A Curious Army Wife

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

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8 questions your relatives ask when they visit your fauji ghar!

Questions relatives ask when they visit your fauji ghar!

Disclaimer by ACuriousArmyWife: This post is based on real life and real relatives. Buahahaha!

1. Ye furniture army ne diya hai?
Our answer: Han ji, see the point is that it is difficult to travel with a lot of stuff every one or two years na. So Army generously provides the basic furniture to everyone.

2. Ye bhi? Wo bhi? (pointing at every possible piece of furniture).
Our answer: No, this lampshade, this painting, this “welcome” sign, all this is a part of our personal purchases!

3. Army fridge aur TV bhi deti hai kya?
Our answer: Nai mummy ji, wo aapke damaad ne khareeda hai, khud ke paseene ki kamai se.

4. Ye naukar toh army hi provide karti hai na! (Pointing towards husband’s sahayak)
Our answer: Shhhh chacha ji, wo naukar nai hai. Wo jawan hai jo husband ki help karta hai uniform set karne mein aur official work mein bhi.

5. Ye maali and maid toh free mein milte honge na tumhe!
Our answer: Err, nai. Dono ko hum mahine ke end mein salary dete hain. Duniya mein kahin koi ghar ka kaam free mein nai karta, Army mein bhi nai.

6. Wow! You get free ka ration!
Our answer: Nai baba, ye husband ke salary ka ek part hai jo ration ke roop mein ata hai. Free toh bilkul bhi nai hai!

7. Army log toh party karte rehete hain all the time!
Our answer: Jab tak sab saath hain, tab tak party kyun na karein. Kal kisne dekha hai! (Super senti, I know!)

8. Arre tum toh harr cheez canteen se discount pe lete ho na?
Our answer: Han. (We know you want to buy stuff from there. Just be upfront na!)

Black Military boxes? No no, I want some colour

An army family is going to be on the move all the time. Count yourself lucky if you get 2-3 years of an uninterrupted peace posting. Having met so many defence families, I have come to a simple conclusion — pati saath ho na ho, black fauji trunks kabhi ek fauji biwi ka saath nai chhodte.

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Colour splash!

Big black boxes… ummm, metal or wooden.. frankly I am not a great fan of those. I understand that they are a necessity, as they come handy in every shifting and moving process, but I am still not that attached to them yet. Maybe I’ll get used to them eventually.

But not black, pleeease! They look so depressing and boring. Boring Big Black Boxes. BBBB. Hah!

So when the time came for us to get extra boxes for our debut shifting experience in fauj, I had this idea that I don’t want the BBBBs. I wanted VCBB… Vibrant Colourful Big Boxes.

So all the time that I had wasted on Pinterest paid off and I chalked out a plan to colour the six boxes we’d bought in different colours. I needed some zing in my life, I don’t thinking dragging black boxes around with me would have helped the cause.

So pesh-e-khidmat hai DIY Guide to Colourful Fauji Trunks! Taaliyaan!!

The boxes in original condition.

The boxes in original condition.

Step 1: So I went ahead and bought all the things I would need to get the six boxes coloured. I had a kitschy design in mind, so bought green, blue, yellow, red and white. I also bought a primer, because you simply cannot apply paint directly onto any metal surface.

Not inside the house.. get it?

Not inside the house.. get it?

Step 2: Take the boxes outside the house, before you start painting them. Yes, it is a very important step that I swear by, because it is difficult to get rid of the smell and stains on the floor if you start painting inside the house. So go out — in the backyard, garage, or balcony. I learned this the hard way.

 

First coat of primer drying.

First coat of primer drying.

Step 3: Apply two coats of Primer to the box. It is a brownish liquid that forms a protective layer between the metal surface and everything else. You can read the rest of the stuff on the Primer’s label, I am not going to waste my time on that here. 😛

It rained every alternate day, which threw my schedule off course.

It rained every alternate day, which threw my schedule off course.

Step 4: It will take at least 2-days to get the two coats of primer on. Let it dry after the first coat, preferably for 24 hours before you start off with the next coat. Get the brush to reach every nook and corner of the box.

A friendly visit!

A friendly visit! Good thing the Primer had dried by then.

Step 5: Stray animals and birds are likely to delay this whole process.

Isn't this one looking a little blue? ;)

Isn’t this one looking a little blue? 😉

Step 6: Decide which colour you want the base coat of the box to be. Mix the paint with maybe 30ml thinner (haha, yes, everything is fauj is measured in multiples of 30ml). You can add white paint to the colour if you want to lighten the shade a bit. Like I had bought Navy blue shade and added white to make it turquoise.

Step 7: Let the paint dry for another 24 hours. Apply a second coat of paint just to get an even finish.

I am not an artist at all. And I lose interest in any project very quickly. So I abandoned the idea of kitschy design on my trunk and decided to go for solid colours.

My living room.

My living room.

And now I have a pair of red, blue and yellow trunks. It not only felt damn refreshing to have these bright trunks around, it also helped a lot while packing as all similar stuff went into colour-coded trunks. Like kitchen stuff in two red trunks, decorative items in yellow trunks and my stuff in blue trunks. I decided against stenciling Major Sa’ab’s name on those trunks (as many Military men do), why would I want to spoil my efforts hanh! 😛

The only glitch was Major Sa’ab was leaving for a field posting and did not want to take a colourful trunk with him. In fact he specifically mentioned that he will cut all ties with me if I suggest he take the blue trunk. So he stuck to his trusted black mini-trunk, the one which he’s had since his NDA days. Fine! I’ll keep my rangeele-bakse with me.

So this is the story of my now-extremely jhataang living room, where my boxes are proudly displayed.

 

 

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!

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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 🙂 .

Was becoming a Major really a major change?

It is funny to observe the way people think. They never ask questions to confirm fact… they just assume and think of the first thing that comes to their mind.

I realised this recently when my husband wrote a harmless sentence on social media which got interpreted in the completely opposite way by almost all his friends.

Now from Capt Sa’ab, my beloved hubby got promoted to Major Sa’ab. He gleefully announced this as the “Major Change In Life” on facebook. Instantly, people started congratulating him (and me too) and enquiring whether it is a girl or a boy!

PEEEOPLE! There are other major changes too, like becoming a Major, hello!!!

Some obvious changes that happened in Major Sa’ab’s life.

  1. He became a Major! No longer a Captain and just one step away from being a Lt Col.
  2. He got a new ID-card, for the first time after he was issued one at the time of commissioning.
  3. A marginal increase in his salary which Major Sa’ab insisted was just a tini-tiny increase. He was just making sure that I don’t make any high-profile shopping plans.
  4. He is now entitled to have a bigger house. So a boon for me when guests come over, and a bane when the maid decides to go on a long chutti.

Major

Some not-so-obvious changes

  1. Major Sa’ab will no longer be called a ‘young officer’. That’s a shame, because apart from the 10-15 stray whites on his head, he looks pretty young to me.
  2. The stars on his shoulders were replaced by the Ashok stambh. His sahayak is happy that he doesn’t have to fix six stars on Major Sa’ab’s dress everyday, just the two stambhs.
  3. The maximum number of officers in the Indian Army don the rank of Major. So you see, he is a part of a ‘Major Cult’.
  4. It is a very prestigious rank whether you admit it or not. Bollywood didn’t make a film called ‘Captain Saab’, they didn’t do a ‘Colonel Saab’, and it is highly unlikely that we’ll ever see a ‘Brigadier Saab’. But there is a movie called ‘Major Saab’ and Big B is in it! Take that yo!

The day Major Sa’ab picked up his ‘Major’ rank, was also the day I came to know of my maid’s benevolent and charitable nature, in addition to her limits of patience. Night time celebrations resulted in the entire living room, dining room and curtains getting covered in cake and rum! My unsuspecting maid, who came in the next morning, suddenly froze in her tracks when she saw all this and said, ”Yeh kaisi party kar li aapne memsaab ji!” She did not ditch me that day, or after that is a blessing which every women will relate to.

And that day I prayed that the next time a major change happens in Major Sa’ab’s life, he would preferably be in a field location. That way my maid and I would also be happy! Win-win situation for all isn’t it? I would probably be in some house I get through Housing and I wouldn’t want it soaked in cake batter!

Aman Grewal makes us Army wives proud

All army wives’ whatsapp groups were abuzz with the big news on Octobr 21 with this fantastic news! Aman Grewal, a fellow army wife, was crowned Mrs India Worldwide 2014 and everyone was busy in praising this new beauty queen. A Curious Army Wife is proud of this 36-year-old mother of a nine-year-old (doesn’t look like though) and envies her stunning sense of style (judging from her Facebook pictures). It is indeed so refreshing to see army wives getting the right support and platform to win beauty pageants, which is predominantly an army brat territory. Congratulations!

Photo Courtesy: Facebook Pages of Mrs India Worldwide and Aman Grewal.

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Eco-friendly Diwali ideas

Soldiers celebrating Diwali.  Photo courtesy: blogbigtime.com

Soldiers celebrating Diwali.
Photo courtesy: blogbigtime.com

Fauji Biwiyon,

Let’s take an oath this year to celebrate Diwali in the most eco-friendly manner. How you ask? Here’s how –

1. SAY NO TO CRACKERS. We all are in love with the fresh air of our clean and green cantonment. How often have you woken up the day after Diwali and wondered what happened to the clean and earthy scent which you enjoy everyday? We are an educated lot for heaven’s sake, so if we don’t realise that our momentary happiness is actually ruining this planet, then we suggest that you buy some property in Mauritius and be the first to drown when the sea rises due to global warming.

2. Who doesn’t like a well lit house during Diwali? But before you go off to sleep, do SWITCH THOSE DECORATIVE LIGHTS OFF. Wasting electricity means that coal (non-renewable source of energy) was burnt for no actual use. Please realise that there are people who don’t get electricity at all! Don’t rub it in with your Disneyland of a house.

3. Gift wrappers, papers, cardboard sweet boxes, or similar items which usually flood your dustbins during Diwali can be saved for a better use. Don’t faujis just love hosting parties in their beautiful lawns or terraces? Winter is coming (cool eh! ;)) and bonfires are common in our parties. So next time you have a bonfire in your garden, use all these waste (and easily combustible) items to get the fire going. Not only are you saving the earth from extra burden of waste material, you are also using less wood.

4. Try to avoid powdered rangoli colours available in market. They have chemicals in it which give it it’s distinct colour and once you sweep it off and add it to the soil, those harmful chemicals find their way into our ecosystem. So use flower petals of various colours to make a rangoli or use natural colours to dye rice flour and use that for your rangoli.

5. If you are hosting a party or a get-together at your place, then do not use disposable plates and glasses. You are simply increasing the burden of non-biodegradable wastage on our already polluted planet.

In the same way, do not use plastic flowers to decorate your home this Diwali. How long are you going to use them… two years? Or till the current tenure of your posting, right? We don’t feel like packing all that stuff up while moving to the next military station, and it often finds its way to the dustbin. Instead, use real flowers like marigold and roses. After Diwali is over, you can mix them up with the garden soil and it will be gone!

Protecting everyone!

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This is a picture taken by Capt Sa’ab, who was recently out for a camp with a bunch of other faujis. The day they landed at the camp site they realised they had some unusual guests. Three kittens living in the barracks had accidently gotten themselves packed with the men’s stuff! Well, needless to say, the men were given orders to feed them and keep them safe.

Now anyone who has had even a day’s experience with cats will tell you that CATS DON’T TAKE ORDERS. Period. You tell them to eat this, stay there, sit here, walk there, sleep now, wake up later… they will simply ignore you and do whatever they want to. So the men found it very difficult to keep them in the campsite, just in case the officers came to check!

Needless to say, the men managed to get all of them back at the end of their week-long camp. Mama Kitty, you owe the men in olive greens big time!

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