The new general officer commanding (GOC) was to visit our unit. The staff at the divisional headquarter asked us to confirm a date. As a young adjutant, aware of the sensitivity of the first visit by the GOC (first impression is, after all, the last impression), I pulled out the calendar and scanned the proposed dates – one was a Saturday and the other a Monday. Saturday was preferred for the obvious reason of a stress-free weekend that usually follows such strenuous events. But there was a major hitch, as Sandy, our just-out-of-the-academy intelligence officer, dutifully advised me, “Sir, on Saturday happens to be the Asia Cup clash between India and Pakistan.” Thus, without further ado, Monday was proposed to the commanding officer (CO), who being a huge cricket buff as well, okayed the date and sent it pronto to the headquarter. The pain of prolonging the agony and working over the weekend was acceptable against the pleasure of witnessing the iconic match between two legendry foes.
Well, finally it turned out, the GOC, another cricket maniac, decided to witness the match in our officers’ mess since we were the only proud owners of a big colour television. Therefore, despite a deliberate attempt to doctor the visit schedule of the GOC, there we were, responding smilingly to his wayward opinion about the game. This, coupled with his stiff upper lip, made the otherwise pleasurable telecast a pain. The visit of the President of India was a matter of pride for the city residents. All was just fine till we received an SMS from the golf club informing us about its closure over the weekend, since it happens to be co-located with one of the venues of the VIP’s visit. My anti-golf wife was upbeat and immediately booked two tickets for the matinee show of the latest Hindi movie at a nearby multiplex. Our measured journey time to the movie hall was abruptly disrupted by the police with huge barriers and menacing body language. The route was sealed to provide a free run to the VIP cavalcade. By the time we landed at the multiplex, it was almost the intermission time. By now, the furious better-half decided to call it a day and venture out on a more serene, next opportunity.
The defence services officers’ institute (DSOI) was commencing with its first evening tambola after winter. Eager to please her, I rang up our usual friend circle and requested them to join us. Jaggu, a chip off the old block, was apprehensive about being booked for drunken driving on way back home, his wife being a non-driver. I assured him: “Jaggu sir, with all the police personnel committed to the President’s visit, I doubt any of them will spoil your party.” Lo and behold, after super tambola-cumbinging we started our drive back. There was mayhem on the roads. Reckless drivers jumping lights and roadside “pubbing” spelt an agonising journey. The party poopers surely availed themselves of a cop-free night. How they hoped for a VIP to visit their town more often for them to have unchecked pleasure, albeit, at the cost of others. Sir, when do we have the pleasure of a pain again!