Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Humor in Uniform - HOW I WAS MADE AN “APRIL FOOL”


Delightful Memories of My Navy Life

01 April 1983.

It was 10 AM (1000 Hrs in Navy Parlance) and I busy with my research work in IIT Delhi.

It was the last (4th) semester of my 2 year M.Tech. Course and I was busy with my dissertation work.

My ex-shipmate entered the Tropo Lab.

He was also doing M. Tech. at IIT Delhi, but in a different specialization.

He said excitedly: “Hey, congratulations – your appointment has come – you will be going to IAT Pune after your M. Tech.”

I was very happy and much excited to hear this.

Pune is my hometown, and I had never expected a posting to Pune in my naval career, as I thought that, except for a few billets at NDA, there were hardly any billets for naval officers in Pune, especially for technical officers.

In fact, I was worried that they may transfer me back to INS Valsura Jamnagar (where I had spent less than one year (1980-81) on instructional duties before escaping from there as I was selected for my M. Tech. at IIT Delhi) and I had no desire of going back to that godforsaken place again.

“You don’t seem to be happy?” my friend said.

“I am very happy,” I said, “but how do you know about my appointment?”

“I had gone to INS India for some work. I saw your name in a NA List over there. I have just come from there and I came straight here to tell you the good news.”

“Has your appointment letter come too?”

“No – I saw only your name in the NA list. Why don’t you go down to NHQ and get your appointment letter?” he prompted.

As I said, I was really delighted to be transferred to Pune, my hometown, so I immediately drove down on my scooter to NHQ.

First, I went to INS India Supply Office and checked the NA List folder.

Yes, my name was there, at Serial No. 12 of the list of 20 names, and it said that I was appointed on instructional duties to IAT Pune July DTBR.

I wrote down the relevant details of the NA list, went to the Supply Officer and asked him if my appointment letter had come.

He called for the NA List folder, looked at the NA List, and said, “This NA list has just been issued. It will take some time for the letter to reach here. They take their own sweet time to dispatch the letters. Why don’t you go across to DOP and get your personal copy?”

Those days we were very scared to go anywhere near DOP because they were always on the prowl looking for “murgas” to transfer to “kala pani” and other such remote places.

But I was so excited that I drew up courage and walked into the office of the DDOP who looked after our appointments.

I was delighted to see an officer who I knew very well sitting in the chair of DDOP – he was a course-mate of my previous ship’s XO.

He used to visit our ship often and we had spent many evenings drinking together.

He too was happy to see me.

He told me that he had just taken over as DDOP a day earlier on 31 March.

He enquired about me, about my M. Tech. course, and then he asked me what I wanted.

I told him the story, gave him details of the NA List, and asked if I could have a copy of my appointment letter.

He called his deputy, handed him the chit with NA List details, and told him to give me a copy of my appointment letter.

The officer looked at the NA list, seemed confused, and said, “Sir, we haven’t yet issued any appointment letters for officers doing M. Tech. – anyway I will just check.”

After a few minutes he came back and said, “The NA list with this number has still not been issued.”

“What? How can that be?” the DDOP said.

Then the DDOP looked at me and said, “Are you sure you saw the NA list in the supply office?”

“Yes,” I said, “it is right on top in the NA list folder in the base supply office.”

The DDOP picked up the phone and dialed a number – he seemed to be speaking to the Base Supply Officer. He read out the number of the NA list – then waited for some time – then listened to the voice on the other side, and then he said to me, “Just go down to the Supply Office and get the NA list folder – I want to get to the bottom of this.”

As I was leaving, I could hear him speak on the phone, “I am sending the officer to you…”

The moment I reached the hutments where the supply office was located I found a big gang of my friends waiting outside for me with broad smiles on their faces – among them was the Captain of my previous ship (now a Commodore posted in NHQ) and it was he who had orchestrated the whole practical joke.

I knew I had been made an “April Fool”.

That afternoon I had to treat everyone to a PLD in the INS India wardroom – and the DDOP and Supply Officer (who were also parties to the prank) also joined in.


During the PLD I put on a mask of cheerfulness, but deep inside I was feeling terrible.

I think the Commodore (my ex ship’s CO) and the DDOP noticed this, so they asked me for my choice of transfer on completion of my M. Tech.

“IAT Pune,” I said tongue-in-cheek, “but if that is not possible then anywhere except Jamnagar.”

Three months later I was transferred to a billet in Delhi.

Two years later, in June 1985, one day, out of the blue, I saw an appointment letter placed on my table.

I had been appointed for instructional duties to IAT Pune July DTBR.

Was it as a recompense from the DDOP and my ex ship’s CO and all those who had played the “April Fool” joke on me?

All is well that ends well.


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 work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved. 

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the 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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