Thursday, May 8, 2014

Humor in Uniform - WITH A PINCH OF SALT - Delightful Vignettes of Naval Life


Delightful Vignettes of Naval Life

I am feeling sad.

I am feeling sad because my pet dog Sherry has fallen ill, very ill, and I really don’t know what will happen.

Whenever I am upset, I try to divert my mind by getting busy.

I feel that one way of getting out of depression is to get busy and “lose yourself in action”.

You can get busy with work, or with some other activity, like a hobby, or sport, or pastime, or any suitable diversion – and now, I have decided to “crowd out” the anxiety from my mind by getting busy with reading and writing.

So, I delve into my bookcase, and pick out a book called “WITH A PINCH OF SALT” by Vinod K Sharma (Commodore VK Sharma, who prefers not to prefix his rank in the author’s byline).

The author served at sea for 45 years, under two ensigns, for 29 years from 1948 to 1977 as an officer in the Indian Navy, and then he had a distinguished second innings of 16 years in the Merchant Navy.

I am glad I have on my bookshelves this delightful “memoir” comprising vignettes which bring out the lighter side life in uniform.

As I read this book, after a long gap, I am filled with cheer, and I remember many happy episodes of my halcyon navy days too.

Vinod K Sharma, an “old sea-dog”, tells his life story through a series of hilarious anecdotes, amusing sketches of unforgettable personalities, and witty naval nostalgia, all of which brought colour to his life at sea.

In a nutshell, this book is classic “Humour in Uniform”.

Here is a sample – a hilarious “Humour in Uniform” story from the chapter “YE OLDE NAVY”:

A young officer, who was accused of disobeying the whole chain of command right up to the Captain, engaged a civilian lawyer to defend him (as his defence counsel in the court martial).

The civilian lawyer started by suggesting that the Captain himself lost his temper at the young officer thereby provoking him to act as such.

“I never lose my temper,” replied the Captain firmly.

The defence counsel continued cross-examination of the Captain, occasionally addressing him as Commander, a rank below that of Captain in the Navy.

The good Captain politely informed the lawyer that he was a Captain, not a Commander.

The lawyer promptly apologized.

But he continued addressing the Captain as Commander, now and again.

The Captain again informed the civilian lawyer that he was a Captain, not a Commander.

The lawyer again apologized.

But he again started addressing the Captain as a Commander, again and again.

The Captain, getting progressively angry, finally shouted, “How many times do I have to remind you that I am a Captain, not a Commander?”

The lawyer coolly retorted, “Now, now, you are losing your temper, dear Captain.”

The accused officer got away with a mild reprimand.

Bye, dear Reader, now let me cheer myself up by continuing to read about the comical incidents and inimitable characters in “With a Pinch of Salt” – it makes me feel good.

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