Every Army wife takes her home décor very seriously (I doubt Mr Modi takes running the country that seriously) and would not rest until she is satisfied that her nest is unique in every way. In spite of that, there are a few things which every fauji house will have. You know you are in a fauji home when…
1. You see a cap stand. Have you ever seen one in a normal Indian’s house? Nai na? But an Army officer’s house will have one for sure. Having a cap stand in the house, mostly near the front door or in the spare bedroom, sounds so British. Every time a civilian relative/friend comes over, the first thing they will ask is why on earth do you have a XXL sized key holder? And then you patiently tell them that it is a hat stand which is needed to hang the peak-cap and the games cap and beret and the regimental hat and the golf cap and the combats hat and the NDA/IMA/OTA cap and that branded cap and that hunter hat and…. you get the drift!
2. Drinks and appetisers are served in crystals. Even the ashtray is a crystal one. Whisky glasses, juice glasses, snacks, desserts and mouth-fresheners too are mostly served in crystalware sourced from the north-east, in and around Siliguri to be specific. If Army officers have their way, they will take bath in crystal buckets and also get window glasses replaced by it. And there is a high probability that they’ll gift it too! Moral of the story, crystals are a fauji’s best friend.
3. You find one of these five things in the house: (a). A giant paper hand-held fan. (b) A weird glass top table with…err..are those tree branches posing as its legs? (c) A piece of home décor form Rajasthan, like those hanging puppets or a wooden carved chair. (d) Swords, spears, fancy looking trophies and group photographs of various courses in which everyone looks exactly the same. (In case of Air Force officers, it is toy models of various aircrafts and for Naval officers, ships and anchors.) (e) Racquets of all racquet-sports (yes, and not just one) and/or Golf kit.
4. There are more peg tables in the house than there are pegs and tables put together. It kind of makes having a centre table redundant. Oh wait, the centre tables are for that crystal ashtray in point No.2.
5. You see non-functional chimneys and fireplaces (even in relatively warmer stations). What is the deal with that, seriously? Are we supposed to feel the warmth by just looking at it? My kitchen has a chimney placed strategically over the stove. It is just eating up precious storage space. And the best part is that it is blocked. But is it? Wait till it starts raining — the chimney will leak like a bloody tap.
6. You see a giant shoe-rack full of — what the hell — men’s shoes? Correcto! An officer’s shoes will hijack the shoe-rack which is originally a woman’s territory. Two-three types of DMSs, a couple of running shoes, then two-three formal shoes, a fancy pair of over-expensive sports shoes, a couple of those trusted Woodland shoes and…. you get the drift right? If not, refer to the ‘drift’ in point No.1. In my house, there was no place for a second shoe-rack. As Major Sa’ab’s footwear was literally falling out of the 5-6 storied rack, I finally had to get a space-saver shoe hanger for myself, you know, the one which one hangs at the back of a door and has pockets to keep the footwear. This borders on domestic abuse but what to do!
PS: All pictures in this post are from the houses of real Army families. And I am thankful to all of them as they allowed me to raid these special corners of their quarters.