A Curious Army Wife

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

Archive for the tag “NDA”

Two books by Tanushree Podder that have nailed the NDA-IMA experience

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Boots, Belts and Berets  & On The Double

I had been meaning to write about these two books earlier (months ago actually) but staring at the walls in my house and the computer in office took up most of my life’s time all this while.

Book 1: Boots Belts and Berets by Tanushree Podder traces life of a group of friends through their years at the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune.

Book 2: Its sequel, On The Double, is obviously the story of a Cadet’s transformation into a Gentleman Cadet at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun.

The latter was released just last year, and I was fortunate to be a part of its unveiling at the Pune Literature Festival, where I had the honour of meeting the author! What’s more — I even dressed for the occasion in a new camo print shirt (remember military style was in vogue at that time). I was secretly quite proud of myself for this brilliant stroke of thinking. UNTIL.

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Yeah, that’s me. I later searched for some chullu-bhar paani too.

UNTIL I saw who was seated in the audience. A few veterans, some super-smartly dressed women (who had to be Army wives, I can sniff them out from a distance now), serving officers (in civvies) and AND AND… about a 100 odd cadets from the NDA.

See it’s one thing to flaunt camo print in front of the aam junta, but a totally different ball game when in presence of people who actually wear it (or in case of NDA cadets hope to wear it) as a part of their life.

I am sure they hated my guts. I hope they don’t remember my face.

Coming back to the point, I met Mrs Podder there, and introduced myself, expressing a desire to meet her once I finish “On The Double”. She gave me her number and we parted ways.

By the time I met her months later, she was fresh off the launch of her latest book “Solo in Singapore”. On a hot summer afternoon, we met at RSI in Pune. In a wonderfully candid chat, she told me how she had written the first book as a surprise gift for her husband, a retd Col, and how everyone who’d read this one was eagerly anticipating the IMA book.

Having spent a good two years in IMA myself, I was bound to be a little biased in favour of “On The Double”. It was like having a 3D imagery in my head giving me the visual aid as I read about the matar-gashti of the Gentlemen Cadets in Dehradun.

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Tanushree Podder

I was a little surprised by the omission of the IMA ball parties, events that an army man remember as vividly as their first cross-country run! I asked Mrs Podder about it, but it seems the ball was not ‘rolling’ at that time. The books are set in 1970s, you see!

She recalled stories of her days as a Commanding Officer’s wife, various postings and of course, Ladies’ Meets — yes, two Army wives always talk about it whenever they meet, in this case it was fascinating to compare the ‘then’ and ‘now’ notes.

Get these two books ladies! Trust me, reading material on what our husbands went through in NDA and IMA is gold if you wanna know about the ragda they went through in their ‘pre-us’ years. These two books also make an awesome gift, if you are going through the what-to-gift-a-fauji phase).

In other news, do check out these latest books by fellow Army wives, Shuchi Singh Kalra and Aditi Mathur Kumar.

Solo in Singapore   i-am-big-so-what-shuchi-singh-kalra

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This one’s the story of an Army Girlfriend! 🙂

 

9 Reasons why Maggi and Fauj are made for each other

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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.

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