Monday, June 29, 2015



A Rum Tale
Delightful Memories of my Halcyon Navy Days
A Spoof

TEETOTALLER ALCOHOLIC  a Rum Tale by Vikram Karve

Long back  around 38 years ago  sometime in the late 1970 we were young officers just introduced to the pleasures of alcohol during our specialisation course.

We youngsters thoroughly enjoyed our newly found freedom by topping up to the hilt  in the bar every evening.

Though it was supposed to be a Technical Training Establishment  the atmosphere was more OG than Gunnery School.

And to make matters worse  we were located in a desolate place in the back of beyond.

Apart from playing sports  the only recreation for us bachelors was drinking alcohol. 

Also  in order to sleep soundly in the bedbug infested cabins  one had to imbibe a reasonable amount of alcohol every evening.

So  every evening we would assemble in the wardroom bar  and top-up till the last sitting for dinner was announced.

In order to curb our excesses  the PMC set a daily limit of 3 large pegs of Rum for each individual officer. 

Well  during those days  we drank only large pegs – and 3 large pegs total about 180 ml of hard liquor – less than a quarter of a bottle of rum  which has almost 13 large pegs.

Now  for tough young naval officers like us in their early 20’s  only 3 large pegs of rum were just too little  especially for an ardent drinker like me.

So I devised a simple strategy. 

I caught hold of my course-mate “X” who was a strict teetotaller 

Of course – like most teetotallers in uniform  my friend “X” was quite a money-minded businessman in uniform too.

I made him a proposition: “If you let me have your rum quota  I will pay your entire wine bill  including whatever soft drinks and snacks you have.”

“You will pay my entire bar bill?” “X” asked me, quite unbelieving.

“Yes,” I said to “X”“ See – your daily 3 peg rum quota is going waste since you are a teetotaller. If you give me your daily rum quota – I will pay your entire bar bill every month.

“X” readily agreed.

In fact  I am sure that in his heart he jumped with joy. 

So  we instructed the bar steward accordingly. 

Every evening  the steward would put my first 3 large pegs of rum in X’s bar book.

Whatever subsequent pegs I drank beyond the first 3 pegs  would be entered in my bar book. 

Yes  those days – in Navy Wardrooms – we had bar books which we had to sign at the end of the evening  or by next morning.

So every evening as I sat down to drink  my first 3 large pegs of rum would be written in X’s bar book.

In case I drank a fourth or fifth or sixth peg of rum  the steward would write them in my own bar book.

I seldom drank more than 6 large pegs  except on rare occasions like parties  but on such occasions of unrestricted drinking  booze was on the house  and was not subject to any quota.

So  thanks to  every evening  I would enjoy a generous amount of booze – which raised my spirits – so my morale was high and I was quite happy.

“X” was delighted with this arrangement. 

“X” sat down with us in the evenings  downing soft drink after soft drink  eating plenty of small eats – knowing that I was paying for all his soft drinks and eats too – and calculating the cost in his mind – estimating how much money he was saving – since I was paying his entire bar bill

I am sure that in his mind he was wondering what a sucker I was.

A couple of months passed happily.

One morning  the PMC suddenly entered the training hall  and he thundered, “Who the bloody hell is “X”...?” 

The PMC shouted X’s name  and he looked around the hall.

“X” meekly stood up.

The PMC strode up to “X” – and he brandished X’s bar book menacingly  and the PMC shouted at “X”: “Do you want to become a bloody alcoholic? You have been religiously drinking 3 large pegs of rum every day for the last two months. I am stopping your booze. No more drinking. You better sober up.”

And then, as suddenly as he had come  the PMC stormed out of the hall  rendering a hapless “X” dumbstruck and speechless.

Poor “X” – his reputation as a “drinker” spread pretty fast. 

At parties  when “X” had his usual glass of cola in his hand  the PMC would suspect that X’s soft drink was was spiked with rum. 

So “X” started drinking lime juice  but even then  the PMC was sure it was spiked with Gin or Vodka. 

The PMC kept telling the Training Officer that he suspected that “X” was still drinking heavily.

Accordingly  the Training Officer kept warning “X” to stop drinking.

Meanwhile  I had found other sources to replenish my “thirst” for alcohol  like picking up a few rum bottles from married officers.

The biggest joke was that the PMC thought that “X” was taking rum bottles from married officers  and “X” was warned once more by the Training Officer to abstain from drinking.

Soon his reputation as an alcoholic was growing.

“X” feared that his appraisal report (OLQ Marks) would be ruined with a remark about his alcohol dependence – and he would be branded as an alcoholic throughout his naval career.

So  one day  “X” told the Training Officer the whole story. 

The Training Officer told the PMC all about it.

And soon  I found myself being marched up to the PMC.

The PMC had two bar books in his hand – X’s Bar Book and My Bar Book. 

He was turning page after page.

“Is it true?” the PMC asked me, “You seem to drinking 4 to 5 large pegs of Rum every evening. Sometimes even 6 pegs of Rum.”

“Yes, Sir,” I meekly said  trembling inside  expecting to be logged  or be severely admonished by the PMC who was also the XO. 

I surely anticipated that my booze was going to be stopped  so I was thinking in my mind what new arrangements I needed to make to obtain my supply of rum  maybe my friends in the Army or Air Force may help me out.

The PMC held up the bar book of “X” and he asked me: “And what about this officer  your friend “X”  is he telling the truth that he is a teetotaller  or is he also a bloody alcoholic like you?” 

“Sir  he is an alcoholic teetotaller,” I blurted out.

“What? Alcoholic teetotaller? Bloody Hell! This is the first time I am hearing this crazy oxymoron,” the PMC looked at me curiously.

“Sir  I meant that “X” is an teetotaller alcoholic,” I mumbled sheepishly.

Suddenly – the PMC burst out laughing and said, “Come over to my house for a drink this evening. You seem to be an interesting chap.”

Maybe  I reminded him of his youthful days.

I did - that is what he told me after a few drinks - and I could see that the PMC really enjoyed his liquor.

In the evening  as we imbibed peg after peg of the best rum  the PMC  an old sea-dog  was overcome by the Auld Lang Syne Complex – so he harked back to his halcyon navy days  and he excitedly told me about his glorious drinking escapades.

Cheers  That calls for a drink...! 

I hope my good friend the “alcoholic teetotaller” aka “teetotaller alcoholic” is reads this – and has a good laugh.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This yarn is a spoof, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories 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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