Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mickey Finn – A Story from My Navy Days – for Holi

Tomorrow – Dear Friends – is the festival of Holi.

Holi is associated with Humor and free-for-all fun and frolic. 

Here is a “Memoir” from my Navy Days – apt for the occasion...

A Spoof

Naval Academy Cochin (now called Kochi)
Mid 1970’s 


The moment we reported to the Naval Academy (NAVAC) at Cochin (Kochi) – we were asked the quintessential question: 

“Why did you join the Navy…?”

Most of us gave unimaginative stereotyped answers which everyone had heard before.

Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” was different.

Sub Lieutenant “M” said: 

“I joined the Navy to drink good Booze...”

(Those days – the Junior-most Officer Rank in the Army/Navy/Air Force was Second Lieutenant (2nd/Lt)Acting Sub Lieutenant (Ag Sub Lt) and Pilot Officer (P/O) respectively. 

In the year 2004 – thanks to the AVS Cadre Review Bonanza – this junior-most officer rank was abolished – and Defence Officers were commissioned directly as Lieutenants/Sub Lieutenants/Flying Officers in the Army/Navy/Air Force respectively – which were the ranks above the erstwhile “2nd Lt”/“Ag Sub Lt”/“Pilot Officer” – the lowest officer ranks earlier) 

Dear Reader: After this digression – let me start telling you the story again: 

The moment we reported to Naval Academy (NAVAC) Cochin (Kochi) – we were asked the quintessential question: 

“Why did you join the Navy…?”

Most of us gave unimaginative stereotyped answers which everyone had heard before.

Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” was different.

Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” said: 

“I joined the Navy to drink good Booze...”

“What did you say...?” the Officer-in-charge bellowed at Acting Sub Lieutenant “M”

Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” nonchalantly said: 

“Sir – I said that I joined the Navy to drink good booze...” 

The Officer-in-charge and Staff Officers of NAVAC thought that Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” was joking. 

But – Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” was dead serious. 

He had indeed joined the Navy to drink good booze.

We were “University Entry Officers”.

We were selected via the “University Entry Scheme” (UES) – an “Earn while you Learn” Recruitment Scheme – which was highly successful in attracting the best Engineering Talent.

Under the UES – Navy Selection Teams visited premier Engineering Colleges/IITs/RECs (NITs) at the beginning of our pre-final year – and they interviewed and shortlisted suitable candidates – who had to appear before a Services Selection Board (SSB) at Allahabad, Bhopal or Bangalore.

Those selected by the SSB  and found medically fit  were offered a commission as an Officer in the Navy from the beginning of their final year of Engineering.

So – we were Naval Officers drawing handsome pay during our final year of Engineering – owing to which we enjoyed great prestige and relative affluence as compared to our fellow student classmates.

On completion of our B. Tech. / BE courses – we joined the Naval Academy – for Basic and Divisional (B&D) Training.

We had heard that – during his final year in Engineering College  “M” had taken his appointment letter (as an officer in the Indian Navy) to a Military Unit near his college  and he had managed to get a Liquor Card from the Unit CSD Canteen which enabled him to enjoy his full “Booze Quota” of Military Rum during his final year of Engineering.

Coming back to the Naval Academy – on our very first “liberty” a month after joining training – while we headed for Movie Halls and Restaurants in Ernakulam Town – Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” rushed to nearest Bar to get gloriously drunk.

In fact – “M” enjoyed himself so much  downing peg after peg of Rum  to cure his thirst  that he passed out dead drunk in the Bar.

Luckily for “M” – a Good Samaritan saw his Navy ID Card.

The “Good Samaritan” carried the blissfully comatose Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” into his car  then he drove down to the Naval Base  and deposited “M” outside the OOD’s Office.

This episode resulted in some heavy “punishments” and “restrictions” for “M” – including cancellation of his liberty (shore leave in Navy Jargon) till the end of the term.

The “powers-that-be” realized that Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” meant business  as far as his reason for joining the Navy was concerned.

However – “M” was not to be deterred from his aim. 

And – within a few days  he used his initiative to get access to booze.

As I told you – we were already Officers when we joined the Naval Academy (NAVAC) – and we were drawing full pay and allowances.

So – we dined in the Officers’ Wardroom – the Southern Naval Area (SNA) Wardroom Officers Mess.

(Yes – those days it was a Naval Area – not a Naval Command. A few years later  SNA was upgraded to SNC (Southern Naval Command)...)

Of course – since we were not allowed to wear stripes during training – we dined in a separate “Gun Room” – but – we were full-fledged members of the Wardroom Officers Mess.

There were no “free” authorized rations those days – so – as officers  we paid for our food – unlike cadets – who dined in cadet dining halls in the Academy and got free food.

During Basic Training – we were not officially allowed to drink liquor – but we were permitted to smoke – and we bought our cigarettes at the Wardroom Bar by signing chits  since we were full-fledged members of the Wardroom Mess.

On working day evenings – we dined in “Red Sea Rig” uniform.

On Weekends/Sundays/Holidays – we were permitted to wear “civvies”.

One Sunday evening – while we were buying cigarettes at the Bar – “M” asked the steward for a Large Peg of Rum  and – with confident flourish  “M” signed a chit for the Rum.

The steward served “M” a Large Peg of Rum.

It was as simple as that.

From then on – every evening – “M” would sneak out from his cabin during the pre-dinner “Study Hour” – and head for the Wardroom Bar for his daily quota of Rum – and then  after quickly downing a few pegs of Rum down-the-hatch  “M” would  join us for dinner in the “Gun Room”.

Once our Basic Training was over – and we passed out of the Naval Academy – we could officially drink all the liquor we wanted to – especially top class premium “duty free” foreign liquor on ships.

For Acting Sub Lieutenant “M” – the choicest “duty free” foreign liquor was a bonanza  the very raison dêtre  for which he had joined the Navy. 

“M” had a great time in the Navy – especially on board ships – drinking all the booze he wanted to his heart’s content – fully realising his cardinal aim of joining the Navy –> “I joined the Navy to drink good Booze...”

10 Years Later 

IAT Pune
Mid 1980’s

“M” enjoyed his bachelor days “soaked in alcohol” – imbibing all the booze he could lay his hands on.

For “M” – it was the happiest time of his life – and the Navy was the best thing that had happened to him.

Sadly – one day – “M” got married.

And – even worse – “M” got a “tough cookie” teetotaller wife – who cracked down heavily on his drinking.

In fact – his redoubtable wife banned alcohol in the house – and she kept an “eagle eye” on her husband at parties.

So – “M” would surreptitiously gulp a few quick “down-the-hatch” pegs of Rum whenever he got an opportunity – followed by some cardamom (Elaichi) to mask the smell of alcohol.

A few years later – “M” landed up as a “student” for an advanced specialization course at IAT Girinagar Pune – where I was his instructor.

Every evening – “M” would tell his wife that he wanted to “clear some doubts” about the subject I was teaching him – and he would land up in my house.

Of course – there were no academic “doubts” he wanted cleared.

“M” would have three quick pegs of Rum at my place.

And then – “M” would head home feeling “high” and “happy”.

When his wife questioned him on his “happy” state – “M” would plead that I was his instructor – and I had offered him a drink. 

“M” told his wife I would get annoyed if he refused my generous offer of a drink – and this may affect his grades in the course.

M’s wife blamed me for “spoiling” her husband.

One day – M’s wife had her revenge on me.

On Holi evening – I was taking a long evening walk to sober up from the boisterous drunken Holi celebrations in the morning. 

M’s wife waved out to me – and – she called me to her lawn.

“M” was probably sleeping inside – “dead drunk”.

While celebrating Holi with full gusto  “M” had “passed out” in the morning after surreptitiously downing huge amounts of a deadly cocktail of  Rum and Beer”. 

(“M” had taken advantage of the fact that his beloved wife had magnanimously permitted “M” to have one bottle of Beer – as a special case for the occasion of HOLI 

So – “M” had heavily “fortified his Beer with plenty of Rum – he had poured almost half a bottle of Rum into his bottle of Beer. 

After imbibing this huge amount of booze in a short time – “M” got totally drunk – and soon – “M” collapsed unconscious into drunken stupor – and he had to be carried home...) 

Coming back to our story...

On HOLI evening – when I was taking a long evening walk to sober up from the boisterous morning celebrations – M’s wife waved out to me and she called me to her lawn. 

“M” was probably sleeping inside – still in drunken stupor – after his glorious Holi “celebration” in the morning. 

I walked across the lawn to the M’s wife.

M’s wife looked charmingly at me.

“You drank too much in the morning. I will give you something really good to cure your hangover...” M’s wife said with a tender smile.

I accepted her kind invitation.

M’s wife asked me to sit on a chair in the verandah – and then – she went inside.

After some time – M’s wife emerged from kitchen – and – with an innocent smile – she served me a glass of Khus “Sherbet” cool drink.

What I did not know was that M’s wife had laced the cool green Khus “Sherbet” with a heavy dose of “Bhang”.

Yes – M’s wife had spiked the cool drink with deadly intoxicating “Bhang”  (cannabis

M’s wife had slipped me a potent “Mickey Finn”.

And – I naively drank the “Bhang” spiked cool drink. 

Yes – I unsuspectingly drank the intoxicating “Bhang” spiked “Sherbet”

Soon – the “Bhang” started having effect – and I started feeling “high

I wondered why M’s wife was giving me such a “sweet” smile…? 

Was she trying to...??? 

Dear Reader: 

What do you think happened thereafter…?

Well – that’s another story…

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This is a fictional spoof, satire, 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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