Comedy of Errors
I consider it my pleasure and proud privilege to get a chance to write in this group of extremely talented and versatile people. Hence, when Mrs. Kekre asked me to write something in the group I readily agreed. Being an army officer’s wife and army being a unique organization, I decided to write about Indian army itself. As you all must be knowing the Indian army is the world’s second largest military and has world’s largest volunteer army. It has its own working style and also a particular way of living
I married in the year 2001 and joined my husband at Bathinda Cantonment. I myself am from a civilian background and had very less or no inkling about army life lest whatever my husband was informing me, but the first day itself was such a great jolt that I cannot forget it ever. Army has a custom of welcoming its newly married couple with lots of Band Baja Baraat. So when we reached Bathinda railway station my husband was bracing me for a loud welcome with lots of surprises and even maybe some antics (one of the officers was welcomed by an army wife playing the part of a very saucy girlfriend crying, creating a scene of ‘Tum mujhe kahan chod ke chale gaye the’. The new bride was aghast and had to be really consoled that it is just a gag) So, I was ready for anything, imagining things till wherever my imagination could take me, but me and my husband were certainly not ready for the pin drop silence prevailing on the station. Not even one person from the unit (an artillery organization comprising of almost 500 jawans and 14-15 officers) was present.
My husband who was really upset now asked me to wait and looked on the station everywhere but nobody was present, so we took a cycle rickshaw and reached the set of rooms which was a bachelor’s accommodation then. Bathinda cantonment is a very well laid out cantonment. It is Asia’s largest completely enclosed cantonment and I was mighty impressed.
We kept our bags and since we had just reached, there was no question of cooking anything, so we went out for lunch. We had a very good lunch as we were really hungry after a long tiring journey.
We were about to open the lock when one of the officers of our unit came hurriedly calling out that he had been looking for us everywhere and we need to reach a senior officer’s house immediately. We reached the officer’s house and found out that the officer, his wife and quite a number of young officers had gathered to give us a welcome lunch. When I reached there they all warmly welcomed me with flowers and chocolates and to my great dismay there in front of me was laid out a five course lunch. I was trying to tell them all that I just cannot eat but due to the ambiance of laughter and affection; somehow I couldn’t. First time in my life I must have had so much food. By the time the second round of lunch was over it was 3:30 pm. We reached home by 3:45 and my husband announced, “Come on change into some light evening wear, I have to go for my games parade and for you a gypsy will come and take you to the officers mess for high tea with the other lady wives of the unit”. By the time he said this the gypsy had arrived. I changed in flat 2 minutes and attended my life’s first high tea, which was another extravaganza of snacks and savoury and had to force myself to. By this time I had reached a state where I felt I cannot stand even one more bite. But managed to hold myself there somehow. When I reached home I was feeling really ill. My husband reached after a while and explained the complete goof up. Since it was the time before the digital revolution, the officers used to write there date of arrival in station in a register. It was the duty of one of the officers to inform everybody about the arrival of an officer with his new bride. In our case he did inform but quite late. By the time the officers reached the station to welcome us, we had left from there. Another young officer was asked to give us the card for lunch, which he did slip under the door, the only problem was; it was the wrong door. My husband had shifted to a different set of rooms, which were bigger than the previous, which this officer didn’t know. I had a hearty laugh, to hear this confusion. They all more than made up for this first days’ confusion with a long string of lunch and dinner invitations.
by Anuradha Kunte Singh