Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Humor – “Politics” in Uniform

Humor in Uniform 

There is a misconception that military personnel are not interested in politics. 

In a democracy – every citizen is entitled to vote in elections – including military personnel. 

So – even military personnel have political views – and political inclinations too

As an organisation – the military may be  “apolitical – but – as individuals – military personnel may be “political” beings – albeit with certain restrictions – military personnel cannot form/join political parties or participate openly in political activities etc. 

Here is a story from my wonderful Navy Days on “Politics” in Uniform

This story happened almost 40 years ago – in 1979/1980.

So – Dear Reader – here is some “political” humor in uniform...

“POLITICS” IN THE WARDROOM
Unforgettable Vignettes of my Glorious Navy Days
A Fictional Spoof
By
VIKRAM KARVE


WARDROOM ETIQUETTE – TABOO TOPICS

When I joined the Navy  I was told that certain things were not to be discussed in the Wardroom (Navy Officers’ Mess).

Firstly  Officers should not “talk shop” (about work) in the Wardroom.

Secondly  Three Topics were considered Taboo in a Navy Wardroom:

1. Religion

2. Politics

3. Women

I am sure the same was true for Army and Air Force Officers’ Messes as well – you were not supposed to talk shop” – and you were not supposed to discuss religion, politics or women in a wardroom or officers mess.

But – this was all in theory.

In practice – in actual fact  I found that things were vastly different.

On my ship  a frontline warship – and in other ships and “stone frigates” (Navy Shore Establishments) too  officers invariably “talked shop” in the wardroom – even during Pre-Lunch Drinks (PLDs) and Evening Parties.

Of the three taboo topics  the first topic – Religion – was never discussed (at least in our ships wardroom). 

Yes – Religion was never discussed in our wardroom. 

However – the third topic mentioned above – “Women” – was always a topic of great interest and discussion amongst officers – especially the younger bachelor officers. 

On my ship  with so many young strapping testosterone charged bachelors around  the third topic (women) was always a hot topic of discussion.

Our ship was based in Mumbai (then called Bombay)  and – in the 1970– in Mumbai – the Navy had a lovely laissez-faire culture. 

Yes – those glorious days of my Navy life were truly my halcyon days in the Navy. 

Guests were freely allowed on ships. 

In the Evenings – and on Sundays/Holidays  and many “smart” libidinous bachelors brought girl friends (or “fleet auxiliaries”) on board our ship  for an amorous drink in the wardroom  or a quickie in their cabins  and these “peccadilloes” were hotly discussed with great excitement by the envious sex-starved puritans  who were secretly yearning for female company.


POLITICS IN THE WARDROOM

Towards the end of 1979  General Elections were announced to be held in the first week of January 1980  and suddenly  everyone started discussing politics. 

Everyone seemed to be interested in the outcome of 1980 General Elections.

I was surprised to see the political awareness  and keen interest in the elections – among Naval Officers.

Of course  this may have been due to the political instability due to the disastrous performance of two successive shaky coalition governments since 1977 – which kept on splitting  till they collapsed  and elections were announced after 2 years.

Or maybe  this interest in politics was because we had many “politically connected” officers on board.

The father of one of the young officers was a veteran politician – and he was contesting this election too.

The brother of another officer was a politician too – and he was also contesting elections  albeit from a different party.

Many other officers evinced keen interest in current affairs and held divergent political views  which led to lively discussions.

Yes  politics was definitely discussed in the wardroom.

However  there was one officer who showed absolutely no interest in the proceedings – he seemed totally “apolitical”.

The “apolitical” officer came down to the wardroom every evening to drink. 

In fact  it seemed that he had joined the Navy to drink booze. 

Like – some people “live to eat”  this “apolitical” officer he “lived to drink”.

While everyone was engrossed in animated “political discussions”  he would sit disinterestedly in the corner downing peg after peg of Scotch whisky.

Voting day was in the first week of the coming January (January 1980) 

And  as the elections approached  some of us got our postal ballots  and we quickly voted and dispatched our postal votes to the respective returning officers – but – some of us did not get our postal ballots (or got them too late after counting was over).

Outside – in the civilian world  political temperatures were getting heated up  and inside the wardroom too  there took place rousing political discussions  stimulated by the imbibing of enormous amounts of alcohol.

Of course  our “apolitical” officer shipmate kept aloof. 

The “apolitical” officer remained indifferent to the political goings on  despite imbibing even greater amounts of alcohol than the “political” officers. 

Yes – we noticed that the “apolitical” officer was drinking more booze than usual. 

Maybe – the “apolitical” officer was getting irritated by the incessant political discussions going on the wardroom – and he was drinking more whisky to soothe his irritation – to dissolve his exasperation in alcohol.

At last  voting took place.

The next day  counting of votes began. 

(Those days – they had single day elections – and – votes were counting the next day) 

Since they used paper ballots those days – the counting process was slow – and – the early trends started coming in only by late afternoon – and – it was only in the late evening that the first hints of the political picture would start to emerge. 

In the evening  carrying our whisky-topped hip-flasks in our pockets  we trooped down to the Indian Express Building at Nariman Point – to watch the election results unfold.

Late at night  it became clear that Indira Gandhi was heading for a massive victory.

(Her party  Congress (I)  would win 353 of the 542 seats)

Most of us were happy – because now  there would be a stable government for 5 years.

The two “politically connected” officers were happy too – their relatives  father and brother respectively  both had won in the elections too.

A celebration was called for  so the wardroom bar was opened the moment we returned back onboard at around midnight.

The “whiff” of the wardroom bar being opened mysteriously reached the “apolitical” officer sleeping in his cabin  and he joined us in a jiffy  topping up his glass with whisky to celebrate.

“There was so much political excitement going on during these elections – and you were totally disinterested in the elections...” someone said to the “apolitical” officer.

“Actually I was worried...” he said.

“Worried...? You were worried...? About the elections...?” we asked, puzzled.

The “apolitical” officer took a gulp of whisky  and he said to us: 

I was worried about my booze. The previous guy was a prohibitionist – he even wanted to stop booze in the Defence Services – and – give us Dry Fruits in lieu of Liquor. I am happy he has lost the elections – at least the new guys who have won will let booze flow freely. Come on. Cheers. Drink up. The next round of drinks is on me...”

VIKRAM KARVE
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Disclaimer:
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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