This incident happened half-way through my tenure on INS Himgiri, the first time I served on that ship, as an Acting Sub Lieutenant for my Watch-keeping certificate.
We had a prim n propah CO: Cdr NN Anand, also known as Baby Anand since he was way ahead of his contemporaries. What they would achieve several years hence, he had already achieved.
During those days COs gained reputation by how cool they were on the Bridge and Baby Anand was a cool one, indeed. I recall that he trained us well and gave us ample opportunity to have independent charge of the ship in harbour as well as at sea.
The Command Headquarters never plan out your sea sorties keeping such important dates in mind as New Year, Diwali, Holi and Raksha Bandhan. Indeed, it appears to me that they actually keep these dates in mind and ensure you don’t waste time and money spending such dates with your families.
So, it was with the New Year Eve of 31st Dec 1975. We were on passage from Cochin to Bombay and the New Year of 1976 was to be ushered in on our helo deck.
There was an entertainment programme by the ship’s company. We, the Sub Lieuts, presented yet another spoof on the movie Sholay, for example:
G.S.: Are’ o bison, how many tablets are there in this pistol?
S.: Government, six.
G.S.: Tablets six and men only three? Big injustice……
Frankly, it had gone a wee bit flat despite our innovation. CO had a guest on board. One Commander Awasthi who was taking passage with us to Bombay. We didn’t know about it; but, the sailors knew his reputation for ribaldry.
Soon, there were several cat calls to finish with the Sholay spoof of ours just when we had come to what we thought was the juicy item:
Veeru: Springy, in front of these dogs, don’t dance….
And, then, the sailors had Awasthi to regale them with his earthy wit and humour in the language of the streets.
Awasthi was used to calling a spade as spade and uttered with a straight face, Hindi equivalents of English four letter words.
This was much to our CO’s discomfiture. Every-time Awasthi related a juicy one, CO was seen closing his eyes in silent prayer to God to let that be the last one! However, Awasthi’s repertoire was rather large and he had us lapping up his rustic jokes for close to an hour.
Finally, at the stroke of midnight, all other nautical activities took place as in my other anecdote ‘Goddamn Happy New Year!’.
Our CO was the happiest steering Awasthi towards his cabin after that.
P.S. For those of you who entertain the hope that I would relate at least one of them here, I can only say that my blog policy doesn’t permit me to squeak even a single one. How filthy were they? Well, in comparison, Rugby jokes can be told to a bishop’s daughter!
P.P.S. I was reminded of the inimitable Khushwant Singh. He was a rare guest speaker at Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Nilgiris (Tamilnadu) when I was undergoing the staff course in the year 1990. He recounted to us an anecdote about meeting the Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal. Apparently, Bhajan Lal was used to surfeit of Hindi expletives in his conversation. When he seemed to cross his limit, Khushwant gently reminded him, “Sir, please gaali mat deejiye” (Sir, please don’t use expletives. At this, if Khushwant Singh was to be believed, Bhajan Lal countered with a straight face: “Kaun behen___ gaali deta hai?” (Who is the sister-f—-r who is using expletives?)
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