You don't have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.
~ Barry Goldwater, American Politician and Senator (1909-1998)
It was a windswept evening. You don’t usually expect such an affable weather in May -- in Delhi -- India’s quintessential metropolis. It felt like a mellow reverie. There was light rain in the air, though it didn’t quite rain. You could smell the summer breeze. It wafted in the hair and softly promenaded on the shoulders. Twain, my favorite humorist, once remarked rather wryly, ‘Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get’. The company I had was primarily military. Uncalculatedly endearing too.
The annual May Queen beauty pageant -- organized by the Defence Services Officers’ Institute (DSIO) -- was a chick affair. A bevy of beauties sashayed past you, even as you clenched your glass tighter than ever. For a while, I thought I am dead – and this must be heaven. Fairies in a million different hues -- so many of them. Luckily, Sandy was at hand to assure me that we are very much alive. The guy, I must chip in, possesses heart of a child. 24-Carat.
A well-groomed swarm of lasses burned the ramp. The pageant rolled on past midnight. The chief of the Indian Air Force along with a host of top military officers sat perched in the first row. The famed army discipline was extant but gradually loosened towards the last benches. We sat – and you guessed it right – after the final benches. So, naturally there was no decorum. I met a couple of young army officers – my age -- and enjoyed a palsy chat with them. How I love the disposition of soldiers?
There is something about military that always excites me. Is it the decorousness, the valor, the uniform, the spunk – I cannot precisely say? As Horace waxes eloquent, it is courage, courage, courage, that raises the blood of life to crimson splendor. Amidst all the music, wine, gals, friends and berets around, I recalled to me -
Our God and soldier we alike adore
just at the brink of ruin not before
The danger past, both are alike requited
God is forgotten and the soldier slighted
The May Queen was declared to a deafening cheer. Frankly, none of us cared to know who the enterprising model was.