Tuesday, December 30, 2014

“MEMOIRS” OF A “FAUJI FAILURE” - THE FLEET AUXILIARY CALLED SEMAPHORE SIGNAL - A SPOOF

MEMOIRS OF A “FAUJI FAILURE”
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Someone said to me: “Autobiographies are written only by successful people, not by failures in life.”

I replied: “That is not true. The fact of the matter is that even so-called “failures” want to write their memoirs – but no one is willing to publish them.”

Publishers prefer to publish memoirs of the rich and the famous – and, of course, the controversial and notorious.

So you have to “succeed” is some way, famous or infamous, to get publishers interested in publishing the book of your life story.

If you join the military, it is very difficult to “succeed”.

The organizational hierarchy is a steep pyramid with only one vacancy at the top, and less than 1% of officers can be promoted to the “top brass club” of Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals.

So, if you join the military (Army, Navy or Air Force) – or the “Fauj” (in colloquial parlance) – you are more likely to “fail” rather than “succeed” in your career.

If you look around the retired community, you will see that there are more “Fauji Failures” than in any other corresponding civilian profession (including civil services) where everyone reaches a decent rank/position before retirement.

And many “Fauji Failures” have many interesting “memoirs” to tell – in fact, every “Fauji” Officer has a book hidden within him

But, no publisher is willing to touch your manuscript, unless you are a General, Admiral or Air Marshal, or a War Hero, or have been involved in some controversy.

Earlier, before the advent on the internet, it was almost impossible for “failures” (like me) to tell the world about their “life and times” because the only way to chronicle your memoirs was to publish your “autobiography” in the form of a book – but no publisher was willing to publish your book because you were a “failure”.

It was a Catch-22 situation.

Luckily, Technology has changed everything.

Now, “Fauji Failures” are not at the mercy of publishers – you can tell your story via the medium of Blogging.

And that is what I have done.

From time to time, I have posted hilarious “memoirs” of my delightful navy days in my blog.

Of course, I have a book proposal of a navy novel ready, should some publisher agree to publish it – and I can assure you that my “memoirs” will be much more exciting than the prosaic autobiography of a pontificating Admiral.

You don’t believe me?

Here is a sample…

THE FLEET AUXILIARY CALLED SEMAPHORE SIGNAL
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Disclaimer:
1. Please read this apocryphal story only if you have a sense of humor. This yarn 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. And yes, this story is for mature adults only, so if you are a kid, or an overly gender sensitive type, please skip this post.
2.  This story is 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)


PROLOGUE

I close my eyes and, in my mind’s eye, I mentally go back in time, almost 36 years back in time, to the late 1970s, and reminisce about my halcyon navy days, the happiest days of my life, and let delightful memories of those glorious navy days perambulate in my brain.

This morning, as I delved into my halcyon navy days, floating over my time line, I suddenly remembered that unforgettable episode about the “Fleet Auxiliary” who I had nicknamed “Semaphore Signal”.

Let me tell you about it. 

Please read the yarn and do tell me if you enjoyed reading the story, and I shall spin some more yarns for you.

I enjoy spinning yarns, some true, spiced up with lots of salt and pepper, and some apocryphal.

Like I said, I am going to spin a few naval yarns for you.

Now, Dear Reader, you’ve got to remember one thing. 

36 years ago, in the 1970s, it was an all-male navy, where bawdy jokes, ribaldry and profane language was the order of the day, and concepts like gender-sensitivity were unheard of, and this story is written in that spirit.

So let me reminisce and spin a few yarns for you to enjoy, no offence meant to anybody.

I just want to make you laugh and drive away your blues, and mine too. 

I am sure you have a good sense of humour and you will enjoy these yarns in the right spirit and take it with a pinch of salt.


THE FLEET AUXILIARY CALLED SEMAPHORE SIGNAL - a spoof by Vikram Karve

“FLEET AUXILIARIES”

We had returned to port after a long sailing and in the evening I decided to visit my course-mate Horny on his ship which was parked just ahead of us. 

Unlike mine, his was a small ship, and the atmosphere was totally informal, with just a Snotty and a sailor leisurely manning the gangway.

I identified myself, told them who I wanted to meet and started walking inside when the Snotty said, “Sir, just a moment, he is busy right now, someone is there with him in his cabin.”

“Busy? Okay. I’ll come later. Just tell him I had come,” I said, and started to walk away.

“Sir, why don’t you speak to him?” the Snotty said and dialled Horny in his cabin and held out the phone to me.

“Hey, don’t go,” Horny said, “just come down to my cabin.”

Horny was waiting for me outside his cabin, and I could see that he was genuinely happy to see me.

“So nice to see you after so many days. Come inside,” he said, opening the door of his cabin.

I was taken aback by what I saw in his cabin.

A woman was lying on his bunk.

On the side-table there was a bottle of my favourite Premium Scotch Whisky.

I was not surprised at seeing the girl.

Horny was a known Casanova famous for his peccadilloes.

What surprised me was the bottle of whisky, for Horny was a strict teetotaller. 

Horny introduced me.

The girl made no effort to get up.

She continued to lie down on the bunk in her supine position and smiled at me.

I smiled back.

Then Horny pointed outside and said to me, “Why don’t you sit in the wardroom for some time? We’ll finish off our business and join you in a few minutes. The bar, the fridge, everything is open, so just help yourself to a drink and whatever you want.”

It was just six in the evening, so I poured myself a beer, switched on the TV and relaxed in the wardroom waiting for Horny and his consort.

I was two beers down by the time Horny joined me in the wardroom.

“Girlfriend?” I asked him.

“No,” he said, “She’s just a fleet auxiliary.”


AN EXPLANATORY DIGRESSION... 

Let me digress a bit and tell you the difference between Fleet Auxiliary and “Fleet Auxiliary”

Fleet Auxiliary  

The former Fleet Auxiliary is a support ship, like an oil tanker, a supply vessel, a depot ship, or a hospital ship, which supports the main fleet. 

“Fleet Auxiliary” (in quotation marks)

The latter “Fleet Auxiliary” is a moniker, a nickname given to a girl who “supports” the men who man the fleet by having a good time with them and help them quench their carnal passions. 

This story is about this second type of “Fleet Auxiliary”.

With a “Fleet Auxiliary” it is a no-strings-attached relationship. 

Of course, there may have been be a bit of “barter” sometimes where she gets to drink the best booze and gets some gifts like an expensive perfume or some exquisite Swiss chocolates. 

Let me tell you that in those golden days of the License, Quota, Permit Raj, when prized and coveted foreign goodies were was not available in the domestic market and we got them duty-free on board, a naval officer was quite high up on the social ladder. 

Regrettably, the advent of liberalization and globalization changed everything, and nowadays, a naval officer is no longer the crème de la crème of society anymore, because today, money determines your status, and businessmen, entrepreneurs and celebrities are the new role models. 

And as far as “fleet auxiliaries” are concerned, it looks like they have disappeared from the fleet and found greener pastures, because when I asked a young Subbie about it a few days ago, he seemed totally clueless...

Digression Over, Story Continues ...


WHY THE FLEET AUXILIARY WAS CALLED SEMAPHORE SIGNAL

“Oh. So she is your latest Fleet Auxiliary? But she looks quite a Plain Jane,” I remarked.

“Never a judge a chick by her looks,” Horny said, “I can tell you from my own experience. Most of those gorgeous chic beauties who look like sex bombs turn out to be damp squibs, but these prosaic looking Plain-Jane types are terrific. Like this one. She’s real great. Just three drinks and she’s ready for action.”

“Three drinks?” I asked.

“Yes, just three large pegs of neat whisky and she is all primed up – ready for action.”

“Really?” I said, incredulous.

“The first drink, she lies horizontal. The second one, she puts her legs up by 45 degrees. And the moment she has her third drink, her legs go straight up to vertical position and she is ready for action.”

“Like a Semaphore Signal,” I said.

“Semaphore Signal? You mean the flags?”

“No. No. Not Naval Semaphore Signalling. I am talking about Railway Semaphore Signalling,” I said.

“Railway Semaphore Signalling?” he asked, confused.

“Yes. Railway Semaphore Signalling. To be precise your passionate “fleet auxiliary” can be described as a three position Multiple Aspect Upper Quadrant (or MAUQ) Semaphore Signal.”

“Hey, stop the mumbo jumbo and explain to me in simple language,” Horny said.

Now, I am no great raconteur, so I picked up a pencil and piece a paper, drew some pictures and explained the salient aspects of Semaphore Signalling. 

If you want to know what I told Horny, have a look at the picture below:








                Multiple Aspect Upper Quadrant (MAUQ) Semaphore Signalling

The images above are from the Indian Railways Fan Club (IRFCA) Website Post on Signalling Systems. Indian Railways Fan Club (IRFCA) is a hobby group for discussing all aspects of railways in India. You may read the post on semaphore signals by clicking the url link:  http://www.irfca.org/faq/faq-signal2.html


SEMAPHORE SIGNALLING

Let’s look at the red coloured signal first.

The arm at horizontal position means “stop”, inclined upwards at 45 degrees means “caution” and the arm in the vertical position means “all clear” and the train can proceed.

Now look at the yellow coloured semaphore signal.

I think, that in the context of this story, the yellow coloured signal seems more apt:

STOPATTENTIONPROCEED.

Now just imagine that the legs of the girl (our “fleet auxiliary”) in place of the arm of the signal.

First Drink – Legs Horizontal – STOP

Second Drink – Legs inclined upwards by 45 degrees – ATTENTION

Third Drink – Legs Vertical – PROCEED

On hearing my explanation, Horny burst out laughing and we both laughed for a long time.

We were still laughing when “Semaphore Signal” joined us in the wardroom. 

She had freshened up. 

We talked. 

I liked her. 

Though she was quite chubby and ordinary looking, she had a very friendly smile and she exuded a sort of affable charm.

Life moved on, Horny moved on, I moved on.

And, of course, the “fleet auxiliary” called “Semaphore Signal” moved on, though I did see her a few times circulating around in the fleet.

Many years passed, and I had forgotten all about this episode when I unexpectedly ran into “Semaphore Signal” while browsing in a bookstore located in a mall.

I recognized her at once.

She was the very same “fleet auxiliary” I had nicknamed “Semaphore Signal”.

Now, so many years later, she had turned a bit plump, but otherwise she looked the same chubby girl with a sincere, friendly smile which radiated the same charming warmth.

I smiled at her.

She did not smile back.

In fact, she totally ignored me, showing absolutely no trace of recognition, and then she turned and walked towards the exit of the bookstore.

She walked out of the bookstore and stood in the foyer.

I followed her with my eyes and positioned myself so that I could clearly see her.

She took out her mobile phone from her purse, dialled a number, held the cell-phone near her ear and spoke briefly.

Then she walked into the food court of the mall and sat down on a vacant table.

I kept down the book I was browsing, walked out of the bookstore, into the spacious food court and sat down on a table from where I could see her clearly.

She knew that I was stalking her, but she avoided looking directly in my direction.   

Suddenly a small girl came running and ran into her arms. 

The girl was followed by a man who smiled at her and sat down opposite her.

They were talking, maybe deciding what to eat – mother, father and daughter – a happy family.

I noticed that “Semaphore Signal” exuded the bliss of domesticity.

I felt happy for her – a “fleet auxiliary” so happily settled down in family life.

It was time for me to leave.

I got up, looked at her for the last time, and started to turn away.

Just as I was turning away, “Semaphore Signal” looked in my direction, gave me a fleeting glance, a brief smile of recognition.

Then she looked down at her daughter and started talking to her.


EPILOGUE

As I walked away after the encounter, I felt happy for “Semaphore Signal”.

She was one of the fortunate “fleet auxiliaries” who had put her past behind, moved on into a new world, and settled down into a happy married life – the bliss of domesticity.

Others were not so lucky.

Some could not move on in life and persisted with their ways till age overcame them and the only future the could look forward to was to live a life of a lonely spinster, an old maid, with only reminisces to think about. 

A few managed to “trap” a gullible naval officer into marriage.

Some marriages succeeded, but many such marriages ended in disaster, since they remained in the same environment and did not escape to a new world. 

Much as they tried, they could not prevent the shadow of their past life from haunting their present lives.

I don’t know why  but whenever I see a woman drinking whisky  I remember “Semaphore Signal”.

Yes, whenever I see a woman drinking whisky  the episode of The Fleet Auxiliary called Semaphore Signal” is rekindled in my mind – I hark back to those delightful navy days  and a smile comes to my lips.

I really do not know if there is a connection between alcohol and promiscuity – but then as my Navy Friend Romeo would boast: “Give me a woman who drinks and I can get her into bed”.

And he proved his theory, time and again.

But that is another story  one more yarn I will spin some day.

Till then, let me hark back with nostalgia to the story of The Fleet Auxiliary called Semaphore Signal.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© 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:
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)
     
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
 

This Story Written by me nearly 3 years ago in Jan 2012 and posted online earlier in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve 
http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2012/10/a-fleet-auxiliary-called-semaphore.html
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