Viglinks

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Passing out Parade and a First Dance. * 66



 The  Air Force is a fine place and one of the services that has an aura and glamour of its own. Despite a PG in Nuclear Physics I joined the Air Force and trained hard to pass the course and become a Pilot Officer. That was the first rank in the hierarchy at that time( Now this rank is abolished). The culmination of a rigorous period of training was a dinner  dance after the passing out parade. I remember the passing out parade as nostalgic moment in my life as we passed out from cadetship to become officers to the band playing "Auld Lang Syne", a latin tune. For long the forces retained the Anglo marching tunes like "Colonel Bogey" and it was only much later that a few Indian tunes were incorporated, but the western tunes still hold sway. 
The passing out parade( I shall write about it later) is followed up with a dinner dance for the cadets ( now officers), their relations and and guests. Also invited are some girl guests who we had come to know during the times we were allowed to book out in mufti. The final training and dance was at Coimbatore.
I recollect that the first dance I attended was as a cadet. We  were all very apprehensive as none of us had ever been at a formal dance.  We confessed our fears to our Flight Commander a chap named Aminuddin Ahmed. He had a big laugh and told us not to worry  as you have the Air Force crest on your pocket and that itself is an invitation.We were not allowed to book out of camp without our blue blazer with the Air Force crest on its pocket and the cadet tie as well.
The flight commander was right as at the dance we had no problems looking for partners and most girls preferred to know us. I became close to an Anglo-Indian girl and it was a start of a wonderful time. I invited her for the passing out parade ( POP) as well as the dinner dance. I can say my mother was aghast and didn't like it one bit, but she came and we danced the fox trot to soulful music of Louis Armstrong. It was also the first time I tasted whiskey. This dance remains a memorable time to remember .
After the dance I dropped her home on a borrowed bike ( my flight commanders) and we promised to meet each other for ever. But before that we  drove miles and miles towards Siruvani the dense jungles around Coimbatore. I dropped her home in the early hours of the morning. But our affair, if I can call it that did not flower as she later migrated to Australia.  I have an old photo of the dance with me in Mess dress along with  Mrs Victor Srihari,  who was the wife of Commander in Chief at that time.  Well times and events take place and I do believe in what the Lord Krishna says " Not a leaf moves without my will"