A fauji garden
Building a house and decorating every inch of it is a milestone in every one's life. It either happens once or probably twice in their lives. This is the usual story of an average individual. Seldom can u see people shifting their house often, unless and otherwise one belongs to the military tribe. Yes, our place of stay keeps changing every two years. We are no less than nomads. We do not have a permanent house we keep travelling around the country. Setting up a house is not once in a life time affair. Packing, unpacking and decor shopping plays an integral part of our lives.
The first and foremost lesson I learnt after getting married to a fauji is that not to expect his presence in setting up the house. I grew up in a family where my brother has always been an inspiration in house makeover. I still remember those days where I see him rearranging the furniture and cutting the surf excel dabbas to make a pen stand. Even a simple study table would look elegant with upcycled stuffs. I have always felt that he's the 'most wanted guy' among the girls. House cleaning and other DIY's has never been my cup of tea. My mother would always ask me to learn from my brother but I have never bothered to. I have had this thought in my mind that I would get married to a guy who has interest in shopping house hold stuffs but seldom did I know that I would have to do it myself as my partner in crime would be unavailable most of the time. Initially when I had sought my husband's help in setting up the house he was more than happy to send a baiyya (just officer slangs!) to do it on his behalf. When I started setting up the place I slowly started realising how much detailing and effort has to go in setting up even the smallest of the room. I used to get awestruck when I visit other ladies houses on seeing the way they would have decorated their homes. I would just wonder how every single thing had a place in their house and sometimes I would even think wether they had such a foresightedness to buy these decors even before they owned the house. More than unpacking I always had a big time problem in finding a suitable place for the trunk boxes and (bubble wraps too!) With a hope of using it in our next posting! I have also seen people people painting these trunks and upcycling it into sofas with fancy cushion covers in postings where there are no enough storage spaces.
Once my neighbor asked me wether am not tired of this job? But my answer is that's what we are here for. That's the speciality of a fauji wife. We are bestowed with super powers to tirelessly set up the house and pack everything when our time comes. Packing and unpacking is the most demanding job especially when our husbands have gone for TD and when we need to manage it all alone. I am just three postings old eventhough I have not been there for packing and unpacking, I have seen how the other ladies have been doing that. Sometimes our husbands are posted in non- family postings or a field area where we need coexist with snakes and other reptiles. There have been times where we get an accommodation just few months before our posting and house make over becomes more like a ritual, but the best part of the fauji life is that eventhough the house is occupied by an other family afterwards, the memories remains with us.
There have been instances where the house would have been lucky for some individuals. For me, Bathinda was my first posting, and that's the place where I got pregnant and my son was born. That's the house where my son started to crawl and all of us in the family rejoiced it . Be it big or small, each posting and each house has a story to tell and a memory to cherish.
Coming back to the fauji home, it can be easily identified by the way it has been set up and it also speaks a lot about the officer's previous postings, cause the house would be filled with decors which would have been brought from previous stations.
The size of the house hugely depends on wether it is a peace or a field area posting and the rank of the husband. The captain accommodation is usually a 2 BHK house and the major accommodations are 3 BHKs. The CO is the one who gets the biggest house with a beautiful garden and men to work for them in a peace area posting, but still if they have to live in tents and sheds away from their family, they would be prepared for that.
From outside, these houses are all the same size with the similar colour paint, but what adds beauty to the house is the magic that lies in the hands of the lady of the house. The interiors of the house usually exhibits the fine taste and skills of the lady of the house. More than 60% of these ladies have a good taste in interior designing to an extent that makes a professional run for money. These ladies are mostly good at hand work, DIYs, painting, stitching (etc). We know how to effectively put to use the resources available to us. The decors in the rooms often indicate the interests and passion of the people living in the house. These houses are usually the raiding target for bachelors and Saturday nights are usually reserved for house parties and cozy drinks.
These cantt areas have an AWWA shop which sells decors at reasonable rates and amazon has always been there for any purchases at your doorstep.
What's a fauji home without those large trunk boxes? These are huge treasure boxes that we usually see in fantasy movies. These boxes serve multiple purposes they are either transformed into decor stands or into furnitures that are decorated with beautiful cushions.
The cap stand, the bar unit and the cutlery cupboards are a mandatory sight in a fauji house. The cap stand talks a lot about the unit that the officer belongs to. It includes the aviators cap, combat hat, and the informal caps. The bar unit is adorned with a range of drinks and glasswares that speaks volumes of the typical fauji brands.
Every fauji house has a place for the mementos and souvenirs that boasts the achievements of the officer. They are the mandatory part of the decor stand. Apart from that a big lampshade, fancy cushion covers, indoor plants, a big hanging fan on the wall, antique items, jaipuri wall clocks, Buddha statues, wind chimes are some of the usual decors that are seen in most of the fauji houses.
These fauji houses usually have a servant quarters attached to the house for the convenience of those who would like to have a stay at home maids.
Usually these fauji houses have army phones which are usually kept in the bedroom to attend those wee hour calls. The entrance of every fauji house has a standard iron shoe rack which is been mostly occupied with shoes of different sizes such as the combat shoes, PT shoes and aviator's boots. In most houses these shoe racks are also used as planter stands.
Last but not the least here comes the gardens of the fauji houses. They require a special mention here as people extensively spend their time in decorating their gardens. A portable swing or a hammock and a huge garden umbrella are a common sight in fauji homes. The garden would be decorated with terracotta statues, pots, wind chimes, and one can even witness a garden fountain if it is a CO's house. The boundaries would be decorated with painted bricks and unused tyres are painted and upcycled into beautiful planters. The backyard is usually reserved for a small kitchen garden. These gardens are usually big and are usually maintained by a gardener. Fairy lights play an integral part both inside and outside the houses.
Thus an army life is way different than a civilian life. Whatever we buy be it online or from the local market from the decors to the clothes will have multi purpose uses. The trunk boxes would be transformed into beautiful seaters, wine bottles would be transformed into beautiful oil canisters, any unused copper or steel utensils will be turned into indoor planter stands. I would like to conclude this article with a note that we have learnt to live with the given resources and limited inventories. We are the ones who turn the house into a home, we are the ones who add beauty, colour and joy to the house, we are a jack of all trades, we are attuned to a situation to handle everything in life, we value even the smallest of things in life, we are good hosts, we can cook for even 20 people in a row with the given resources and we are the back bones of our husbands and we are none other than the fauji tribe.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
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