Now that I am on recounting the nostalgic memories of my tenure as a student in Staff College, I cannot forget the experience of the games we used to play there.
I tried my hand at Golf and found it curious that they measure ‘handicap‘ in single and double digits. Unlike in cricket, they had no respect for a centurion like me; ugh!
I tried my hand at Badminton and discovered the meaning of the first three letters of the game.
I tried my hand (and legs!) at Cricket and found that I was ‘fielding’ most of the times; wherever I stood, it was a Silly point!
Finally, I reinforced my natural talent of playing chess, billiards and bridge. The last one suited me immensely since, unlike other games that I tried, I didn’t have to play when I was the dummy – which, in other games, was most of the times. Also, since ships are controlled from the Bridge, it appeared to me that I was engaged in something ‘professional’.
Lo and behold, I found like-minded ‘professionals’ in the other two services too. So when we went for a FAT (Forward Area Tour) in the treacherous hills of the North East, we had our foursome complete (Please see the accompanying picture to see what I looked like during that trip).
The four of us thoroughbred ‘professionals’ sat in the rear of a one tonner, around a large tyre and played Bridge. A one tonner in those hills is as far from comfort as Sunny Leone is from being regarded as the next Mother Theresa. We tossed, the cards tossed, our baggage tossed but we somehow played. We gave a new meaning to why a pair of games in Bridge is called a Rubber; in our case it was simply because it was on an MRF rubber tyre that the game was held.
All of you would remember that scene in Titanic when after hitting the iceberg, it is sinking; but, the orchestra dutifully keeps on playing. Well, a navy officer, an IAF officer and two army officers from Staff College exhibited similar commitment; there were landslides along the way, halts and obstructions. But, we played Bridge as if our life depended on it. Four of us had discovered our calling in life.
We were oblivious of the fact that behind our one tonner was the Jeep of an IAF Group Captain S, the IAF Senior Instructor during our times. We were totally oblivious of the fact that despite the relative comfort of his jeep ride, he was eyeing us wistfully.
After hours of journeying in this fashion, when we halted for lunch, Groupie S’s tolerance gave way. He approached our one tonner and said, “How would one of you like to ride in the jeep whilst I take his place?”
We pulled cards from the pack at random and divine justice was done! The IAF officer pulled the lowest card and Groupie S replaced him.
All of you who have undergone Staff Course would remember the apartheid of the DSs; you ain’t even allowed to pee in the same piss-pot as them. But, here we had the Senior Instructor of the Air Force happily sitting with us around a tyre in the rear of a one-tonner and playing Bridge.
Some ‘Bridging the Gap’ it was!
P.S. This was the only recorded incident in the history of Contract Bridge wherein the ‘dummy‘ sat in another vehicle and made faces at us until it hurt.
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