I was posted as Assistant Director in the Directorate of Tactics at Naval Headquarters, New Delhi, in the year 1987, after my sea tenure on Indian Naval Ship Ganga.
It was sweltering heat in the capital with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius on almost everyday basis. Many of us in A Block Hutments dreamt of air-conditioning. But, I was told that air-conditioning was for Flag Officers only. For commoners like me, we only had to do mind conditioning.
Commodore Ravi Sikka joined as the Director and he was a computer whiz-kid. He was to tactics what Captain Paulraj was to technology. Indeed, the original INFI (Indian Navy Fighting Instructions) were devised by him and he was then working on complex mathematical modeling of some advanced tactics.
With that, he was perpetually on his PC. He called me one day and said that he wanted air conditioning installed in his office since his PC was getting over heated every now and then. I dished out my newly acquired knowledge of AC being permitted for Major Generals and above and equivalents only.
He said some of his friends who were Brigadiers had managed to get air-conditioners installed in their offices on the grounds of computer-work and could I visit them in Army Headquarters to study the model with the purpose of emulating it in his office.
I, therefore, dutifully set out to the office of Brigadier X. When I entered the office, I saw the Brig sitting comfortably on an executive chair behind a plush table. I noticed that the AC was on and the temperature was barely half of the outside temperature.
Curiously, to his left, on a smaller table, I saw a clerk working on a PC. Now this was quite a sight and I quickly understood that after getting the AC installed, the Brigadier saab had left the actual working of the PC to the clerk.
I was quite a moonh-phut (loud-mouth) at that time and I could not resist telling the Brigadier that a PC was supposed to be PERSONAL (and I laid due emphasis on the word) Computer.
The Brig wasn’t offended at all. He replied quite amiably in Hindi, “Yeh (pointing out to the clerk) bhi PERSONAL he hai; yeh mera PA (Personal Assistant) hai.”
You just can’t beat the Army men. They have answers for everything.
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