Monday, April 28, 2014




(Hilarious Memories of my Glorious Navy Days)

On the 18th of May 2014, we are planning to have a meet of veteran military officers, of the army, navy, and air force, who are members of a “military humour group called HUMOUR IN AND OUT OF UNIFORM.

This venue for this get-together is IAT Girinagar Pune (now renamed DIAT Deemed University/MILIT).

I had first visited this lovely place May 1982 along with my fiancée to personally deliver our wedding invitations to my Navy Friends who were doing a post graduate engineering course there.

In 1984 I came over for a week from Delhi to deliver lectures, and soon I was transferred as faculty in IAT Pune as faculty.

I later realized that these “guest lectures” were to assess my suitability as faculty, as I was quite young, and my consequent appointment bears testimony that I was found suitable, and I had repeated tenures as faculty at IAT Pune.

I spent the most memorable and rewarding years of my life in IAT Girinagar.

Even today, I miss Girinagar, the beautiful picturesque surroundings, the lovely people I made friends with, the huge Bhoot Bangla  in which I lived, the long walks we took in the hills, the boating and sailing in lake, the strolls on the chowpatty on Khadakwaska lake - I miss everything - as I fondly recall my days in Girinagar.

The city of Pune has changed rapidly – the salubrious pensioners’ paradise called Pune (Poona) we once knew, no longer exists.

In contrast, Girinagar has not changed at all, as if caught in a time warp – this place is exactly the same as it was 30 years ago.  

As a prelude to the humour meet, I think I will tell you about some of my hilarious memories of IAT and the unforgettable characters I met there.

So, Dear Reader, here is, once more, a delightful story:

Humour in Uniform

Please read this only if you have a sense of humour. This story is a yarn. It is a work of fiction. The characters and setting do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. 

SEEKING APPROVAL - A Yarn by Vikram Karve

“May I come in, Sir?”

“Come in,” I said, and I looked up.

It was the Canteen JCO.

“Sir, I have a problem,” he said.


“Sir, about the timings on Saturday,” he mumbled.

“Speak up, will you…” I said.

“Sir, on Saturdays the Canteen is open from 10:30 to 12:30.”

“I know,” I said.

“Sir, on Saturday, the bank has a half day and closes at 1 PM – they shut down at 1300 hrs, Sir.”


“It takes me more than half an hour to finish counting all the cash, tallying all the bills and reconciling the day’s accounts.”

(This happened in 1985 when everything was done manually)

“Okay. So what? Get to the point,” I said to the Canteen JCO.

“Sir, it gets past 1 o’clock by the time I reach the bank with the cash. The bank is closed so the cashier refuses to accept the cash and I am not able to deposit the cash. So I have to take all the cash home and keep it with me for the weekend till Monday and I feel it is very risky for me to keep so much money at home,” he said.

“So what do you want me to do? What’s the solution?”

“Sir, if we could change the Canteen Timings on Saturdays from 10:15 to 12:15…?”

“Why 10:15 to 12:15 – change it from 10:00 to 12:00 – that will give you enough time to count the cash and deposit it in the bank by 1300 hrs,” I said, “As it is, I have seen those bank buggers start downing shutters at 12:45 itself on Saturdays.”

“Thank you, Sir – I will put up a file for approval,” the Canteen JCO said.

“What bloody file for approval? Just paint the new timings on the board outside the canteen and implement the new timings from this Saturday onwards,” I shouted.

And so, the CSD Canteen timings were changed and the problem was resolved.

Two months later I was summoned to the Dean’s Office – the Dean wanted to see me urgently.

The Dean, a Major General, was seated on his Chair, and sitting opposite him was the OC Adm, a Colonel.

The Dean asked me sit down on the vacant chair.

“You changed the CSD Canteen timings?” the Dean asked.

“Yes, Sir,” I said.


I told him the reason – about the problem of depositing cash in the bank.

“Okay,” the Dean said.

“Sir, Sir,” blurted the OC Adm, “he changed the timings without proper authority.”

“What authority?” I said, looking at the OC Adm.

“Who gave you the authority to change the timings?” the OC Adm went on and on.

“The Dean gave me the authority,” I said.

“What?” the OC Adm asked, his mouth open in surprise.

“The Dean has delegated his authority to me when he appointed me as the Officer-in-Charge of the Canteen. So I have full authority for the day to day running of the canteen,” I said to the OC Adm.

“Sir, see how rudely he speaks – we should take disciplinary action against him,” the OC Adm said to the Dean.

“What disciplinary action?” I asked in amazement.

Then I looked at the Dean and I said, “Sir, the canteen timings have been changed more than two months ago and everything is running fine. And this clueless OC Adm did not notice all these days and has suddenly woken up now?”

“Clueless? He is calling me clueless? Sir, I am a senior full Colonel and he is calling me clueless!” the OC Adm protested excitedly.

“Enough!” the Dean raised his voice.

Then he looked at me and said, “This is not the bloody Navy where you can do what you like. Just put up a file to me through OC Adm for ex post facto approval of the new timings.”

(As I told you earlier this happened more than 28 years ago, in 1985, in IAT, a tri-service training institution where I had just been appointed as faculty and had been promptly given the “bum job” of running the CSD Canteen.
Though IAT was an inter-service establishment, it was run in typical army style – the Head was the Director and Dean, a Major General, referred to as “The Dean”, with OC Adm and GSO 1 (Training) as his two flunkeys who tried to throw their weight around and browbeat the teaching faculty who were busy performing the primary training task for which IAT existed)

In the evening, there was a party on the lawns of the officers’ mess.

I was drinking in a quiet corner when the Dean walked up to me.

“Good evening, Sir,” I said.

“Good evening – I see that you are doing a good job running the canteen. My wife tells me that you have introduced a lot of new items – and I know you have tightened up the screws on liquor pilferage as well,” he said.

“Thank you, Sir,” I said.

Then, emboldened by the “Dutch Courage” due to the alcohol flowing in my veins, I said to the Dean, “Sir, do you really want me to seek your approval for each and every thing – I think you should give me a free hand to run the CSD Canteen.”

“Oh that…!” the Dean said.

The General enjoyed his drinks and I could see that he was in good spirits too.

“Sir, your OC Adm bullshitted me this afternoon and told me I must take approval for everything,” I said.

“I know – he is quite a stickler. But you don’t worry – you just do what you want but don’t forget to send a file for approval through OC Adm – I know that he is just a bloody post office, but it will satisfy his ego,” the Dean said.

“Aye, Aye, Sir,” I said.

Then the Dean looked at me and said, “I will tell you something about this crazy OC Adm. But you must to keep it to yourself.”

“About OC Adm?” I exclaimed.

“Do you know how this bloody clueless OC Adm screws up my happiness even at night?

“At night?” I asked the General.

“He is a bloody full Colonel, but the bugger still disturbs my sleep and rings me up late at night to seek my approval?” the Dean said.

“He calls you up late at night – to seek approval?” I asked the General

“Yes – the bugger wants my approval to make love to his own wife,” the General said tongue-in-cheek and he walked away before I burst out laughing. 

Of course, I cannot tell you the actual raunchy and bawdy words the General used.

Yes, in true ribald army parlance, the General used a much more risque and explicit military style” expression for the euphemism: “make love”.

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

1. This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in this story 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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