NorthEastern Boys in Army & their Style

By -
The Indian army follows the system of allocating a Batman to an officer.

While I was serving in J & K in the Rashtriya Rifles (Counter Insurgency Force) in 2006-08 I had a young sepoy from Nagaland as my batman or 'Sahayak' named Alung Ao.
I found the cultural difference between the Maratha troops of my parent battalion and the Assam regiment soldiers very stark. While the Maharashtrian soldiers are simplistic, frugal and devoid of lavish inclinations, the boys from the North east were stylish ,fashionable, smart, and would spend lavishly on accessories . 

The Indian Army officers get moulded as per the culture of their troops, irrespective of their own origins and mindset. I was more set in my parent battalion's culture and the diametrically opposite culture was a bit of a pleasant shock. I was pretty official about uniforms etc and would not deviate from the standard issue stuff and the pattern. I was lenient with the men, as I was well aware of their love for style. 

I would generally wear a official pattern cap FS ,while  The Assam boys preferred a floppy hat which was more stylish. Alung Ao was a very quiet and shy fellow and would speak bare minimum. One day when I returned after a patrol and he was keeping my AK 47 , Bullet proof jacket and uniform in place, he asked if he should get me a floppy combat hat from the canteen. I told him as summarily that its not required and I am fine with my cap. That was the end of it , or so I thought. One day in the morning I found my uniform ready for donning with a floppy hat along with it. My usual cap was missing in action. I remembered the hint by Alung Ao and called him as I knew he would be around. He was there in a second. 

I looked at him and the hat in my hand. No response came, in fact he gave a blank look. Then I asked him where my cap was. And then he started unloading his problem in a torrent of quick words. My men would not tell me directly but were pestering him all the time that 'HIS' 'sahab' was not up to the mark in the style department. And Alung Ao was to be blamed (obviously) as he was closest to me. When he got mighty stressed about the issue he took a command decision. He told me point blank that my old cap has been given a rest and I was to wear the floppy hat from that day onwards. Point was non-negotiable. He even told me some point about operations being better conducted with the new headgear. He would not allow the old cap on my head and the decision was irrevocable.
I was left with no options and I wore the new headgear. I could see the smiles of approval all around that day. 

Alung Ao had a tremendous sense of #ownership . He held himself accountable for my actions and the way he looked after my personal administration I was far too indebted to say no to him. 

These strong bonds are a gift available only in the #defence forces and I was  fortunate to have been a recipient of such #loyalty and affection from my men

Post a Comment


Post a Comment (0)