Posts Tagged ‘memoir’

Join the Navy and Grow a Beard

August 3, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: Navy Memories – Why I Grew a Beard.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:…


Suppose I had not joined the Navy – I may not have started drinking – and – I may not have grown a beard.

Well – I quit drinking more than 12 years ago – but my majestic beard is still going strong for almost 38 years – uninterrupted – yes – once I grew my beard – I never shaved it off – even temporarily.

Let me tell you why I grew a beard… 

Harking Back to My Glorious Navy Days

If you are an unemployed unwanted uncelebrated “retired” navy veteran like me – what is the best thing to do?


Yes – I can hark back in time and reminisce – and I can talk about my “good old navy days”.

But – what do I do if there is no one to talk to?

I can write about my unforgettable reminiscences.

Well – that is exactly what I am going to do now.

I will hark back in time to my early navy days – take you back to the 1970’s – and tell you why – thanks to the Navy – I grew my handsome beard – which adorns my face till today.

By the way – if I had not joined the Navy – I probably would not have kept a beard.

Yes – before I joined the Navy – I was clean shaven – and I had never contemplated having a beard.

But then when you join the Navy – everything changes – and you change – whether it is for the better or for the worse – well – that depends on you!

I remember my first day at the Naval Academy in Cochin (now called Kochi).

The moment we reported to the academy – an army of barbers descended on us to chop off most of the copious hair adoring our heads – and shave the stubble on our faces.

We were given crew cuts – and our faces were shaven clean.

A few young men did have moustaches – but these moustaches were ruthlessly removed.

At the Naval Academy – even moustaches were not permitted – and all trainees had to be “clean shaven”.


Dear Reader – before I proceed further with my story – let me digress – and tell you a bit about the navy tradition of sailors keeping beards.

After independence – we imbibed our military traditions from our erstwhile rulers – the British – and accordingly – our Navy adopted the customs and traditions of the Royal Navy.

Hence – even on the subject of moustaches and beards – the Indian Navy had adopted, verbatim, the regulations of the British Navy – which required that a naval officer or sailor had either to have both “beard and moustache” or neither.

This means that you had to have a “full-set beard” (a full beard and moustache).

The beard must be complete – joined from sideburns – covering the entire jawline and chin – and joining the moustache.

A Navy Officer or Sailor had to have a “full-set beard” or nothing.

A moustache on its own was not permitted.

You were required to obtain the approval of your Commanding Officer to “discontinue shaving” or to “continue shaving” – every time you wanted to change your appearance.

If you wanted to grow a beard – you had to put in a request to stop shaving – yes – you had to formally seek permission to “cease shaving”.

If your request was granted – you were allowed three weeks (21 days) to grow your beard.

During this time of 21 days – as the beard grew – the beard grower was not permitted to go ashore or to be seen in public until the Commanding Officer felt that the beard was fit for public viewing.

A Naval Officer or Sailor was required to have a rugged, “full set”, masculine looking, well-developed beard which gave you a macho appearance.

Wispy or wimpy looking beards were not allowed – and “designer stubble” was certainly not permitted.

If the Commanding Officer (Captain) approved of your beard – you were allowed to keep it.

But if your Commanding Officer deemed your beard unworthy of a seaman – you were ordered to “shave off” your beard.

Suppose you were allowed to have a beard – and you kept the beard for a few years – but later – if you wanted to shave off your beard – you had to seek permission to “start shaving”.

Beards were not permitted in the Army and Air Force – but you were allowed to keep moustaches.

Yes – if you are in the army or air force – you can either keep your face clean shaven – or you can keep a moustache (without a beard).

I am sure the Army and Air Force have regulations governing moustaches which specify the types of moustaches permitted, sizes, shapes, styles etc.

But I have seen that the Air Force has a fondness for handlebar moustaches – and so do some Artillery Officers.

Sadly – many officers now prefer the “metrosexual” clean shaven look – in the Navy – and in the Army and Air Force too.


Sometime in the 1970’s – due to pressures from youngsters and to be in sync with prevailing customs – the Indian Navy relaxed the provisions governing wearing of moustaches and beards.

The regulations were amended so that – now – the issue of permitting “moustaches without beards” was left to the Commanding Officer’s discretion.

After these amendments – the Captain could permit officers and sailors to wear moustaches and beards or shave them off, if they so desired. 

Moustaches and beard could be worn with or without the beard and moustaches respectively. 

Side whiskers were permitted down to the level of the lobe of the ear. 

Moustaches, beard and whiskers had to be neatly cut and trimmed. 

Of course – this privilege may be withdrawn in cases of untidy growth.

This relaxation has resulted in many navy youngsters sporting moustaches.

Of course – the seasoned sea-dogs preferred “full-set” beards.


After completing our basic naval training – we were sent for our specialization course.

As I told you earlier – consequent to the relaxation of “appearance” regulations – a few young officers had started sporting moustaches – and I too felt like having a moustache.

So – the moment we reported for the specialization course – I applied for permission to grow a moustache.

The Commanding Officer refused permission.

I protested to my training officer – but he showed me the regulations which stated that granting permission for moustache was the Commanding Officer’s prerogative.

“Sir – suppose I seek permission to grow a beard?” I asked.

“If you apply for permission to grow a beard – he will have to grant you permission – at least for three weeks,” the Training Officer said.

My request to “cease shaving” was promptly granted.

I stopped shaving – and my beard started to grow.

Around 15 days later – during Friday morning divisions (parade) – the Commanding Officer – who was inspecting the Under Trainee Officers Division, suddenly stopped before me.

The Commanding Officer looked at my face – as if scrutinizing it – and he said, “You look good in a beard. Your beard suits you. Keep it.”

This happened more than 37 years ago – and my beloved beard has already celebrated its 37th birthday a few months ago.

Quite funny – isn’t it?

I wanted to grow a moustache – but – thanks to quirks of the Navy – I landed up growing a beard instead.

But once I grew my beard – I started liking my beard – and soon my beard became so sacrosanct to me – that I never shaved it off.

I love my majestic beard.

My beard has been my loyal companion throughout my entire naval career – and now my beard is my faithful friend in my lonely retirement days

I am proud of my beard.

I am glad I have a beard.

In hindsight – I do not know whether joining the Navy was good for me – or whether I would have done better in the “civvy street”.

But – one thing is for sure.

I owe my beard to the Navy.

Had it not been for the Navy – I may not have kept a beard.

And as I write this – from time to time – I lovingly caress my lovely beard. 


In conclusion – let me give you 3 quotes on beards:

A woman with a beard looks like a man – and a man without a beard looks like a woman
~ Afghan saying

There are two kinds of people in this world that go around beardless – boys and women – and I am neither one
~ Greek saying

He that hath a beard is more than a youth – and he that hath no beard is less than a man
~ William Shakespeare

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.

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 Version of my story posted online earlier in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog on 21 Sep 2014 at url: and on 29 April 2015 at url: JOIN THE NAVY AND GROW A BEARD – The Story of My Majestic Beard

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 8/02/2015 01:49:00 AM

Humor and Wisdom in Uniform – A Question of Leave – Story of the “Indispensable” Engineer Officer

August 3, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: Humor in Uniform – THE “INDISPENSABLE” ENGINEER.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:…

In the Navy – Leave is a Privilege – Not a Right

Hilarious Memories of my Navy Days
A Spoof


The Senior Engineer was going crazy.

The Senior Engineer was going crazy because his boss – the Engineer Officer –Commander (E) – would not give the Senior Engineer any leave.

“Senior” – as the Senior Engineer Officer was affectionately called – had not gone on leave for even a single day since he joined the ship almost six months ago.

At sea – there was no leave – since the ship was sailing – and the Senior Engineer was indispensable.

In harbour – Commander (E) denied leave to the hapless Senior Engineer on the pretext that there was repair and maintenance to be done.

At sea – while the Senior Engineer slogged below decks in the heat and grime of Engine Room in his overalls – the Commander (E) would sit in spotless whites playing bridge in the wardroom along with the other “unemployed” officers like “Pusser” (the Supply Officer), “Schoolie” (the “Education” Officer) and “Quack” (the Ship’s Doctor).

In harbour – the Commander (E) made Senior’s life hell by making him do all the tough and dirty work on board ship – while Commander (E) spent most of his time ashore networking with senior officers in the Headquarters to build his career and generally having a good time.

Commander (E) was a sadist.

A “pen-pusher” landlubber self-styled Marine Engineer who had spent most his naval career pushing files in Delhi – Commander (E) was always dressed in spotless whites and never wore the customary overalls which Engineers wore on board ships.

He spent most of his time in his cabin and in the wardroom.

Some witty sailors joked that Commander (E) probably did not even know where the engine-room was located.

Commander (E) had come all the way from Delhi just to “earn” his all important “Sea ACR” – the vital performance appraisal report for his “criterion” sea appointment.

The moment one year sea-time was over – Commander (E) would be back at his comfortable desk in Delhi – and thanks to his first-rate Sea ACR – he would be wearing one more stripe on his shoulder.

And from then onwards – it would be smooth sailing – and it was just a matter of time before he became an Admiral.

Yes – once this crucial sea-time was over – he would “manage” everything.

Like all sadists – Commander (E) was a blustering braggart – a gasbag who put on an outward show of brashness – but the reality was that deep inside he was terribly insecure.

Commander (E) was insecure because he was professionally clueless.

In order to cover up his lack of technical knowledge – Commander (E) had made sure he was assigned a good Senior Engineer to do all the dirty work.

Commander (E) knew that all he had to do was to take charge of his of meek Senior Engineer so that everything ran smoothly.

This would ensure that Commander (E) got an excellent ACR which would clear his way for future promotions.

Now suddenly the Senior Engineer wanted a few days leave to go home for an urgent domestic commitment.

And there was this long sailing coming up.

Commander (E) dreaded sailing without the Senior Engineer – lest he be exposed if something went wrong.

In fact – Commander (E) refused to give leave to Senior in harbour too – as Commander (E) was afraid that his technical ignorance would be discovered by the Dockyard Officers.

“30 days leave? On a frontline ship? Are you crazy?” bellowed Commander (E) when he saw Senior’s Leave Application.

“Sir, my sister’s marriage has been fixed. I just got a telegram yesterday.”

“But 30 days?”

“Sir, I have to arrange everything. I am the only brother.”

“Bullshit. A Senior Engineer can’t be absent for a month.”

“Please, Sir. I have to be there for the marriage.”

“Leave the application with me. I’ll see later. And get the ship ready for sailing. What happened to the defects on the boiler?”

“Sir, dockyard is working…”

“You should do it yourself – you bloody shammer.”

“Sir, but …”

“But…? What…? Don’t stand there looking lost like a clueless clot – with your thumb in your bum – and your brain at neutral. Go and get on with your job,” shouted Commander (E).

The hapless Senior Engineer got on to the job – and got the ship ready for sea.

A few days later – after they returned from the sea sortie – the Senior Engineer asked Commander (E) about his leave application.

“All you can think about is your leave. Have you prepared the defect list?” Commander (E) yelled.

“Defect list? Which defect list?” Senior asked.

“The bloody refit defect list.”

“Sir, the refit is 6 months away.”

“So? I want see the defect list first. Only after that will even I look at your leave application.”

“Sir, it will take me at least a week to prepare the defect list.”

“So? Do it.”

“Sir, I have to go on leave right now. My sister’s marriage is next week.”

“What do you mean you ‘have to’ go on leave…? You bloody impertinent bastard. This is the bloody navy. In the Navy – Leave is a Privilege – Leave is not a Right… Do you understand? In any case, there is no chance of any leave for you right now. I have just come to know that there is an important sailing coming up. So just bugger off and get on with your job.”

“Sir, please, sir. Try to understand. How can I be missing from my sister’s wedding?”

“That’s your problem. You should have thought about all that before you joined the navy. That’s the problem with you dope-entry chaps – you buggers are civilians in uniform.”

“Sir, I want to see the Captain.”

“You’ll see my bloody arse. Now get out of here – go to the engine room and get on with your job,” Commander (E) thundered.

Senior Engineer did not go to the Engine Room.

He went straight to the wardroom.

He needed to talk to someone.

He saw “Guns” – the Gunnery Officer – sitting in the Wardroom.

It was only 11 o’clock – but Guns already had a glass in his hand.

On Saturdays – the bar opened at 12 – but “Guns” had such a formidable fearsome personality – that no steward would dare to refuse him a drink – whatever the time of the day or night.

Just the previous evening – “Guns had ordered the ship’s barber to shave off half the moustache of the gangway quartermaster for being slack on duty.

Sailors were petrified of “Guns – and even most officers steered clear of him.

As per his usual style – “Guns” was drinking rum.

A bottle of rum – an ice box – and a jug of water were placed on the table before him.

“Come, Senior – have a drink,” “Guns” said.

Senior liked “Guns”.

Though “Guns” was quite a fearsome tyrant – he had somehow taken a liking to the rather docile Senior Engineer.

The steward was alert.

When “Guns” was around – sailors were on their toes).

He knew Senior’s drink.

A glass of beer was placed before Senior.

“Sir – today – I am thinking of having rum,” Senior stammered.

“That’s good – bloody good…! So you are becoming a true-blue sea-dog. Here – take the bottle – and pour some rum into your beer – don’t worry – rum and beer – no fear!” Guns said.

Senior took a big gulp of beer.

Then he topped up the glass with rum.

He swirled the glass to let the beer and rum mix properly – and then he took a huge gulp of the concoction – “down the hatch”.

Guns looked at Senior curiously – and said, “Come on, Senior – get it off your chest.”

“Sir – Commander (E) is not giving me leave for my sister’s marriage.”

“I know. He was boasting to the XO and telling him how he was screwing the hell out of you. Both of them are bastards. They are hand-in-glove. So you can forget about your leave.”

“Sir – but I have to go for my sister’s marriage.”

“Then skip.”


“Just pack your bags and push off.”

“Sir – you are telling me to break ship – to go AWOL. I will be marked ‘run’ – and then I will be caught and I will be punished.”

“Then take the punishment like a man. You have to decide your priorities for yourself – you decide what is more important for you – attending your sister’s marriage – or cowering before that bloody Commander (E).”

“Sir – I am feeling scared.”

“Don’t worry. Have some more rum – it will give you Dutch-Courage,” “Guns” said – and he topped up Senior’s glass with neat rum.

Senior took a big gulp of rum. 

He felt better – a bit high – the cobwebs in his head began to clear.

It was almost 12 noon. 

The Wardroom Mess Secretary – the SCO – came in to make arrangements for the Saturday afternoon PLD.

Suddenly – Commander (E) barged into to wardroom.

He was stunned to see his Senior Engineer sitting in the wardroom – drinking away to glory.

“What the hell are you doing here? Just go down to the engine-room right now. That’s a bloody order. And there is no liberty for you till further orders,” Commander (E) shouted at Senior in anger.

“Screw your liberty – I am going on leave,” Senior Engineer slurred drunkenly.

On hearing these defiant words from his normally docile subordinate – for a moment – Commander (E) was dumbstruck.

Then – Commander (E) recovered his wits – and he said to Senior Engineer in a threatening manner, “If you don’t go to the engine-room right now, I will have you arrested and locked up.”

“You go and hop,” Senior said mockingly. 

The alcohol in his veins was making him feel braver and braver.

Seeing the situation going out of control – the SCO quietly left the wardroom.

Things were turning nasty – and the SCO did not want to be a witness to the fracas.

Besides – he had to inform the Captain immediately – because – after all – like all SCOs on ships – he was the Captain’s spy in the wardroom.

By the time the Captain came down to the wardroom – the situation had blown up – and Senior was seen menacingly moving towards Commander (E).

The Senior Engineer was waving the empty bottle of rum dangerously at Commander (E) – and “Guns” was trying to restrain him.

“Stop it,” the Captain shouted in his commanding voice, “What the hell is going on?”

“Sir – Commander (E) is not giving me leave for my sister’s marriage,” Senior Engineer said, looking at the Captain.

“I know,” the Captain said.

“Sir – that’s not true. I want this insubordinate officer punished,” Commander (E) said to the Captain.

“We will see about that later. First – you tell me why are you not giving your Senior Engineer leave to attend his sister’s marriage?” the Captain asked Commander (E).

“Sir – there is a sailing programme,” Commander (E) said.

“So…? Is he indispensable…? Suppose he drops dead tomorrow – what will you do…? It will take at least a month to get a relief Senior Engineer. Are you telling me that the ship cannot sail if there is no Senior Engineer…? Just tell me – what the hell are you doing on board this ship as Engineer Officer…?” the Captain said sternly to Commander (E).

There was silence in the wardroom.

The Captain looked at Commander (E) – and said, “Now listen carefully, Commander (E). I am approving one leave application today – either Senior’s – or yours. You decide who is more indispensable – you or your Senior Engineer. Either he goes on leave – or you go on leave.”

A few hours later – Senior Engineer was seen crossing the ship’s gangway, with a bag on his shoulder – on his way home on a month’s leave to attend his sister’s marriage.

The technical incompetence of Commander (E) was thoroughly exposed during the sailing. 

In fact – the ERAs created false alarms from time to time – and made sure that Commander (E) was in a tizzy.

In due course – the and engine room sailors had really put Commander (E) in a spin. 

The engine-room sailors liked Senior Engineer – and wanted to teach Commander (E) a lesson for treating Senior so shabbily.

For the entire sailing – by creating one “defect” after another – the engine-room sailors kept Commander (E) in a state of confusion, anxiety and panic – resulting in the clueless Commander (E) being frequently summoned to the bridge by the Captain who bullshitted the hell out of the Commander (E).

When Senior Engineer returned from leave – the Captain summoned him to his cabin.

“We had a lot of problems during the last sailing,” the Captain said.

“I know, Sir. The ERAs told me. But Sir – you don’t worry. I will get everything shipshape,” Senior said.

“That’s good,” the Captain said.

“May I go, Sir?” Senior asked permission to leave.

The Captain looked at Senior Engineer – and said, “There is one more thing. Your Commander (E) has had a very rough time and he needs some rest. I am thinking of sending Commander (E) on long leave. Can you manage on your own?”

“Of course, Sir – nobody is indispensable,” Senior Engineer said, tongue-in-cheek.

“Yes. Nobody is indispensable,” the Captain laughed.

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.

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.

First Posted by me Vikram Karve on 03 Aug 2013 8/03/2013 12:47:00 PMin this blog at url:…

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:…


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 …

A Spoof


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”.


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.

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.

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)


Romance in Uniform – A GIRL IN EVERY PORT – Navy Myth or Fact?

May 13, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: Humor in Uniform – A GIRL IN EVERY PORT.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:…

Humor in Uniform


“I have heard that Naval Officers have a girl in every port – but so far we don’t even have a single girl,” my course-mate said.

“Come on – we were under training. Maybe now – things will look up,” I said.

“Yes,” my course-mate said, “we are lucky to have got Bombay based ships.”

(This story happened 37 years ago – in the 1970’s – and those days – Mumbai was called Bombay – but I shall use Mumbai from now on).

“Yes – we are indeed lucky as compared to those poor Vizag guys – they are destined to a desolate life,” I said.

“The first thing I am going to do in Mumbai is to get myself a girlfriend,” my friend said.

“Me too,” I said.

My friend succeeded.

I failed.

I just did not have the talent for romance.

Everything had been handed down to me on a platter – the conditions to get a girlfriend were ideal – I was on the best ship – and in those ‘licence-quota-permit Raj’ days – as far as girls were concerned – Navy Officers were in high demand – since we got exotic foreign stuff duty free (especially perfumes) – and these imported goodies were was not available outside – and we had access to the best of clubs and social circles.

(Now – with the advent of liberalization and globalization – the charm of the Defence Services has gone down – since everything – and more – is freely available to civilians).

Most Naval Officers had girlfriends – and a few ‘Casanovas’ were having a good time with ‘fleet auxiliaries’ – but I had drawn a blank.

My course-mate had acquired a girlfriend within days of our reaching Mumbai – and he was often seen gallivanting with her all over the place.

In my case – having failed to acquire a girlfriend – I focused on food and drink.

Once – after imbibing half a bottle of whisky – followed by a sumptuous Biryani at Olympia – and a delicious ‘Triple Sundae’ ice cream at Yankee Doodle – I was fast asleep – enjoying sweet foodie dreams in my cabin.

I was jolted awake – it was my course-mate who had come over from his ship which was tied up alongside next to my ship.

“I am very upset – I want to talk to someone – and you are my best friend,” he said.

“I was your ‘best friend’…” I said, “…now you have got your girlfriend.”

“It’s about her – I just saw her off at the airport – she is on a long haul flight plan – she will be away for two weeks…” he said.

His girlfriend was an airhostess who flew on international routes.

“Okay – so you can join me for food and drink till she comes back…” I said.

“No – it’s not that – she wants to marry me …” he said.

“So – get married,” I said.

“It is not so simple – my parents won’t agree – her parents want her to continue he job too – and in her airline – airhostesses have to quit the moment they get married – it is all very complicated – I have realized that falling in love has complicated my life…” he said – and then he went on and on telling me his ‘sob story’ – and disturbing my sleep – by narrating his ‘love woes’ till early morning.

I thought that having a girlfriend made you happier.

But – exactly the opposite had happened to my otherwise cheerful friend – who appeared to have become miserable after falling in love.

I said to myself: “If having just one girlfriend had done this to him – just imagine the situation of those with multiple girlfriends…!”

It seemed that a ‘zero-girlfriend’ guy like me was much happier than my counterparts who had girlfriends.

I realized that ‘Food’ was a safe investment like a Fixed Deposits – maybe the ‘returns’ were lower – but for the time and money you spent on food – you got a guaranteed ‘return on investment’ (ROI).

On the other hand – ‘Romance’ was a risky investment like the share market.

Acquiring a girlfriend was like investing in a stock – just like the ‘returns’ from the stock market were unpredictable – the ROI you got from a romantic relationship could swing between ecstasy and agony.

Of course – I did make some efforts to ‘fall in love’ – but – sadly – no girl was willing to fall in love with me.

So – I resigned myself to the fact that ‘love marriage’ was not in my destiny – and – hence – I settled for an ‘arranged marriage’.

As a newly married couple – my wife and I – along with our pet Lhasa Apso girl Sherry – we lived in a lovely one room flat in Curzon Road Apartments in New Delhi.

One evening – we were sitting in Nathu’s Sweets – in Bengali Market – one of our favourite places where we often walked down in the evenings.

There was a group of beautiful girls sitting nearby – and my eyes were focused on them.

Yes – I was ogling at the pretty girls – as most young men do – or want to do.

One girl seemed particularly attractive – and I was staring at her quite blatantly with frank admiration in my eyes.

My wife followed my gaze – and she was quite amused to see me looking at the girls so intently – especially the yearning look I gave to that most gorgeous girl who seemed to be the object of my total attention.

Suddenly – my gaze shifted.

My wife was curious.

Was there a new ‘object’ which had captured my attention?

She followed my gaze – to see where I was looking.

On observing the new ‘object of my attention’ – my wife started laughing.

A tray of sweets was being brought in from the kitchen – and my eyes had ‘locked on’ to the mouthwatering sweets like a Radar ‘locks on’ to its target.

The tray was heaped with my favourite sweet – the inimitable ‘Lavang Lata’.

Soon – I was fully focused on eating my Lavang Lata – totally oblivious to my surroundings – and I seemed to have completely forgotten about those beautiful girls sitting on the table nearby.

In fact – I was so absorbed in savouring the delicious ‘Lavang Lata’ – and I was enjoying myself so totally – that I even forgot about my wife sitting opposite – who was not quite relishing the dish of ‘Lavang Lata’ I had ordered for her too.

“So – it seems that you found the ‘Lavang Lata’ more enticing than those beautiful girls…” my wife said to me.

“Of course – I love good food – there is no greater love than the love of food…” I said.

And then – while walking back home – I told her about my ‘Food is like a Fixed Deposit’ versus ‘Romance is like the Stock Market’ theory.

My wife looked at me and said: “Someone had told me that a Naval Officer has a girl in every port – but looking at you – I am convinced that you did not have even a single girl in any port – in fact – you must have had a ‘foodie joint’ in every port…”

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.

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.
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Posted by Vikram Karve at 5/13/2015 10:47:00 AM


May 10, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: Humor in Uniform : “FAUJI” BUSINESSMEN – MONEY-MINDED “FAUJIS” aka BUSINESSMEN IN UNIFORM.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:…


A Spoof


This happened 37 years ago, in the 1970’s.

Six of us “piddly” Sub Lieutenants from various ships sat in front of a chubby Commander in Western Naval Command Headquarters (those days the Headquarters was located in a civilian building in Fort area of Mumbai).

We had been “detailed” for some “bum jobs” connected with Navy Week and the Staff Officer was briefing us.

Suddenly, the phone on the table rang and the Commander picked it up.

Whatever he heard on the phone suddenly galvanized him into action.

The Commander abruptly stood up and told us that something urgent had come up.

He told us that he would be back soon and we should wait for him.

He threw a file in front of us and told us to read it till he got back.

Then he swiftly grabbed a civilian bush shirt which was hanging on the hat-stand, wore the blue bush-shirt over his white uniform shirt.

He picked up his briefcase and disappeared at the speed of light.

We waited patiently in his office – almost half an hour passed.

Then we went over to the office hall and asked the staff if they knew when he would be back.

“Don’t worry. He must have gone to Dalal Street, to meet his broker in the Stock Exchange. He will be back soon,” the Commander’s PA said.

(Remember, this happened in the 1970’s when there was no internet, no online trading, and you had to physically trade stocks through your broker)

When the Commander returned, he seemed quite cheerful and in a happy mood.

I do not know whether he was a “Bull” or a “Bear” but from his happy mood it appeared that he had made a lot of money that day.

After a “brief” briefing on the “official” matter, he educated us on investing and trading in shares and told us how much money could be made in the stock market rather than the conventional savings methods which we were doing.

Later on, during my career, I met many such “Bulls” and “Bears” in the Navy, who were more preoccupied with the Stock Market than their Naval Duties.

Now, thanks to internet, with the advent of online trading, it has become ever so easy for these “punters” to indulge in their stock market trading, even during working hours, and from remote locations – you can use your PC, your laptop, or even your mobile smart-phone to indulge in “satta bazaar” and you can do it round the clock 24/7 anytime anywhere.

Someone told me that, nowadays, Navy Wives are heavily into online trading on the stock market and are earning good money “working” from home on the “satta bazaar”.


During my stints in inter-service establishments, I discovered many “businessmen in uniform” in the army and air force too, with other business interests.

“My boss is more of a businessman then a soldier,” an army friend of mine once commented and went on to tell us that his senior was heavily engaged in real estate speculation and was least interested in soldiering duties, which he left to his juniors.

There was another officer, who would spend hours exhorting junior officers to buy property, explaining to them the various tax benefits, telling them how much the value of their property would appreciate, the rent returns, and that real estate was the best investment.

Was he doing this for purely altruistic reasons?

Well, that I will leave it for you to guess.

But I wonder whether it was a curious coincidence that he was plugging only a certain scheme, arranging site visits, facilitating loans and helping out with paperwork.

Others were busy investing in land in and around the city.

Yes, apart from the “stock market”, “real estate” (“property market”) seemed to be quite popular with “businessmen in uniform” and, of course, there were many other “businesses” as well, some of which they pursued on their wives and children’s names.

All these “businessmen in uniform” seemed to be more engrossed in making money rather than their military soldiering duties.

I often wonder why such individuals join the armed forces.

If you have a talent for business, then why waste your life soldiering in the defence services?

If you have financial acumen, will your talent not be better utilized in the business-world rather than in the military?


If you are thinking of a career in the armed forces, the army, navy or air force, I will recommend that you read a book called CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller before you join up.

Catch-22 will give you an idea of what life is like in the services.

Have you committed the “blunder” of joining the army, navy or air force without having read CATCH-22?


You joined the fauj without having read Catch-22…?

Not to worry! 

As they say – “better late than never”.

So even if you already in uniform, it would still be a good idea to read the book so that you can appreciate the various “Catch 22” situations around you.

More importantly, it will help you comprehend the seemingly crazy behaviour of the motley characters you encounter every day in your military environment by relating them to the inimitable characters depicted in CATCH-22.

During my long years in the navy, I came across almost all characters of Catch-22 – Dreedles, Cathcarts, Peckems, Doc Daneekas, Dunbars, Korns, Scheisskopfs, Wintergreens, De Coverleys, plenty of Yossarians – yes, I encountered all sorts of idiosyncratic types.

And, of course, how can I forget the canny Machiavellian “Milo Minderbinders” – those “businessmen in uniform” who are proliferating like hobgoblins all over in the services.

In Catch-22, the character of Milo Minderbinder represents a typical “businessman in uniform”.

He looks at everything from a financial angle and his motto is: “what is in it for me?”

Milo’s sole obsession is to make “profit” and he has no allegiance to anyone or anything.

Just like the character of Milo Minderbinder in Catch-22, there are an increasing number of money-minded “businessmen in uniform” who are obsessed with money matters and their sole aim is to derive “benefit” from the service.

From the day join the military, they seem more interested in their “entitlements” and “privileges” rather than their soldiering duties.

Forever they keep comparing their pay and perks with others.

They make sure they extract the maximum benefits and are paranoid about losing out on perks and pecuniary privileges.

They never seem to be satisfied and content with what they get in the service and have an insatiable greed for more.

It is these greedy “businessmen in uniform” who perpetuate corruption and get involved in all sorts of scams which tarnish the image of the defence services and destroy the inner discipline and moral fabric of the armed forces.


Business Acumen and Military Attitude are stark opposites.

In fact, they are mutually exclusive.

You can either have a military mindset or you can have business acumen – you cannot simultaneously have both.

You can either be a Businessman or you can be a Soldier – but you cannot be both at the same time.

I am of the firm view that those with a “military mindset” should keep away from the business world.

And similarly, those with a “nose for business” must keep away from the military.

Military Ethic is different from Business Ethic.

The two are poles apart and there is no congruence between them.

For a Businessman – Profit is the sole motive.

For a Soldier – Patriotism is the leitmotif.

The essence of corporate business ethic is: “money comes before anything else”.

“Businessmen in Uniform” apply this tenet (“money comes before anything else”) even in the armed forces and they ruin the inherent value-based military ethos of the defence services.

It is these “Businessmen in Uniform” who are responsible for the corruption and scams that tarnish the reputation of the defence services.

[Of course, you may also find some “soldiers” among businessmen (who create business fiascos), but that is another story which I shall discuss later]

The numerous scams and acts of corruption being reported in the media is a sign of the proliferation of these “businessmen in uniform” in the services, even at the highest levels of the hierarchy.

Unfortunately, in recent times, an increasing number of senior officers, even Chiefs, are getting embroiled in scams, corruption cases, unethical acts and controversies.

All this not only tarnishes the good reputation of the services, but also adversely affects inner discipline as juniors stop respecting their seniors who lose moral ascendancy.

How have we reached a stage where it is possible for so many “businessmen in uniform” to get promoted to high rank?

Or is it the other way round?

Have we reached a situation that unless you are a “businessman in uniform” it will be difficult for you to get promoted to senior rank?

It is for you to have a thorough look at the top brass and study the promotion trends in your service and reach your own conclusion.

But one thing is sure.

All these “businessmen in uniform” have one attribute – TACT (which is euphemism for “moral pliability”).

And in today’s world, TACT is the vital “Officer Like Quality” (OLQ) that helps an officer rise to high rank.

Of course, in addition to “businessmen in uniform” – we have “politicians in uniform” too – and combinations of the two.

But that is another story.


At a recent get-together of military veterans, I noticed two types of retired “faujis”.

The first “nostalgic” group was talking about their “good old days” in the military.

The second “money-minded” group was discussing financial matters, and especially getting agitated about the hot topic of the day – OROP – aka “One Rank One Pension”.

Habits die hard !!! LOL

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.

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)
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Revised Version of My Article “Businessmen in Uniform” First Posted by me Vikram Karve on 14 December 2013 12/14/2013 12:52:00 PM  in my blog at url:…

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 5/10/2015 10:30:00 PM

New Age Military Wisdom – WHAT IS THE AIM OF AN OFFICER – The Most Important OLQ (Officer Like Quality)

May 9, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: Humor in Uniform – WHAT IS THE AIM OF AN OFFICER.

Link to my original post in Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:…


Military Wisdom – The Most Important OLQ (Officer Like Quality)
A Spoof


During our training days – many senior officers were invited to give us talks on “Officer Like Qualities” (OLQ) – and give us tips on how to succeed in our Naval Careers.

Some officers gave us inspirational “pep talks” – some pontificated – giving us sermons on “Do’s and Don’ts” – and some tried to motivate us with “moral lectures”.

But there was one unique officer who was different.

He said: “The aim of an officer is to get promoted.”

We were taken aback.

Seeing the expression in our faces – he reiterated: “Yes, gentlemen – you heard me right. Your primary aim is to get promoted. All other things are secondary. In the military – only one thing matters – the rank you wear on your shoulders. That is all that matters. Nothing else matters. Just remember that. So – wherever you are – analyze the situation – especially study your boss – your IO – the Officer who will be writing your Annual Confidential Report (ACR) – and work towards getting a good ACR. In the military – promotion depends on your ACRs – all that matters is your ACRs – so you must ensure that you get the best ACRs – for this you will have to be flexible and smart – you must adapt yourself depending on the likes and dislikes of your boss – since different officers have different yardsticks. Some bosses value professional performance – others value personal loyalty – and others – well – it is very subjective and varies from person to person. In every appointment – be alert – do your homework well – be smart – and ensure that you are in sync with your boss – and make sure you get outstanding ACRs at any cost. If you do this – you will succeed – and you will reach high rank.”

At that point of time – we were young naïve idealistic officers.

We believed in romantic virtues like ‘moral values’ and ‘ethical principles’.

We were inspired by patriotic fervor.

We genuinely believed in the ‘military ethos’ enshrined in the “Chetwode Motto”:

“The safety, honour and welfare of your country comes first, always and every time.
The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command comes next.
Your own ease, comfort and safety comes last, always and every time”

We were inspired by jingoistic slogans like “Service before Self”.

That is why we were appalled when we heard this senior officer telling us:

“The cardinal aim of an officer is to get promoted”

He was advising us that in order to achieve this prime objective – we must ensure sure that we get outstanding ACRs at any cost.

It was ironic.

This senior officer was an alumnus of the celebrated military training institution whose motto was “Service before Self”.

Despite this – he was propagating the exact opposite – and exhorting us to put“Self before Service”.

His “Self before Service” dictum seemed the exact opposite of what we believed in at that point of time.

That is why we were shocked and disappointed with this officer’s lecture.

This officer was propounding exactly the opposite of the values we cherished.

At first we thought that this officer was joking – maybe he was employing a rather sarcastic sense of humor just to entertain us.

But later – we realized that this officer “walked his talk”.

He was not a hypocrite – he practiced what he preached.

By “managing” his career astutely – by focusing on getting the best ACRs – by doing the right courses and appointments – by being in the right place at the right time under the right boss – by deploying all his resources – professional, personal, familial – towards realizing his prime objective of getting promoted – he had succeeded in attaining the highest possible rank and the most prestigious appointment in his branch.

As I said – at that point of time – after hearing his “pep talk” lecture on OLQ – I was quite skeptical.

I realized the true wisdom of his words 20 years later – when I witnessed an incident which convinced me – albeit too late in life – that – in the military:“The primary aim of an officer is to get promoted”.

This defining incident – and many other similar experiences throughout my long navy career – convinced me that in the military – it was only your rank that mattered.

In fact – even after retirement – this obsession with rank continues – for various retirement facilities like ECHS Healthcare, CSD Canteens etc.

Witness the latest “battle” being waged by retired military veterans for OROP (One Rank One Pension).

Even after retirement – for military veterans – “Rank” is the cardinal factor – since it is your rank that will determine your pension – unlike civilians – whose pension is primarily determined by years of service – which seems more just and fair.

Tell me – why should a Brigadier who retires after 25 years service get more pension that a Colonel who retires after 30 years service?

If you ask this question to any “fauji” – serving or retired – he will give you the quintessential military rhetoric: “Rank Has Its Privileges”.


The Military (Army Navy and Air Force) recognizes Rank – and is blind to everything else – including logic, reasoning or rationale.

By definition – the “superior” officer is the one who holds higher rank (and not higher intellect or qualifications).

Whenever there is a disagreement – professional, managerial, ethical or otherwise – the views of the higher ranking officer always prevail.

If there is an issue between two officers – the senior is always right.

If there is a perk or privilege to be given – the senior gets it first.

The Navy is a uniformed service – like the Army and Air Force.

A unique feature of a uniformed service is that your rank is visible to all – since you wear your rank badges or stripes on your shoulder.

This is not so in the civilian world where your “rank” is known only to your workplace colleagues.

In the military – Rank has its Privileges (RHIP) in all aspects of life – professional, social and personal.

In fact – if you are in the military – your rank is the “be-all and end-all” of life – from “womb” to “tomb”.

Like I said – thanks to OROP – even your pension depends on your rank – and not on your years of service, as in the case of civilians, who get equitable pension due to ACP, NFU, NFFU etc.

And while in service – there is visible and blatant ‘rank based discrimination’ in all aspects of life – professional, personal, social and familial.

This RHIP concept is sometimes taken to ridiculous limits – and even liquor quota depends on rank – the higher your rank – the more booze you get.

Yes – your rank is the “be-all and end-all” of life in the defence services.

That is why – as the shrewd senior officer said in his pep-talk:

“The primary aim of an officer is to get promoted to high rank at any cost.

You don’t agree?

Let me tell you a story.


Now – as an illustrative example of RHIP – let me tell you about an unforgettable incident which happened more than 15 years ago.

One evening – after returning from work – I walked to the reception counter of our Navy Command Officers Mess to collect my cabin key.

I was delighted to see “B” sitting in waiting area.

“B” was around 2 years senior to me.

I knew “B” since our training days – and I had the highest respect and regard for him.

“B” was truly a first-rate officer in all aspects – he was professionally competent, morally upright – and he had the best “Officer Like Qualities” (OLQ).

As young Lieutenants – in the late 1970’s – “B” and I had served in sister ships of the frigate squadron in the fleet.

Whenever I needed help or advice – I knew that I could always turn to “B” who was always ready to help any of his fellow officers.

After that – we went our different ways – transferred all over – depending on where our respective appointments took us.

As they say – the navy is a place of transient acquaintanceships – where friendships are like passing ships.

And now – after a gap of more than 20 years – I was meeting “B” again.

Sadly – despite being an excellent officer – “B” had been passed over for promotion – so – in naval parlance – “B” was a ‘superseded’ officer.

“B” had come on Temporary Duty for a ‘conference’.

“B” was waiting as there was some problem in allocation of a cabin for him.

He told me that another officer “A” (who had come with him from Vizag) was trying to sort out the issue.

“A” was around 5 years junior to “B”.

In fact “A” had been a student of “B” during specialization courses where “B”had been A’s instructor.

Later – “A” had worked under “B” both ashore and afloat – where “B” has been A’sdirect boss.

“A” had the highest respect for “B” who had taught him and also been an excellent boss who had guided him in the early days of his naval career.

Now – the tables were turned – and “A” outranked “B” – since “A” had been recently promoted to the rank of Captain – whereas “B” remained a Commander – having been permanently superseded.

Now – since everything is ‘rank based’ in the navy – the ‘powers-that-be’ had decreed that ‘Captains and above’ were to be given Air-conditioned Cabins in the main block of the mess – and ‘Commanders and below’ were to be accommodated in the shabby cabins in the annexe.

“A” tried his best to convince the Mess Secretary – “A” told the Mess Secretary that“B” was much senior in service – “A” even volunteered to swap cabins with “B” – but the Mess Secretary would not budge – and he said to “A”: “Rules are rules – as far as I am concerned – “B” is just a Commander and he will be allotted a cabin in the annexe. It is not my fault that he got superseded – in any case – why have you brought a ‘written off’ officer for this important conference…?”

So – “A” enjoyed the cool comforts of a luxury air-conditioned cabin – whereas “B”sweated it out in a dilapidated cabin – and to add insult to injury – “B” was doubled up with another officer.

“B” had been specifically called to the conference because he was an expert on the issue being discussed – but I noticed that “B” had ‘switched-off’ – he maintained an indifferent silence and did not contribute anything.

It was evident that supersession had affected “B” very badly and his personality had been transformed.

Like many passed over “written off” officers – “B” had lost his ‘spark’ and withdrawn into a shell and become disinterested in the service.

It was sad to see an excellent officer like “B” wither away.

But it was even sadder that the Navy could not benefit from his expertise and experiential knowledge, which were being wasted away.

In the Defence Services – Supersession is a “lose-lose” situation.

Besides career and financial loss – supersession is total “loss of face” for the officer – and at times for his family too.

In contrast – promotion is a “win-win” situation – since rank is the “be-all and end-all” of military life.


The large number of representations, complaints, court cases and litigation pertaining to promotion issues bears testimony to the fact that something is immensely wrong with the military promotion system prevalent in the defence services.

I heard from someone – that the “integrated running pay scale” granted by the 4th Pay Commission, which de-linked pay from rank, was scuttled by senior officers, who did not want superseded officers who had more service than them to draw more pay than them.

The result was that more than 90% of the officers lost out when the 5th Pay Commission scrapped the “running pay band” and once again linked salary to rank.

Someone told me an interesting story of the height of megalomania and egotism due to rank consciousness.

A few years ago – the government implemented Assured Career Progression (ACP) and Non-Functional Upgradation (NFU) for all Civilian Government Employees.

The person told me that government wanted to extend the benefit of Non-Functional Upgradation (NFU) to the Defence Services and, like the civil services (NFU) would have guaranteed time bound upgradation of pay of all officers (including superseded officers) so that towards the end of their service, at the time of superannuation, all officers would draw the pay of a Lieutenant General (and consequently their pensions would be higher too – like their civilian counterparts).

I heard that this NFU proposal was opposed and scuttled by senior officers who argued that NFU was not desirable since the “charm” of higher ranks would be diminished if there was no substantial salary differential.

After all – these overweening careerists felt that they had “earned” their ranks by “all round 360 degree efforts” and considered themselves superior to their unlucky comrades in arms who had been “passed over” for promotion.

Of course – those who have served in the defence services are aware of the various tactics and stratagems employed by careerist officers to get promoted to high rank.

A witty Naval Officer gave a metaphorical example of a Mumbai suburban local train at rush hour on a station like Dadar.

Those standing on the platform desperately wanted to get inside the train.

But once inside the train – they tried to prevent others from entering the train.

It is the same with these overweening careerists – they are desperate to get promoted – but once they are promoted to high rank – they don’t want their juniors to “get in”.

Here is an example.

In 2006 – as per AVS Cadre Review – all Lieutenant Colonel/Equivalents who had completed 26 years service were to be promoted to the rank of Colonel/Equivalent.

The Army and Air Force promoted all officers who had completed 26 years service (including Time Scale Lieutenant Colonel/Wing Commander) to the rank of Colonel/Group Captain.

However, the Navy did not promote Time Scale Commanders who had completed 26 years service to the rank of Captain giving the specious argument that this would “upset” inter-se seniority.

One wonders why the same argument was not used by the Army and Air Force?

Whereas, in the civilian world, organizations are becoming flatter and democratic – the opposite is happening in the Indian Armed Forces which are becoming increasingly feudal and hierarchy conscious – rank based discrimination is being taken to ridiculous limits – and megalomania and egotism due to rank consciousness is on the rise – which is visible in examples like the penchant for displaying “stars” at all sorts of places.

This obsession with rank continues even after retirement.

After having sabotaged NFU – now senior officers want “One Rank One Pension” (OROP).

So – now – they even want pension to be primarily dependent on rank – and not based on length of service, like it is for civilian employees.

In the term OROP – “One Rank One Pension” – the most prominent word isRANK.

Why not “Same Service Same Pension”?

Why the total emphasis on “Rank”?


In the defence services – whereas on the one hand – supersession is a total “lose-lose” situation – on the other hand – promotion is a total “win-win” situation.

Doesn’t this convince you that the advice given to us by that pragmatic officer was absolutely correct: “The primary aim of an officer is to get promoted to high rank”– and all other “dictums” and “Honour Codes” like “Chetwode Motto” and “Service Before Self” etc are mere slogans meant for lip-service.

As I told you – this wise officer was not a hypocrite – he “walked his talk” – unlike many other senior officers – who mouth platitudes about “military ethos and service values” before their juniors – but do exactly the opposite in their actions in order to achieve their overweening career ambitions.

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.

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)
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Posted by Vikram Karve at 5/09/2015 10:07:00 PM


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:…


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”… 

A Spoof

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?

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.

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:…

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at

5/08/2015 10:27:00 PM


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:…


A Spoof


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.



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” :-


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”.



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)


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.


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.


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.


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”.


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.


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…

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.

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.

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)

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:…and partly postedby me Vikram Karve in my blog at 5/23/2014 08:12:00 AM at url:  and…

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at

5/04/2015 02:22:00 PM

“SUNDAY ROUTINE” – LEISURE MANAGEMENT NAVY STYLE – “SUNDAY ROUTINE” – Unforgettable Memories of My Wonderful Life in the Navy

April 26, 2015

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: LEISURE MANAGEMENT NAVY STYLE – “SUNDAY ROUTINE” – A “Memoir”.

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:…

Unforgettable Memories of My Wonderful Life in the Navy

A Memoir

Today is Sunday.

Out here – in Pune – it is a bright Sunday Morning – and it is already getting hot – since we are in the midst of a blistering summer.

Sitting indoors on this sweltering hot Sunday Morning makes me hark back to my halcyon Navy Days – and remember my “Sunday Routines” in the Navy.

Once you retire – every day is a “Sunday Routine”.

But when we were in the Navy – and our ship was tied alongside in harbour – we looked forward to our Sundays – to enjoy what the Navy calls “Sunday Routine” – our well deserved leisure time.

Let me tell you about a few of my typical “Sunday Routines”.

In the Navy – when you are at sea – you are on duty round-the-clock 24/7 – and there is no “holiday” – so there is no “Sunday Routine” in the true sense.

But when your ship is in harbour – you have “make-and-mend” (half day) on Wednesdays and Saturdays – and a “Sunday Routine” on Sundays and Holidays.

Unlike the corporate sector and government civilian babus – an operational organisation like the navy does not have the luxury of a “5 Day Week” – so we worked 6 days a week – and a weekly “off” only on Sundays – unless you were the “Officer of the Day” (OOD) – or you were put on some other “bum job” duty.

So – we eagerly waited for Sunday – and coveted our “Sunday Routine”.

“Sunday Routine” was our own personal time which we could spend as we liked – and we could do as we pleased.

Aristotle has wisely said: “The end of labour is to gain leisure”

We laboured the whole week to gain our “Sunday Routine” – and we were determined to enjoy our well earned leisure to the fullest.

Different individuals spend their leisure in different ways.

How you spend your leisure defines your persona.

There is a saying that if you want to find out the true character of a man – find out how he spends his leisure.

In the defence services – especially in the navy – how you spend your leisure mainly depends on where you are posted.

If you are lucky to be posted in a “maximum city” like Mumbai – there is a plethora of opportunities for enjoying your leisure.

On the other hand – if you are posted to a back-of-beyond remote desolate cantonment – your choices for spending your leisure are limited.

Let me describe to you – to compare and contrast – two typical Navy Style “Sunday Routines” – one in Mumbai – and one in Vizag – almost 10 years apart – both when I was posted on frontline warships – the first in the latter half of the 1970’s – and the second in the latter half of the 1980’s.

INS “XXX” (Harbour Sunday Routine – as an “in-living” officer)
[At Mumbai (then called Bombay) – end 1970’s]

This was the happiest time of my life.

It is great to be on a happy ship.

Ours was a frontline warship – the ship was new – the crew was good – we had a delightful wardroom with friendly officers – and the general atmosphere on the ship was harmonious.

The main reason for the ship being a “Happy Ship” was our Captain – who was a great guy. 

His credo was simple – all he demanded is that we do our jobs properly – and once we did that – we were free to do whatever we pleased.

(I have observed during my long service in the Navy – and in inter-service establishments – that – particularly in the defence services – much depends on the Commanding Officer (CO) – for creating a harmonious the atmosphere in a ship/unit – and a painful “killjoy” CO can make life miserable for all – like we saw on some other ships)

On a Sunday we woke up early.

(If you remember – I told you in an earlier article that I never had late nights on Saturdays – and I preferred to have my hangovers on working days).

Early in the morning – we crossed the gangway and went ashore.

Then we embarked on a long Sunday morning walk cum jog – walking out of Lion Gate, past Kalaghoda, crossing the Oval, past CCI, then onto Marine Drive to jog to Chowpatty – and back to Churchgate – where we picked up a copy of the Cole (for the day’s races) – followed by “chota hazri” at Stadium Restaurant.

Later – in the wardroom – we had a leisurely Sunday breakfast on board ship – of dosas and coffee – while “studying” the Cole – and the racing columns in the newspapers.

Ours was a wardroom of “punters”.

At around 10 or 10:30 we were off again – walking down to our favourite Stadium Restaurant Churchgate – for a brunch of sumptuous “Kheema Pav” followed by a cup of invigorating Irani Chai – while discussing our “forecasts” and “predictions” for the day’s races.

Then we caught a western railway local train to Mahalaxmi racecourse – so that we were well in time for the first race of the day – which began at noon – or sometimes a bit later at 12:30 or 1 o’clock in the afternoon.

(We took the precaution of buying a “return ticket” – for obvious reasons)

I loved going to the races. 

The atmosphere was electric – the bookie ring – the tote – the stands – the racecourse – the crowds – the excitement – the thrill – the horses – and – not to forget – the beautiful lady punters in their Sunday best – it was a thoroughly enjoyable Sunday afternoon.

In the evening – after a refreshing shower – and fortified with a generous quantity of Scotch and Soda – our hip flasks topped-up – we headed out again – for dinner and a late night movie – followed by midnight ice creams or milkshakes.

The restaurant where we went for dinner depended on our luck at the races – either Olympia or Bade Miyan (on a luckless day) – or Gaylord or Kamling (on a lucky day).

Even during the off-season – when there were no races – there was so much to do on a Sunday in a “maximum city” like Mumbai.

Like I said – those were the happiest days of my life – and my most enjoyable “Sunday Routines” too.

I thought these happy days would never end – but two years later – I was yanked off the ship, and posted to Jamnagar (as an instructor) – and it was still a big culture shock for me after my wonderful days in Mumbai.

I was familiar with the dreary place as a “student officer” – but it was a big disappointment – especially after my glorious days in Mumbai.

I suffered and endured almost one year in that horrible desolate place – almost becoming alcohol dependent – since the main leisure activity there was drinking Rum (while listening to old Hindi Songs on Urdu Service).

I escaped becoming an woebegone alcoholic by getting “selected” for the “prestigious” M. Tech. Course at IIT Delhi.

After two years of “paid holiday” – followed by two years in R&D – and then two more years on instructional duties at IAT Pune – and I was back on a frontline warship in Mumbai.

“Bombay days were back again” 

(Yes – Mumbai was still called Bombay in the late 1980s).

It was back to halcyon “Sunday Routine” days – I lived at Vasant Sagar in Churchgate – and for the first few months we had a great life.

As I was living it up – chanting “Happy Days are here again” – our luck ran out – and the base port of our ship was changed from Mumbai to Vizag (Visakhapatnam) – and we were off to the Eastern Seaboard.

I had been to Vizag only once on my earlier ship – but I did not see much of the Naval Base – since our ship was berthed on the iron ore jetty in the port trust – and we were in Vizag just for a day or so – and we spent our liberty hours ashore in the town.

But it seemed that – as far as Vizag town was concerned – nothing much had changed in the last 10 years.

As compared to Mumbai – Navy life Vizag was a big comedown – as you will realize – when you see how I spent my “Sunday Routine” at Vizag (Visakhapatnam)

INS “YYY” (Harbour Sunday Routine – as an “MLR” officer)
[Vizag (Visakhapatnam) – end 1980’s]

I was now married (MLR or “Money in Lieu of Ration” in Naval Jargon) – and I was living with my family in Naval Park Vizag.

Sunrise is early on the eastern seaboard – so I would get up at 5:30 on Sunday morning – and I would head for my Sunday morning super-long walk – up Dolphin’s Nose – down to Continental Beach – and then head back straight to the “Sunday Market” in the HSL complex near Scindia – and reach there by 7 – just as the market (haat) was opening up.

The entire naval community would be there at the “Sunday Market” – mostly ladies whose husbands are sleeping off their hangover – and some early riser husbands like me.

In Vizag – this Sunday Morning Market was a “must visit” since you lived far away from town in Naval Park – to pick up your weekly stock of vegetables, fruit and fish.

At around 8 – I returned home – I had a bath – we breakfasted on the idlis I had brought from the Sunday market – and at 9 o’clock – we all settled down before the TV set to watch the epic serial Ramayan.

(Later – when Ramayan was over – we would watch Mahabharat from 9 to 10 every Sunday morning).

Then we (self, wife and son) headed to the swimming pool – and spent an hour swimming and cooling off – and chitchatting with friends.

At 12 noon we were sitting in the makeshift club located in the parking lot of the officers’ mess for the Sunday afternoon Beer Biryani Tombola.

(Yes – in Vizag it was the rather prosaic and boring Tombola at the Navy Club – in lieu of thrilling and exciting Horse Racing at the Mahalaxmi Race Course which we enjoyed in Mumbai)

Then – I headed back home for a “beer and biryani induced siesta” –  which made me feel groggy.

In the evening – maybe we headed for town – full family of 3 on my Bajaj scooter – mostly accompanied by friends – and walked around Ramakrishna Beach – or maybe saw a movie at Jagdamba – followed by dinner at Daspalla.

Then we headed back home – and hit the sack.

Vizag was a big comedown from the glorious “Sunday Routines” of Mumbai.

One thing good in the Navy is that nothing is permanent.

So – 10 years later – in the year 2000 – I was back in Mumbai – and I enjoyed my “Sunday Routines” even better than before – since the Navy gave me a lovely house in Empress Court, opposite the Oval, in Churchgate.

What better location can you ask for in Mumbai – especially to enjoy your leisure? 


My best and most enjoyable “Sunday Routines” were in Mumbai (Bombay) and Delhi.

And the most lackluster and dreary Sunday Routines were in Jamnagar – arguably the worst place to be posted to – during my younger days in the Navy.

The Sunday Routines in places like Vizag, Kochi (Cochin) and Pune were somewhere middle-of-the-road – as I have described above.

In IAT Pune – on Sundays – we could go trekking up to Sinhagad or in the hills of Girinagar – or we would head for Pune City – to spend the day with our parents/relatives (Pune is my hometown).

How about you? 

How do you like to enjoy your Sundays?

And especially if you are a “fauji” – do tell us how you enjoyed your “Sunday Routines” in the “fauj” – in the army, the navy or the air force.

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.

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)

This is a revised version of my article earlier posted online by me Vikram Karvein my academic and creative writing journal blog at 7/08/2014 11:30:00 PMat url:…

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 4/26/2015 10:06:00 AM



HOW TO IMPRESS GIRLS and BOYS – Impression Management for Long Term Relationships

March 21, 2015

Original Post written by Me Vikram Karve in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve : HOW TO IMPRESS PEOPLE

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:…


HOW TO IMPRESS GIRLS and BOYS – Impression Management for Long Term Relationships

Contrarian Wisdom

Let me tell you an “apocryphal” story.

This happened 33 years ago – in March 1982 – in Pune.

A girl came to see a boy (for arranged marriage).

The girl was accompanied by her mother (the girl’s father, a Brigadier, was serving in a field area).

Normally – in Maharashtra – the boy goes to the girl’s home (for the customary “kande pohe program”).

But – in this case – the boy had requested the girl to come over to his rather Spartan home.

It was around 10 in the morning – the boy was alone at home – as the boy’s mother had gone for work.

The boy (a Naval Officer) had come to Pune on a week’s leave for “girl seeing” for arranged marriage.

Since the boy was not one of those refined “metrosexuals” – he had not “decked up” for the occasion – but he was dressed in a simple cotton white kurta-pyjama – and he was enjoying a smoke and reading a book – while waiting for the girl to arrive.

The girl and her mother arrived at 10:30.

“You are late,” the boy said, and he asked the girl and her mother to sit down.

The boy served Tea (which he had prepared himself).

Then – the boy lit a cigarette – and he said to the girl, “Let me tell you a bit about myself. As you can see – I smoke a lot. I drink regularly too – around 6 large pegs of rum daily – that is about half a bottle of rum every evening. My career prospects in the Navy are not very bright – I am certainly not ‘Admiral Material’. You are a ‘SODA’ – your father is a big shot in the Army – so you may be used to the comforts and facilities of army life – but in the Navy you get nothing – no batman (sahayak), no transport, no proper housing, no facilities – as you can see I am not a rich man – I just have a scooter – and I do not think I will be able to afford a car on the paltry salary we get in the Navy – you will have to live in some temporary make-shift  shanty – and you will have to do all the housework yourself…”

“You don’t get a house in the Navy…?” the girl asked.

“You do – but there is a huge shortage of married accommodation and the waiting period is 2 years – so by the time we get a proper house, it will be time for my transfer – and it is the same story in every new place – so you must be prepared for a nomadic existence shifting from one temporary accommodation to another…”

“What is ‘SODA’…?” the girl asked.

“Senior Officers’ Daughters’ Association – your Dad is a Brigadier so you are a SODA,” the boy said, “but let me tell you one thing – I am an honest, straightforward and outspoken officer – and so – your chances of becoming a member of SOWA are pretty bleak…”

“SOWA – Senior Officers’ Wives’ Association…!” the girl said.

The boy was happy to see that the girl was intelligent.

“You are very intelligent – and highly qualified – and all your good qualities are listed in your matrimonial profile – but I want to know one thing – and I want an honest answer,” the boy said to the girl.

“What…?” the girl asked.

“What are your faults…? Your bad qualities…? Your weaknesses…?” the boy asked.

“I cannot cook…” the girl began opening up – but her mother gave her a stern look – and the girl stopped speaking.

Observing the situation, the boy said to the girl, “Never mind – we will discuss all that in detail when we meet tomorrow…”

“We are meeting tomorrow…?” the girl asked.

“Why not…? After all, we are getting married – and I am here for a week – so we can go out together a few times – and get to know each other better…” the boy said, extinguishing his finished cigarette and lighting another cigarette.

The girl’s mother was getting increasingly uncomfortable at the way things were going, so she asked the boy, “You have a big beard – are you going to shave it off when you get married…?”

The boy looked at the girl’s mother, and he said to the middle-aged woman, “How does it matter to you whether I keep a beard or not…? Are you going to marry me…? Or is your daughter going to marry me…? But since you have asked – No – I am not going to shave off my beard – I like my beard – and a beard is the sign of a true Naval Officer – so I am going to keep my beard even after marriage – forever…”

The boy looked at the girl, and he said, “See – I told you that I drink heavily, I smoke, and that I have no future in the navy – very poor career prospects – and about the poor quality of life in the navy – but you just told me one thing – that you do not know how to cook – please tell me more about your other faults…”

“We have to go somewhere,” the girl’s mother interrupted – and she brought the ‘interview’ to an abrupt end.

In the evening, the girl’s mother made a ‘trunk-call’ to her Brigadier husband and she said, “What a terrible boy? He is himself saying that he drinks half a bottle a day, he smokes, and ….”

She told him everything.

“The boy said all that…?” the Brigadier asked.

“Yes – the boy hasn’t given us even one reason why we should get our daughter married to him.”

“Maybe that is the very reason why we should get our daughter married to him,” the astute Brigadier said.

The Brigadier met the boy – and he liked him – and so – the girl and boy got married.

The girl was expecting the worst.

But after marriage – the girl noticed the following ‘improvements’ in the boy:

1. Her husband did not drink 6 pegs of rum every evening – he drank around 3 or 4 pegs daily – and only rarely – at parties or with friends – did he drink 6 pegs or more.

2. He did not smoke much too – in fact – he smoked very few cigarettes – he preferred smoking his pipe.

3. She had been expecting to stay in a “jhuggi-jhopri” – but first they lived in the officers’ mess for some time – and then they shifted to quite a decent furnished apartment – which though small – the apartment was modern, comfortable, and located in the prime area of the city.

Though he was not an “angel” by any standards – her husband was not all that bad – as she had thought.

Much later – when she had given up all hope – her husband suddenly gave up drinking and smoking one day.

This happened 20 years after her marriage – and she had never imagined that her husband would give up alcohol and tobacco forever.

Of course – her husband has still not shaved off his majestic beard – but then she has got used to it now – after 33 years of married life.

After reading this “fairy-tale” – some persons may think that this is a true story – and they may even “recognize” some of the characters in this story – but let me emphasize that this is an apocryphal story – the characters do not exist and are purely imaginary – and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

What is important – is the MORAL OF THE STORY.

You must have heard the saying: “First Impression is the Best Impression”

But I say: “Worst Impression is the Best Impression”.

If you give your best impression during your first meeting with someone – then you have to live up to the image you have created.

On the other hand – if you give your worst impression during your first meeting – then there is always scope for improvement.

There are many aspects to your personality – the “Best Side” – the “Worst Side” – with shades of grey in between.

At your very first meeting – if you try and impress someone with your “Best Side” – you have projected your best image – and thus you have no scope for improvement.

In fact – you will get all stressed out keeping up appearances trying to live up to the hyped-up expectations you have created in the other person – and slowly the “veneer” will start peeling off – and the goody-goody façade will crumble.

Dear Reader – you just read the “happy ending” story above.

I know a story where exactly the opposite happened.

There was a girl from a civilian academic background (her parents were university professors).

They lived in a town where there was a large cantonment nearby.

Most of her schoolmates and friends were daughters of Army officers – and the girl was enamored by Army social life.

The girl got a proposal from a Naval Officer.

The girl was under the impression that the life of a Navy Wife was the same as the good life of an Army “Memsahib” which she had observed in the peacetime cantonment.

The Navy boy came to meet the girl.

Believing in the “First Impression is the Best Impression” dictum – the boy showed his “Best Side” – and he “boasted” a bit about himself – he painted a rosy picture of Navy life – instead of telling her the ground reality.

All this created a glorified image and high expectations in the newlywed girl.

But – after their honeymoon – when they reached Vizag – everything came crashing down.

The boy sailed off on his ship – leaving the girl to fend for herself – all alone – in their “B Type” hired house – at the other end of town – far away from the Naval Base.

Feeling totally isolated, the girl went into a depression – and summoned her parents – who came rushing to Vizag – to help their daughter settle down and tackle reality.

As their marriage progressed – the “first impression” that the boy had created by showing his “Best Side” – this rosy first impression started to slowly crumble away as his negative qualities began to emerge.

After many years of marriage – the girl still feels that the boy “cheated” her by portraying a goody-goody false impression of himself and hyped rosy image of Navy life.

My hypothesis of “Worst First Impression” worked in my Navy life too.

I was posted as faculty in a prestigious inter-service training establishment.

My boss was a Commodore from a landlubber branch who had never met me before.

However – my “spoken reputation” had somehow reached him via the grapevine.

For a month or so – I noticed that he was quite wary of me – he treated me coldly and he kept me at arm’s length.

Then – one evening – at a party – when he was feeling quite happy after a few drinks – he sidled up to me – and he said, “Actually – I have realized that you are quite a good officer…”

Taken aback, I said to him, “Come on, Sir – of course – I am a good officer – why did you think otherwise…?”

“I had heard so many wicked things about you – that you are a difficult officer – but I actually find you to be so good…” the Commodore said – and later – his wife told me that I was his favourite officer – and he trusted me the most among all officers.

So – Dear Reader – whenever you meet someone for the first time – for matchmaking – for dating – at the workplace – for any long term relationship – beware of the dictum: “First Impression is the Best Impression” – and don’t get too carried away trying to make the “best impression” – since you may find it difficult to live up to such a ‘perfect’ image in later life.

When you meet someone for the first time – never try to “impress” anyone – just be your natural self – in fact – show a bit of your darker side – so that there is always “scope for improvement” later.

And for those of you who are going in for an “arranged marriage” – when you meet your “prospective spouse” for the first time – the first question you must ask him (or her) is: “Tell be about your weaknesses and your faults…”

Remember: “Worst Impression is the Best Impression”.

There is always scope for improvement if you project your “worst” impression

But there is no scope for improvement if you project your “best” impression – in fact, there is always pressure to live up to the “perfect” image you have created – and ultimately, this mismatch will cause stress and distrust in your relationships.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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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.

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Posted by Vikram Karve at 3/20/2015 04:16:00 PM

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