Thursday, May 26, 2016

Humor in Uniform – “Wavy-Navy”

Humor in Uniform  

Memories of My Unforgettable Navy Days

“WAVY NAVY”
A Romantic Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE 

PROLOGUE

Sometime ago – a Vizag “girlfriend” from the 1980’s – suddenly emerged out of the blue – and – she sent me a “friend” request on Facebook.

She was a “wavy” type – she lived opposite my house – and – we would “wave” to each other whenever we saw each other – especially across our balconies.

It was then – that I thought of writing this story – but – I didn’t get down to writing it.

Then – a few months ago – I met another “wavy” type – she would wave to me whenever she saw me.

I again thought of writing this story – but – yet again – I did not get down to writing it.

This morning – I enjoyed another flirty “waving” romance.

So – now – I am finally writing the story of my “wavy romances” during my delightful Navy Days…  


“WAVY NAVY”

You may have heard of the “WAVY NAVY” – RNVR (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve) – whose officers wore “Wavy” Rank Stripes with a Square Wavy Curl.

On the other hand – “STRAIGHT NAVY” Officers of the regular Royal Navy (RN) wore Straight Rank Stripes with the Nelson Ring (also called the “Executive Curl” or the “Elliot’s Eye”)

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 peacetime – while the RNVR do the fighting in War…”

The “Wavy Navy” Officer was hinting that Regular Royal Navy (RN) Officers “fight” in “peacetime” – whereas Reservists of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) fight the war.

He was highlighting the difference between “peacetime soldiering” – which was mainly done by Regular Officers of RN – and – “war-fighting” – which was mainly done by the Reservists of RNVR.

But – the story I am going to tell you is not about this “Wavy Navy”.

Yes – the title of the story may be a misnomer – for this yarn is not a story about the actual “Wavy Navy” (Naval Reserves).

But – since – the story happened during my Navy days – and – “Wavy Navy” seems to be quite a catchy title – I decided to use it – instead of some long-winded lackluster phrase.

My story is about my hilarious “waving” faux pas during my delightful Navy Days.


HOW DO YOU GREET A “GIRLFRIEND”… ?

Ever since my young days – I have a tendency to wave out to people.

Maybe – this habit of waving has its genesis in my being in boarding school – where – we waved “goodbye” to our parents as the train left our home station and headed to our school in the Nilgiris in South India.

Or maybe – my penchant for “waving” emanated from my “shy” nature.

Yes – I was – and – I still am – a very “shy” person – especially – as far as “girlfriends” are concerned.

Tell – me how does a “Gentleman” greet a “Lady”…?

If you live in an “advanced” country – or in “broadminded” permissive society – you can hug and kiss a girl.

In conservative society – folding your hands in a “Namaste” is the best way – but some modern girls find it too formal and standoffish – especially if the girls are your classmates or friends.

In fact – when I was in college – a “girlfriend” specifically warned me not to greet her with a “Namaste” – especially in front of her friends.

In the Navy – it was a custom to “salute” ladies as a mark of respect.

As Naval Officers – we saluted all ladies as a mark of courtesy – whenever we met them.

(By the way – Navy Officers and Sailors salute when in “civvies” too – so – even in “off hours” – if we met a lady who we recognized – we saluted her).

In fact – in the Navy – all ladies were saluted by the gangway duty staff when they came on board a ship.

Ha Ha Ha – this reminds me of a story.

If you are a Naval Officer – I am sure you have heard this hilarious Naval Yarn (maybe apocryphal) – about an incident that is supposed to have happened sometime in the 1970’s on a ship of the fleet based in Mumbai (then called Bombay).

An Officer brought a “Lady” on board his ship in the evening.

As is the custom – the Officer was leading the way as they walked across the gangway from the jetty to the ship.

The Duty Quartermaster duly saluted the Officer when he crossed the gangway – and – the Officer returned the salute.

The Officer stepped on the deck – he turned around – and then – the Officer saluted his “Lady” companion as she crossed the gangway and stepped on the ship.

However – the Officer noticed that the Quartermaster did not salute the “Lady”.

The Officer gestured to the Duty Quartermaster to salute the “Lady” – but – the Sailor did not salute the “Lady” – instead – the Sailor looked away.

The Officer was furious at this discourtesy shown by the Sailor to his “Lady” companion.

However – he did not want to make a spectacle in front of the “Lady” – so – he took the “Lady” down to the Wardroom for a drink.

After the “Lady” had settled down for a drink in the Wardroom – the Officer went to the cabin of the OOD (Officer of the Day) – and – he told the OOD about the incident and the discourteous conduct of the Duty Quartermaster – and – the Officer asked the OOD to put the Sailor on charge.

The OOD walked to the gangway – and – the OOD questioned the Duty Quartermaster about the incident.

The OOD asked the Sailor: “Why didn’t you salute the “Lady”…?”

The Sailor told the OOD the reason why he did not salute the “Lady”.

On hearing the Sailor’s answer – the OOD almost choked trying to suppress his laughter.

Soon – the grapevine was abuzz with juicy versions of this incident – and – the story became lower deck “scuttlebutt” on the ship – and – in due course – it was “galley news” in the entire fleet.

But – that’s another story. 

Why did the Sailor refuse to salute the “Lady”…?

What was the reason for this discourtesy shown by the Sailor to the “Lady”…?

Why did the OOD almost choke with laughter on hearing the reason why the Sailor did not salute the “Lady”…?

All that – I will leave to your imagination – or – I will tell you privately over a drink.

Now – let me get back to the topic:

How Do You Greet a “Girlfriend”…?

As I told you earlier – “hugging and kissing” was too permissive for me – since I was not a dashing and debonair “Dude’ – but – I was a “shy” type “Prude”.

My “girlfriends” found “Namaste” too formal – and – they said – that my saying “Namaste” to them made them feel old – as if they were “Aunties”.

Those days – men shaking hands with women was not in vogue – in fact – I feel that shaking hands maybe okay with lady colleagues in office – but not with “girlfriends” – and – I was doubtful whether my “girlfriends” would appreciate a strong Navy style hand-grip followed by a vigorous shake of hand.

Saluting Ladies was okay in the Navy social environment – but – when I started “saluting” my “girlfriends” – they looked at me with curious amusement – as if I was some sort of “freak”.

So – the choices boiled down to three – “Hugging and Kissing”, “Saluting” and “Namaste”.

I contemplated on this matter – and – to greet girls – I found a “via media” between “Hugging and Kissing”, “Saluting” and “Namaste” – I started “waving” to girls. 

Yes – I started “waving” to girls. 

“Waving” was a decent and friendly way of greeting – and – I could do this without getting too close for comfort – I could wave even from a distance – and – “Waving” your hands was much more affable and cheerful than a solemn formal “Namaste”.

My penchant for “waving” out to “girls” resulted in many amusing incidents.

Once – I “waved” out to a “girlfriend” – who was shopping on Main Street with her mother and grandmother.

I found all the three ladies waving back cheerfully at me.

But – that’s another story.

Now – let me tell you about two of my “waving” episodes which happened during my Navy days.


WAVING “GOODBYE” TO MY CAPTAIN’S DAUGHTER

The first “waving” episode that I am going to tell you about happened at a Railway Station – the prestigious CST Railway Station in Mumbai (then called Bombay VT).

This story happened 38 years ago – in the late 1970’s.

It was Wednesday – a “make-and-mend” (half-day) on our ship.

After the customary “elbow-bending” PLD – drinking chilled beer at the Wardroom Bar – followed by a sumptuous continental lunch of roast chicken – I was heading towards my cabin in the officers’ flat – looking forward to a delightful beer and food induced “siesta”.

Suddenly – the door of the Captain’s Cabin opened – the Captain stuck out his head from door.

He saw me.

The Captain looked at me – and he said: “Come here…”

I entered the Captain’s Cabin.

“Do me a favour – just drop my daughter off on the Punjab Mail…” the Captain said to me.

[Those days the Punjab Mail departed from CST at 1630 Hrs (4:30 PM)]

“Aye, Aye, Sir…” I said.

“I was supposed to drop her – but – the C-in-C has called a meeting of all COs at 3:30…” he said.

“Yes, Sir…” I said.

“Call a taxi – pick up my daughter from my house – and – take my Coxswain with you…”

“Aye, Aye, Sir…”

“Here – take this – it should cover the taxi fare and porter etc – and – in case she wants to buy some snacks or drinks…” the Captain said – and he gave me a 100 Rupee note.

(Remember – this was in the 1970’s – when the minimum taxi fare in Mumbai was not even one rupee – it was 85 paise – and – the specified ‘porterage’ was a rupee for a bag – and – a porter was happy if you gave him 2 or 3 rupees).

“You better hurry up – the train leaves at 4:30 – and it is almost 3 o’clock…” the Captain said.

Then – the Captain put on his cap – walked out his cabin – opened the bulkhead door and walked out on the deck – crossed the gangway – got down on the jetty – and – started briskly walking on the wharf towards Headquarters.

(Those days – Captains did not get ‘staff cars’ – only Captains of the Aircraft Carrier and ‘Hydro’ Survey Ships used their ships’ jeeps which they put ashore when in harbour).

I saw the Captain’s Coxswain following me – and – he said: “Sir, should I get a Taxi…?”

“Yes…” I said – and – the Captain’s Coxswain started walking towards the Dockyard Gate.

Half an hour later – I picked up my Captain’s daughter from their house in the Navy Township (NOFRA) – and – soon – we were heading towards CST Railway Station in the Premier Padmini (Fiat) Taxi – the Coxswain sitting in front with the Taxi-Driver – and – the Captain’s Daughter and I on the rear seat.

“Why did you come in uniform…?” the Captain’s daughter asked me.

“There was no time to change into civvies…” I said, “Your Dad told me to hurry since it was almost 3 oclock when he asked me to pick you up…”

“Oh…” she said, “Really – there was no need for you to have come all the way – I could have gone on my own…”

“Well – the Captain asked me to drop you and see you off on the Punjab Mail…”

“See me off…? It will be okay if you just drop me outside the station. All my friends will be there…”

“Friends…?”

“Yes – we have come on a college educational tour to various places in India – so there are 60 of us girls – all classmates – and some teachers – in fact – we have a full sleeper coach booked for us which gets attached to various trains…”

(Those days – students travelled by 2nd Class Sleeper – or – even by ordinary 2nd Class)

“You study in an all girls’ college…?” I asked her.

Yes…” 

“In Delhi...?

“Yes...

“Oh – so how many days did you spend in Mumbai…?”

“Three days. Since my Dad is in Mumbai – I stayed at home – the others were put up in the women’s university and other places – some stayed in the sleeper coach as well…”

“Oh…”

The moment the taxi entered the foyer of CST – the Captain’s daughter said: “Please drop me off over here – I will go to the train on my own…”

“We will come as see you off…”

“Please – I don’t want to trouble you…”

“It’s no trouble at all – and – I told you that your father has asked me to drop you on the train – so – I will see you off properly…”

Soon we were walking towards Platform No. 8 of CST (VT) station from where the Punjab Mail was scheduled to depart at 4:30 PM – the Captain’s daughter was wearing Blue Jeans and a Light Green T-Shirt – and I marched beside her – smartly dressed in sparkling white Navy Uniform Dress No. 8 – shorts and half-sleeved shirt – white stockings and white shoes – and – the Navy “Peak Cap” on my head – and – the Sailor – the Captain’s Coxswain was also in Navy Uniform Dress No. 8  - and – he followed us carrying the Captain’s daughter’s bag – despite her protestations that she could carry her own bag.

In Mumbai – Navy uniform is quite common – so – no one gave us a second look.

But – the moment my Captain’s daughter’s classmates saw us – all the girls started staring at me in a curious way.

“Thanks a lot for dropping me,” the Captain’s daughter said to me as we approached their sleeper coach with all her classmates – a few outside on the platform – and – most of the girls inside the coach.

She wanted to take her bag from the sailor – but – we went inside – and I made sure that the sailor made sure that he had placed the bag properly under her berth.

The Captain’s daughter sat on her window seat – and – she said to me: “Thanks for the trouble – I am comfortably seated now – I think you should go now…”

“Do you want me to get you anything – biscuits, soft drink, tea…?” I said.

“Please – I am not a small girl – I am almost 21 now – I can look after myself…” she said.

“Oh – she is 21…?” I thought to myself – I realised that she was almost my age.

I could see that she was embarrassed by the two us – Me and the Sailor – hanging around her in uniform inside the coach near her seat – and – all her classmates staring at us – so – I said: “Okay – Bye – we will wait on the platform…”

“No. No. You can go back…”

“It’s already 4:15 – only 15 minutes for the train to leave – so we will see you off properly…”

“Please go back – don’t you have work to do on the ship…?” she said.

“Today is Wednesday  ‘make-and-mend’ – a half-day…” I said.

“Oh…” she said.

“Okay – if you are uncomfortable with us standing here – we will go outside and wait on the platform…” I said to her.

I went outside and stood on the platform.

A number of girls – my Captain’s daughter’s classmates – the college girls swarmed around me – and – they asked me about our ship.

I did not want the Captain’s Coxswain hanging around while I flirted with the girls – so – I gave the Sailor a 10 Rupee note – and – I told him: “Go and buy a bar of chocolate and some fruit for the Captain’s daughter…”

(In the 1970’s – Ten Rupees was a huge amount – enough for buying chocolates and fruit) 

The girls asked me about the Navy – and ships.

“You should have visited our ship…” I said to the girls, “after all – your classmate’s father is our Captain…”

“We wanted to see Navy ships – but we arrived in Mumbai on Sunday evening from Bangalore – and – now – we are leaving on Wednesday – and – they said that we can have group visits to ships only on weekends…” one of the girls said.

“Okay – but – you can plan next time – and – if you want to come alone by yourself – I can take you to see the ship any evening as my guest…” I said.

(Those days – in the 1970’s – officers were allowed to take their guests on board ships on all days of the week)

The Captain’s daughter was watching me from the window of the coach.

She waved to me.

I was delighted to see that she was a “waving” type.

But – on close observation – I saw that she was signaling me to come towards her.

I walked towards her – and – stood near the coach window.

“Please don’t talk too much to those girls...” she said, “they are gossipy types…”

“Okay…” I said – and – I stood outside the coach window.

“Please go now…” the Captain’s daughter said.

“Just a few minutes more for the train to start…” I said, “And – I have sent the Sailor to get you some Chocolates and Fruits…”

“I told you not to bother…”

“It’s okay – your father has given me money…”

The Sailor arrived with a Bar of Milk Chocolate and some Oranges.

I passed them on to the Captain’s daughter through the window.

Suddenly – the guard blew his whistle.

The girls on the platform rushed towards the coach door and got inside.

The engine sounded its horn.

The train started moving slowly.

I started “waving” goodbye to the Captain’s daughter.

Seeing me waving – the Sailor took the cue – and – he also started waving to the Captain’s daughter.

The Captain’s daughter waved back at us.

Inspired by her waving – I started walking on the platform along with the train – and – I kept waving at the Captain’s daughter sitting in the window.

The Sailor also marched behind me – waving vigorously.  

(Later – I got feedback – that the Captain’s daughter was not waving joyfully at me – but she was trying to signal me to go away).

We – Me and the Captain’s Coxswain – we kept waving – and – as the train picked up speed – the door of the coach came in front of us – and – I saw that the girls standing in the door were waving at me.

I waved back at the girls.

The girls waved back at me – as the train moved away.

Then – someone pulled the ‘chain’ – and the train screeched to a stop.

I quickly walked towards the window where my Captain’s daughter was sitting – and – I started waving to her again.

Then – I went close – and  I said to her: “Take care. Have a nice journey…”

I could see that her cheeks were red and she was blushing.

(I thought that she had fallen in love with me – but – later – I got feedback – that she was blushing in embarrassment).

The train started moving again.

I started waving again – and – the Sailor promptly followed my actions.

But – the Captain’s daughter did not wave back at me – instead – I saw – that – all her classmates were waving to me from the coach windows – and – as the train went forward – the girls standing in the door waved vigorously to me and shouted ‘Bye…”  

We kept waving at each other till the train disappeared from view. 

After the train had left – I took a Taxi to the ship.

On reaching the ship – I found out from the OOD that the Captain had just arrived on board. 

I reported to the Captain in his cabin.

He had just arrived from the meeting in Headquarters and was changing into civvies.

“Sir – your daughter has been seen off properly…” I said.

“Very Good…” the Captain said.

“Sir – I spent…”

“Okay – just keep the remaining money on the table…”

I kept the money on the table – I saluted the Captain – and – I left his cabin.

Three days later – on Saturday – during the customary “elbow-bending” PLD in the ship’s wardroom – the Captain walked up to me and said: “My daughter has reached safely.”

“That’s good, Sir…” I said.

“She called up last evening – she was telling me about how you “saw her off” very thoroughly…” 

“Yes, Sir…” 

“Ha Ha – she has warned me never to send anyone to “see her off” – in fact – she told us that in future she would go to the station alone – and – she said that even we should not come to drop her…” the Captain said with a smile – and he walked off to talk to the XO.


10 Years Later


EXCHANGING “WAVES” WITH MY BOSS’S WIFE

My boss was a rather prosaic Commodore – but – he had a vivacious wife – who was always cheerful, bubbly and full of life.

She was an accomplished career woman and had a distinct identity of her own – and hence – she was not rank-conscious at all.

I would meet her often – in the swimming pool – during my long walks – in the Mess Library – and – we became friends.

What I liked most about her – was – that – like me – she too was a “wavy” type.

Whenever she saw me – she would wave out to me – and – I would wave back to her.

One day  I saw my Boss’s car approaching.

My Boss, the Commodore, was driving – and – his wife was seated next to him.

I was walking on the right side of the road – so – as the car approached – his wife’s seat was on my side of the road.

I started lifting my right hand to salute the Commodore.

Just then – the Commodore’s wife waved out to me.

Instinctively – I waved out to her.

(I could not help it – but  without my realizing it – my right hand spontaneously moved up and started waving – and – my planned formal “salute” turned into an impulsive friendly “wave”)

Next morning – my Boss – the prosaic Commodore – he called me to his office – and  he said to me: “Well – if you don’t want to ‘salute’ me – that’s bad enough – but – ‘waving’ to my wife instead of saluting me – that is a bit too much – isn’t it…?” 

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

Disclaimer:
1. This story is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh. 
2All 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)
     
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Humor in Uniform – Second Opinion

HUMOR IN UNIFORM

My Hilarious Encounters with “Fauji” Doctors – SECOND OPINION

THE MILITARY DOCTOR AND HIS CIVILIAN DOCTOR WIFE
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

This happened around 31 years ago  in the mid 1980’s – at IAT Girinagar Pune.

I had newly arrived in station – IAT was an inter-service training establishment  but it was run in typical Army style.

During my evening walk  I saw a crowd of young student officers and families sitting on the lawns of the house of our unit Medical Officer (MO).

“So  Doc is having a party  is it...?” I shouted to them.

“No, Sir. We are waiting to see the doctor for medical treatment...” they said.

I was impressed.

I had thought that our Medical Officer (MO) was a typical “fauji” doctor.

But  I was impressed to see that he seemed to be such a good doctor  that patients were going to his house in the evening for consultation and treatment.

And – our unit Medical Officer seemed so sincere – that he had started an evening OPD at home for their convenience.

“That’s great. I did not know that our unit MO sees patients at home,” I said.

A student officer looked at me and said: “Sir  we have not come to see the unit MO. He is a useless good-for-nothing doctor. We have come to see his wife. She is an excellent doctor who works in XXX Hospital  the best hospital in Pune. In the evening  she does her private practice here at her home  and everyone comes to see her – of course – she charges quite a lot  but then  she is a really good doctor.”

Yes  she was a really good doctor.

Once  a young officer got a strange cough.

During his morning run  in the expansive picturesque campus  he would suddenly get a spasm of cough  so severe  that it was almost like a convulsion.

He would sit down  terminate his run  walk home  and drink water  and take rest.

For the rest of the day  he would be okay.

These fits of cough happened only in the mornings during his runs  and – while jogging in the open.

The officer reported to the unit Medical Officer (MO) in the MI Room.

On hearing the symptoms  the Army MO immediately concluded that it was Asthma  and  the unit MO referred the officer to the Specialist at Command Hospital (CH) Pune.

The officer was due for his sea time immediately after the course.

His fellow officers scared the shit out of the officer  by putting all sorts of fears in his mind.

They said  that if he went to the Specialist for Asthma  he would be subjected to all sorts of tests and examinations  and  the Specialists at CH would surely downgrade his Medical Category.

Now  if his Medical Category was downgraded  that would be the end of his sea time  and his Naval career would be badly affected.

The officer’s wife advised the officer  that before he went to the “Fauji” Specialist at the Military Hospital  it would be better if they took a “second opinion” from the doctor’s wife (the lady doctor who practiced at home).

In the evening  the worried asthma afflicted officer went to the doctor’s wife.

The doctor’s wife  the civilian lady doctor  she heard him out  and she said: “Don’t worry – it is not asthma – it is just a seasonal allergy due to pollen from the congress grass which is abundant on the campus. This allergy happens to some people in spring. Just stop your morning runs for a month or two. Don’t go out in the open in the mornings. You will be okay. Once it is summer  you can start your morning outdoor exercise and running again.”

“Any medicines – any treatment...?” the officer asked.

“Nothing,” said the doctor’s wife (the civilian lady doctor) – and then – she advised the officer, “if you want just add some gavati chaha (lemon grass) to boiling water when you make tea in the morning – it will act as a placebo – there are plenty of gavati chaha bushes growing wild in the campus.”

Within a few days  the officer’s cough disappeared.

And soon  the moment the season changed  the officer was absolutely fit and fine – and  he started his morning runs again.

Of course  the officer scrupulously avoided going to the unit MO in the MI Room  during the remaining part of his course. 

And – at the end of the course – fit and fine – he went for his sea time”.

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

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Humor in Uniform : RANKOMANIA – RANKOPHILES and RANKOWIVES

Humor in Uniform

RANKOMANIA – RANKOPHILES and RANKOWIVES

PROLOGUE

There is speculation that – in future  those Defence Officers who seek Premature Retirement (PMR) may not be entitled to One Rank One Pension (OROP). 

If true – one ramification will be that officer will prefer to remain in service till they attain the age of superannuation – and then retire on superannuation which will entitle them for OROP. 

Earlier – many superseded officers quit on PMR the moment they got passed over for promotion.

Now – most superseded officers will prefer to remain in service till superannuation in order to get full benefit of OROP.

Earlier there was an incentive for officers to take PMR and begin a second innings in the civilian world – so officers were not that desperate for promotion.

Now – officers who are obliged to remain in service till superannuation will be eager to get promoted since age of superannuation increases with rank – and it is always better to be a promoted officer than be a superseded officer.

Also – the very term One Rank One Pension (OROP) implies that Pension will be based on Rank.

Thus – desperation for getting promoted to high rank will increase and this will further exacerbate the Rankomania epidemic afflicting the Defence Services.

All this reminds me a spoof I wrote a few years ago.

Here it is – for you to have a laugh – and to ponder over.

Read Part 1 – Rankomania – if you just want to have a laugh.

Go on to Part 2 – Moral of the Story – if you want some Food for Thought to ponder over.


(By the way – in military parlance – “Fauj” is a generic term for the Military – Army, Navy and Air Force – and hence – a “Fauji” is a Military Man – and a “Faujan” is a Military Wife – and yes  it was an Army Wife who introduced me to the term “Faujan”…).


RANKOMANIA 
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

PART 1

RANKOMANIA  a story by Vikram Karve

“A” was a most ambitious Naval Officer.

His sole aim in life was to become an Admiral.

He moved heaven and earth  and he did everything possible to achieve his objective.

Those days  the first promotion board was for the rank of Commander.

As his promotion board approached  the fear of supersession made him highly anxious and tense.

Soon  he came to know that the promotion board was over  but the results were not yet declared  and he eagerly waited for the promotion signal.

This excruciating wait almost drove him crazy.

He was hearing conflicting rumours about his promotion – some said he was on the select list – and some said he had got an “R” and had been passed over for promotion.

This made “A” so tense and stressed-out – that he started going crazy.

One day his shipmates called us over and told us: “Hey  you guys are his friends. He is so bloody tense about his promotion. He is almost on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I think you chaps better speak to him and pep him up a bit.

We will do that,” we said.

The promotion signal is likely to be released tonight. The bugger is so nervous and frantic that he may even commit suicide if he does not get promoted. He is all alone – his wife and kids are away in their hometown for their summer holidays. I think it is better someone is with him to make sure he does not go berserk and to prevent him from doing something stupid – in case his name is not on the select list,” said a shipmate of “A.

In the evening we reached his house with a bottle of rum.

We did not have to open our bottle  since “A” had already opened a rum bottle and was drinking away to soothe his nerves – and it seemed he had already imbibed quite a lot of alcohol.

“Why are you worried...? With your outstanding performance  you are sure to get promoted,” we said.

“What bloody outstanding performance...? Someone told me that the buggers in Delhi are manipulating the list. That is why the promotion signal is delayed. I hope the bloody signal comes tonight...” “A” said  and he downed his glass of rum.

His voice had a note of desperation.

I filled up his glass and said to him, “With your outstanding sea service  they cannot ignore you.”

“Sea Service...? Sea Service My Foot...! All this sea-report crap is bullshit. Look at the number of guys who get their sea-time waived  and all of them get promoted. Someone told me that my name is being pushed out of the list to accommodate some bloody influential landlubber pen-pusher sitting in Delhi. I am convinced about one thing now – never go to sea if you want to get promoted,” he said bitterly.

“Let’s go out for dinner,” I said, trying to change the subject. 

I thought that  maybe  an outing would change his mood and do him a bit of good.

“No. I am not feeling okay. If you want you guys can go ahead,” he said.

“Okay. I will sit with you and give you company here. He will go and get us some dinner. What do you want – Biryani from Olympia or Butter Chicken from Delhi Darbar?”

I am in no mood to eat. You guys eat anything you want,” he said.

As my buddy left to get food  on the way out  I whispered to him to go to the signal-centre and find out about the promotion signal – when was it likely to come...

We  “A” and Me  we both kept drinking rum.

“A” was quite drunk now.

It was more than 2 hours   almost midnight   but my shipmate buddy had still not returned.

I feared the worst.

We kept drinking in silence.

We had lost all sense of time

Suddenly  my buddy arrived.

He seemed overjoyed.

The promotion signal had arrived.

“A” had been promoted  yes  his name was on the select list.

On hearing the good news  “A” asked: “Are you sure my name is on the select list...?”

“Of course your name is very much there. I knew you would have doubts  so I have got a copy of the signal for you – see for yourself.”

“A” kept staring at the promotion signal  at his name.

All his pent up tension seemed to dissolve  and relief was visible on his face.

It was time to leave him alone to savour his moment of triumph.

But  “A” would not let us go, “No. No. Wait. Don’t go. The good news calls for a drink. I have kept a bottle of Royal Salute Whisky for this occasion.”

“Whisky? After so much Rum?” I asked.

“Come on guys. It doesn’t matter. Today is a special day. Let’s celebrate,” “A”insisted.

We kept drinking – and in due course  the bottle of Royal Salute was polished off.

“Hey – it is nearly 3 in the morning. Time to leave,” I said.

“A” looked at me with hazy eyes and said, “Thanks for coming.”

“Do you know why we actually came?” my buddy asked, lurching drunkenly.

“Shut up,” I said.

“No. Tell me. Tell me why you came,” stuttered “A”, his speech blurred with intoxication.

They told us you would commit suicide if you missed your promotion,” my buddy blurted out.

A looked at us and said, “Well  I really don’t know what I would have done  if I had been passed over for promotion. But one thing is sure. My wife would have committed suicide if I had missed my promotion.” 

What...? Your Wife...? Are you saying that your wife would have committed suicide if you had missed your promotion...?” we asked in surprise.

“Yes  my wife would have committed suicide if I had missed my promotion,” he said.

“But  why should your wife be so anxious whether you get promoted or not...? Getting promoted or superseded affects you  but how does it affect your wife...? I can understand that you were desperate to get promoted. But your wife...? Are you telling us that your wife is more career conscious than you...?” we asked A.

A” looked at us and he said: Yes. My wife is more ambitious than me. She would have been totally devastated if I had been passed over for promotion – and she would have surely committed suicide. She had worked so hard for my promotion. She would not have been able to bear the agony of my supersession…”

After uttering this insightful truth  “A” drank the whisky remaining in his glass  and then he collapsed and passed out on the sofa  happily drunk.


EPILOGUE

The Greek word philia means excessive liking or love.

So rankophilia means excessive love for rank 

An overly rank-conscious officer may be called a rankophile

The Greek word mania means excessive obsession  an intense craving or overweening desire

Hence – an overly ambitious officer who is excessively desperate to get promoted to high rank may be called a rankomaniac

If you have served in the defence services  you may have come across many rankophiles who are excessively rank-conscious  and even more rankomaniacs who are desperate to get promoted.

I have seen some rankowives too – yes  rankowives  those faujans”   military wives who are excessively rank conscious of their husband’s rank and even more ambitious than their fauji” husbands.

Yes – like the one the story – some faujans” can be more ambitious than their fauji” husbands  and sometimes  these Rankomaniac Wives can vitiate social life in the services.


PART 2

MORAL OF THE STORY

PROMOTION PROSPECTS IN THE DEFENCE SERVICES

ACS (Assured Career Supersession)

In the Civil Services – you have career incentives and benefits like Assured Career Progression (ACP), Non Functional Upgradation (NFU) and Non-Functional Financial Upgradation (NFFU).

For Civilian Officers  Promotion prospects are good, and promotion to a certain high rank is virtually guaranteed by the time you retire at the age of 60.

However, in comparative terms  promotion prospects are much less in the Defence Services.

In view of the steep pyramid like hierarchical structure in the army, navy and air force  it is very difficult to get promoted  especially to high rank.

Worse  in the military  they retire you off at a young age if you do not get promoted to high rank.

Unlike the almost 100% promotion in the civil services  the promotion percentages in the armed forces are much lower.

That is why I used to jokingly say that  whereas the civilians have ACP (Assured Career Progression– the military “faujis” have ACS (Assured Career Supersession).

It is a sad irony that even civilians who are supposed to support the man in uniform like Civilian Defence Scientists enjoy much better career prospects than the uniformed Armed Forces  who are the mainstay of the nation’s defence.

Another unique feature of the defence services is the extremely high degree of rank consciousness (rankophilia a consequence of which is the desperation to get promoted to high rank at any cost (rankomania).

The saying RANK HAS ITS PRIVILEGES (RHIP) is carried to the extreme in the Armed Forces resulting in a situation where RANK HAS ALL THE PRIVILEGES (RHAP) 

This aspect further exacerbates RANKOPHILIA and RANKOMANIA


RANKOMANIA

In the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force)  everything depends on your rank.

Your rank determines your status, your pay, your perks, your post retirement job prospects (especially in PSUs), your retirement age  your rank determines even your pension after retirement – like OROP – One Rank One Pension – each and everything depends on your rank.

This obsession with rank is extended to your wife and family as well.

Yes  the status of an officer’s wife depends on her husband’s rank.

This results in absurd “designations” like “Senior Wife” “First Lady” etc 

These so-called “Senior Ladies” try to flaunt their husband’s rank.

This pernicious practice continues despite the fact that we now have Lady Officers in the Armed Forces whose status is officially higher than those who are mere Wives of Senior Officers.

This “pecking order culture” in the defence services makes rank the most important thing in military life  at work  and even in social life as well.

Since your rank is the “be-all and end-all” of military life  most officers (and their wives) are desperate to get promoted at any cost.

The chances of achieving higher rank are quite slim due to low promotion percentages especially as you go higher up as the vacancies become fewer and fewer.

There is a saying that in the navy (or army) that “...All officers get superseded at some stage  since only one can become the Chief... – unlike the in the civil services and police where there can be many officers of the rank of Secretary and Director General.

There is an intriguing aspect of promotion  at least in the navy  which I have observed. 

Very few officers are superseded for professional incompetence

Yes  very few officers are superseded due to incompetence in performance of their professional duties.

Most of the superseded officers are highly proficient in their duties and are professionally competent. 

It is mainly due to some “personality clash” that they have been superseded and passed over for promotion. 

But that is another story  which I will discuss sometime later.


PASSOVER WOES (THE PAIN OF BEING PASSED OVER FOR PROMOTION)

Supersession has two effects:

1. Loss of self-esteem and end of the road (blocked career growth) for the individual

2. Feelings of inadequacy and humiliation at the social and familial level

In the rank-conscious feudal culture of the defence services  if you are superseded and passed over for promotion  you have to contend with a situation where you may have to work under an erstwhile junior which can be a most humiliating experience. 

Even at the social level your wife may have to suffer the humiliation of being bossed around at AWWA and NWWA by a much younger wife of an officer who has been promoted and has leapfrogged over your husband who has been unfortunately passed over and fallen by the wayside.

That is why  one of the greatest fears of an officer (and his family) is the fear of supersession

This “supersession fear” is a result of the the potent combination of “rankophilia”and “rankomania” – exacerbated by poor promotion prospects due to pyramidal hierarchy structure in the armed forces.

In many cases this “fear of supersession” gives rise to ruthless competition fuelled by overweening ambition.

The manifestation of this careerism is visible in the increasing contretemps among officers  the rising number of grievances  and ever-increasing litigation on promotion issues  and frequent “succession battles” – which make headlines in the media from time to time.

In the defence services  promotion is probably the most stressful issue for a careerist officer, his wife and his family.

Due to this  many officers in the promotion zone are in a state of “CAREER FEAR”.

“Career Fear” essentially is an individual’s reluctance to stand up for his values and principles because he fears that this may damage his career prospects.

He does not want to stick his neck out or “rock the boat” for the fear of harming his promotion prospects.

“Career Fear” results in “play safe” mindset and the “zero error syndrome”.

An officer afflicted with “Career Fear” places self interest before the interest of his men.

Such a careerist officer can no longer be a true leader – since  a careerist officer dumps the Chetwode Credo and puts Self Before Service.

Are RANKOPHILIA and RANKOMANIA adversely affecting leadership quality in the Defence Services...?

Can CAREER FEAR be mitigated by having initiatives like Assured Career Progression and Non Functional Upgradation (like it exists in the Civil Services) and reintroducing Running Pay Band like it existed earlier in the Military  all such initiatives which will hopefully reduce the excessive rank consciousness in the defence services.

Till then – Rankomania will be a part and parcel of military life.

VIKRAM KARVE
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