The Telephone

Vikram Karve
11 min readApr 16, 2024



The Telephone

Hilarious “Memoir” from My Glorious Vizag Navy Days

Story by Vikram Karve


My “Better Half” always says that our delightful Vizag Navy Days was our best time in the Navy — though my favourite Navy Days are my Mumbai Navy Days — a few tenures — as a young bachelor — and much later — a few tenures — as a family man.

Here is a story from my unforgettable Vizag Navy Days.

This story happened around 36 years ago — in the late 1980’s — when we were in Visakhapatnam (Vizag).


Dear Reader:

Please remember that this story happened around 36 years ago — in the 1980’s.

Those were the days of landline telephones — much before the advent of mobile cellphones.

And yes — those were the days of the pre-liberalisation “Licence-Permit-Quota Raj” socialist regime — which existed till “liberalisation” happened in 1991 — after which — everything was “liberalised”.

And — in those days of “socialism” — it was difficult to get many things — that we take for granted today — like a simple telephone connection…

In today’s world where everyone has a mobile phone — it is difficult to imagine a life without a phone at home — but that was the reality in the 1970’s and 1980’s — and — in the Navy — only Senior Officers had the “luxury” of a residential phone at home.

Read on — and have a laugh…



Spoof By Vikram Karve






“There was no need for you to come personally all the way to my house so late at night — you could have called up and taken my approval on phone…” my boss, a Commodore, said to me when I went to his office first thing in the morning.

“Sir, I don’t have a phone at home…” I said.

“What…? You don’t have a phone at home…? Why…? I had sanctioned a residential phone for you almost a week ago — on the very same day that you reported for duty…” the Commodore said.

“Sir — the phone has not been installed so far…” I said.

“Have you checked up with Commander ‘X’…?” the Commodore asked me.

Commander ‘X’ was Manager (Technical Services) — the Officer-in-Charge of Telephones.

“Yes, Sir — but Commander ‘X’ told me that there are no spare connections available right now — so — it will take some time to give me phone at home…” I said.

“What nonsense…? I had clearly told him to install the phone surrendered by Commander ‘Y’ at your residence — I wanted you to have the same number — so that it becomes easy to me to remember…” my boss said.


(Commander ‘Y’ was my predecessor — who had handed over charge to me a week ago before proceeding on transfer to his new station.

In fact — Commander ‘Y’ had got what was considered a “prize posting”)


“I don’t know, Sir — but the phone has still not been installed at my residence…” I said.

The Commodore pressed the intercom switch — and — the Commodore said to his PA sitting in the next room:

“Call Commander ‘X’ here to my office — I want him to personally report to me immediately.”






While we wait for Commander ‘X’ to come — let me tell you a bit of the background of this episode.

This story happened around 35 years ago — in the 1980’s.

Of course — in the 1980’s — there were no mobile phones.

And — in those days — in the Navy — having a landline residential phone was a luxury.

In fact — having a residential phone was considered a big status symbol.

Only very senior officers were given phones at home.

As far as the other officers were concerned — only those in “key” appointments were given residential phones.

Now — it seemed that I was in a “key” appointment — at least as far as my boss was concerned.

So — he had sanctioned a residential phone for me — just like my predecessor Commander ‘Y’ had been given — and — in fact — he had instructed the Manager (Technical Services) Commander ‘X’ — that I was to have the same number as Commander ‘Y’

But — Commander ‘X’ had not installed the phone so far — and it looked like Commander ‘X’ was going to get a severe “bottle” from the Commodore — who seemed quite annoyed that the phone was still not installed in my house.


(In Navy parlance — a “bottle” means a scolding — a full blast Navy style reprimand — in colourful profane language — a severe dressing-down.

Yes — the term “BOTTLE” is Naval Slang for a “Reprimand”.

“Bottle” may have been shortened from “a dose from the foretopman’s bottle”.

This may be connected with the story that — in sailing ship days — bottles of medicine (for common ailments) were labelled according to the “parts of the ship” — and that — when a seaman reported to the sick bay — he was dosed from the bottle belonging to his own part of the ship)


Now to come back to our story…

The Commodore had summoned Commander ‘X’ — and — it looked like Commander ‘X’ was going to get a severe “bottle” from the Commodore — who seemed quite annoyed that the phone was still not installed in my house.






After a few minutes — Commander ‘X’ (Manager Technical Services) arrived in the Commodore’s office.

Commander ‘X’ saluted the Commodore.


My Boss — the Commodore sitting in front of us.

My Boss was the Boss of Commander ‘X’ too.


The Commodore did not ask Commander ‘X’ to sit down.

The Commodore pointed his fingers towards me — and he asked Commander ‘X’:

“Why didn’t you install a phone in his house…?”

“Sir, there is no spare connection…” Commander ‘X’ said.

“What bloody spare connection…? I told you shift the same phone that was with Commander ‘Y’ to his house — I want him to have the same number…” my boss said — pointing at me.

“Sir — Commander ‘Y’ has retained accommodation. He has left his wife behind in station…” Commander ‘X’ said.

“So what…? Commander ‘Y’ can retain accommodation — he can leave his wife here — but he has to surrender his residential phone before proceeding on transfer. Why the bloody hell did you sign his “outgoing” clearance if Commander ‘Y’ had not surrendered his telephone…?” my boss asked, raising his voice.

“Sir — I was given instructions…” Commander ‘X’ mumbled.

“Instructions…? What bloody instructions…?” my boss said — looking angrily at Commander ‘X’.

“Sir — I was told not to disconnect the phone from Commander Y’s house — I was told that the same telephone number was to remain there…” Commander ‘X’ mumbled.

“Who the hell told you that…?” my boss shouted at Commander ‘X’.

Commander ‘X’ uttered a name — Commodore ‘Z’.

“Sir — Commodore ‘Z’ told me to keep the phone in Commander Y’s house till his wife was in station…” Commander ‘X’ said to our boss.

Commodore ‘Z’ was a course-mate of my boss — and — his arch-rival in the promotion game.

On hearing the name of Commodore ‘Z’ — my boss became furious — and he angrily shouted at Commander ‘X’:

“So — you are still taking orders from your old boss…?

I am your boss now…!!!

You remember that…!!!

You are being disloyal to me.

I hate disloyalty.

Now — you listen to me carefully — I want that telephone shifted from Commander Y’s house right now.

And — I want the telephone installed in his house within the next one hour…”

my boss said, pointing his fingers at me.


“Sir, but…” Commander ‘X’ tried to say.


The Commodore — my boss — he interrupted and shouted at Commander ‘X’:

“You just shut up.

If you don’t obey my orders I will make you “sign on your ACR” — I will give you an adverse report for insubordination.

Do you understand…?”

the furious Commodore shouted at Commander ‘X’ — who was now trembling at the prospect of an adverse remark in his ACR (Annual Confidential Report)


The Commodore — my boss — he turned towards me — and he said to me:

“You go to your house right now and see that Commander ‘X’ installs the telephone properly.

The moment the phone is connected — you give me a call — I will be waiting for your call.”


Then — the Commodore turned towards Commander ‘X’ and warned him:

“If his call does not come within one hour — you will deeply regret it.

I will not tolerate any further insubordination from you.”


The Commodore’s words galvanized Commander ‘X’ into action — and — he personally supervised the shifting of the telephone from Commander Y’s residence to my home.

The phone was installed in my house within 45 minutes.






I may have got a coveted residential phone.

But — the happiest person was my neighbour’s wife.

Yes — the moment the inquisitive lady realised that a phone was being installed in my residence — she was delighted.

She asked me for my telephone number.

Then — she immediately rushed to the solitary STD booth in the market — she rang up her mother — and gave her mother my residence number.

She told her mother to call up at 8 PM at night.

Those days — the only way to make outstation calls was to queue up at 7 PM outside the solitary STD booth in the market — and wait your turn to make your call.

Why 7 PM…?

Well — STD rates were discounted 50% after 7 PM.

If you made an STD call — you had to foot the bill.

But — if you had a phone at home — your relatives could call you — and they would have to foot the bill.

And also — you had better privacy than at the STD booth.

Now that I had a residential phone — and — it was the only phone in our block of 4 houses — we would have to do a bit of “social service” — and let our neighbours use our phone — and also offer them drinks and snacks while they waited for their calls.

So — at around 7:45 PM — my neighbour and his wife arrived at my house — to celebrate our new telephone.






A few minutes before 8 PM — my neighbour’s wife was sitting in anticipation beside the telephone — waiting for her mother’s call from Delhi — while I poured a drink of “Rum-Pani” for her husband.

Suddenly — the phone rang.

My neighbour’s wife picked up the phone and excitedly said:

“Hello, Ma…”

Then — she was quiet for some time — as if listening intently.

Slowly — the expression on her face changed.

Then — my neighbour’s wife gave a puzzled look — and she kept down the phone.

“What happened…?” I asked her.

“It was some strange man — he was calling me “Sugar” — and — he was saying all sorts of obscene and “dirty” things to me…” my neighbour’s wife said.

“Sugar”…?” I asked her.

“Yes — the man on the phone kept saying “Sugar” Darling“Sugar” Darling…” my neighbour’s wife said.

“What…? He was saying “Sugar” Darling“Sugar” Darling…?” I asked her.

“Yes — and — he was using very romantic intimate “dirty” language…” my neighbour’s wife said, blushing.

Suddenly — the phone rang again.

This time — I picked up the telephone — and I placed the phone receiver near my ear.

A male voice was speaking:

“Hey — “Sugar” Darling — why did you disconnect — I am back in town — it was a terrible trip — I really missed you — I will come over to your house at 9 PM — and then — we will…”

I interrupted his conversation.

“Excuse me — I think you have dialled the wrong number…” I said to the male voice speaking to me on the telephone.

“Wrong number…? Isn’t this number ******…?” the male voice at the other end said — repeating the 6 digits of my phone number.

“The phone number is correct — but there is no “Sugar” Darling around here…” I said, tongue-in-cheek.

“Who the hell are you…? And what are you doing in Mrs Y’s house…?” the male voice said angrily.

Comprehension began to dawn on me pretty fast.

I remembered the name mentioned by Commander ‘X’ in my boss’s office — Commodore ‘Z’ — the name of Commander X’s previous boss — who had asked Commander ‘X’ not to shift the phone from Commander Y’s house.

I decided to have some fun.

“By any chance — are you Commodore ‘Z’ speaking…?” I said into the mouthpiece of the phone.

“That’s right. I am Commodore ‘Z’ speaking — but who the hell are you…?” he said.

I identified myself.

Then — I said to Commodore ‘Z’:

“Sir — this phone is now with me — in my house…”

The moment he heard my words — Commodore ‘Z’ seemed excited.

“What…? How…? Who shifted the phone from Commander Y’s house…?” he said — sounding confused.

I wanted to end the conversation — so I wished him “Good Night” — and I disconnected the phone.


I realized that my neighbour’s wife was “all ears” — and — she was listening intently to the conversation.

So — I had no choice but to tell everyone the full story.

I told them everything — about the telephonic conversation with Commodore ‘Z’ — and what had happened earlier in the morning in the office of my Boss.

It was evident — that some “hanky-panky” was going on between Commodore ‘Z’ and Commander Y’s wife — because — Commodore ‘Z’ was affectionately calling Commander Y’s wife as “Sugar” Darling.


Everyone started laughing.

My neighbour’s wife was a gossipy type.

I knew that juicy gossip of this “telephone affair” would spread like wildfire.

Soon — the NWWA Ladies Network would be abuzz with spicy rumors of this “stealing affections” hanky-panky — the passionate “extramarital telephonic affair” — between Commodore ‘Z’ and his “Sugar” Darling (Commander Y’s wife)


As we laughed — the phone rang again.

This time — it was my neighbour’s wife’s mother from Delhi.

It was the telephone call we had been waiting for.



Copyright © Vikram Karve
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  1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
  2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
  3. E&OE

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Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Revised and Spiced Up Version of my Spoof TELEPHONE HANKY-PANKY first posted online by me Vikram Karve in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog around 10 years ago on 9/02/2014 03:59:00 PM at url: reposted at urls: and and and and and

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.




Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, alumnus IIT Delhi, Lawrence School Lovedale, Vikram Karve is a retired Navy Officer turned full time Writer and Blogger