Tuesday, April 17, 2018

12 Things Nobody Tells You About Life As A New Fauji Wife

I got married to a man in blue 12 years ago, and even though I spent my growing up years in the defense services (we're called "fauji brats"), there’s a lot I didn’t know about the "other side of the fence". When I moved to a station in the boondocks (complete with fields of sarson and battalions of buffaloes), I truly understood how different it was as a service kid and a fauji wife/military spouse.

Married to the military

Are you a new fauji wife? Well, if you are, here’s some news for you. (And for those who aren't newly minted fauji brides, I'm sure some of the points will resonate!)

1. You’ll get a ‘welcome do’ that you’ll never forget. In my case, I was already familiar with the famous welcomes that new brides get, so when I was asked to turn up for a party in my pajama suit (they said it was a pajama party), I gave everybody a surprise by landing up in a silk sari. But if you’re lucky, your welcome will always be a memorable part of your time in the services.

Pick up, not pick up. Pick up, not pick up...

2. Picking up a plate at a party will never be the simple act that it always was. When dinner is announced at a party, the senior most lady (who is the wife of the senior most officer in the unit, generally the Commanding Officer’s wife) must pick up her plate before the next lady in the seniority chain picks up hers and so on. I remember goofing this up several times as a new wife and then being ‘counseled’ for it too (I’m very slow on the uptake when it comes to protocol and hierarchy).

3. You’ll get plenty of occasions to dress up like a queen. In fact, you can turn into a fashion diva, if you so wish. Whether you’re wearing a heavy sari for a formal party or a dress for a theme party, or salwar-kameez or crisp cotton for a welfare meet, there are plenty of occasions to dress up for.

4. You’ll be ‘ma’am’ to all the officers you meet. Many take time to get used to all the ‘maaming’ that happens when they marry a fauji, however, I personally find it quite charming J.

5. You’ll be ‘aunty’ to all the fauji brats you meet. Gone are your ‘didi’ days. Once you marry a fauji, you get promoted to ‘aunty’. The quicker you get used to it, the better it is for your peace ;-).

The party lifestyle

6. You’ll attend the quirkiest parties you’ve ever been to. While most people know about the glittering formal parties that fauj is better known for, faujis also throw some pretty whimsical do’s. With themes like Udta Punjab, Pirates, Hawaii, Bikers and what not, these parties are the glitzy version of the fancy dress parties we used to attend as kids.

Bungalows of splendor...

7. You’ll live in sprawling bungalows that are always threatening to fall apart at the seams. These houses look very grand, complete with stone walls, large porches, backyards to grow veggies in, spacious rooms and a garden the size of a football ground. You’ll love the feeling of space but also be prepared to pop woks and buckets under leaking roofs in the monsoons, write out a slew of MES complaints for dysfunctional toilets/fans/lights/switches, and tack up pretty pictures over walls ridden with seepage.

Meet Lizzy

8. You’ll be co-habiting with all sorts of creepy-crawlies. You’ll learn to chase out frogs and the odd snake from the bedroom; live with lizards (my son calls the ones in our house ‘Lizzy’ and ‘Bizzy’) and spiders; stem termite attacks on wooden shelves; and, deal with the insects that are prevalent at that particular station (like scorpions in the desert).

9. You’ll learn to cook for a crowd, and maybe even have fun while doing it. When the young officers would ‘bounce’ us (a term that means dropping in for coffee or a meal without prior intimation, often at unearthly hours) for a meal at midnight, they’d all help me do the prep work. So, around the kitchen table, you’d see these smart young fighter pilots, chopping onions, whisking eggs and even making rotis.

Wednesdays for Welfare meets, Friday for funtabulous beerings, Saturdays for stylish parties...

10. You’ll get plenty of practice at juggling chores, errands, your own work, the work for welfare meets or Ladies’ Clubs, social commitments and VIP visits. There’s so much to do at every base, and if you teach at a school or work-from-home, you’ll get up to speed about managing all your roles.

11. You’ll have to get clued up on talking about maids, baby habits and saris. When I was newly married, I’d wonder how everyone could be so animated about these three topics, when I couldn’t think of even a decent nugget to contribute. But now, I can at least talk at length about one of the topics (Sari Style) and a bit about maids (I’ve had enough maid trouble in 12 years to regurgitate a few tidbits). As about baby habits? Though I have a child, who had the most taxing habits a parent could ask for, I’d rather not be reminded about those stressful days ;-).

Hit the road for your coffee

12. Your coffee date cravings can only be satisfied if you drive at least 20 kilometers away from your house. Why? Because that’s where the nearest coffee shop is. Most fauji bases are in remote areas, and the nearest towns are often a distance away.

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  1. Good read Chandana.. as always . And yaa the welcome ... don't spill the beans ��

    1. Thanks, Nidhi. Haha...not spilling the beans...the surprise is still intact (my welcome was hardly an offbeat story).

  2. So well written Chandana, keep writing and sharing.

  3. Well written. I think, entering AF as wife is more fun. Since I was an officer, noone bounced at my place. But the massive houses of Agra, whose roofs keep threatening to fall any time.. Ooof, whatever be I love service life. Its vibrant.

  4. Love this peek inside this life. It sounds dreamy.:) I'm so happy to have found your site and you mine. I have subscribed so I can take a trip to another land now and then.


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