Sunday, April 26, 2015


Unforgettable Memories of My Wonderful Life in the Navy

A Memoir

Today is Sunday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Different individuals spend their leisure in different ways.

How you spend your leisure defines your persona.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was the happiest time of my life.

It is great to be on a happy ship.

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

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

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

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

On a Sunday we woke up early.

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

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

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

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

Ours was a wardroom of “punters”.

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

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

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

I loved going to the races. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Bombay days were back again” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then we headed back home  and hit the sack.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

How about you? 

How do you like to enjoy your Sundays?

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

Saturday, April 25, 2015



I started writing in the 1970’s – when internet did not exist.

Your articles/stories were published in print journals/magazines on paper.

Also – those days – people were more “laid back” – and there were lesser “technology interruptions” – like mobile phones, for example – in fact – even a landline was a luxury that I did not possess for many days – and TV programs came for just a few hours in the evening.

Therefore – you got enough time for uninterrupted reading – and it was possible for readers to read an article of around 3000 words in one sitting.

Thus – as a writer – I developed a habit of writing articles/stories of around 3000 words.

Today – everyone reads “online” – on digital screens – on laptops, tablets, ipads, smartphones  etc.

Writers can post their articles on Blogs, Social Media, Ezines, Websites etc – where readers can read on the “digital screen”.

(Soon – readers’ span of attention will become so minuscule that you may have to tweet your article in 140 characters).

But – jokes apart – writers must take cognizance of the fact that on a digital screen – the “span of attention” is greatly reduced.

In fact – I read somewhere that over 60% people read ‘literature’ on their smartphones – mainly while ‘waiting’, ‘travelling’ etc – so a writer will have to cater to readers’ ‘span of attention’ on smartphones – which will be less that laptops and tablets.

To make matters worse – this “attention deficit syndrome” is exacerbated thanks to technology interruptions – the main culprit being the mobile phone – and the “high-tech” driven newly created “need to be connected” at all times.

This reduced “span of attention” among readers poses challenges for “old fogie” writers like me – who tend to be “long winded” in their writing and seem to test the patience of their readers.

Also – technology has so greatly eased and facilitated the process of “writing” – that we now have a scenario where there are more writers than readers.

I keep trying to be succinct and concise – but “brevity is the soul of wit” seems to be a dictum which I find very difficult to follow – since I have so much to say – especially on the topic of this article: “MANAGEMENT” IN UNIFORM – where I want to tell you about the insightful pragmatic lessons I learnt in “Defence Management” during my long career in the Navy

So let me try and do the next best thing – I will post my article in parts.

By the way – this is Humor in Uniform

So – especially for those wearing uniform – please do not read if you do not have a “Sense of Humor”

Lessons I Learnt in “Defence Management”
A Spoof

Part 1

Dear Reader:

“Management” in Uniform is different from Management in the Civilian World.

In order to illustrate this – let me summarize for you – a few “management” lessons I learnt as a military officer in navy uniform.

Let me start with a few “memoirs” of my IAT days – my first appointment as faculty at IAT was 30 years ago – in 1985.

In case you don’t know – The Institute of Armament Technology (IAT) Pune was a unique ‘fauji’ institution of ‘higher learning’ whose faculty was composed of officers from the army, navy and air force – and, in addition to military officers – there was also a rather peculiar species called “scientists” – who were civilians.

I will tell you more about IAT later – meanwhile – here is Lesson No. 1…

“Defence Management” – Lesson No. 1


I decided to have a “brainstorming” session.

However, there was just one problem.

There were no “brains” to “storm”.

As per my customary practice ever since I had joined the Navy – I had left behind my brain at home while coming to work.

This gem of wisdom had been imparted to me very early in my naval career by one of my illustrious senior officers.

Even today – I clearly remember the wizened old sea-dog’s words of wisdom.

He had said to me:

“We don’t require brainy chaps in the Navy. The Navy is a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots. If you are not an idiot – but if you find yourself in the Navy – you can only operate well by pretending to be an idiot. So – in the Navy – or in the entire “fauj” for that matter – there is no need to use your brain. You just do as you are told – instant unquestioning obedience – that is what the service demands. Therefore – if you are in the Navy – it is best if you don’t have a brain. But – if you are one of those exceptions who do have a brain – but you still find yourself in the Navy due to some quirk of fate – yes – in case you do have a brain – you must never bring your brain to work – do you understand – you must keep your brain at home and make sure that you don’t bring your brain to work.”

So – I had not brought my brain to work – I had left my brain back at home.

And about the three “pongo” Johnnies in “OG” sitting in front of me – the less said the better.

I wanted to “brainstorm” – but there were no brains in the room.

So – in order to “brainstorm” – now I would have to go home – “insert” my brain in back into my head – and then “storm” my “brain”.

So – dear reader – remember this – it is all very well to experiment with high-falutin management techniques like “brainstorming” – but before you begin brainstorming – make sure there are enough “brains” to “storm”.

‘Availability of brains is the sine qua non for brainstorming’

So – before you embark on a “brainstorming” session – look around and ensure that you have enough “brains” to “storm”

As a corollary – like my boss said – for those of you who want to join the “fauj” – it is best that you don’t have a brain.

Remember – “Brains” and “Uniforms” are mutually exclusive – and the term “uniformed brain” is an oxymoron (like “military intelligence”).

But – alas – in case you do have a brain – and by some quirk of fate – you find yourself in uniform – serving in the “fauj” – remember that you must never bring your brain to work – always make sure that you keep your brain safe and secure at home whenever you go to work.

To be continued in Part 2 …

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

1. This article is a spoof, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)