Cigarette Smoking in NDA

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Panama, ha, the name takes us back to NDA nostalgically where it was the choice of brand of cigarettes the cadets smoked.


Cadets and smoking?


You are right about what you are thinking.


Cadets were not supposed to smoke.


 But for any self-respecting macho guy, who believed in breaking rules, this was the first of the ones he broke. They smoked, which was a profoundly serious offence, many a times got caught, underwent punishments, but it didn't really stop this menace.


Smoking types were a Band of Brothers, they were the ultimate 'pals'. There was no distinction of course, squadron, region they belonged to etc when it came to smoker type pals. That was the ultimate of all bondings.



There was also an event in NDA called the 'cabin cupboard' which involved the inspection of one's habitat. Everything needed to be spick and span and the cabin could display only those items as per a specific protocol. Rest of them including the used undergarments and socks went into the NDA box which then became like a nuclear silo just about to explode.



Everyone of any stature right from a bulshitting senior to instructors, finally culminating with the Battalion Commander walked into your cabin at will and checked the state of cleanliness in the room.



During one of these by the Divisional Officer, there was this cadet from the badlands of UP who had a packet of Panama to hide. Every possible niche and hiding place being known to everyone, he decided to do something out of the box. He taped the packet over one of the blades of the ceiling fan which was spotlessly clean (There was no dearth of 'TIXO' tape during the cabin cupboard season as everything had to be stuck to its place. Velcroe was not invented, yet) 



Everything was still and perfect when the Div O walked in. Inside the cabin, he could find no fault but breaking the brief, he said, "switch on the bloody fan, too stuffy in here".



The cadet with no idea of an impending calamity, switched on the fan. Those who have seen the Panama packet of yore, would know that unlike the present-day flip flop cigarette packets, once opened, these couldn't be closed. The opening remained an opening.



As the fan started its rotatory motion, some force like centripetal, centrifugal or I don't know if that was a force direct from Satan, dislodged one cigarette from its packet and it came like a bullet towards the Div O. As he ducked for safety, came the second one. Then the next and the next. As the fan picked up speed, the rate of firing also became rapid. About ten of them were fired making a beaten zone about the stunned Div O. The cadet just froze hoping that if the floor of the cabin caved in and he could just vanish, like it happened to Sita during her Agnipariksha. 



As most stories in NDA would end, this too ended with the cadet spending rest of the term between the drill square and Poona crossing, huffing and puffing.


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