Thursday, December 22, 2016

Humor in Uniform – A Practical Joke

Humor in Uniform

A Practical Joke 

I am reposting this story on the request of one of my “gullible” friends...

Unforgettable Memories of My Delightful Navy Life 
A Spoof

April Fool’s Day (also known as All Fools Day) is celebrated annually on the First Day of April. 

It is a time for the traditional playing of pranks on unsuspecting people – the victim of such a prank being called an April Fool.

One of my weaknesses is my trusting nature – I easily trust people.

Because of my simple trusting nature it is easy for anyone to take me for a ride – yes – you can easily make a fool of me – and – I have been made an “April Fool” so many times right from my childhood.

In fact – owing to my trusting nature  I a simpleton – yes – I am quite a gullible person – and therefore – I am a prime target for April Fool Pranks.

When I hark back and think of the occasions when I was made an unsuspecting victim of April Fool Jokes – and when I recall all the April Fool Pranks I was subjected to – I can never forget how I was made a total April Fool”  more than 33 years ago – on the 1st of April 1983.

Here is my April Fool story – have a laugh... 


01 April 1983

It was 10 AM (1000 Hrs in Navy Parlance) on the 1st of April 1983 – and I busy with my research work in IIT Delhi.

(Yes  after slogging for 5 years in the Navy  afloat and ashore  I was selected to undergo the prestigious 2 year M. Tech. post graduate course in Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology New Delhi aka IIT Delhi from July 1981 to July 1983)

It was the last (4th) semester of my 2 year M.Tech. Course  and I was busy with my dissertation work.

My ex-shipmate entered the Tropo Lab.

He was also doing M. Tech. at IIT Delhi  but in a different specialization.

He said excitedly, “Hey Vikram  congratulations – your appointment has come – you will be going to IAT Pune after your M. Tech.”

I was very happy and joyfully excited to hear this.

Pune is my hometown.

I had never expected a posting to Pune in my Naval Career  as I thought that  except for a few billets at NDA Khadakvasla  there were hardly any billets for Naval Officers in Pune  especially for Technical Officers.

In fact  I was worried that they may transfer me back to INS Valsura Jamnagar – where I had spent less than one year (1980-81) on instructional duties  before escaping from there as I was selected for my M. Tech. at IIT Delhi  and  I had no desire of going back to that godforsaken place again.

“You don’t seem to be happy...?” my friend said.

“I am very happy,” I said, “but how do you know about my appointment?”

“I had gone to INS India – to Base Supply Office  for some work. I saw your name in a NA List over there. I have just come from there  and I came straight here to tell you the good news.”

[Those days Naval Headquarters (NHQ) published a weekly Navy Appointments (NA) List which listed all appointments (transfers/postings) issued during that week. Now – things must have changed – I understand that even the name of NHQ has been changed to IHQ].

“What about you? Is your name in the NA list? Has your new appointment come too?” I asked him.

“No – I saw only your name in the NA list. Why don’t you go down to NHQ and personally get your appointment letter?” he prompted.

As I said  I was really delighted to be transferred to Pune  my hometown.

So  so I immediately drove down on my scooter to NHQ.

First  I went to INS India – to the Base Supply Office  and I checked the NA List folder.

Yes  my name was very much there  at Serial No. 12 of the list of 20 names  and entry in the NA list said that I was appointed on instructional duties to IAT Pune July DTBR 

(DTBR means Date to be Recorded” – which meant that I could report to IAT Pune on any date in July from 1st to 31st July)   

I wrote down the relevant details of the NA list on a piece of paper (a chit).

Then – I went to the Base Supply Officer (BSO)  a Commander.

I showed him the chit – and I asked him if my appointment letter had come.

The Base Supply Officer called for the NA List folder.

The BSO looked at the NA List  and he said: “This NA list has just been issued. It will take some time for the appointment letter to reach here. They take their own sweet time to dispatch the letters. Why don’t you go across to DOP and get your personal copy...?”

(DOP was the acronym for Director of Personnel)

Those days we were very scared to go anywhere near DOP – because they were always on the prowl looking for “murgas” to transfer to “kala pani” – and other such remote places.

But I was so excited  that I drew up courage  and I walked into the office of the DDOP (Deputy Director of Personnel) who looked after our appointments.

I was delighted to see an officer who I knew very well sitting in the chair of DDOP – a Commander  he was a course-mate of my previous ship’s XO.

Those days – when he was a Lieutenant Commander – he used to visit our ship quite often  he was fond of drinking – and we had spent many evenings drinking together – and drinking together develops a unique camaraderie.

The DDOP was happy to see me.

He told me that he had just taken over as DDOP just a day earlier on the 31st of March.

He enquired about me  about my M. Tech. course  and then he asked me what I wanted.

I told him the story  gave him the chit on which I had written details of the NA List  and I asked him if I could have a copy of my appointment letter.

The DDOP called his deputy  the ADOP (Assistant Director of Personnel) – a Lieutenant Commander.

The DDOP handed the ADOP the chit with NA List details  and told him to give me a copy of my appointment letter.

The ADOP looked at the NA list  and looking confused – the ADOP said: “Sir  we haven’t yet issued any appointment letters for officers doing M. Tech. at IITs – anyway  I will just check and get back to you, Sir.”

After a few minutes the ADOP came back and said: “The NA list with this number has still not been issued.”

“What? How can that be?” the DDOP said.

Then the DDOP looked at me – and he said: “Are you sure you saw the NA list in the INS India Base Supply Office...?”

“Yes, Sir...” I said, “it is right on top in the NA list folder in the Base Supply Office.”

The DDOP picked up the telephone and he dialled a number.

He seemed to be speaking to the Base Supply Officer (BSO). 

The DDOP read out the number of the NA list – he waited for some time – he listened to the voice on the other side  and then  he said to me: “Just go down to the Base Supply Office and get the NA list folder – I want to get to the bottom of this.”

As I was leaving  I could hear him speak on the phone: “I am sending the officer to you…”

The moment I reached the hutments where the Base Supply Office was located  I found a big gang of my friends waiting outside for me with broad smiles on their faces.

Among my friends – standing prominently with a big smile on his face – was the Captain of my previous ship – my ex Commanding Officer (CO)  who was now a Commodore posted in NHQ.

My ex ship’s CO told me that it was he who had orchestrated the whole practical joke.

I knew I had been made an “April Fool”.

That afternoon  as the “victim” of the “April Fool” joke  I had to treat everyone to Beer in the INS India wardroom – and the DDOP and Base Supply Officer (who were also parties to the “April Fool” prank) also joined in the elbow bending PLD session for a glass of chilled beer.


During the PLD Beer Session  I put on a mask of cheerfulness  but deep inside I was feeling terrible.

I think the Commodore (my ex ship’s CO) and the DDOP noticed this  so they asked me for my choice of transfer on completion of my M. Tech.

“IAT Pune – I want to be posted to IAT Pune like you did in the “April Fool” joke...” I said tongue-in-cheek – and then I added, “but if that is not possible then anywhere except Jamnagar.” 

But – DOP did not transfer me to Pune.

Thankfully – they did not transfer me to Jamnagar as I had feared. 

They gave me an appointment in New Delhi itself – which meant that I would’t have to move out of New Delhi.

Yes – 3 months later  I was transferred to a billet in New Delhi as an Asst Director in R&D. 

I was enjoying my tenure in New Delhi – when – suddenly – 2 years later  in June 1985  one day  out of the blue  I saw an appointment letter placed on my table. 

I opened the letter – dreading the worst.

When I read the appointment letter – I was overjoyed.

I had been appointed as Faculty for instructional duties to IAT Pune July 1985 DTBR. 

Yes – the “April Fool” joke had become a reality – and – I have been given my choice transfer to Pune. 

Was it as a recompense for the “April Fool” prank  from the DDOP and my ex ship’s CO  and from all those who had played the “April Fool” joke on me...?

All’s well that ends well.

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. 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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