Thursday, April 30, 2015

Humor in Uniform - MARRIAGE “ON THE ROCKS”


This evening while on my walk I remembered this hilarious “memoir” from my Vizag Days.

Let me delve into my Humor in Uniform archives and pull out this story that happened more than 25 years ago – sometime in the late 1980s...

A Spoof

Part 1


The most eagerly awaited event of Naval Social Calendar is the annual Navy Ball held in December.

And the two highlights of the Navy Ball are the Fashion Show and the Navy Queen Contest.

We were surprised to see that the Vizag Navy Ball was much more grandiose than the Mumbai Navy Ball – the fashion show had top models walking the ramp and the Navy Queen Contest had the best of gorgeous beauties participating since this prestigious beauty pageant was a stepping stone for a career in showbiz and the glamour world.

Then things changed.

There was a new C-in-C.

His wife automatically became the ex officio Head of NWWA by virtue of her husband’s appointment.

NWWA is the acronym for Navy Wives Welfare Association earlier known as Naval Officers Wives Association (NOWA).

Now – the new C-in-C’s wife was a staunch feminist and she had “progressive” ideas.

She decreed that there would be no “commodification” of women.

So the Navy Queen Contest was scrapped.

Instead of the Navy Queen Pageant, there would be a “made-for-each-other couple” contest.

Interest in the Navy Ball waned.

The sale of tickets for the Navy Ball fell sharply.

This problem was solved by compulsory sale of tickets to all officers.

The second problem was that there were no entries for the “made-for-each-other couple” contest.

The high profile Navy Queen Pageant was an open competition and used to attract a large number of entries from young ladies – from Vizag and even from places as far away as Calcutta (now Kolkata) Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar and Madras (now Chennai).

However, it seemed that no married couple wanted to sashay on the ramp for the “made-for-each-other couple” contest.

(Yes, only married couples were eligible for the “made-for-each-other couple” contest - the NWWA head-honcho was a feminist, but apparently she was not a “liberated” feminist).

Civilian couples of Vizag did not fancy parading on the ramp and it seemed the naval couples were also not too keen.

After years of Navy Queen Contests, people were quite skeptical about this new “made-for-each-other couple” contest.

So, there was not even a single entry for the “made-for-each-other couple” contest.

The powers-that-be were disappointed with the poor response.

So, NWWA was pressed into action.

All “young” wives were told to “report” with their husbands for the preliminary round of the “made-for-each-other couple” contest.

My wife ignored the missive.

She did not even tell me about it.

In fact, most naval wives did the same.

The result was that just three couples turned up for the preliminary round.

They could have crowned them then and there – as the winners and first and second runners up.

But this did not happen.

The “head honcho” of NWWA was furious.

She was determined to make a grand success of her “trailblazer” “made-for-each-other couple” contest which was being held for the first time in the Navy Ball.

Her prestige was at stake.

For her, the success of the “made-for-each-other couple” contest became a “prestige issue”.

So she pressed her cohorts into action.

Qualitative Requirements (QRs) were drawn up and “target couples” identified for the “made-for-each-other couple” contest. 

Lists of “target couples” were sent to ships and units and commanding officers were ordered to direct those officers and their lady wives to “volunteer” and be present for the preliminary round of the “made-for-each-other couple” contest that evening.

Simultaneously, similar parallel “directives” were passed on to the wives via NWWA channels.

Unfortunately, we, my wife and I, were a “target couple”.

A message was accordingly passed on to me that my wife and I should be present for the preliminary round of the contest at 7 in the evening – my wife in a Sari and me in Red Sea Rig uniform.

When I reached home, before I could speak, my agitated wife told me about the visit of some NWWA ladies.

She was upset.

She had told the NWWA flunkies that she did not want to leave our baby daughter alone and hence could not participate.

But they refused to listen saying that they had made baby care arrangements.   

When she bluntly told them that she was not interested in taking part in the contests, subtle hints were dropped that her “negative” attitude may not be good for my career.

Remember, this was the “Entertainment Naval Command”.

For my wife, this was the first time NWWA was exerting pressure and compelling her to do something she did not want to do.

I did not want to force my wife to do anything against her will, especially participate in such a contest that I thought was quite ludicrous.

We, my wife and me, did not go for the preliminary round for the “made-for-each-other” contest.

Part 2


Next morning, my boss, a Commodore, summoned me to his office.

“Look here. You know me. I never interfere in the personal lives of my officers. But I beg of you – please take your wife and go for that bloody preliminary round of the “made-for-each-other” couple contest in the evening,” he said.

“Sir, that was last evening,” I said.

“Last evening – only five couples landed up. So preliminary round of the “made-for-each-other” couple contest is re-scheduled at 7 this evening. You buggers don’t go for events – and we are being asked explanations from the top. Please make sure you go. I know you have a small son and a baby daughter. My wife will look after them. But you and your wife – please go for the preliminary round of the “made-for-each-other” couple contest  for heaven’s sake – please go – otherwise...”

“Sir, my wife …”

“No excuses. I don’t want to hear any excuses.”

“Sir, please listen …” I pleaded.

“What …?” my boss asked.

“My marriage is on the rocks. My wife and I – we are not on speaking terms. There is so much marital discord that it looks like my marriage is going to break up – it seems that we are heading for a divorce,” I said with a sad face.

“What...? Divorce...? Your marriage is on the rocks...? You never told me all this...!” my boss said with a surprised look on his face.

“I am sorry, Sir – but under these circumstances of marital discord – I don’t think it is appropriate for us to take part in the made-for-each-other-couple contest,” I said sheepishly.

“Okay. I can understand. I’ll tell them. But you must sort out things with your wife. You have children. You may have some marital discord but divorce is not a solution. You must try and make your marriage work. You must take some help in these matters. I’ll see what I can do. You can go now,” my boss said with a worried look on his face.

Back in my office I congratulated myself for my quick thinking which had extricated us from the “made-for-each-other couple” contest.

Then, I had a good laugh to myself.

While I was laughing, my boss was acting.

He made a two calls.

First, he called up the NWWA powers-that-be.

Then, he called up his wife.

The result was that NWWA was asked to intervene and try to “save” our marriage.

Now, ladies love to gossip, so the rumour mill was instantaneously abuzz and various theories were floated by “know-it-all” gossip-mongers.

“They are incompatible,” the more charitable one’s said.

But most agreed that I, as the husband, was to blame for the “breakdown” of our marriage and some let their imagination run wild and even painted me as a drunkard and wife-beater.

Luckily, the NWWA “marriage counsellor” lived directly above our house and she knew us well.

She got a call from the NWWA “head honcho” asking her to talk to us and then brief her on the “case”.

The “marriage counsellor” had a hearty laugh and she said, “I know them well. Nothing is wrong with their marriage. In fact, I had a chat with the wife just a few moments ago on the way up to my house. It looks like her husband is up to some mischief. I will tell her and she will straighten him out.”

“Are you sure?” the NWWA “head honcho” asked.

“I have seen so many marriages. My marriage may break, your marriage may break, but they are not going to split – that’s for sure,” the NWWA “marriage counsellor” remarked about us.

In her opinion, my wife and me, were in fact a genuine “made-for-each-other couple”

They, the “marriage counsellor” neighbour, and my wife, were waiting for me in the evening.

I told them everything, and we had a big laugh.

And yes, thereafter, no one asked us to take part in the “made-for-each-other couple” contest, which was won by a truly “made-for-each-other couple” who were good friends of ours.

After this, for the rest of our tenure in Vizag, my embarrassed wife steered clear of NWWA in order to avoid the knowing looks of pity and sympathy (since rumours never die).

By the way, the “made-for-each-other couple” contest was scrapped and discarded the moment the C-in-C was posted out.

The new C-in-C made sure that the traditional Navy Queen pageant was started again and I think it continues to this day.

As they say in the Navy: “Normal Service Resumed”

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 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 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)

Humor in Uniform - NEW AGE OLQ


A Hilarious Story from my Humor in Uniform Archives...

A Spoof


Let me tell you an interesting story that happened a long time ago when I was on the faculty of IAT Pune which, once upon a time, was a premier inter-service institution for higher education.

A student officer, Lieutenant “A”, wrote a research paper based on his Master’s Dissertation.

It was decided to send this research paper to a prestigious professional journal for publication.

As was the custom in academia, the student officer (Lieutenant “A”) wrote his name first as the principal author.

He included the name of his dissertation guide (Lieutenant Commander “B”) at the second place as co-author.

The research paper authored by Lieutenant “A” as principal author and guide Lieutenant Commander “B” as co-author, as was the norm for research papers, was duly forwarded through “proper channel” for publication in a prestigious academic journal.

The Head of Department (Commander “C”) read the research paper and was impressed by the high quality of work.

He was quite sure that this top-quality research paper would be accepted by the prestigious journal for publication and this would bring laurels to the department and institution.

The Head of Department Commander “C” called the student officer Lieutenant “A” and the faculty guide Lieutenant Commander “B” and said to them: “You have done outstanding research work and written an excellent paper. Well done. Why don’t you include my name as a co-author? After all I am the Head of Department and I gave you all the help and encouragement you wanted, didn’t I?”

“Sir, we have included your name in the acknowledgements paragraph at the end of the paper,” the guide Lieutenant Commander “B” said.

Commander “C” looked at Lieutenant Commander “B” and said: “I would like my name to be mentioned as an author. After all, you are the guide but you too have included your name as an author, haven’t you? So what is your problem if my name is also included? After all, I am the Head of Department.” 

So the research paper now had 3 authors:

1. Lieutenant “A” (the actual researcher)

2. Lieutenant Commander “B” (the guide)

3. Commander “C” (the Head of Department).

As the paper progressed through the hierarchy, the Director of Studies (Navy) Commodore “D” decided to add his name too.

Commodore “D”, who was a careerist naval officer, knew that in the academia, a lot of importance was given to research publications, and the newly appointed Dean, a renowned Civilian Scientist, was exhorting the faculty to publish research papers.

Commodore “D” knew that in his present “academic” appointment publishing papers was considered as a “feather in his cap” and this would boost his ACR (performance appraisal report) and enhance his promotion prospects.

Also, such “academic achievements” would add value to his CV when he would look for job in his second innings after retirement.

So the Commodore “D” (who hardly did any research work) was in the habit of adding his name as co-author to all research papers going out of his faculty.

So the research paper now had four authors:

1. Lieutenant “A” (the Researcher)

2. Lieutenant Commander “B” (the Guide)

3. Commander “C” (the Head of Department) 

4. Commodore “D” [the Director of Studies (Navy)]

The research paper was sent to Headquarters for final clearance and forwarding to the prestigious journal.

After due process, one fine day, the paper landed on the desk of an administrative staff officer who was to forward it to the journal.

The administrative staff officer, a Salt Horse Commander from the Executive Branch was a most rank conscious officer.

Actually, he was just a “post office” and his job was to forward the research paper, that’s all.

But then, like all “post office” staff officers in Headquarters, he had an exaggerated sense of self importance.

The moment he saw the research paper, he sensed something was wrong.

“Why is the name of the junior-most officer on top?” he wondered.

Then he noticed that the names were written in reverse order of seniority – the name of “A” (Lieutenant) was on top  followed by “B” (Lieutenant Commander)  then “C” (Commander)  and lastly “D” (Commodore) whose name was at the bottom of the list.

This “breach of protocol” irked him and it was unacceptable to a “service minded” officer like him. 

In the armed forces, and especially in the navy, rank and seniority were sacrosanct.

The “pecking order” had to be maintained at all costs.

In the rank conscious navy, putting a Lieutenant’s name on top and a Commodore’s name at the bottom was tantamount to “sacrilege”.

The administrative officer decided to correct this “mistake”.

He called his officer clerk and told him retype the names of the authors in order of seniority – the senior-most Commodore “D” on top followed by Commander “C” at second place, then Lieutenant Commander “B” at the third place and Lieutenant “A” at the bottom of the list, at the fourth place.

Then, fully satisfied at the good work done by him, the staff officer duly forwarded the research paper to the journal.

Now, the research journal had a policy of restricting the number of authors to a maximum of three authors.

Since only three authors were permitted, the editor of the journal duly “chopped off” the name of the fourth author Lieutenant “A”.

When the research paper was finally published, the name of Commodore “D” appeared on top as the principal author.

This was followed by the names of the Head of Department Commander “C” and the guide Lieutenant Commander “B” as co-authors.

The name of the actual researcher Lieutenant “A” was missing and did not figure anywhere.

Yes, the name of Lieutenant “A” was nowhere to be seen in the journal.

Looking at the paper as it appeared in the journal, it seemed that the main research work had been done by Commodore “D” who was listed on top as the principal author of the research paper.

As per convention, it seemed that the other two authors, Commander “C” and Lieutenant Commander “B” had assisted Commodore “D” in carrying out the research work.

So, Commodore “D” got the maximum credit as the principal author although he did not have have the slightest clue about the actual research work done by Lieutenant “A”.

What a travesty?

Lieutenant “A” who slogged for over one year and did all the research work and wrote the excellent paper did not get any credit for his efforts.

The laurels were usurped by his seniors Commodore “D”, Commander “C” and Lieutenant Commander “B”.

This anecdote happened at IAT, in an Academic and R&D domain  but I have seen similar episodes happen in various other situations in the navy too, where credit for work done by a junior is hijacked by his seniors. 


As illustrated in the story above  in the Navy  I found two types of officers:

1. Sincere Officers who genuinely did the work

2. Charlatans who dishonestly usurped the credit

Let me give you another example.

Once when we worked in a project team, we had one such imposter.

This charlatan always avoided doing any actual work but discreetly kept track of what was going on.

As is the case with most “con artists” this officer possessed excellent “communication skills” and thanks to his “gift of the gab” he excelled in “hogging the limelight” in the presence of senior officers.

In fact, this “fraud officer” had created an impression in the eyes of senior officers that it was he who was doing most of the work in the team.

He also succeeded in projecting an image of the rest of his fellow-officers of the team as lazy “shammers”.

Of course, in due course, we exposed him by employing “disinformation shock” techniques of “information warfare”  but that is another story.

Rank Has Its Privileges (RHIP).

But does RHIP permit you to hijack the credit due to your juniors? 

They say that the defence services are a reflection of civilian society.

There was a time, long back, when senior officers displayed impeccable conduct and had exemplary values.

But, as civilian society changed for the worse, some of the ills percolated into the defence services, and a few senior officers started emulating civilian leaders.

Traditional OLQ (Officer Like Qualities) became antiquated and was replaced by New Age OLQ.

The detrimental effects of New Age OLQ are visible if you follow the goings-on in the defence services.

As I said earlier, during my long service I have observed that there are two types of officers:

1. Sincere Officers (Traditional OLQ)

2. Charlatans (New Age OLQ)

And it is due to the unsung efforts of the first type of sincere officer that things are running fine in the defence services.

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 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 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)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

JOIN THE NAVY AND GROW A BEARD - The Story of My Majestic Beard

Harking Back to My Glorious Navy Days

If you are an unemployed unwanted uncelebrated “retired” military veteran like me  what is the best thing to do?


Yes, I can hark back in time and reminisce – and I can talk about my “good old navy days”.

But what do I do if there is no one to talk to?

I can write about my unforgettable reminiscences.

Well  that is exactly what I am going to do now.

I will hark back in time to my early navy days  take you back to the 1970’s  and tell you why  thanks to the Navy  I grew my handsome beard  which adorns my face till today.

By the way  if I had not joined the Navy  I probably would not have kept a beard.

Yes  before I joined the Navy  I was clean shaven  and I had never contemplated having a beard.

But then when you join the Navy  everything changes – and you change – whether it is for the better or for the worse – well, that depends on you!

I remember my first day at the Naval Academy in Cochin (now called Kochi).

The moment we reported to the academy  an army of barbers descended on us to chop off most of the copious hair adoring our heads – and shave the stubble on our faces.

We were given crew cuts and our faces shaven clean.

A few young men did have moustaches  but these moustaches were ruthlessly removed.

At the Naval Academy  even moustaches were not permitted – and all trainees had to be “clean shaven”.


Dear Reader – before I proceed further with my story  let me digress  and tell you a bit about the navy tradition of sailors keeping beards.

After independence  we imbibed our military traditions from our erstwhile rulers – the British – and accordingly  our Navy adopted the customs and traditions of the Royal Navy.

Hence  even on the subject of moustaches and beards  the Indian Navy had adopted, verbatim, the regulations of the British Navy  which required that a naval officer or sailor had either to have both beard and moustache or neither.

This means that you had to have a “full-set beard” (a full beard and moustache).

The beard must be complete  joined from sideburns  covering the entire jaw-line and chin  and joining the moustache.

A Navy Officer or Sailor had to have a “full-set beard” or nothing.

A moustache on its own was not permitted.

You were required to obtain the approval of your Commanding Officer to “discontinue shaving” or to “continue shaving” – every time you wanted to change your appearance.

If you wanted to grow a beard  you had to put in a request to stop shaving – yes  you had to formally seek permission to “cease shaving”.

If your request was granted  you were allowed three weeks (21 days) to grow your beard.

During this time of 21 days  as the beard grew  the beard grower was not permitted to go ashore or to be seen in public until the Commanding Officer felt that the beard was fit for public viewing.

A Naval Officer or Sailor was required to have a rugged, “full set”, masculine looking, well-developed beard which gave you a macho appearance.

Wispy or wimpy looking beards were not allowed  and “designer stubble” was certainly not permitted.

If the Commanding Officer (Captain) approved of your beard  you were allowed to keep it.

But if your Commanding Officer deemed your beard unworthy of a seaman  you were ordered to “shave off” your beard.

Suppose you were allowed to have a beard  and you kept the beard for a few years  but later  if you wanted to shave off your beard  you had to seek permission to “start shaving”.

Beards were not permitted in the Army and Air Force – but you were allowed to keep moustaches.

Yes  if you are in the army or air force  you can either keep your face clean shaven  or you can keep a moustache (without a beard).

I am sure the Army and Air Force have regulations governing moustaches which specify the types of moustaches permitted, sizes, shapes, styles etc.

But I have seen that the Air Force has a fondness for handlebar moustaches  and so do some Artillery Officers.

Sadly – many officers now prefer the “metrosexual” clean shaven look – in the Navy – and in the Army and Air Force too.


Sometime in the 1970’s  due to pressures from youngsters and to be in sync with prevailing customs  the Indian Navy relaxed the provisions governing wearing of moustaches and beards.

The regulations were amended so that  now  the issue of permitting “moustaches without beards” was left to the Commanding Officer’s discretion.

After these amendments  the Captain could permit officers and sailors to wear moustaches and beards or shave them off, if they so desired. 

Moustaches and beard could be worn with or without the beard and moustaches respectively. 

Side whiskers were permitted down to the level of the lobe of the ear. 

Moustaches, beard and whiskers had to be neatly cut and trimmed. 

Of course – this privilege may be withdrawn in cases of untidy growth.

This relaxation has resulted in many navy youngsters sporting moustaches.

Of course  the seasoned sea-dogs preferred “full-set” beards.


After completing our basic naval training  we were sent for our specialization course.

As I told you earlier  consequent to the relaxation of “appearance” regulations  a few young officers had started sporting moustaches  and I too felt like having a moustache.

So  the moment we reported for the specialization course  I applied for permission to grow a moustache.

The Commanding Officer refused permission.

I protested to my training officer  but he showed me the regulations which stated that granting permission for moustache was the Commanding Officer’s prerogative.

“Sir  suppose I seek permission to grow a beard?” I asked.

“If you apply for permission to grow a beard  he will have to grant you permission  at least for three weeks,” the Training Officer said.

My request to “cease shaving” was promptly granted.

I stopped shaving  and my beard started to grow.

Around 15 days later  during Friday morning divisions (parade)  the Commanding Officer  who was inspecting the Under Trainee Officers Division, suddenly stopped before me.

The Commanding Officer looked at my face  as if scrutinizing it  and he said, “You look good in a beard. Your beard suits you. Keep it.”

This happened more than 37 years ago  and my beloved beard has already celebrated its 37th birthday a few months ago.

Quite funny  isn’t it?

I wanted to grow a moustache  but  thanks to quirks of the Navy  I landed up growing a beard instead.

But once I grew my beard  I started liking my beard  and soon my beard became so sacrosanct to me  that I never shaved it off.

I love my majestic beard.

My beard has been my loyal companion throughout my entire naval career  and now my beard is my faithful friend in my lonely retirement days

I am proud of my beard.

I am glad I have a beard.

In hindsight  I do not know whether joining the Navy was good for me  or whether I would have done better in the “civvy street”.

But one thing is sure.

I owe my beard to the Navy.

Had it not been for the Navy  I may not have kept a beard.

And as I write this  from time to time  I lovingly caress my lovely beard. 


In conclusion  let me give you 3 quotes on beards:

A woman with a beard looks like a man – and a man without a beard looks like a woman
~ Afghan saying

There are two kinds of people in this world that go around beardless – boys and women – and I am neither one
~ Greek saying

He that hath a beard is more than a youth  and he that hath no beard is less than a man
~ William Shakespeare

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 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)

Revised Version of my story posted online earlier in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog on 21 Sep 2014 at url: