Friday, July 22, 2016

Do You Need a “Wife Swap”

Humor in Uniform 

Do You Need a “Wife Swap”...?


There is a saying in the Navy: 

If you want to remain happy in the Navy – never get married

The other alternative is – like Sailors did in earlier days  You can have a “Wife” in every port. 

But – nowadays – most Naval Officers and Sailors get married in the conventional sense.

In the Navy – as long as you are a bachelor – your lodging and boarding is well looked after by the Navy – both afloat and ashore.

When you get married – the biggest problem you face  is to get married accommodation to live with your wife.

Things may have changed now – but – during my time in the Navy – the various types of married accommodation were as follows:

Type A – Eligible Accommodation

This is what they tell you about in those glitzy recruitment advertisements – but – to get your eligible house – you have to wait for a long time – and – sometimes – your transfer comes before your turn for your proper eligible married accommodation.

In my entire 34 years career as a Naval Officer – I was allotted my eligible accommodation immediately on arrival at a new station only once – in IAT Pune (1985) – where – I literally “walked into” my entitled married accommodation on reporting for duty. 

Generally – there is a perpetual shortage of married accommodation – and you have to wait for your eligible house – from durations ranging from a few months to a few years – depending on the place.

Till then – you have to make do with one of the following types of “below your entitlement” alternative accommodation.

Type B – Hired Accommodation 

(In Mumbai – we lived in hired accommodation in civilian areas during both our tenures)

Type C – Temporary Accommodation 

(We lived for a few months in Type C Dilapidated Barracks called “Death Row” in Vizag)

Transit Accommodation – In Annexes of Officers Messes for very short durations (a few days to a maximum of one month) – The rental rates are quite high and unaffordable.

Improvised Accommodation – Shared Accommodation / Moving into house of friends on leave etc

Rented Accommodation / Wife’s Accommodation (if you are lucky to have a working career woman wife who gets accommodation from her employer)

Self Accommodation with HRA (if you are rich guy who owns a house)  

Now that I have told you about the accommodation scene during my early days in the Navy – let me tell you the story...

Hilarious “Memoir” from my Delightful Navy Days

A Spoof

Part 1 : BUM JOBS – “Jack of all Trades and Master of One”

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 we were encouraged to develop multifarious skills and “Officer Like Qualities” (OLQ) which resulted in a well-rounded personality. 

Hence  during the early years of 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.


Once I had a friend – a fellow naval officer  who often accompanied me on my morning walks.

He was doing the “bum job” of Quartering Officer” – and his 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 Married 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. 

Sometimes it took even more time – and you had to wait for almost 2 years before you got your authorised married accommodation.

A tenure in a station was about three years.

So most officers just continued to stay on in whatever house was allotted to them for the remaining one or 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 is like going on a transfer.

Relocation involves a lot of hassles like shifting your bag and baggage  disconnection and connection of electricity, cooking gas, telephone etc  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.

However – 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.

Yes – “R” wanted to swap his house every 6 months.

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

But the moment 6 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 does not 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 navy social 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.

Part 3 – WIFE SWAP

When he applied for a change of house for the sixth time  I could not contain myself any longer.

S I bluntly told him:

“Listen to me. Don’t bother changing your house every time. Instead of changing your house  just change your wife

Change my wife...? What nonsense are you talking...?” he asked.

“You swap your house every 6 months – instead of doing that – you just swap your wife once – and you will never feel like swapping your house again – because – with a good wife  any house will be a good house  and with a nitpicking wife like yours  even the best house will be like hell…”

“R” was furious when he heard my suggestion. 

He never talked to me after that. 

But  someone told me that “R” did heed my advice – at least partly.

No – “R” did not change is wife.

But – after this episode  “R”never asked for a change of house.


Dear Reader – think about it. 

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 and frustrated  or if you are unable to enjoy the feast of life to its fullest – then you must introspect  and get down to the root cause  instead of trying out 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” 

Yes – if repeated home swaps do not give you the desired results – maybe you need a wife swap

Hey – I mean this is a metaphorical sense – so don’t  take my advice literally... LOL ... !!! :)


In the apocryphal story I told you  it was the wife who was the impediment in making the house a happy home.

In the Navy – for married officers and families – we had A Type (entitled accommodation) – B Type (hired accommodation)  and C Type (dilapidated barrack type temporary hutments).

In Vizag – there was a terrible ramshackle block of C Type barrack accommodation appropriately nicknamed Death Row – and only those who survived there (including yours truly) know the harrowing time they had in the hot summers with temperatures around 45 degrees and the continuous nauseous stink from the sewage drains nearby.

Despite this – there were many happy homes out there in these horrendous C Type barracks called “Death Row.

Conversely – there were many “unhappy homes in the comfortable “A Type houses in the elite Naval Park. 

A good spouse – and  marital harmony – can make even a dilapidated house a “happy home”.

On the contrary – marital discord can make even a luxurious palace seem miserable. 


This story can be interpreted in the metaphorical sense.

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

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

With good positive vibes – 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 of what is causing those negative vibes.

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. 

The story I related about “R” (the house-hopper) may have been in a lighter vein  but it is profound in meaning – and – the “moral of the story” can be applied to other situations as well.

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

Yes – if repeated home swaps do not give you the desired results – maybe you need a wife swap

If you insist on being “politically correct” from the “gender equality” angle – you may say “spouse swap” instead of wife swap” 

So – let me reword the dictum”: 

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

Hey – I mean this in a metaphorical sense – so don’t  take my advice literally... LOL ... !!!

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

1. This story 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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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Revised version my my article written by me in the year 2010 and posted online be me Vikram Karve earlier in this Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve Blog earlier in Oct 2011 and Dec  2012  at urls:  and  and reposted later at urls:  and  and  etc

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