Ever since I got married into the Indian Army family 12 years back ( In India, you don’t marry just the person, you marry the entire family ), I have wished for chullus full of paani, so many times. Really, they should be conveniently placed around the Officers’ Messes, Barra Khana locations, Welfare centres and other fauji places; for people like me to dive in, whenever the need arises.
Just four months back, I addressed the Commander in the previous station as Colonel V instead of Brigadier V , and I was being a second time offender here. The first time I merrily said, “Good Evening Col V”, he threw a blank stare at me. The second time around, he just smiled back in amusement. ( CHULLU HUNT ! ) But I blame this on a chemical imbalance since childhood. Whatever the time of the day may be, I have always greeted teachers and doctors with a “Good morning Sir/Ma’am.” When living in the Dehradun cantt, we had an army doctor’s family living in the house opposite ours. Even after being neighbours for almost 3 years, our children being friends , me being good friends with his wife and he himself being a very unassuming person; I would go tongue tied when it came to greeting him. I would say “Good morning Col ” , no matter what time of the day we would meet at and wouldn’t be able to recall his surname at that precise moment. ( CHULLU HUNT! ) Finally, one fine day I mustered up enough courage to tell him that this was how I always behaved in front of all teachers, doctors and people in uniforms ( a recent addition). He was a doctor And a uniformed one at that! He kept smiling ear to ear and nodding his head. The next day onwards, he always greeted me with a “Hello” and maybe I imagined it, but it always seemed as if he would burst out laughing.
Flashback- to a formal dinner at an officers’ mess many years ago. I was seated next to a bachelor officer and got chatting with him ,feeling mighty pleased with myself at having put him at ease. I looked up and saw everyone looking at me. I grinned, nodded and continued chatting and eating. After sometime, someone cleared his throat loudly and I looked up to find everyone looking at me again. To my mortification , I saw that everyone had closed their plates and were waiting for me to do so, for quite sometime. I quickly shoved the remaining souffle ( yes,I remember ! ) down my throat and closed my plate. ( CHULLU HUNT ! )
Now, an incident that required a very big chullu indeed. Newly married, we reached Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh at 8 p.m. on the 2nd of June ( yes, I remember ! ). We reached the market place and just then, an officer who was there for the weekend, saw us and asked us to accompany him to a cafe nearby. I got down from the car, straightened the wrap-around skirt that I was wearing and started walking ( grace personified ) towards the cafe. The next I knew, I stumbled and was falling down in stages.
First stage- “Oh my god! not like this! “.
Second stage- “Thank god! I didn’t fall.”
Third stage- ” Mummyyyyyy ! ”
( CHULLU HUNT ! ) I still maintain that the third stage happened only because I held the panels of my skirt together. Ladylike, isn’t that ?
There are too many incidents like these to fit in here. So, I am just going to write a letter to the senior officers to kindly order for olive green chullu bhar paani to be placed at strategic locations in the cantonments everywhere. Wait, whom should I address the letter to- Brigadier? Commander? Sir? HELP!!! ( CHULLU HUNT ! )
© Jul 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani