Memoir: First Dance After My Passing Out Parade

The Air Force is a fine place and one of the services that have 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 a 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 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 were 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 in 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 the 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 foxtrot to the 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 forever. But before that, we drove miles and miles towards Siruvani the dense jungles around Coimbatore. It was a heady time in the forest with the cool breeze enveloping us. I stopped the bike under a tres in the dense forest. I carried her cradled her in my arms and laid her on the soft grass. A cool breeze blew and the stars shone in the sky. I undressed her and in amoment had buried my face in the most esoteric part of her body. the result was anector… I will never forget more so as it was a first time.