Friday, January 25, 2013


Delightful Memories of My Halcyon Navy Days - Part 11

A Naval Yarn

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

It was the welcome party of our new boss and I was in high spirits after imbibing a few glasses of my customary “Rum Paani”  (a large peg of Dark Rum with water).

Now this new boss was a strict teetotaller (which I did not know since I was not “tactful” enough to do my “homework” on my new incoming boss).

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

Then the  boss looked disapprovingly at my glass of rum and admonished me: “Rum? You are drinking Rum? Don’t you know that Rum is a crude drink and it is most unofficerlike to drink rum? If you can’t stop drinking you better drink something more decent.”

“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 one of those “down the hatch” hard-drinking types.

It was the height of summer, a very hot and sultry evening, and I was feeling dehydrated after a hard day’s work, so I decided to start off with a glass of orange juice.

The new 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. He looked at me, then he looked suspiciously at the glass of orange juice in my hand and said: “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,” echoed my “tactful” colleague.

I was shocked to see that my “tactful” colleague who earlier professed to being a strict teetotaller (when the erstwhile teetotaller boss was around) now had a glass of Rum in his hand, just like the new boss.

The boss took a gulp of Rum, and so did my “tactful” colleague, almost mimicking him.

The boss looked around at what everyone was drinking, and made mocking comments about beer, whisky, gin, vodka and cocktails, before concluding: “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.

The 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 he 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” 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 the boss just like he had always been the favourite blue-eyed boy of all his bosses, past and future.

Needless to say, “very right sir” rose to great heights in his career. 

And it was quite amusing to observe this yes-man trying to masquerade as a leader over those with genuine leadership qualities who were passed over for promotion and had to suffer the pain of supersession in the naval career.

Dear Reader: Look around you – in your organization, in society, in politics. 

Do you see genuine leaders? 

Or do you see yes-men masquerading as leaders?

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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