Monday, April 06, 2009

Blue Beaches of Trivandrum

Trivandrum -- (1979-1982) : When the Army is not fighting a war , it is supposed to be training itself for the same. And if one sweats more in peace, one will bleed less in war. And that dictum came true at Trivandrum as our battalion was put through a rigorous regimen of training, which was conducted either in the unit training area, on the sea shores of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, or in the jungles of Karnataka. We also traveled to the hot and dry deserts of Rajasthan once a year for taking part in the battle simulation exercises. Once again traveling by Military Special trains from Trivandrum to Rajasthan and back which took ten days either way. Apart from training, our battalion also played host to number of visiting dignitaries who would go around visiting temples, beaches and other places of tourist interest in and around Trivandrum.

After we had spent some time at Trivandrum, our Army Commander [this time the actual one], Lieutenant General RD Heera, expressed his desire to visit our location. It is a common practice that whenever a very high ranking dignitary is scheduled to visit a unit or a formation, his or her protocol file is forwarded there a few days in advance. The file mentions all the likes and dislikes of the visiting dignitary. It specifically indicates the food habits. The Army Commander was our biggest boss, next only to the Army Chief. Naturally, the whole cantonment was in a spin. The file, containing the likes and dislikes of the GOC - in- C and his wife, had reached our immediate higher headquarters at Trivandrum well in advance and we had gone through it many times over, so as not to miss out on any thing. There was an item mentioned as shower curtain. I was part of the group of officers deputed to see the arrangements in the MES Inspection Bungalow (army equivalent of a VIP guest house) where the visiting couple was to stay. Everything else was in order, except for that damn shower curtain, which was not available anywhere in the market (now of course those are available, dime a dozen, even on some of the pavement bazaars). We hunted for the shower curtain in every nook and corner of Trivandrum city but could not lay hands on one. We were about to give report of the same to the Commanding Officer, that suddenly, a thought crossed my mind. I had a friend from Shimla, Ashok Sood, who worked at a five star hotel located at Kovalam Beach near Trivandrum, as Front Desk Manager. While we used to visit the Kovalam beach quite often for our picnics, we also used to organise there small parties on the occasion of dining in or dining out for the incoming and out going officers of the unit respectively. More often than not the winding up coffee used to be at the Beach Resort, the five star hotel as mentioned above, courtesy Ashok Sood. I contacted my friend on telephone and sure enough, he provided us with a shower curtain, which we got duly fixed in the bathroom of the VIP suite of the Inspection Bungalow.

During the course of General Heera's stay, a dinner was hosted by our unit in his honour in our Officers' Mess. Once again different arrangements were entrusted to a number of officers of the unit. An officer was specially deputed in the bar to see the drinks arrangements. Our Battalion, which was raised in the year 1900, had the proud privilege of being in possession of some of the choicest of wines, which were preserved for special occasions. Once again a final inspection was carried out by the Commanding Officer. Everything was in order. The General and his wife were escorted from the MES IB to the Officers' Mess at the designated time. The CO welcomed them and asked the General for a drink. He spelt out his poison. When the lady was asked for her drink, she said that she would prefer tender coconut water. Hearing this, our CO's face fell for a moment. He signalled to the nearest officer and asked him to arrange for Mrs Heera's drink. Immediately the Subedar Adjutant (the JCO in charge of administration) was telephoned. Fortunately our unit area had a number of coconut trees. A working party of a few jawans was organised who climbed the coconut trees and chopped off some fruit. The lady was served with fresh tender coconut water, though, with a slight delay. While she took the first sip of her drink, I noticed our CO wiping away a tiny droplet of sweat off his brow with his index finger tip.

This post also forms part of series on my life journey. To read all the posts in this series, please click here.



24 comments:

Indian Home Maker said...

I was looking forward to this one :)

LOL @ the organizing of the shower curtain :)

And the coconut water couldn't have been fresher then this glass straight from the tree :))
There is no doubt that army does teach officers to deal with all kind of emergencies!!!

Love these delightful and interesting glimpses into the army life :)

Andy said...

Blavinder ji...........You're the first one to my rescue. Think think and save my soul.

HEEELLLLPPPPP !!!

LazyKing said...

lol. I want to go to army now, just kidding

Indian Home Maker said...

Please Guess and Win the 55 Words Fiction Correct Guess Award

http://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/55-words-she-waited-to-be-alone/

BK Chowla said...

You all are lucky to have enjoyed the Army life.This is the first time I have visited your site.It iswonderful.I did have a chance of joining the Army,luck was not with me during SSB interview.But I am happy for all those who have served /are serving officers.

Farishta said...

Wow.. an amazing post as always..

Sir, it is such a pleasure reading your posts and catching a glimpse of the fauji life.

Thank you, and looking forward for the next post..

Anand said...

Frankly Speaking...I'm still waiting for your answer. They don't teach to solve riddles in Military, do they???? lol.
:-)

Anand said...

U really did make ur brain twist n' turn, didnt u??
Well..ur answer seems right at first instance and then..it kinda wavers.
U c..if u ask that question.....not only will the truthful guy stand up sayin.."Here, I'll show u the door, come with me".......but the liar will standup and say the SAME thing. And u'll be back where u started from. Shucks.

But a helluva try. Thank u for trying to help me though. :-)

J P Joshi said...

"I noticed our CO wiping away a tiny droplet of sweat off his brow with his index finger tip." Sweat in peace........was it?? He would rather prefer to bleed less in war, I am sure.

Gazal said...

really interesting incident.I could remember many such soups that i have seen happening while in the army.
Pls pardon me for disagreeing nad being a lil cynical....I feel its unfair to subject the officers and jawans to such peacetime activities.

Balvinder Singh said...

Friends, i am in the process of moving (bag and baggage) to a new place. Hence terribly busy. Will get back to blogging in due course.

How do we know said...

ha ha ha.. i thot that these things were part of the homework in arranging a dinner.. am laughing out loud @ Mrs. Heera's drink.. :-)

Balvinder Singh said...

Friends, sorry for a little longer break. I have moved to a new place. You may find a new dot and a digit on the map of my life's journey shortly.

IHM, yes the coconut water was tree fresh. having served in the Army, one never faces a situation that one has not experinced. That is what gives one the confidence of "oh no problem, i have been through it before"

Lazy King yes you can try if you are within the given age limit.

Mr. Chowla, thanks for the visit and the compliments. Yes i consider myself lucky to have served in the Indian Army. Nevertheless, other professions are no less challenging. I have scrolled through your blog . Lovely thoughts. Will be getting there more often.

Farishta, thanks for the visit and the compliments. Keep in touch. Yes next post shortly.

JP, yes sometimes one would prefer bleeding in a war rather than sweating these kinds of sweats.

Gazal, you are not at all disagreeing, rather i agree with you that the fighting forces should not get bogged down with such petty matters which would takes away their focus from the main task which they are cut out for.But then every crisis teaches them some thing or the other which can be corelated even in the war like situation.

and HDWK would you agree with that, though, your laughing aloud is perfectly in place.

Indian Homemaker said...

Mr Balvinder Singh,
YOU HAVE BEEN TAGGED :)
-IHM

Reflections said...

As usual U stopped at an interesting juncture....
well, take ur time, we'll be waiting:-))

Balvinder Singh said...

Nancy, yes it is always better to pause at interesting junctures in life. that keeps up the interest. please bear with me for some more time. am in the process of settling down. will get back here shortly.

Da Eternal Rebel said...

"An emperor in peace, prepares for the war"

This doctrin is hundreds of years old, yet so true and so relevant even now.

Balvinder Singh said...

Da Eternal Rebel, yes the war is as old as humnity itself and the best way to avoid it is to be prepared for it.

shail said...

Good read. So the coconut trees nearby saved the day!! :-)

Balvinder Singh said...

Shail, yes the coconut trees nearby and the eveready Army jawans who delivered the goods in time.

PARRY said...

it is becoming like an autobiography....well u cud have placed it separately...but nonethelsess theser are nice reads.

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