A Curious Army Wife

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

Chhote Sa’ab enters our life

A Curious Army Wife and Major Sa’ab are now parents to Chhote Sa’ab. This hurricane hit us just before monsoon hit our city.

Chhote Sa'ab's one and only job as of now... "Do Epic Shit"!
  • We are sleep deprived.
  • We talk about poop, pee and pukes.
  • Chhote Sa’ab is what Major Sa’ab’s buddy calls this little boy. He thinks the boy looks like his Sa’ab (hadd ho gayi sir ki ji hazoori karne ki bhi… except that in this case he is right).
  • We now keep track of other officers’ kids’ illnesses. (And calculate how long before it’s safe for Chhote Sa’ab to meet them again).
  • Our CSD list each month now reads — Diapers, Dettol and Badam oil.
  • Nobody asks us our haal-chaal. But our Chhote Sa’ab gets asked everything (and he can’t even speak).
  • Chhote Sa’ab’s first word was “AWWA”. I am worried. So is Major Sa’ab.
  • The boy already has a different set of clothes under the category “Ye Mess Party ke kapade“.
  • I am always on high alert when young officers play with him at parties, lest they slip him a bit of beer or whisky. Why am I paranoid about this, you ask? Because when Major Sa’ab was a young officer, he did that to almost all officers’ kids. And Karma is a ….
  • I would have loved to write a longer post in a much better way (instead of this minor SD format) but mere pass WAQTTTT nahin hai.

I’ll get back soon. Chhote Sa’ab seems to be chewing something that should not be chewed on by humans. Tata…

It’s raining Contests!

As promised, I am playing Santa this year for all my old and new readers!

The Facebook page of A Curious Army Wife  has been a busy place this month, with two contests having received encouraging response.

Gifts for Contest No.1 were sponsored by Pink Pitari, an online jewellery store run by army wife Gunjan Upadhyay Mishra.

Then came Contest No.2, where the winner won a signed copy of the book Soldier’s Girl, authored by army wife Swapnil Pandey. 

And now, get ready for Contest No.3, where you can win a cool hamper from udChalo.com (the favourite online air ticket booking site for all faujis these days).

More contests will happen soon. Keep showering your love people.

Tata!

 

The blog turns 5, and I have only you to thank for it!

Note – Read till the end, because that’s where the asli masala is!

What started in October 2013 as a way to get out of boredom (read unemployment) has quickly turned into one of my prized possessions.

It took me a week to come up with the name ‘A Curious Army Wife’, after husband, aka Major Sa’ab vetoed ‘An Angry Army Wife’.

Every blogpost thereafter has been an attempt to chronicle our unique life. Yes, it’s tough, it’s exciting, it’s tense, and it’s nomadic…. which is why I have lots of stories to tell the world.

This blog brought me in touch with some amazing like-minded people, bloggers, authors and publications, who gave me the confidence to keep going.

My parents and in-laws gave me so much gyaan whenever there would be a couple of weeks’ gap between two posts, it felt like they were getting paid to pester me into writing more.

Officers and their wives (and girlfriends in some cases) showered me with “Ma’am amazing blog” dialogue which made me feel like a miniscule celebrity in my head. Unn sabko dher sara Ashirwaad.

And finally, my Major Sa’ab urf the person who checked, double checked and then checked once more each and every blogpost to make sure I don’t write anything to get him into trouble — he needs to be given due credit. Yeah, he would point out mistakes sometimes, but then no husband is perfect na.

He has also been my chalta firta fauji Google. So congratulations to you too Major Sa’ab, this blog is your baby too! You would want to give me a gift for this 5-year milestone na? Don’t worry, your debit card is with me, I’ll save you the trouble.

And now the asli masala part. Hee haw haww.

All my faithful readers will get a chance to win some specially curated giveaways and prizes in a series of contests that I plan to hold till the end of 2018. Don’t ask me the schedule, because I don’t know.

Stay tuned, like my Facebook page and keep coming back here as always!

Army Train Journey Part 2: Samne se dheere chalega, dheere chal!

So where was I?

Aah yes, the Special Army Train had just arrived at our station at 12 noon. Check the first part here to get yourself up to speed (pun not intended).

The special Army train pulled up at the platform at the opposite end of the station — a platform which was not in use for other passenger or long-distance trains.

“Bas! Four more hours,” I thought about the departure time — that’s the time Major Sa’ab had said it will take to load the train.

Hashtag Husband Wale Jhooth!

Our entire Unit was moving from a field location to a semi-metro peace location, remember? Unit property and men were being transported via a special green-coloured Army train, with the officers, their families and Jawans being the only ones aboard.

It had a special train number and is managed by the railways only for the purpose of moving Armymen and Fauji property around the country — no, it does not show up on IRCTC website.

So, once the train arrived, Major Sa’ab, other officers, JCOs and ORs immediately got busy with ‘planning’ the next move. Planning is very important in fauj. Not just in war, but in loading a train as well.

I came back to the guest room. As per my calculations, taking into account time taken for loading, lunchtime and tea time, we should be good to go by 1800 hours!

Nope! It seemed more like 1,800 hours before we managed to leave the station at around midnight. Here’s why…

I am sure that by 6pm the train was loaded, but then some paperwork had to be taken care of. It is, afterall, a sarkari matter. We lost a couple of hours to that.

It was dinner time by then, so why miss a chance of a readymade meal in the transit camp mess? And once the beer bottles were opened, it became obvious to me and CO Memsahib (we were the only two ladies left now) that the officers will delay our departure further by an hour.

Hashtag Madira Sevan Train Schedule Ke Liye Haanikarak Hai!

We had waited for 5-6 days for this ‘son of a train’ to come, so a few more hours’ delay in departure is nothing! After dinner we went to the station, but were asked to wait for sometime at the platform. It was a small small station, only local trains stopped here.

So, you can imagine the kind of infrastructure they would have in place — which was nil.

There was no electricity, so CO Memsahib and I sat in dark, covered in three layers of Odomos cream to protect ourselves from mosquitoes.

It drizzled for 3-4 minutes, but we had honestly run out of fucks to give.

Once inside the train, we were thrilled to find that an entire coach had been alotted to officers and families. The bachelors took up one end of the coach, Major Sa’ab and I took up a middle compartment to give them (and us) ample privacy, and then after two empty compartments, the First Family of the unit set up camp.

It was May and the AC was a welcome blast. I was however, not so thrilled to know that the jawans were housed in sleeper compartments, with no AC.

Major Sa’ab assured me that the men were all rough-n-tough, and have seen worse. They will survive the heat as long as they got a place (and time) to sleep, he said.

Hashtag Ab Kya Hua?

So where was the hold-up now? Why the hell weren’t we moving?

We asked a young officer and turned out the delay was because of something I would have never imagined!

The senior officers didn’t like the order in which the train was laid out, and so they were busy ordering rearrangment of the coaches. The open coach was moved next to the officer’s coach; the pantry was positioned differently; jawans coaches were distributed throughout the train; ye coach idhar, wo coach idhar…. and it went on for another 2-3 hours.

You see, moving the coaches of a train is not like moving lego bricks — an engine had to be attached to everything that had to be moved and then “shunting” was done, which involved moving that coach to a different track, then making space for it on the original track, and then bringing it back to it’s rightful position.

Oh the whims some faujis have!

Hashtag Fauji Choooos

We hooted and clapped and congratulated each other the moment the train started. “Hurrraaaayyyyy!”

The officers, the ladies and the 8-year-old daughter of CO were all gathered on the open coach, taking in the cool breeze of the countryside. We chatted for sometime and decided to catch some sleep.

I had other things to worry about — high on that list being my leave which would end in two days. I had taken almost a week off from work, but we had wasted 5 days waiting for the train to arrive at our departure point.

I asked Major Sa’ab, “Ye train kab tak pahunchegi?

Bass yaar, dedh dino me (one and half days).”

“All this while you have been telling me that special army trains are known to take 5 days for a journey, and now you are saying that it will end in dedh din?” I fumed.

Arre, see… we are already behind schedule, so I don’t think the train will go that slow. We’ll reach in time for your office, don’t worry,” Major Sa’ab assured me.

A helpful tip for all Army Wives here: Uparwale se zyada bharosa Murphy’s Law me rakho. Because:

So, I had made up my mind to get off at the next city which had an airport, and catch a flight back to our destination — so that I do not overshoot my leave. Lady luck was on my side this time, since the next such stop would be New Delhi.

Day 1

Next day, Major Sa’ab woke me up at 7am.

BLOODY HELL!

I am on leave, which means I owe to it the “vacation gods” to not wake up before noon.

Major Sa’ab said breakfast will be here soon. I said I don’t want breakfast, lemme sleep.

In return, I got “that” stare from Major Sa’ab which is used by officers — in peace stations — to tell their wives that “Ab tum apni marzi ki maalkin nahin ho, ab Unit ke taur tareekon se bhi chalna padega.”

Welcome to peace postings — I thought. And woke up. And tried to make sense of this world. And hurled a few curses (mann-hi-mann) at Major Sa’ab. And had breakfast.

Jaanu ko phone pe “OK Report” bhi toh deni hai.

We all tried to find things to keep us occupied. The young officers were ecstatic on being in full mobile network and internet connectivity. Remember they were posted at a remote border location where one bar of mobile network called for celebrations.

We sat for sometime on the open coach and saw fields and rivers pass by. It was sunny, but the wind didn’t let us feel the heat.

The open coach! This is what makes this train extra special.

In typical fauji fashion, at around 11, some snacks were served with chai. Then came soup. By lunchtime, I had already forgotten what it’s like to travel in a regular train — this one was so so so different.

Lunch was served at the bachelors’ end of the coach. My eyes popped out when I saw the elaborate set-up for lunch.

On one of the side berths, a camo print cover was laid out. And then there were the bowls and platters with the Unit crest, filled with food. All army wives know how food is served in officer’s mess, right? It was the exact same setting.

Plates, spoons, forks, napkins, and then 2 types of sabjis to choose from, a plateful of green salad… I really really wanted to laugh and roll my eyes at this typical “faujipanti”. It was all new to me… you see, I was expecting packed lunch boxes, like they serve in Duranto Express.

Lunch laid out in the Special Army Train

You can take a fauji out of the fauji area, but you cannot take the faujiness out of him!

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. We passed a station named Phillaur. It might seem like a useless piece of info for you, but at that time, it got us all excited because Anushka Sharma starrer “Phillauri” had just released.

Phillaur station

The usual snack breaks were followed on the train as welll, like evening tea, soup, pakodas, etc. Dinner was an equally elaborate affair.

The train had to stop at a small village station in the evening, probably waiting for some other important train to pass and clear the tracks for us. The officers ordered the men to get down and run the entire length of the platform twice.

“The boys have to be kept occupied. They are used to physical activity everyday. We can’t let them sleep all day in the train. They have to be kept active na,” was Major Sa’ab’s explaination.

Train pe toh baksh do unko. This was my layman’s reaction.

In addition to men stretching their limbs, there were three dogs on board who had to be taken out on small walks.

These three well-trained German Shephards were part of the unit property, and were faithful companions who had stayed with the men at the field location.

So we had men, women, children, pigeons (see Part 1) and now dogs on this Special Army Train!

A young officer on attachment with Major Sa’ab’s Unit was excited about the entire journey because the train was to pass through his village and the CO had accepted his special request for a halt there.

Had the train been as per schedule, we would have reached his village in the evening of Day 1. The officer was, from what he told us, a ladla of his village and his family wanted to meet the officers and the jawans of their son’s Unit.

They had arranged for Chai, Samosa and Mithai for everyone at the station — yes, for everyone single person on that train.

Apparently a group of halwais were busy making the snacks for us at his village, which was to be transported to the station as soon as news of train’s arrival came.

Since we were woefully behind schedule, we could not reach his village on Day 1. He was a little upset, since some food had gone stale because of the heat. We hadn’t even reached New Delhi and his village the train’s next halt after the Capital.

Day 2

At around 1 am that night, the train pulled up at snails pace at the Tughlakabad Railway Station, where I had to bid the special Army train a hasty goodbye.

I was leaving the journey midway since all my leaves were wasted in just waiting for it. My plan was to catch a flight from New Delhi, and resume work the next day.

On my way to the airport, I checked all popular travel websites for fares of early morning flights. Baap re… I realised what a bomb I would have to spend, but eventually remembered that being a family member of a fauji, I can get some cheeky discount from www.udchalo.com.

This website (if you don’t already know about it) gives awesome airfare deals to Armed Forces personnels and their family members (provided you have a dependent card).

So that night, I found that fares here were quite low compared to other websites, so I immediately started the booking process, but my dagabaz phone network vanished the moment I hit “Pay”.

I got a msg from my bank that money has been deducted, but didn’t get a booking confirmation.

Hashtag Lag Gaye!

I had reached New Delhi airport by that time, so I checked with the airlines who told me that they don’t have me on their flying list.

At that time, the UdChalo team did not have a 24×7 customer care service, so I panicked a little. I had to book that same ticket again, but thankfully the next day I got a mail from the folks at UdChalo that my erroneously deducted money will be refunded.

Hashtag Mera Piya Ghar Aya!

I reached my destination safe and sound, and three days — YES THREE DAYS — later, on Akshaya Tritiya, the special Army train arrived at our new peace station.

I missed half of the train journey, but the look of awe on my colleagues and friends’ faces when I told them about the experience was worth the trouble.

Hopefully, when the Unit moves to their next location, I would be able to enjoy the full journey, in full fauji tashan!

Tab tak ke liye, namashkaar!

FAQ No 5: Kid’s schooling or keeping the family together?

Since I have no experience in dealing with a situation like this, I will request all readers to give their inputs. Many of you must have gone through something similar as well.

FAQ 3

 

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.

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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! 

 

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! 😛
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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.
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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!
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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 being a Fauji’s girlfriend changed my life!

He’s there alone, working extremely hard, not eating well, not sleeping well, not getting a second for himself and the only person he can share his heart with is me.Being a soldier’s girlfriend may not sound anything different or specialto many… but when you are actually with a soldier, you will see how life changes in unthinkable ways. We have been together since forever but it’s been a couple of years since I became the soldier’s girlfriend

Our relationship has changed in a lot of unimaginable ways since then. The best part — I am so so proud of my man. The feeling cannot be described in words. I have seen him change from a careless and immature schoolboy into a soldier, who now shares the responsibility of protecting billions of countrymen.

I can just not respect him enough, I could not be more proud of him.

The bad thing is I got demoted to the second position in the list of his loved ones. His love for his job tops his list now. He has pampered me a lot all these years and I have been literally in seventh heaven all the time, so for me it was like being thrown back to the earth. But that’s how it is.

I know how much he loves me, how much he wants to be with me and still he has to be in some godforsaken place for his duty — it makes me love him more and be more strong.

One obvious thing to have happened is that the relationship turned into a long distance one and there’s already so less time at our disposal and when once in a blue moon, we are all set to talk, bless the mobile network in Armed Forces areas.

At times, we may have 10 mins to talk and we will end up wasting 15 mins in just trying to connect the phone. So yeah, there is always a desire, a longing to be able to spend some time with each other, to not say anything, to escape from everything, just to be there with him.

This has made us appreciate each and every moment we spend together. We long to be with each other be it even for a moment and are always ready to scale any heights, fly any distance just to be together.

With time, I also became an excellent actor. No, I don’t act to hide my pain, I have to act to forget my pain. I have to be his strength. He’s there alone, working extremely hard, not eating well, not sleeping well, not getting a second for himself and the only person he can share his heart with is me.

I am the one who has to take care of him. And taking care doesn’t always mean cooking for him or doing his little chores, it’s more about taking care of his heart.

Always make him feel loved so that the rays of happiness shine on him. At times, I would feel extremely jealous and frustrated of not knowing about his whereabouts. With time, I have lost track of his likes and dislikes.

But I know the most important thing, he madly loves me and so do I! I started loving myself more because I’m lovely to him.

Even in today’s online world, we still write letters to each other. The joy of getting a letter after days of wait is just not comparable to getting an online message. We can read and re-read these letters years after years. The fragrance of our love will always be there in those letters.

I could not have imagined living, with him not being by my side for a day and here I am writing all this. It’s his radiating strength shining upon me too.

And the best perk is I get aviator glasses, Air Force t-shirts and souvenirs from all over the country as gifts!

— A Fauji Girlfriend.

The girl who wrote this wonderful piece did not want to disclose her identity. 

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.

img_20160626_142348.jpg

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).

 

 

No 4G for Fauji. Only Parle G!

No 4g shoG for Fauji!

When the Curious Army Wife doesn’t get her prescribed dose of phone calls, she resorts to making mean memes of Major Sa’ab.

Sigh!

What do you do when your man is out of network or just doesn’t call fyou for weeks at end?

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