I was posted on Ganga We returned from our cruise to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia (Read about an anecdote in Jeddah harbour in ‘Gunners Too Are Human – Part III – Gun Salutes’). Frankly, we had gone a wee-bit overboard in our purchases. We did well in our custom-clearance. The custom guys were ‘managed’ very well. Now all that stood between us having these items on board and us having them at home was the Security at the Lion Gate, Naval Dockyard, Bombay.
Once again, the lesser beings there were ‘managed’ very well but there was this Commander-at-Arms who was renowned to be the toughest egg in the entire Navy. It was rumoured that he used to have junior officers for breakfast after – as PGW would say – jumping over their remains with hobnailed shoes. To get past Cdr A was as tough as getting past Satan.
I had a friend on Ganga who was renowned for his resourcefulness. This friend on whilst going out of the Lion Gate smartly parked his vehicle on the side and went to meet Cdr A in his office. He paid his regards; Cdr A wasn’t amused. He talked about this and that: Cdr A wasn’t amused. Finally, my friend came straight to the point. He said he was a law-abiding citizen and would like to take out a few items with Cdr A’s permission.
Cdr A (brightening; as he had already seen in this an opportunity to chew my friend): When?
My Friend (fearfully): Er…if you permit…tomorrow, Sir.
Cdr A (eyes gleaming now): What kind of items?
My friend (alarmed now but he had reached point of no return): (Rattled out list of items) Cdr A (Visibly on top of the world now since rather than his catching the fish, the fish had come to him!): Don’t worry. Bring the items tomorrow and we shall see.
My friend saluted, dejectedly went to his vehicle and drove off.
Next day, at the appointed hour, he came to the Lion Gate and the entire Lion Gate Security Staff descended on his vehicle and ransacked it. All supervised by Cdr A smiling from ear to ear. To Cdr A’s utter horror and dejection, they found nothing.
At this stage, thoroughly frustrated at having missed a chance to get a Nao Sena Medal, Cdr A bellowed: But, you told me yesterday that you’d be taking out those items today.
My friend: I did Sir; but, knowing how you normally are, I didn’t take chances and took them out yesterday itself!
I could have given highest Gallantry Reward to my friend!
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