Tuesday, January 13, 2015



Here is an unforgettable vignette from my Navy Life.

This hilarious episode happened 35 years ago, in 1980.

A Spoof

In the Army there used to be an appointment called “Colonel Commandant”.

Sometime in the 1970’s the Navy decided to imitate the Army and appointed “Captain Commandants” – one for each branch (Executive, Engineering, Electrical and Supply & Secretariat).

[The Supply & Secretariat (S&S) Branch was later abolished. Soon, the powers-that-be realized that abolishing the S&S Branch was a big blunder – so they brought back the S&S Branch under a new “avatar” renamed as “Logistics” Branch].

One day I was appointed as Liaison Officer to our Captain Commandant.

The Captain Commandant was a recently retired Rear Admiral.

By sheer coincidence, both of us had studied engineering at the same institution before joining the Navy.

Of course, he had studied engineering in the 1940’s before joining the Navy as a direct entry officer – and I had done my B. Tech. the 1970’s before joining the Navy as a Sub Lieutenant under the University Entry Scheme.

The Captain Commandant asked me about myself.

When he discovered that we were fellow alumni  he started talking freely with me.

He told me memories of his college life – and he talked about his early days in the navy.

The Captain Commandant had a great sense of humour.

“They did not make me a Vice Admiral. Instead, they retired me off and made me “Captain Commandant” – and now I am on a Bharat Darshan tour listening to sob stories,” he laughed.

“Sob stories?” I asked.

He looked at me, and he said: “Don’t you know the job of a Captain Commandant?”

“No, Sir,” I said.

“I am supposed to solve problems of officers and sailors of my branch. I hope you don’t have any problems?” he said.

“Sir, actually I have a problem  rather a request,” I hesitantly said.

“Speak up – tell me your problem – feel free,” he said.

“Sir, I want to get out of this horrible desolate place. Can you please get me transferred to Bombay?” I said.

(Mumbai was called Bombay then).

“You want a transfer to Bombay. Why? This is the alma mater of our branch. Don’t you like instructional duties?” he asked.

“Sir, I am a bachelor – and for a bachelor this place is terrible,” I said.

The Captain Commandant smiled, and he said, “Let me see what I can do.”

As a good Liaison Officer, I looked after the “Captain Commandant” during his busy schedule, and I was by his side for all the official events – Ceremonial Divisions, his “Pep Talk” to officers and sailors, Tea Party with junior sailors, “Booze Up” with senior sailors, and the grand formal “Mess Night” at the Wardroom Officers’ Mess.

Next morning he had a long one-to-one discussion with our Commanding Officer (CO).

I waited outside in the Staff Officer’s office.

Then we were off to the airport.

“I spoke to your CO – in fact, I also spoke to the Director at Naval Headquarters on phone  regarding your problem,” he said.

“Sir – Am I being transferred to Bombay?” I asked excitedly.

“I am afraid not. There is no chance of your being transferred out of this place. Your CO is not willing to spare you. And the Director said that you have just come here and they intend keeping you here for at least two years more,” he said.

I was heartbroken.

Seeing the dismay on my face, the Captain Commandant said, “Don't worry. We will solve your problem. We will find you a good wife...”

“Sir – what are you saying…?” I exclaimed, totally bewildered.

“Well, I can’t get you transferred out of this place – so let me do the next best thing to help you out. The root cause of your problem is because you are a bachelor – you feel lonely in this desolate place. Once you are married, your problem of loneliness will be solved. Let me tell you that this is the best place for newly married couples – you will get a nice house immediately once you are married – this is the only navy station with 100% married accommodation...” he said.

“Sir, please don’t pull my leg...” I said.

“I am not pulling your leg. I am serious. My wife is into this matchmaking thing – she knows lots of marriageable girls – daughters of senior naval officers. She will find a suitable bride for you. Just send me your details and I will pass it on to her,” the Captain Commandant said.

I did not send him my details.

I did not want to trouble the “Captain Commandant” to find a bride for me.

The “Captain Commandant” had more important things to do.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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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.

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