Monday, September 22, 2014




Today is the 22nd of September 2014  the sixth death anniversary of my late father-in-law Brigadier Pratap Dattatraya Joshi who we affectionately called Daddy

Daddy” had an inimitable sense of humour.

So, from my Humor in Uniform Archives, let me pull out a post I wrote last year about the efforts of his beloved army to make him alive.

I am sure he will enjoy reading this hilarious post in his heavenly abode and have a laugh.

Perverted Sense of Humor or a Cruel Joke?
A Spoof

Caution: Please Do Not Read This Post if You Do Not Have a Sense of Humour


In the famous World War II novel CATCH-22 there is a character called Doc Daneeka.

Doc Daneeka is a civilian doctor who was building up a good practice when World War II suddenly broke out and they drafted him into the US Army Air Force for the War as a flight surgeon.

One of his requisites of being an Air Corps doctor includes logging four hours per month of flight time in order to earn his flight pay.

However, Doc Daneeka hates to fly – he is very scared of flying.

Though Doc Daneeka is scared of flying, he still wants to get flight pay.

So he asks his bombardier friend Yossarian to persuade McWatt, a pilot, to falsely enter Doc Daneeka’s name in his flight log on training missions.

“What difference does it make to anyone whether I am in the plane or not?” Doc Daneeka says to his friend Yossarian.

So, Yossarian helps Doc Daneeka by convincing his friend McWatt to enter Doc Daneeka’s name on the flight roster on routine non-combat flights.

Thus, Doc Daneeka’s flight hours are duly recorded without him having to leave the ground.

This enables Doc Daneeka to collect his flight pay every month without ever having to get into an aircraft.

This arrangement goes on satisfactorily for many months.

Then, suddenly, while on a training flight, McWatt flies too low and crashes into a mountain and whole aircraft instantly goes up in flames.

Since McWatt’s flight roster includes Doc Daneeka’s name, it is assumed that Doc Daneeka also died on the flight.

So, Doc Daneeka, is officially pronounced dead.

Though Doc Daneeka is physically alive, on paper he is declared dead – and in the military bureaucracy, it is paper that rules supreme.

Since Doc Daneeka is officially declared dead, his rations, his pay, and all his entitlements are stopped, and even his wife is notified of his death (she is back home in New York while Doc Daneeka is fighting the war overseas)

Doc Daneeka runs from pillar to post trying to prove that he is actually alive, but to no avail, since the “unstoppable” bureaucratic processes have been set in motion once Doc Daneeka has been officially notified as dead as his name was on the crew manifest of the aircraft that crashed.

He writes a desperate letter to his wife back home telling her that is alive.

His wife informs the War Department of her husband’s letter, but the War Department writes back confirming that Doc Daneeka is dead and the letter must have been written by some sadistic and psychotic forger in her husband’s squadron and that she should ignore all such letters in future.

So, she ignores all future letters from her husband.

Meanwhile, since Doc Daneeka is officially declared dead while on duty in a war zone, he is declared “Killed in Action” (KIA).

Doc Daneeka’s wife receives considerable financial benefits from insurance, pension, ex-gratia payments, gratuities etc since her brave husband has been “martyred” in war while serving the nation.

Having become considerably wealthy thanks to her husband being “killed in action”, Doc Daneeka’s wife relocates to a more posh neighbourhood, and since she is fed up with receiving repeated letters purportedly written by her distraught husband Doc Daneeka begging her to tell everyone that he is alive (which she thinks are written by some imposter), she leaves no forwarding address.

Thus, we have a cruelly hilarious situation of a living man being declared dead.

Recently, we have been “victims” of a similarly cruelly hilarious situation, but exactly the opposite, where a dead man is being declared “alive”.

Catch-22 is fiction, but sometimes truth can be stranger than fiction.

In Catch-22, the US Army declared a living man dead.

In this story, the Indian Army has declared a dead man alive.

Let me tell you about it.


My late father-in-law joined the Indian Army soon after Independence as a cadet through the prestigious First Course of the National Defence Academy (NDA) (or 1st JSW, as he liked to call it).

He retired as a Brigadier in 1986.

If he had been alive today, he would have been more than 82 years old.

He was born on 6 March 1932.

Sadly, he died in the year 2008, on 22 September 2008.

When he died, we intimated all concerned, including Army Headquarters.

We filled up the required forms, forwarded his death certificate, and completed the necessary paper formalities.

His widow (my mother-in-law) duly received a letter of condolence from Army Headquarters.

Today, exactly six years have passed since his death.

One day, last year, sometime in November 2013, I think, the postman delivered a letter in a typical shabby khaki makeshift envelope which is used for official “fauji” correspondence.

The Brigadier’s widow was taken aback when she saw that the letter had been addressed to her husband, who had died in the year 2008 (more than 5 years ago).

At first, we thought it was a mistake on the envelope that the letter had been addressed to the dead officer.

But when we opened the letter we saw that the letter was very much addressed to the dead Brigadier.

There are phrases in the letter addressed to the dead Brigadier like:

“…payment of rank pay arrears in your respect is pending…”

“…you are requested to forward details directly to…”

The frequent use of the words “you” and “your” and the tone of the language used in the letter clearly indicates that the officer signing the letter thinks that the addressee (my father-in-law) is still alive and well.

To top it off, to add insult to the injury, the letter ends with the salutation (in bold letters) to my dead father-in-law:

“All ranks of your Army convey their greetings and best wishes to you and your family”

My father-in-law is already resting in peace in his heavenly abode for the last 6 years.

Maybe, he can convey the “greetings” to his wife when she too reaches heaven.

(Wonder if that is what the Army wants?)

It is good to know that the Army cares for you after you are dead and gone.

Never mind that they did not bother much about you when you were alive and serving.

If the army cared about you, they would have paid rank pay arrears in time when you were serving, and not waited for so many years after you were dead and gone.

In fact, if the army top brass really cared for its officers and soldiers, there would be no need for “arrears” of any kind, as all payments and dues would be made promptly on time.

What is the point of inordinately delaying money which is due to an officer for so long that he dies before he can get his due.

Maybe the same will happen with OROP (“One Rank One Pension”) – by the time they get OROP most “faujis” may already be in heaven.

As they say: Delay is the best form of denial.

Maybe I am digressing, so let me look at the letter addressed to the dead Brigadier once again.


Perusal of the letter reveals the following.

Instead of taking the pains to sign each letter after checking that the details are correct, it appears that inter alia the following short-cut “chalta hai” shoddy staff work was resorted to:

1. The letter was typed leaving details of the addressees blank.

2. One copy of the letter was signed by the Staff Officer.

3. Xerox copies of the letter were made.

4. It was to left to the clerical staff to fill in details of the addressees and dispatch the letters.

5. The Staff Officer did not bother to check the letters and confirm that the correct details filled in before the letters were dispatched.

Is this not lazy slipshod staff work?

Is this what is expected of a Staff College qualified Staff Officer (which obviously every Staff Officer posted in Army Headquarters would be)?

Does Staff College teach Army Staff Officers to address letters to Dead Officers?

This letter is signed by an Army Officer, so surely the Army can’t blame politicians and bureaucrats for this insensitive faux pas

(If the staff officer did indeed check and confirm correctness of addressee details, it indicates that records have not been updated for many years and there are many such “dead officers” who still are “alive and kicking” as per army records).

Like it happened in Catch-22, if an “alive and well” officer can declared be “dead on paper”, then, vice versa, why can’t an actually “dead and gone” RIP officer not be declared “alive and kicking” on paper?


“What’s the big deal?” you may say, “Such minor errors happen. Or maybe it’s their sense of humor – resurrecting the dead, like in the movie Dracula Has Risen from the Grave– so just chill.”

Yes, it all depends on how you look at it – a trivial oversight or an insensitive blunder.

My late father-in-law had a great sense of humor.

If I could tell him about this gaffe, he would have a good laugh; he may even threaten to come back to earth from his heavenly abode.

But from the perspective of my mother-in-law, or other widows of dead officers who have received similar letters addressed to their dead husbands, I really don’t know how they feel.

From their point of view is this “faux pas” a rather perverted Sense of Humour or is it an insensitive Cruel Joke?

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

1. This is a spoof, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

“REQUIEM” FOR A SIMPLE HONEST PATRIOTIC SOLDIER ON HIS 6th DEATH ANNIVERSARY – OBITUARY – In Remembrance of Brigadier Pratap Dattatraya Joshi (6.3.1932 - 22.9.2008)


OBITUARY  In Remembrance of Brigadier Pratap Dattatraya Joshi (6.3.1932 - 22.9.2008)

Today is the 22nd of September 2014  the sixth death anniversary of my late father-in-law Brigadier Pratap Dattatraya Joshi who we affectionately called Daddy

How time flies! 

He passed away in the early hours of 22 September 2008.

Six years have passed since the inimitable Pratap Dattatraya Joshi left for his heavenly abode. 

Lest we forget him, on this day, his 6th death anniversary, let me sound the “Last Post” once again.

As a token of my remembrance, here is the obituary LAST POST I wrote for him when he left us for his heavenly abode on the 22nd of September 2008.



Brigadier Pratap Dattatraya Joshi  (6.3.1932 - 22.9.2008)

In the early hours of the 22nd of September 2008, Pratap Dattatraya Joshi, breathed his last, and departed for his heavenly abode, at the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune.

Pratap Joshi was an epitome of simple living and high thinking. 

Born on the 6th of March 1932, he imbibed sterling values from his father, DP Joshi, a Teacher and Scout, a legend in his lifetime.

Brigadier PD Joshi was a product of the prestigious First Course of the National Defence Academy (NDA  or 1st JSW, as he liked to call it, then located in Dehradun).

Brigadier PD Joshi was certainly not the archetypal pompous hard-drinking handlebar-moustachioed high-falutin Colonel Blimp type of Army Officer.

He was not an elitist snob, but a simple honest patriotic professional who believed in grassroot soldiering. 

He was a simple, down-to-earth, Spartan, unassuming, dedicated, sincere, patriotic, scrupulously honest, erudite person possessing a golden heart filled with humility and compassion. 

Throughout his distinguished career spanning 37 years, and even thereafter, he spread happiness, benevolence and goodwill owing to his cheerful disposition, kind-hearted nature and inimitable sense of humour.

Forever young at heart, Pratap Joshi did not suffer from the Auld Lang Syne Complex. 

After retirement, unlike most retired “faujis”, he never lived in the past, languishing and brooding about the “good old days”, but he moved on with exceptional enthusiasm and childlike zeal to his new loves – music and social work.

Starting from the scratch, he studied classical music with sheer dedication, resolute grit and passionate zest for many years till he was bestowed with the prestigious post graduate degree of Sangeet Alankar. 

Then he taught music to one and all, free of cost, making special efforts to teach the needy and underprivileged.

Travelling extensively, and roughing it out in the heart of the mofussil, to rural and far flung regions, he made a significant social contribution to enhancing primary education in backward areas, as the Chief Trustee of the Natu Foundation Educational Trust. 

He eagerly contributed his expertise to Jnana Prabodhini and for improving the efficiency of Hospitals.

Pratap Joshi loved animals, especially dogs. 

He always had pet dogs, and showered his unconditional love on them and all the dogs that he came across in the neighbourhood, pet and stray. 

It was distressing to see Dolly desperately searching for him soon after he had gone away from us forever. 

We shall always remember the love with which he snuggled and cuddled Sherry, our pet dog, a Doberman-X girl, when she was a baby.

He had a genuine zest for living, and enjoyed every moment of his life, indulging himself in his favourite foods, movies, travel, music – anything he liked, he did it! 

He laughed, and made others laugh.

I first met Pratap Joshi in March 1982 and he left such a lasting impression on me that I became his fan ever since. 

He was my father-in-law, more like a loving father who I could count on to stand by me, advise and inspire me, in happiness and in adversity, and I shall forever cherish every moment I shared with him. 

My son, a seafarer, was his favourite grandchild, the apple of his eye. 

It was a pity he could not be with his beloved grandfather during his last moments as he is sailing on the high seas. 

Such are the tragedies and travesties of life, and death.

We will miss you dearly “Daddy”. 

You lived your life to its fullest and loved all of us from the bottom of your heart. 

We are sure you will shower us with your blessings from your heavenly abode. 

You were a noble and virtuous man who always did good to everyone you met and wherever you went. 

Pratap Dattatraya Joshi  (6.3.1932 - 22.9.2008)  RIP.

May His Soul Rest in Peace.


Obituary First Posted on 22 September 2008 in this Blog at url link:

Sunday, September 21, 2014

WHY I HAVE A BEARD – Humor in Uniform


Harking Back to My Glorious Navy Days

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


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

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

I can write about my unforgettable reminiscences.

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

I will hark back 37 years, take you back to the latter half of the 1970’s, and tell you why, thanks to the Navy, I grew my handsome beard, which adorns my face till today.

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

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

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

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

The moment we reported, an army of barbers descended on us to chop off our hair and shave or faces – we were given crew cuts and our faces shaven clean.

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

At the Naval Academy, all trainees had to be “clean shaven”.


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

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

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

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

The beard must be complete, joined from sideburns, covering the entire jaw-line and chin, and joining the moustache.

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

A moustache on its own was not permitted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Now, the Captain may permit officers and sailors to wear moustaches and beards or shave them off, if they so desire. Moustaches and beard shall be worn with or without the beard and moustaches respectively. Side whiskers shall be permitted down to the level of the lobe of the ear. Moustaches, beard and whiskers shall be neatly cut and trimmed. The privilege may be withdrawn in cases of untidy growth.

This relaxation has resulted in many navy youngsters sporting moustaches (of course, the seasoned sea-dogs preferred “full-set” beards).


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

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

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

The Commanding Officer refused permission.

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

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

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

My request to “cease shaving” was promptly granted.

I stopped shaving, and my beard started to grow.

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

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

This happened more than 36 years ago, and soon my beloved beard will be celebrating its 37th birthday.

Quite funny, isn’t it – I wanted to grow a moustache, but, thanks to quirks of the navy, I landed up growing a beard instead.

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

I love my beard.

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

I am proud of my beard.

I am glad I have a beard.

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

But one thing is sure.

I owe my beard to the Navy.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)