Friday, May 27, 2016

Humor in Uniform – Real Estate


Here is a story from my Humor in Uniform” Archives

First – Have a Laugh

Then  Think About it

Yes – Do Think About the Contrarian Wisdom in the Story

A Spoof


There was this happily married young Army Officer.

It was an ideal happy family – husband  wife  and – two children  a boy (7)  and  a girl (5).

This young army officer got posted to Pune.

Those were the days of the real estate boom with lots of attractive residential housing schemes sprouting all over Pune.

There was a lot of competition and builders were leaving no stone unturned to attract home buyers. 

The army officer and his wife saw one such “presentation” of a housing scheme arranged in their club in the evening.

This attractive ad blitz was specifically designed to entice gullible faujis to book apartments in a residential project being built “exclusively” for defence services officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Construction was on full swing – and  there were just a few vacant flats remaining  the marketing executives said  while exhorting everyone to book a flat immediately  lest they lose the golden opportunity 

(In fact  they had asked everyone to come with their cheque-books for the presentation-cum-exhibition).

“We must not miss this chance to have a house of our own,” the army wife said to her husband.

Everyone else also convinced the officer that it would be a wise decision to book a house.

“I am really not sure. Isn’t it too early in life to buy a house?” the officer asked.

“Early? What do you mean by ‘too early’ in life”? everyone asked the officer.

“I am only 33  and – it is more than 20 years till my retirement  and  I am going to be posted all over India. I may never be posted to Pune again. And  I am not even sure whether I want a house in Pune.”


“We don’t belong to Pune – both me and my wife are from up-north’ – we belong to the up-country. Our parents live in our hometowns  and  we have both got big ancestral homes over there...” the officer argued.

“Don’t be foolish. This is a chance in a lifetime. Just see the fast rate at which real estate prices are going up in Pune – this is the best investment opportunity. There are just a few vacant flats left. The way the property prices are shooting up in Pune  if you don’t book a flat now  you will never be able to afford a house in Pune with your meager army pay...” everyone said.

And all of them – his wife  the marketing executives  his fellow army officers – they all convinced the army officer to book a flat in the residential housing scheme.

The builder helped arrange everything – a housing loan, the paperwork – and – one year later the army officer and his family vacated their rather drab army quarters  and – they shifted into their own brand new house.

The army officer and his wife felt proud – they were only in their early 30s  and  they already owned their own flat in a modern city like Pune.

They were all delighted at staying in their very own house.

There was another advantage – vacating army accommodation would enable the army officer to claim HRA – which would offset the high EMI towards the Housing Loan.

The house was located in a posh locality in a modern cosmopolitan part of Pune.

The children were put in the best school which was nearby – this elite school just walking distance from their home.

Both the children were very happy to study in this classy school  as compared to the rather humdrum Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) in which they had studied in earlier.

The army officer’s wife was a qualified interior designer.

She had worked as an interior designer before her marriage to the army officer.

She could not pursue a career in interior design – since her husband had been posted to remote locations where there was no scope for a career in her vocation.

Like they say  there are only two things a peripatetic army wife can do – you can be a homemaker or you can become a teacher.

She did not want to become a teacher  so she became a homemaker. She tried her best to be good army wife and give a fillip to her husband’s career by participating in AWWA activities  hobnobbing with “senior ladies” and actively taking part in social functions. 

That is why the army officer’s wife was especially delighted  because now  she would now get an opportunity to use her interior design skills in her own house.

She decorated and beautified the interiors of the house very tastefully with great passion.

They had a housewarming party.

The army officer’s boss was mighty impressed by the elegant décor.

When he learnt that the house had been decorated the army officer’s wife  and  that she was an interior designer  he desired that she do the interiors of the officers’ mess.

The army officer readily agreed as this would help boost his ACR.

Of course  all this interior design work in the officers’ mess was gratis  and  she wouldn’t be paid for her efforts.

Egged on by her husband  the army officer’s wife agreed to do this for free  and  she started off her work.

But – she quit in disgust after a haughty “senior wife” who was clueless about interior design started interfering to the point of ruining her work.

However  since they lived in a civilian area  their neighbours and other visitors saw and appreciated their well-designed apartment.

One day  a parent of her son’s classmate came over to pick up her son.

She was an architect.

When the she saw their tastefully decorated apartment and learned that the wife was an interior designer  the architect offered the army officer’s interior designer wife an assignment.

The army officer’s interior designer wife took up the assignment – and – she did it so well that everyone was impressed.

Soon  word of her talent spread – and  the army officer’s wife started getting interior design assignments.

Soon  the army officer’s interior designer wife was doing quite well – and – she was making a name for herself in Pune as an accomplished interior designer.

It was sheer bliss – husband doing well in the army  wife flourishing in her career as an interior designer  and  both their children studying in an excellent school.

When you are happy  time flies very fast.

They were so happy  and  time flew so fast  that they did not even realize that two years had passed  till suddenly  one day  the posting order of the officer arrived.

The army officer had been posted to a remote place.

He tried his best to get the posting order cancelled  but there was no chance – he had spent 3 years in Pune and he had to go to the new remote station.

Resigned to the fact that he would have to move  he asked his wife to start packing the luggage.

“You go alone. We are staying here in Pune...” his wife said firmly.

The army officer was shocked to hear this.

“What do you mean? How can you are stay here? You have to come with me...” the army officer said to his wife.

“See. You try to understand. We are all very well settled here in Pune. The children are doing so well in school – and – my career is also taking off too...” the army officer’s wife said to her husband.

“There will be a school there …”

“School? Which school? In that godforsaken place there will be only a KV. Do you want to shift our kids from this excellent school to a KV...?”

“But KV’s are quite good.”

“Maybe some KVs are good out here in Pune  or  in big places like Delhi and Mumbai  but I am not quite sure about the KV in that remote place where you have been posted. In any case  I am not going to shift the children now – they have settled down so well in their school – and  this school is so good. It will be traumatic for them if you shift them down to an ordinary KV after they have got used to this top-notch elite school...” the wife said.

The Army Officer looked at his Wife in silence. 

She also remained silent. 

For a minute there was silence.

Then the army officer’s wife said firmly to her husband: “What about me? My career has taken off so well. I have so many ongoing assignments. How can I abandon everything? And  what will I do in that desolate place? I will have to sit at home doing nothing and mope all day. Or – I will have to waste my time attending those boring AWWA meetings. If I give up my career in interior design now  I will become useless for the rest of my life. There is no way I am giving up all this and coming to that horrible place with you.”

“So – you want me to go alone...?” the army officer asked his wife.

“I don’t know. You do something. Pull strings. Get your posting cancelled. But we have to stay in Pune – for my sake  and – for our children’s sake.”

“You know I too want to stay in Pune with you. I tried so hard to get my posting cancelled  but there was no luck.”

“Why don’t you quit the army? I am sure you’ll get a good job here in Pune.”

“You know I cannot quit the army now. They won’t even accept my papers. My promotion board is years away. You know how difficult it is to leave the army  don’t you? They say that there is a shortage of officers in the army. They don’t even let superseded officers quit easily.”

“Okay  I will ask you one question  just for the sake of argument...” the wife said.

“Go ahead – ask me...” the Army Officer said to his wife.

“Suppose  hypothetically  we all come with you to wherever you are going. It is such a small place that we will surely get married accommodation over there. You won’t get any HRA. I won’t be working. So how are you going to pay the home loan EMI...?”

“We will give this house on rent...” the husband said.

On hearing this  the wife stood up.

Her rising anger was visible on her face.

She was furious as she shouted: “Rent...? You want to give my lovely house on rent...? How can you even think of giving my beautiful home on rent? I have decorated it so lovingly. Just look at the interiors – have you seen a home more exquisite than ours? People liked my superb interior design so much that they gave me assignments and my career took off. Look at each and every little detail – I have put my heart into it and designed it with so much care.  And  you want to give our marvelous apartment on rent? Tenants are not bothered. They will ruin everything. This house will never be worth living in again if you give it on rent. Now listen to me. It is final – I love my home  and  I am staying right here.”

“So you don’t want to leave your comfort zone?”

“You can think whatever you like  but my decision is final. You can go wherever the army sends you  but we are staying right here in our own home in Pune. The children are so well settled in the best school in town and I am not going to disturb them. I told you before – just imagine the trauma they will suffer shifting from this elite cosmopolitan school to some vague KV at some remote upcountry place in the back of beyond? And what happens when you get posted to another remote place after two years? Shift them again? And again  and again  every two years  as you keep getting transferred all over the place? I can’t let their schooling suffer. And I want to do my interior design career. I am used to working now  so I can’t sit at home and waste my time and do nothing.”

They  the army officer and his wife  argued and argued the whole night  but the wife refused to relocate.

So  the Army Officer left for his place of posting all alone  leaving his family behind in Pune.

He became a “married bachelor”.

For the Army Officer  it was terrible.

Once you have tasted and savoured the fruits of family life  it is difficult and painful to live alone.

But – as days passed  he got used to living alone.

For company  he had other “married bachelors”.

In the Army  you will find many such “married bachelors”.

Yes  nowadays  you will find many such “grass widower” type forced married bachelors living in officers’ messes – sometimes the number of married bachelors is larger than the unmarried bachelors.

If you go the Bar of an Army Officers’ Mess or Club  you can see these married bachelors drowning the sorrows in drink  thinking that alcohol will dissolve the pain which comes from loneliness – their connubial conjugal loneliness.

The lonely army officer too missed his wife and children and yearned for the joys of family life  and he too thought that alcohol was the panacea for his misery.

So  like all other “married bachelors”  he too started hitting the bar every evening to drown his sorrows in the company of his fellow “comrades in loneliness”.

Years passed.

The army officer moved on a number of postings.

Though he tried his best  he could not manage a posting to Pune  which was a highly sought after station  so he had to make do with sporadic visits  once or twice in a year  whenever he got leave.

The more he stayed away from his family  the army officer was gradually transformed into an archetypical “chronic married bachelor”.

That was okay.

What was not okay was that due to his daily heavy drinking to drown his sorrows  the army officer had developed what they call “alcohol dependence syndrome”.

His boss could have filled up a form and put him in the psychiatric ward of Military Hospital for psychiatric treatment of his alcohol addiction.

But that would have put an end to the army officer’s future career prospects  as he would have got branded as a “psycho” case for the rest of his army life.

The boss was a kindly man – and he did not want to ruin the career of the promising army officer.

So  the boss gave the army officer one month’s leave – and he told him to get his life on track  and – the boss told the army officer to take the first flight home. 

The boss thought that some time with his wife and family would get the officer back to normal and wean him off alcohol. 

He caught the flight in a hurry so he could not make a trunk-call to his wife (Of course, Mobile Cell-Phones did not exist at the time of this story)

It was almost midnight when the army officer pressed the doorbell of his home in Pune.

Those days  Pune was not directly connected  so the army officer  who was posted to the north-east  travelled to Mumbai by a series of connecting flights  and then  took a cab from Mumbai airport to his home in Pune.

The army officer kept pressing the bell for a long time.

Finally  the door opened.

His wife stood in front of him.

She was wearing a flimsy nightie.

The army officer looked past his wife  over her shoulder.

There was a man standing behind his wife.

It looked like he had hurriedly put on his shirt – the buttons seemed to be in the wrong holes.

He was not wearing shoes  not even socks  and his hair was all haywire.

Even a blind man would have understood that his wife and the man were upto some hanky-panky – and the army officer was certainly not blind.

For a moment  the army officer stood in a daze.

Then – the army officer abruptly turned around  and – he went down the staircase.

He found that the taxi was still standing outside.

He got into the taxi – and – he told the driver to take him to the nearest Army Officers’ Mess.

He managed a temporary room for the night.

Once inside  the army officer took out a bottle of rum from his bag  and  he proceeded to drink himself into stupor.

At 6 AM in the morning  the room bearer came with morning tea  and  the bearer found the army officer lying unconscious, dead drunk, the empty rum bottle lying by his side.

The ambulance was summoned  and  they took the dead-drunk unconscious Army Officer to the Military Hospital.

To cut a long story short  Three things happened to the Army Officer:

1. He was thrown out the Army 

(the euphemistic expression used was “invalidated out of service on medical grounds”)

2. His wife threw him out of his house 

(the euphemism used here was “mutually agreed settlement as a prelude to amicable divorce by mutual consent”)

3. His wife’s “paramour” – an architect  who was her colleague during daytime  and  her lover at night – he  his wife’s “paramour” – he permanently moved into the army officer’s house  and worse  right into his bed 

(euphemistically they called it “beginning a new life of caring and sharing”)

Think about it – all this tragedy happened to the poor “fauji” army officer only because he bought a house too early in life.


Do you know where I heard this story...?

This story was narrated to me by the haggard looking man drinking rum at the club bar.

He said that it was his life story.

Let me tell you how I met the old man.

I had gone to the club to attend an event sponsored by a famous builder to launch a “prestigious” and “exclusive” residential housing scheme.

Well  they were offering a “special discount” to Defence Officers.

It was a well publicized event  and  in fact  many retired officers were heavily marketing the residential housing scheme on behalf of the builder.

After attending the event  I went to the bar to have a drink.

There  I saw an elderly man drinking alone  and  he asked me to join him.

“So  you booked a flat...?” he asked me.

“Yes,” I said.


“Yes, Sir – but I have just been posted to Pune. In fact  I reported only yesterday. So  I have come alone. My wife and kids will join me in a few days  the moment I get some sort of married accommodation.”

“Oh  so you have kids too?”

“Yes, Sir – I have a boy who is 7  and  a girl who is 5 years old.”

“Really? What a coincidence? Those were the exact ages of my children when I booked a house in Pune.”

“You booked a house? In Pune?”

The man looked at me  and  he said: “It happened many years ago. Come – get another drink – let me tell you my story.”

And so  he told me his life story – which I have narrated to you above. 

He was the Army Officer who had bought a house too early in life.

We drank, till closing time of the bar.

The barman asked for our last order.

The man ordered 3 Large Pegs of Rum.

I gestured to the barman not to give him any more drinks and said softly, “He is drunk.”

“He is drunk every night,” the barman said.

Then the barman poured three large pegs of rum and put them in front of the man.

The man quickly drank the three pegs of rum in quick succession  one after another – neat – down the hatch.

Then his eyes became glazed  and  sweat broke out on his face  and  he started swinging on the bar stool.

I quickly caught hold of the drunk man  and  with the help of a waiter – I laid the drunk man on a sofa.

“Sir – you go home now. Don’t worry about him. We will take him to his room...” the barman said to me.

“He lives here...?” I asked.

“He was thrown out of an old age home for drunk and disorderly behaviour. He is a course-mate of the General – so  the General Sahab has kept him here for a few days till they make arrangements for him to be admitted to some institution – maybe – they will send him to some mental asylum.”

“What...?” I said in surprise.

“He must have been a good officer – the General pays for all his drinks, his food, his bills, everything. It’s sad – I have seen so many good officers become alcoholics and ruin their lives...” the wizened old barman said.

This encounter with the “fauji” Army Officer who had bought a house too early in life shook the living daylights out of me.

Next morning  I did two things.

First  I rang up the builder’s office and cancelled my booking of the 3 BHK flat in their exclusive residential project.

Second  I rang up my bank and told them to stop payment of the cheque I had given to the builder as advance booking amount.

After hearing the man’s story I am convinced that it can be disastrous to buy a house too early in life.

I am going to patiently wait for the right time to come.

जब जब जो जो होना है तब तब सो सो होता है 

Jab Jab Jo Jo Hona Hai Tab Tab So So Hota Hai

(Things will happen as and when the time comes


I have read a Chinese saying:

It is a misfortune to read a good book too early in life  

On similar lines 
 I have coined an axiom:

It may be counterproductive to buy a house too early in life 

This was exemplified in the story I told you about the Army Officer who bought a house too early in life – isn’t it...?

Like I told you earlier – there is a saying in Hindi:

जब जब जो जो होना है तब तब सो सो होता है 

Jab Jab Jo Jo Hona Hai Tab Tab So So Hota Hai

(Things will happen as and when the time comes

As a corollary 
 you may say that everything has a right time  and  you must wait for the right time to do that particular thing.

You must not do things prematurely 
 too early in life  before their right time has come.

Just like buying a house too early in life turned out to be detrimental for the army officer in the story – this can apply to other things too. 

So – in real estate – or – in other things too – like marriage – never be in a hurry – and – wait till the time is ripe.

Sounds like contrarian wisdom  doesn’t it...?

Do you agree...? 

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1. This blog post is a spoof, satire, 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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