Friday, August 4, 2017

Humor in Uniform – “Prima Donna Commander” versus “Clueless Commodore”

Do you think that blind obedience is the norm in the Armed Forces...? 

Do you think that all Defence Officers are “Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Three Bags Full Sir” Type Bootlickers...? 

It is certainly not so. 

During my Navy Days – I have seen plenty of “healthy arguments”, heated exchanges, hilarious banter, wit and repartee. 

Once – when I was a raw Sub Lieutenant on my first ship – a frontline warship – my Captain was giving me a severe scolding – a “bottle” – in Navy Parlance. 

(Yes – “BOTTLE” is Naval Slang for a “Reprimand”.
“Bottle” may have been shortened from “a dose from the foretopmans bottle”.
This may be connected with the story that, in sailing ship days
bottles of medicine (for the commoner ailments) were labelled according to the “parts of the ship” and that, when a seaman reported to the sick bay, he was dosed from the bottle belonging to his own part of the ship)
Reverting back to my story – where my Captain was giving me a severe scolding – a “bottle” – I had been careless and I fully deserved the “bottle”. 
Suddenly – I looked at the clock behind the Captain.
It was 1230 Hours (past noon).
I remembered there was a PLD (Pre-Lunch Drinks) in the Wardroom.
So – I said to the Captain:
“Sir – there is a PLD now – so – you can continue your scolding after the PLD...”
The Captain broke out into laughter.
After imbibing a substantial quantity of beer – I had built up enough “Dutch Courage”.
So now – I was giving it back to the Captain – nice and proper.
“Prima Donna Commander
Now – let me get back to the story I am going to tell you.

Sometime ago – while I was surfing on Facebook – a familiar face suddenly popped up on the screen. 

The face belonged to an inimitable unforgettable character I met in the Navy – the “Prima Donna Commander” – who was famous for his wit and repartee.

And – looking at his picture – I remembered this story from my Vizag Dockyard Days. 

Many civilians feel that the Defence Services are full of “Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Three Bags Full Sir” type of officers who blindly obey their superior officers. 

This may be so – but I have seen many exceptions – like the “Prima Donna Commander” – who had a fantastic gift of the gab – and he lost no opportunity to have a go at everyone – especially senior officers.

Dear Reader – Let me delve into my Humor in Uniform archives and pull out this amusing anecdote for you.

This story happened around 27/28 years ago – in the late 1980s/early 1990s or thereabouts, I think. 

Do read this story of the “Prima Donna Commander” and the “Clueless Commodore and tell me if you still think that all Defence Officers are “Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Three Bags Full Sir” Type Bootlickers...

Have a laugh... 

Memoirs of a Navy Veteran
A Fictional Spoof

The Navy is a great place.

You come across all types of individuals.

During my long service in the Navy  I met a number of unforgettable characters.

How can I forget the “Prima Donna Commander” – a truly witty officer who always electrified the atmosphere with his piercing wit and repartee. 

Also – how can I forget the Clueless Commodore” – who made our lives miserable thanks to his workaholism).

And – how can I forget this banter between the “Prima Donna Commander and the Clueless Commodore”...

Here is a story featuring both of them...

(A Fictional Spoof By Vikram Karve)

Once upon a time  long long ago  in a premier Naval Dockyard  the “W” department of a considered itself the numero uno department. 

The “W” department had become a law unto itself  a Dockyard within a Dockyard  as someone commented. 

The Head of the “W” department was a hot-shot Commander – the hero of this story – the Prima Donna Commander”  who thought himself to be the ultimate “cats whiskers”.

Professionally  the “Prima Donna Commander was highly competent  no doubt about it – he was very efficient in his job  and he was a linguist too  a truly multilingual officer  proficient in over 10 languages  Indian and Foreign.

Highly intelligent  an impatient man always in a hurry  the “Prima Donna Commander was a real eager beaver go-getter  a typical Type “A” personality  who could not suffer fools gladly.

Unfortunately for the “Prima Donna Commander”  his boss  the General Manager (GM)  a senior Commodore  was professionally quite clueless  slow at decision-making  and he wanted everything explained to him in detail  again and again.

The GMs style of working irritated the “Prima Donna Commander”  so he bypassed his GM (the Clueless Commodore”) – and communicated directly with higher-ups.

On urgent and important issues  the hot-shot “Prima Donna Commander interacted directly with the bigwigs in the Command Headquarters  and he got quick decisions directly from Senior Staff Officers at the Headquarters (HQ).

One morning  the GM (Clueless Commodore”) was hugely embarrassed in front of the C-in-C (a Vice Admiral)  as he seemed clueless about what was going on his own Dockyard  whereas the Headquarters Staff Officers were updated  and the HQ Staff Officers “educated” the GM in front of everyone about the happenings his own Dockyard.

This was  predictably  thanks to the one-upmanship of the “Prima Donna Commander.

The furious GM came back to his office  and he called a meeting of all Managers.

As usual  the “Prima Donna Commander did not turn up for the meeting saying that he was busy.

The Commodore sent his Staff Officer to personally summon and escort the “Prima Donna Commander to the GM’s Office.

After the “Prima Donna Commander” arrived  the GM read the riot act” to all of us.

The Commodore specifically warned us to follow the proper hierarchy channe– and we were ordered not to bypass the chain of command.

Predictably  the “Prima Donna Commander got into an argument with the Clueless Commodore.

Finally  the Clueless Commodore lost his temper  and he shouted at the “Prima Donna Commander

Where I sit – this is the GM’s chair. 

You come and sit here  and you will know how it feels like  sitting here on this chair…”

The moment the Clueless Commodore finished his sentence  the “Prima Donna Commander quickly got up from his seat.

Then – the “Prima Donna Commander” moved swiftly – and – he walked across  and he stood behind the Commodore.

“What are you doing...?” the bewildered Clueless Commodore asked the “Prima Donna Commander.

The “Prima Donna Commander” said loudly to the Clueless Commodore:

“Sir  I want to know how it feels like  sitting on the GM’s chair...” 

“What...?” the bewildered Commodore exclaimed.

The “Prima Donna Commander gestured to the Clueless Commodore to rise and vacate the GM’s chair – and he said to the “Clueless Commodore”: 

“Sir  Please let me sit in your chair – I really want to experience how it feels like – sitting on the GM’s chair...” 


The “Prima Donna Commander got promoted to Captain in his first shot.

But  he never occupied the GM’s Chair.

He quit the Navy a few years later to seek greener pastures abroad – and  someone told me that he was doing extremely well over there as an entrepreneur in the civvy street.

Had the “Prima Donna Commander remained in the Navy  I am sure that he would surely have achieved Flag Rank.

The Clueless Workaholic Commodore literally burnt midnight oil till his last day of service – making everyone miserable  till he finally retired as a Commodore  having failed to make it to Flag Rank. 

So – Dear Reader – if you think all officers in the Defence Services are obsequious “Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Three Bags Full Sir” type Bootlickers – think again...!!! 

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

1. This yarn 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. 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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