MEMOIRS OF AN ARMY OFFICER’S WIFE — Mrs. NEETA CHAMOLA

MEMOIRS OF AN ARMY OFFICER’S WIFE — PART ll.

MY FIRST JOURNEY AND STAY AT MHOW

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After spending few weeks in DBN(Dera Baba Nanak) we set off to Mhow in MP where my husband was to attend the B.S.W. Officers course (Battalion Support Weapons) in February 1984 . lt was a herculean task to pack the entire house hold items into a few boxes. With great difficulty using all my ingenuity I was able to pack the entire kitchen along with the gas stove in one big steel box because I was strictly told by my husband not to take too many items. The other box was filled with my husband’s uniform ,books and many pair of shoes. The rest of the items mainly clothes were adjusted in two suitcases. The biggest and the most awkward item was our holdall which not only contained our bedding but anything which could not fit into the boxes.
We boarded the Amritsar Dadar Express which was up to Ratlam where we had to change a different train on the metre gauge up to Mhow.When we were waiting at the Ratlam railway platform we found a large number of other friends waiting for the same train . Within a few minutes Captain Bipin Rawat came over and joyfully hugged my husband and said,
” अरे तू भी इसी कोर्स के लिए जा रहा है?” (Are you also going for the same course?)
I was introduced to many officers and lady wives on the platform itself which included the newly weds Capt & Mrs Sagar, Capt& Mrs Shankar , Capt Sengar etc who were also proceeding to Mhow. We boarded the train which was a British era first class compartment fully wood pannelled and it was powered by a coal engine on a metre gauge.
At Mhow railway station we were taken in the army buses to the lnfantry School and luggage was transported into three ton vehicles. We were allotted two adjacent rooms in a barrack which were not interconnected. One of the rooms was our living room and the other became our kitchen and dining area.
The two facing barracks in which we were staying had a total of ten couples most of them were newly married and had come with the intention of enjoying and having a blast in Mhow. The following morning the officers had gone out while the ladies decided to meet and know each other. Till date I remember my lovely friends of those days namely Sonali Vaidya, Nidhi Mehta, Chanda Shankar ,Sonia Anand and many others. Most of us were novice at cooking while two three amongst us were quite expert and hence we started learning culinary skills from each other and had our husbands as Guinea pigs for trial. However bad or good food was the response used to be always positive to encourage us. While our husbands used to have tea time in the course area, all the ladies used to assemble to have tea, gossip and exchange cooking recipes.
During the lunch time we used to be on the lookout for the kulfiwala who used to come on his lambretta scooter. lt had become a ritual to eat Sharmaji’s mouth watering kulfi after lunch.
Soon we realised that there were three types of officers doing B.S.W. Course. The serious and Padhaku types who were rarely seen socializing and were burning midnight oil and had not brought their wives with them . The second types were serious but also enjoyed life and there were some like us who had come from field and remote areas only to enjoy and have a blast.
Every Wednesday There used to be English movie and every Saturday Hindi movie.We used to go quite often to watch movies in the Infantry School open air theatre followed by dinner at Shangrila restaurant in Infantry School. During those days there were hardly few places to eat out. Many a times while watching the movie in the open area, the winter fog used to engulf the entire open area making the screen invisible and yet we would sit there in anticipation for clearing away the fog while having our snacks and drinks. Sometimes we watched the movie under the umbrellas while it drizzled because the covered portion was only for the senior officers and their families.
How can I forget the get together parties and tambola sessions at D.S.O.I. Mhow where we partied,danced and enjoyed to the hilt . This is where I won my first tambola house and the raffle.
The ladies tea time was also a virtual tour for shopping and sightseeing. We soon learnt and started exploring the famous smoking garments, cotton, linen bed sheets, table cloths, leather artefacts and the famous sweets of “Bhanwari Lal” in Mhow market. The race to the Dewas leather factory to buy leather items had become a must. Whenever l wear those leather jackets I am reminded of those beautiful days of Mhow.The Mughal-e-Azam fame “Sheesh Mahal ” of Indore was a must visit site. The foodies amongst us guided us to the famous ” Sarafa Bazar” popularly called “Khau Gali” for multiple variety of street foods and the “Chhappan Bhog Dukaan” for its tasty food and sweets.
On a bright Sunny afternoon when we all were waiting eagerly for our husbands for lunch, to our amazement we found that almost every officer had a puffed and Swollen red face . The enquiry by us revealed that somebody had thrown a stone on a huge beehive catching the officers off guard in the open exercise area resulting in almost everybody being stung by the bees and some so severely stung that few had to be hospitalized in Military Hospital Mhow. For the next few days the officers were beyond recognition as they resembled monkeys more than humans.
I had perfected my culinary skills of making pakodas and baking cakes that invited officers namely Maj N.Ram,Capt BipinRawat ,Captain R.S.Yadav,Capt Sudhir Jakhad,Capt Ashok Ghildiyal and few others and thus we used to have long chat sessions.
Over the years we have met these officers and the lady wives again and again in various courses as also in places of postings but the memories of my first visit to Mhow of that time are incomparable and I treasure them as one of the best times of my life.
JAI HIND, LONG LIVE THE INDIAN ARMY.
Neeta Chamola
11 Oct 2021

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