A Curious Army Wife

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

Archive for the tag “Indian Army”

Here’s the tale of Lt Nidhi Dubey and Lt Swati Mahadik

 

Nidhi Dubey’s husband, Naik Mukesh Dubey, died of a cardiac arrest when Nidhi was 4 months pregnant. Nidhi, who lived in Sagar, moved to Indore for further studies and job.

Swati and Nidhi Dubey

Lt Swati Mahadik (left) and Lt Nidhi Dubey after being commissioned into the Indian Army at OTA Chennai on September 9, 2017. Pic: Via Twitter

When she learned that war widows can also join the army, she started preparing for the entrance and was given ample support by the Mahar Regimental Centre in Sagar.

Today, she is Lt Nidhi Dubey!

Swati Mahadik’s husband, Col Santosh Mahadik, was martyred in Kupwara in 2015 while fighting terrorist in Jammu and Kashmir. Though financially stable, Swati decided to join the Army to honour her late husband’s sacrifice. She has a young daughter and son, who were put in boarding school so that Swati could prepare for the entrance.

Swati3

Lt Swati Mahadik with her son and daughter at the PoP in OTA Chennai. Pic: Via Twitter

Today, she is Lt Swati Mahadik.

The two women walked through the gates of Officers Training Academy in Chennai in September 2016.

Every year, there is only one vacancy for a war widow in OTA. This time, the Army made an exception and allowed both the ladies to undergo training.

They are not alone — their name will be added to the small  yet growing list of war widows opting to join the Army after rigorous training.

Swati2

At the Passing Out Parade at OTA Chennai. Pic: Via Twitter

If the entire process of getting over grief of loss of a loved one, and then pulling themselves up again to prepare for the future, that too in the Army, is something that will send shivers down the spine of even the strong-hearted!

A Curious Army Wife salutes them all! 

 

Advertisements

Army Train Journey Part 1: ‘Expected Time Of Departure’ is moh maya!

Heard of the special Army train?
No, no, not the NDA special.
I am talking about the one in which female presence is allowed! 😛
20170424_183611
I first heard about this special Army train from many army wives, who had accompanied their husband’s battalion (or Unit) in such trains while shifting from one positing location to another, and decided it was high time for me, the ‘Curious Army Wife’, to experience the journey.
Hashtag Travel Goals
Hashtag Life mein ek baar. 
Hashtag Rahul Gandhi Pappu Hai. 
So, when it was time for Major Sa’ab’s unit to move from a field location to a peace station, I came to know the famous special Army train will be used for this movement.
Major Sa’ab told me officers are allowed to bring their families on this special Army train. I think it’s only legit that I have a minor listicle-attack to explain some things about this train before I tell you my story.
Salient features of special train (yaad kar lo bhiya)
1. Moving an entire battalion from one location to another is a massive task and an ENTIRE train is needed to shift it. Some Units need 2-3 trains!
2. On routes where there are no railway tracks (like the remote mountainous regions), army trucks do the work.
3. Men, machines, files, furniture, all the troops’ luggage and even the flower pots (bole toh gamle) are transported via this train.
4. The train is green in colour, not the usual brown/blue/duronto colour. Coaches have Indian Army written on it. Jhanki hai boss!
5. The train travels at a leisurely pace. It takes its own sweet time in reaching its destination. So a journey that takes, say 12 hours by a normal train, will take at least 36 hours in the special Army train.
6. No civilians are allowed to board it. The train is so exclusive that not even other faujis (as in those who do not belong to the battalion that is moving) are allowed to step in.
20170424_183629 (2)
Getting back to my story. 
“Chalegi kya Special Train mein?” Major Sa’ab asked me.
“Jaisa aap kahein,” I replied.
“Aa hi ja. Bahut kam logon ko mauka milta hai. Baad mein pata hai aa paye ya nahin,” he said.
“Aapki iccha ko na bolne wali mein kaun hoti hoon. Aa jaungi,” replied the obedient me.
Hashtag True Story. 
Major Sa’ab’s Unit was in a very volatile location in the valley. It was scheduled to move to the same city where I was working (very very convenient for me).
Two months before the expected journey date, he advised that I should ask for leave of absence from my office. I said,”Give me the dates first.”
I should have changed the name of this blog to The NAIVE Army Wife right there!
Major Sa’ab patiently explained that these dates are not fixed two months in advance and gave me a tentative moving date.
Let’s, for the sake of easy calculations, assume the date was April 1 (quite symbolic).
I was to take connecting flights to reach the station where from where the Unit would move in train.
This was the date I had with me when I approached my boss seeking leave. Once I got the green signal, Major Sa’ab said they have received communication from Delhi that their unit is to move on April 5.
Chalo koi na, I thought, since my office was pretty flexible when it came to leaves.
With a fortnight to go, Major Sa’ab told me the revised date is April 12-16. “Book your flight tickets,” he said!
“HOW?” I asked in my politest voice. “I need ONE date to book it.”
Days passed as I anxiously waited for that. Everyday, I heard a new departure date. When the date was finalised on April 18, I decided to book my flight ticket.
Last minute flight fares are sometimes insane. Thankfully, the only portal that could give me some discount was UdChalo.com.
If you haven’t heard of UdChalo.com, then you are probably spending a lot on flight tickets. This start-up (completly run by fauji kids and Ex-servicemen) provides discounted airfare to Armed Forces personnel and their family members.
Hashtag Plugged. 
Hashtag Travel Hacks For Faujis
Now here’s Major Sa’ab’s official statement about the special train departure.”The train will come to the station on April 18. It will take roughly 4-5 hours for us to load it. Once that is done, we will leave by April 18 night, or maximum by 19th afternoon. Normal train takes 2 days in reaching our destination, we will take not more than 4 days.”
I decided to reach the station of departure on April 19th morning — I had full faith that the train won’t leave before that.
I reached the airport and saw Major Sa’ab there after almost 5 months! Oh! How I loved my man!
In the jeep, he tells me, ” Accha listen, you were right and made the correct decision.”
Hashtag What’s The Fuck Up NOW? 
“That train hasn’t come here yet.”
Ein?
“There’s been a slight delay. But it will come tomorrow,” he gave me aashwasan like Modi.
“This is so unfair. I’ll waste one day of my leave for nothing” I did kadi ninda like Rajnath.
He was silent. Like Manmohan.
The Unit had to travel to this railway station — located at the nearest city — by loading all their stuff in those army trucks. It took the trucks an entire day to cover this distance, and three journey’s to-fro.
Our Commanding Officer’s (CO) wife and the new bride of another officer were there in the transit camp to keep me company.
For the next five… no no, I need some more drama here… FOR THE NEXT FIVE FREAKING DAYS, the train didn’t come.
Some stupid cargo train carrying coal had derailed somewhere, blocking the route from where our empty special Army train was to come.
The ladies shopped, cribbed, slept throughout the day, cribbed some more and then topped it off with some more cribbing.
We went to a mall in the evening, saw that toy train in which kids ride, and decided that we are going to sit in this train for a joy ride. Three grown-up women trying to fit themselves in that small coach was a testimony of how badly we wanted to sit in a TRAIN… ANY TRAIN.
“Train ki koi khabar,” we would ask everytime we saw each other in those five days and then burst out laughing.
Hashtag How Sad Are We. 
Hashtag Panjon Panjon Panjon Panjon
20170423_110132
On April 24th, Major Sa’ab was getting ready in the guest room to go to the railway station. Today, like the previous five days, the train was “definitely” going to come.
I accompanied Major Sa’ab to the station.
I wasn’t prepared for this.
The entire length of the platform at the other end of the station was covered with Unit property. From this side, it looked like a miniature model of the New York skyline. It was covered in green tent cloth to protect from rain and dust.
Breaking the monotony of black boxes and trunks were some flowerpots (as promised), furniture covered in gunny bag, personal belongings of the Jawans, classified stuff and a net box full of pigeons.
YES… PIGEONS!
20170423_111702
These were pet birds who kept the jawans company in the hills and were looked after very well by the fauj. When the time came for the Unit to leave that location and move to a big city, the CO decided to take these birds along! Isn’t that just… I don’t know.. I have never heard of people moving with lock stock barrel and pigeons!
And all this, I didn’t think would fit in a train.
And then the unthinkable happened!
I heard a nice long whistle and the rhythmic sound of the train pulling up at the station from one end!
200w_d
Show some love to inspire me enough to write Part 2 of this blog(coming soon) to read about how I realised there were 3 four-legged friends with us on the train and why I couldn’t complete this journey (no, wasn’t thrown off it) 

*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.

My first Ladies’ Meet!

There should be two stories under this title — the first Ladies’ Meet that I attended, and the first Ladies’ Meet I hosted.

As luck would have it, both these historical accidents incidents happened at the same Ladies’ Meet.

It was my first month as a newly wed in my husband’s unit, which was hosting this mega reunion of all unit officers (serving and retired).

image2

Can you believe it! All these years and I have not been able to attend any garden parties that I was invited to. Photo by Saanya Bajaj Rawat, a fellow army wife and an Instagram star!

Women of my unit decided to have a coffee morning and since I was the latest bakra — was given emcee duties. I’ve was an active orator in school and college, so was thankful of the department I was to handle for that “Spring” or “Holi” or “Colours” or “Floral” theme meet (I can’t seem to remember what the theme was).

Having never attended anything that remotely resembled a Ladies’ Meet, I was kind of taken aback by the extensive preparations that went into it. Right from the games, the menu and the gifts, it all seemed a little surreal and waste of time.

Rehearsals took it’s toll on everyone.

I lost my ‘Tambola virginity’.

By the end, I lost my appetite for that elaborate menu.

I also learnt how to say Thank you and Good Evening for at least 7 times before the guest actually left. Before that, guests spent a good 10 minutes gushing about what a great performance we’ve all put up, and how the food was smashing (even that lady whose expression changed the moment she took a bite of that samosa … to be fair, it did not have enough salt).

And I prayed (more than what I’d prayed during Maths exams) that some divine shakti would stop me from attending the next one.

Maybe my silent prayer was heard by the same upar-wala who had earlier handled (manhandled) my maths request.

Within a month, it was time for me to attend another one. Thankfully, I was a spectator this time.

I made the rookie mistake of not carrying my wallet, because it was a man’s wallet and did not go well with my saree (or any saree). So, at the entrance, I felt a little embarrassed when the lady at the reception desk said, “Rs50 please,” and I had no money with me.

A senior officer’s wife, who was standing right behind me, generously offered to pay my share. She later told me that she had an inkling that I would not know about this “entrance fee”, as was the case with most of the newly weds.

The chief guest of the event arrived (usually wife of the senior most officer) and was “shown” FOUR welcome drinks! She picked one. I wanted to stop the waiter cause a blue drink had caught my fancy. It was gonna go waste as it is na, why not put it to good use. I thank my invisible fairy godmother who prevented me from putting  my thoughts into action.

As soon as the MC started off with her animated enactment of the script, a semi-loud chuckle was heard from the far corner. I was sitting there. What the hell, I made that noise.

One of my unit ladies glared at me to stop! I instantly put on my poker face and resorted to man-hi-man hasna. Years later, I remembered that woman while listening to an absolutely brilliant emcee performance by an Army wife at the IMA passing out parade (POP). Talent ki kami nai hai, it’s just not every unit gets an equal distribution of it.

I am not a great fan of Tambola. Never was, never will be. But that day, it was the best game in the world. I won Rs 75 in it and proudly told my husband,”Aaj teri biwi Rs25 rupaye jeet ke aayi hai! Chal tujhe treat deti hoon.”  I dreamt of Tambola being recognised as an Olympic sport that year and me on the podium.

Status quo was restored the very next day.

I’m waiting for your stories… pen it down (one word, one line, one para, one big story… your choice) in the comment section below.

Tell us the story of yourPS:

*Guest Post* The Unsung Heroes: Indian Army Wives

Sharing a beautiful post written by a blogger whom I immensely admire for her varied skill-set. Gunjan Upadhyay Mishra, a fellow Army wife and writer, has knocked it out of the park for a six with this piece….

THE UNSUNG HEROS: INDIAN ARMY WIVES

Once, Yama, the ruler of hell, heard a large group of women laughing and talking, enjoying a party in hell. He asked his assistant to find out who these women were, and how were they so happy even in hell! Yama’s assistant instantly answered his query, ‘Sir, these are Indian Army Wives. They enjoy wherever they go.’

The force behind the forces — Army wives!  Photo by Gunjan Mishra Upadhyay.

The force behind the forces — Army wives!
Photo by Gunjan Upadhyay Mishra.

That might sound like a joke to many. But to my ears and eyes, it is the absolute truth. I walk among hundreds of heroes as a part of my daily routine. Someone might come across an inspiring story once in a while. I have hundreds of such stories happening around me, which I witness, feel and live. I see my heroes, I am proud to be in their company, we smile at each other and nod a ‘good evening’ or ‘good morning’, even when we don’t know each other’s names. We know that it does not matter much, we are friends anyways. Such is the spirit of our Army, our officers, and naturally, their better halves. Yes, my heroes are none other than Indian Army Wives!

Indian Army wives constitute a little army by themselves. This little army is a storehouse of talent and fun, a cache of songs and laughter and a beacon of hope in dark times of loss and turmoil. Among this group, one can meet women from all walks of life. Doctors, engineers, army officers, civil servants, lawyers, journalists, air hostesses, teachers, entrepreneurs, authors, poets, actors, classical dancers, corporate trainers, singers, artistes, you name it, we have her! How they manage to be everything that they are is nothing short of magic! At times, they leave me star-struck with their wit, their beauty, their panache, their elegance, their rich taste and class. But these qualities can be easily seen by anyone.

Indian Army wives are much more than that. They are an ocean of beautiful hearts and minds, come together drop by drop, handpicked by destiny, to be paired with the bravest on earth.

I read somewhere, that we should not judge others, as we do not know their story. But I have seen people judging army wives many times. You see them partying daily, but you do not see the uncertainty of tomorrow clawing at their nerves. You see their glamour and style, you do not see the struggle that they go through in moving between one mossy old house to another, every alternate year, or even before that. You think that they do not lift a finger, but actually, the amount of back-breaking work that they do goes unnoticed, well hidden behind their charm. You can spot her driving away in a sedan, but you are conveniently unaware of the fact that she is running from pillar to post, to keep everything in place in the absence of her husband. You think that they enjoy too many ‘freebies’, you never try to understand their pain that is darker than those 30 odd black boxes in which they carry their entire life.

Staying away from her husband for a while is a part of any army wife’s life. During these tough times, while the officer is braving the challenges of glaciers and super low temperatures, the wife has her own glaciers to climb.

In that duration, she doubles up as a father to her kids, a son to her in laws, and does everything that the man of the house is supposed to do, that too with elan. Did you know that army wives compare their separation length with each other and someone who has been away ‘only’ for three years in a marriage of seven years feels luckier than the one who had to spend three years and one month away. Isn’t that a fancy yardstick?

Life, in itself is not easy. Life as a woman is more difficult. Women have the fighter’s instinct and they are tough from within. Army wives are a lot tougher. They live in the present and enjoy thoroughly while keeping in mind that tomorrow might be different. The past year went like a slideshow, leaving me scared and saddened many times. Every now and then, an unfortunate news comes and wakes me up from my sweet dreams to the harsh truth. The reason of my not writing much this September and October was not sheer laziness or any kind of fancy army-wife-partying spree, it was a rather low and heartbroken phase for me.

We lost Maj Dhruv Yadav, an officer who I met very briefly, and had the chance to find out how much he loved kids. He used to ask Coco, ‘Who am I?’, and when Coco replied ‘Dhu uncle’ in recognition, his face beamed with joy. Proud to be in Coco’s good book, he did this again and again, just for the fun of it.

When his news came, all I could remember was Coco’s beloved ‘Dhu uncle’ and his radiant smile and cried at the sheer injustice of fate. I have never spoken to his wife, but all I could think of was her, and their unborn child. I bless his son with all my might, and wish him all the happiness of the world. Even today, not a day goes without remembering Maj Yadav, though I barely knew him. I do not know anyone stronger than his wife, and salute her for being so brave. She, and many others like her have proved time and again, that as long as we have such iron willed women, our frontiers will stay safe.

I must let you in on a little secret now. I am an army wife myself, and consider myself quite strong. A senior officer once jokingly said that I should be awarded ‘Paramveer Chakra’ for my bravery of staying alone in this ‘forest resort’ like house for a few months. But I think my bravery ends there. Inside, I am scared. When I was about to get married, my colleagues sometimes played ‘ae jaate huye lamhon’ for me, not knowing that inside I died a thousand deaths.

Can you believe, I run away whenever the movie Border is being aired on tv? I haven’t watched it, and do not have the courage to watch it ever either. My bucket list has bungee jumping though!

I pray to God for peace and harmony, because no one else’s life depends on it but my own. Whereas, my magnanimous heroes promise to stand by each other, come rain or sunshine. They do not know defeat, and quitting is not an option for them. They stand proudly by their faujis and that my friends is all the more reason why I worship my heroes, these soldiers without uniforms, the Indian Army Wives.

Check out some more ‘Army wife life’ and DIY posts on Gunjan’s blog Bringing Up Coco!

Kissa Adjutant ki kursi ka!

wp-1456250927747.jpg

The impact of my Major Sa’ab’s announcement that he would soon be on the adjutant’s chair can be accurately compared to that of an iceberg hitting the Titanic. This blog post by A Curious Army Wife is dedicated to the wives of those adjutants, who live a life worthy of a field allowance even during peace postings!

If you are an adjutant’s wife, then here are 10 things that you will definitely relate with:

1. Till now, you must have thought that your husband loves the country more than you. And you were fine by that, weren’t you. Trouble starts when patidev becomes the adjutant and you are pushed to third spot in the love thy list —

  • Our country
  • Whoever is on the other side of the phone.
  • You. (Oh this is so not good).

2. You initially revel in the power your husband has in the unit as an adjutant, till reality strikes hard and you realise, it’s not really power but a big headache. Phone pe phone pe phone…

3. You chuckle when you hear the Jawans address you as “Adjutant Memsahib“.

4. It’s a fun guessing game to indulge in — guess who’s on phone? If you husband answers with “Jai Hind” and then sits up in attention, then it’s probably the CO or a very senior officer. If his posture doesn’t change, it’s his SM. If he scrambles to open his diary to check something, it’s another officer. If he suddenly starts massaging his temples, it’s from MT. If he looks up towards the almighty for some inspiration and patience, it’s from a JCO.

5. You feel weirdly wicked to be in possession of all the information about what the ladies in the unit are demanded  from the adjutant. Aah! So Mrs XYZ asked for the gypsy to go shopping? And Mrs ABC asked her husband’s sahayak to be changed! Poor husband tells these things to you innocently, but you just feel supremely happy at getting the inside dope.

6. “Dinner Conversation” is a distant dream. For a conversation to take place, you first need to have dinner with the person. On the rare chance the adjutant makes it home for dinner, there is very little hope for a proper ‘conversation’ because the damn phone keeps ringing all the time.

Army officer

7. You reach that stage where ‘OK Report’ becomes an integral part of your life. Are you going out shopping? Give an OK Report to your husband when you reach. Boarding a train? Give an OK Report when your ticket gets checked. Applying make-up? Give an OK Report when you manage to get the shape of the eyeliner correct. Marroing tadka to daal? Give an OK Report with exact time it took for the daal to cook and gap between boiling and tadka.

8. It’s ok to call him for those OK Reports, but god forbid you call him to ask what time he is coming home, all hell will break lose. “Yaar, you know na I am very busy. I will come when work gets over, don’t call me over such things,” he would say.

9. When he says “Today, there isn’t that much pressure of work. I will finish by maximum 1800hrs. We’ll go for a walk then,” you safely assume you won’t see his face before 2200 hrs.

10. The frequency with which he picks up others’ calls will makes you jealous. “Han han, mera phone kabhi attend bhi mat kariyo,” becomes the patented snide remark of every Army wife.

But when Adjutant Sa’ab has had enough and says in utter frustration, “I think I need to stop taking calls, and start giving some balls,” there is no thikana of your khushi!

All’s well that ends well, or in this case, ends soon.

9 Reasons why Maggi and Fauj are made for each other

Army maggi

We all had a harrowing time when Maggi was banned. What a relief that it’s coming back to reunite with her beloved fauji.

I keep reading about how much Maggi means more to everyone that probably a lot of other meaningful things (I am not judging them, cos I am a Maggiholic myself). But Indian Army loves Maggi like crazy. Why is Maggi such an important part of fauji life and why do faujis miss the yellow packets at CSD Canteen?

If the nation wants to know, then know nation shall.

I can think of 9 instances where faujis and Army wives find solace in Maggi’s noodley comfort.

1. When the Mess runs out of food for every-hungry cadets of the National Defence Academy, then what saves the day for them? Maggi, of course! And the preparation would put even hard core life-hackers to shame. Since cadets at NDA are not allowed to keep an electric kettle or a gas burner with them in their rooms, their inner-Einstein invented a new way of cooking Maggi.

The elaborate process involves a cadet first peeking out of his room to make sure there are no officers and senior term cadets anywhere around the room. Once that is ensured, the door is locked securely, out comes the mess tin issued to every cadet, and an iron.

The iron is balanced between books in upside-down position (so that the hot surface faces upwards) and acts like a hot plate. Mix water, masala and Maggi in the mess tin and keep it on the hot iron. Call up your girlfriend and talk for 15-20 minutes. (Yes, the Curious Army Wife knows this). Once the Maggi is cooked (well, almost), the cadets make some lame excuse to hang up and I lie not when I say that all it takes is just 10 seconds for the mess tin to be empty again! Viola!

Maggi and Anda Bhurji -- the ultimate military combo.

Maggi and Anda Bhurji — the ultimate military combo.

2. NDA traditions often get carried on to various other institutions like Indian Military Academy (Dehradun), Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy (Hyderabad). So All-India coverage of iron-mess tin-Maggi is ensured by our future officers.

3. Young officers often miss their three-course meals in the Mess to go to that Maggi shop that serves every possible variation of Maggi. Major Sa’ab swears by the cheese Maggi he survived on during his YOs in Mhow.

4. The flamboyant officers often go out on dates but end up returning home with their stomach still growling — all because the damsel wanted to go out dancing or check out the new pizza place. The fauji would obviously not want to scare the girl off by eating much much much more than her. So he returns home, calls up his sahayak, who runs off to the Mess to get hot and soupy Maggi! Fauji trupt hue!

5. Enough of this. How can Army wives lag behind in this Maggi eating-spree. She gets her first taste of fauji Maggi when she gets married and joins her husband for the first time in a peace station. More often than not, it takes from a few days to a few months for a house to get allotted to them. Till then, khana-peena is done in the Mess. But one fine day the lady would say, “I am sick and tired of dressing up for meals. I want to eat in my pajamas and I WANT MAGGI!”

6. Then when the couple is allotted a house, the new-age digital wife is obviously going to spend more time on Facebook and Watsapp (and my blog) than in the kitchen. She then suddenly realises that it is 1300hrs already and she hasn’t prepared lunch. Koi tension nai, Maggi hai na! Maggi

7. The sleepy couple doze off at night only to be woken up at around midnight by the sound of the doorbell. A normal civilian family would obviously panic. Who could it be at this hour? Is everything alright? But a fauji couple never gets anxious. They wake up and open the door (without  looking through the peep-hole or asking who’s there) because they know there is a pack of hungry young officers (and ladies too) waiting outside for a midnight party! Don’t worry, this is common practice in fauj. Now the pack has to be fed.

Had it been 1970s, the lady of the house would have promptly prepared aloo ke parathe or something like that. But not our aaj-ki naari.

She knows the short cuts, and Maggi is the shortest of the cuts. In fact the Curious Army Wife is always on a lookout for the easy way out! Four packets and some veggies are enough to feed the pack. The group leaves happy and satisfied… at around 0300hrs.

8. The wife is visiting her parents in another city. The officer is at home studying for some godforsaken test. He misses his wife and her food. The maid is there to cook, but her daal is not as good as his wife’s. After putting in a few hours of studying, the officer gets up, enters the kitchen and makes the only thing he can make in there — Maggi. If there is one thing he can make right from his academy days, it is Maggi. He slurps the last strand of the noodle and goes back to his desk to fall asleep on top of his books.

Cook a tricoloured recipe. Ye lo ji Tiranga Maggi!

Cook a tricoloured recipe. Ye lo ji Tiranga Maggi!

9. Somewhere up there on mountain is a group of Jawans on their regular duty. They are thousands of kilometres away from home. Huddled up around a small fire to keep them warm, they often have chai and Maggi as a quick evening snack. Maggi might not take 2-minutes to cook, but it takes less than 1 minute for that Jawan to gobble it down. And then it’s business as usual.

Asha School student Laxmi excels in Special Olympics

Kudos to Laxmi Kumari, who won medals for India in Special Olympics recently. FYI, she is a product of the Asha Special Children School, which is run by the Indian Army (or is it AWWA?). I am so proud of her.

I also made a mental note to encourage someone to follow in her footsteps if I ever visit any Asha school. I’ve pasted the news piece from Assam Tribune that appeared on August 6, 2015 below. (I think they have used the PTI press release).

Waiting to know more about Laxmi and many more from Asha Schools who are doing well in their field. Bravo Laxmi!

__________________________________________

Assam Tribune

City girl shines in Special Olympics

GUWAHATI, Aug 6 – Laxmi Kumari, a student of Asha Special Children School, Narangi Cantonment here won one gold medal in soft ball and one silver medal in the 50-metre race in the Special Olympics World Summer Games, held in Los Angeles, USA from July 20 to August 2.

She was given a grand welcome at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bardoloi International Airport here by her fans and admirers when she arrived in the city today. This was stated in a press release. Laxmi Kumari joined the special school, run by the Army, at the age of seven with mild mental retardation and spinal disabilities. But with her sheer grit and determination and the efforts of the school, she not only started normal physical activities, but also keenly participated in various sports events.

In the past, she has won a gold medal in badminton singles, one silver medal in badminton doubles and one silver medal in badminton mixed doubles in the Special Olympics held in New Castle, Australia in December 2013.

She also won one gold medal in badminton singles and one silver medal in badminton mixed doubles in the National Championship of Special Olympic Bharat held in Mumbai in July 2014.

First packing experience. What a pain!

Though we hate the way our houses smell in the monsoon, there is still no builder in India who can match this amazing view from an Army quarter's balcony.

Though we hate the way our houses smell in the monsoon, there is still no builder in India who can match this amazing view from an Army quarter’s balcony.

And I am back… 🙂

Not that I was missed, I know. But it still feels great to write “I am back”, for purely selfish reasons with which I won’t bore you.

So it’s been almost two months that I haven’t written anything. I was caught up in the cycle of dining outs – friendly dinners – packing – loading trucks – saying goodbyes – crying my eyes out – travelling – waiting for the bloody trucks – unloading – unpacking – setting up a new house – blah blah.

This entire cycle is what a seasoned Army wife usually gets used to after a couple of postings. But I was new to this whole process and it was freaky to say the least. I am glad it is over.

The day we finally saw the MES guy put locks on the house (quarter in sarkari and fauji lingo), we had moved in with Major Sa’ab’s coursemate and his wife in the same Cantt for two days. As my friend and I were enjoying the drizzle and drinking tea on the balcony, we saw a Dhai-Ton (colloquial for the two-and-half tons capacity Army trucks) pull up in the block.

Two fit jawans quickly started unloading stuff from the truck…aah…so another family was moving in. It was not my house, but still I felt a sense of possessiveness about it. How soon we all get attached to the leaky, dingy and ancient Army quarters was the first thing that dawned on me. Army wives have this incredible knack for accepting any house with open arms and making it their own for the next two weeks (or two months or two years…whatever).

This first packing-moving experience has taught us (Major Sa’ab and I) a lot but I still know that our second time is going to be equally chaotic. I just know it. Don’t ask me how 🙂 .

Kamar kass ke!

Innovation is the mother of.....

This should be a part of life hacks lessons. ‘

So there we were, dancing at the IMA Ball in Dehradun, where future officers training at the Indian Military Academy have a gala time before military service beckons, and this strange thing caught my eye.

I wish I had taken a better picture. But there is only so much I can do with a normal camera phone that refuses to click decent pics in low light.

All the Gentlemen Cadets (better known as GC) were dressed in their muftis, a dress code set for such fun events in the Indian Army. Their ball partners were dressed in some of the most stylish western outfits fashioned out of a one metre cloth (of course I am exaggerating, it’s my blog after all :P).

The ball party had just started off and there was this group of young girls and GCs dancing in front of us. Suddenly I realised that the kamar-band of this GC’s uniform looked a little odd. I normally do not go closer to take a look of what is hanging off a person’s belt, but in this case I had to, cause (a) it was dark and (b) I had left my glasses at home.

There was this sparkly-sequency-golden clutch purse securely held by the GCs kamar-band. His partner would obviously have thought it would be cool to get this clutch but must have realised what a pain it is to handle it while dancing. So I am guessing our GC gulped down a glass of chivalry and offered to get rid of this object in this unique fashion,

Unique my foot. My awe for his innovative idea evaporated the moment I spotted around 10-12 more GCs with a clutch purse snuck in their kamar-bands. Aah, so even they wanted the purse out of their way, it seems. 🙂

Post Navigation