Sunday, December 29, 2013

THE TIME OF MY LIFE XIII...More about life in the Navy

The pay may not be the best in the Navy, but the lifestyle makes up for it. The townships are clean and environment friendly. They are self contained with all the required services like schools, hospitals, shopping arcades, place of worship, health clubs and sports stadia, Computer, tailoring and other skill-oriented classes, movie house and cafeterias. Houses are furnished and the canteen stores have all household items at affordable prices. It is a perfect setting for children to grow up in and I attribute my sons’ life perspectives to this exposure. I am glad I married a naval officer!

Social life in the Navy is as busy as you want it to be. There are many who prefer to keep to themselves but we chose to be part of the mainstream. Srivatsa looked super in his party uniform of black trousers, white shirt with epaulets and black cummerbund. Slim and straight, he could carry it off so well. Most of the parties we went to were onboard ships and the bachelors would generally crowd around married ladies, hoping to get a dinner invite. Home food was like manna from heaven for them.They would insist on my having a drink and I would not have anything stronger than water. I had asked Srivatsa how to handle those guys and he had told me no one could make me do what I did not like, not even his senior officers. After a while, word spread about my being a teetotaler and I was allowed to drink water in peace. To date, that is the only drink I have expect for my daily glass of milk!

Our social life was rewarding. You can have it the way you want. There are groups which are into  rummy sessions; some into bar bonhomie, some get together to gripe and crib and some keep to themselves. We attended lecture series by reputed speakers, went to parties thrown by visiting ships, danced at the Navy Ball every year, cheered our sportsmen, participated in functions-it was a full life.

I remember the year Gandhi was released. On 26 Jan, Navy booked the REGAL cinema hall for its personnel and their wives. What a tribute to the Father of the Nation, with officers and sailors in formal uniform and wives in their silks and pearls, giving him a standing ovation. It was awesome!

Srivatsa missed his promotion. It was very demoralizing. We debated about his quitting, as many who miss the boat do. We weighed the pros and cons and he decided to continue in the Navy and worked with the same commitment and sincerity till he superannuated seven years later. There were other compensations, like an extended tenure in Mumbai for six years and an independent assignment at ISRO, Bangalore, prior to retirement. If you are sincere to the system, it makes up in its own way. Everybody cannot make it to the top. What matters is how you do your bit wherever you are. Srivatsa took his professional defeat with great dignity which won him the respect of his colleagues.