Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Humor in Uniform – Scuttlebutt

Humor in Uniform 

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.

A Fictional Spoof  

The TASO sidled up drunkenly towards me and said to me: “I’ll tell you something – but – you must keep it to yourself…”

[The “TAS Officer” aka TASO (Torpedo Anti-Submarine Officer) – he was the senior-most “in-living” officer.

With our penchant for changing names – and – in consonance with the increasing “Americanization” of our Naval Culture – TASO was later re-designated as ASWO (Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer)…]

Dear Reader – this story happened 42 years ago – in the 1970’s – when I was serving on a frontline warship of the western fleet.

After a long sailing exercise – we had returned to our base port Mumbai (it was called Bombay those days).

It was the first day of the monsoon – and – it was raining heavily.

The TASO had returned from leave from New Delhi (his hometown).

Normally – the “Deluxe” arrived at Bombay Central (Mumbai Central) at 5 PM – but today – due the heavy rains – the train had arrived 5 hours late- and by the time the TASO had reached our ship berthed in the Dockyard – it was past 11 PM.

I called the “Duty Steward” – I told him to open the Wardroom Bar – and I told him to fry some “Luncheon Meat” as “Small Eats” for the hungry TASO.

(Well – things may be different today – people may be sticky about bar and meal timings – but those days – we treated our ship’s wardroom as our home – and – things were quite informal and comfortable – especially for officers)

The TASO had a bath and arrived in the Wardroom.

I smiled at the TASO.

He smiled back.

The TASO was a good guy – and – despite the fact that he was 5 years senior to me in the rank of Lieutenant – we were good friends.

(Those days – in the 1970’s – after being commissioned as an Officer in the Navy – it took you 3 years to become a Lieutenant – and then – you remained a Lieutenant for 8 long years – before being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander – after a total of 11 years of commissioned service.

Today – you see “greenhorns” – who haven’t yet fully grown their whiskers – strutting around wearing “two and a half stripes” of a Lieutenant Commander – after just 6 years of commissioned service – thanks to the benevolent Ajai Vikram Singh Cadre Review Report aka AVS 2006 – which has reduced the value of senior ranks to subaltern status…)

The Duty Steward placed the plate of Luncheon Meat in front of us.

The Steward asked the TASO: “Sir – would you like a drink…?”

“Take out a bottle of whisky – fill up the ice box – keep a jug of water – and give me the keys to the fridge – in case we want soda or something else…” the TASO said to the Steward.

“Aye Aye, Sir…” the Steward said, “should I tell the cook to make some dinner for you…?”

“No. This Luncheon Meat should be enough. You can secure…” the TASO said to the Steward.

“Thank you, Sir…” the Steward said – he kept everything on the table as instructed – gave us the keys to the fridge – and went away.

We – the TASO and I – we started drinking.

“Sir – did you visit DOP…?” I asked the TASO.

“Of course I visited DOP – that’s the advantage if your home station in Delhi – you can make your “pilgrimage” to DOP at least once a year – maybe twice – when you go on leave…” the TASO said.

(DOP is “Director of Personnel” at Naval Headquarters – who looks after appointments and transfers)

“Sir – any news…?” I asked the TASO.

“I’ll tell you something – but – you must keep it to yourself…” the TASO said.

“Of course, Sir…” I said.

“Our “Old Man” is going on transfer…”

“What…? Our Captain is going on transfer…? So suddenly…?”

“Yes – most unexpected – his normal tenure was for another 6 months at least – but they are pulling him out urgently for a diplomatic assignment…”

“Diplomatic Assignment…? Our Captain is going as NA…?”

“Yes – Naval Attaché – to one of the best countries – a most prestigious appointment.”

“We didn’t know anything about this…”

“No one knew. It happened quite suddenly – just last week. The guy who was supposed to go – he had a severe car accident and is hospitalized with his legs and bones all broken – he will take a long time to be medically fit – so – our boss was chosen…”

“Does our “Old Man” know…? He didn’t say anything…”

“I am sure he knows – but he must be keeping it to himself till everything comes in black and white…”

“Are you sure, Sir…? I asked the TASO.

“Of course I am sure…” the TASO said, “the DOP told me all this in strict confidence. You know how close I am to the DOP, don’t you…?”

“Yes, Sir – you told me that he is your uncle…”

“He is not my uncle – his wife is related to me – she is my cousin sister…”

“Oh…” I said, “Sir – any idea who is the new Captain…?”

“That’s the bad news…”

“Bad news…?”

The TASO looked at me – and he said with a wicked smile: “Brace yourself – our new Captain is going to be “Bum Bandit”…”

“Shit…! “Bum Bandit”…? Are you sure, Sir…?” I asked the TASO.

“100% sure – the DOP told me himself…”

“I thought “Bum Bandit” was “dry listed”…”

“He pulled some high-level strings and got himself “wet listed”…”

“But why our ship…?”

“The first vacancy – our bad luck…”

“So – it’s bad days ahead…”

“Yes – this “Bum Bandit” bugger has a terrible reputation – he is a bloody sadist – he screws the hell out of everyone – literally and figuratively. And just imagine – the bugger is a confirmed bachelor – so – he will be staying on board even in harbour – so our life will be hell 24/7…”

“Hopefully – he will get his own “fags” and “peg boys”…”

“He wanted to – but DOP refused – no crew change…”

“Then – we better steer clear and cover our backsides…”

“Don’t worry – there are plenty of “Sea Dolls” on board for “Bum Bandit” to target…”

“Anyway – we are in for a tough time. We will really miss our “Old Man” – he was a good Captain who ran a happy ship…” 

“He will be leaving next week – the official letter may be issued tomorrow…?

“That’s sad…” I said.

“Let’s kill the bottle and go to sleep…” the TASO said.

So – we polished off the remains of the whisky and hit our bunks.


We were enjoying a hearty Navy style “English” breakfast of porridge, bacon and eggs, sausages, ham, salami etc – when the Captain’s “Doggy” entered the wardroom – he looked at the TASO and said: “Sir – Captain’s Compliments…”

“Now…?” the TASO asked the Captain’s “Doggy”.

“After “Both Watches”, Sir…” the Captain’s “Doggy” said – then he looked at me and said: “You too, Sir…”

30 minutes later – we knocked on the Captain’s Cabin.

“Come in…” the Captain shouted from inside.

We entered – and saluted the Captain.

The Captain shouted at us: “What’s this bloody bilge you are spreading around…?”

We remained silent.

The Captain looked at the TASO and said: “Well – I would love to go on a diplomatic assignment – but – I am going nowhere – I am here to stay as your Captain – whether you like it or not…”

“Sir – we wanted to expose your “spy” in the wardroom…” the TASO said.

“What…? “Spy” in the Wardroom…?” the Captain said.

“Yes, Sir – you seem to know everything that goes on in the wardroom – so we knew you that had a “spy” who was ratting on us…” I said.

“And you have found out who my “spy” is…?” the Captain said.

“Yes, Sir – “Cute Boy” – he was the only other person in the wardroom last night – sitting quietly in the corner watching the late night movie on TV…” the TASO said.

“He was the bloody OOD – it is his job to report things to me…”

“Sir – is he supposed to eavesdrop and come squealing to you…?”

“Shut up…” the Captain said, “Anyway – you buggers leave him alone – he was terrified when he heard the name of the new “Captain” who was going to replace me…”


“You know what happened to him when he was a “Snotty” – don’t you…?”

“No, Sir…”

“I’ll tell you sometime…” the Captain said, “I had half a mind to “log” you buggers – but I’ll let it go this time. Now – stop your bloody antics and get on with your jobs…”

“Aye Aye, Captain…” we said.

Then – we saluted and beat a hasty retreat. 

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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