Wednesday, October 1, 2014

NAVY FOUNDATION PUNE – The “Alumni Association” for Navy Veterans in Pune

The “Alumni Association” for Navy Veterans in Pune

If you are a Naval Officer, after retirement, it is best to settle down in Mumbai, which is the premier Navy Station, or in a coastal city like Visakhapatnam (Vizag), Kochi, Chennai, Kolkata, Goa etc where there is a naval presence, or even in Delhi/NCR where the mighty “Northern Naval Command” is located.

This is because if you settle down in a landlocked place like Pune after you retire from the Navy, you tend to “burn your bridges” with your erstwhile service.

The only redeeming grace is the Indian Navy Foundation – a purely social organization set up to facilitate fraternal relations between retired naval officers.

Luckily, the Navy Foundation has a “chapter” (aka “charter”) at Pune.

Membership is voluntary – and I am glad I became a member, because the quarterly Navy Foundation Pune Chapter (NFPC) meetings are the best occasions for meeting and renewing bonds with my former navy buddies.

Whenever I go for these NFPC get-togethers I feel something like a “Yossarian” of Catch-22 who is one of the most frequent visitors to the officers’ club that he had not help build.

I am sure you have read Catch-22.

Let me “jog” your memory about this hilarious yet insightful episode about Yossarian and the Officers Club in Pianosa.

In something akin to “Shramdan” (familiar to those who have served in our military), officers are encouraged to build their own clubs.

However, Yossarian, who is proud of his ability to avoid work, contributes nothing to help build the club – he does not go for even a single day to work on building the officers club.

But once the officers’ club is ready, Yossarian visits the club almost every day and makes maximum use of the facilities, which he had not helped build.

Let me quote a paragraph from Catch-22 which encapsulates this sentiment (emphasis mine):

“Actually there were many officers’ clubs that Yossarian had not helped build, but he was proudest of the one on Pianosa. It was a sturdy and complex monument to his powers of determination. Yossarian never went there to help until it was finished; then he went there often, so pleased was he with the large, fine, rambling shingled building. It was a truly splendid building, and Yossarian throbbed with a mighty sense of accomplishment each time he gazed at it and reflected that none of the work that had gone into it was his.”

For me, it is a similar equation with the NFPC – effort-wise, I contribute nothing, but I participate in all get-togethers most enthusiastically.

Last Sunday, on the 28th of September 2014, we had a memorable NFPC get-together in Lonavala – a wonderful day – like a picnic – a nostalgic walk down memory lane for many navy veterans who reminisced about their halcyon training days at this picturesque location.

The distinctive naval efficiency, superlative hospitality and caring courtesy shown to us during the visit demonstrated how much young naval officers and sailors genuinely care for its veterans.

When I was in service, I remember us hosting a get-together of Navy Foundation at IAT Pune at the Naval Jetty (Sailing Club), sometime in the 1990’s.

Now, the favourite venue for NFPC Meets is Atlantis

There is no Navy Wardroom (Officers Mess) or Navy Institute in Pune.

And, in the past, officer-bearers of NFPC have had harrowing experiences running from pillar to post trying to negotiate the red tape while dealing with the Army to get other Military Venues for NFPC Meets.

So, thanks to “jointmanship” demonstrated by the “pongos”, now, all Navy Foundation Meetings in Pune are held at ATLANTIS, which is much more convenient and flexible, with zero red tape, and better off in all respects, especially food-wise and ambience-wise.

The best thing about these Navy Veteran Meets is the egalitarian atmosphere, bereft of the rank consciousness one sees while in service, since after retirement, all veterans are civilians, equal in status, and now, instead of rank, it is age that is respected.

As I said earlier, after retirement, our only connection with the Navy is the Navy Foundation, and veterans look forward to NFPC meetings where you can bond, interact and network with your erstwhile navy buddies while regaling each other with delightful anecdotes of the “good old days”.

So now, we Navy Veterans of Pune look forward to the next Navy Foundation Pune Chapter Lunch Meet on Sunday the 7th of December 2014 at Atlantis.

If you are an Indian Navy Veteran, in or around Pune – be there.

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1. All stories in this blog are 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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