A Curious Army Wife

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

Archive for the tag “Army wife”

Salute the Veer Nari

Veer Nari The woman who sacrificed her better half for your better future(1)

In case you are a new bride or someone who is not from the Army fraternity (but were kind enough to stop by here to read this blog), Veer Nari is the name given to a war widow in India.

She is officially defined as “The widow of defence personnel who has laid down his life for the defence of the country whether in war or in a military operation and whose death is attributable to the military service is called ‘Veer Nari’.”

Take a moment to understand the pain of a woman who married a soldier but lost him in the line of duty. Their courage and hardships seldom get mentioned.

PS: Know a Veer Nari whose story the world should know about? Drop in a mail (my email id is in the ABOUT section of the blog) and let me know how to get in touch.

*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!

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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.

J&K, Andamans…. been there, done that!

Happy Army Day everyone!

I hope more young men and women realise what a challenging and noble profession this is, and join the Indian Armed Forces.

Let us take a moment to salute our men in olive greens who don’t always get the luxury of sitting in an AC room, or having ghar ki roti, or attending their kids’ PTA, or going to a movie, or staying with their families…

But hey! It’s Army Day today. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a fultoo-serious affair. So, here’s my small attempt to bring a smile on your faces, appreciating the brighter side of life!

Two places a fauji always visits(1)

An Army wife’s guide to surviving the first NDA visit

Sudan Block (NDA) in 2008. Photo by Major Sa'ab.

Sudan Block (NDA) in 2008. Photo by Major Sa’ab.

I don’t know what is it about taking the love of your life to NDA for the first time that gets all Army officers super-senti. It’s a big deal for them. Which is really surprising as very few things come in that category — the big deal category.

But it is going to happen some day. The sooner, the better.

The National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla (Pune) is that place where thousands and thousands of officers of the Indian Armed Forces have spent their most crucial years of life. So when you were out with your college friends eating samosa or bunking a class to watch a movie with your crush — they were in NDA, in an ALL-BOYS academy, dreaming of what it is like to be normal!

When they finally do manage to get a girlfriend/fiance/wife (whichever comes earliest), they will make it a point to take them to NDA to show them the place where ‘boys became men’.

I will not go into what happens at NDA and why it’s where the foundation of a good officer is laid and blah blah. You will get to hear all that from an enthusiastic Colonel at a party someday.

But I WILL tell you about all that you need to be prepared for when you visit the NDA for the first time.

When Major Sa’ab (my husband) took me there for the first time, we were just a couple of months into our relationship. I was working in Pune and he had come to visit me in the tiny mid-term break during his YOs.

He said, “Yaar, NDA jana hai ek baar.”

I said, “Ja naa…”

“You also come, I’ll give you a guided tour.”

To any other person, that would have sounded so tempting. Not to me, as I had visited NDA many times (professional hazard). I still agreed to go.

One thing is for sure, visiting the NDA with an officer who knows his way around the academy is a novelty. It feels good. And Major Sa’ab also lost no chance to say that this visit seems special. Back then, I thought he was saying that just to impress me. Until I met many Army wives (years later) who told me about their special trip to NDA. (See, I told you, it’s a big deal for these men.)

A typical tour generally starts with ye Sudan block hai, ye Habibullah Hall hai, ye drill square, ye swimming pool, ye NDA mess etc. Which is a lot to take in, specially for us civilian girls.

Photo by Major Sa'ab.

Photo by Major Sa’ab.

Almost every lane, ground, field, building — any place where humans can possibly tread — was used for punishments during their days as cadets. Major Sa’ab seemed to feature in an awful lot of those.

He pointed towards austere gray buildings that had alphabets written on it. He pointed to one such building (which looked like a copy of the next one) and said,”That’s my squadron.”

“You were in K squadron!”

“No! I was in Kilo squadron.”

Oh! It’s not ABC here, it’s Apha Bravo Charlie! So not K, but Kilo. Mental note to self.

“That was my room in the first two terms,” Major Sa’ab suddenly became Raju guide and pointed towards one tiny window of the Kilo Squadron. We were doing this while standing outside as it would have been inappropriate for a woman to enter the cadet’s buildings without prior notice (for obvious reasons).

And the mini-monologue started off…

“That window next to me was my best bud’s room. We used to share Maggi at night after lights out. Then that corner room was occupied by a very psycho/saddist senior. Made our life hell. In the third term, I moved to that other room. At the end of the corridor we had the common bathrooms that have partitions but no doors… where we were supposed to clear SSB (shit, shave, brush) before the seniors woke up in the morning. When I was a sixth termer, I chose that cozy little room where I would play loud music…”

And all I heard in that little speech was the bathroom thingy! NO DOORS? Is it even legal!

He then took me to the juice bar to introduce me to the maushi, who promptly recognised him! She was the lady who ran the shop and a fairy godmother for all cadets. Just at that moment, a group of 8-9 cadets came and greeted Major Sa’ab! They were the current sixth termers, who were first termers when Major Sa’ab was a sixth termer. It’s complicated.

More so, because they all looked EXACTLY the same to me. White t-shirts and shorts, lean, extra-small crew cut and skin that had enough sun for another decade. They all looked like clones to me.

“Banana shake for everyone. Maushi…!” Major Sa’ab got the cadets excited at the prospect of having free banana shake. We all sat there for a good 20 minutes (seemed like 3-4 hours) in which they all talked about ‘Academy stuff’. That was one conversation in which I could contribute in no way. So I just sat and switched off.

After the cadets left, we went to the Gol market. “That’s Kapoor’s shop right there. Itna loota hai usne hamein! You see that shop… that is Hamsa, where we used to eat paratha bhurji and chicken lollypops. He used to say ‘Garam nai hai, fresh hai’ for every item he sold. Hahaha…”

Hanss le beta. Little did Major Sa’ab know that he is going to hear the “Garam nai hai, fresh hai” dialogue every third day from his wife.

But a truly emotional moment for us came when we went pass the lawns where the NDA Ball was held years ago, where I was Major Sa’ab’s ball partner.

So that concludes the first part of the NDA darshan for me. Subsequent visits had greater details coming in from my Raju guide, with which I won’t bore you.

One of our friends came to the NDA after taking a detour from their honeymoon, where the guy in question got an earful on what constitutes as a romantic visit and what doesn’t.

Well, to be fair, the NDA is the place where every man’s romance with fauj starts, right?

 

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!)

FAQ No.2: Leaving my job behind

Okay everyone! Help her out. We’ve all faced this problem sometime. FAQ 2

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.

FAQ 1. Marrying an Ordnance Officer

QA1I received an email in which this question was asked. I was flattered of course, cause if I gave out an I-Know-It-All vibe then I don’t blame the poor gal for thinking that I am an expert.

Which I am not. So thought, why not post the question here, so that if any of you have similar questions, you can get experienced Army wives (and officers) to answer it.

Post your replies in the comments section. And I’ll make sure that the one who asked the question, reads your advise. 🙂 Got any question? Then mail it, I’ll get people to answer it next time. Pakka promise.

Check out the screenshot of answers received through Facebook below:

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