Sunday, December 17, 2017

Humor in Uniform – Reputation Management

I had the good fortune of participating in the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of my Navy alma mater INS Valsura Jamnagar on 14/15 December 2017. 

During my interactions with young Naval Officers and their good ladies – amused at the way I was talking in a frank manner  without the usual “pretence” of staidness that Veterans of my age put on – a Navy Wife asked me whether I really had the same “candid personality” inside – that I projected outside. 

Maybe this story  which happened during my Navy Days – when I was serving in the prestigious premier Naval Dockyard at Mumbai – will answer her question...

Unforgettable Characters I Met in the Navy
A Spoof

There is a saying in the Navy: 

If you want to know the true character of an officer – ask his coursemates...

Seniors will have one view of an officer. 

Juniors will have another view. 

But  it is his peers who will know the officer inside-out – especially his coursemates – who have seen the officer from close quarters from the Training Academy Days. 

Yes – you cannot put up a facade before your own coursemates. 

Here is a story of an unforgettable character I met in the Navy – an ambitious coursemate of mine.


Long ago – at a meeting  where a lot of senior officers were present  I profusely praised a fellow Navy Officer – who was a coursemate of mine.

I believed in the dictum: 

“Praise in Public and Criticize in Private...”

And – of course – I wanted to do my coursemate a good turn.

So – I praised my coursemate lavishly in front of everyone. 

Yes – I really praised” my coursemate generously – highlighting all his good qualities. 

After the meeting  my coursemate came to my office.

I thought my coursemate had come to thank me for the generous way in which I had praised him in front of everyone  and – I expected him to utter some words of gratitude.

Instead  my coursemate said to me: 

“I want to make one sincere request to you...

I said to him: 

“You know that I will do anything for you. After all – you are my dear friend and a coursemate. Go ahead – tell me  what can I do for you...? 

My coursemate pleaded with me:

“In future – please do not praise me like you did today  especially in front of senior officers...” 

I was surprised  so I asked my coursemate: 

“Why shouldn’t I praise you..? 

I am your well-wisher....”

My coursemate looked at me  and he said to me: 

“I know that you are my well-wisher. 

But unfortunately – you have a most terrible reputation with most senior officers. 

So  if you praise me  it may have the opposite effect...”


My coursemate returned the favour many years later.

By nature – I am an honest, straightforward and outspoken person.

Well  as far as senior officers were concerned – my being honest was fine.

My straightforwardness was tolerated.

But  my outspokenness had earned me a reputation of being a tactless, abrasive officer. 

My seniors considered me a “difficult” officer to deal with  since I was not morally pliable” – and worse  I candidly expressed my views in a blunt and forthright manner.

Once  during a meeting  in my usual style – I expressed my candid views in my usual blunt forthright manner.

My coursemate was also present. 

Yes – the very same coursemate who I had lavishly praised earlier – and who had requested me not to praise him. 

After the meeting  I overheard a senior officer remark to my coursemate about me.

“Your coursemate really calls a spade a spade...” the senior officer said  describing me to my coursemate.

In response – my coursemate praised me with these flattering words: 

“Sir – he does not call a spade a spade – he calls a spade a bulldozer... 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© 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.

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