Sunset boulevard | My monthly dose of stress-busters | punjab$regional-takes | Hindustan Times
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Sunset boulevard | My monthly dose of stress-busters

Harbouring stress, especially in old age is not safe. And who would know this fact better than the fraternity of ex-soldiers? Retired officers of the Corps of EME, which has the largest number of ex-servicemen in the tricity area, only after Infantry and Artillery, have been holding monthly get-togethers since the past two decades.

punjab Updated: Mar 26, 2017 10:10 IST
Col DS Cheema (retd)
One can hear peals of laughter of a happy gathering coming out from the party lounge at the first floor of the Defence Service Officers Institute (DSOI), Chandigarh, which is usually the venue for the meetings, as most of the members of the tricity EME Association belong to the city.
One can hear peals of laughter of a happy gathering coming out from the party lounge at the first floor of the Defence Service Officers Institute (DSOI), Chandigarh, which is usually the venue for the meetings, as most of the members of the tricity EME Association belong to the city.(CREDIT: DSOI CHANDIGARH WEBSITE )

Harbouring stress, especially in old age is not safe. And who would know this fact better than the fraternity of ex-soldiers? Retired officers of the Corps of EME, which has the largest number of ex-servicemen in the tricity area, only after Infantry and Artillery, have been holding monthly get-togethers since the past two decades. One can hear peals of laughter of a happy gathering coming out from the party lounge at the first floor of the Defence Service Officers Institute (DSOI), Chandigarh, which is usually the venue for the meetings, as most of the members of the tricity EME Association belong to the city.

Two-three hours every month in the company of long-time comrades-inarms is enough to keep them in good spirits till they meet again. Interestingly, the distribution of ranks of the members follows the bell curve or the normal curve, with Lt/Maj Generals on one extreme, Captains/Majors on the other and Lt-Cols/Colonels in the centre. Officers from different commissioning backgrounds, like NDA, IMA, OTS, EC and those promoted from the ranks mingle with each other as equals with least concern for the powerful positions they have held when in uniform.

The common perception of the civilians that army men don’t hang their egos even after they hang the boots seems a myth since there is no trace of ego in any one, at least not for the duration of the meet. These meetings are a good opportunity for sharing juicy harmless gupshup and anecdotes of younger days of an exciting career. Even such senior officers who were considered perpetually constipated, and were known for being short on the fuse can be seen going around looking for junior colleagues and hugging them with affection.

Their flawed perception that they were superior to those who retired in junior ranks seems to have vanished and only soft and sweet words escape their lips when interacting with others. Usually it takes only two drinks to break the barriers of seniority and age. The juniors too have no bitterness for the seniors, having realised that blaming others for unfavourable outcomes in their professional lives is being unreasonable.

One wonders if the extra-courteous behaviour on both sides can be attributed to the fact that the closer one moves to the ultimate destination, the more sensible one tends to become. Wrinkled skin cannot camouflage the old charm of the gentlemen and the ladies who dress meticulously for the occasion.

One major impact that these stress-buster evenings have had on me is that certain issues which earlier would have been a source of stress now appear so light that they enable me to observe things with more clarity and judge them more objectively. When I see couples in late eighties going up the stairs or getting into the escalator to reach the first-floor venue holding each other’s hands, I am able to appreciate the true value of selfless companionship.

These outings have also made me understand that one must accept the world as it is rather than finding faults with it and feel miserable; freewheeling with men between 54-90 years have reinforced my views that all humans are basically good and it is the circumstances which make them behave in a nasty manner. I now accept the fact that the goddess of luck plays a more important role in our lives than the individual ability and merit.

(colcheema1942@gmail.com)