Rum, Bum and Mouthorgan and other Indian Army stories

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by Ray, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    THE GENTLEMAN CADET’S INTERPRETATION OF LIDDEL HART’S THEORY OF ‘EXPANDING TORRENTS’


    The mosquitoes and other insects were biting. The air was still. It was hot and humid. The undergrowth of the forest was thick and unyielding. We plodded on, Scout No 1 and me. We had a task to do! It was only a few months before we became Officers, which was our coveted goal and for which we were slogging day and night in the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun. Today was a bit different, we were out of the Academy for the last few days and into the wilderness of the Raiwala Jungle. We were on exercise to put into practice the theoretical acumen that we had acquired in the classrooms and TEWTs (Tactical Exercises Without Troops) on the various Operations of War.

    It was only a few months to the Holy Grail – Becoming an officer! We were Gentleman Cadets (GC). True the life was hard and it was a continuous whirl with hardly any time for relaxation but it was also our final term and one had to be on one’s toes as errors would mean relegation. Relegation meant becoming an officer six months later than one’s contemporaries, carrying the baggage of shame to have been left behind. Military men, after all, are trained to win! There is no time for losers!

    The acidic sweat rolled down and burnt the eyes as we pushed through the foliage and undergrowth. Tiresome! Yet, there was the excitement of doing things that real soldiers do! Warfighting! And this exercise was even better than before since it was a two sided exercise! We were in the phase practising ‘Advance to Contact and Quick Attack’, while the other Company from another Battalion were practising ‘Defence’. It was ‘live’ ‘enemy’ and not Demo troops, who had to operate as per the Book. In other words, anything could happen and it was not predictable!

    Ears cocked and eye sharp, both the other Scout and I tread wearily determined to best the ‘enemy’ so that our Platoon, which was following in our wake, came out winners, and we Scouts would be the one whose detection hinged success! Scouts were the linchpin as all would know for Scouts, operating in pairs had their task chalked out to see the enemy first and then observe the enemy’s movement and extent undetected. The scouts also thus achieved a number of tactical goals i.e. retain the initiative, bring indirect fire to bear on the enemy, help larger units to manoeuvre and destroy the enemy, and if necessary, use direct fire to kill the enemy.

    Someone behind was yelling! We froze. It would surely give us away. We were close to the ‘enemy’ and any noise would reveal our intention. A total catastrophe, if you ask me. All our efforts brought to nought. Hardly the type of bottom line we wanted after all the effort and care we were putting in. Damned oaf! The voice was familiar and we were impotent to silence it. It was that of our Platoon’s pet buffalo. Well, that is what he was called. In real life he was a Captain and our Directing Staff, who was supposed to be supervising us and grading us. You can realise he was hardly a help to grade us honestly if he bellowed like a lost cow as they bellow in the evening dusk, when they lose the way!

    What cannot be cured must be endured. Annoyed but helpless, we plodded on, carefully pushing the undergrowth, avoiding trampling on dry twigs and leaves lest they crackle and give us away. My mind meandered, as I seethed, and my gaze fell on Scout Number 1. I smiled. He was an amusing chap. A bit flamboyant, but innocent. He wanted to join the Armoured Corps. He thought thus it was fashionable to be different. He had stuck a feather in his jungle cap. However, to be fair to him, I cannot vouch that it was because he wanted to be fashionable and so fit for the Armoured Corps or was it that he wanted a better camouflage and look like a crow in the jungle – the only observation I had was that he did look a crow, but a scrawny crow that seemed to borne the brunt of a crow fight!

    As we pushed through the foliage, there we heard a sound. We stopped and took position by lying on the ground. We commenced the ‘listening drill’. The drill done, we realised it was a genuine animal scampering away yowling unmistakable like a jackal. We rose and started again!

    We were moving in to where the ‘enemy’ was. There was no doubt in our minds, having done wll in the theoretical aspect of Patrolling and Scouting, given the thick foliage and undergrowth, it was assumed that the enemy would have their OPs (Observations Post) well ahead of their defences so as to raise a timely alarm. Therefore, we had to move extra cautiously so as to avoid them, or catch them unaware and make them ‘prisoners’ before they could raise the alarm.

    And cautious we were. The acidic sweat still poured down like rain, but we had a task to do!

    We were plodding through and very carefully searching ahead and keeping our ears cocked and our eyes sharp. Nothing unusual could be detected so far, though we knew we were close.

    The Number 1 Scout signalled me that I should take over. I closed in a quietly as feasible to take over.

    We halted to change Scouts and this also halted the Platoon behind us. While it was officially what we were doing was the ‘listening drill’, but in addition in actuality, it also gave us a break to overcome fatigue, more so for the Platoon following who were carrying the heavier equipment like the heaviest Radio Set ever made in history – the 31 Set!
    As we were about to change the Scout, what happened? Lo and behold, who do we see coming in? You guessed wrong! Not the ‘enemy’, but that despicable twat, our pet buffalo came charging to check if we had gone off to sleep ‘at the post’! He merrily cracked the dry twigs and dry leaves he came barging in like a Bull in a China shop! I wondered how this poor man became an officer when he was stone deaf and knew so little about the basics of the army of maintaining stealth when closing in to the enemy! But then it takes all sorts to make the world!

    We were seething inside, but were helpless to tell this buffalo that he was waking the dead, let alone the enemy!

    He was furious. What were we halting for? He thought he was talking in whispers but if that was whisper, then in comparison, Mount Vesuvius erupts most silently!
    I could not help it, but subconsciously, my finger went to my lips – the symbolic movement that signifies ‘silence’. The man nearly burst a blood vessel! He got close to my ear, his bushy moustache ticking the membranous labyrinth of my ear, where the fibres of the auditory nerve connect the ear to the brain. Fortunately, the ear cannot laugh when tickled! With bated breath furiously erupting like a Vesuvius, he used the most colourful language that only the Punjabi language can boast and told me to get a move on or get shafted!

    Under such stimulating circumstances that ‘motivated’ me immensely, I moved on. And so did the column in my wake, while the DS went to roast and harangue someone else, in his most despicable way, in the rear of the Platoon. The man must have been a tandoori (Barbecue) cook before he joined the army.
    And so we plodded on for the next half hour.

    The humidity was getting our goat. And yet, with this long walk, tedious and time consuming, my bladder seemed to be bursting. I would have stopped normally and try the ‘listening drill’ and relieve myself of the burden and extra weight, but it would be too horrifying an experience to have a visitation once again by our Platoon’s pet buffalo, euphemistically called DS.

    So, I started emptying my bladder on the move. I took care to positioning the ‘emitter’ 60 degree to the perpendicular so as to not soil my pants with the droplets drifting and dancing in the air! The Scout No 2 suppressed a laugh and watched in amazement and amusement, but neither missed the pace of our movement! The pet buffalo’s visitation was hauntingly fresh!

    Suddenly, there was a horrifying yell from the undergrowth to the left where a sizeable amount of water, if you will, seemed to have descended!

    We (both the Scouts) rushed to the source of the audio spectrum disturbance. We rummaged the undergrowth and what do we see? It was the ‘enemy’ OP! The poor sod had goofed off after a hard night of digging without sleep! When we arrived at his ‘post’, he was sleep drunk. We clapped his mouth so that he could not shout.

    The Scout No 2 rushed back to inform the Platoon to take action and attack since we had got a fair idea of the enemy defence from the sleeping OP and observing thereof.
    However, there is honour amongst GCs as there is honour amongst thieves. We could not let him down for a failure had dire consequence; more so, with the dream of becoming an officer was just a stone’s throw away.

    The poor GC’s (enemy OP’s) pathetic eyes begging for mercy got the best of brotherhood out of us. So, while the other Scout when hotfoot to inform the Platoon, I calculated the time by which our Platoon would be ready to launch an attack, the leading section having taken up a firm base which I could see, I gave a chance to the sleeping enemy OP to alert his defence, by allowing him letting out a blood curdling yell.

    And then all hell broke loose!

    Out Platoon’s war cry resounded the air. I cannot remember what the war cry was, but I am sure it must have been something quite inane. Many a feet were running in the direction of the ‘enemy defences’ and I could see the ‘enemy’ rushing into their trenches to face the ‘onslaught’.

    The mock fight on the objective was going on with furious fury, there being no better way to explain it.

    While this was on, the ‘enemy’ OP and I sat down to watch the ‘fun’ as spectators, the OP being good enough to share a banana with Scout No 2 and me. We also got our well deserved break knowing fully well that our pet buffalo would be more embroiled in judging the attack on the objective and having no time to charge down to us.

    Till this day, Scout No 2 nor the ‘enemy’ OP, nor I, ever opened our mouth to tell the ‘Untold Story’ of the miracle of Liddell Hart’s military theory of ‘expanding torrents’ and it given an ingenuous and innovative GC’s twist!

    Oh yes, the happy ending is that we (us Scouts and the enemy OP) did make it to becoming officers and we are living happily ever after.

    *********************************

    This and the above story are based on the same facts.

    The narration style is different.

    Which one do you think is better for the average reader and why?

    Or are both not worth the read?

    Be honest and tell me.

    I value your feedback so as to know the 'mind' of the reader.
     
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  2. Twinblade

    Twinblade Senior Member Senior Member

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    The opening few lines of the first one messes it up, giving it a feeling of an official briefing. The second one was a pleasure to read.
     
  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Thanks.

    I value your advice.
     
  4. Yuvraj Sharma

    Yuvraj Sharma New Member

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    Sir, please put up some more stories.....


     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    \\ill as soon as I find time.
     
  6. Shatrujeet

    Shatrujeet Regular Member

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    WHEN PAKISTANI KID YUSUF CROSSED THE LINE

    A true story from the midst of madness and bloodshed, the ‘Kargil War’.


    The early morning calm was rudely shattered by numerous blasts that rang out in quick succession. The sound was akin to repeated hammering of a wooden mallet on corrugated, galvanized iron (CGI) sheets. Soldiers sprinted hither and thither to find some cover while Paki artillery shells rained down on them and burst with ear shattering explosions. The intense Paki artillery barrage continued for about half an hour. When it ended, there was sudden silence and troops waited inside their bunkers for another half hour or so before they tentatively emerged from numerous hiding places and went about their routine morning chores.

    The loud explosions woke Brig Jasbir Singh SM (Jas), Commander of a Brigade in the Chhamb-Jaurian Sector, with a start. He sat up on the bare camp cot coughing and sneezing because of the dust and debris that filled his underground fortified bunker. It was still dark and he groped around for his mobile to check the time. Deep within the bunker he could not hear the whistling noise as the shells went overhead.

    The Paki heavy artillery bombardment had just taken place on the line of bunkers located on a ‘bund’ (raised ground). The bund ran along the ‘line of control’ (LoC) at Pallanwala. Operation ‘VIJAY’ (Kargil Operations) were in full swing between India and Paki and the intruding Paki forces were being physically removed from the rocky heights that they had surreptitiously occupied in Kargil, at the northernmost end of the LoC. The difficult operations in Kargil and Tololing were in full media glare and a shocked nation watched troops battle it out on the high mountains, on their TV sets, right in their bedrooms. But elsewhere in Pallanwala, in Chhamb-Jaurian Sector, out of the media glare, there was another incredible drama unfolding.

    It was a clear morning at the southern end of the LoC where Jas was located. Puffs of a few white clouds dotted the blue sky. After the mortar bombardment ended, he could hear the light hearted banter of his troops. They chatted and joked with one another as they spread their sleeping bags and clothes to dry in the warm sun. Occasionally, a loud peal of laughter could be heard as troops stretched themselves in the sun. The radio sets crackled with the Brigade Net operational natter, the voices sombre and full of static.

    Suddenly there was a yell from inside a nearby concrete bunker, in which a day sentry manned a light machine gun (LMG). He was peering through a loop-hole at the flat land in front of the bunker. The flat land extended for about 200 meters and sloped into Munnawar Tawi River, along the centre of which ran the LoC. The flowing water in the river was only about half a meter at its lowest point.

    On hearing the sentry’s alarm, troops rushed into their bunkers, expecting another round of deadly enemy barrage. Looking through the loop-holes, they were surprised to see the figure of a small boy, 10 or 11 years old, splashing through the river towards them. Field telephones were rapidly cranked and before the little boy had waded across the river, reports of this most unexpected event was flashed up the ladder from the company and battalion headquarters, right through to Jas. Jas instructed the troops to hold their fire and guide the boy through the mine-field adjacent to the river. The Platoon Commander, followed by some soldiers, climbed to the top of the ‘bund’. They stood in full view of the Paki defences across the river and shouted directions to the child, on how to negotiate the minefield. A wrong step here or there could have blown up the child or maimed him. Laboriously, as if in a daze, the child followed the instructions with hesitating steps. Soon the child arrived at the bunker’s entrance. He was dressed in a dark-grey coloured kurta-pyjama suit and had his pyjamas rolled up to his thighs. He seemed quite unperturbed though he had a serious expression on his face. He was made to sit under a large tree and gently questioned by the Platoon Commander. In Punjabi, the boy gave his name as Yusuf Mohammad and said he belonged to the large village across the river. When asked where he was going, he shyly related that his father had been extremely annoyed to see his poor Class IV results. He had scolded the boy volubly and even told him to leave the house. Disgusted with his father’s shouting, Yusuf had left the house and walked towards the fields adjoining the village. He had continued to walk through the fields, crossed the river and wandered into the Indian Army Post.


    Yusuf was quickly bundled into a ‘Gypsy’ and driven to Brigade HQ at Pallanwala where he met a lanky, affable Sikh with a luxurious white beard, attired similarly in Kurta Pyjama, much like a Pathan. Jas made him as comfortable as he could on a camp style folding easy chair. Since the boy said he had not eaten since the previous afternoon, Jas offered him a hot meal of rice, dal and vegetables. Jas chatted with him with paternal affection. From the answers Yusuf gave Jas, it became apparent that he did not know he had crossed the LoC. During the gentle prodding, Yusuf proudly said that his father was a retired ‘fauji’ who would soon become lambardar of his village. Since the artillery bombardment had taken place while the boy was walking to the river, he was asked if he had heard any loud bangs as he had approached the river. The observant boy thought a while and brightly remarked that he had passed a grove of large trees where ‘faujis’ were gathered and there had been explosions from tubes placed on the ground. With a smile he added that ‘faujis’ had been scampering about in a funny manner but he had avoided going near them.


    When the child was told he had crossed over to India, he become visibly scared and even began to tremble in fear. After instructing his men to look after the young boy, Jas rang his General Officer Commanding (GOC) in Akhnur and told him about the Paki boy who had strayed across the LoC. Perhaps there were more important things on the General’s mind and Yusuf was quickly brushed aside. ‘Send the rascal back’, the General said gruffly and began to discuss other more pressing military matters. Jas sent the boy back to the Battalion HQ in-charge of the spot where the boy had crossed the river and ordered them to look after the boy, but to send him back to the other side of the LoC first thing in the morning.

    With an unobtrusive guard outside the room, Yusuf was allowed to relax and given a Hindi movie to watch on TV. After he had happily watched the movie, Yusuf innocently told the astonished Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) who was stationed in the room, ‘Eh picture teh main pehle vekh chuka haan!’ The boy became a subject of great attraction and many soldiers peeped into the room to catch a glance of the Paki child. As the evening progressed, Yusuf began to miss his mother and tearfully told the JCO he wanted to go home. He was reassured that he would be sent home safely in the morning. After the uneventful night, Yusuf was again taken to see Jas. Jas told him to be a good boy, study well at school and never again defy his father and walk out of home, despite what his father said in anger. Yusuf solemnly agreed with what Jas asked him to do and nodded repeatedly in agreement. He was given a small packet of sweets for his parents, two CDs of Hindi movies and a fountain pen to take back with him. Jas gently patted him on the cheek and asked the JCO to see that the boy was safely sent through the mine-field and to the river. Yusuf was told to shout loudly to the Paki soldiers, while he was crossing the river and then follow the same track through the Paki mine-field across the river.

    Yusuf was taken ahead of the forward defences once again in a Gypsy. Here, he alighted from the vehicle and carrying the small bag containing his presents. He walked back the way he had come the previous morning. The JCO and others watched the small boy move slowly along the narrow foot-track in the minefield till he reached the river bank. At the river bank, Yusuf stopped and bent over to roll up his pyjamas. Before he stepped into the cold waters of Munnawar Tawi, the Paki child turned and waved at the Indian soldiers waiting near the Gypsy. They smiled and waved back at him, silently wishing him luck. In such a short time a strong bond had developed between the child and the Indian soldiers. Perhaps they were reminded of their own children at home, and they hoped the boy would safely complete his hazardous return journey and re-unite with his parents.

    The soldiers watched Yusuf’s slender figure get smaller and smaller as he crossed the flowing waters and went further towards the Paki defences. All the while they could hear loud shouts from the boy to warn the Pakis of his approach so that they did not open fire. Soon, they happily saw Paki soldiers come out of their bunkers and get atop their ‘bund’ to guide Yusuf through their mine-field. Then Indian Army soldiers returned to their defences and reported to Jas ‘mission accomplished’.

    After allowing enough time for Yusuf to be interrogated by the Paki soldiers and moved to rear areas, it was back to business for the Indian Brigade. Jas ordered a devastating barrage of mortar fire on the enemy’s gun positions hidden in the grove beyond the Paki forward line of defences. Soon the complete grove was obliterated. It was business as usual for the two opposing armies, each trying to kill the other with everything they had. That night both sides re-laid the minefield where the boy had crossed, the clear passage through the minefield which the child had crossed had been noted by either side.

    Jas soon forgot about Yusuf and immersed himself in his routine operations, trading bullet for bullet and shells for shells. Barrages of mortar bombs exploded among the defences, while ambushes, raids and intense small arms fire caused numerous casualties. The wounded were promptly evacuated to rear areas while machine-gun fire swept the line of defences, on both sides. Soldiers hid in their bunkers or used crawl-trenches to move about. Climbing atop the bund was akin to committing suicide and it became an activity of happier times of the past.

    After a few days, Jas got a call from the GOC. The GOC told Jas that Yusuf was son of a retired Paki Army JCO whose ex CO was then the Paki Director General of Military Operations (DGMO). When the ex JCO and his wife failed to find the boy, they had enquired from villagers. They were shocked when they came to know that Yusuf had been seen fording Munnawar Tawi and walking towards the Indian defences. In sheer desperation, the ex JCO rang up his old CO (the Paki DGMO) and narrated his tale of woes. The Pak Army General had sympathized with his old JCO, as any General would, and amidst the numerous daily telephone calls related to the ongoing operations in Kargil, he had informed his Indian counterpart DGMO about the lost child. The Indian DGMO had informed Northern Army Commander and the information ultimately trickled down to GOC of the Infantry Division holding Chhamb-Jaurian Sector.
    ‘Where the f*** is that Paki rascal ?’, he asked.
    ‘Hopefully back at home with his ruddy parents’, Jas informed him, matter-of-fact.
    Soon the information was relayed back from one DGMO to the other.

    Amidst intensive firing across the LoC a few days later, Jas received a strange message from one of his commanding Officers (COs). The CO told him that a forward post commander had reported that the Pakis, just 25 meters away, had yelled over the sound of firing and asked for a temporary cease-fire to deliver a letter for the Brigade Commander. They had been told to await further instructions. Jas overcame with curiosity ordered the CO to accept a temporary ‘cease-fire’ for 10 minutes and to accept the letter from the enemy side. The CO reported to Jas that the Paki soldiers had tossed across an envelope affixed to a small stone with a rubber band.

    The letter was brought to the Brigade HQ and opened by Jas. The letter from his Paki counterpart, said that he had been directed by his GOC to convey sincere thanks for returning the little boy in a safe and sound condition. While Jas was reading the letter, he heard a distant rattle of machine-gun fire. The sharp sounds came from the direction of the IA Post where the letter had been thrown across the LC. He smiled wryly to himself. He hoped that Yusuf by now would be safe at home with his parents. Hopefully, one day Yusuf would remember his brief sojourn with Indian Army and grow up to be a fine young man.

    Jas cranked the field telephone, got across to his Brigade Major (BM) and ordered 100 rounds of retaliatory fire with the heaviest calibre artillery weapons that he possessed. It was not for him to reason why Pakis and Indians fought continuously, but to do and die. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But Yusuf, well he was not an enemy. He was a young child just like all children, the future of Paki. Jas hoped that one day Yusuf would grow old enough and be a better man, perhaps help stop the madness and bloodshed that still continues on the LoC.


    Post script

    Jas is a Rimcolian (R 62/66), 37th NDA (Hunter) and 46th IMA, commissioned into 4 Kumaon in 1970, the same battalion in which his late father Brig Balbir Singh MC did incredible things to the Japs with a bayonet in the 2nd WW ( Jas’s book ‘Escape From Singapore’). Jas is the tail ender of a long illustrious family spanning 5 generations of hard core soldiers, each of them more illustrious than his predecessor. Jas was commissioned at 20 and immediately sent to fight the B’Desh war. For 35 yrs afterwards he fought every Tom, Dick and Paki. At the height of his military career, he was the National Security Advisor to Rwanda, where he stopped a bloody civil war, wrote their constitution to turn it into a ‘Republic’, supervised elections, installed a Govt and ensured peace and prosperity in that impoverished country, all of it single handed in just 22 months. And what did he use for doing all these ? Just a silly foot long ‘Malacca’ cane, his baton of authority !!! So it came about, that ‘a stick is better than the tongue’, and that a soldier is as adept at making peace, as he is in making war.
     
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  7. TrueSpirit

    TrueSpirit Senior Member Senior Member

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    Manekshaw vs Sarin

    The tales from yester years ..
    On a rather warm day the Defence Secretary, Harish Sarin, a powerful civil servant, on entering the Ministry’s conference room is said to have told a Colonel sitting near a window,
    “You there, open that window!”
    Before the Colonel could get up came a sharp “Sit down” from Sam Manekshaw, who had just entered the conference room from another door.
    Turning to the Defence Secretary, he said, “Mr.Secretary, don’t you ever address my Officers in that tone of voice. You may however say,“Sam, would you please open that window, and I will open the window for you. That Officer you called out to is a Colonel, and not
    ‘You there’.”
    Harish Sarin mumbled something to the effect that he didn’t mean it that way, to which Sam replied,
    ”I don’t care how you meant it. I heard it & didn’t like it."
     
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  8. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    I am sure the Colonel would not have got up to do it in any case.

    I would have told the Secretary - Sorry Mr Secretary, talking to yourself?

    And those who know me, will vouch that I would have said so.
     
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  9. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    There is an interesting book in Flipkart that you all may read.

    It is by Maj Gen GD Bakshi, the person who one sees on TV Debate and is very outspoken.

    The book is 'Siege of Warwan' and published by Harper Collins.
     
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  10. Dinesh_Kumar

    Dinesh_Kumar Regular Member

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    ****A story from my father's time. A version of this story also came in the press******

    It was wartime and an Army unit was serving in the Punjab. A tank had broken down , due to some problem in the gearbox. Spare parts to repair the tank would have to be imported, and the tank would not be available for the War. A Sardarji, seeing the bogged down tank, came forward on his cycle to investigate it. The Officer in charge, being a young guy, permitted him to climb on the machine and investigate it. The Sardarji looked at the broken down parts, and cycled away. He went to his local workshop, and fabricated a part, came back the same evening and fitted it on the tank. It worked!!!. The Sardarji cycled away without saying a word.
     
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  11. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    COME AGAIN!

    Officer Cadets or GCs (Gentlemen Cadets) come from various strata of society. Many have rural background, while others are urbanites. The educational background is equally varied – the spectrum span premier public schools to the rural schools. Comprehension and usage of the English language syntax is thus equally diversified. Some spoke perfect English, while others, just passable. And in this linguistic muddle, all functioned perfectly well.

    There were GCs from the NDA (National Defence Academy), NCC (National Cadet Corps) entry, Technical Graduates, Army Cadet College (from the Ranks) and the Direct Entry (direct from colleges). Even though for each entry there were the tests including for the English language, yet selection was not merely based on English. Weakness in English could be evened out in the other academic papers.

    It was in this linguistic environment I was in the IMA (Indian Military Academy). I was an NDA entry.

    A large majority spoke in Hindi amongst themselves possibly since they were more at home with this language than English. Notwithstanding, there were also those who spoke English, but dropped the article and hence it appeared as if they were speaking in a telegraphic mode! And some, the public school variety spoke perfect English. In short, it was a real interesting pot pourri and none ever felt out of place! Actually, it was amusing since it took time to understand when the telegraphic mode of English was used. For instance, “I come go” would actually mean, “I came and then I went”! It was fun!

    Some of the DS (Directing Staff who were officers) were equally handicapped and they too were amusing. In actuality we felt that they were unadulterated blockheads! It made life easier since one could laugh it off later when obeying some of their moronic and sadistic diktats! It made life bearable.

    My Platoon DS was a rural chap prone to telegraphic English which he blurted out so fast that, at times, it became difficult to understand what exactly he meant. He had been nicknamed as “The Machine Gun Charlie” or “MG Charlie” or merely called “Charlie” because of this unique trait of his. His behaviour added ‘glamour’ to his sobriquet, ‘Charlie’!

    Charlie had this penchant to ‘interview’ GCs at the drop of a hat for reasons that were really not essential. I believe it helped him to get to know us better. We also, in turn, got to know him better. It gave us confidence in that if he could become an officer, then anyone could! Even a donkey; as some of the irreverent cadets opined!

    One day, during one of his interview ritual, about seven of us had been called. One did not mind having been called, even though it meant changing into fresh starched uniform with the blazing sun pouring down on us and making a horrid and uncomfortable goo of sweat and starch that scratched the living hell out of us waiting in the hot sun!

    We all prayed at these moments that the ordeal ended fast.

    Slowly the line wended forward as one by one the interviewed GCs left. I was standing behind a GC, who was a hard working, highly disciplined, regimented and a rural self taught English language bloke.

    His turn came to be called in and I was the next. As per the procedure, I moved up and stood at the door while he marched in smartly and saluted.

    Charlie asked him something, which I could not decipher.

    Then suddenly, the GC saluted smartly and did a smart about turn and walked out.

    I was preparing to go in, when this GC wheeled about, marched right into the office, saluted smartly and awaited Charlie’s further dialogue.

    Charlie looked up from the papers in front of him and said something.

    This GC again did a repeat of the previous performance. He came out and then promptly did an about turn and marched back!

    Some words were said by Charlie. I could see that but I could not hear what was being said.

    Some more discussion followed and once again the GC saluted smartly, walked out and before I could go in, he pushed me aside and walked in to smartly salute and continue where he had left!

    I really was confused and my curiosity got the better of me. I deliberately stepped closer so that I could fathom what was up. This was more so since I could see Charlie’s bushy moustache all aquiver with sharp words seemingly emanating from where his mouth was and which I could not see behind his hirsute facial camouflage.

    Since Charlie was decibels higher than the muezzin’s call and I was a wee bit closer, I could now decipher what was being said.

    “You stupid chap”, said Charlie.

    “What all this monkey business you do? Am not interested you Plus 2 in drill (the highest grading for drill). Don’t want experience here. Got that? Why like ass going in and out office displaying drill standard? Who care? This not Republic Day Parade selection!”

    The GC, I could see, was totally nonplussed.

    “What say you about this stupidity?” bellowed Charlie.

    The GC was trembling. Charlie was known to be an erratic chap who distributed extra drills and restrictions (both punishments) as if India had won the Cricket World Cup!

    Through all that trembling of the GC, I could hear him replying with the plaintive bleat of a sheep being led to slaughter, “Sorry sir, you only told me repeatedly to ‘Come Again’. So I went out to come again. I was only obeying your orders, sir”.

    I burst out laughing!

    It was so loud that while the GC escaped Charlie’s wrath, I got seven extra drills!
     
  12. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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  13. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    THE COLONEL, THE BATTALION HAVILDAR MAJOR AND THE COLONEL OF THE REGIMENT


    Our unit was in located at Balnoi.

    Balnoi was an idyllic. It was an ideal location to laze and enjoy the beauty of Kashmir. It was a back of nowhere place. Lush pine tree covered mountains rose magnificently, charged with the heady smell, both ahead on the Mendher ranges in front and the Krishnaghati to the flanks.

    Life was what they say these days – ‘cool’. It couldn’t be otherwise; those days there were no terrorists coming from the haunts of coot and hern to make a suddenly sally. It was almost peaceful. Infiltration did occur, but they were smugglers or spies, or those foolhardy few who dared to walk the gauntlet to meet their folks across the Cease Fire Line. The Line of Control nomenclature came a few years later after the 1971 War.

    The Battalion at Balnoi was basically there to train and refit as a reserve battalion and then be rotated to the Posts on the mountains

    Life was actually idyllic and the weather was magnificently salubrious.

    Well almost!

    Why almost? It requires a dekko of the environment prevailing in the
    Battalion. The climate of God has to be matched with the climate bequeathed to us mortal by those who rule our lives to be idyllic since otherwise it could be hell!

    There is no doubt that life would have been a prolonged holiday here. However, there was this impediment – our Commanding Officer (CO). The CO was not a bad sort; it was just that he was too “British” for the liking of the officers that he commanded. Some of us were dyed in wool desis (natives!).

    The CO was of the opinion that he alone knew what was best for the desi Indian kalus , namely the officers and other hapless Indians, who may cross his path. He was the Indian clone of Rudyard Kipling. Loved India in his own way, but was scornful of its ‘backward’ ways! Indian whiskey he abhorred and rejected contemptuously as ‘gutter water’. The tumblers had to be spotless clean without a trace of a finger print. Lines, wherever it be drawn, in whatever the medium, pencil, pen, lime-wash, chalk or chinagraph pencil, they all had to be straight! The menu changed daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, lest the cook forgot how to cook, the waiters forgot how to serve and officers forgot how it tasted! Dal or lentil gruel, a basic Indian dish, was not ‘dal’, and instead, was ‘daul’! He was a stickler no doubt and even the Queen would have blushed since the CO was more British than the Queen herself!

    For the carefree and cool, it was indeed an ordeal!

    There were varied theories about the CO.

    One of the officers, a senior Company Commander, always wondered if the British in 1947 had forgotten him somewhere between the Taj Hotel and the Gateway of India, when they were boarding the troopship taking them home!

    Yet another officer, a Captain, however, opined that the CO had himself volunteered to remain behind in India and carry on with the White man’s burden on behalf of his cousin, the Queen!

    Thus, there was this confusion as to what our CO actually was!

    The officers, though they were troubled by the CO’s British quirks, it was just one person whose goat the CO got!

    He was the battalion Second in Command (2IC). His distress was profound during dinner time. The CO allowed only an ‘English’ dinner whereas the 2IC was the desi ghee type. He could not eat any meal without a dollop or three in every dish he ate, be it English, Chinese or Thai! And he was always upto some subterfuge to satiate his urge surreptitiously every dinner time.

    Since the CO scrupulously followed the Mess Rules laid down from the British times that one could not eat his meals in his room, the 2IC had no option but to eat in the Officers Mess. It was a sight to see the 2IC every dinner time punching holes in his cutlets and waiting for the CO to be distracted. He would then in that split second, like greased lightning, whip out his small jug of ghee from under his chair and pour it to his heart’s content in the holes he had punched in his cutlets. We enjoyed observing this cat and mouse games and thrilled to the gills. However, it affected our health since we had to take the timing for the courses of the dinner from the CO. He finished his course while we were enamoured with the 2IC’s antics and the plates were cleared; so, we could hardly concentrate on our meal and eat our share! They enjoyed and we suffered!!

    Thus to most of the officers, it was not the Pakistanis who were the adversaries; and instead it was our own CO, who in our opinion, though considered a good soul, was immensely quixotic and difficult.

    That, in very brief, was what the environment in which the officers found themselves to be in – a happy coexistence between the sanity and the ludicrous!

    In that environment another catastrophe enveloped us! The Colonel of the Regiment decided to visit the unit who was a card by himself!

    The key personage that were involved in the visit of the Colonel of the Regiment were the BHM (Battalion Havildar Major) and the Colonel of the Regiment himself! The BHM was important because he was to organise the physical details of the Reception and the Colonel of the Regiment because if he had not decided to come, life would have been pleasant. And the Colonel of the Regiment thought he was the King Emperor of the Regiment and took umbrage to the slightest fault!

    The BHM of the Battalion was typical of the class that composed the rank and file. He was a fine and efficient chap, but even with him, one had to go with the Regiment Work Code ethics for Officers (not found in the Standing Orders of War or Peace) of ‘Order, Check, Recheck and Finally Do It Yourself’. Good chaps the troops were, but forgetful, to put it politely.

    As far as the Colonel of the Regiment, he was a card! He was a sanctimonious, pompous oaf and a busybody with megalomania oozing through every pore! He was a combination of Hop Along Cassidy and Lord of Tartary and immensely self opiniated. There was nothing earthshaking in his opinions, though he did attempt to project that he was giving the Sermon on the Mount!

    That being the background, let’s move on.

    The Colonel of the Regiment was “heli-dashing” somewhere or the other, as he was wont to do, the air dash being at Government and the Army’s expense and allowed by rules. It mattered not to me as to where. In those days, all were well contended to charter their career to the next day only, unlike today’s youngsters who are more alive and smart and rather career savvy.

    Notwithstanding the career charting of days gone by, it is adequate to know that the Colonel of the Regiment was ‘air dashing’. His role and profile demanded this ‘sacrifice’ on his part to share his ‘valuable time’ with us! He was, after all, the Regiment personified and it was for his inflated ego, “Après moi, le déluge” . He had to be everywhere and yet being nowhere!

    Being astute and savvy, the Colonel of the Regiment though going elsewhere, suddenly had decided to make a detour to our unit, just to be ‘with the boys’. It was good for his PR. Obviously, for mortals in the unit, it was to be a Red Letter Day and hence everything had to be ‘taped up’.

    A long distance telephone call to the ADC over the notoriously troublesome static full military lines brought only desolate news. The Colonel of the Regiment, the ADC informed the unit, had barely time to munch a Digestive biscuit, let alone partake in any elaborate Japanese Tea Ceremony! And to imagine, the ‘British’ CO deemed it essential to offer Huntley and Palmer Cream Crackers and that too in back of nowhere, Balnoi!

    The Adjutant informed the CO what the ADC had said, adding that the Colonel of the Regiment was a ‘man of action’ and hinted that the Colonel of the Regiment apparently had little time for such mundane routine as having tea and biscuits.

    That infuriated the CO. Being the person he was, with disdain, the CO overruled the Colonel of the Regiment as a village bumpkin; after all, the Battalion was his and not that of the Colonel of the Regiment. The Adjutant had doubts since the Colonel of the Regiment was reputed to be more in the air than on the ground, being the hot air blimp that he was. The Adjutant, having a science background knew that the stratified air made one less hungry. But, who could argue with our CO?

    To us youngsters, the Colonel of the Regiment’s visit was a red-letter day. There was a lot of hul chul as one dubbed all hyperactive ceremonial chores. But that was not so for our dear CO. The impending visit had not turned a single hair of his. He was cool as a cucumber, even though cucumber never grew in Balnoi. The CO was a man who went by his own ideas and damn the others, whatever the rank. He cared two hoots for who vini, vidi-ed and vici-ed (saw, came and conquered or conked out {!}). The rule for the CO was that as far as he was concerned, so long he was happy, ‘Mogambo was khus’ .

    The Colonel of the Regiment’s visit was important to the youngsters. Amongst the youngsters, I was selected to ‘organise’ the ‘visit’. While the dismal, dank and dark living and administrative bunkers were being whitewashed from the inside under the supervision of one of the Company Commanders, the flowerbeds were planted by another of the same variety (i.e. Company Commander), with fresh overgrown plants that had bloomed, I was sent hotfoot to the helipad to organise the reception of the helicopter and the Colonel of the Regiment.

    The whitewashing of the inside of bunkers, we thought, were a waste of time for a man who hardly had the time to sniff a peanut, let alone eat it. Peanuts alone were the munching delight of the hip-hop dignitaries of those days unlike these day where cashew, almonds, chilguzas apparently are the metabolic delights of the Brass! But then, who could tell that to the CO?

    I was despatched to the helipad.

    The Battalion Havildar Major (BHM) trotted obediently behind me. He wore the disdainful look that all senior NCOs detailed to work under youngsters always wore – a little short of total contempt of officers still green behind the ears!

    The BHM and I walked to the helipad.

    The area was huge. We got busy removing the loose stones and pebbles and gave the boundary stones and the ‘H’ another coat of fresh limewash. A Company worth, in the meanwhile, got busy and sashayed with their talwars manicuring the wild grass to give the impression of an operational area lawn! Efficiency had visited our unit!

    I ‘selected’ the spot where the shamiyana was to be pitched as also the mandatory toilets – separate for the General and separate for the lowly mortals, like the aircrew and us.

    Imagine that! Separate toilets! I could never figure out the rationale for separate toilets. As a youngster, I always thought that the procedure to relieve oneself was the same for all and everyone’s urine smelt the same! However, my Company Commander informed me that it was different for the Flag Rank and different for others and that there were Army Orders to that effect! This is probably the reason why I was “charged up” to attain the Flag Rank! I wanted to experience this unique experience and feel the difference!

    The siting of the shamiyana was no problem.

    The site was the same ever since the 1947 War. Yet, the military mind insisted on a song and a dance every time without fail to move the shamiyana six centimetres this way or that way. It, thus, proved unequivocally that the military mind was fertile and innovative. I did not let the Army down in this pagan mumbo jumbo of the ‘six centimetres dancing ritual’ either. In addition, I added a few flags along the way as a bonus, apart from the mandatory flag that indicates Toilets. In the Army, we have flags denoting various activities!

    The CO had to be given his due. He was dead serious about being actually innovative about siting the urinal and the commode (‘combode’ as per our safaiwallah as if it were some sort of a common abode and hence, ‘combode’!). The CO’s idea of siting the commode was unique and way futuristic, almost like Muslim emperor, Tuglak, who moved his capital down South of India from Delhi to avoid an invasion. Our CO was a military genius. He gave us precise instructions on the subject. He was an expert. It had been honed into a fine art in the unit he served previously.

    The BHM and I followed this art to the letter and I must say I am now a great toilet “siter” (the one who sites) even to this day and rank!

    As per the innovative toilet erection technique, the BHM and I spent the next six hours in the General’s toilet tent. We checked and rechecked the wind direction every 15 minutes and recorded the same on a clipboard. We were not disturbed in this serious activity even as the painter furiously hand-painted the commode’s wooden structure. What really got my goat was that the painter painted the brand new enamel chamber pot also! I queried him on this unique procedure. He was amazed that I did not know that before a VIP visit everything had to be whitewashed and painted – the vintage and state of disrepair immaterial. Silly me! I was still learning!

    I informed the 2IC of the unit, of the painter’s unique ‘innovation’ and guess what? He said that the painter was right! Wonders never ceased in this topsy-turvy military world.

    The wind record taken, we marched off to the CO to present our earth shaking scientific discovery. The wind direction was true to the adage – fickle as the wind, or was a woman supposed to be fickle? The recorded degrees touched all the points, sub points and sub sub points of the compass!

    Our CO perused it like the sage Agastya Muni . He put his head between his palms, took deep breaths and his chest heaved up and down like Mumtaz’s cleavage (they do this i.e. heave their bosom, during the dance sequence in Hindi films). Suddenly, the CO’s eyes sparkled like the Pole Star at night.

    “North by Northwest”.

    The CO barked this unique directional discovery into space, as if mesmerised like Archimedes, when he jumped out of the bath naked and yelled through the roads ‘Eureka, eureka’.

    ‘North by Northwest’ was a unique suspense film by Hitchcock but I could not fathom the connection with the wind records. However, one did not dare even discuss with the CO.

    “Marvellous film, sir”, I said in the form the Punjabis say yeh bhi wah wah, ta bhi wah wah i.e. non-committal, lest I got the wrong end of the stick.

    “Film? What film, old tyke? Don’t be a freak, young man. You will site the commode in the North Northwest direction, so that the General doesn’t soil his clothes in a hurry nor have his nostril offended by the odour.”

    Great musings, I must say and what an eye for detail! I was in raptures to learn that a General’s relief was offensive to the nostrils, like most. They were also human!!!!

    ‘Trot off now. And by the way, don’t forget to put magazines in the shamiyana lest he wishes to read.’

    Order understood had to be implemented.

    I ordered the BHM to have a whole lot of magazines organised in the shamiyana for the General’s reading pleasure and comfort, even if he did not have time to sniff a biscuit, let alone a peanut!

    The BHM and I jogged off to the helipad to recheck the arrangements. All appeared to be well. It was still a couple of hours for the arrival of the Colonel of the Regiment. We returned to the Base to relax.

    Doubts still nagged me. The military mind can never lie still. It was still 30 minutes to time, when the Colonel of the Regiment would arrive.

    I couldn’t take the tension any more.

    I meandered to the helipad in a controlled ‘casual way’ as if I was taking a walk to breathe in the bracing air! After all, I could not show that I was flapping. In fact, it would be silly to flap in front of the troops, especially when I had no wings to flap!

    Horrors of Horror!!!!!

    Neatly, in the shamiyana, on the table, there were magazines of all type – not the pornographic ones that would have ruffled my feathers, but there were, in all its glory and well shone ------------ pistol magazines, sten magazines, rifle magazines, LMG magazines and a belt of MMG ammunition thrown in for ‘bull’!!!!!!!

    How the right magazines arrived before the Colonel of the Regiment arrived is another story, but then it did prove the then popular adage of my Regiment – Order, Check, Recheck and finally DO it YOURSELF.
     
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  14. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    GIRLS FALL AT MY FEET

    I am no Tony Curtis, dimples and all. I am, also, no he man Charlton Heston with muscles even on his mouth! But I am passable.

    I am so extremely passable that, if rumours are to be believed, even Amitabh Bachchan is said to be going around town stating he is but me!! Though Amitabh is not being fair to me – he is much older than me and I sure have less wrinkles and I don’t use L’Oreal, Ponds or any of the anti ageing products! And I did not have the ridiculous makeover of a grey beard and jet black hair. I had black hair, God given and no beard, since it was not allowed in the Army!

    Yes, by Indian standards, I am a heartthrob!

    Girls fall at my feet!

    If you don’t believe me, ask my wife!

    Let me narrate an incident to establish my credentials.

    It was in the famed dusty, one horse Frontier town of the Punjab – the romantic, mysterious town hugging the Hudiara Drain, where the entertainment was in abundance with the shady bars peddling Punjab’s best – theke ki sharab (illicit alcohol from country stills; potent as hell!) and possibly ladies of easy virtue thrown in for effect, if one went by the ‘Out of Bounds for Military Personnel’ boards placed every few metres or so! It indicates the number of Bars and the hours of overtime the CMP (Corps of Military Police) put in – outside and, most probably, inside these Bars!

    That being the sum total of the town’s entertainment share, it sure did not classify to be in the TLC’s ‘Most Attractive Destinations’ show.

    Pitiable as it may have been, it did not dampen the Army’s penchant to make even the Desert come Alive with lights, song and dance. So, we had these parties, in house, out of house, in the Club and within the Brigade. They were so frequent that it did appear to be overdone. Yet, who would bell the cat? Our Commander was, what they call, ‘the Page 3 party Animal’. He loved parties, the more the merrier and loved to dance, shake a leg and guzzle; the l;ast being his favourite, so long it was on the house! He was called, behind his back, Chevrolet! Chevrolet? Yes, because these American cars can guzzle and Chevrolet was good enough and a famous brand!

    It was one of these parties that was organised at the behest of ‘Chevrolet’.

    Chevvy loved a late entry. He was a drama master personified and he had learnt that all important people came in late since it made a great effect on the people and more importantly, to the important person’s ego, as that had everyone squirming with discomfort and in anticipation of the Exalted One’s arrival, so that obeisance done, things could be normal!

    We had arrived on time. The music was on, and some people were dancing. We were awaiting the arrival of Chevy. While the youngsters were having a ball, it was us Commanding Officers who were furtively keeping one eye on the entrance, where the runner ( a long ‘carpet’ like those that are laid out as airports for VIPs) had been placed all the way to the dais, where the Exalted One would sit, partake in his ‘beverage’ and munch on the fatted sow which was being barbecued! The dance floor was adjacent to the runner that had been laid, and just below the dais.

    My wife was from a civil background and though a CO’s wife, she was still not quite the fidgety, imperious Old Lady of the Ball types these CO’s wives tend to be. In fact, she was a positive embarrassment to the stereotype CO’s wife image.

    Keeping to her wayward civil attitude, she wanted to know why we could not have a dance before the Exalted One came. Poor thing, my wife, did not know what a sacrilege it would be if I were not there to do the Mugal courtier rituals when the rather tubby and flushed pink Chevvy, the Mugal Emperor, dropped his weight from his car and onto the runner!

    That was one reason to avoid the dance before the arrival of El Cid aka Chevvy.

    The other reason was more important. While I was quite a good ballroom dancer, I was petrified of entering an Indian Army dance floor. I had once been kicked so hard on the thigh, yes the thigh that I had to be hospitalised! These dance floors were a veritable battlefield. People thrashed their hands and legs in wild abandon in all degrees of the compass, and at times, pointed their middle fingers heavenwards, in tune with obscene gyrations of their shoulder blades! And the music! It was horrifyingly loud catering for the artillery chaps I presume, who were mostly deaf (because of their thunder and shot), even though not dumb. And Chevvy was an Artillery convertee to better climes of the Infanry!! This music I was told was a cross between wild abandon of Punjabi songs and sophistication! Some sophistication, indeed!

    That being reasons to avoid the dance floor, my wife’s dancing prowess too did not quite flatter my sensibilities. She danced in a most weird manner. It was one of the new dances or maybe it was her copyright dance. She moved forward and backward on her feet, with her hands moving horizontally forward and backwards from the elbow straight at you. Frightening! Her hand movement was almost as if they were the steel links between the wheels of a steam locomotive. I would not be too sure if her dance style was inspired by Kylie Minoge’s hit number – Locomotion or not. What I did know was that I found this type of a railway dance very monotonous and it gave me a giddy feeling even if I had only been on Coca Cola that day. And I don’t think Coca Cola is heady!

    Therefore, given all the inhibitors to dancing, I told her that I would prefer to wait for Chevvy than dancing. She was sorely disappointed. And as they say, hell hath no fury than a woman scorned. Under bated breath she hissed: “OK, so you don’t want to dance. Have you seen your face? No one would even want to dance with you’.

    Now, that was mean! Would that mean than no one would like to dance with Amitabh Bachchan? Remember, he was going around town saying that he was me!
    I was a sophisticated chap, more so, when I was in public. As a CO, I was no hoi polloi and instead, I was a very public figure. Almost like King Louis XV – after me, the Deluge like attitude that all COs seem to acquire.

    ”Who says that I am not good looking?” I said with my haughty best.

    ‘Oh really? You are just slim and that is why you look passable!”

    “Passable?” I was getting a trifle irritated. Had she been a jawan, I would have had her put in the Quarterguard immediately for being indisciplined on parade. But then she was not a jawan and in those days, there were no women in the Army and so I would not have had the excuse of mistaken identity either! So, I controlled myself.

    “Passable? Let me tell you, woman, slim or not slim, girls fall at my feet”.

    “Hah! Girls fall at your feet? That will be the day!”

    We were still arguing with bated and hissing breath and each wearing a smile, hiding our clenched teeth and hissing our chitsy chatsy (Indian way of explaining a more intimate chit chat than chit chat itself!), something appeared to be approaching us.

    It was one young thing who had approached us. She was one of the fancier ladies of the Brigade and a youngster’s wife of another unit.
    She had come alongside, almost like a ship undertaking a perfect berthing!

    “Colonel, would you like to dance with me?”

    Imagine that! I was being asked for a dance when actually the man is supposed to ask for a dance!

    It boosted my ego that has been so far crushed underfoot, as an offensive bug would be, by my worthy wife!

    I smiled a smile that would equal a Victory Dance of the bush pygmies – a radiant and a defiant one and flashed that smile in full radiance at my wife. The pygmy drum beats were the only thing missing!

    If looks could kill, the young girl was killed by my wife’s look, that beatific smile of my wife still in place, as if measured to engineering precision with an inside calliper. The smile did nothing to kill her scathing and disdainful look.

    “You want to dance with my husband”, asked the Battle Axe of my home.

    “Yes, ma’am, if you don’t mind”, the young thing replied.

    “Oh I don’t mind, but don’t let me tell you that I did not warn you”

    “Warn?”

    “Oh yes, not in that way, but it is just that he dances with the exciting agility of an Army mule. He is a trifle rigid in his movements and his feet moves not nimbly, and instead like the plod of Army mules as they move up the hill. And of course, he is also going on in years. Let his slimness not fool you. He is out of breath the first five minutes and he then breathes like a she bear going into labour. Very scary!! Now, you want to take the risk, then please go ahead!”

    “But, I saw him the other day at the Commander’s party. He was such a pleasure to the eye. So graceful and not wild at all. His steps were so perfect and classy. And he danced for about 30 minutes till the band took a break! I don’t think he was breathing hard. He is ever so classy. That is why I wanted to dance with him.”

    “Really? He was not breathing like a panting water buffalo? That’s surprising. But then snakes don’t pant, do they?”

    The girl was totally confused.

    My wife realised that this young lady would not be taken in by her stratagem to leave me in the cold.

    “Oh well, if you think he can dance, please go ahead. He is however waiting for the Commander. You know, how the Army is. He has to go and pay his salaams.”
    As she said this, the young lady looked at me.

    To spite my wife, I took her hand and was about to move to the floor.

    It is then when she fell!!!!!

    The jawan in charge of having the runner perfectly straight and without any folds, had given the final hefty tug to make it perfect.

    And so the girl fell………….right at my feet!

    I looked at my wife and with my eyes guiding her to the lady at my feet.

    I gave a mischievous smile signalling my victory.

    My eyes said it all to my wife.

    Girls do fall at my feet ----- mostly, young ones!!
     
  15. arnabmit

    arnabmit Homo Communis Indus Senior Member

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    What did happen after that?
     
  16. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Nothing.

    In those days, the seniors were very tolerant and could stand a whole lot of nonsense.
     
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  17. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The whole Raj was supported by India in all forms to include our minerals and so on.

    What is the aim of your post?

    I can say this that the traditions left behind is what has kept the Armed Foirces going and apolitical.

    But with time, and egalitarianism creeping in, it is wearing out at the seams.

    That is why 'unfortunate' things are happening that did not happen earlier.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
  18. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    There are so many stories that I do not know if I have posted them here before.

    However, these are reworked versions.

    I would appreciate the following:

    1. Raising issue of grammatical error.

    2. Sentence construction.

    3. Sentences, paragraphs that appear jerky, disjointed etc; of course with suggestions for improvement.

    4. Areas that lead to loss of interest and why.

    5. Any suggestions for improvement.

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
  19. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    MY FIRST DAY IN THE NATIONAL DEFENCE ACADEMY (NDA)

    THE ENTRY INTO DALDA SQUADRON


    My army life has been tumultuous. It couldn’t be anything else. The day I was selected at the SSB (Service Selection Board) China attacked India! So, not unusually, my life has been one of interesting battles for (not ‘in’) life.

    This story is about the first day of my military career when I joined the National Defence Academy (NDA) – the nursery of the Indian Army.

    I joined the NDA on 5th January 1963. It happened to be my birthday too!

    On the assigned date of joining, I steamed in on the ‘Deccan Queen’ (a prestigious train in those days) into Poona, and right into the arms of an officer and some overzealous jawans (troopers) forming the Reception Committee. Thereon, the rickety military Studebaker truck rattled us past the majestic Deccan plateau and into Khadakvasla.

    The first glimpse of the NDA was awe inspiring. Majestic buildings unobtrusively dotted the immense green expanse of lush forestry. The signature dome of pink sandstone called the Sudan Block rose upwards as if in salute. The bountiful silence of the forestry blanketed us into a pleasant serenity of a world at peace and order.

    We disembarked at the Cadets Mess – an imposing one storey building. We were convinced that there could be no better profession than being a soldier and an officer. After the preliminaries were over, the officer in charge there assigned me to ‘Dalda’ Squadron, as was conveyed to me by the hired help. That was my first shock. Imagine, Dalda (it was a popular hydrogenated oil brand) – hydrogenated oil! It was only later that I came to realise that the unlettered helps could not pronounce ‘Delta’ (the military phonetic for the letter ‘D’) and so they called it Dalda, being a name they were familiar with!

    A civilian bearer (hired help) picked up my huge trunk and bedroll and cockily commenced leading me to my ‘officers’ quarters (as I had imagined), walking down the slope to ‘A’ Battalion.

    Lo and behold, hardly had I entered ‘A’ Battalion when a chap in khaki half pants with spindly legs halted me. Like a jagirdar (feudal lord) talking to his serfs, he saucily ordered me to carry my trunk – all of its six feet length – on my head! Bloody cheek I thought, especially since he appeared a village bumpkin with a dreadfully unintelligible accent. Peter Sellers’ rendition of ‘Indianised’ English would have easier on the ear than that of this bloke!

    I was thoroughly baffled, perplexed and odd at ease.

    I flatly refused carrying the trunk on my head. However, the menacing growl like a pit terrier emanating from this chap dawned on me that this was not the time to show valour; at least not on the first day of my military career! I tried to carry the trunk, but being the 90 lb weakling, I crumpled under the weight.

    This bloke compressed with laughter and I was allowed to wend my way beyond. I felt like a worm.

    A few moments later I reached ‘Dalda’ Squadron. By then I was quite deflated and ashamed of myself that I had wilted. Hardly the signs of being a soldier to save the country!

    I entered the Squadron to be met by the most hairy thing that I ever saw in my whole life – Corporal AS! He was indeed huge and hairy. He was a Sikh and so it was natural that he would be whiskered and with beard. In fact, it took time to realise that through all that hair, there were eyes peering at me.

    “What are you?” said this matchless thing, which I had mistaken for some exotic South Pacific tropical tree. It was getting queerer by the minute. Instead of ‘who’, this odd fish had used ‘what’. What am I? Obviously, a human being! This was an observable fact.

    Giving him the benefit of doubt, in a clear voice I replied “SK Raychaudhuri”. Three times did he ask, as Anthony had asked of Caesar, and three times I replied the same!

    This ‘tree’ turned pinker than his natural pink. At least he was turning pink in the areas that I could observe. “Are you a Bhangi?” asked Corporal AS. Now, while I knew passable Hindi I was not endowed with such technical Hindi. Naturally, I was confused. However, enlightenment dawned on me.

    I surmised that most probably he was trying to say ‘Bengi’ as the Anglo Indians (in my school) called us Bengalis. I was getting used to the fact that fellows in the NDA had unusual English accents (this I later learnt was the upcountry inflections)

    With a radiant smile I proudly said, “Yes”.

    Corporal AS recoiled as if he had seen the ghost of Caesar. He was incredulous! Keeping a safe distance, thrice (it was his habit of repeating himself thrice) he asked the same question and thrice and I answered the same – thrice.

    “Do you know the meaning of Bhangi?” asked AS totally disbelieving.

    “Why not? I presume you mean a ‘Bengali’,” said I.

    Corporal AS buckled with the mirth, the laughter almost similar to a steam engine chugging away from a station with the wheels sipping on the rails. His belly fat quivered like Pompeii about to spew.

    As his amusement faded like a wailing banshee, he bellowed, “Silly man Charlie bai (boy). It’s not a Bengali, Bhangi means a scavenger. A sweeper. Are you a sweeper?”

    George Washington could never lie. I too could not.

    “No. I am not a scavenger.”

    Huge that he was, with avuncular kindness, he pronounced, “You no longer civilian. You now Cadet. Be prod (proud). You now ‘Cadet Chodri’ and add ‘Sir’ to all seniors.”

    While I had no objection to being a ‘Cadet’, I somehow could not reconcile to the pronunciation of my name since it had an obnoxious sexual connotation when said in Hindi. I, however, kept my counsel. It dawned on me that I was no longer a human being – instead I was a Cadet!!!!!!

    I had barely walked two steps when another unique specimen of humanity accosted me. It was a 3rd termer. It was another inquisition about my antecedents I was subjected to, possibly worse than that experienced by Al Qaeda prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. I was careful to add the word ‘Cadet’ and suffixed sentences with a ‘sir’. I thought he was satisfied and would allow me to proceed. But much to my chagrin, he instead asked me to start front rolling!

    Catch me knowing what front rolling was. In deference to my wonderment, in the best of military curtness, he collared a 2nd termer for a demonstration.

    The demonstration seen, I exclaimed, “Ah, I see what you mean, sir. A Somersault!”

    This specimen, from the Bal Mukund belt (a vernacular school from Kiomandi (clarified butter wholesale market of an upcountry city), was furious. He had not understood what a somersault was. His face gave that away. For all I know, he thought it was some special salt that one took during summer to beat dehydration and that I was being blasted cheeky, it being winter now.

    “O getting clavar (clever)? Al-rat (All right), you do five somersaults and eight wintersaults”. It had to be done. In the process, I got terribly giddy because instead of rolling over forward or backward, I merely wobbled upside down, holding the pose involuntarily in a semi sirshashan (yogic headstand), to crumple like a deflating balloon, returning to terra firma with an all resounding thud.

    Then more blokes arrived.

    I was something like a new addition to a Zoo. I was about to say “Take me to your leader” as they say in the comic books when Martians land on Earth. But then, they didn’t give me chance.

    “Hop and Rotate.”

    What, in the name of Dickens, was that? My blank look encouraged a senior to collar yet another of the demonstration species – the 2nd termer. The demonstration was executed. It was asinine.

    I hopped and rotated like some mentally depraved frog with a sexual fantasia. I am sure such a pose would be in the Kamasutra, but for frogs only. Having hopped and rotated adequately long, I thought I could now go.

    No way. The next lot came.

    This was like Chinese human wave attack tactics – one wave after the other. They watched me hopping and rotating and the way I was at it, I thought I could have won the figure skating in the Olympics for frogs and other deprived species! However, this new lot had other preferences. They wanted music accompaniment. I, therefore, found myself hopping and rotating, singing my name in 27 different tunes. Why 27? Ask these mental morons.

    New ‘murgas’ (chicken: male and of the 1st term variety) arrived. They lost interest in me. God, where were you all this time?

    The bearer (remember him? He had carried my luggage) read a list and ushered me to a ground floor room. These rooms they called as ‘kebin’ (Indianised version of ‘cabin’). Hardly had I entered my cabin and put my things down when Corporal AS surfaced. He hauled me off to his ‘kebin’, where I found Cadets ASJ and KSR (both my coursemates and first termers) already there.

    Astonishingly, I found them convoluted in the ‘murga’ position (squatting on the haunches and holding their ears, having put the hands through under the knees!). I was awfully amused. India had no Olympic gymnast and yet here they were hell bent in making us India’s pride in the next!

    I was asked if I could sing. I could. Corporal AS beamed. He excitedly thundered that I should sing ‘Do hanso ka jora, bichar gaye re’ (I learnt later it was a popular song of two swans separated and reunited). Funny guy, this Corporal AS. He knew that I knew no Hindi, let alone Hindi songs. Though fear crazed that this would lead to more callisthenic, I informed him it had to be only Elvis or Pat Boone.

    “Bone? No picking of Bone. You sing. Sing anything, you silly English-boy. You bladi mane.”. Corporal AS always ended every sentence with ‘Bladi Mane’ (Bloody Man). Even ‘good morning’ had this appendage.

    He was dissatisfied with my rendition of Jailhouse Rock. He found it ‘very noisy’. Imagine a Sardar ( Sikh Gentleman; though I could never fathom till date why the ‘Gentleman’ had to be added when describing a Sikh chap) finding Jailhouse Rock as ‘noisy’! I wonder if he had heard the Punjabi song ‘Main choot bolia koina, something kufartoliya koina, balle balle ….broooooo. Surely that is not melody. In fact, it was pure, unmitigated roar of an avalanche in the Himalayas! It was sheer cacophony! Imagine the temerity to call Jailhouse Rock, sung by the international heart throb, as noise!

    By this time, KSR and ASJ were allowed to resume the vertical position and were in boisterous unison singing AS’s favourite – Do hanso….. It is a different issue that both these boys were more like wet murgis (chicken) by then; forget about their being hans (swan)!

    After inane questions on our sex life and other mundane nonsense, we were allowed to go.

    We peeked out and seeing the coast clear tried to scamper to our ‘kebins’. But whom do you find waiting? It was none other than Cadet R. We didn’t know his name then, but later, he became as indelible in memory as Hitler to Jews!

    We walked into Cadet R’s metaphoric embrace……………… but then it’s another story.
     
  20. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    SAMNE DEKH (Eyes Front)


    I had just joined the Army and had been posted to my battalion.

    After a few months, the unit went out for its Annual Training Camp. It was my first touch of the “real army”. I was excited as any greenhorn would be. Real soldiers and real sun unit to lead!

    We were exercising and training in an area called Shankargarh, near Allahabad. The area was desolate with scanty population with marginal cultivation but had orchards and village ponds. It was a quiet and quaint countryside, and for an urban person, it was heavenly quiet. Paradise!

    We were all under canvas and all was going fine to set the camp, but then, there appeared to have been some flap regarding the field commodes and so the junior officers had to use the Deep Trench Latrines (DTL) with no flaps or canaths to cover, while in the act!

    Not a pleasant experience, but then who cared?

    We were in the initial stages of setting Camp and so there was whole lot of hustle and bustle with no regular schedule.

    The setting up of the Camp was left to the junior ranks while the seniors were busy checking up the exercises and training areas and ensuring that the training would be done under as realistic an environment as the surroundings permitted.

    Life was fine and we were getting used to the regimen and it was but a few days more to go before the real thing started. Hence, one did not have to wake up before dawn to get cracking. So, instead of awaking with the sun and then going through the morning ablution, it could be done at a leisurely pace without any pressure of a formalised schedule.

    One day, I was a bit late for the “morning routine”.

    I sauntered to the DTL, and without worrying about the world, sat down to perform.

    The breeze wafted gently and the birds chirped on the trees just above. It was heavenly. The only thing that worried me was that no bird dropping should fall on me. The birds had to show some decorum after all, since an officer was performing and it was not correct to perform together, no matter how high they were above me!

    I could see in the distance that soldiers were going about their duty for the various chores assigned to set up the camp. They were in the far distance! It was nice, as a greenhorn, to observe the ways of the Army – all efficiency personified!

    Then suddenly footsteps seem to approach in the distance.

    Even before one could say “Jack Robinson”, a column of soldiers, with pick axes and shovels, emerged from the left from behind the bushes. They were marching across, ahead of where I was “performing”. I was stark naked to the world and as all could observe, the world was at peace! Lest one forgets, there were no flaps to the DTL to cover my “modesty”.

    I was non plussed. I did not know what to do. I could not get up, nor could I cover my nakedness. And yet, as per the teaching, officers had to be ‘on parade’ all the time, especially if troops were anywhere in the vicinity.

    It was a serious quandary!

    I sat mesmerised. I braced up all the dignity that an officer can muster in total nakedness.

    I hoped like hell that the column would pass without observing me.

    But no, the column commander suddenly observed me.

    Without batting an eyelid, he puffed up his chest in the best of NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) training smartly yelled, “Party, Dahine Dekh (eyes right!)” and executed the smartest of salutes!

    The whole column executed “eye right” with total parade ground precision.

    I sat frozen!

    I squirmed but maintained the required officer like stoic.

    I wished the earth would open up and swallow me whole.

    But nothing of the sort happened.

    True to military training and reflexes, I found that I had stood up!

    All I could do was yelling, “Samne Dekh (eyes front)”.

    My military training had got the better of me and maybe that saved the day.

    I could not salute. I was bareheaded!

    The moment passed.

    The military preciseness may have been upheld, but not the Langar gup (soldiers’ gossip).

    It was said that they had caught an officer pants down!
     
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