Friday, January 3, 2014

THE TIME OF MY LIFE XVII...Vignettes from Vizag



Talking of Vizag, I miss the lovely beaches. Once we went for a picnic with our friends Maya and Muddaiya and their two sons. We were in our swim suits and were scouting around for a nice place to splash around in the water. Srivatsa went ahead to do a bit of reconnaissance. The next thing we saw was a huge wave pulling him into the sea. We stood still watching him trying to come out and another wave dragging him in. All the four kids froze in terror. Maya and Muddi were helpless. I fell to the ground and promised God I would never fight with Srivatsa. The third wave rose to pull him in but he scrambled faster and kept out of its reach. Before the next wave could grab him, he was standing before me, smiling like he had come out of the shallow part of a swimming pool. What saved him that day was my prayer and his cool, calculated strategy of beating the wave at its own game. More people drown due to panic they say. He is a cool man, except when the bathroom floor is wet! I am ashamed to confess that I have not kept my pact with God. But then He forgives as I only fight when I am provoked!

Of the three Armed Forces, Navy is the best (says I) because all postings are family stations. There is less of rank barriers as officers and  sailors live on board ships and submarines for extended periods while sailing. Since we live in townships, there is ample scope for entrepreneurial activities. There is plenty of opportunity to use one’s talent in teaching music, cooking, dance, tailoring and other skills. In Vizag, we had an auditorium in the Naval Park, which was the centre for all cultural and social activities. As an executive committee member of NOWA, I started a library in the auditorium by going house to house on a collection drive of books. Commodore Korde was the Chief of the Naval Dockyard. He was my ‘Rakhi! Brother. On ‘Raksha Bandan’ he would come home before going to work and lower his tall frame to sit down in my ‘pooja’ room to let me tie the Rakhi that symbolizes brother/sister bonding, round his wrist. A man with a volatile temper, he was Srivatsa’s Boss but my ‘bhai’. When he was transferred, he hosted a dinner in the Naval Mess for all his junior officers and their wives. Because I do not eat eggs, he had special dessert made exclusively for me. He made the dockyard resources available to me, to get racks and cupboards for the books in the library. When Sarala Kulkarni, the Admiral’s wife, wanted anything to be done in the sailor’s quarters or the auditorium, she would request me to ask Kordesaab! Another young bachelor officer who helped me with my NOWA activities was Kailash Girwalkar. He calls me ‘akka’ as he heard my siblings call me that when they visited. He lived in Mumbai and was my host whenever I went  there. He extended his hospitality to my Guild members when they and come for the Mother-in-law of the Year award ceremony (you will read about it later) and is almost like an honorary member of the Guild of Women Achievers!