A Curious Army Wife

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

Archive for the tag “military wife literature”

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 🙂 .

Book review: Soldier and Spice by Aditi Mathur Kumar

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“And how are you finding Army life Pia?” Mrs Bhandari (the 2IC’s wife) asks me casually on our way back.

“It’s different,” I say, careful not to crib.

“Hmmm.”

“And it’s a bit overwhelming,” I confess.

That is the central character of the book ‘Soldier and Spice’ talking. For all you know, the author could have written my name instead of ‘Pia’, and the entire conversation would still hold true.

You see, Pia is a civilian, married to an Army officer (hey! me too!). She is literally taken aback by this entirely different culture which Army follows rather strictly but has to learn quickly (same here!). She learns the “good, bad and ugly things” from every Army wife she meets (ditto!).

Author Aditi Mathur Kumar wrote this book about an Army wife’s first year in fauj and I want to sue her for stealing 90% of the content from my life. I can’t though, because I am completely in love with this book.

This book was recommended to me by one of this blog’s readers and I am glad I bought the book online (got it for a huge discount too, though I wouldn’t mind paying original price of Rs 250).

Ever since I started dating Captain Sa’ab, I was told by his then CO to read I married the Army by Doe Nair to get a feel of what life is like for an Army wife. Never the one to say no to reading a book, I promptly read it. Months later, I found Arms and the Woman by Deepti Menon, lying in a heap of books at the Daryaganj’s Sunday book market.

wpid-img_20140827_160401.jpgWhat these two books have in common is a very serious style of writing (very ladylike, befitting an Army wife) though it portrayed what Army life was like decades ago. A person like me found very little to relate to. Being a journalist and a writer who always welcomes a touch of humour, I thought the editing and presentation part of these books could have been a little different and appealing.

And this is where ‘Soldier and Spice’ scores high. It’s a story about an independent girl who feels a little suffocated initially in the Army, questioning every said and unsaid rule. It also shows the way wives of senior officers interact with young ladies. It was interesting to see how they are warming up to new ideas that involve Facebook and e-commerce, rather than sticking to the ‘song and dance’ sequence.

Aditi’s style of writing is very chic, humorous and truthful. I immediately called up Captain Sa’ab, who was away for a week-long camp, and told him what an amazing book it is. I also wanted to tell him to call up his former CO and suggest that he should recommend this book to all new brides from now on, but then decided against it.

‘Soldier and Spice’ is one of few books I have read A-Z in one sitting. A little credit also goes to Captain Sa’ab as well who is away for a week, which gave me time off from cooking meals. Waiting to see if Aditi comes up with a sequel. Hey wait! I’ll ask her myself, as I am meeting her soon. I found out just now that we live barely kilometres apart. See how small Army world is.

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