A Curious Army Wife

I joined this crazy tribe when I married into the Indian Army

Archive for the month “May, 2016”

*Guest Post* How is it Like Being an Army Wife?

I’m back with another guest post, this time from Army wife Manisha Shejwal with this amazingly insightful post. Enjoy…

How is it like being an Army wife?

Every young girl dreams and waits for a prince charming to come on a black horse and take her away as his bride to get married. When she is about to get married to an Army man, it is like realizing her dream.

I think dreaming to marry a man in olive-green and being an exemplary Army wife are two different equations. To decode what it takes to become an Army wife, let me shortly tell you about the men in uniform.

Army-Wife-MedIndian Army is one of the first five largest military forces among the total 126 military forces present in the world. The most eligible gentlemen cadets are handpicked for further training through the toughest exam conducted by Service Selection Board (SSB). An Army man undergoes rigorous physical training that tries and establishes extreme limits of his stamina, endurance, and abilities to cope up with harsh working conditions.

He is groomed to handle any crucial situations may they be professional or personal. This training turns him into a completely confidant, smart, and a fit officer, who can take anything; may whatever comes his way. Being aware of his enhanced capabilities after the training, pride comes to him naturally. And ahem:-) … it suits him whether he wears any of his smart uniforms or a simple casual outfit.

During the course of his profession, he gets posted at various peace and field places every 2 to 2.5 years. At the place of peace posting, there is no separation from the family and life is still much easy.

But his field posting is a different affair. Sometimes the names of these field places are difficult to spell and locate on the civil versions of maps. He cannot keep his family with him while he is posted to a field.

While on duty at a remote field place, his day starts at 4:45 am. He takes all meals at the officers’ mess. His office starts very early and he is all occupied with inspections, planning and executing war games, training subordinates, establishing systems, and administration. He always carries the professional responsibilities towards the organization on his mind.

Some of his field areas record the daytime temperature of sub-zero and the lack of oxygen. During some crucial times, he works around 16 to 18 hours a day, without proper food or water at hand. He witnesses the game of life and death from a close proximity.

When he is away from home, he waits for letters and messages from his loved ones. He urges to hear baby talk that his little daughter or son utters into the phone speaker…He keeps his baby’s picture as his cellphone wallpaper.

He tirelessly eats all Aloo-mixed versions of vegetables that the mess cook prepares for meals; may it be Aloo-Gobhi, Aloo-Paneer, Aloo-Capsicum, Aloo-Bhindi, Aloo-Methi, Dum-Aloo, or Aloo-Mutter! Oh yes, also the Aloo-bondas as tea time snack, or that Aloo-paratha in the breakfast…He wonders what the mess cook would serve him if there comes a dearth of potatoes in ration! 😀 He waits for days and months to go home and have the tasty food that his mother or wife serves him with love.

ArmyMan-in-Shoes-MedBehind his tough, disciplined, and hardworking adult persona hides a little child, who giggles freely and sleeps for little extra time while on vacation. He tries to catch up on all that he missed while he was away. And when the vacation comes near to its end, he gets anxious on the slightest thought of separation from his loved ones. But he never shows. As a strong officer, he needs to be in control always; for all that comes his way. He prepares himself again to take the leave of his family and departs with the stock of love to resume work.

It takes something special to be able to handle this proud and commanding alpha man, a loving husband, a father of his children, and a child himself. Being an Army wife is not just about flaunting branded outfits and accessories, or driving a sedan…In my view, an Army wife is a courageous life partner of her husband. Her sacrifice starts when she enters marriage with the awareness that she is at second place in the list of his top priorities. Because for him, the nation comes first.

Here I remember a very meaningful quote in Hindu Neeti-Shastra that narrates six basic virtues of a married woman:

“कार्येषु दासी, कारणेषु मंत्री। (Karyeshu Daasi, Kaaraneshu Mantri)
भोजेषु माता, शयनेषु रंभा। (Bhojaneshu Mataa, Shayaneshu Rambha)
रुपेषु लक्ष्मी, क्षमायेषु धरित्री। (Roopeshu Lakshmi, Kshamayeshu Dharitree)
सतधर्मयुक्ता, कुलधर्म पत्नी।” (Satadharmayukta, kuladharma patni)

This Sanskrit quote means, “She works like a servant for her family, she advises her husband like a wise minister, she feeds her family with a mother’s love, she pleases her man romantically like a beauty named Rambha, she is the form of Goddess Lakshmi because she helps to multiply wealth, and she is forgiving like the mother earth”.

I humbly mention that an Army wife has almost everything in her. She is a blend of strength and warmth. She understands her husband’s unparalleled hardships and runs their house single-handedly when he is away. She takes care of his parents in his absence so that he can concentrate on his work. She becomes their children’s father and does not crib about the problems she tackles in his absence.

She drives car smoothly. She is an awesome cook. She applies her unique artistic ideas to convert a white-washed house into a beautiful warm home. She has an eye for colors, fabrics, weaves, and prints. She can change the cooking gas cylinder or an electric tube by herself. She is an amateur carpenter. She handles bank transactions and investments proficiently. She knows how to handle medical emergencies. She can even bring up their autistic or differently-abled child when he is not around.

C’est tout? Non…She knows Roger means okay and recce means reconnaissance. She knows Army diction of the terms such as TD, Adjt, Div, Cmdt, QM, and more. She can cook three-course meal for 20 people on a brief notice. She is fearless with cockroaches and she can use her new pair of Marie Clair stilettos to kill the small snake that sneaked in from the ground floor bathroom pipe.😀

She conducts herself gracefully and knows all dining etiquettes during parties. She is a mentor for junior ladies and a counsellor for jawans’ wives. She maintains cordial relations with fellow Army wives and senior ladies. She understands her man and complements him effortlessly. She holds her strength up even during those bad times when she feels like she is getting more than she can handle. She can multitask. She is jovial. She is cool.

Does she sound like a superwoman? Or a woman from another planet, maybe…😀 No…She is a common lady with uncommon spirit, endurance, creativity, and emotional quotient; doing it all for the ultimate noble cause.

There are quite reasonable pay-offs for her being an Army wife. She gets to be an inseparable part of a man’s life who is always morally upright. She is his most trusted friend and an advisor. When her hero is promoted as a Commanding Officer (CO) of a unit, she becomes the first lady of the unit. She always receives genuine respect from her husband and his fellow officers. These gentlemen around her make her feel like a pampered queen.:-)

She can stay with her husband during his foreign missions or join him on short foreign trips. She can visit unique places of his postings. She gets to see the natural and cultural beauty within and outside India. She gets to participate in adventurous activities and make a lot of friends. She gets to look at people beyond their places of origin, castes, and religions. She gets to serve others and thus she can create positive karmas for herself.

Army-Couple-MedI am happily married to a very capable signal officer for the past 17 years. We both hail from civil background. My civilian acquaintances knew that I was going to marry the then Captain Saab. They knew only the rosy side of Army life and they often equated it with parties, freebies, and drinks. They used to say like, “How lucky you are! You would lead a very lavish life!” After our wedding they would say, “You have sahayaks and maids at your disposal, you get free house, canteen facilities, blah blah blah,…, you really live life king-size…”.

How much of it is really free, at what cost, and to what extent is another topic for discussion. But yes, we Army people do live our lives king-size. We party hard as if there is no tomorrow. Maybe because we frequently undergo long separations from our families…Maybe because we face numerous uncertainties and we wish to make the most of each moment in hand…Maybe because we know tomorrow would be different…

An Army wife neither receives any formal training to manage the show nor does she receive any bravery award…She stumbles, observes, learns, and moves on with smile and confidence…She becomes stronger each day, for she knows that she is the strength of her Army man. She knows, however unacknowledged her sacrifices go; she will continue to contribute in kind for her motherland.

The writer of this post, Manisha Shejwal is a Freelance Content Writer/Technical Writer. She likes cooking, baking, reading, painting, learning new skills, making Henna tattoos, and writing. She is inclined towards spirituality and  strongly believes in two ideas: One, whatever goes around comes around. Two, happiness is a journey of life by choice. You can check out her blog Happiness Mocktail.

13 Egg starters to utilise those ration wale ande!

Egg special

If those weekly egg trays that come in the ration are too much for your small family, then I am sure you are always on the lookout to finish off those 20-something eggs before the next batch gets delivered. Major Sa’ab and I had literally broadcast to the entire military station that we have extra eggs if anyone was falling short. We even had a tie-up with another  officer who had to buy extra eggs for his pet dog (not after we made a deal to send him our stock).

I later realised that it’s best to utilise the eggs during the numerous house parties that we had at our place. So invariably, the menu would have anda curry.

However, since we end up spending a bomb on the starters (the frozen variety), I thought why not put these eggs to good use in this department.

So here I have for you 13 egg appetisers or starters that will floor your guests. I am not very great with writing recipes and measuring ingredients, so I am just going to give you a general overview and you can use the services of Youtube to get the complete recipe from professionals! Also, I am not rambling here… I have actually taken the pains to cook these 13 dishes for you (to check feasibility)!

  1. Capsicum Ring Omelette: I’ve taken this one right off Pinterest. You will need extra small capsicums for this starter recipe — it will be difficult for your guests to eat it if you use a big one. So just cut a horizontal section of the capsicum and use it as a mould to cook whole eggs (or whisked) within it. Flip it and garnish with cheese (another diary item that fauj loves to shower on us).

    IMG_20160411_114247

    Capsicum Ring Omlette

  2. Potato Omelette slices: Whisk eggs and add all those things that you generally do while making a normal omelette. In addition to that, add grated boiled eggs. Do add a bit of diced tomatoes, because potato tends to dry out the omelette. It’s gonna be a thick omelette, so cut it up like a pizza and serve it with sauce.

    Potato-Egg Omelette slices

    Potato-Egg Omelette slices

  3. Scotch Eggs: You’ve probably seen it at the formal dinner parties that have ‘English Menu’. It’s not that difficult to make it. Minced meat added with greens and whites of spring onion and garlic, salt and pepper will make up the outer cover of the egg. The half-boiled egg needs to be covered properly with the mince and then fried. Cut it up vertically (halves or quarters, your choice) and serve with love!

    Scotch Eggs

    Scotch Eggs

  4. Egg-Cheese Crostini: You can either use your ration wale bread slices for this crostini, or you can buy that long bread (I don’t know if it has a name). I bought toasted garlic slices and put up layers of cheese, slice of boiled egg and cheese on top it again. In the over for 10 mins at 200 degrees. Garnish in a fun way to have small bites of heaven.

    Egg Cheese Crostini

    Egg Cheese Crostini

  5. Little Egg Muffins: The savoury kind, duh! Whisk eggs with diced onions, tomatoes, chilies, salt and pepper. Feel free to add anything else that you fancy, like grated carrots, cheese or mushrooms. Add a little milk and bake in a muffin mould (small size) for quick bites!
  6. Korean Egg Roll: It’s a rolled up omelette, cut into neat discs that makes it look like a pinwheel! This is like the easiest starter recipe that looks equally pretty! A tip – don’t whisk the eggs vigorously, you want the omelette to be flat and not fluffy. One way to achieve that is to pass it through a sieve.

    Korean Egg Roll

    Korean Egg Roll

  7. Boiled Egg salad on Monaco: It’s easy, economical and tasty… all you need to do is present it like a pro!
  8. Egg Murtabak: I’ve used the Malaysian name here. You probably know it by the name Mughlai paratha or egg paratha. Roll out a maida roti real thin, put it on a hot pan, and spread your spicy whisked egg bater on the uncooked side. Fold the sides onto the egg once it thickens and cover it up. Flip it, let it cook, and then cut it up into bite sized pieces. The ones I made were not that pretty, so no pics here.
  9. Boiled eggs zindabad: Cut them in halves, or quarters, sprinkle some chat masala, and you are good to go. Perfect for those midnight raids or impromptu night outs at friend’s place. I won’t bother with the pics, it’s just so damn easy.

  10. Anda Bhurji: The easiest recipe that can be used as chakhna when hungry bachelors come calling for a midnight snack. Major Sa’ab used to say Anda Bhurji is like the ultimate JCO Mess starter. Since wives of officers are not allowed inside a JCO Mess, I have no choice but to believe him. This recipe is quick and simple.  Load it up with cheese or veggies to give it’s taste some variation.

    Anda Bhurji

    Anda Bhurji

  11. Egg Puff: Here’s an interesting starter item for those who love to bake. If you don’t usually bake but still wanna try something ambitious, then this one is perfect for you. First get some gyaan on how to make a pastry dough at home. Alternatively, you can buy frozen pastry sheets (I am not sure if small military stations will have this fancy item). Almost all cantonments have one or two kick-ass bakeries, so you can ask them for help on making the dough. Roll it out and fill it with anda bhurji or boiled egg with spices. Cover it up, coat it with egg-wash and bake it for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees. Taa-daaa! IMG_20160427_132927
  12. Egg momos: What makes momos awesome? Two years in momo-land have taught me a few basics. Crumble up boiled eggs with minced ginger, green mirchi and coriander. Use this as the filling in your momos. Serve it with that fire-brand red chili tomato chutney for a unique snack-time experience.
  13. Egg cocktail samosa: Making cute little samosas is completely manageable — I am talking to women here who like me are guests in their own kitchen. Instead of the aloo or paneer filling, you just need to make anda bhurji and stuff the samosa with it. Small bite sized pieces  will go quite well with your welcome drinks! I guess you can use a mixture made of boiled eggs also… lemme give that a try and let you know how that went.
    Egg Coctail Samosa

    Egg Coctail Samosa

    Got anymore ideas? Write to me (email in About section) or just pen it down in the comments section. If you’ve got pics, then great! I’ll feature it here as a guest chef creation!

 

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