Friday, October 4, 2013



Memoirs of my “extra-curricular” Navy Life

A Naval Officer is supposed to be a “Jack of all Trades but Master on One”

So, in addition to your professional “tradecraft” (your primary duty in which you are supposed to be a “Master”), in the Navy, you are given a lot of “bum jobs” (euphemistically called “secondary duties”) which you are supposed to perform to the best of your ability.

One of the “bum jobs” I enjoyed was organizing parties.

I was asked to this quite often, even when I was not the mess secretary, and this indicated that I was good at organizing parties.

There are many “tips” for organizing good parties – food, drinks, snacks, décor, games, music, dancing, prizes, gifts, various arrangements for service etc – and I am sure you know most of them.

But I will give you just one “tip” which you probably do not know.

Well, I used this “technique” with great success in official parties, but I am sure you can use it in various types of cocktail parties as well.


This “mantra” is breathtaking in its simplicity:


I used to instruct the stewards to pour generous “Patiala Pegs” (three fingers of whisky or rum filling almost half the Whisky Tumbler).

All glasses were to be topped up with water or soda (a 50% whisky/soda or rum/paani combination).

Whisky and Soda were served separately only to the “VIP” but even he was given a stiff “three finger peg” and the moment he picked up his glass, the soda was quickly taken out of sight.

The stewards were given strict instructions to make alcohol easily available in plenty but keep water and soda scarce.

Now, like in all “fauji” parties all officers would crowd around the “VIP” or senior officers vying for their attention.

The moment an officer sipped his drink, he would find it quite stiff – a bit too strong for his palate.

I made sure that water or soda was not available – the stewards would keep circulating with filled glasses of whisky/rum but they were under strict instructions not to serve water/soda.

Now the officers had to choose from one of the two options:

1. Either they could leave the coveted inner circle by excusing themselves from the “VIP” and walk all the way to the bar to get soda or water. (Most “careerist” officers would hesitate to do this)

2. Or they could continue to be in close company with the “VIP” and keep sipping their drink. After some time their palate would get used to the strong drink. (Most would fall in this category)

Even for the “VIP” – he would be “encouraged” to sip his stiff drink rather than making soda available easily.

(One of the aims of a party is to get the “VIP” quite drunk, or at least “high”, as having the “VIP” in high spirits augurs well for the ship or unit - the pinnacle of success is achieved if the “VIP” can hardly stand and has to helped out at the end the party)

Alcohol would flow freely but water would be scarce.

Snacks and “small eats” would be kept out of sight till everyone had had enough to drink.

Within an hour, spirits would be high, and the party would be swinging.

Within two hours, most officers would have imbibed enough alcohol to achieve an abundant state of inebriation.

At the end of the party, three hours later, there would be atmosphere of drunken revelry and bonhomie.

Next morning, nursing their hangovers, everyone would “remember” what an enjoyable party it was and I would be flooded with appreciation.

NB: Those days, in the Navy, officers drank as per the colour of the sky, so at evening cocktail parties whisky and rum was served and “pansy cocktails” and “ladies drinks” were kept out of these all-male hard drinking affairs.

However, this “mantra” let alcohol flow freely but keep water scarce ) works well for all cocktail parties. Try it – and let us know if it worked for you.

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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