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:



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:

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’.

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’.

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.


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.