A few kilometers from the Qutub Minar, somewhere in the outskirts of Chattarpur lies the campus of ARI where we were sent for our pre-sea training. A farmhouse turned into one of the finest marine training facilities in the country now. I joined the farm almost 10 years back into a batch of 22 engine cadets and 14 deck cadets, called the Faraday batch. The training was more or less like an army training. Each day started strictly at 6 and ended strictly at 10. The wake up bell rang at 6 in the morning and we had 10 minutes to get our asses out of the bed and put on our blue shorts and blue T shirts and the canvas shoes and report for PT at the ground. PT would be on till 10 minutes to 7 and we had to report back at 7 AM dressed in coveralls,safety shoes and helmets and carry on with the assigned job for the week which would be either cleaning the kitchen or the office or the toilets etc etc. When the bell rang at 7.30 ,we had to run back, freshen up ourselves, put on our white shorts, white shirts with the shoulder stripes on,polished black shoes and caps and report for breakfast where Mrs.Anand would teach us table manners.
We could go out of the campus only twice a month,on alternate Sundays and on other sundays we could just go out for 10 minutes to the nearest telephone booth. Incoming calls to the campus was not allowed and none of us had seen mobile phones at that time. It felt like a jail at that time. And to top it we had some strict wardens aswell. Any three of us would be on duty at all times except during the class room hours at the main office. One guy who was in charge of the station who would pick the calls, one guy who was the messenger to be sent to pass messages and one guy for utilities;to check the level of water in the tank and to stop and start the pump.
On one such evening, I,Bakle and Parvez were on duty and the rest of the batch were out in the ground playing games. The duty station was next to the galley or the kitchen. Maharaj and Biku were busy preparing chicken. We had chicken once a week and meat once a week. It was a lousy evening and Mr.Kanwar,the duty officer was not anywhere near. The smell of the chicken was ver tempting and the thought that we would only get two pieces for dinner was quite an inspiration to go into the kitchen and beg Maharaj for a piece or two. So I and Bakale asked Parvez to stay on watch and we went in the kitchen.Maharj was happy to feed us and we indulged ourselves in the chicken so much that we dint hear the phone ringing. But a loud roar did
''WHO THE BLOODY HELL IS ON DUTY???''' It was Mr.Kanwar roaring. We threw the chicken and ran to the duty station. ''SUDARSAAAAAAAAN!!!!!WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THE GALLEY??''
''Sir sir,nothing sir,just went into drink some water..
''SUDARSAN ,DONT FOOL ME!!!! YOU BOTH TO THE GROUND!!!! CONTINUOUS!!!!!!!''
Shit!!!! that was Kanwars style of ordering us to do contiuous rounds of the ground.
We were still going round and round the ground when the guys came for dinner and Mr.Kanwar noticed us and said'' SHIT!! HAVENT YOU GUYS STOPPED??''
''eh,no sir!! you dint tell us to stop!!!''
''YOU BUFFOONS!!!ENOUGH NOW!! GO FRESHEN UP AND COME FOR DINNER''
''ok sir !! thank you sir''
We could see on his face that he was upset because he forgot that we were doing rounds!!
He called out to us, ''YOU IDIOTS!!! ASK MAHARAJ TO GIVE YOU AN EXTRA PIECE OF CHICKEN!!! I WILL TELL HIM!!!''
Chicken never tasted better!!!