Tuesday, November 19, 2013



Here is one more delightful yarn of my halcyon navy days from my archives.


Delightful Memories of my Halcyon Navy Days

This story is a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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)


Long back, sometime in the late 1970s, we were young officers just introduced to the pleasures of alcohol, and in thoroughly enjoyed our newly found freedom by topping up to the hilt in the bar every evening.

Though it was supposed to be a Technical Training Establishment, the atmosphere was more OG than Gunnery School, and to make matters worse, it was located in a desolate place in the back of beyond, and, apart from playing sports, the only recreation for us was drinking alcohol. 

Also, in order to sleep soundly in the bedbug infested cabins, one had to imbibe a reasonable amount of alcohol every evening.

So, every evening we would assemble in the wardroom bar and top-up till the last sitting for dinner was announced.

In order to curb our excesses, the PMC set a daily limit of 3 large pegs of Rum for each individual officer. 

(Well, those days we drank only large pegs and three large pegs total about 180 ml of hard liquor – less than a quarter of a bottle which has almost 13 large pegs) 

Now, for tough young naval officers like us in their early 20’s, three pegs were just too little, especially for an ardent drinker like me.

So I devised a simple strategy. 

I caught hold of my course-mate “X” who was a strict teetotaller 

(Of course my friend “X” was quite a money-minded miser too)

“Look here,” I made him a proposition, “I will pay your entire wine bill, including whatever soft drinks and snacks you have, if you let me have your rum quota.”

“X” readily agreed.

In fact, I am sure that in his heart he jumped with joy. 

So we instructed the bar steward accordingly. 

Every evening, the steward would put my first three pegs in X’s bar book.

Whatever subsequent pegs I drank beyond the first 3 pegs would be entered in my bar book. 

(Yes, those days we had bar books which we had to sign at the end of the evening or by next morning).

So every evening as I sat down to drink, my first three pegs of rum would be written in X’s bar book.

In case I drank a fourth or fifth peg of rum, the steward would write them in my bar book.

I seldom drank more than four or five large pegs except on rare occasions.

“X” was delighted with this arrangement. 

He sat down with us in the evenings, downing soft drink after soft drink, knowing that I was paying for all his soft drinks too. 

I am sure in his mind he was wondering what a sucker I was.

A couple of months passed happily.

One morning the PMC suddenly entered the training hall and thundered, “Who the bloody hell is ?” 

He shouted X’s name and looked around the hall.

“X” meekly stood up.

The PMC strode up to “X” and brandished his bar book menacingly and shouted at him, “You want to become a bloody alcoholic? You have been religiously drinking three pegs of rum every day for the last two months. I am stopping your booze. No more drinking. You better sober up.”

And then, as suddenly as he had come, the PMC stormed out of the hall, rendering a hapless “X” dumbstruck and speechless.

His reputation as a “drinker” spread pretty fast. 

At parties, when “X” had his usual glass of cola in his hand, the PMC would suspect it was spiked with rum. 

So “X” started drinking lime juice, but even then the PMC was sure it was spiked with Gin or Vodka. 

The PMC kept telling the Training Officer that he suspected that “X” was still drinking heavily.

Accordingly, the Training Officer kept warning “X” to stop drinking.

(Meanwhile, I had found other sources to replenish my “thirst” like picking up a few rum bottles from time to time from married officers).

The biggest joke was that the PMC thought that “X” was taking rum bottles from married officers and “X” was warned once more by the Training Officer to abstain from drinking.

Lest his appraisal report (OLQ Marks) be ruined, one day “X” told the Training Officer the whole story. 

The Training Officer told the PMC all about it and soon I found myself being marched up to the PMC.

The PMC had two bar books in his hand – X’s bar book and mine. 

He was turning page after page.

“Is it true?” the PMC asked, “You seem to drinking 4 to 5 pegs of Rum every evening. Sometimes even 6 pegs of Rum.”

“Yes, Sir,” I meekly said, trembling inside, expecting to be logged, or admonished, for the PMC was also the XO. 

I surely knew that my booze was going to be stopped so I was thinking in my mind what new arrangements I needed to make - maybe my friends in the army or air force may help out.

The PMC held up the bar book of “X” and asked me: “And what about this officer - your friend “X” - is he telling the truth that he is a teetotaller or is he also a bloody alcoholic like you?” 

“Sir, he is an alcoholic teetotaller,” I blurted out.

“Alcoholic teetotaller? Bloody Hell! This is the first time I am hearing this crazy oxymoron,” the PMC looked at me curiously.

Then he burst out laughing and said, “Come over for a drink this evening. You seem to be an interesting chap.”

Maybe I reminded him of his youthful days.

I did - that is what he told me after a few drinks - and I could see that the PMC really enjoyed his drinks.

In the evening, as we imbibed peg after peg of the best rum, the PMC, an old sea-dog, was overcome by the Auld Lang Syne Complex - he harked back to his halcyon navy days and excitedly told me about his glorious drinking escapades.

Cheers - That calls for a drink! 

I hope my good friend the “alcoholic teetotaller” is reading this.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this story. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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)

Did you like this story?
I am sure you will like the 27 short stories from my recently published anthology of Short Fiction COCKTAIL
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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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