Sunday, April 13, 2014

Humor in Uniform - WARDROOM POLITICS

HUMOUR IN UNIFORM

Elections are going on, it is the political season, so here is some “political” humor in uniform:

WARDROOM POLITICS
Unforgettable Vignettes of my Glorious Navy Days
By
VIKRAM KARVE

WARDROOM ETIQUETTE – TABOO TOPICS

When I joined the Navy, I was told that certain things were not to be discussed in the wardroom (officers’ mess).

Firstly, officers should not “talk shop” in the wardroom.

Secondly, three topics are considered taboo in a navy wardroom:

1. Religion
2. Politics
3. Sex

I am sure the same is true for army and air force officers’ messes as well.

But this was all in theory.

In actual fact, I found that things were vastly different.

On my ship, and in other ships and shore establishments too, officers invariably “talked shop” in the wardroom – even during PLDs and Parties.

Of the three taboo topics, the first – Religion – was never discussed (at least in my ships’ wardrooms).

On my ship, with so many young strapping testosterone charged bachelors around, the third topic was always a hot topic of discussion.

Our ship was based in Mumbai (then called Bombay) and those were laissez faire halcyon days in the Navy – guests were freely allowed on ships, in the evenings and on holidays, and many “smart” libidinous bachelors brought girl friends (or “fleet auxiliaries”) on board, for an amorous drink in the wardroom, or a quickie in their cabins, and these “peccadilloes” were hotly discussed with great excitement by the envious sex-starved puritans secretly yearning for female company.


POLITICS IN UNIFORM

Towards the end of 1979, general elections were announced to be held in the first week of January 1980, and suddenly everyone started discussing politics.

I was surprised to see the political awareness and keen interest in the elections.

Of course, this may have been due to the political instability due to the disastrous performance of two successive shaky coalition governments since 1977 which kept splitting till they collapsed and elections were announced after 2 years.

Or maybe, this was because we had many “politically connected” officers on board.

The father of one of the young officers was a veteran politician and was contesting this election too.

The brother of another officer was a politician too – and he was also contesting elections, albeit from a different party.

Many other officers evinced keen interest in current affairs, held divergent political views, which led to lively discussions, and, yes, politics was discussed in the wardroom.

However, there was one officer who showed absolutely no interest in the proceedings.

He came to the wardroom to drink – in fact, it seemed he had joined the navy to drink, and, like some people “live to eat” this officer “lived to drink”.

While everyone was engrossed in animated “political discussions”, he would sit disinterestedly in the corner downing peg after peg of Scotch whisky.

Voting day was in the first week of the coming January, and as the elections approached, some of us got our postal ballots and some did not.

Outside, political temperatures were getting heated up, and inside the wardroom too, there took place rousing discussions, stimulated by the imbibing of enormous amounts of alcohol.

Of course, our “apolitical” friend kept aloof and remained indifferent to the goings on, despite imbibing even greater amounts of alcohol than the others.

At last, voting took place.

The next day, counting of votes began.

That evening, carrying our whisky topped hip-flasks in our pockets, we trooped down to the Indian Express Building at Nariman Point to watch the election results unfold.

Late at night, it became clear that Indira Gandhi was heading for a massive victory (her party, Congress (I), would win 353 of the 542 seats).

Most of us were happy – now there would be a stable government for 5 years.

The two “politically connected” officers were happy too – their relatives, father and brother, had won too.

A celebration was called for, so the wardroom bar was opened the moment we returned back onboard at around midnight.

The “whiff” of the wardroom bar being opened mysteriously reached the “apolitical” officer sleeping in his cabin, and he joined us in a jiffy, topping up his glass to celebrate.

“There was so much political excitement going on – and you were totally disinterested,” someone said to the “apolitical” officer.

“Actually I was worried?” he said.

“Worried?” we asked, puzzled.

The “apolitical” officer took a gulp of whisky and said: “I was worried about my booze. The previous guy was a prohibitionist – he even wanted to stop booze in the services and give dry fruits in lieu. I am happy he has lost – at least the new guys who have won will let booze flow freely. Come on. Cheers. Drink up. The next round of drinks is on me.”


VIKRAM KARVE
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 work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved. 

Disclaimer:
1. This story 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:
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Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)
     
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
 
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