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Diary of an Army Wife An Army Wife
Au revoir friends!
The past two years has been a wonderful journey and learning experience for me. I have loved writing about my experiences through this column aptly named ‘Diary of an Army wife’. I remember being so thrilled when I had jokingly suggested writing about my personal experiences (as an Army wife) to the editor and he actually liked the idea and implemented it soon enough. I also remember...
Other side of the fence
Bangalore was such a drastic change from what we were used to. The fresh clean air was replaced by toxic fumes of a sea of vehicles that hardly had any road to move on. The well manicured greenery and chirruping birds had vanished to make space for concrete congestion and asthma-inducing air. The birds though were replaced by ‘chicks’ in snazzy outfits.Not used to slow...
The restless army wife
I feel a deep sense of déjà vu. A lot that has happened in the past few days is the direct consequence of the past few months of mental turmoil. I have been restless, unable to be happy with what I had and have. I have wanted to get back to fulltime work. But it was not possible where my husband was posted in the recent past so I kept a deadline for myself. And my deadline was this...
An Army mom and two sons
It’s very rare for my husband to be really fond of someone else in uniform. Not because ‘fondness’ for others is uncommon in the fauj... but because he has met very few who have matched his ‘grid’ so to say. Not to mention his own aloofness that comes in between.So he used to keep referring to one of his colleagues—someone who held my other half’s...
The show-stopper
From a distance the model on the banner looked strangely familiar. “That looks like a new advertisement,” said my husband when we were on our way to the market. Positioned at a tactical height at the beginning of a bridge on the local river, it was a cleverly marketed banner of the chief minister obviously wanting to make a mark. I was surprised and commented, “This kind of...
Kamadeva’s karma
Valentine’s Day is here again... a time for celebration of love. I can’t help but soak in the excitement of its little symbols, whether heart-shaped balloons or the eternal red rose. I sigh to myself. Will he ever get me one?He was about to leave for office when he turned around and said “Suno....”  “Ji Saab,” said his buddy enthusiastically. “No,...
Fine balancing act
Marry an Army officer and your standard of living—not to mention style—visibly jumps up. You will realise how smooth administration of routine matters becomes. You happily start enjoying the entitled privileges and perks. You tend to get into this protective bubble where you (as an Army wife) actually need to do nothing for a living.Yet there are some who feel the need to add more...
‘Silent to remain...’
There has been a festive atmosphere in the country since the end of 2013. Christmas brought little pine trees, shiny bells and bright stars. Then when it was time for New Year’s Eve—parties were meticulously planned with live bands, DJs and the best caterers. After a few days it was time to celebrate Lohri in the north and Pongal and Sankranti in the south and elsewhere. And then......
To Ma’am, with love
It broke my heart to see the tears welling in her vulnerable questioning eyes. “But why is my Ma’am leaving, Mamma? She’s soooo nice.” I smiled sadly. “Beta, your ma’am is leaving because she (her husband really) is posted to another place just like we were posted from the previous place to this one. She will probably join the Army school there and teach other...
Talk to me baby
Recently, when I read a thought-provoking article called ‘Why are men so difficult? The eight big differences between men’s and women’s brains’, I was not really surprised to know that a pointed difference between a man and woman is the expression of emotion. A few other categories, that I will not dwell now, are human relationships, mathematical abilities, reaction to...
Dream come true.
Have you experienced those certain moments in life when you wished you had actually done something you badly wanted to, but didn’t, for want of some guts and little encouragement maybe? Oh, I certainly have and very recently.It was on the return journey of this wonderful trip to Kasauli and Shimla. We decided to route through the picturesque Chail (in Himachal) and have a look-see of the...
Woe betide ‘motherland’
We, my husband and I, are poles apart in our approach to certain issues. I like to make spontaneous plans and take swift decisions. My other half likes to take his time and ponder over every possible aspect of a situation, its pros and cons, before taking a decision. His caution is often (not always) fruitful. I, on the other hand, am more willing to take risks. I am sure every wife would like to...
Politico soldiery
The past few days have been audio-visual and mental badminton for many of us following the routes and rallies of the political big-wigs on various news channels. Then when it turned from ‘badminton’ to ‘kabaddi’ in pulling the opponents down, my pleasure in relishing a cup of tea while watching these political games on the idiot box took a beating as well. It frustrated me...
Wishing for Utopia
I want to share with you an experience that I may never want to repeat in my life—professionally or otherwise.I was working on an article on rape. So I visited a local jail to interview a few convicted rapists to get a gist of the other side of the fence—that of the perpetrator. I have to admit that while I hated the experience I was committed to completing it. I realised I needed to...
Holidaying OG isshtyle!
When you feel the continuous urge to breathe in the fragrance of the morning mist, when your eyes are hungry to feast on the sight of tree-clad tall mountains and deep mysterious valleys, when you relish the thought of walking by yourself on little winding lanes guarded by wild flowers on either side—you know you are in the midst of a dream holiday!I felt all the above and more on a recent...
Visiting the ‘Queen’
Fresh air is a luxury these days. Not everyone is able to get hold of it. Come to think of it, no one can really… but holidays to hill stations are a temporary respite for most people. I am lucky. Given my green and uncluttered place of residence, I enjoy my share (of clean fresh air) even otherwise. Kasauli and Shimla compare like a beautiful independent bungalow and a cluttered apartment...
A child’s real life lesson on bravery
Disbelief. Shock. Grief. A deep sense of loss and emptiness. I realise they are terrible feelings to experience. Life, it is said, is so uncertain. A fact that was so crudely proven when a bunch of militants made a mockery of what security forces stand for when they so blatantly killed a number of people including civilians when they attacked a police station and then an army regiment in the...
A true fauji never ‘retires’
While it is possible for those close to me to gauge my reactions simply with the look on my face, it is difficult for anyone to fathom the thoughts of my ‘miyan' (husband in Urdu) vis-à-vis his expressions. So rather intrigued with this characteristic I never lose a chance to elicit a reaction from him (notwithstanding the support of some feminine armour).One morning during a...
The Mathematics of Life
Though a staunch Enid Blyton fan in my early childhood days, I was later intrigued by the story of the 17th century-based novel, The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas. When I was an older child I imagined my two siblings and myself in place of the three friends, Athos, Porthos and Aramis [three of the French Musketeers of the Guard meant to protect the French Royalty). I cooked up imaginary...
My Name is Ma’am
From a working background characterised by first names and firm handshakes devoid of the sex, I found the formal air in the Army’s social and personal interactions rather stifling at first. All of a sudden, I almost forgot about my first name when I was constantly addressed as Mrs so and so by the ladies and ‘Ma’am’ by the gentlemen!   Then I realised slowly that...
The silent saviours
Tragedy strikes anytime—anywhere. Seldom can we prepare ourselves for natural (or man-made) disasters that come with little warning and no cut-off limits of destruction.For small-scale family emergencies, we require to call someone we can count on—may be a relative or a friend. We feel comforted with the knowledge that they would catch the next flight or train to come and help out....
No ordinary ‘Mrs’
In Civvy Street, how do you visualise a typical Army officer?Your answer could be: Someone tall, well-built and with an unmistakable bushy moustache. Someone who may be very ‘military’ in his demeanour and is known to enjoy a drink or two with gusto (and enthusiastic subsequent back-thumping)! Probably someone with a homely wife who is always there in the background, conjuring up his...
Yeh hai India
Me—a ‘Violator’? This couldn’t be happening to me. Fact is I felt violated, er, not in ‘that’ way but you could say violation of my civil rights. It was a horribly hot day. I had to renew my car insurance for which they generally want to see the vehicle. I finally located the office and had to leave my car on the side of a busy road. I checked for notorious...
How about a Love parade?
Normal routine for an Army officer in his unit:5a.m.: Wake up6a.m.: PT Parade8.30a.m.: Office (Multi-tasking at different locations—never at one desk)2.30/3/3.30/4p.m.: Lunch break5p.m.: Office/ games parade/ conference7.45p.m.: Official function/party (If no party then office work may continue)11p.m.: Disperse after party. Likely discussion about office politics.11.30p.m.: Change of...
Personality matters
“She thinks she’s God’s gift to the world, always advising others on something or the other,” said one of them, dressed in a branded (naturally) tracksuit with carefully matched accessories and make-up, about some unsuspecting lady obviously not present there. The other two giggled. A good half-an-hour of non-stop gossip ended with the dissemination of information that...
Fauji doctor to the rescue
One feels a certain reassurance even in the uncertainty that comes with certain Army services. Take military hospitals as an example. One is fully aware the uniformed doctor he or she consults on the first visit may not be there the second time, be it on account of transfer, duty, leave...anything. Yet, it is never really a cause for worry. The army generally ensures medical care continues...
The Good Samaritans
After a year of experiences that translated to more madness than sanity, there is nothing as refreshing as a short holiday to a place you have never seen. At such a time, there is little as reassuring as having sanctioned leave and confirmed accommodation in an Army establishment there. So when we (my family) drove off in our car that has seen almost as much as we have, we did so with great...
Dashing damsels
They are a different class of women, incomparable with the ordinary rest! There is something about them that simply ensures they stand out among a crowd of even the most glamorous and best dressed beautiful army wives. I had always wanted to be one of them. I remember even bringing home the forms to fill for the Education Corps after I completed my studies, but my circumstances at the time did...
Romancing the uniform
Wonderfully, I am a romantic Piscean. Sadly, my Gemini husband is not so, at least not in my expression. But my argument is that’s what romance is all about, right? Expression! From his point of view, it is an unnecessary waste of time and effort when the feelings are already in place; but I say why not convey something that will always bring a smile to my face?Can you really...
Speaking up
I don’t know whether the saying ‘no news is good news’ adheres to the present day world of crime. Experts say the crime graph has remained the same. It is only media reporting of crime that has increased. News today is redundant with increasing horror of atrocities against little girls and women in particular. The animalistic tendencies of people from different strata of life...
Army’s Annandale
Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them, said Mark Twain. While unfortunately he was right, fortunately the ‘wrong’ inflicted at times sometimes gets converted to a good ‘right’ when somebody fights to preserve Mother Nature and her children. Probably lesser known or spoken about by citizenry as such, the Indian Army is not just about defence and security but about...
My role model
I was always in awe of her. She was my role model... still is. I always wanted to be an achiever like her and make my parents proud of me as they were of her. As a teenager I tried copying her but always failed in my attempts not realising the fact that aping somebody is not the solution—hard work and perseverance is. I recollect proud moments of the winter of 1984 when as a cadet of the...
‘Seasons’ of the fauj
It was an early evening this winter when I stepped out of the warmth of my house into the veranda. For one who likes to chatter, my teeth did so but without my wish. Naturally so, I realised, since it was probably less than five degree Celsius. I was immediately enveloped by the crisp cold in a not-so-warm embrace. I could hardly see the nearby trees because of the thick fog. I ran to my car and...
Hello—2013!
The first of January 2013 was special for me. I did something I had never done on day one of a new year. Go sightseeing! No ordinary ‘sights’ but glimpses into different extraordinary chapters of history.One realises having well-placed fauji contacts makes life so simple when you are visiting a new place, especially one that is so varied in its historical offerings. Not only did our...
Skeptical about patriotism
Seeing the 23-year-old martyr’s soulful eyes in the newspaper caused me to shudder with what they had seen in their short life. I experienced extreme sadness at the pain and horror Capt. Saurabh Kalia along with his five brave comrades, would have gone through; fury as to how any human being can inflict such torture on another (and deny it later)—an unarmed one at that; sheer...
All about positive energy!
“Come with me,” said the unknown lady, probably in her late twenties, and extended her hand to my little daughter who promptly complied and walked off happily with her. My husband and I were left speechless. Our offspring generally took her own sweet time to get used to someone. She also believed in being carried than walking in most cases. So seeing her walk off with a total stranger...
Dashing or down-to-earth?
He was quieter than his usual quiet self—clearly disappointed with my response. I shrugged my shoulders. I couldn’t help it. I was just being my normal honest self.“So what,” I thought to myself. “I can’t fool him or myself with anything other than the truth! I am a regular romantic who is impressed with guns and tanks!” However, later I realised I was...
Daughter of an Army wife
“I’ll go over to the bank and submit the form for you to get back the amount, Dad,” I volunteered, without a moment’s hesitation. We were talking about how my septuagenarian retired Army officer dad was having to pay extra taxes that he need not, on account of being a senior citizen. “Anyway, the taxes taken are reimbursed later,” said Dad. “Moreover, I...
Dealing with oddity
I was in the second trimester of pregnancy when we had our regiment’s Raising Day party. Raising Day—as the name suggests—is the day the regiment or unit was established or raised. A sort of a big birthday bash —a proud occasion! It is by far the most important day in the history of the unit and is celebrated with gusto every year. Ladies, in particular, as a group or...
Time for dis-play!
I have grown to be a pragmatist on account of the varied experiences of my life—some unpleasant, and a few, good ones. I have learnt over a long period of time; a couple of decades or so, that people are not what they want you to believe. Life is neither a straight path, nor do most people talk straight. This often leads to a feeling of let-down. Time and again I worry about my better half...
Worth the wait!
It’s a feeling of great contentment to share a cup of hot steaming tea with your loved one, on a hilltop, abundant with lush greenery. There was this lady running a tea stall in a tiny hill station called Yercaud in Tamil Nadu. One sip—and my husband and I exchanged happy looks. Our day was made. We went on to have 4-5 cups that very misty morning during the early part of our 20-day...
The Army Housewives’ special allowance?
The Women and Child Development Ministry’s infancy-stage proposal to introduce a monthly salary system for the various important ‘jobs’ done by the housewife, is definitely interesting. No doubt it has raised many a well threaded eyebrow—not to mention frowns of those who don’t need threading, on account of the always-argued (by married couples), yet unresolved...
Woman power?
It sounds nonchalant, but is probably one of the most formidable words in the Indian Army. The word ‘Ladies Club’ sends a shiver down the spine of anyone ill-equipped to take on the superior forces allegedly called the ‘weaker sex’. At one point of time, I had deluded myself with the thought that nothing about human behavior could shock me anymore. Then something...
Sartaj
She was four-feet nothing with eyes that spoke volumes of silent agony. Her flawless face radiated patience and hope. Sartaj was no ordinary woman. Her husband was a jawan in our subunit who went about his duties calmly and she was a homemaker like the others living in the family quarters—but with a difference.She had two children, a boy studying in class eight and a girl, around 16 years....
The biggest fan
Sometimes I feel the life of an Army officer and his wife is like the tempestuous moods of the sea—still and calm when the sky is clear but, unrecognizably virulent during a storm. I realise there is much more to this form of existence that meets the eye. The duty of an Army officer is, in fact, not just about the complex simplicity of fighting insurgency and the like. It is not even about...
Ethos of Army etiquette
“Come on Dad, how can you eat a chapati and sabzi with a fork?”  I always used to ask my father when I was a teenager, and still do sometimes! In reply he just used to smile. Over the years I learnt that social etiquette is so deeply ingrained in Army officers (and officers of other services) that one can easily identify them even in civil society on account of their mannerism,...
Not about might!
We lived in an Army colony in a city once. Just out of our gates, one had to cross a double road perpendicularly to gain entry to a road that took us towards our regiment’s location. One day, coming back to the colony, I had crossed over halfway but traffic on the other side had not eased, so I waited in the middle of the two roads. I then saw a private bus approaching from the road behind...
The Tech-teen Age
“You gave a Blackberry to a 16-year-old just for GIVING his class ten exams???” I almost shouted incredulously. My sister nodded her head. “Yes, this was nothing. His friends’ parents gave them bikes (not bicycles of course!) for the same reason. But he agreed for a phone, said he’d take the bike later. You’ll come to this stage soon enough, then you’ll...
Creating rich history
It was 1799. England and France were at war in Europe. The mighty Tipu Sultan’s association with the French in India was viewed with suspicion. No wonder, since he was promised help by Napolean Bonaparte himself. In a mighty response, an Army consisting of 21,000 men of all arms marched from Vellore to Mallavelly in February 1799. Tipu launched an attack to counter the Army but was fiercely...
Taking a call
One morning my phone kept ringing incessantly. The calls were from an unknown mobile number. Yet, one needs to find out if it may be someone you know. So I picked up. “Hello, Madam, Namaste!” “Namaste, who’s speaking,” I asked. “Madam, I am Savita, wife of soldier Suresh Kumar.” Me: Yes, Savita, is everything alright?Savita: Madam, I am calling from...
‘Heart’ of the matter
The huge room smelt of typical air-conditioned air. I could hear the familiar mass sound of fingers at keyboards and printers spouting out page sizes A3 and A4. Everyone was glued to their monitors, slight creases on their foreheads with the concerted efforts to make work error-free. I walked up to one of the machines and took a printout of my page. Poring over the fine print, I checked it in...
True brothers in arms
Do modern-day marriages suffer setback in the absence of parents or elders? Is our society, in reality, the antithesis of certain television serials that revolve around close-knit joint families—ones we love to watch? Whether these questions are rhetorical, is difficult to gauge due to their intrinsic subjectivity.  Professional and personal lives of Army personnel are two sides of the...
WANTED: Husband
The big fat Indian wedding—where dreams are born. A time when parents leave no stone unturned to turn their daughter’s wedding into the extravagant best for her promising life ahead. Government employees are many a time the preferred son-in-law material with guaranteed jobs, blessed with pay commissions steadily increasing their incomes and good standards of living. It is probably the...
A toast to success
You know what’s the beauty of an Army officer’s job?It is unique. It is not restricted to a specific desk, task or responsibility. There is no expectation of monetary gains for good performance. In addition, the tasks range from updating documentation regarding all personnel to maintaining the guard posts along the periphery. No one questions the changing roles. But yes, the one thing...
Understanding diplomacy
I have been part of editorial staff meetings that encourage individual capabilities through progressive suggestions and expected challenges in the line of work. I have been principal of a kindergarten school wherein I always believed in feedback and suggestions to create a happy carefree atmosphere for the children vis-à-vis a play-and-learn philosophy. Interactive discussions at varied...
Emissaries of bravery
November 1993: It was Diwali night—the entire country was lit up with lamps and firecrackers. Quite far away from the celebrations was a different ‘Diwali’ for a gunner of an artillery unit. With just about five years of service, he was on duty at Baramullah. But he probably didn’t mind since he was going on leave the next day. Also, his wife was six months pregnant with...
Celebrating with rain
We faujis plan our parties with great gusto and to every minute detail. A grand party was in the offing with an invitation to every officer and his family in the station. Comfortable and ample seating with a talented Army jazz band playing soft notes in our pleasing lawns aimed to provide the perfect ambience. A sumptuous menu was researched and analysed, and finalised (Sorry, RAW). Subtle classy...
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My wife lives in New York, and, over the years, I have got to know the city well. It is a useful barometer to judge the health of the world and of the American mood and economy. A visit in the winter of 2008-09, ...  »
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American dream come true
It is sheer love for the game that nurtures an upcoming tennis player.  As one begins to follow the sport with a growing passion, it is Grand Slam tournaments that capture your imagination and, soon, for a ...  »
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