Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Humor in Uniform – There is No “Free Drink”


Hilarious Memories of My Delightful Navy Days
A Spoof

When I was in the Navy – I would say: “There is no free drink...”

A drink costs money – so if you have a drink – it has to be paid for.

S if you are an honest officer – you pay for your drink (or food).

But – if you are a freeloader – you make someone else pay for it.

A few years ago – a coursemate was promoted to Flag Rank – Rear Admiral – and he jokingly remarked that now  he had joined the Freeloaders Club

The words he actually used were: “So – at last – now I have become a Freedom Fighter”  and – now – for me – everything is free...” 

In the Navy – someone had coined the term Freedom Fighters” for Freeloaders of Flag Rank”.

As I said – my friend was joking – he was an honest officer who paid his bills and was certainly not a freeloader – but I have seen some others – who – the moment they get promoted to high rank – they believe that freeloading is their fundamental right.

Apart from Freedom Fighter” Freeloaders in Uniform – who freeload by misusing their rank – there is another type of freeloader in uniform – called the “Maukatarian” Freeloader – who is an opportunistic freeloader who improvises his freeloading tactics as per the occasion.

Let me delve into my Humor in Uniform Archives and pull out this hilarious yarn about a “Maukatarian” Freeloader.

Have a laugh – and think about it... 

THE “MAUKATARIAN” FREELOADER  a spoof by Vikram Karve

The Navy was the best thing that happened to me. 

Way back, in the 1970’s, when I joined the Navy, life was good. 

There was never a dull moment. 

Something was always happening, and I came across a variety of unique personalities.

Yes, I enjoyed some exciting situations and encountered some inimitable characters.

Those were the best days of my life. 

Even now, whenever I reminisce about my “good old” Navy days and recall the unforgettable characters I met there and whenever I hark back to the hilarious incidents (in hindsight), those cherished memories always fill me with cheer, and sometimes bring a smile, maybe a laugh, to my lips. 

They say every Naval Officer has a book inside him (or her). 

I am writing mine. 

In fact, I have decided to write two books – a fiction novel based on my early life in the Navy way back in the 1970’s and a “memoir” comprising non-chronological vignettes from my naval life.

I will tell you more about all that later. 

Now, let me regale you with one such hilarious vignette featuring an unforgettable character. 

Let’s call him “F”

Why “F”...?

Well  it will be quite evident as you read on.

But – before I begin my story – let me tell you about how values and traditions have changed in the Defence Services – especially the Navy. 

Here is the timeline of changing Navy Wardroom/Officers Mess Traditions.

(Seniors Subsidize Juniors)

There was a time when Senior Naval Officers were large-hearted and magnanimous. 

The senior always stood a drink for the junior. 

Whenever we had a party in the wardroom (officers’ mess)  the party share was on stripe basis. 

You counted the total number of stripes on the shoulders of officers present – and then  you simply divided the overall damages for food and drinks by the total number of stripes – and – you calculated the stripe share

You paid a party share depending on the stripes you wore on your sleeves or shoulder

A Commander (who wore three stripes on his shoulder) paid three times the party share as compared to a Sub Lieutenant (who wore a single stripe). 

In effect  the seniors subsidized the bill of the juniors.

(Equal Party Share for All)

As traditions and attitudes began to change  and – officers started becoming money conscious  the stripe share concept gave way to the “on the house” concept  in which  the party share was distributed equally among all those officers who attended the party – and – all members of the “house” paid the same amount of party share – irrespective of how much food and drink they consumed – and– irrespective of their rank.

Of course  when things were “on the house”  those who drank less and ate frugally subsidized those who drank heavily (topped-up to the hilt”) and gorged on food to their hearts’ content.

With the passage of time  as officers became more and more money-orientated – and  materialism became a way of life – this affected Naval Wardroom Officers Mess traditions too  and – many officers started counting their drinks – and worse  they also counted others’ drinks too…!!! 

(You Pay for what you consume)

Now we had a “chit system” and the party share was based on the principle of “Soldier’s Share  or – Going Dutch  in which you signed chits – and  you paid for whatever you consumed

In this “signing chits” scheme of things  no one subsidized anybody  and  it was each for his own  irrespective of rank and seniority.

(Juniors subsidize Seniors) 

Soon  Wardroom Officers Mess traditions were turned upside down.

Money-consciousness gave way to stinginess and sort of “feudal” culture  owing to selective interpretation of the RHIP concept – which resulted in the proliferation of freeloaders in the senior ranks

This resulted in a preposterous situation – wherein now  it was the “magnanimous” juniors who were subsidizing their stingy yet greedy freeloading seniors

You know what RHIP stands for  don’t you?

Well  RHIP is the acronym for RANK HAS ITS PRIVILEGES (Rank Has Its Privileges)

Unfortunately  some unscrupulous and corrupt senior officers thought that RHIP implied that it was their “privilege” to freeload and sponge on their juniors.

Things seem to have turned a full circle. 

Hey  I am digressing.

Let me get on with my story.


This story happened during the days of transition from the “on the house” to “soldier’s share” parties. 

Those days, there was sometimes a bit of confusion – some parties were “on the house” and some parties were on the “chit system”. 

Now our protagonist “F” was a true maukatarian – and – he decided his “party strategy” accordingly depending on whether it was a “on the house” party or “chit system” party.

“F” was quite a senior officer - next in seniority to the PMC (President Mess Committee). 

If it was a “chit system” party – F” would survive on water  or he would hang around someone and try to sponge a drink off him  or – he would try to pilfer one of those complimetary gratis “Ladies” Soft Drinks – when he thought that no one was looking.

Or  at the worst  if the party was too long – and – his freeloading tactics did not work and yield results  F” would order a small peg of the cheapest Rum with Water (Rum-Pani) – and he would hold his drink in his hand for the entire party. 

And  if the party was “on the house”...? 

Well  read on...

“F” arrived for a grand party one evening and asked me: “Is it chit-system...?”

“No, Sir – the party is on-the-house...” I told him, as planned  and I winked at the barman (bar steward)

The PMC, who was nearby, gave me a knowing smile of approval.

“Which whisky have you got...?” F” asked the barman.

“Sir, we are serving Black Knight and Red Knight Whisky...” the barman answered. 

Though we had the choicest duty-free whiskies in wardrooms on board ships – this party was ashore – in Wardroom Officers Mess of a “Stone Frigate” – and we were serving IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) – and – those days – way back in the 1970s – Black Knight (BK) and Red Knight (RK) were popular affordable Whisky brands prevalent in the Defence Services.

“Only BK and RK ...?” remarked F” turning his nose up in disdain  and then – Fcommanded the bar steward: “Get me Peter Scot.”

The barman looked at me for a decision since Peter Scot was the most expensive IMFL whisky in the bar those days.

“Okay,” I said to the barman: Sahab ko Peter Scot pilao…” (Give the Sahib Peter Scot Whisky to drink)

Delighted that he was getting the most expensive Peter Scot whisky on-the-house” – the freeloader F” decided to make the most of it.

He knew that irrespective of the amount of the expensive Peter Scot whisky he consumed  his bill would be the same as others who consumed much less  and that too  a cheaper whisky, rum or soft drinks.

So – F” drank peg after peg of Peter Scot whisky  and  he drank so much whisky – that – at the end of the party  F got so drunk  that he had to be physically carried to his house in drunken stupor. 

F” had grandly “enjoyed” the party – and he made the most of the “on the house” cocktail party.

A month later  F” entered my office  furiously waving his Wardroom Mess Bill in his hand.

He angrily demanding how he had been charged for 11 large pegs of Peter Scotwhisky.

I was expecting this  so I got up and said to F: “Sir  let’s go to the PMC.”

“Any problem...?” the PMC said looking up from his desk  the moment we entered his cabin.

“Sir  I have been charged for 11 large pegs of Peter Scot for that cocktail party...” complained F.

“So...?” the PMC said, “you drank 11 large pegs of Peter Scot – didn’t you...?”

“Sir  I don’t remember...” said F” sheepishly.

“But I do remember very clearly – you were in such glorious high spirits  that you had to be carried away at the end of the party...” the PMC said.

“But Sir  the party was on-the-house...” protested F.

“Who told you...?” the PMC said.

“The Mess Secretary told me that the party was on-the-house...” shouted F pointing an accusing finger at me.

“Well  the Mess Secretary is quite a clueless chap. All parties nowadays are on the chit-system. You should have signed your bar chits before ordering your drinks  and you should have checked the bar-book next morning if you had any doubts. No disputes now. That’s the Mess Rule...” the PMC pronounced his decision  and he dismissed F” with a wave of his finger.

Then  the PMC looked at me with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

That’s how we taught this Maukatarian Freeloader a lesson. 

Well  we taught this freeloader another lesson too – when he tried his “boneless” chicken hanky panky – but that’s another story which I will tell you soon, right here in my blog.

I enjoy writing and I have now started writing my 3 books. 

The first is autobiographical fiction  a novel with an engrossing story and characters you will love  the second  my “memoir”  a collection of vignettes from my life in the Navy – something like Tales of the South Pacific  and – the third is a complilation of my “Humor in Uniform” stories.

I am putting my heart into writing these 3 books in order to make them gripping and “unputdownable”. 

I am going to write leisurely, unhurriedly, savoring every moment and I am going to enjoy the writing process as I relive my navy days in my mind’s eye. 

But I’ll take a break from time to time  and, right here in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog  I will regale you with some more humour in uniform  and tell you a few more naval yarns – like this one.

Till my next Naval Yarn  Cheers  have a drink.

Don’t worry  the drink is “on the house”  or should I say – “Soldier’s Share”...!!!

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This story was written by me more than 14 years ago (in 2003) and first posted online in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal blog on 27 April 2011 at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2011/04/on-house.html and reposted a number of times in my blogs including at urls: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/09/humor-in-uniform-does-rank-have.html  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/05/humor-in-uniform-there-is-no-free-drink.html  and  https://www.quora.com/profile/Vikram-Karve/Writing-by-VIKRAM-KARVE/Humor-in-Uniform-The-Freeloader and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/10/humor-in-uniform-story-of-maukatarian.html  etc

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