Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sugar and Spice


A Hilarious Memoir from My Glorious Vizag Navy Days

Let me delve into my Humor in Uniform Archives  and pull out for you  a story from my unforgettable Vizag days.

This happened around 30 years ago  in the late 1980’s – when we were in Visakhapatnam (Vizag).

M“Better Half” always says that our delightful Vizag Navy Days was our best time in the Navy  though my favourite Navy Days are my Mumbai Navy Days – as a young bachelor – and much later – as a family man.

Dear Reader: 

Please remember that this story happened 30 years ago – in the 1980’s.

Those were the days of landline telephones – much before the advent of mobile cellphones.

And yes – those were the days of the pre-liberalisation Licence-Permit-Quota Raj socialist regime which existed till liberalisation happened in 1991 – after which – everything was “liberalised”.

And – in those days of socialism  it was difficult to get many things that we take for granted today – like a simple telephone connection...

Read on – and have a laugh...

A Fictional Spoof


“There was no need for you to come personally all the way to my house so late at night – you could have called up and taken my approval on phone...” my boss, a Commodore, said to me when I went to his office first thing in the morning.

“Sir, I don’t have a phone at home...” I said.

“What...? You don’t have a phone at home...? Why...? I had sanctioned a residential phone for you almost a week ago – on the very same day that you reported for duty...” the Commodore said.

“Sir, the phone has not been installed so far...” I said.

“Have you checked up with Commander ‘X’...?” the Commodore asked me.

Commander ‘X’ was Manager (Technical Services) – the Officer-in-Charge of Telephones.

“Yes, Sir – but Commander ‘X’ told me that there are no spare connections available right now – so – it will take some time to give me phone at home...” I said.

“What nonsense...? I had clearly told him to install the phone surrendered by Commander ‘Y’ at your residence – I wanted you to have the same number  so that it becomes easy to me to remember...” my boss said.

(Commander ‘Y’ was my predecessor – who had handed over charge to me a week ago before proceeding on transfer to his new faraway station – in fact – Commander ‘Y’ had got what was considered a “prize posting”)

“I don’t know, Sir – but the phone has still not been installed at my residence...” I said.

The Commodore pressed the intercom switch – and he said to his PA sitting in the next room: “Call Commander ‘X’ here to my office – I want him to personally report to me immediately.”


While we wait for Commander ‘X’ to come  let me tell you a bit of the background of this episode.

This story happened 30 years ago  in the 1980’s.

Of course  in the 1980’s  there were no mobile phones.

And – in those days  in the Navy  having a landline residential phone was a luxury.

In fact  having a residential phone was considered a big status symbol.

Only very senior officers were given phones at home.

As far as the other officers were concerned  only those in “key” appointments were given residential phones.

Now  it seemed that I was in a “key” appointment – at least as far as my boss was concerned.

So  he had sanctioned a residential phone for me  just like my predecessor Commander ‘Y’ had been given – and – in fact  he had instructed the Manager (Technical Services) Commander ‘X’ – that I was to have the same number as Commander ‘Y’

But – Commander ‘X’ had not installed the phone so far  and it looked like Commander ‘X’ was going to get a bottle from the Commodore  who seemed quite annoyed that the phone was still not installed in my house.

(In Navy parlance – a “bottle” means a scolding – a full blast Navy style reprimand  in colourful language – a severe dressing-down)


After a few minutes  the (Manager Technical Services) Commander ‘X’ arrived in the Commodore’s office. 

Commander ‘X’ saluted the Commodore.

(My Boss – the Commodore sitting in front of us  was the Boss of Commander ‘X’ too).

The Commodore did not ask Commander ‘X’ to sit down.

The Commodore pointed his fingers towards me – he looked at Commander ‘X’  and asked him: “Why didn’t you install a phone in his house...?”

“Sir, there is no spare connection...” Commander ‘X’ said.

“What bloody spare connection...? I told you shift the same phone that was with Commander ‘Y’ to his house – I want him to have the same number...” my boss said, pointing at me.

“Sir, Commander ‘Y’ has retained accommodation. He has left his wife behind in station...” Commander ‘X’ said.

“So what...? Commander ‘Y’ can retain accommodation  he can leave his wife here  but he has to surrender his residential phone before proceeding on transfer. Why the bloody hell did you sign his outgoing clearance if Commander ‘Y’ had not surrendered his telephone...?” my boss asked, raising his voice.

“Sir, I was given instructions…” Commander ‘X’ mumbled.

“Instructions…? What bloody instructions?” my boss said, looking angrily at Commander ‘X’.

“Sir, I was told not to disconnect the phone from Commander Y’s house – I was told that the same number was to remain there…” Commander ‘X’ mumbled.

“Who the hell told you that…” my boss shouted at Commander ‘X’.

Commander ‘X’ uttered a name – Commodore ‘Z’

“Sir – Commodore ‘Z’ told me to keep the phone in Commander Y’s house till his wife was in station…” Commander ‘X’ said to our boss.

Commodore ‘Z’ was a course-mate of my boss – and – his arch-rival in the promotion game.

On hearing the name of Commodore ‘Z’ – my boss became livid – and he shouted at Commander ‘X’

So – you are still taking orders from your old boss...? I am your boss now – you remember that. You are being disloyal to me and I hate disloyalty. Now – you listen to me carefully  I want that telephone shifted from Commander Y’s house right now. And  I want the telephone installed in his house within the next one hour…” my boss said, pointing his fingers at me.

“Sir, but…” Commander ‘X’ tried to say.

“You just shut up. If you don’t obey my orders I will make you sign on your ACR – I will give you an adverse report for insubordination. Do you understand...?” the furious Commodore shouted at Commander ‘X’ – who was now trembling at the prospect of an adverse remark in his ACR (Annual Confidential Report).

Then my boss turned towards me and he said to me: “You go to your house right now and see that Commander ‘X’ installs the telephone properly. The moment the phone is connected  you give me a call – I will be waiting for your call.”

Then the Commodore turned towards Commander ‘X’ and warned him: “If his call does not come within one hour  you will deeply regret it. I will not tolerate any further insubordination from you.”

The Commodore’s words galvanized Commander ‘X’ into action  and  he personally supervised the shifting of the telephone from Commander Y’s residence to my home.

The phone was installed in my house within 45 minutes.


The happiest person was my neighbour’s wife.

Yes  the moment the inquisitive lady realised that a phone was being installed in my residence – she was delighted.

She asked me for my telephone number.

Then – she immediately rushed to the solitary STD booth in the market  she rang up her mother – and gave her mother my residence number.

She told her mother to call up at 8 PM at night.

Those days  the only way to make outstation calls was to queue up at 7 PM outside the solitary STD booth in the market – and wait your turn to make your call.

Why 7 PM...?

Well – STD rates were discounted 50% after 7 PM.

If you made an STD call  you had to foot the bill.

But – if you had a phone at home  your relatives could call you  and they would have to foot the bill.

And also  you had better privacy than at the STD booth.

Now that I had a residential phone  and  it was the only phone in our block of 4 houses – we would have to do a bit of “social service” – and let our neighbours use our phone  and also offer them drinks and snacks while they waited for their calls.

So  at around 7:45 PM  my neighbour and his wife arrived at my house  to celebrate our new telephone.


A few minutes before 8 PM  my neighbour’s wife was sitting in anticipation beside the telephone  waiting for her mother’s call from Delhi  while I poured a drink of Rum-Pani for her husband.

Suddenly  the phone rang.

My neighbour’s wife picked up the phone and excitedly said: “Hello, Ma…”

Then – she was quiet for some time – as if listening intently.

Slowly  the expression on her face changed.

Then – my neighbour’s wife gave a puzzled look – and she kept down the phone.

“What happened...?” I asked her.

“It was some strange man – he was calling me Sugar – and – he was saying all sorts of obscene and dirty things to me…” my neighbour’s wife said. 

Sugar”...?I asked her. 

“Yes – the man on the phone kept saying Sugar” Darling – Sugar” Darling – and  he was using very romantic intimate dirty” language...” my neighbour’s wife said. 

Suddenly – the phone rang again.

This time  – I picked up the telephone – and I placed the phone receiver near my ear.

A male voice was speaking: 

“Hey – Sugar” Darling – why did you disconnect – I am back in town – it was a terrible trip – I really missed you – I will come over to your house at 9 PM – and then  we will…” 

“Excuse me – I think you have dialled the wrong number…” I interrupted him.

“Wrong number...? Isn’t this number ******…?” the male voice at the other end said  repeating the 6 digits of my phone number.

“The phone number is correct – but there is no Sugar” Darling around here...” I said, tongue-in-cheek.

“Who the hell are you...? And what are you doing in Mrs Y’s house...?” the male voice said angrily.

Comprehension began to dawn on me pretty fast.

I remembered the name mentioned by Commander ‘X’ in my boss’s office – Commodore ‘Z’  the name of Commander X’s previous boss – who had asked Commander ‘X’ not to shift the phone from Commander Y’s house.

I decided to have some fun.

“By any chance  are you Commodore ‘Z’ speaking…?” I said into the mouthpiece of the phone.

“That’s right. I am Commodore ‘Z’ speaking – but who the hell are you...?” he said.

I identified myself  and then  I said: “Sir  this phone is now with me – in my house...

“What…? How…? Who shifted the phone from Commander Y’s house...?” he said, confused.

I wanted to end the conversation  so I wished him “Good Night” – and I disconnected the phone.

I realized that my neighbour’s wife was “all ears” – and  she was listening intently to the conversation.

So  I had no choice but to tell everyone the full story. 

I told them everything – about the telephonic conversation with Commodore ‘Z’ – and what had happened earlier in the morning in the office of my Boss. 

It was clear that some hanky-panky was going on between Commodore ‘Z’ and Commander Y’s wife – who Commodore ‘Z’ was affectionately calling Sugar” Darling

Everyone started laughing.

My neighbour’s wife was a gossipy type.

I knew that juicy gossip of this “telephone affair” would spread like wildfire.

Soon  the NWWA Ladies Network would be abuzz with spicy rumors of this “stealing affections” hanky-panky  the extramarital” passionate telephonic affair between Commodore ‘Z’ and his Sugar” Darling

As we laughed  the phone rang again. 

This time  it was my neighbour’s wife’s mother from Delhi.

Yes – it was the telephone call we had been waiting for.

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

1. This story is a fictional 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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