In lighter vein- An army unit raising day party

Lt Col M Ranjit Singh (Retd) *

Any event or function organised by Army is done in great style. Normally everything will be perfectly synchronised and there will not be any major flows in the conduct of the event. We all remember the last Republic Day Parade of 2015 at Delhi where Barak Obama was the Chief Guest. The entire programme on that day was a dazzling show beautifully organised by the Army. Everything was done with elaborate military precision.

Nothing went wrong. I recollect such an event, but at a much reduced scale, of an Army Unit Raising Day party which happened many years ago. I think it will be quite interesting to know how the party was planned and executed by that Armoured Regiment. It was sometimes in June in the year of our Lord, Nineteen Seventy Six. I was then posted in my battalion somewhere near Chandigarh.

In those days, Army use to go to Rajasthan for annual training exercise. That year the training exercise was conducted some- where near Sardarshahar, a small town in Churu district of Rajasthan. It was a massive exercise involving many formations with large numbers of regiments from all arms and services taking part in the exercise. The whole exercise was done in a vast area of desert. Water is very scarce in desert area.

Towns in desert are located where water sources are available. The source of water for the Army in the exercise area was located some 60 kms away. There was restriction on water supply. Each unit was permitted to draw fix amount of water from the water point in a day.

The exercise concluded sometimes in June. The turn for our unit to revert back to permanent location was fixed for beginning of July. The Raising Day Party I was mentioning earlier was not that of our unit but that of an Armoured (Tank) Unit.

The Commanding Officer (CO) of the Armoured Unit tried his level best to change his regiment's schedule of move so as to celebrate his unit's Raising Day Party in their permanent location. But due to non availability of adequate railway rolling stocks for transportation of tanks, the unit was told to celebrate their Raising Day in the desert of Rajasthan. In those days Armoured Units does things more stylishly than other Regiments of Infantry, Artillery, Engineers etc.

Celebration of Raising Day for any Army Unit or Formation is a big event. Meticulous planning are undertaken to make the celebration a grand success. Like all planning done in the Army, CO immediately called for a conference of all Officers and JCOs of the regiment to give his views how the party was to be organised and also sought suggestions from those present in the conference. But it was more of him giving points to all rather than getting any suggestions from those present.

In his wisdom CO thought, for beautification of the general area, they must have a pond in the entrance of their Officers Mess with two to three ducks swimming in that pond. This onerous task was given to a young officer of the regiment who happens to be a course mate of mine. It is through him that I learnt this kahani.

He told me the story in bits and pieces and wherever something important episode was missing, I naturally made it up! Our messes were co-located. Therefore I had the advantage of seeing all the progresses made in preparation of the pond and arrival of ducks. In due course, a huge pond was dug just at the entrance of the Mess and it was covered by many tarpaulins of 90 feet by 90 feet size.

The Armoured Units are authorised many big size tarpaulins for covering the tanks. I have already mentioned that water is a scarce commodity in desert and the water source for the Army was located at a far off place. Surprisingly there was no dearth of water for filling up that pond. The civil chowkidar of that water source even came to the unit to inquire if there was any shortage of water supply.

The chowkidar must have got some sudden streak of patriotism to help the cause of Army. Or like the famous quote from The Godfather "My father made an offer he couldn't refuse", they must have done something for that chowkidar. In spite of many niggling from me, my course mate never clarified on this point. The most difficult portion of the task was to get live ducks for swimming in that pond.

The nearest area from where ducks could be procured in the desert area of Rajasthan was, I thought, from Bharatpur which was far away from exercise location. Anyway my course mate got four ducks, God knows from where, for the occasion. But he showed to his officers only 3 ducks and the remaining one he kept in his bathroom in a bucket. As the date of party comes closer there were lot of activities in their mess.

There was a final inspection done by the CO on the "Operation Pond and Ducks". It happened sometimes in the evening and luckily I happen to be there in their mess on that occasion. The CO was very happy to see that artificially created large pond filled up with water up to the brim with the three ducks swimming leisurely there.

But since CO must give some points for further improvement, he called my course mate and told him, "Good job but I wish you had brought four ducks instead of only three" That was the time when my course mate fired his Bramhastra and replied, "Sir in fact I brought four ducks but one of them is not keeping well. I, therefore, have kept the fourth one in my bathroom and I along with our Regimental Medical Officer (RMO) am regularly checking on that".

To concur on what my course mate had just said, RMO who came along with CO look towards CO and shook his head vigorously. Whether the RMO was consulted or not, we will never know. But CO being CO he thought he must give some points and went near the pond to touch the ducks. The ducks on being approached by a human being; got scared and swam away on the other side.

CO turned towards my course mate and asked,"What is this? You people do not go into details. What will happen if the VIP wants to touch these ducks and swam away like this? Please get it rectified". Saying this CO gave a nasty look generally to all assembled there and walked away.

On the day of the party, all officers of our Battalion were also invited to attend the party. The 'pond and ducks' was a smash hit. I found the pond focussed by a blue light with few water weeds floating on it. It looked beautiful. The ducks remained swimming in one place. Literally they didn't move an inch away. All those officers who came to the party appreciated it.

The VIP was very happy when he touched those ducks and not moving away from him. Seeing the VIP happy, the CO was also very happy. To sum up I should say the party was a grand success. Even the sand storm which was regular feature of desert night was missing on the party night. It was overall a win- win situation for the CO and all officers of that Armoured Regiment.

After few days, I met my course mate and ask him how he managed to keep those ducks immobile in one place. He had a hearty laugh and told me that he had tied the legs of all those ducks with small ropes and the ropes in turn were tied to few bricks underneath the pond. The famous quote of George S Patton "Never tells people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity" fits well here.

* Lt Col M Ranjit Singh (Retd) wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on January 09, 2016.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Aerial view from Chingmeirong : Gallery
  • Governor's Taekwondo Cup: Gallery
  • Entrepreneurship in the context of Manipur
  • Face scrubs to avoid dirt this summer
  • Ah, me - Now Happy, Now Sad :: Poem
  • Rio assures of co-existence with neighbours
  • Nandeshwore- President, Manipur, RJSP
  • 'PDA Govt is functioning smoothly'
  • Khangkhui Cave, Ukhrul #2: Gallery
  • Chhungthianhoih, Agui :: eMing
  • Identity crisis : @Somorendra Lecture
  • Reflection on Tour of Dubai & Abu Dhabi #2
  • Khangminashi - II : Report
  • Globalization & its impact on our culture
  • District Demand 2011-2018 :: Timeline
  • Dishonouring the Constitution of India
  • From EVM to floor test Onus on BJP
  • Curtain Raising- Sangai Fest 2017: Gallery
  • 4th MCA Plate Tournament : Gallery
  • International Nurses Week #1
  • Story of Silence : @Somorendra Lecture
  • Apiculture (bee-keeping) #2
  • Khangminashi - II : Invitation at Thoubal
  • IBSD-ILS Centre set up in Bhubaneswar
  • Of 3 Ws - Beware
  • Forming the Govt : Office of Governor
  • Lainingthou Lai Lam thopka #2 : Gallery
  • Manipur Fight League Season 1 : Gallery
  • Prison Diary of Lamyanba NK Sanajaoba #3
  • Rights of indigenous people & merger
  • Manipur's tryst for a native Chief Secretary
  • Marxji, Modiji & Birenji
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Reasoning without disparities
  • Regulate movement of auto rickshaws
  • Healing Touch: A case of still to outreach
  • Re-visiting Khangkhui caves in Ukhrul
  • Sandrembi Cheishra :: Book Review
  • Homecoming & Other Stories :: Review
  • Kuki-Zomi Insurgency in Manipur #2
  • Cry of a Dying River - 29 :: Poem
  • Shija Hospitals MOU for RBSK Nagaland
  • Are we waiting for the "Go-dot"
  • Understanding with KSO : Reaching to all
  • NNC observes 67th Naga plebiscite anniv
  • Event on martial art ends
  • Garlic Festival @ Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • Dr. Cesarczyk drizzled harmonics in the rain
  • Tlanglhungbung Leikol - Tourist destination
  • Manipulative skill pays in usurping power
  • Khonzel TV : New Manipuri Streaming TV
  • Naturopathy as career option
  • Free Eye Camp at Wangoo
  • Khongjom Day: OK to observe on Apr 23, but
  • Outside Manipur after Class XII
  • TRAU Vs Langsning FC : Gallery
  • Ngasepam Nalini : State Akademi Award
  • Construction of Ima Keithel
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Dreaming :: Poem
  • Test for dengue fever
  • Home Coming & other Stories : Book [upd]
  • Eco Tourism as alternative to Timber Trade
  • Go to Village - boon .. but a scourge for PRI
  • Citizenship Bill ... on basis of religion!
  • Gardening @Ema Keithel #2: Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #2: Gallery
  • Course in Book Publishing at IGNTU, Kpi
  • Reflection on Tour of Dubai & Abu Dhabi #1
  • Gurudev :: Poem
  • Counseling to Delhi University Aspirants
  • Poumai Purul Hiimai Paoki #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Apiculture (bee-keeping) #1
  • Entrepreneur find ways to recycle plastic
  • Social impacts of Mapithel dam
  • Cyber crime defined: The Bhopal case
  • Timber banned but no ban on firewood
  • Traffic chaos : Regulate not ban entry !
  • Cheiraoba Thabal by LGBTQ #2 : Gallery
  • Culturals @Shirui Lily Fest : Gallery
  • Kuki-Zomi Insurgency in Manipur #1
  • Civil Service as a career option
  • The plight of education in Manipur
  • Appeal to Stop Oil Exploration
  • TechExpo at IIT Guwahati
  • Awaiting- a light at end of the tunnel
  • Wanted : Responses not reactions
  • Kabo Valley: A brief history
  • 'Autonomous Naga council'- a major hurdle
  • Cry of a Dying River - 28 :: Poem
  • Admission :: SAIRAM college at Patsoi
  • Khangminashi :: Lecture series at KKT
  • CASO conducted at Mantripukhri
  • PRI & the Mission- "Go to Village"
  • Final pact likely soon : Stand of CSOs
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #2 : Gallery
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • The Killing Fields - 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • A village "wall" a destruction for others
  • Thank you Mangaal Rural...
  • Lack of proper investigation- minor girl case
  • Nagaland Cong shelved plans to contest LS
  • Employment drive through Afforestation
  • Bid to attract the brightest
  • A. Halim Chowdhury: A Profile
  • Gardening @Ema Keithel #1: Gallery
  • Occupational hazards of journalists
  • Election: The greatest weapon of the people
  • Community Gardening in memory of Belinda
  • Politicians need a thorough headbanging
  • Beauty essentials for your holiday
  • NPF will not attend meeting..
  • A view on "Go to Village" Mission
  • Littering Shirui peak after Lily Fest
  • Polo ground & institute in Manipur
  • Khangkhui Cave, Ukhrul #1: Gallery
  • Dance competition @MANFETE #2 : Gallery
  • Bracing for monsoon madness
  • When I'm sick :: Poem
  • 1949: Story of India's Takover of Manipur
  • You can't defile a Judge like that
  • Legal provisions for misusing Social Media
  • Bill for non-local: Need to learn from 2015
  • Heart OPD Camp at Youth Club Brahmapur
  • Flood in Imphal [06 May ] : Gallery
  • Gudui Ngai @ Ragailong : Gallery
  • Ode to Inle (in Myanmar) #2
  • AFSPA Repeal from Meghalaya, Arunachal
  • Reclamation of eutrophicated water bodies
  • Hey smartphone! Free me from your spell
  • Job Positions at VITSOFTS, Canchipur
  • Lainingthou Lai Lam thopka #1 : Gallery
  • Phumdigi Tantha Dance Drama : Synopsis
  • Speaker List at Seminar on Atomic Energy
  • The making of village republics
  • The Sunset Blues :: Poem
  • Rio for development on eastern corridor
  • Welcomes decision on mini hornbills
  • Good show only from Imphal
  • 'ZB (AMN) President creating confusion'
  • Zeme Nagas aggrieved at 'non-inclusion'
  • Class XII Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • Prison Diary of Lamyanba NK Sanajaoba #1
  • Communal Harmony in a Multicultural ..
  • Community Gardening Event at Ema Keithel
  • Usurped Domain
  • Fruit stalls : Who gave them the license ?
  • 60 best social media practices
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #1 : Gallery
  • Class XII Result : Science Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Arts Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Commerce Toppers
  • HSE Result 2018 : District Wise
  • HSE Result 2018 : Highest Marks
  • HSE Result 2018 : Science Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Arts Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Commerce Stream
  • Scholarship for Civil Aspirants : Gallery
  • The Streets Of Imphal
  • Civil Aspirants Scholarship Announcement
  • Vandalizing of fruit seller- protecting identity
  • Free Heart OPD Camp at Manipur University
  • Go to Village Mission: Another first for Govt
  • Khongjom Day - April 23 #2 : Gallery
  • 16 out of 18 clears IIT/JEE Mains
  • RIST Talk-36 : Enchanting Light of Firefly
  • Cry of a Dying River - 27 :: Poem
  • World Veterinary Day - 2018
  • Halt oil exploration work in Manipur
  • Snakebites and Uniformed Saviours
  • SRDP funds: NDPP calls for investigation
  • National PR Day at Guwahati
  • The only way towards salvation
  • Haudonggi Lamchat :: Funga Wari
  • Mukada: Eroding Festival of Kharam Tribe
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #2 : Gallery
  • 'Go To Village mission' launched at Yaiskul
  • Quality assurance management as career
  • Test for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
  • UCM, MPP making clear their stand
  • Kh Sanjita & Saikhom Mirabai :: Gallery
  • May Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • How India Restrain NE Extremist Outfits
  • Liangmai disassociate from Zeliangrong #2
  • Climbing the Shirui Hills #1 : Gallery
  • NE Guide to Thailand : Gallery
  • Prof N Irabanta : Doyen of Aerobiology
  • Paintings @Imphal Art Camp : Gallery
  • Opening: Shirui Lily Festival : Gallery
  • Floral tributes to PLA members #3 : Gallery
  • Ode to Inle (in Myanmar) #1
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #1 : Gallery
  • TRAU Vs Bengaluru FC #2 : Gallery
  • 'HUN' Thadou Cultural Festival #2 : Gallery
  • Khongjom Day - April 23 #1 : Gallery
  • Northeast Indian Guide to Thailand
  • Teinem Luira Phanit #2: Gallery
  • Naorem Kalimohon Singh : A Profile
  • Cheiraoba @ Kolkata : Gallery
  • Cheiraoba Chak Katpa [14 Apr] : Gallery
  • Md Awaysh Khan: Mr. India : Gallery
  • Mahesh Thounaojam #2 : eRang Photos
  • Mnipur Ima :: Seireng
  • Tributes to Khelen Thokchom : Gallery
  • Sanakhya Ebotombi Haorokcham: Biography
  • PM Narendra Modi @Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • Enakta Leiringei (Film) #2 :: eRang
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic