Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Humor in Uniform - HOME HOPPING


A yarn from my Humour in Uniform Archives, once more, for you to read, have a laugh and then ruminate on...


Whenever I sit back and reflect over the timeline of my life and ask myself which were the best days of my life, there is only one answer – My Navy Days. 

I will never forget those glorious Navy days – the best period in my life.

My early days in the Navy, in the 1970s and 1980s, were indeed the happiest days of my life - no doubt about it. 

The Navy was an exciting place to be in.

Life was good and there was never a dull moment. 

Something was always happening, and I came across a variety of unique personalities – yes, exciting situations and inimitable characters.

Young officers were expected to “Jack of all Trades and Master of One”. 

Unlike most of our civilian counterparts we were not put into a professional straitjacket but encouraged to develop multifarious skills and “Officer Like Qualities” (OLQ) which resulted in a well-rounded personality. 

Hence, during my career in the Navy I had to do a lot of “bum jobs” like Mess Secretary, Wine Secretary, Food Catering and Snack Bar Manager, Officer in Charge Poultry and Piggery, Officer in Charge of Dairy and Grow More Food Farms, Officer-in-Charge CSD Canteen, Sports Manager, Finance, Audit and Accounts (Accountant), Librarian, Event Manager and Organizer of all sorts of events ranging from Parties and Balls to Melas and Fleet Family Days. 

These jobs were in addition to our professional work and we were expected to excel in both our professional and extra-curricular duties.

In the Navy, you have to do everything they tell you to do.

And by the way, you have to do it for free - you do not get paid for all the “bum jobs” you do.

On one such occasion a naval officer who often accompanied me on my morning walks was the Quartering Officer whose task was to allot houses and deal with all housing matters.

One morning he told me the story of a fellow naval officer “R”, and since I knew “R” quite well, he asked me to speak to “R”.

But before I tell you the story, let me give you a bit of background of the navy accommodation scene those days.  

There was a rule that a you could ask for a change of house after you had lived in a particular house for six months. 

In the Navy, there is a perpetual shortage of married accommodation, especially in big stations like Mumbai. 

Owing to the acute shortage of accommodation, it took more than one year to be allotted your proper entitled accommodation.

A tenure in a station was about three years.

So most officers just stayed on in whatever house was allotted to them for the remaining two years till they were transferred out. 

Only if there were very serious problems did someone ask for a change of house since relocating was quite a laborious and painful task.

Changing your house as like going on transfer and involved a lot of hassles like shifting your bag and baggage, disconnection and connection of electricity, cooking gas, informing one and all of the change of address, change of school bus for the kids and getting the house done up etc. 

So everyone preferred to stay on in whichever house they were given till they were transferred out.

My fellow naval officer “R” was different. 

He meticulously applied for a change of accommodation the moment he had spent the minimum mandatory period of six months in a house.

Actually he was so lucky to have been allotted a lovely sea facing flat on Marine Drive.

But the moment six months were over he applied for a change of accommodation.

“Why?” I asked him, “You have the best place. It is near your office, your kids’ school bus picks them up from your doorstep, it is so well connected, and look at the fantastic location – the best in Mumbai…”

“My wife doesn’t like the house. She says there is too much noise from the traffic. She wants a change,” he said.

He was allotted a house in Malabar Hill – an independent bungalow. 

Everyone said he was so lucky to get a huge mansion in a prime locality.

After six months he again asked for a change of accommodation.

“Why?” I asked him, “Last time you changed because of the traffic noise. I am sure the bungalow must be quiet and peaceful.”

“That’s the problem. My wife is fed up of the silence and she complains that she feels too lonely. There are no neighbours, no friends.”

Then they allotted him a house in a multi-storey apartment block in the main navy residential township (NOFRA) where there would be plenty of neighbours and friends and all the facilities.

Six months later, he again applied for a change of house. 

He told me that his wife said the place was too crowded and there was no privacy.

This went on and on, as his wife was never satisfied with any house. 

She always found some fault or the other with whichever house was allotted to him.

When he applied for a change for the sixth time, I could not contain myself any longer, so I bluntly told him:

“Listen to me. Don’t bother changing your house every time. Instead of changing your house, just change your wife. With a good wife any house will be good and with a nitpicking wife like yours, even the best house will be hell…”

“R” was furious when he heard my suggestion. 

He never talked to me after that. 

But someone told me that he did heed my advice and now he never asks for a change of accommodation.

Think about it, dear reader. 

Harmony is the sine qua non for a happy and content life. 

It is inner peace that matters. 

If you want to enjoy music, even the best and most expensive music system is useless if your mind is disturbed. 

But if you are at peace with yourself you can enjoy music even on a simple radio - like I enjoy those melodious oldie-goldies on Vividh Bharati on my simple cell-phone radio.

If you feel unhappy, frustrated or if you are not able to enjoy the feast of life to its fullest, you must introspect and get down to the root cause instead of short term peripheral quick-fix solutions. 

The anecdote I related about the house may have been in a lighter vein, but it is profound in meaning:

If you don’t like your “home” just change your “wife” 


In the story above, it was the wife who was the impediment in making the house a happy home.

This story can be interpreted in the metaphorical sense.

And the metaphor of “wife” can be something else which makes your home unhappy.

Now that you know the secret of how to make your home a Happy Home.

Any House can be a Happy Home

In case your house is not a happy home, all you have to do is find out the reason or the root cause.

Then just eliminate or mitigate the root cause and make your house a happy home.

And, on a broader level, I have told you the sine qua non of how to enjoy the feast of life too.

Once you are in a state of inner peace you will be in harmony with yourself and even the smallest pleasures will make you happy. 

On the contrary, if you are in a disturbed state of mind then even the greatest pleasures will not give you joy.

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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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