Those were the best days….
By Vivek Hande
I grew up an Army brat. I say it with pride and as I grow older , I realize it was a truly privileged existence. It was the finest childhood a parent could offer a growing child . I am what I am today ; I think the way I do ; react in the way I do , in large measure to my Army , my Cantonment up -bringing..
It was a different way of life . I saw nine schools by the time I passed out of school. Yes, I felt bad leaving school each time , leaving friends and class-mates. But each new station and each new school , brought in a new set of friends , a new range of experiences and a whole lot of new adventures. One joined good schools , bad schools , indifferent schools and one adapted . You always had other Army brats to help you in the journey. There were classes at times under the open skies-the roof of the school had been blown off in a storm . At times , there were no classes at all – no teachers could be motivated to serve in those remote far flung areas- so one played football the whole day long and studied at home ! But do believe me , all my co –brats are doing amazingly well today in all walks of life ,all across the world. They are all professionals – executives , physicians ,journalists , fashion designers , Armed Forces personnel of the highest caliber…
The cleanest air we breathed; the best of grounds we played in. We had access to the finest sporting facilities in the country –tennis , squash , riding , swimming –we had it all. We saw the geography and the topography of this great country. It is a different thing that we often had to dig out the Atlas or find out from Dad’s colleagues in the Signals as to where exactly the place we were posted to existed. Learnt terms such as NRS- Nearest Railway Station- very rarely was one lucky to detrain at the same location. But the reception at the station and the onward journey by road made one feel like a feudal prince. Every Army brat knows the high regard one had for the “Bhaiyya “. One did not know about Sewadar or Sahayak but one certainly knew “Bhaiyya” was family. He was Jeeves , your friend and guide rolled into one .
One learnt that there was a family beyond the four walls of your home. . One learnt that when your Dad went on course or exercise or got posted out , there were a whole lot of “Uncles” and “Aunties” who adopted you and made you feel special and cared for and somehow made things easier . The “Pot-luck” dinners and impromptu “Chaat –parties” and Sunday brunches by the riverside with the entire unit in attendance gave you something special to always look forward to. One learnt that the more you give , the more you get ..
It was not always rosy and beautiful and cheerful. There were mosquitoes, erratic electricity supply , extremes of weather , paucity of supplies and provisions at times . Connectivity was often a problem . Medical facilities were often rudimentary . Yet , when I think back , I rarely remember that . I remember the sense of belonging ; I remember being part of a huge loving family ; I remember the beautifully laid out roads; the thousands of trees marked with brown and white ; greenery and open spaces; fresh air and the thrill in simple pleasures of life. If there was good times to be enjoyed, one did so heartily and if there were bad times around the corner , one faced them with stoicism .
I am proud being an Army brat . I would not like to trade it for any other kind of childhood . I am what I am , the way I grew up. Those were the best days…