Thursday, May 12, 2016

Humor in Uniform – A Tale from My Vizag Days – Jolly Good Fellow

Humor in Uniform

A Tale from My Vizag Days

Jolly Good Fellow
A Spoof

If you are in the Navy  you will surely spend some years in Vizag (Visakhapatnam).

My wife always says that our delightful Vizag Days in the 1980’s were our best days in the Navy (though my favourite Navy Days are my Mumbai Navy Days in the 1970s when I was a happy carefree bachelor and 20 years later when we spent the best 6 years of our lives in Mumbai)

Whenever I hark back to those glorious Vizag Days in the 1980’s – I reminisce about those lovely Rum Evenings in Vizag and remember this hilarious story of The Jolly Good Fellow.

So  let me delve into my Humor in Uniform Archives  and pull out this story from my unforgettable Vizag days for you to read and have a laugh.


Around 28 years ago  in the latter part of the 1980’s  during my Vizag tenure  I lived in 17 Naval Park.

It was a well located lovely old-style house  on the ground floor  with a small lawn in front and kitchen garden at the rear.

We were mix of occupants in the 6 houses of the 3 storey building, and in the similar block of 6 houses opposite – 12 of us with varying ranks ranging from Lieutenant Commander to Commodore and from diverse ships and shore establishments (we called the common area between the two blocks “Nukkad” and would have frequent impromptu “pot luck” get-togethers there).

Those days there was “load shedding” (planned electricity power cuts) every evening from 7 to 9 (1900 – 2100 hrs in Naval Parlance).

I believe in the saying: “If life gives you a lemon – make lemonade”.

So  I turned this terrible “load shedding” into an “opportunity”.

The sun sets early on the eastern seaboard  so I would be back home from my evening jog/walk/swim at 1830 (6:30 PM).

Then – I would put out a table and chairs on the lawn.

And – on the table – I would place a bottle of Hercules Rum, 2 jugs of cold water, 6 stainless steel glasses, a packet of cigarettes, and “small eats”.

I would pour a drink of rum-paani (Rum+Water) – and I would eagerly wait for the electricity to go off for the scheduled 2 hours “load shedding”.

And – precisely at 7 PM – the moment the lights went out  I would start drinking.

At 9 PM (2100 hrs)  when the lights came on  I would stop drinking  and move in to watch TV  and have dinner.

I was never alone – anyone and everyone was cordially invited to share my booze – and many joined in for a drink – my friends from the “Nukkad”  or even passersby  walking around to pass time during the load shedding. 

That was the reason for the 6 stainless steel glasses – which were safer in the darkness of the night  especially for us “drunkards” groping about in the dark.

Though otherwise I am a “thrift and frugality” type  my friends will vouch for my generosity with booze – liquor was always flowing freely in my house  and all were welcome to join in.

My “next door neighbor” was an officer posted on a survey ship.

The officer had gone on a long sailing  and his parents had come over for “nanny duties” to look after the officer’s small children  since the officer’s wife worked as a manager in a bank in Vizag City  and she had long working hours.

The officer had two small children who were looked after full-time by the grandmother (officer’s mother).

Her husband  – and the old man (grandfather) felt lonely without his wife in his native place  and so the old man (officer’s father) too had come over to Vizag to be with his wife (officer’s mother).

One evening  I noticed the old man looking at me intently  as I made arrangements for the evening’s drinking session.

I observed the yearning in his eyes as he looked at the bottle of Rum  so I called him over: “Sir  why don’t you join me for a drink?”

The old man readily accepted my invitation and joined me for a drink.

Then – he accepted an offer of a cigarette too – and soon we were drinking and smoking and talking.

Within minutes  two officers from the “Nukkad” had joined us – and one of them had even brought a huge bowl of “Chicken 65” as “small eats” to go along with the drinks.

After some time  stimulated by the alcohol in his system  the old man started talking uninhibitedly – and he told us: “I used to be a forest officer – I love my drinks and food – and look how my children turned out to be – I put both my sons in the defence services – and both turned out to be non-drinkers and non-smokers – it is a bloody disgrace – and this younger son in the navy – he is so bloody henpecked – he does not even keep booze in his house  and his wife has banned non-veg too – the other day I got a bottle of beer  and some mutton  and my daughter-in-law made a big hungama – I am really enjoying drinking with you all – and this chicken is delicious – I am having non-veg after a long time…”

“Sir – you don’t worry – you are always welcome to join us in the evenings,” I said to the old man.

We drank  we smoked  we nibbled the small eats  and we talked.

The old man was a natural raconteur  and he regaled us with yarns of his forest officer days – his adventures in the jungles  and the shikar and barbeque parties they had.

When you are enjoying yourself  time passes quickly  and suddenly  the lights came on – it was 9 pm.

I poured the last round of drinks  to kill the bottle.

I noticed that the old man was in high spirits.

“Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum...” the old man sang merrily, “that’s what you Navy boys say  isnt it?” 

The old man swayed happily as he walked home unsteadily.

It felt good to see the old man in such high spirits  and I felt pleased  at doing my bit to make the old man happy.

On the next day too  the old man joined us promptly at 7 in the evening  for our drinking session.

There was a bigger crowd – there were 5 of us from the “Nukkad”  and two ex-shipmates who were visiting Vizag  and the old man.

Someone had brought assorted snacks as small eats.

The old man was in full form  and we were enjoying his tall stories.

The old man told us about the bungalow he had built back home  and invited all of us to visit him there  and he promised us plenty of booze and delicious barbeque of various meats.

“Hey  let’s have tomorrow evening’s session on my ship,” the officer who was commanding a ship said, “I will tell the cook to prepare some good chicken and mutton dishes – and some fish and prawns for small eats...

“Sir  I hope you like fish…” the officer asked the old man.

“Of course, I love fish – I like anything non-veg – chicken, mutton, fish, anything…” the old man said.

That evening  we had a truly wonderful evening on the ship.

As I watched the old man swaying happily on his way home  I realized that he was in even higher spirits than the previous evenings.

As he entered his house  the old man was singing on top of his voice: Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum...Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum...

Next day  when I came home in the afternoon for my lunch break  my wife said: “Why do you do these things...? Mrs “X” was here this morning on her way to work. She is very angry with you.”

You guessed right – Mrs “X” was my next door neighbour’s wife – the snooty bank manager – the old man’s daughter-in-law.

Mrs “X” is angry with me? Why...?” I asked.

Mrs “X” told me that you were spoiling her father-in-law,” my wife said.

“I am spoiling her father-in-law...? What nonsense...? The old man is double my age. How the hell can I spoil him...?” I said.

My wife looked at me  and she said: “Mrs “X” was very rude to me...

“What did she say?” I asked.

She said that you were already a big drunkard  you were already a kabaabi and sharaabi – and now you were converting her father-in-law into a drunkard. Well  Mrs “X” has asked me to tell you not to call her father-in-law for drinks in the evenings…”

“See – I am going to open the bar at 7 in the evening on our lawn as usual – and if the old man comes  I am going to offer him a drink...” I said.

The old man arrived promptly at 7 PM.

He was carrying a bag.

From the bag  he took out a bottle of Rum.

“Today  the party is on me...” he said cheerfully, Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum...

After a glorious drinking session  at midnight  we were in the highest of spirits as we escorted the old man home singing: “He is a Jolly Good Fellow... 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This 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. 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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