the junior officers who suffered as a result of these internecine turf wars, ego battles and personality clashes.

The biggest irony was that none of the Generals or Admirals actually lived in these two Officers’ Messes which were primarily a home for young bachelor officers.

Another amusing paradox was that many of the officers involved in “fighting” this “war of the messes” with each other were products of the famous “joint training institution” – the National Defence Academy (NDA).

Of course, now – each service has its own separate Officers’ Mess in New Delhi – so that the Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals can have their own separate fiefdoms.

On many occasions, I have heard Senior Officers lecturing and pontificating about the need for “jointmanship” in the Indian Armed Forces.

But tell me one thing.

What so-called “jointmanship” are you talking about when you can’t even have a “Joint Officers’ Mess” where Officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force can live together, drink together and eat together with camaraderie and build lifelong friendships?

I think the first step towards achieving genuine jointmanship is to convert all Officers’ Messes in New Delhi into tri-service combined officers’ messes for officers of all three services.

Then, this “tri-service officers’ mess” concept can be implemented in other stations where the services co-exist.

On the one hand – we talk of “integrating” our three defence services.

On the other hand – each service wants to build its own separate “empire”.

I feel that the first step in “fighting together” is learning to “live together”.

And only after the 3 Services have learnt to “live together” in a combined mess, should they talk of grandiose highfalutin concepts like having a combined Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

Do you agree?

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 spoof, 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 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.



This story written by me in the year 2014 and posted online by me Vikram Karve earlier in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve Blog on 23 Jan 2015 at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 

blogspot.in

5/08/2015 10:27:00 PM

Humor in Uniform – AN UNFORGETTABLE “OILY” TRAIN JOURNEY

May 4, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: Humor in Uniform – “OILY” NAVY” – AN UNFORGETTABLE TRAIN JOURNEY.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:  
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

HUMOUR IN OF UNIFORM 

“OILY” NAVY
AN UNFORGETTABLE TRAIN JOURNEY
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

PREAMBLE

This story happened 35 years ago – in the year 1980.

Today – “fauji” officers are a pampered lot – all officers travel by air from the day they are commissioned into the armed forces.

But in those “good old days” – air travel was a luxury permitted only for senior officers above the rank of Colonel/Captain/Group Captain – a rank very few achieved – and that too after slogging in cut-throat competition for around 25 years.

So – most defence officers travelled by the magnificent Indian Railways – and long train journeys were an essential part of military life – while travelling on duty and while going home on leave – and we still remember many of those memorable train journeys.

Nowadays – since defence officers and their families mostly travel by air  – they miss out on the romance of train journeys.

But in those “good old days” – The Indian Railways were an integral part of the romance of military life.

Here is the story of one of a memorable and unforgettable train journey during my Navy days.

PREFACE

“OILY” NAVY

You may have heard of the WAVY NAVY – RNVR (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve)/RINVR (Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve) whose officers wore “wavy” rank stripes (while Royal Navy (RN) Officers wore straight rank stripes)

You may have also heard the witty quote by a famous World War 2 “wavy navy” Officer of the RNVR:

…“the difference between the “straight navy” (RN) and “wavy-navy” (RNVR) is that the RN look after the Navy in peace-time while the RNVR do the fighting in War…”

…hinting that Regular (RN) Officers “fight” in “peacetime” whereas Reservists (RNVR) fight the war (highlighting the difference between “peacetime soldiering” mainly done by Regular Officers and warfighting mainly done by the Reservists).

So, now you have heard of the WAVY NAVY.

But have you heard of the OILY NAVY?

Well, I certainly hadn’t heard of the “Oily Navy” – till this rather comical incident happened to me.

So, Dear Reader, let me delve into my “Humour in Uniform Archives” and narrate to you, once more, this hilarious story of peacetime “soldiering” :-

PROLOGUE

The best thing that happened to me in the navy were the two glorious years I spent in Mumbai (then called Bombay) 35 years ago.

Both my ships were based at Bombay.

We sailed for a few days, sometimes visiting various ports, but for the remaining days we were tied alongside in Bombay Dockyard which is in the heart of the city.

I loved sailing,

But more than that, I loved spending time in a harbour like Bombay, which was most exciting as the vibrant metropolis had so much to offer for young bachelors like me with a zest for life.

It was the happiest time of my life.

And like I said, it was the best thing that happened to me in the navy.

The worst thing that happened to me in the navy was my unexpected to transfer to Jamnagar, which put an end to my happy time in Bombay.

I was looking forward to an appointment to a shore billet in Bombay, which would enable me to continue to enjoy the life of bliss in “maximum city” to the fullest.

In fact, a few months earlier, I had been informally told by a senior naval officer that I would be appointed in the Naval Dockyard at Bombay, as was the norm for young technical officers after appointments at sea.

But, someone pulled strings, and I was on my way to Jamnagar.

After a fantastic time in Bombay, the desolate naval base at Jamnagar was most disappointing, especially for a young bachelor like me who had a zest for life.

My only aim was to get out of that dreary place as fast as possible.

That is why, when the first opportunity came, a temporary duty to Bombay, I jumped at the opportunity.

And on my journey from Jamnagar to Bombay, happened this “Oily Tale” which put me on a “Slippery Slope”.

OILY TALE

PART 1

1000 Hours (10 AM) Sunday 26 October 1980 Navy Base (INS Valsura) Jamnagar

I was all set to proceed on Temporary Duty to Bombay.

(Mumbai was known as Bombay then and I shall refer to Mumbai as Bombay hereinafter – since that was the name of the city when this story happened – though I personally prefer the name Mumbai).

The 3-tonner truck arrived at my cabin in the Wardroom (Officers Mess) to pick me up.

“Why have they sent a bloody 3-tonner for an officer? I am going on duty. I thought they would send me a staff car or jeep,” I asked the driver.

“Sir, both staff cars are out – one is with CO who will be going to town with his wife for shopping and lunch – the other staff car has been taken by the Commodore who has come from Delhi – he left early in the morning with his family for pilgrimage to Dwarka and Okha – and the XO has taken the jeep to town – he has gone to see a movie with his family,” the driver said.

I seethed at the feudal culture still prevalent in the services where senior officers treated government resources as if they were their own personal fiefdom.

As an officer proceeding on duty I had the first claim on a staff car – but I would have to ride in a truck since senior officers had commandeered the cars for their personal enjoyment.

I took my small bag and got in beside the driver.

Instead of proceeding to the main gate, the driver diverted the vehicle to the Married Officers Accommodation.

Lieutenant Commander “X” (a “Schoolie” Education Officer) was proceeding on leave to Madras (now called Chennai) with his family and was taking a lift in the transport meant for me.

I got down, let “X” sit with his wife and small daughter in front with the driver, and I sat behind in the 3-tonner.

At the guard room, there were a few sailors and their families, proceeding on leave, and some liberty-men, waiting to take a lift in the 3-tonner, to Teen-Batti, near the Jamnagar Railway Station.

In those good old “metre-gauge” days, there were only two trains from Jamnagar:

1. The Saurashtra Mail, which originated at Okha and passed through Jamnagar at 11 AM (1100 Hrs)

and

2. The Saurashtra Express which originated at Porbandar and passed through Jamnagar at 5 PM (1700 Hrs)

The morning Mail was convenient for those going towards Bombay and the south.

The evening Express was ideal for those going towards Delhi and “up-north” in the through slip coaches via Mehsana which were later attached to the connecting metre-gauge Ahmedabad Delhi Mail.

Of course, both trains had connecting broad gauge trains at Viramgam towards Bombay.

At the guard room, I reported to the Officer of the Day (OOD).

The OOD made an entry in the ship’s log book that I was leaving “ship” and proceeding on Temporary Duty.

Lieutenant Commander “X” had also followed me into the OOD office to make an entry regarding his proceeding on annual leave.

As I started to walk out, the OOD said: “Wait – you have to carry some items to Bombay.”

“Items?” I asked.

“Yes, you have to carry three oil tins,” the OOD said.

“Oil tins?” I asked.

“Yes, you have to carry 3 oil tins and deliver them to these addresses,” the OOD said.

He gave me a chit with the names of 3 Commodores, their designation and phone numbers and their home addresses in NOFRA Bombay, written below each name.

Now, in those good old days, as far as Naval Officers were concerned, Jamnagar was famous for five things:

1. The Unique Colourful Bandhani (tie and dye) Sarees

2. Soft Lohi Blankets-cum-shawls from Digjam Mills

3. White Uniform Buckskin Shoes made to order by a cobbler in the heart of old Jamnagar city (nowadays, buckskin shoes are not permitted, I think)

4. Luscious Rasgullas and lip-smacking Farsan from Shrikhand Samrat near Mandvi Tower (The Best Rasgullas I have ever tasted)

And, last but not the least,

5. Groundnut Oil (because groundnut refined cooking oil was much cheaper in Saurashtra than in Bombay)


I would have had no problems if someone had requested me to carry the other items.

But there was no way I was going to carry three huge cumbersome 16 Kg tins of groundnut oil.

I came out of the OOD office.

I saw some duty sailors loading three large 16 Kg groundnut oil tins into the 3 tonner.

The OOD had also come out of his office and was watching the proceedings.

I looked at the OOD and said: “Sorry – I can’t take these oil tins with me. Please ask the sailors to unload them from the truck.”

The OOD looked at me in disbelief and said: “What…? You are going on Ty Duty to Bombay – aren’t you?”

“Sir, I am not going on Ty Duty to deliver those bloody oil tins – the purpose of my Ty Duty is something else,” I said.

“Don’t act smart. The Commanding Officer (CO) desires that you have to carry these 3 oil tins and deliver them to the 3 Commodores whose names are written in the chit I gave you,” the OOD said.

I tried to reason with the OOD: “Sir, please try to understand. I just have one small bag. In Bombay, a Lieutenant does not get transport, so I intend taking Bus No. 123 from Bombay Central to RC Church and walk down to Command Mess. I can’t lug these three huge oil tins around, and I don’t intend hiring porters just to carry these bloody oil tins – and who is going to trans-ship these bulky oil tins from metre-gauge to broad gauge at Viramgam?”

“Look here, I told you once – you don’t try to act smart – the CO has directed that you carry these oil tins. All officers going to Bombay on Ty Duty carry oil tins,” the OOD said.

“Well, I am not going to carry these bloody oil tins for sure,” I said, “and now I have to go – otherwise I will miss my train.”

“Don’t try to take “panga” – I told you that the CO has ordered you to carry these oil tins,” the OOD said.

“Then you can tell him that I am not going to carry these bloody oil tins,” I said firmly.

“If you act funny and disobey orders, they will transfer you out,” the OOD warned me.

This was music to my ears.

So, I said to the OOD: “I would be the happiest person if they transferred me out of this godforsaken place.”

Lieutenant Commander “X” was hearing the argument between me and the OOD.

“X” looked at me and said in a patronizing manner: “Why are you making such a big issue out of this – everyone going on Ty Duty takes some items that senior officers want delivered.”

Bolstered by the support from “X”, who was a Lieutenant Commander, the OOD said, “You will bloody well have to obey the orders of the CO – do you understand?”

I had my doubts whether the CO had actually ordered me to carry the oil tins to Bombay, so I asked the OOD: “Why didn’t the CO tell me personally about the oil tins? I think you are bluffing.”

“Are you accusing me of telling lies?” the OOD said getting angry.

“I didn’t say that,” I said.

“You will not leave the base unless you take those oil tins – do you understand?” the OOD shouted at me.

“Listen, Sir – I told you very clearly that I am not taking those oil tins with me. I am getting late and I will miss my train. If you detain me any further I will not proceed on Ty Duty,” I said firmly.

As I said earlier, I thought that the OOD was bluffing that the CO had ordered me to carry the oil tins.

But it seemed that the CO had indeed done so, because on hearing my refusal, the OOD went all berserk – he picked up the phone, dialled furiously, and then started talking excitedly, about my refusal to carry the oil tins.

I wondered who the OOD was talking to, but the way he was saying “yes sir, yes sir” in an animated manner, it was either the CO or someone senior at the other end of the phone line.

Soon, I heard the OOD mention the name of Lieutenant Commander “X”.

And then, the OOD gave the phone to “X”.

Now, it was “X” saying “yes sir, yes sir” on the phone.

The upshot of the conversation was that now, instead of me, “X” would carry the oil tins to Mumbai.

On reaching Mumbai, “X” would dutifully deliver the 3 oil tins to the 3 Commodores in Bombay, and then he would catch the Dadar – Madras Express in the afternoon and proceed to Madras (Chennai) to enjoy his annual leave.


PART 2

1200 Hours (12 noon) Sunday 26 October 1980 on board the Okha Viramgam (metre gauge) Saurashtra Mail just departed from Jamnagar Railway Station

I sat in the old style first class compartment (which you see in old black and white Hindi movies) in the metre gauge train which ran from Okha to Viramgam.

The berths were fore-and-aft, the compartment was bright, airy and roomy due to the three large windows on each side alongside the lower berths.

The train had left Jamnagar at 1130 (11:30 AM) and would reach Viramgam at 19:30 (7:30 PM) – covering a distance of roughly 300 kilometers in 8 hours – so you can imagine the slow speed of the train as it chugged along unhurriedly pulled by an archaic steam engine belching smoke and soot as it puffed along.

It was a most boring journey, with hardly any big railway stations, except Rajkot – and for a foodie like me, the only thing available was various kinds of fried “bhajji” (pakoras).

But I had come well stocked – a bottle of Hercules Rum, my favourite set of plastic tumblers which accompanied me on my journeys, a “surahi” of drinking water (acquired at Jamnagar station and topped up with cool water from the water cooler) – and some “small eats” like boiled eggs, aloo parathas and potato fingers (packed from the Officers Mess).

My co-passengers in the compartment were the “schoolie” Lieutenant Commander “X”, his wife and their small 3 year old daughter – and, of course – the 3 big oil tins – placed strategically at a safe place near the bathroom door and guarded zealously by “X”.

The moment the train started from Jamnagar – I opened the bottle of Hercules Rum and poured a drink.

In those good old days – passengers were permitted to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes in first class compartments – provided other passengers did not object.

There was no question of the “schoolie” Lieutenant Commander “X” objecting – since I had poured him a drink too – though his wife was giving me dirty looks as if I were spoiling her husband.

At the first stop – a small station called Hapa – the Train Conductor (TC) appeared – and he asked us if we wanted to order lunch at Rajkot.

His eyes lit up the moment he saw the bottle of rum.

I offered him a drink.

He pulled out a large stainless steel glass from his bag – and I poured in a generous tot of rum.

The TC did not add water to the neat rum – but to my utter surprise – he drank the neat rum in one gulp – straight “down the hatch”.

The spirits seemed to have raised his morale.

“Sir – you don’t worry,” the Train Conductor said, “the railway refreshment room food in Rajkot is not that good – I will get chicken dishes for you from Sher-e-Punjab so you can enjoy your drinks – the train stops for 20 minutes and the hotel is just outside the station.”

It is great to see the sense of camaraderie between the railways and defence services – and it warmed the cockles of my heart.

Three hours later – at around 3 o’clock – with half a bottle of Rum and generous amounts of tandoori chicken, butter chicken and rotis inside me – I was satiated enough for my afternoon siesta – and the moment I hit the bunk – I fell into deep sleep.

I woke up around 6 o’clock in the evening – and had a cup of refreshing masala tea – at largish station called Surendranagar Junction – where the train had halted for a long time for a crossing.

The moment that train started – I had a shower in the spacious old-style bathroom of the first class compartment – and I was ready for the evening action – commencing with a “sundowner”.

It was still one hour to go for Viramgam – there was time for a drink or two.

The “Schoolie” Lieutenant Commander X” and his wife were sitting on the opposite berth with their daughter – and all of them were looking utterly bored.

The Lieutenant Commander’s eyes lit up the moment he saw me taking out the rum bottle – but his wife gave him a stern look and he refused my offer of a drink.

I noticed she had been giving me angry looks throughout the journey.

Maybe – it was because I had made her husband drink in the afternoon.

Or – maybe – it was because she was annoyed that her husband was saddled with the three bulky oil tins – thanks to my refusal to carry them.

I think it some frustration was building up inside her – and she could hold it no longer – so she said to me: “We were thinking of visiting my relatives in Matunga and then catching the Madras Express in the afternoon at Dadar. And now we have to go all the way to Colaba to deliver these oil tins. Our full morning will be wasted. It is all because of you.”

“All because of me…?” I protested.

“Yes – you refused to carry the oil tins – so my husband is forced to carry them,” she said.

“He could have also refused,” I said.

On hearing my words, the “Schoolie” Lieutenant Commander “X” said bitterly to me: “It is very well for you to say this – you are a non-bothered ‘couldn’t-care-less’ type – and you are a junior Lieutenant – but I am a Lieutenant Commander in the promotion zone – my Commander’s board is next year – and as it is – in the Education Branch there are just one or two vacancies – and it is very difficult to get promoted – so I have to do whatever they tell me…” 

I felt sorry for him.

But I was not going to be emotionally blackmailed by him or his wife into taking on the burden of carrying and delivering the oil tins.

So I just looked away out of the window at beautiful sight of the setting sun and sipped my “sundowner” rum-pani and nibbled into the “mirchi pakoras” which I had picked up at a tiny station called Lakhtar where the train had halted for two minutes – these “bhajjis’ or pakoras were the only “small eats” available on this rather desolate stretch of railway.

By the time I finished my rum-pani – it was dark – and I could see that we were approaching the marshalling yard of Viramgam Junction, and the train was slowing down.

So – I secured my bag – and got ready to shift to the broad-gauge Saurashtra Mail which would take us to Bombay.

“X” was hovering around his precious cargo – the 3 large groundnut oil tins.

“Sir – why don’t you just leave the bloody oil tins over here in this metre-gauge train – and you can tell the CO that you forgot the oil tins in the train,” I joked.

“Please keep quiet – you need not worry about the oil tins,” he said angrily.

“To hell with him,” I thought.

And I took my bag – and I got down on the platform.

“X” was haggling with the porters for carrying the 3 oil tins.


PART 3

2000 Hours (8 PM) Sunday 26 October 1980 on board the 6 UP Viramgam – Bombay (broad gauge) Saurashtra Mail just departed from Viramgam Railway Station

The new broad gauge first class compartment seemed spacious as compared to the ramshackle metre gauge coach.

Once again my companions in the four-berther compartment were the “Schoolie” Lieutenant Commander “X” and his wife and small daughter.

In the broad gauge, the 3 oil tins fitted in below the berth where “X”, his wife and daughter were sitting.

I sat on the opposite berth.

I polished off the remains of the bottle of rum.

I had offered “Schoolie” Lieutenant Commander “X” the last drink remaining in the bottle – but again – “X” politely declined my offer of a drink – scared of the stern looks his wife was giving him whenever he looked longingly at the rum bottle.

By the time I killed the bottle – it was almost 9 PM – and Ahmedabad Railway Station had arrived.

I had a quick dinner of Puri Bhaji on the platform.

And then – I hit the sack.

I let “X” and his wife take the two bottom berths and I slept on the top berth above “X” – the oil tins were on the opposite side below the berth where Mrs. “X” slept with her daughter.

I was in deep sleep – when there was a big bang.

Suddenly – everything went topsy-turvy.

The compartment had toppled – and was lying on its side.

My legs were on top of my head.

I realised that our train had derailed.

Suddenly the lights went off – and it was dark.

“X” and his wife were shouting: “What happened? What happened?”

I told “X” and his wife that the train had derailed – and that they should remain where they were till I got the door open.

Luckily the compartment door was on the upper side of the toppled compartment.

The moment I swung my legs down – I hit oil.

Yes – an oil tin had burst – or probably all the three oil tins had burst – and there was oil all over the compartment.

Nevertheless – I got down – and I tried to pull myself up to the door.

It was a slippery slope – and soon I was fully covered with groundnut oil.

“X”, his wife and daughter were looking at me curiously – I motioned to them to remain where they were.

Suddenly – the compartment door was yanked open.

It was the Train Conductor with some people.

They had a torch.

They threw in a blanket and told us to hold it tight.

Then – and one by one – they yanked us out into the corridor – the lady and her daughter, “X” and me – and then we carefully climbed out of the derailed bogie.

Soon – after a small walk along the railway track towards the rear of the train – we were sitting on a bench on the platform of Miyagam Karjan Railway Station.

I looked at the station clock – it was 2 AM (0200 Hours on 27 October 1980, to be precise).

Talking to people – we came to know that it had been a freak accident.

Some wagons of a goods train coming from the opposite direction had got derailed seconds before our speeding train passed it – and our engine had hit the derailed wagons and gone off the rails, derailing the first few bogies off the track.

Luckily – ours was the last bogie to be derailed – the bogies in front had got badly smashed.

I thanked my stars that I was alive and well.

Suddenly “X” asked me: “Did all the oil tins burst – or only one?”

“I don’t know. I was worried about saving our lives – not about the bloody oil tins,” I said.

“I think we should go back and try and get the oil tins out of the compartment,” he said.

“Are you crazy? I just about managed to get our bags out. The bloody train is derailed. The bogie is lying topsy-turvy. It is pitch dark. Sir – please lets thank God that we are safe and sound – and for heaven’s sake please forget about those wretched oil tins,” I said.

“But the CO will be angry if I don’t deliver the oil tins,” he said.

“Sir – what’s wrong with you? Be happy that you, your wife, your daughter – all of you have narrowly escaped death. You want to go in there again to get those damned oil tins? Suppose you break your legs – or even smash your head and die? Is it worth it – just for the sake of a few oil worthless tins ?” I said.

Suddenly his wife interjected – and she said to her husband: “Yes – Yes – it is too dangerous. You don’t go anywhere.”

We spent the whole night at Miyagam Karjan.

At around 3 AM I saw the station master – I told him I was a Defence Officer and showed him my Identity Card – and he kindly allowed us to sit in his office – and put a couple of benches for us to lie down.

I woke up at 6 AM – washed up in the Station Master’s bathroom and got ready.

“X” and his family were nowhere to be seen.

I asked the Station Master about them.

“Oh, your companions got up early and must having tea on the platform. A relief train has already arrived from Baroda (Vadodara). They have almost finished removing the derailed goods wagons from the ‘down’ track. The moment the ‘down’ track is cleared of the derailed wagons we will send you in the relief train to Bombay (Mumbai),” the Station Master said.


PART 4

1130 Hours (1130 AM) Sunday 27 October 1980 on board the Relief Train to Bombay just departed from Miyagam Karjan Railway Station

The railway accident repair team did a spectacular job – and by 1100 Hours – they had cleared the down track.

First – a test engine was sent across the repaired track – and shortly thereafter – our relief train was on its way to Bombay.

As I came to my seat – I saw Mrs “X” and her daughter – but “X” was not there.

“Where is your husband?” I asked Mrs “X”.

“He has gone to the brake van?” she said.

“Brake van?” I asked, surprised.

“Don’t you know? He finally went and retrieved those oil tins – two of them are intact. The railway porters were removing luggage from the brake van on the derailed train – he paid them some money and they got out the oil tins from the compartment and they have put them in the baggage compartment of the brake van of this relief train. So he has gone to check whether they are secured properly,” she said.

“Is he crazy?” I said – instantly regretting my words.

“I don’t know what will happen now? We will miss our connecting train, Dadar Madras Express…” she said, looking worried.

“Don’t worry, Ma’am. We should reach Bombay Central latest by around 8 o’clock at night – maybe even earlier. You can catch the Bombay Madras Mail which leaves around 10 PM from VT. I know someone in Central Railway – I will see to it that you get a berth…” I said.

“But he will insist on delivering the oil tins…” she said, sounding anxious.

“You don’t worry about those oil tins, ma’am – I will deliver the oil tins,” I said in a reassuring tone to Mrs “X”.


PART 5

1900 Hours (7 PM) Sunday 27 October 1980 Bombay Central Railway Station

We – Lieutenant Commander “X”, his wife, his daughter, and I – all of us were walking towards the exit of Bombay Central Railway Terminus when a man stopped us.

“Are those your oil tins?” the man asked – pointing to the 2 oil tins being carried by the porter.

“Yes,” I said.

“You have to pay octroi,” he said.

“Octroi?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said, “if you bring anything for sale you have to pay octroi.”

“But the oil is for my personal consumption,” I said, “and I am a Defence Officer.”

“Oh – then show me the octroi exemption certificate,” he said.

I was in no mood to argue – and the octroi amount wasn’t that much – so I paid up.

“The next time someone asks me to get an oil tin from Jamnagar – considering the porterage and octroi we have paid – I will just give him the difference in oil tin price between Mumbai and Jamnagar – and tell him to buy the oil tin in Mumbai,” I remarked sarcastically to “X”.

We took a taxi to Bombay VT (now called Mumbai CST).

I dropped off “X” and his family at VT Railway Station – and I proceeded to the Navy Command Mess with the two oil tins.

Luckily – one of the Commodores on the list was posted in Headquarters – where I had go for my work.

The Commodore was not in office – so I told his PA to have two oil tins collected from my cabin in Command Mess.

I told her that I had instructed my civilian bearer accordingly – so the tins could be collected anytime.

I gave her the list of 3 Commodores – and told the PA to request  her Commodore to deliver the second oil tin to any one of them.

When I reached back to my cabin in Command Mess in the afternoon – the civilian bearer told me that the two oil tins had been collected.

Disappointed at having lost one day in Mumbai due to the train accident – I caught the 5 Down Saurashtra Mail back to Jamnagar that evening as per my return reservation.


EPILOGUE

One month later – after returning from his leave – the “Schoolie” Lieutenant Commander “X” landed up in my office at Jamnagar.

“Did you deliver the oil tins?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, “Commodore “Z” collected both the oil tins.”

“The canteen officer is asking for money?” he said.

“What money?”

“For the 3 oil tins.”

“Didn’t you tell him we had an accident?”

“Yes. He said he will write off one oil tin – but he wants the money for the other two. Didn’t Commodore “Z” give you money? Did you ask him for it?”

“Well – I didn’t even meet Commodore “Z” – his PA had the oil tins collected from my cabin – and I didn’t even know that I had to ask for the money – in fact – I don’t even know how much the bloody groundnut oil tin costs,” I said.

“Then what do we do?”

“Well – tell the canteen officer to ask the CO to write a DO letter to that freeloading Commodore “Z” to pay up the money for the oil tin.”

“That’s a good idea,” Lieutenant Commander “X” said.

“And Sir – make sure you include the porterage, the octroi charges, the taxi fare, and some ‘sweat money’ for me as well,” I said, tongue-in-cheek.

Apparently – “Schoolie” Lieutenant Commander “X” did not learn any lessons from the “Oily” experience.

The very next month I saw him standing near the OOD Office.

He was on his way to Bombay on Ty Duty.

And yes – believe it or not – he was carrying three 16 Kg groundnut oil tins…

Of course – a few months later – when the promotion board results were announced – “Schoolie” Lieutenant Commander “X” was promoted in his first shot to the rank of Commander.

Cheers to the “Oily” Navy…

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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Disclaimer:
1. This story is a spoof, 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.

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This is a revised version of my Story earlier posted by me Vikram Karve in my blog at 6/02/2014 11:13:00 AM at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…and partly postedby me Vikram Karve in my blog at 5/23/2014 08:12:00 AM at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/05/humor-in-uniform-oily-tale.html  and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 

blogspot.in

5/04/2015 02:22:00 PM

Changing Face of the “FAUJAN” (Military Wife) – Story of 4 “Fauji Memsahibs”

April 22, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: ARMY WIFE – THEN AND NOW : A TALE OF FOUR FAUJI MEMSAHIBS.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

THE NEW AGE “FAUJI MEMSAHIB”

Sometime back the Social Media was abuzz with news of a curious contretemps pertaining to AWWA (Army Wives Welfare Association) and this issue was reported in the media too (Link to report below):

Major’s wife threatens action for being forced to rehearse for a show

If you read the news report and peruse the numerous comments and views on the incident expressed by young army wives on the social media, especially twitter, it is evident the archaic feudal army social culture is not in sync with the aspirations of the new age army wife.

All this “humor out of uniform” reminded me of a blog post I had written a few months ago about the changing face of the “Fauji Memsahib”

I am posting the story once more for you to read:

ARMY WIFE – THEN AND NOW : A Tale of 4 “Fauji Memsahibs
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Story of 4 “Fauji Memsahibs”

ARMY WIFE NO. 1 – SHE HAD NO REGRET MARRYING AN ARMY OFFICER

1948   Army Bride

“There is a marriage proposal for you,” her parents say, the moment she returns home from college.

“I don’t want to get married,” she says.

“Do you want to remain a spinster all your life?” her mother asks.

“No. But let me finish my graduation. Then I’ll see,” she says.

“She has a point. Let her finish her graduation. It’s just a question of one year,” her father says.

“Yes, let me finish my graduation,” the girl says.

“What graduation? Your whole aim is to get married, isn’t it? The boy and his parents are not insisting on graduation. They saw you at the club last evening, they have liked you, the boy has liked you, and the proposal has come. And let me tell you one thing – you won’t find a more eligible bachelor than him. It will be top status match. He is an army officer and you know that army officers are in highest demand – he can get any girl he wants, and you will be very lucky to get a husband like him. We will all regret it if we let go an opportunity like this,” the mother says.

“Please don’t hurry me up. Let me meet the boy. I will talk to him. Maybe he will wait for one year till I finish my B.A. – maybe we can get engaged now and marry later,” the girl says.

“No. The boy cannot wait for one year. He has been selected to go abroad for a long training course in England. He is leaving next month and they want to get him married before he leaves so that he can take his wife along with him to England,” the mother says.

Her father interjects, “I have found out everything about the boy from my army friends. The boy is a fine officer and has a very bright future in the army. The family is very respectable and decent too. I think you should consider this proposal.”

Seeing the daughter confused, the mother says firmly, “Listen carefully. They want our answer by tonight – yes or no. There is bevy of girls lined up for him, so may girls are desperate to get married to him, and you will regret it all you life if you let this boy go.”

The girl nodded her acceptance.

He mother rang up the boy’s mother.

Next day, the boy and his parents came over to “see” the girl – notionally, the boy’s side still had the prerogative to “reject” the girl but then they had already seen her and liked her.

The girl got married to the army officer the next week. They went on a whirlwind honeymoon to Darjeeling, then to the army cantonment where the boy was posted, where there was a flurry of parties, and then they set sail for England.

The girl did not complete her graduation. There was no need for so much education – for she was going to be a full time army wife – a “memsahib”.

The girl did not regret her decision.

In fact, marrying an army officer was the best thing that happened to her.

Where else would she get the high status in society, the top quality lifestyle, and the comforts that she enjoyed as the wife of a General?

Yes, her husband had become a General and she was the “first lady” and she was proud to have contributed to his success as a perfect army wife.

She felt absolutely no regret that she had married an army officer.

In fact, marrying an army officer was the best decision of her life.


20 Years Later…


ARMY WIFE NO. 2 – SHE HAD A LITTLE BIT OF REGRET MARRYING AN ARMY OFFICER

1968   Army Bride

She was a budding lawyer with a lot of promise.

After her LL.B. she had begun her practice under the tutelage of a top-notch lawyer.

One day, she submitted her resignation and told him that she was giving up her law practice.

Her boss was aghast and demanded to know the reason for her inexplicable decision.

“Sir, I am getting married to an army officer,” she said.

“But why resign and give up your practice? You can continue to practice law even after marriage. You are so talented – you have a very bright future ahead of you – I am sure you will become a very successful lawyer and, who knows, you even may get the opportunity of being elevated as a judge,” he said.

“Sir, my husband will be posted all over as an army officer and I don’t want to live separately from him – in fact, he has made it quite clear that he wants me to accompany him wherever he goes,” she said, and quit her law career.

She enjoyed being an army wife, supporting her husband in his career, taking part in various social duties, the nomadic way of life, and cozy existence of cantonment life.

Later, as she saw that some of her classmates and erstwhile lawyer colleagues, who were much less accomplished than her, had become successful lawyers, and some had even become judges, and she felt a tinge of regret, for she had no identity of her own except that of being the wife of an army officer.

Yes, she did feel a bit of regret that she had married an army officer and sacrificed her own career.


20 Years Later…


ARMY WIFE NO. 3 – SHE HAD PLENTY OF REGRET FOR MARRYING AN ARMY OFFICER

1988   Army Bride

She was a qualified engineer who had specialized in computer and software engineering.

She got a job in the top pioneer software company and had settled down quickly in her career.

She got married to an army officer.

She had two choices:

Option 1

1. She could give up her career as a “Techie” and join her husband in the remote place where he was posted and then accompany him wherever he was posted. She realized that if she wanted to always be with her husband, as an army wife she would have to be either a homemaker or a teacher, the only feasible career in a cantonment.

Option 2

2. She could continue her career but have a “long distance marriage” with her army husband as he got posted all over.

She chose the second option. 

Yes, she chose Option 2 – she decided to pursue her career as a “Techie” and have a “long distance marriage”.

She did extremely well in her career.

Soon, she was way ahead of her “fauji” husband who was plodding along in the army.

In their entire married life, they spent just 3 years together when her husband managed a posting to her place of work.

Often, she felt lonely, as she missed her husband.

As she saw her fellow “techie couples” enjoy the bliss of married life, she was filled with regret that she was married only on paper.

Yes, she was married only on paper – in practice, her life was as if she was not married.

Loneliness proved corrosive for her army officer husband too, who took solace in alcohol.

Worse, the army officer husband developed an inferiority complex because his wife had done much better than him in life, career-success wise and money wise, as the prospects in the army were limited as compared to the software industry.

All this – the conjugal separation, her work pressures, compounded by her husband’s increasing melancholic attitude, took its toll on her too.

She regretted marrying an army officer.


20 Years Later…
                                                          

ARMY NOT-TO-BE-WIFE NO. 4 – SHE DID NOT WANT TO REGRET BY MARRYING AN ARMY OFFICER

2008   Not-to-be Army Bride

She was the ambitious daughter of an army officer – she was an “army brat”.

She studied economics from a premier college and then followed it up with an MBA from a top Business School, topping in both courses.

She had got a top-notch placement as an investment banker.

She was taken aback when her classmate from school suddenly proposed to her.

He was also an “army brat” who had joined the NDA as a cadet after school and was now an army officer.

The army officer told the investment banker that he was secretly in love with her and was waiting for her to finish her studies before he proposed.

“But I treated you as a friend,” she said.

“But for me you are much more than a friend – tell me – what’s wrong if we get married – we know each other since school,” he said.

“Are you crazy?” she said.

“Crazy? Why?” he asked.

“Why don’t you understand? You are just an army officer and I am an investment banker. I am out of your league now. Do you know the package I have been offered? In the army, I doubt you get even one-tenth of the salary and perks I get. See, don’t feel bad, but I have my dreams, my ambitions of making it real big – now I am heading for Hong Kong, after that I don’t know where I will go – so marrying an army officer just does not fit into my career plans – you understand, don’t you?” she told him, “I do not want to regret by marrying an army officer.”

The investment banker girl looked at the dejected army officer and said, “Will you mind if I give you some advice?”

“Go ahead,” the army officer said.

“If you want to be happy, you better find a wife within the army,” she said.

“What do you mean?” the army officer asked.

You should marry a female army officer. There are so many girls joining the army nowadays. So why don’t you find a bride in uniform – it will best for both of you.”

With these words she walked out his life.

So, the investment banker, the ambitious daughter of an army officer, the “army brat” – she did not want to regret by marrying an army officer.

VIKRAM KARVE
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Updated and Revised Version of my Article “THE CHANGING FACE OF THE ARMY WIFE” posted in my blog on 22 Jan 2014 First Posted by Vikram Karveat 01/22/2014 at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…

Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 8/10/2014 12:08:00 PM

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