On termination of our young officers course at Ahmednagar in 1977 I received a posting order from the Regt (7 CAV) that I stand posted to our Independent Squadron stationed in Mizoram. I reported to the Sqn HQ at Masimpur military station in early Jan 1978. All officers of the Sqn were dining at the Div HQ mess which had a picturesque setting atop a hill. All visiting dignitaries were entertained at the Div HQ Mess.
Three days later, before I had a chance to meet officers in the Div HQ, a batch of about 15 IAS probationers arrived in station from Mussorie for their army attachment. Three of them were in senior classes in my college in Chandigarh and were well known to me. In the evening the Dy GOC invited all of them for dinner at the mess along with all other officers posted in the Rear Div HQ at Masimpur (main Div HQ were up in Aizawl).
In the evening everybody was dressed in lounge suits except the lady IAS officers who wore sarees. Because of my acquaintance with some of the IAS officers I got talking to the others too. Time and again the senior officers of the div, would ask me how my drink was going? Even the Dy GOC was insisting on offering me a drink when the level in my glass dropped. I told them, please ask the guests ! But somehow all the officers grew more fond of me than the guests that evening. Confusion was probably compounded when some of them, while talking with other officers brought up, “Oh we were together in college at Chandigarh”.
WHEN DINNER WAS ANNOUNCED I FOUND THAT THE DY GOC IN A HOSPITALITY GESTURE WAS OFFERING THE DINNER PLATES TO THE GUESTS. I KEPT MYSELF AT A SAFE DISTANCE BUT HE SOUGHT ME OUT AND SAID, “PLEASE COME AND HAVE DINNER.”
When dinner was announced I found that the Dy GOC in a hospitality gesture was offering the dinner plates to the guests. I kept myself at a safe distance but he sought me out and said, “Please come and have dinner.” I mumbled, “Sir I am part of your team so please help yourself first”, but, he would have none of it and handed me the plate. All of us dispersed after exchanging pleasantries after dinner.
Two days later I was told by the Sqn Cdr that I was to go for my interview to the Div HQ as I was newly posted to the station. I reached the Div HQ and found there were three others from other regiments for the interview as well.
We were all called into the Dy GOC’s office. The Brigadier first met all the others who were senior to me, and them came to me and looked hard and slowly said, “Have I met you somewhere?” I replied, “Yes sir at dinner in the Div mess two days ago.” I could see his eyes go round & big, and even bigger when he stared at the single Silver Star shining on my shoulder (7 CAV wears silver badges of rank), “So it was you that night, why didn’t you tell me?” I replied, “Sir I told you I was part of your team”.
He took a deep breath and I heard a “Huhm” when he turned away. The interview was over abruptly and I got back to the Sqn, but before I could relate the incident to the Sqn Cdr he told me there are orders from the Dy GOC’s office that I have been earmarked for long range patrol with 4 Jat to check tank-ability along the Bangladesh border. I realized why I was the favored one!
The author is an ex cavalry Major and was a member of the Haryana Legislature.