Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Life as they like it - Indian Air force party culture

These dreamers float on an impatient wind. They set their wings against the directions of winds sometimes. They just need that sky to live, they challenge those scaling heights and brush with dangers everyday, they win everyday, they celebrate everyday. That’s how are the spirits of Young officers at Lohegaon Air Force station. They are at a far proximity from civil areas and they have their own world where they live life with young spirits. “We work from Monday to Friday. Our week begins Monday onwards with a parade that morning where everybody falls in. We have two long working days till 5:30 pm otherwise normal schedule is from 7 am to 2:30 pm” quotes Sdr. Leader Anupama Monga, who looks after PR within Air Force station.
 This station was established under stewardship of Gp. Captain R. Hamildon of Royal Indian Air Force of British empire in wake of second world war to provide security to Bombay ports and the this economic capital city of India. It is a peacetime training center for operational squadron and also a center for induction of the new aircrafts, practically; all the aircrafts of IAF have adorned the skies of Pune. Facilities wise this station is equipped with all lifestyle activities and sports you can think of. And this center has a plethora of sportsmen who have brought glory to their squadron and nation.
 All work and all play make Jack a tough boy. They believe in play hard, work hard and if drink hard too? (For this Defense officers are labeled as notorious in civil sector). And here, Sqdr. Ldr. Monga gives setback to this contemporary image. “ From Monday to Friday officers debarred themselves from getting booze because next day is flying day and this embargo is to minimize risk to life during flying. This concept is known as “Bottle to throttle” at station. And than comes Friday heralding a two days off. On Friday we have a “Beering Ceremony”, a long time tradition in IAF’s history. All officers have a get together and they dip their metallic ranks in mugs full of beer and after a gap of 8-10 hrs. They drink it.” And she is unaware of reason but for sure there are high strings of emotions attached to it. It’s not only ranks but emotions they drown in bubbling spirits that somewhat encourage them to take flying risk everyday. It’s an act of proving bravado and big heart behind such acts. In reality these acts can be mistook for displaying sheer foolish sentiments. However, it is good for nation that they are far from reality that prohibits a normal man to put his life on stake. And truly they deserve gala nights.
 “ Dining-in-nights is one of such formal parties, official parties where there is a 45 mins. Drinks session followed by 3-5 course of meals and than they raise a toast of wine to President of India after meals and call off food service after coffee. And our commanding officer can ask anybody to deliver a speech in an extempore situation. Likewise we have umpteen parties in similar fashion with umpteen dress codes. For this we have dress code no.10.,” says Anupama and it somewhat seems that parties are more like drills. “Not at all apart from picnics allotted to every section once or twice in every year and theme parties, there are two parties that no officer could afford to miss New Year bash and Husband’s night. In normal course officer’s wife keep their husbands on toes for arranging parties but in Husband’s night all the officers are invited by their wives and they are chief guests of honor on that night somewhat breaking chivalrous rules and wives do all arrangements on their own without troubling Men at station.”
Officers observe a strict hierarchy and keep distance with juniors and Airmen. But these young officers’ wives work closely with their Airmen families. They educate their wives imparting literacy in some cases, organizing healthy baby shows, Aids awareness programs, family planning programs and many others relevant with time and trends under the banner of Air Force Wives Welfare Association (AFWWA). And they are like a big family. Their lives are example for youth of today when it comes to celebrating life. The wine and work both are mode of celebration. They lead a life that many wish to live, many try in that direction, but only few are entitled for it in the end. And few who prevails it are the people who live every moment at fullest. Be it a hard breath taking away moments or fun moments they take everything in stride and comes out with flying colors.

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