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  • #76

    It’s not that I have, suddenly, become religious; nor am I nearing the time to meet my Maker and thus being drawn to Gods. Therefore, let the title of the story not fool you.

    This is not a story about Gods. This is a story about Captain Ganapati and his transforming into the Monkey God, Hanuman.

    It happened before the 1971 War.

    I was the Adjutant of my unit and Ganapati was the GSO 3 (Intelligence) at the Brigade HQ. We had a daily interaction since he would take the daily sitreps (Situation Reports that are sent, once in the morning and once in the evening), which the Adjutant gave him over the telephone or over the radio duly coded in case the landline were ‘down’ (not functional).

    Ganapati was a pompous oaf. He was a Short Service officer. His appointment at the Brigade HQ had gone to his head.

    One day he was not there. Hence, I passed the Sitrep to his Clerk.

    An hour later he rang up.

    “I have just gone through your Sitrep. What do you mean by ‘FDL 507 ‘saw’ one rifle shot of the enemy from X to Y’? How can anyone see a bullet? I think you people are stupid and you have no idea of the English language!”

    That was the most stupid thing I heard. Not only I knew English, but my pronunciation was as good as the BBC, if not better. After all, though my CO was an Indian, he thought he was British and so we were being corrected day in and day out! Naturally, I was enraged and that too hearing tripe from a person whose accent was so strong and unintelligible that there was no requirement to even use the Slidex code to ‘mask’ from the enemy!

    “Look here Ganapati” said I. I was being distinctly nasty having given an intonation to his name that without doubt turned it into a Hindi cuss word meaning ‘a ruptured posterior’. “We were explicit in the Sitrep. You have never dared come to the front lines and so you won’t know. One can see the enemy and his rifle. One can even see the flash from his rifle. Further, one can see the puff of mud where the bullet hits. Therefore, if that is not ‘seeing’, what is? A rifle shot can be heard from one point, but can it been ‘heard’ as to where it hit? Don’t be an idiot yourself”.

    Ganapati was enraged, especially since I had converted his name to a Hindi cuss word. He banged the telephone down.

    Soon I was called by the CO. He had been rung up by the Brigade Major. Obviously, Ganapati had reported to his boss. He was the type who could not fight his own battles!

    “What happened with you and Ganapati?”

    I told him the whole story including the fact that I had corrupted his name to a cuss word.

    “Ah ha! No wonder the Brigade HQ is wild with you and wanting me to change the Adjutant!”

    I thought I was going to be changed since none likes to mess around with higher HQs!

    My CO was British to the core. “Stupid chaps. They think that I am an Indian scared cat. ******** that I will change you. No chance.” I really felt good. He was the type who protected his command, especially when he was in the right.

    The CO continued, “Now listen to me.” Thereafter, he told me what to say.

    I rang up Ganapati.

    I was at my pleasant best.

    “Ganapati”. This time I pronounced his name correctly. “Could I have your photograph?”

    This was a ridiculous request. He smelt a rat.

    “Why?” Ganapati said cautiously.

    “Actually, since you have forced my CO to rethink if I should be the Adjutant, a feat that God could not do, could you as a parting favour give me your photograph? I want to install it in our Regimental temple, especially since you have such an uncanny resemblance to a God.”

    Curiosity got the better of him.

    “God? Which God?” The bloke was real conceited. He actually imagined that he resembled a God!

    “Hanuman, the Monkey God. All I have to do is add a tail!”

    The second time he banged the telephone down.

    This time the Brigade Commander rang me up. He was actually rather fond of me. I recounted the whole incident. Though he did not take sides, I never heard about this incident again!

    I still remained the Adjutant!

    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.



    • #77
      Above are three stories which I don't think I have posted earlier.

      They are to be in my book, "Rum, Bum and Mouthorgan (Harmonica)"

      I am still to find a publisher!

      "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

      I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.



      • #78
        Originally posted by Ray View Post

        A new Major General, General Staff (MGGS) had been posted at our Command HQs. There was none of the ‘introd,/..............
        A very nice story...


        • #79
          It is not a story.

          It is a true narration of events! :)

          "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

          I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.



          • #80
            Loved 'em Ray, thanks. :)
            No man is free until all men are free - John Hossack
            I agree completely with this Administration’s goal of a regime change in Iraq-John Kerry
            even if that enforcement is mostly at the hands of the United States, a right we retain even if the Security Council fails to act-John Kerry
            He may even miscalculate and slide these weapons off to terrorist groups to invite them to be a surrogate to use them against the United States. It’s the miscalculation that poses the greatest threat-John Kerry


            • #81
              I was talking to a semi-crazy vietnam and gulf war 'vet today on the bus and he was telling me about how beacame as blind as he is now (he was partially blind). He was telling me he was in the Marines and when they started firing SKUD missles at the enemy he and his comrades asked the commanding officer "Is it OK for us to watch them like this?" (they were watching their whole trip from fire to dentonation) and he said "Oh yeah sure, it's fine!" according to him this is part of what made him blind. Also he said that the government is trying to screw him out of his pension by pushing back the time when his checks start flowing further and further back. He told me about some of the worse things he saw: he told me that the government gave hallucinogenic (sp?) drugs to some soldiers in the hopes they would become "the perfect killers" and they reacted by killing each other and he told me that he saw his best friend's head get blown off during combat right in front of his and that he was skimmed by what he thinks was a 7.62 round. A bit much to tell a 14 year old kid, but I was very interested.


              • #82
                AAhhhh, we never had SCUDs.


                • #83
                  You insulted Lord Hanuman
                  A grain of wheat eclipsed the sun of Adam !!


                  • #84
                    My great, great uncle told me about when he was in WW II before he got alzheimers and died. He told me that the most amazing thing that ever happened was when most of his unit went to a pub, I'm not sure what country but there were no known enemy forces around. So they went to the pub and were drinking and laughing and having a great time when my great, great uncle left, I'm still unsure why but he did. When he came back to the pub it was completly gone, simply a smoldering pile of ash in it's place. While he was gone the enemy had airdropped a small bomb onto the pub in the hopes of taking out an entire unit, he and few others were left.


                    • #85
                      Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
                      AAhhhh, we never had SCUDs.
                      He also told me how the M-16's back then were utter crap; but he said when the sh!t hit the fan he grabbed whatever he could take.


                      • #86
                        No ****, there I was.

                        I remember being on BN CQ as a young Spec.4 in Vicenza, Italy. My BN CSM, CSM Samuel Hernandez, walked by the CQ desk and picked up a book I had been reading called "Inside the Green Berets." CSM Hernandez thumbed through the book, pointed to some maps of Laos, and started telling me about running missions in that area recon team leader. He then walked me over to his office and showed me some plaques from B-52, Project Delta and MACV SOG, CCN.

                        I asked CSM Hernandez if he had ever done a STABO extraction on any of these missions. He said yes, and not only had he done a lot of them he had been in the process of a STABO extraction when the rope had broken or been cut once. He said he fell back through the trees from about canopy level but somehow landed unhurt; a search and rescue chopper picked him up the next day on his E&E route alone, the rest of the team had been killed. ;)

                        I think I said something like "Wow, Sergeant Major," but wasn't sure if I really belived him or thought he was pulling my leg. ;)

                        Years later I was thumbing through a book called "SOG" by John Plaster. The story was in the book, just like CSM Hernandez told it!

                        De Oppresso Liber!

                        All The Way, Sergeant Major! Airborne!
                        Last edited by Rifleman; 09 Nov 06,, 05:17.


                        • #87
                          This one time, at band camp...


                          • #88
                            Originally posted by Jay View Post
                            You insulted Lord Hanuman
                            Poor Gand Fati!

                            "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

                            I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

                            HAKUNA MATATA


                            • #89
                              GENERAL P’s NEPHEW

                              In my quest for an honourable livelihood, I joined the Army.

                              In continuation of my training, after graduating from the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla, I went to the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehra Dun, for the next phase of the training.

                              The Commandant of the IMA those days was Major General P. He was married to a very charming and a graceful lady. Both the General and his wife were cerebral in their attitude and ‘devoured’ books. They also had a daughter and an ancient car – a Lancia, with a wooden steering wheel. The Lancia fascinated me. Of course, it is another matter that another of his possession – his daughter, fascinated the whole Academy. We could observe his Lancia pass the tree-lined roads of the Academy, but unfortunately, rarely his daughter.

                              One cold day winter day in Dehra Dun, when I came out after the academics class to go to ‘Stand One’ for a tactics class, I found that my bicycle had a puncture or what the cadets called, a ‘flat’. This meant that one abandoned the bicycle to be picked up later in the day, as the ‘break’ between classes was a mere ten minutes. The alternative was to run for the next class lest one got late and invite punishment as a result.

                              Being late was sacrilege. The punishments invited were in the form of ‘extra drills’ or ‘restrictions’. Both meant running around the drill square, with a rifle on the head with arms stretched up and doing this and other aimless callisthenics. The agony was compounded since this was after lunch, in starched Olive Green uniform, under the supervision of pitiless and moronic NCO (Non Commissioned Officers) drill instructors!

                              Restrictions were worse since in addition top these moronic activities, it involved reporting at prescribed time, throughout the day, in Field Service Marching Order [a weird, unwieldy and uncomfortably heavy uniform that is worn during battle]. Restrictions were a ‘battle’ against time, physical fitness and humanity! Extra Drill, unlike restrictions, was more humane than Hitler’s gas chambers.

                              Extra Drills didn’t come singly; they were normally given in figures of ‘7’, whilst Restrictions were normally given in figures of ‘14’. It also meant an embargo to the cadets’ market, café or to the town, something like being ‘gated’ in school. Accumulation of either could result in repeating the term of six months [known as relegation], or, if they were kind, it would invariably affect the overall order of merit. It meant, at the end of one’s service, one’s friends would be Generals and you slogging away as Brigadiers or something even worse!

                              I had a flat.

                              I didn’t want extra drills or restrictions. I was about to scoot towards ‘Stand One’ in a similar fashion as the soldier did in the Battle of Thermopylae. It dawned on me then that ‘Stand One’ was about a mile and a half away. It was obvious that only Emil Zatopek, the Czech long distance wonder or Roger Bannister, the four-minute a mile man, alone could accomplish the feat. I was no Bannister or Zatopek. I deflated like my tyre!

                              I reconciled to fate and could only contemplate which of it would be – extra drills or restrictions!

                              I could have gone back to my Company and had a well deserved sleep since it was the last three periods of the day and cadets were always short on sleep. However, there was always the danger of some officer ‘catching’ me in my cabin during training time resulting in either more extra drills or restrictions! Therefore, going to the library and read something worthwhile was a better option with lesser chance of getting caught ‘skipping class’. This was contingent on the class senior ‘covering’ me with some official excuse like ‘reporting sick’ or some equally absurd but ‘plausible’ reason.

                              As I was moving to the library, I spotted the General’s Lancia. My day was made. There was none near the car as the classes had commenced.

                              I made a beeline for the car.

                              I started inspecting the car. I felt the wooden steering wheel. The dashboard was heavenly ancient. I looked below the chassis. I checked the polish and the car insignia. It was a beauty. How I would like a drive in it. I was in a dream.

                              “And what do you think that you are doing?”

                              I wheeled around. There was the heartthrob of the Academy. It was the General’s daughter. I gave a sheepish but a bright smile.

                              “You can’t play around with my father’s car like that and that too without permission”, the girl said in her haughtiest best. I don’t blame her. Cadets are not really believed to be gentlemen except that they are called ‘gentlemen cadets’. In fact, right from the civilian orderlies, the ustads [NCO Instructors] to the Commandant, we were taken to be the lowest form of human existence. Protoplasm and amoeba were more respectable! Therefore, I could not blame her. Yet, the prestige was hurt. Agreed it was a General’s car, but so what? I liked cars and I could not afford this beauty. Hence, there was no harm in seeing something you love but you cannot have. Please note: I am talking about the car.

                              Being a Bengali I could never lose an argument. And she? She was only half a Bengali. Her mother was a Maharastrian. Her father was a Bengali. Therefore, victory was surely mine, even if she threw her weight, unfairly, as the Commandant’s daughter.

                              I was to get extra drills as it is, since I had skipped the class. Some more would not make any difference. The ‘silver lining’, at least was that I could see what the Commandant’s office looked like, as I would have to be marched up to him for the supreme punishment! It could not have been anything else since I was taking ‘panga’ [‘cocking the snoot’] with the Commandant’s daughter!

                              Senior officers’ daughters are really bossy.

                              She went into a harangue. I had no options. I had to be polite in the ‘discussion’.

                              This interaction was going on, when Mrs P emerged from the library with an armful of books. I rushed to her as any good protoplasm or amoeba would do! I took the pile from her. It rocketed me into her good books for relieving her of the burden of the pile of books!

                              Daughter P was livid at this chicanery.

                              She went into a shrill yawp narrating misdemeanours, imagined and otherwise, committed by me, including how I dirtied her father’s car with my lowly cadet’s hand!

                              Mrs P smiled beatifically throughout this J’Accuse.

                              “Why did you play with the steering wheel, GC (short for Gentleman Cadet or it could be also for Goru Chor [cow thief]?”) asked the lady. I presume she meant the first interpretation since the car was not a goru and I was no chor.

                              “Ma’am, I love cars. This one is a beauty. It is so ancient and yet so spanking new. And the best part is the wooden steering wheel. I have never seen a vehicle with a wooden steering wheel. It must be right from the Victorian age” I blabbered. The glint of Daughter P, I observed, was getting nastier.

                              “Oh, you like cars? Yes, this is an ancient one but it is a real marvellous car,” said the lady.

                              “By the way, shouldn’t you be in your classes now? I am sure you will get punished and all because you got so interested in the car that you forgot to go to the classes”. Mrs P was a real understanding lady. How I wished that the officer instructors also were so decent and understanding.

                              “I know Ma’am, I will get punished, but that is a part of growing up,” I said philosophically. “My cycle had a flat and I could have never reached ‘Stand One’. And so punishment is inevitable. Instead, I thought I would read something in the library, but then seeing this beauty of a car, I got enamoured till your daughter came”. I thus appealed to her Academy famed intellectual trait, as also had a dig at her daughter and leaving it unsaid that she was a ‘meany’.

                              “OK. Let me drop you at your Company [the ghetto where Cadets live] so that you could have your lunch” this excellent lady, with a golden heart, said.

                              Indeed, I wanted to go in the car since apart from enjoying the drive, the crafty cadets’ mind, honed in the survival instinct, was at work. Many an advantage would accrue, as the reader will soon realise.

                              “Actually, Ma’am, you needn’t trouble yourself. I’ll walk down. It’s only a twenty minutes walk [actually it was ten but one had to exaggerate so that the lady rose to the bait]. And anyway, you will have to take the detour through ‘A’ Battalion and then come to ‘B’ Battalion. Worse would be that the instructors would be sunbathing, as usual, and they would be highly embarrassed to be found lolling in the sun when the Commandant’s wife passed. They will take out their wrath on me then.”

                              Daughter P was absolutely furious. But you had to grant it to the girl that she was sharp and could see through the game. I reckon both of us were young and so the grey cells were more deviously active than the nice Mrs P.

                              “Oh, never mind son. Jump in and I will drop you.”

                              She was going to drive. There was a mad rush between her daughter and me as to who will sit next to the lady. After all, it was her birthright, while it was my motto ‘Har Maidan Fateh’ {victory in every field [not agricultural field, but fields of life]}. This was my Platoon Commander’s regiment’s {Punjab Regiment} motto and though I disliked him as he did me, I liked the motto. In life, it’s always unfortunately a compromise.

                              “Oh, let him sit down. The poor boy is so keen on the car. This way at least he can see the controls”, the good lady told her daughter. If looks could kill I was killed. She sulked into the back seat, having no desire to share the front seat with me, even though I would not have minded the least.

                              The wonderful lady started the car and we were ‘B’ Battalion bound via ‘A’ Battalion. The instructors would see that I got a lift in the Commandant’s car, which they, in their living dreams, would not be able to manage! It was a nice way to strike back on these certified sadists, masquerading as instructors, as Normans did over the Anglo Saxon serfs!

                              We passed ‘A’ Battalion. As predicted the instructors were lolling in the sun. When they saw us, they were incredulous! They scampered into their offices with as much dignity as rats can muster when deserting a sinking ship. I smirked. This is the first time the daughter shared a gesture of mine. Her mother was dignity personified.

                              “You are really naughty”, the daughter deigned to inform me. I turned back and gave a mischievous smile.

                              We turned in towards the ‘B’ Battalion [my battalion]’s lawns. The officers there were leisure personified. Not only were they lolling and basking in the sun, they were having tea in their hands and the Battalion Commander was holding ‘court’ or maybe since most of the officers were from the villages, was holding a panchyat [village council] at the ‘chaupal’ [an area in the village where the elder sit down and gossip]. They were sadly not correctly poised to scamper into their offices since the tea would have spilled.

                              I requested the lady to stop right in front of the Battalion HQ rows of offices.

                              “Why? I will drop you at Kohima Company Lines [which is where I stayed]. It’s alright with me”, said Mrs P.

                              “Thank you ever so much, M’am. I have already taken much of your time and indulgence and it is OK if I got down here.” After all, the instructors had seen me and I was ‘skipping’ a class. Punishment was inevitable. Sooner they gave it, the better. Further, if I were to get the punishment, then why not let these ‘bozos’ not eat their hearts out in jealousy that I, the lowly GC, was hobnobbing with the Brass?

                              So, I got down in the blazing gaze of many an embarrassed, irritated and even furious stare of the ‘cornered’ instructors.

                              I wanted the instructors to burn with envy. Therefore, I decided to have a longer chat with Mrs P as also wangle a lunch invitation at the Commandant’s house. Catch me not delivering the coup de grâce on the instructors.

                              “Ma’am, the Commandant normally calls a few cadets every Sunday for lunch. I always wanted to see the Commandant’s house. May I come next Sunday?” I said in a most pathetic tone as that of a person walking to the gallows and hoping against hope that the Presidential pardon would intervene.

                              “Oh well, I really don’t know. The guest list must have been already prepared. But then, one more would not make a difference. Yes, you must come. I will tell the ADC (Aide de Camp)”. The daughter did not object or put a spoke. She had started enjoying the little game I was playing and was actually taking part in it, even if by silence alone.

                              After some more mundane conversation and repeated thanks to the lady and now also to the daughter, I let them go, which anyway they were keen to do since they hardly knew me.

                              So, wonders of wonder, I managed the lunch!

                              I was aware that the instructors were ready to pounce on me the minute the car turned its tail. So, I dragged the conversation as long as I could. I thanked her profusely and praising her kindness to the skies. It had been a full three minutes, but it must have been a lifetime for the ‘cadaver loving vultures’ [instructors] waiting in the wings to nab me.

                              As the car turned about and moved off some distance, I yelled, ‘Bye Bye Aunty”. It was in a voice that could be heard by the instructors but not by the lady and her daughter.

                              The lady had already left.

                              I sauntered, a little extra cockily. Something like Huckleberry Finn. It was bound to annoy.

                              “Come here, you blaadi phool [bloody fool] Rayc” I could hear the distinct bellow from Captain C, my Platoon Directing Staff. As I knew his voice signature, I knew it was he. Someone else would have surely mistaken it for a bellow of the buffalo munching merrily in the adjoining Physical Training {PT} field.

                              I turned and walked towards him. I came to a halt in front of him and saluted all and sundry of an officer dotting the lawn. Externally, they were looking as peaceful as the buffalo on the PT ground but one could make out that they were internally burning with rage like a bull in a Spanish bullfight ring. To be fair to them, I must add that they were not pawing the ground, as the bull would do. One or two snort like a bull in pain, I must confess I heard.

                              “V’hat [What] you do in Commandant’s car?” said the true blue son of the Punjab, Captain C, his whiskers dancing in the wake of his furious exhalation of rage from the nostrils. “And haw [how] know you Commandant?”

                              “Sir, I will leave it at that. I would prefer not to answer the question, if you would be kind enough to excuse me.”

                              “Don’t give fancy English, baai [boy], you better tael [tell] or else life will be haell [hell]”

                              Well, he was such a meany, he surely would have seen hell even though he was still living. As he looked like and behaved like the Devil himself, I relented.

                              Certain species of North Indians are extra polite, especially when cornered, and so, like them, I decided that if you can’t win, you better join them. Do as the Romans do in Rome the adage went and he was that certain specie of North Indians!

                              “Sirjee, {This was a highly polite form of address in North Indian English, since you said ‘sir’ twice; once in English and the second time in a North Indian}……….. my father told me to stand on my own two feet and not use influence, so please forgive me; I can’t tell.’

                              “What nansance [nonsense]. You jalli [jolly] teal [tell]”

                              The reader should not forget that General P was a Bengali and so a contrived relationship being a Bengali would not have been outlandish.

                              I gave Captain C a ‘fear crazed’ look before answering. Being the sadist that he was, it gave him immense satisfaction when cadets shook totally rattled in front of him. I wanted him to be self-satisfied.

                              “Sirjee, I am letting my father down, but since you are insisting and scaring me, I have no option but to break my promise to my father. Sir jee,……” I deliberately paused to build up a theatrical effect.

                              I could see C getting immensely impatient and furious. The other officers of the ‘tea party’ and lolling in the sun were also waiting with the keenness butchers display towards an Id (a Muslim religious festival where goat’s meat is the raison d’être) goat ready for slaughter.

                              “Sirjee, General P is my Uncle”. It’s all very fine to claim a bogus relationship, but if P came to know, I would not have lived to see another day. Therefore, to ensure total safety, I added, “But, sir, please don’t tell him. My father would never forgive me.”

                              The silence was loud.

                              The instructors gasped.

                              Their rage mollified to a beatific and serene attitudinal change. It was like the transformation of King Ashoka after the Battle of Kalinga. Even Buddha would have been pleased.

                              Where I should have got a few extra drills, I got, “Wael bai [Well, boy] carry on to kebin [cabin], have lunch and relax”. It came from none other than the direct descendant of the Demon King Ravana, namely, Captain C.

                              I was saved and I forgot all about the incident.

                              Next day I was summoned to Capt C, the Platoon Commander’s office!!

                              I froze. I dreaded the thought that they had got wise and the game was up. Cadets being cadets, I resigned myself to fate. Sheepishly, I was marched into C’s office.

                              Capt C was devoid of his permanent scowl that was a fixture whenever he saw me. I may be wrong, but through his bushy moustache and beard that was so thick that it could rival in density and inscrutability the undergrowth of Mizoram and Nagaland, I thought I saw a friendly smile. But, I could be wrong.

                              “Weal bai, here card Commandant house lunch tomorrow. Don’t forget be in tam [time]”. The North Indians, being enterprising like the Americans, believed in the theory that time was money. Therefore, more often than not, whenever they spoke in English, they used telegraphic language, especially the village bred, who had learned the language by the ear

                              I wasn’t the one not to dramatise the issue. So, I decided to go all the way.

                              “Sorry sir, I have to regret. My cycle is flat and if I walk, then I would be sweating and a sweating cadet would be offensive in the Commandant’s house”.

                              If you ask me this was stupid logic on my part. As if the Commandant sniffed the armpits of cadets on entry to his house. Imagine an armpit sniff being the clearance for entry into the Commandant’s drawing room! And anyway, all Cadets even when bathed, they stank.

                              “Don’t worry bai. I come. Scooter. Drop you. No late”. The man must have saved a fortune in telegrams!

                              Next day, true to his word, Capt C drove me to the Commandant’s house.

                              It was a sweet revenge, even if achieved by ‘innocent’ subterfuge

                              "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

                              I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

                              HAKUNA MATATA


                              • #90
                                THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING BREAKFAST

                                It was just before the 1971 War. I was the Adjutant of the unit. Lieutenant Colonel KS, a very British type of a gentleman, was commanding the unit.

                                The line communication was notoriously erratic. Rarely could we talk to the Brigade HQ. Therefore, most of the time it was on the radio or what is also known as the wireless.

                                Radio, those days did not have the secrecy devices and so we could not speak ‘in clear’. It was either done in a round about way or by using Indian languages which the Pakistanis were not familiar with or by coding the messages with Slidex and Unicode . The last form was very tedious and cumbersome. The Sitreps or Situation Reports were sent twice a day giving the resume of the daily activities including enemy actions and activities from the last Sitrep till then. It was mandatory that these were sent at the prescribed time since they were consolidated at each level and then sent to the next higher HQ and so on, till the Army HQ.

                                One day when the line communication was ‘down’, I was trying to pass the Sitrep over the radio. There was tremendous static that day and so it was taking time.

                                My frustration was being compounded since it was past breakfast time. My Commanding Officer (CO) was a stickler for form. It was incumbent on me, the only other officer in the Tactical HQ, to attend all meals and that too in time. After all, officers ate together and the Mess was not a hotel! Further, the important fulcrum to this logic for my CO was that it was the way the British did it. Any deviation, for my CO, from the British way was sacrilege!

                                The CO had come to the thatched gazebo like structure that passed off as our Officers’ Mess. I was at that time still trying to pass the Sitrep and was having a harrowing time. I wasn’t naturally in the best of spirits.

                                The CO found that I had not come. He was outraged.

                                He sent the waiter to search me out and bring me to heel.

                                The waiter arrived with the CO’s missive to come down immediately for breakfast. I told him inform the CO that I would soon be there, once I had passed the Sitrep, which all knew was an important operational requirement and had to be passed on time.

                                Lo and behold, the waiter was back. The instructions were the same and the reply was also the same.

                                The third time the waiter arrived, he was quaking. He pleaded that I join immediately for breakfast or else there would be fireworks for both him and me! Disgusted, I quit passing the Sitrep and followed him. There was no option given the rigid ways of my CO.

                                “What the Dickens do you think you are doing, you oaf?” bellowed my CO.

                                “I was passing the Sitrep, sir. It is still to be done”, I replied.

                                “Come, come. That’s a real silly excuse to not be in time for breakfast. Are Sitreps that important? It’s the same old junk of the enemy firing a round here and a round there. Everyone knows that. So long as there is no casualty, how does it become important?’

                                It was excellent logic. However, it was not how the Indian Army saw it, but who could educate him on the same? The Queen’s schedule to him would have been earth shaking, but not what the Pakistanis were doing with lethal weapons!

                                “Sit down and have your breakfast”. And so I sat down.

                                I ordered an omelette, without asking for the porridge, since I wanted to go back the earliest and pass the Sitrep.

                                “You, Indians, will never learn”, said the CO. I was not astonished hearing this phrase, even though, he, too, was an Indian. It was that in actually he thought that he was British. “Breakfast cannot be eaten without porridge. So, order it”.

                                Seething with impotent rage but with controlled placidity, I asked for cornflakes.

                                “Not done. You had it yesterday. You’ll forget the taste of the other types of porridge. Today, you must have Quaker Oats”.

                                So Quaker Oats it was, even as I quaked with anger.

                                Having finished the Oats, I asked for an omelette.

                                “No, you can’t have an omelette” said the CO. I really didn’t understand if he was feeding himself or was my stomach mine. “You’d rather have a rumble tumble today. OK, Old boy?”

                                This was getting to be a bit dictatorial.

                                “Begging your pardon, sir, but I don’t like rumble tumble”.

                                “It does not matter what you like or dislike, old bean. You had an omelette yesterday and so you must have a rumble tumble today and maybe tomorrow a poach. Got that, old thing?”

                                This man, the CO, was incorrigible. I felt that a little bit of cheekiness would be in order and damn his anger thereafter. I was ready to even be removed as an Adjutant. In fact, it would actually be a good thing.

                                “Begging your pardon, sir, can I not eat the type of food that I like? Must I have to eat as if I was performing some military manoeuvre?”

                                I was expecting the CO to explode. Instead, he was as calm as the Pacific Ocean.

                                “No, old fellow, you can’t eat what you like. Further, it is not a military manoeuvre since military manoeuvres are complicated while eating is not”. That was rich. This man had made eating of a meal so complicated and yet he called it easy!

                                The CO continued, “You see, if you eat the same thing day in and day out, you’ll forget how the other things taste and more importantly, the cook will forget how to prepare it!”

                                This was funny logic to say the least. Instead of eating what I like, the logic of his demanded that I was actually eat to keep the cook as fit as a fiddle professionally!

                                One didn’t argue with this CO. Therefore, I gave way to his logic.

                                The breakfast over, I returned to passing the Sitrep.

                                I forgot all about this incident till one day in Chowkibal in J&K, 14 years later, when a visiting CO was having breakfast and I was the President, Mess Committee, meaning that I was responsible for the efficient running of the Mess.

                                The visiting CO had ordered a rumble tumble. He got scrambled eggs instead!

                                The wise saying of my ‘British’ CO rushed back along memory lane.

                                I rushed to the kitchen and made a rumble tumble and saved the day.

                                Ever since, I always have a different type of eggs for breakfast and much that I dislike I have different types of porridge too!


                                Any idea of any publisher who will publish my stories?

                                "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

                                I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

                                HAKUNA MATATA