Two years is not a long time to tell you about what is the inside business of all the welfare activities that goes in each regiment or corps. Having said that we army wives follow a protocol of making sure that the families of our men always stay safe and the feeling of contentment remains as a permanent fixture in their lives. But then the Jawans wives are mostly the shy lot also depending upon what region or state they come from. The families from the south are usually very tolerant, shy and don't discuss problems that easily and the families from north are more forward about everything. Which becomes easier for us to discuss it further and not make any conclusions without not knowing the situation. Often on the marital front there comes an issue of extra-marital affairs, a husband's drinking problem and his neglect of the family if not known to his neighbours of anyone around, there could be dire situations of women trying to commit suicide or ugly arguments leading to depression. So comes the need to taking the situation that has gone out of their hands now.
Army being a huge organization, it is definitely not possible for the officers wives to take care of each and everyone but it is always encouraged that they come forward if a problem arises. After all they are really n p psychics. The following is then passed on the the First Lady of the regiment (The commanding officer's wife) and there is some part that could be taken care of with group dicussion.
An organization cannot run without its 'men', like a tree cannot survive without its roots. Also they are just about ready to do anything for you. The respect, the ideals and the inspiration all comes from us. So our husbands play a very major role is becoming their role models and we as wives have to conduct ourselves to becoming their wives's support system. A Battery (sub-unit where the regiment is divided among all the officers for easier management of troops) welfare meet is organized every month as in to get close to each Jawan's wives and its just more than a chat session. Since they live far from their families and home-state, we make sure that they have a monthly entertainment in the name of a centrally based welfare pro-gramme where each battery is given the responsibility to put up issues that the wives came be aware of it. So there are demos on hobby, crafts block painting, glass painting, handmade flowers, cushion making and so on. Learning a craft is always encouraged because its something they can sit at home and make it and also make a living out of it, helping out their husbands in return. Later there is a speech given by the battery commander's wife on social issues or tips of the changing seasons or something related to general health. There is a lot of excitement around and when a question is raised, we know that our message is being reached.
Another important part of our welfare activity is imparting education. A special school for physically disabled children called ASHA is run to make sure that they realize that disability is just a problem among many and if they are made self sufficient it makes no difference. Usually they are the talented lot. and very creative. The ASHA cards are sold in every army canteen and make a very good profit.
What our regiment is doing is opening a play school for the children below four and very a well detailed syllabus, we make sure that they are well equipped to know the basics of ABC's and also have fun while learning.
Hindi being a national language, families from south are given a ten day Hindi tutorial for basic communication.
Apart from all this it becomes very important that army wives make a good support system around because being away from their parents is always difficult. They have to have something to fall back on and who better than a friend around?
As an Army wife I found myself the right to say all the wrong things and I find myself sucked into this void of a life where women are more than just ornaments and men are called ‘bhaiyas’. As I summed up from my seniors' lives, officers are just the invisible loners who have all the time in the world to make time for themselves. However, I think often how I got into this ruckus of a lifestyle and still like it.
The day when I was dragging my feet from my teens into my twenties I met this incredible man. Tall, a square cut jaw, sharp eyes and full lips with a curvy smile, is how I summarized him at first. He wore a six bravo uniform (a white shirt tucked neatly into well fitted black trousers) and stroke a pose of a boy who had just turned into a man. What fascinated me was the amount of exuberance around with which the girls charmed their way into the cadets lives, if only it was for the evening. Coming from a civilian background, all this being new to me, I could just stand and try not to stare. Girls didn’t really mix with a guy in front of their parents. But in the army its socializing. In fact army officers indulge their daughters in little black skirts to make an alliance in the army, IT being a very lucrative career. Where woman breeze into their lives to improve upon.
“Go dance with him”, I looked at my sister (an army wife herself) who was eight months pregnant and still attending the infamous NDA ball.
“What will you drink?”
“Anything”, it was a cold night and I didn’t really want a coke. And I was just feeling short of fleeing. Talking to a complete stranger was still a feat for me. And a handsome stranger? I had to think of something intelligent as I thanked my stars- I must have done some good deed in my past life.
As I settled down talking, I realized how much of a life of alienation I live, hibernating in my room (mostly reading). Is this is the life I haven’t seen yet?
It was all bogging me down and as the evening progressed, it was easy to fall prey to their ways. We danced on Bryan Adams “18 till I Die”, “I want to break free” by Queens and so on. I was careful not to touch though. This man was affecting me. Asking nothing return and I was set for the rest of the evening and really didn’t wait for the dreaded mid-night where I would became the same boring old college girl whose life depended more on grades than boys.
It was midnight and the Ball was over. As I walked my way back to my disquieting sister because as far as I was told the cadets had a wild reputation of kissing before finding out the last names, I bid farewell. I tripped over my high heels and realized that Cinderella had to go home now. My fairy Godmothers* gave me an eyeful, and I was sure they wanted to know the details as if I scored a six at World Cup. Well, it was an excitement of a different kind. I gave my number to him and as I held his hand to write my number*, it was his warmth that made me wish inside that he called me.
“You have a beautiful smile”, he said and I avoided looking at him.
I still look into the mirror and wonder what he found in my smile.
Today, married to him, completing six years with a fair share of ups and downs, and now attending parties is like a profession of a different kind, I know why falling for him had been so easy. Yes, it was a process and I was a tough cookie to crack. But the qualities that make me still want to be with him are his patience and his driving force to love me with a passion that seems to douse the fiercest of fires.
And why I choose to be an Army wife? Just ask him.
* Thank you fairy godmothers(fathers)for finding my perfect mate :D even though you had no clue
At times when I am done with writing and with loads of editing to be done, I ask myself why I end up writing a hero that is emotional and a heroine that is stubborn as hell. I know my mind mapping draws my characters depending on what they are feeling at the certain situation and not always do what they are supposed to be doing. They go out of hand very soon and I drag them to fight back...to win the love of their life and put someone else's priorities ahead.
However, making characters is not always the easiest job in the world. It is always a struggle between who is the perfect guy for the perfect woman out there and what exactly do they want. The perfection begins to fade as their inner flaws interfere with their goals and I make time to hate as much as I love my 'Hero'. It almost makes a poetry of a sort and I think of the Greek Tragedy- The rise and fall. Only to Rise again, obviously. I dislike tragedies in Romance novels. But then without pain there is no resolution to find something better in lives and one has to know the value of happiness. So there it goes, I map it again- the rise, the tragedy, the fall, the resolution to find happiness and the rise again. Of course there is lot of physical chemistry going on to tie the hero and the heroine together in an invisible knot though faced with temptations. Perhaps this is what makes me want to go on writing Romances. What is making my characters tick depends entirely upon what makes them happy at first is affecting their love interest in the end. So there goes the vital combat between wills and the lifetime of love.
The knowledge that I am responsible for making two very different people fall in love and in a way that they are bonded for life together is perhaps my way of saying- I believe in miracles (even love can forever, right?)
I always thought reading a romance had great potential. I was sixteen, barely out of my Tinkle, Archies comics mode and it took quite sometime to actually like a full length novel. The first time i picked up a copy of a novel was the Mills n boons borrowed from a friend (n she liked my Archie comics). So I started my journey as an avid reader of romance, wanting to sink in all the romance I could because for my the idea of a perfect man still lay invisible and the perfect woman was obviously nowhere to be seen (after all where do you actually find a stunning beauty with little money who attracts rich guys like bees to honey?)
I later tried the Sydney Sheldon phase but after two fat novels i decided i was not cut out for the cynical side of the world. So after Susan Napier, Betty Neels, Carol Mortimer, Penny Jorden, Sandra Brown, Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught...and I am still trying to remember all those names, it seemed like my collection just increased. One thing I loved about a romance...there was always the happy ending. Although one concept I rarely understood is the concept of loving a guy who was like ten times your senior. Maybe the the fascination of being with an older guy always makes its turn in their novels. Personally I cannot find the similarity between my characters having a huge age difference. I can take a ten year gap but more than that is just unacceptable. Diana Palmer always used this as a conflict in her novels. And more so a fair concept of the forbidden fruit. (Again I am back to thinking about conflicting themes for my next novel).
Perhaps the sweet hot romances where a hero just put you on a stand and worships you is a deliberative scene. Where as a reader we wish for things unpredicted but its the idea of the predictable that gives you a safe feeling...you know that the hero and the heroine will end up together, no matter how much of the differences they have. And in a world where everything seems so difficult, so chaotic where less than five percent of people even like you, it is better to live in a world of imagine for the next two//three hours. Reading a romance's good...almost good enough to tuck into your bed after a long day and end your day with a good ol' romance novel...
Another usual day for me and another novel by Diana Palmer just done with. A woman of my heart Ms Palmer always makes a strong impact on my writings. The way she carries forward a sex scene without making a reader feel like its another X-rated scene again, she manages to portray the characters with such multiplicity that you just cannot help but go with the flow.
You find the protagonist, the hero with the same defining qualities...the tall, dark, handsome, cowboys with a vast experience in women. They usually have a shaded past, a deadly or useful job (a mercenary, a ranch owner, a doctor, a journalist...so on) and they feel more than they talk. Its the way they love their woman. And its not always sex that they think about. Obviously physical attraction is one of the main theme of a romance novel (a reader would probably bored to death if it was otherwise) but it does want you to be one of those heroines whose partner just couldn't get enough of them. They are the 'Diamonds in Rough' and here the heroine enters carrying attributes that makes her every bad boy's dream.
The heroine is almost always (and i mean always!) a virgin, independent, who loves to cook, keep house, great with children, usually wears glasses and dresses like a matron. So i wonder what exactly makes her so attractive? Here Ms Palmer focuses on the inner qualities rather than the outer ones. Maybe because the readers are mostly woman, housewives, who don't really think themselves as beautiful and wear dowdy clothes to hide all the wrong curves. So as i was saying, the hero enters, carrying forward an attraction he has for this virgin young woman who is almost fifteen years his junior. But its the forbidden that makes the hero crave for her more and everyday the distance narrows and they come together as a couple in the end (usually in bed).
Ms Palmer who also writes under the name of Susan Kyle has recently completed her studies in Native American studies. at the age of 45 she went back to school and she graduated *summa cum laude* from Piedmont College, Demorest, GA, with a major in history and a double minor in archaeology and Spanish. A woman of great learning and a thirst for knowledge. If you look at her, she does look like one of her heroines and she wears the exact same glasses that she describes in almost all her novels.
She has a stunning personna of a woman who knows that its romance that she wants to write about. The virgin brides and the bad boys controlling deep sexual desire for each other that could only be quenched in each other's arms. Somehow makes an interesting read for a reader who loves a good juicy romance without the trimmings.
This must be my 30th novel of her and I still hunger for more.
Here is a link to her website who would be interested in reading her...
I have started gym-ming and its just an off and on process where I am actually meant to do cardio, weights and yoga with lots of suryanamaskars. Its a process that makes you sleep in the night early, and check your weight again and again on personal weighing machine. Its a craze though short-lived. Having said that the walks in the evenings just add to the seriousness of the situation. Well, as I make my way towards the army gym, I see the no#1 gypsies, some ambassadors lined up. Inside I see women nearing forty-forty five working like mad on the equipments, wanting to shed all those calories that has been donned so carefully by having all the party food either at the social evening or at the army club. How can we forget the fattening army rashion that has to be given mostly away if you love yourself. Anyways subcategorizing the women i see there: The mini madness: women who have actually lost the weight but cannot let go of the habit. They still workout like they will never see tomorrow. The procrastinators: The new gymmers who make their way towards the easiest equipment. The bicycle and steppers. Because the equipment does half their workout for them. The gym virgins: They actually never saw the face of the gym in their life. Walking had always been the way to be fit but the fad has started. The friends are already there working out so wearing their most comfortable garb (salwar kameez, sometimes a bindi, sindoor, gold chain and long line of earrings included) they gossip more than they workout.
And then the young lot who see more than they work out...
You can be a wife to a software engineer or a man with a mind in business but its a rare combination of good-looking personality, complex aptitude and a zing to do something for the welfare of the country no matter how small. That makes a woman drawn towards 'The' army man. You begin with the uniform he wears everyday and the shinny brasso on his stars that highlights him and makes an aura around him. Then there is the short haircut he adorns to go through a fuss-free mornings in front of the mirror. All he is bothered about is getting on time.
In the beginning I really didnt understand what it is to be on time. I did get dressed in my best saree to reach the party at sharp 7:45 pm (we usually get to the parties at odd timings cause the senior most officer time is always at a round figure like 8:00). Then followed by the other officer and wives. Its a great feeling when I see my man stand out in front of everyone. And I know every army wife feels the same.
The ladies meet, an entertainment for all the officers' wives comes once a month and then again another thing you could never get in the civil. One more thing that I like about being an army wife is that I always feel motivated to do my best and be my best and perhaps also look my best. Maybe an inkling of self comparision with the other wives who look great even when they have reached the age of forty and look half their age. The fact that your husband will always (and i mean ALWAYS) look like a cadet just out of the academy also helps when the time comes to go to the gym (Cannot procrastinate then).
Sometimes you also make good friends of varied interests and I feel there is no harm in learning and taking ideas as long as they are not bluffing.
There are a group of senior ladies who have seen a lot of separation during war and their perception of life is different. Something that I learnt when I first came here. We are just supposed to cherish the time we spend with our families. No matter what. And time with your husband is precious. If he is with the regiment, he will be busy and he will show his face twice a day and disappear. Perhaps exasperating at first but I learnt to keep myself busy. It is good that you pick up a hobby or a job and if you feel lonely sometimes then just think that you are not just any other wife but an army wife who stands out in a crowd and your life will always be different.
Note: No offence mean to the civilian and all the wives out there. I know you work equally hard for your families :)
Whenever I get this horrible thought that I am going to never regret anything in my life I get a feeling of fatigue that this why exactly I am just supposed to shut up and let go. It seems that one is not supposed to protest in the armed forces. Maybe that's why they are called the forces cause everything is forced here. The talking, the thinking, the walking, the making...everything.
The officers follow orders and so do their wives. Its another thing that your boss is another man's wife. Its Mrs this and Mrs that. At first it was all out of respect but later it just comes out mechanically. You don't want to even become close enough to call with their first names. No matter how much more educated you are than them, the MA and MBA's don't matter. I know experience counts but what's the use when that experience is just a follow of tradition that you hated it once upon a time? After all you have your husband's career in your hands. The dreaded ACR is your enemy no matter how much time, love and interest you have given to the organization. But to tell the truth, it has always been this way and if the younger generation doesn't get this feeling of injustice, the future will not change. I have a horrible feeling of doom...
Just to make it clear this is not a HATE blog. Its just a random series of thoughts if I don't write down I am just gonna go insane.So to avoid fauj any future psychological treatment to a very harrassed army wife, CHANGE.
Army lives make a big difference on innocence. Its a war everyday and with the wives it is a battle. Battle of wills, battle for attention, battle to survive...and yet we do. Sometimes its a triumphant feeling of victory over how you passed the evening without having to say what you actually wanted to say but sometimes its difficult to hide whats in your mind. Then comes the times when you say things out aloud, let your emotional intelligence govern over common sense.
Army wives do not make good friends nor are they your long lost sisters because the advice they wanna give is just to satisfy their egos. Cause all those years of slogging their butts behind another senior officer's wife should not have to go waste. Now the only game plan they have is to vomit all the information they have in their minds, all the scheming and planning should come to use after all, now that they have the younger lot to follow them. But sadly they are so very mistaken. Today's army wives are not looking for examples. They are THE 'examples'. Maybe they do not know how to be witty when a senior officer's wife is bullshitting them but they do know that cold silence is the way to just avoid the crap in the army. Sometimes they work and sometimes they do not. But this is what is the thing to do when all you want to do is pick up your highest expensive heel and throw it at them...