Saturday, July 23, 2016

Humor in Uniform – The Worst Food in the Fleet

HUMOR IN UNIFORM 

THE WORST FOOD IN THE FLEET
Hilarious Memories of my Delightful Navy Life
A Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE

One thing I found good about the Navy was that the food served in Wardrooms was excellent – both afloat and ashore. 

(Wardroom is Navy Parlance for Officers Mess)

But there were some exceptions.

Like this frontline warship  on which I was serving many years ago.

This ship was reputed to have the worst food in the fleet – perhaps the worst food in the entire Navy.

That is what everyone else said.

But I found the food to be quite okay.

In fact – at times – I found the food to be quite tasty.

There was a “suggestion book” in the wardroom in which everyone gave vent to their anger by writing all sorts of disparaging complaints about the food.

I was the only officer who wrote positive comments about the food – lavishly praising a dish whenever I liked one – and generously praising and complimenting the cooks and stewards for their efforts.

My favourable comments about the food had many ramifications.

The wardroom stewards would pay particular attention to me and give me special service – including choicest helpings of both non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes (which the cook would send up for me from the pantry) – and they would also make sure I got plenty of dessert  since they knew I had a sweet tooth.

After I had finished my meal  the Chief Steward would place the “suggestion book” in front of me – and he would look on eagerly  as I profusely recorded my generous appreciation with lavish praise for the food and service in the most prolix and flowery language.

The “suggestion book” would then be rushed to the PMC  the next senior officer to the Captain  who on this ship  at that point of time – happened to be the Supply Officer (now called Logistics Officer).

After around 3 months  there was the customary Wardroom Mess Meeting.

Each and every officer bitterly complained about the standard of food.

“This ship has the worst food in the fleet...” said all the officers, most vociferously. 

“Yes  if they institute a trophy for “THE WORST FOOD IN THE FLEET” – our ship is sure to win the trophy hands down...” someone said.

The Captain looked at the PMC.

In response  the PMC thrust the “suggestion book” in front of the Captain – and the PMC pointed to my glowing comments which he had highlighted.

With a wry smile on his face  the Captain started going through my appreciative comments of fulsome praise for the food – and he seemed to be enjoying reading all my comments – page by page.

After some time  the Captain looked at me  and he looked at all the officers.

Then  the Captain said: “Well  at least one officer feels that the food in our ship’s wardroom isn’t all that bad. In fact – he has lavish praise for the food served in our wardroom.

The Captain pointed towards me and said: “Look at him – he loves the food in this wardroom – see how prosperous, happy and healthy he looks – I’d rather believe him  rather than all you thin skinny emaciated guys – yes – if he says the food is good – then it must be good.”

(I was probably the “healthiest” officer on board – nice and chubby – just short of the “10% above the ideal weight” upper limit required to maintain my S1A1 medical category).

Then  the Captain looked at everyone  and he said: “So all you cynical and pessimistic guys better stop complaining and learn from him how to enjoy good food.”

The Captain and PMC then gave “sermons” to the assembled officers to stop complaining and give constructive suggestions instead.

With that – the wardroom mess meeting ended – to be followed by the customary PLD.

My wardroom shipmates were furious with me.

“How can you say that this horrible food is good...?” they all said to me in unison.

“I really like the wardroom food...” I said honestly.

“There seems to be something wrong with you – how can anyone actually like this terrible food...?” all the officers said in disgust.

A few days later – when we were in harbour – I invited my Captain and all my wardroom shipmates to my home for dinner.

After “relishing” the inimitable “delicious” food lovingly prepared by my “Better Half” at my home – no officer ever asked me again why I liked the food in the ship’s wardroom. 


EPILOGUE 

Once – when I was posted to IAT Pune – my Boss – a Commodore – jokingly asked me: “When are you inviting us for Dinner...? You haven’t hosted your ACR Dinner” so far...

All Officers had already held their ACR Dinners” and invited the boss and officers with families. 

The ACR Dinner” was a customary dinner in the ACR Season where your wife could impress the Boss and his wife with her culinary skills and earn you “Brownie Points”.

Of course – I am sure you know that ACR means Annual Confidential Report – the “Be-All and End-All” Performance Appraisal that can either boost or doom your military career. 

“So – when are you calling us for your ACR Dinner”...?” the Commodore asked me.

“Sir – it is safest for me not to give an ACR Dinner”...” I said. 

“Why is that...?” the Commodore asked, curious. 

“Sir  if I do not give an ACR Dinner” – there is a still a chance that you may give me a good ACR – but – once you taste my wife’s cooking – you are sure to “screw” my ACR – and you may even give me an adverse report...” I said, matter-of-factly. 

The Commodore burst out laughing. 

We called him and all officers with wives for a dinner well after my ACR was rendered – and – I cooked the main dish – my signature Chicken Do Piaza – which was highly appreciated – as also the dessert I had prepared. 

My “Better Half” played safe and made her typical Dal-Rice which could not go wrong.

Before we got married – my “Better Half” did tell me that she did not know how to cook. 

But – I did not realise how honest she was being. 

After more than 34 years of married life – it won’t be proper for me to say that my wife is a bad cook.

S– I will be polite – and  I will say that  as far as my wife’s culinary skills are concerned – there is considerable scope for improvement.

The Navy taught me that – instead of criticising someone/something – it is better to say: “there is scope for improvement”. 

You must always “motivate” – never demoralise.

Dear Reader: I hope you like my Humor in Uniform memoirs which I post on my blog from time to time. Do let me know. 

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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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 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.

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Revised re-post of my story posted earlier in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/02/humor-in-uniform-foodie-story.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/01/why-i-like-navy-food.html
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