Don’t be an Angrez copy cat ya!

Oh! Let me begin with a disclaimer. I’ll try to not make this post a feminist rant. But the catch is, I know nothing better. As I can’t kick the shit out of the misogynist folks around me, I write the shit out of them. Accept that after all I am a flawed human, very much as you are. Writers are not necessarily good human beings as most of you assume. Most writers live with their own demons — in my case, my demon is my hatred for copy-cat misogynist wanna-be Angrez folks. You know the ones who don’t know the difference between a duchess and a countess, but would love to have English breakfast too often too much! Yeah, you gotcha — that kinds.

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I mean, the desi daal-chawal kind that I am, c’mon, I don’t know too much about British royalty. Though I am neck deep into a lifestyle that’s a cheap replica of the royalty, I prefer remaining a ‘commoner’. It appeals more to my middle-class, hardworking mentality, I guess. But, somehow, from the little I know and the little-st I can comprehend about the British royal family, I love Princess Margaret and Diana, the Princess of Wales, more than the Princess Royal, Anne, and may be even the queen. The rebel streak in Princess Di, which kicked the memsahib out of the royal culture, makes me like her a little more than Queen, Margaret, Anne, Catherine, and Meghan — all combined. You know, Princess Di was as much a lady in a pair of jeans as she was in a beautiful evening gown. While it might come as an utter surprise to many copy-cat misogynist wanna-be Angrez folks around me, Princess Di never draped a saree in her life – yet she was termed as one of the finest ladies the British royalty has ever seen. So, fact-check, “Saree – Chiffon, Cotton, or Silk – is just a garment, not a cover for your uncouthness”.

Anyway, let’s leave the British royalty aside for a while. Many of you know that I make a living out of writing some technical mumbo-jumbo. 8 years into writing the mumbo-jumbo, I have learned (or learnt) little bit of Angrezi (ah! unfortunately, not the UK one). So, now with this little learning, I am a little too sensitive about how I am addressed in this language. For example, if you are not my boss and you tell me you NEED some information from me, trust me, I am going to turn a deaf ear to your COMMAND until you REQUEST. But the copy-cat misogynist wanna-be Angrez folks living in a pseudo monarchy often forget the humble mannerism that British brought along with their language. They ORDER too often and too much. Though the inspiration I draw from Princess Di encourages me to blow the lid off their half-baked stupidity (yeah, even that’s bloody half baked), I resort to sarcasm because who the hell wants to mud-sling with pigs!

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The other thing that irks me today and too often is the class superiority. When someone says — “People beneath me, thy welfare i shalt doth”, I want to shake them up and say, “Vraiment madame? Do a favor to your life first. First learneth a few things f’r thyself!” But then, I am too busy learning for myself. You see, life is short and there is too little time to multi-task, anyway! Taking care of the well-being of others is a little too down on my priority list for this lifetime.

But as most rant must conclude, here is how I wrap it — “Liveth and alloweth leaveth, prithee”! While in modern English, it might translate to “Live and Let Live”, I intend the urban slang version of it, which would roughly translate to, “You wipe your shit, I’ll wipe mine. Thank You.”

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Wear his ring, not his rank!

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Okay! Cool! Your husband is <insert his rank here>. That’s awesome. That’s more than awesome. I would love if you could thank him on my behalf for serving our country with his blood and sweat. Trust me, I understand, how much it takes to be away from family, friends, love, hometown, and everything that, in multiple ways, is a part of his identity. And of course, if you were not his pillar of strength, he wouldn’t be where he is right now. I am explicitly stating that he could not have done any of this without you. But oh dear, that’s where your role ends.

Being married to an army man, I know I always take the second precedence. Duty comes first, always — without any ifs, buts, whys, and why-nots . He has taken that oath and as his life partner, I must help him stand by his words. Well, but then, frankly, I am not doing this for the country, I am doing this for my man, and here is what makes his role very different from my role.

I rejoice his success. I help him overcome a failure. But I don’t sit in his chair or walk in his office, uninvited. They are his, not mine! I married my man for who he is, not for the brass on his shoulders; so of course, with or without the uniform, I take pride in my man and love him with all my heart.

Someone I know introduced herself to me in the first meeting as the wife of the second-in-command in the unit and I couldn’t help but chuckle. “Oh dear! you are not married to an appointment. You are married to a gentleman — all in flesh and blood“, I so wanted to say. But better late than never, Mrs so&so.

No, hold on! That’s not all. Some women talk about helping out their husbands with the duties.

So, am I supposed to share my husband’s duties? No, the answer is — I am not trained to do his tasks. I may be a coder, a doctor, a teacher, but of course, I am not supposed to take strategic or welfare related decisions for the unit/sub-unit on his behalf. I am not supposed to give any instructions to the staff meant to assist him. So, buddy bhaiya certainly is not arranging the school uniforms for kids in my house and escorting my babies and babas to the school bus stops. And in return, I am not grooming their wives. I trust their parents to have groomed the girls well. If at all they need my advice, I would love to offer one, but not in the capacity of an officer’s wife — but in the capacity of a fellow human being who shares similar problems as theirs. Do I feel great that they think that I am worthy of giving them advice? Oh yes! Of course. But I am no one to shove my choices in their life. For example, unless I am a Sangeet Visharad myself and they have come to me to learn music, I am not qualified to tell a JCO/OR wife, “Tumahara sur hi nahie lagta hai! (You can’t sing well!)”

I am glad that the men in uniform — full of chivalry and class — miss no opportunity to show us respect. Whether it is an NCO in the mess offering me a glass of cold water on a super sunny day or an officer pulling a chair for me at a formal dinner, I feel glad that ‘my husband’ socializes with men who respect women. I am proud that army as an organization welcomes me with open arms despite I NOT being a part of it in any official capacity. I remain a civilian. So, women who pass nasty comments on civilians make me wonder, “When did you don the OG, dear lady?”. Last I checked, you were a civilian yourself.

Also, how much ever I love my husband — he certainly is not the be-it-all of my existence. I have a career. My political viewpoint is different from his and we debate, the army parties are not the only occasions I shop for, and oh yes, he didn’t have to ‘groom me’ — my parents & alma mater did that really well.

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However proud I am of my husband for the person he is and, to some extent, the hardships he takes in the line of his duty, that’s not the only thing I am proud of in my life. There are many more achievements to my credit other than being an army wife, an-almost-single-mother, and grooming the ladies around me. So, when women say they gave the life to army because they couldn’t have enough time beyond army activities! Sorry, the army never asked for it! You did it out of your own free will. You did it for your life partner. Blame him with all your might for making your life challenging, but blame the army! Nay!!!

I am not taking away the fact that your life could have been easier if he was not in the army. He chose that life and you chose him! Ah! But that doesn’t mean, you show off his rank instead of his ring.

Huffington Post: The 4 Stages Of Fitting In As A Fauji Wife

Coming from a ‘civilian’ background, I had no clue that faujis speak a completely different language. So, I was surprised at my husband’s surprise over my addressing my boss by her first name. “That’s how we address colleagues, don’t we?” I said, at which his eyes almost popped out. “She is your boss–super-boss–isn’t she? Isn’t it considered disrespectful to address her by her first name?”I couldn’t help but burst into hysterical laughter.

That was my first ever insight into how faujis think. Having been married for only a year and with my husband on a ‘field posting’ I know I have a lot more to learn and can happily claim to be ignorant of fauji manners for some more time.

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.in/richa-kashyap/the-fauji-life-for-a-new-_b_9459154.html?utm_hp_ref=india

 

The fauji life for a new fauji wife

Coming from a ‘civilian’ background, I had no clue that faujis speak a completely different language. So, to my utter surprise, when my husband asked me why I address my boss by her first name, I was like, “that’s how we address colleagues, don’t we?”. His eyes almost popped out. “She is your boss – super boss – isn’t she? Is not addressing her by her first name considered disrespectful?”, he asked as a matter of fact.  I couldn’t help but burst into hysterical laughter. That was my first ever insight into how fauji’s think. 

Though, before I get into details, I must tell you that my experience in fauj is very limited. It’s only been an year since we have been married and my husband’s ‘field posting’ has ensured that I can happily claim to be ignorant of the fauji manners for some more time. I have goofed up a number of times and I am still learning  to fit in the tribe. I have said “bye, bye” to people instead of “Good evening” while leaving from the officers’ mess. I have called up my husband’s phone and complained endlessly about power failure at home until interrupted by his “buddy” on the other side of the line informing me that “sahab” was in an important meeting.

So, I am definitely not the best person to give any lessons on how to behave in the army. However, I can talk about my journey and the lessons I have learnt in the last few months.

First few months in the army can be quite intimidating for you if you are a civilian of my kind, who prefers Pajamas, Grey T-shirts and Nerdy glasses practically for all good or bad occasions in life. But then you learn to blend in. However, it doesn’t happen overnight. For me acceptance came in four stages and I am sure I am not the only one to have crossed these stages before I came to terms with my life in the army:

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I found my husband’s  observations like “how do you address your boss by her first name?” utterly weird and funny until I heard him addressing his boss and the ‘sir-ing’ did not stop for more than 30 seconds in an half an hour of the conversation. “That’s why, That’s why, you are jealous, husband.”, I exclaimed. He smiled in ‘disapproval’.

Oh-man-ME-TOO!
One of my husband’s ‘course-mates’, who I happily addressed by his first name made a point to address me as ‘ma’m’ even when I insisted that I am perfectly fine with everyone calling me by my first name. Then I met a few more officers and I realized none of them were going to bend this rule or, for that matter, any rule for anyone in this world, so, its better I get used to being ‘ma’am’.

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As soon as you realize, there are no ‘exceptions’ in the army, your attempt to blend in begins. Your husband will dress impeccably in crisp combats leaving you no option but to ditch the idea of wearing pajamas (I have my own theory about comfort versus common sense. But let’s skip that for now). So, you decide to look like a lady for a change. “Fine – just this time! Ah! may be one more time.” That’s how it begins. Then you realize it’s not that difficult to blend in.

It’s fine!
Over a period of time you realize that it’s fine. You start start seeing the logic behind the never-dare-to-break rules. There always are and will always be occasions when you feel out of place but you will also be overwhelmed by the dedication with which people will try to help you adjust.

I have heard and read stories about how families in the army have stood by each other in difficult times. I have seen the amount of dedication with which people follow orders. I have felt thankful for the amount of effort people put in to make me feel in place.  So, though old-habits-die-hard, I make small efforts to fit in especially when my husband encircles the 1930 hours written in the invitation card and writes 7:30 P.M. before handing it over to me.

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Living alone in a small town

There are perks of being married in the army and there are downsides too. One of the downsides is too much of homealone! Yes, whenever your husband is out for a no-family field posting, you stay back alone. Some army wives choose to stay in a Separate Family (SF) accommodation while some prefer staying on their own due to various reasons like unavailability of SF accommodations, need for high-speed internet for work and so on. I happened to land in this live-alone-in-a-small-town situation in the first year of my marriage as my husband happened to be on one his field postings. Being a girl who grew up in Delhi and worked in Bangalore for 4 years, living alone was not a big challenge. I was used to doing the day-to-day chores on my own and managing my own life pretty well . Before I landed in a nice, beautiful small towns in the Himalayan foothills, I was unaware of the challenges ahead. So, this post sums up what I have learnt in this one year. If I knew all this earlier, life would have been a little more boring. 🙂

#1 Save important phone numbers. You will not get everything on Just Dial. So, talk to your neighbors and save the phone numbers of the plumber, electrician, postman, vegetable vendor, carpenter working in your society or locality.

#2 Keep your refrigerator stocked. The idea of walking out in your shorts to fetch a packet of noodles or just order from Domino’s late in the evening is not a very good idea. The shops generally shutdown by 8 pm and venturing out alone is not too pleasant if you hate unwarranted attention.

#3 Keep your phone charged all the time. In my short stint, there were quite a lot of power shortages and other problems and in one such situation, my phone had just enough battery to make one emergency call. Not too good a situation!

#4 Always keep of cash with you. The ATMs near your home might just crash and the outages sometimes last for 2-3 days and, mind you, you don’t have an ATM machine here at every 10 meters.

#5 Know your neighbors. Greet them. They are very, very helpful people. That’s one good thing about small towns.

#6 Keep a pet. When loneliness strikes, you need someone. However, before you adopt a pet, be very sure that you will have the time and energy to take care of them.

#7 Be on good terms with your domestic help. If you are nice to her and she is nice to you, you will have a less painful time in the local markets. Ask her to accompany you to the haats and shops nearby if she has time.

#8 Dress appropriately. Obviously, this is a debatable topic. However, the only point I am making here is don’t stand out in the crowd by dressing up in an odd way. Wearing shorts to Sabzi Mandi is like inviting some unpleasant remarks.

#9 Make friends. If you have someone in your society/building who you can be friends with, just get along. If not, join some hobby classes/weekend classes and make friends. It’s good to know some people in the city.

# 10 Learn the local language. It’s a great opportunity to learn a new language and you will not feel out of place.

 

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