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Left with leftovers

This spice-of-life moment happened way back in 1983 during our training in an exercise code-named Digvijay. In terms of troop participation, it was one of the biggest exercises ever. writes Brig BS Mander (Retd)

chandigarh Updated: Mar 01, 2014 12:05 IST

This spice-of-life moment happened way back in 1983 during our training in an exercise code-named Digvijay. In terms of troop participation, it was one of the biggest exercises ever. I was a Major at that time and was managing the operations room of the armoured division deployed in the desert area in Bikaner district. It was an important exercise where new concepts and technologies were under test.


We were informed that the chief of the army staff would be visiting us on a particular day just prior to the launch of the troops into the so-called enemy territory. He was to be briefed by our division commander. Such briefings are serious professional events that are attended by a large number of senior officers that include the army commander, corps commander, umpiring staff and observers. These are literally make or break events during which the future of many a commander is determined.

So every aspect of the briefing was meticulously planned, including arrangements for tea that was to follow. The division commander was particularly good in matters gourmet, so he personally decided the menu for tea. The refreshments included things like marzipans, tarts and truffles which were specially ordered from Delhi. We hadn't even heard of such things till then. Of course, now these are more commonplace items, but they weren't at that time.

On the appointed day, the army chief arrived and the briefing was conducted in a serious and tense atmosphere; as is the case with all such briefings. After it was over, everyone headed for tea. Being a formal affair, people ate little, some none at all. Once the tea was over, the senior officers left for the helipad. The division commander went to see them off.

Back in the ops room, my colleagues and I found ourselves lucky as plenty of the fancy snacks were left and we did full justice to almost everything.

As the last helicopter took off, we thought our division commander would return to his temporary accommodation (a caravan) for a well-deserved break. Instead, he decided to return to the ops room. He sat down on the sofa looking relaxed and announced, "Let us now have
those snacks."

We looked at each other not knowing what to say as we had already polished off the tasty snacks. The waiter was then asked to serve him biscuits and sandwiches that were left. He accepted the situation with grace and a smile, fully realising what had happened.

bsmander@yahoo.com