Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Memoirs of a “Babu” in Uniform – The Story of Scientist “Z”


– a 
“Babu” issued a letter regarding inter-se 
 between Civilian and Military Officers posted to Service Headquarters in New Delhi. 

– many Senior Officers 
– serving and veteran 
– went hyper on 
the Social Media complaining that Defence Officers had been 
“downgraded” vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts. 

I get amused when I see excessively Rank-Conscious Senior Military Officers and Veterans who are obsessed with things like 
“warrant of precedence
“inter-se seniority

Of course 
– junior offficers and soldiers/sailors/airmen are least bothered about such inconsequential things which are mainly Delhi-Centric. 

As a young officer 
I didn
’t care two hoots about things like 
“warrant of precedence
“status protocol
” etc 
– my only aim was to have a good time and enjoy my job in the navy 
– and 
– in my mind 
– I thought I was nothing less than an Admiral. 

– the recent brouhaha over the 
” letter reminded me of this story...

Story of the SCIENTIST “Z”
A Fictional Spoof

After slogging for 5 years in the Navy  afloat and ashore  I was “selected” to undergo the 
year M. Tech. course at IIT Delhi. 

On completion of my post graduation (M.Tech.)  I was posted to the military “babudom” in Delhi – what we in the Navy jokingly referred to as the landlocked “Northern Naval Command”. 

Though ostensibly it was an Research and Development (R&D) billet in consonance with my recently acquired M.Tech. qualification  in actual fact 
 I was a pen-pusher  a “Babu” in Uniform.

I clearly remember the first day I reported to my new job after completing my M. Tech. at IIT Delhi 
my first day as a “Babu in Uniform” to push R&D files.

I reached my office dot on time  at exactly 9 AM.

The moment I entered my office  I saw a man sitting inside.

I noticed that he had picked up the phone and he was dialing a number.

From the way he was dressed  I thought he was a peon or conservancy staff.

Maybe – he was trying to misuse my official phone for his personal calls.

Despite my being in uniform  he seemed to be ignoring me  and 
 he continued his phone call.

I got angry.

I roughly took the receiver from his hand  and 
 I put the receiver back on the telephone instrument.

Then  I told him in Hindi to get out of my office.

The man stood up  and 
he said to me in English: “You talk to me properly. I am a Scientist “F”…”

Scientist “F”...? The impertinent bugger was only a Scientist “F”...! He must be equivalent to a bloody Leading Seaman  or at most 
 a Petty Officer. Yet 
 he was talking so arrogantly...” I thought in my mind. 

I decided to bullshit the hell out of him 
– navy style.

So – I gestured rudely with my fingers  and – I told him in English to get out of my office.

But  the man would not budge.

In fact  he again sat down on the chair.

I lost my temper.

I raised my voice  and 
 using typical profane navy language  I told the guy in no uncertain terms 
to “bugger off...”.

(It may not be apt to tell you the exact swear-words, expletives, four-letter words  and  navy style profanities that I shouted at him)

The man was shocked and taken aback by my shouting and abusive language  and  thoroughly shaken up – he quickly disappeared from my office.

A few minutes later – a smartly dressed civilian entered my office.

He was my direct boss  the joint director  who I had met only fleetingly when my predecessor had introduced me to him in the director’s office during my “incoming” interview with the director.

“Good morning, Sir,” I wished him.

“Good morning,” he said.

“Sir  please sit down,” I said.

The joint director pulled a chair, he sat down and he said to me: “Everything okay...?”

“Yes, Sir ...” I answered.

“There is a thoroughly terrified and shaken up person sitting in my office. He has almost had a nervous breakdown. He says that you abused him in filthy language – and  you bullshitted the hell out of him. What happened...?” the joint director asked.

I told the joint director the full story – and – I added: “Just imagine, Sir – what an impertinent bastard – he is just a bloody piddly Scientist “F” – and  he was behaving as if he was a Scientist “A” or Scientist “B”…! So  I let him have it  nice and proper  and  I threw him out of my office.”

The civilian joint director burst out laughing  and  he said to me: “Tell me – what do you think I am...?”

I looked at him  quite clueless.

The civilian joint director looked at me 
 he said to me: “I am also a Scientist – you tell me what grade you think I am...? Tell me – what do you think is my grade...?

I looked at him  and  I thought to myself: “Surely he could not be a Scientist “A” – if so  he would have been the director  or maybe  even higher. At most  he could be a Scientist “B” – or more likely  a Scientist“C”…”

It was better to err on the safer side  so I said to him: “Sir  you must be Scientist “B”  or – you must be a very senior Scientist “C” …”

“I am a Scientist “E” …” he said.

“You are an “E”…! Really Sir...? How can you be a Scientist “E” ” I exclaimed in surprise.

“In R&D everything is topsy-turvy. In academics  grade A may be higher than grade B which is higher than grade C and so on  but here  everything is ulta-pulta (topsy turvy) – in reverse order – so Scientist “F” is higher than Scientist“E” – do you understand...?” he said.

“Oh, shit...” I said.

“The guy you bullshitted is a Senior Scientist “F” – he is equivalent in rank to your Navy Captain or Commodore...” the civilian joint director said to me.

“Sir  I am sorry. Should I apologize to him...?” I said.

“Relax,” the joint director said, “on second thoughts  I feel that you did the right thing. Sitting here in Delhi  I think that this is the best way to deal with those buggers from outstation Labs who come here and disturb us. Now that you have earned a reputation as a bullshitter  let your terrible reputation spread  and no one will bother you here...”

I sat in silence  feeling relieved.

The joint director got up to leave  and  as he walked to the door  he turned around  and he said to me: “And by the way  there is no rank as Scientist “A” – in R&D – the alphabet starts with “B” – so Scientist “B” is the junior-most rank. Why is it so...? Why there is no rank of Scientist “A”...? Well – I don’t know – so please don’t ask me...!”


At first I thought that Scientists were dumb in having a reverse order of alphabet hierarchy.

But later  I realized that the “Boffins” were much smarter than everyone else – particularly the straightforward gullible “Faujis” who were outwitted by the Scientists on most occasions.

During those days the senior-most rank was Scientist “F”.

Soon  they created a Scientist “G”

Later they had a Scientist “H” 

And – they can endlessly go on and on creating more and more higher ranks – Scientist “I”  Scientist “J” – Scientist “K”…“L”…“M”…“N”…“O”...“P”...

They can go all the way down the alphabet  till they create a Scientist “Z” – who may outrank everyone in the military hierarchy and civilian bureaucracy.

You never know  but the way their ranks are proliferating  these canny “Boffins” may one day even claim that Scientist “Z” outranks the President.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This story is a fictional 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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