Corduroy trousers - olive green

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The Indian Army has its own religion, language and cultural  settings.Its a nation within a nation. Perhaps It is the only real  India because here in every small band,you have men from all parts of our country.The human forces at play in the narrowed world of  discipline ,sewn by regulations and an insidous class system based on ranks is  forever at play.This is one such story,a kind of story that has been passed on by word of mouth  for over fifty years.I heard it from *Colonel Pardeep Kumar Handa* of Jhansi and decided to write it down lest it be lost forever in the wake of forward walking time.

I remember when I got comissioned in 1966 in 5 Sikh as a second lieutenant,my first Commanding Officer was colonel Durjan Singh from Bikaner State Forces to Indian Army.He was a tall ,balding chap,had bloody thick solid moustache like a rope.

My battalion had just moved from Nagaland to Barrackpur near Calcutta.He commanded in full Raja style.He would come at eight o clock in the morning to office.Adjutant and the subedar major would meet him,salute him.Then he would ask the adjutant.
"Anything important?"
"Sir the routine training is taking place."the adjutant would say.

He would take the subedar major,a giant sardar with a three foot barrel tummy.
"Come lets go and see the training."
As soon as they would enter the training area,he would walk two steps,notice something amiss with the first squad post trainees.He would shout loudly from a distance,
"No jawan,that is not the way it is tobe done.Do it properly and seriously.The enemy never gives a second chance in combat  etcetera etcetra."

Then he would turn back ,return to office and call up the adjutant.
"I am here for an hour,get me anything you have to show me or requires my signatures."

The Brigade headquarters was two kilometres away from our battalion.And the CO"s house was exactly two kilometres in the opposite direction from the battalion.He would get up from his chair at ten am.The subedar major would come to him.He would sit in the Willy's  jeep,tell the subedar major to get in and say to the driver
"Gharr chalow."
He used to stay alone.His wife was in Jodhpur.He would chat with the SM(subedar major) for twenty five minutes about whats happening in the battalion and what should be done.Then he would tell the SM,
"Okay sahab,we will now meet in the evening." and the  woyld leave.
The CO would call his batman and say,"sharaab lao."He would open the bottle and start off.

That time our four company commanders were,Major Pannu who would have been an army commander had he survived the 1971 battle of Chhamb.Lt General Malhotra was the second company commander,third company commander was Major General Waseer and fourth company commander was also a hot shot guy,Brigadier MML Ahuja who suffered a haeart attack and had bypass surgery or he was also a sureshot General.

When I think of the past,it only tickles me and I burst in laughter even now when I am seventy four years of age myself.Our CO was the most retiring man.Half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening.He produced such fine officers.All four of his company commanders became Generals later on.

Not only that,our battalion used to wrap up most sports and training events also.We were part of 32 brigde of 9 Mountain Division.We used to represent north Bengal sub area in eastern command championship.Once there was the command atheletics championship.4 Corps commander General Vohra came to witness the finals.His officers had told him,
"Sir please come to receive the trophy,we are winning the atheletics trophy straight away."
Maneckshaw was the Eastern army commander that time.Vohra reached as anticipated and pumped by his staff to take the cup in presence of Maneckshaw.The whoe army knew that Maneckshaw was tobe the next chief of army.Vohra also reached to make his Naukri and to win Maneckshaw's esteem.

The final race was tobe the 4 into 100 meters relay race on which the fortunes depended.Our bloody khaalsas ragdoed every other team and we were the winners.North Bengal area had just 2 battalions.5 Sikh and 19 Rajput.Two bloody piddly battalion teams took the Eastern Command atheletics championships Cup.After that we won the Eastern Command swimming championship also.

Our Co was a tanker from sun up to sun down. Thakur sahab.Bikaner state forces.Red eyes,ramrod straight physique like a Rajasthani, pointed thick moustaches and I have never seen a CO like that.

He never fingered anybody.If a jawan got late from leave and was marched up to him he would gently admonish the offender.
"Jawaan,tumhey sharm sey doob marna chahiyey.Do not repeat it.If you repeat it ,mujhey badaa afsos hogaa,and i will have to give you 28 days imprisonment  and put you in quarter guard."

Then he would address the SM
"SM sahab leave him."
Adjutant would say,"But sir this fellow is a habitual offender."

"O,Laali give him another chance."Laali was the name of the battalion adjutant.

Troops used to love him.The officers used to love him.

Usually the adjutant had to remind him,"Sir you have to come to so and so place today evening.We are winning the foitball cup."

He would turn to the adjutant and say."Yaar you guys are full of mischief for your old CO.You trouble me too much by winning everything."

He had no interest beyond the battalion.Not interested in promotion or anything.He ran the battalion in his own style.Toatal Rajah admi.

In Nagaland one Brigadier tried to feel funny with him.Brigadier Kapoor was our Brigade Commander,he didnt know with whom he was taking pangaa.He came for the battalion"s inspection.

"What is this Durjan?Your bloody captains are wearing Corduroy pants.Is it authorized in dress regulations.Corduroy trousers are only authorized to Majors and above."In those days there was a great craze for Corduroy olive green trousers in uniform.Only majors and above in rank could wear them as per dress code.
"You have no control over your officers."said the brigadier.

This infuriated colonel Durjan Singh.But he was too well bred an officer to loose his temper.He said to the brigadier,
"Sir how is my battalion doing here in Nagaland insurgency?"

"Your battalion is doing good." and that was a fact that the brigadier couldnt dispute.
"Sir if my officers efficiency is not effected by putting on a scarf or a corduroy trouser,I let him put it.He is an officer after all."

And after a pause,he added
"Moreover,if tommorow my officer will get a bullet and die,he will atleast have the satisfaction that he was wearing a scarf and a Corduroy trouser when he stopped a bullet."

The brigadier was never seen again in our battalion.So that was my first CO colonel Thakur Durjan Singh of Bikaner State Forces.They dont make officers like that any more or do they.


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