Thursday, September 26, 2013



If you are a lover of Hindi Film music, I am sure you have heard the immortal song Sajan Re Jhooth Mat Bolo from the classic movie Teesri Kasam (Raj Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman) sung by Mukesh and composed by Shankar Jaikishan. The song’s meaningful lyrics were written by Shailendra.

Whenever I think of my life in the Navy, I realize that three lines from this song encapsulate my long career as a Naval Officer.

In fact, these three lines sum up in a nutshell the three phases of the military life of almost any naval officer, or for that matter any officer of the army or air force.

Here are those three lines from the song Sajan Re Jhooth Mat Bolo:

1. Ladakpan Khel Mein Khoya  


2. Jawaani Neend Bhar Soya


3. Budhaapa Dekhkar Roya


These 3 lines aptly describe the 3 phases of my Life as a Naval Officer:


(Ladakpan Khel Mein Khoya –-- I Spent My Childhood Playing)


(Jawaani Neend Bhar Soya –-- My Youth Was Spent Sleeping)


(Budhaapa Dekhkar Roya –-- I Cried Seeing Old Age)

I suggest you hear the song while reading this blog post – just click the link below and the video of the song will open in another window for you to click and hear:

(But do remember to come back to this window and continue to read this story where I will tell you about the 3 phases of my navy life)


(Ladakpan Khel Mein Khoya  –--  I Spent My Childhood Playing)

After you are commissioned as an officer in the Navy (or maybe Army or Air Force) the first few years will be the best years of your life.

You will be much better off than your civilian counterparts (who have to worry about “establishing their careers” in their new jobs).

In contrast, a young navy bachelor officer can lead a carefree life.

You do not have to worry about “boarding and lodging” – wherever you are appointed (or posted), afloat or ashore, you will be provided decent accommodation and wholesome food in well-appointed wardrooms and officers messes.

You can adopt the work hard, play hard, drink hard, party hard, enjoy hard philosophy of living and there are the best of sports, recreation, social and entertainment facilities available for you to avail of.

Nothing can beat a navy bachelor’s life – you can enjoy the feast of life to the fullest.

I can confidently say that those glorious years were indeed the best years of my life.

There is a saying that “Naval Officers should not marry”.

Indeed, if you do not marry you can remain in this happy “Phase 1” throughout your life in the navy and enjoy life to the fullest (maybe it is true for the army and air force as well!)

The moment you get married, you transcend to Phase 2


(Jawaani Neend Bhar Soya  –--  My Youth Was Spent Sleeping)

The main problem for a young married officer is the perpetual shortage of married accommodation.

This entails forced separations, living in ramshackle barracks and temporary quarters (euphemistically called “B” Type and “C” Type Accommodation).

Only once in my entire Naval Career did I get my “authorized” “A” Type Married Accommodation immediately on arrival in a new station.

Waiting periods range from a few months to a few years, depending on the place.

All these sundry hassles combined with marital bliss and the joys of domesticity shifts your focus (you are no longer “married to the navy”) and you enter a state of contented complacency.

You spend these middle-age years of family life (the “youth” of your navy career) with smug satisfaction.

This phase lasts from the time you get married (about 25 years) through your 30’s till your early 40’s.

Phase 2 is a reasonably happy and contented phase for your life.


(Budhaapa Dekhkar Roya –-- I Cried Seeing Old Age)

You will be in your 40’s, maybe about 45 years of age.

If you are among the lucky few, you will be promoted – but it is most likely that you will be passed over for promotion – heartlessly superseded and thrown by the wayside.

It feels terrible when you are denied your promotion which you are convinced that you fully deserve.

You feel betrayed.

You were loyal to your bosses, and the service, and suddenly you realize that they have not reciprocated your loyalty in return. 

You feel that your bosses, and the navy, have exploited you and then cast you aside.

Apart from the humiliation of being passed over for promotion in a highly rank-conscious organization, you will be filled with a sense of desperation as you mull over your options.

Should you continue plodding in the navy for the sake of your family, especially for your children who may still be studying in school?

Or should you plunge into a second career, which may dislocate the lifestyle of your family, especially your children?

If you decide to stay on in the navy, which sometimes is a wise decision especially if you do not have the temperament and street-smartness required in the “Civvy Street”, then your time will pass pretty fast.

One day, suddenly, the navy will say good bye and you will retire when you are still in your early 50s.

You will be filled with anxiety when you realize that you have not yet completed your familial responsibilities. 

Your children may still be studying and they may not have fully settled down.

You will see that your civilian counterparts are much better off than you – they will retire at 60 by which time their children would be well settled in life and thanks to their 6 years more service they will get a higher pension too.

When you retire, comprehension will dawn on you that all that jingoistic eulogizing glorifying the defence services that you witnessed while in service was all sham and in reality the common civilian is so pre-occupied with earning his living and so busy with his own affairs that he or society does not really care for the defence services or for ex-servicemen like you.

In the civilian world, only one thing matters – Money with a capital “M” – and unfortunately, if you have been an honest naval officer, you don’t have much of it.

You realize that all that rhetoric about ex-servicemen’s welfare and camaraderie is a big myth, and you are left all alone to fend for yourself in the unfamiliar civilian world.

When I see the plight of ex-servicemen I sometimes feel that the services expect you to be loyal unto death, without necessarily offering loyalty in return.


I feel that the three worst things about a Career in Defence Services (Army Navy Air Force) are:

1. Poor Promotion Prospects which results in early supersession and frustration at a young age (Assured Career Supersession)

2. Early Retirement Age which results in wastage of productive capacity, insecurity and reduced pension benefits

3. Frequent Transfers which adversely affect family life and destabilize education of children

But all this happens in Phase 3 of your military career – Budhaapa Dekhkar Roya

The plus points of life in the navy are the first two phases – Ladakpan Khel Mein Khoya and Jawaani Neend Bhar Soya

Now that I have told you, in a nutshell, about life in the navy, or broadly speaking about a military life, if you are one of those youngsters who want to sign up, please go ahead, but do so with your eyes open, and you will not be disappointed. 

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

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. 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 2013 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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