Thursday, February 4, 2016

Humor in Uniform : Key to Career Success – “Very Right Sir”



A few days ago – a young man asked me: “What is the key to success in the Defence Services...?” 

In my earlier days – I would have given the young man my customary inspirational sermon – a motivational “Moral Lecture” extolling erstwhile Officer Like Qualities like sincerity, dedication to duty, hard-work, professionalism, adherence to the Chetwode Credo etc.

Instead – I told him this story – the story of “Very Right Sir”

Have a Laugh...

Delightful Memories of My Glorious Navy Days
A Spoof

The Story of “VERY RIGHT SIR” – a Spoof by Vikram Karve

I once had a colleague in the navy who was nick-named “very right sir”.

It was the welcome party of our new boss.

I was in high spirits after imbibing a few glasses of my customary “Rum Paani”  (a large peg of Dark Hercules Rum with water).


Now this new boss was a strict teetotaller.

I did not know that he was a non-drinker  since I was not “tactful” enough to do my “homework” on my new incoming boss.

Our new boss  holding a glass of orange juice in his hand  said to me: “You seem to be a heavy drinker. Don’t you know that alcohol is bad for your health...?”

“Very Right, Sir. Very Right, Sir...” said my “tactful” colleague called very right sir

He too was holding a similar looking glass of orange juice drink in his hand.

Then our boss looked disapprovingly at my glass of rum and he admonished me: “Rum? You are drinking Rum? Don’t you know that Rum is a crude drink? Rum is meant for sailors  not for officers. It is most unofficerlike to drink rum. If you can’t stop drinking  at least you better start drinking something more decent and officerlike.”

“Very Right, Sir. Very Right, Sir...” parroted my colleague. 

One year later this “Teetotaller Boss was transferred out  and now  we were having the welcome party for the new boss.


Now this new boss was a “Boozer” – one of those quintessential “down the hatch” hard-drinking navy types. 

It was the height of summer  a very hot and sultry evening.

I was feeling dehydrated after a hard day’s work  so I decided to start off with a glass of orange juice.

Our new “Boozer Boss” walked over to us.

As usual  my “tactful” colleague “very right sir” was fawning around the new boss  not leaving his side even for a moment.

The new boss was carrying a glass of Rum in his hand. 

Our new “Boozer Boss” looked at me  then he looked suspiciously at the glass of orange juice in my hand  and he said to me: “What are you drinking?”

“Orange Juice, Sir,” I said.

“Juice? Orange Juice? That’s a bloody ladies’ drink,” he bellowed.

“Very Right, Sir. Very Right, Sir. Orange Juice is a Ladies Drink...” echoed my “tactful” colleague who we called “VERY RIGHT SIR”.

I thought that my “tactful” colleague “very right sir” was a teetotaller – so I was shocked to see him with a glass of Rum in his hand.

Earlier – when our erstwhile “Teetotaller Boss was around – my “tactful” colleague “very right sir” professed to being a strict teetotaller. 

But now – in the presence of our new “Boozer Boss” –  my “tactful” colleague “very right sir” had a glass of Rum in his hand  just like the new boss.

Yes  my “tactful” colleague “very right sir” had a glass of Rum Paani in his hand.

The boss took a gulp of Rum.

And  so did my “tactful” colleague  almost mimicking him.

Our new “Boozer Boss” looked around at what everyone was drinking  and made mocking comments about beer, whisky, gin, vodka and cocktails – and then he said to us: “You all must drink Rum. Rum is a man’s drink  a true sailor’s drink.”

“Very Right, Sir. Very Right, Sir...” said my “tactful” colleague “very right sir”.

Our “Boozer Boss” downed his glass of rum in one big gulp “down the hatch”.

And  so did my “tactful” colleague “very right sir” – who too downed his glass of rum in one go – down-the-hatch.

After observing for a few days  we discovered that our “tactful” colleague even used to “mirror” the movements and actions of the boss. 

By his “matching and mirroring” technique  my “tactful” colleague “very right sir” used to almost imitate the boss  albeit in a subtle way  and the boss seemed to like it. 

Later  we realized that he was adept at “matching and mirroring” and imitative behavior  and all his bosses seemed to like it. 

After all  imitation is the best form of flattery.

This “chameleon” was the darling of this boss  just like he had always been the favourite blue-eyed boy of all his bosses  past and future.

Needless to say  my friend called “VERY RIGHT SIR” rose to great heights in his career. 

And  it was quite amusing to observe this bootlicker called “VERY RIGHT SIR” trying to masquerade as a leader over officers with genuine leadership qualities.

Yes – sycophants like “VERY RIGHT SIR” lorded over professionally excellent and morally upright officers who were passed over for promotion and had to suffer the pain of supersession in the naval careers – and with great humiliation – these professionally competent officers had to serve under such bootlickers who had leapfrogged ahead due to their sycophancy. 


I was under the impression that with changing times  as society became more modern and progressive  the undesirable culture of sycophancy would decrease  especially in the uniformed Defence Services.

I thought that the Armed Forces would shed their antiquated colonial feudal culture  and Defence Services would adopt a modern outlook and progressive culture to be in sync with changing times.

I was wrong.

Strange  but true – we thought sycophancy would decrease  but sadly – sycophancy has actually increased in the Armed Forces  especially among senior officers.

You just have to look at the body language of these sycophant officers in front of their seniors – and in the presence of politicians or high civilian dignitaries  and you will understand what I mean.

There is a perception that Senior Officers of the Defence Services have become totally subservient to Politicians and Civil Services and have forgotten the Chetowode Credo.

Whenever I see such “successful toady obsequious sycophants (called bootlickers and other worse epithets in the military) – I remember the story of my Bootlicker friend called “Very Right Sir”. 

Copyright © Vikram Karve
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

1. This story is a spoof, satire, 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.

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Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
This is a Revised Version of My Story Earlier Posted Online by me Vikram Karve in my various blogs and also in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog - posted by me a times, including at urls:  and  and and etc  

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