The Governor and Fauji Chai Pakoda
Col Rahul Tripathi (Veteran)
General Staff Officer Grade 1 (GSO1) from Brigade HQ – the Governor will be crossing your location shortly.
Me – Where is he now.
GSO-1 He has crossed Y junction.
Me – OK that only gives me 20 minutes.
GSO-1 – you are not required to do anything, we also came to know just about now after getting a report from Y Junction.
Me – OK.
Me to the nearest JCO – Sahib langar mein Chai Pakoda banwao time kam hai.
Me to the Adjutant – Get all Officers and JCOs at the Road immediately.
-It was 15 Aug 2008, we were in our forward location at a place 20 minutes from Y Junction near the famous Bum La pass in Arunachal Pradesh.
As officiating CO, I a Maj by rank was responsible for all that happened in the unit. By the time we reached the road a few hundred meters away from our tentage offices I could see a cavalcade of light vehicles meandering on the mountain road.
-A hurried fall in of all officers and JCOs and the SM and I blocked the road. The vehicles came to halt and a serious looking security person got down.
Security Person – Yeh kya hai, kyun rok rahe ho.
Subedar Major – Chai Pakode ke liye
-I had by then walked to the Governor’s vehicle saluted and congratulated him on the occasion of Independence Day. The Sikh gentleman or should I call him the MARATHA guy, smiled opened his door and came out.
Governor – This halt was not scheduled.
Me- Yes sir, its just that I can not let my previous chief go without Chai & Pakoda’s on Independence Day.
Governor Smiling – typical army attitude.
-His wife and other guests got down, customary introduction to Officers and JCOs was followed by pipping hot tea in steel glasses and typical 11 O’Clock tea break army pakoda’s and Glucose Biscuits. Two JCOs who had got honorary ranks on that day were introduced and after a few quick photographs the cavalcade went towards the famous Madhuri lake (of Koyla movie fame).
– The Situation Report (Sit Rep) of the day casually mentioned it and that was it. Later in the night after dinner there were interesting happenings.
Unit Exchange – Saahb, Cdr Saahb baat karenge.
Me – Ok baat kaarao. (Thinking what deserved this late evening call).
Commander ( Cdr ) – Why did you guys stop the Governor today.
Me – Sir as I had told you earlier, it was just for Chai Pakoda.
Commander – Had you taken permission earlier.
Me – No Sir, there was no time and I do not think it was required for Chai Pakoda.
Cdr – Stop saying Chai Pakoda again and again, (now angry) why was the Governor stopped.
Me – For … hmmmm … tea and eats Sir nothing else. Has someone objected to it.
Cdr – You youngsters of today ( I had put in 12 years of service), you are bringing shame and disrepute to the army etc etc etc a one sided monologue that continued for 5 to 10 minutes.
Me – Right Sir, henceforth I assure you will offer no one Chai Pakoda …. sorry Tea and Eats.
– The phone was slammed down, and about half an hour later another call, this time from the Dy GOC.
Dy GOC – Why was the Governor stopped without higher HQs permission.
Me – Sir for Tea and Eats.
Dy GOC- What tea and eats.
Me – Sir Chai Pakodas (I guess I was being a bit cheeky now)
Dy GOC – This has been taken very seriously by higher HQs (read Commanders up the chain), you prepare your No 1 Dress for a march-up. You’ll get orders from your Brigade HQs.
Me – Roger that Sir.
-A not so good sleep, interrupted by the Adjutant giving me time and place for march-up to the GOC. Having been marched up so many number of times since commissioning, I knew the terrible few minutes would pass by, by just looking a few inches higher than the senior officers eyes and agreeing to everything he said. I practised my salute as I had often been ticked for a filmy salute and didn’t want to get caught for that.
Unit Exchange – Saahb, Corps HQ se phone hai, Brig A Saahib baat karenge.
Me – Theek hai lagao. Good morning Sir.
Brig A – Good morning Tripathi, did you guys take some good photographs with the Governor.
Me – Yes definitely sir.
Brig A – OK try to send them through the Chopper that has brought the Corps Cdr to Tawang.
Me – Roger that Sir, WILCO.
Brig A – Good job you guys offered hot tea to the Governor, he was mighty happy.
Me – Roger that Sir, I’ll let the boys know.
Later the march-up having been cancelled, the Adjutant ensured the best snaps reached the Chopper pilots by express Despatch Rider.
With a slight bit of poetic license, this episode is completely true.