Tuesdays were Guest Nights,when the cost of drinks was shared by all equally and the proceedings used to be further enlivened by boxing bouts. Some of my colleagues felt that I, who had no experience of the manly art, should be taught to box. The result was that, at the Wednesday morning parades of swollen noses and black eyes, before the Civil Surgeon, no nose was more swollen, no eyes more black, than mine. This sort of thing, I decided, must be stopped. And at last I hiton a plan for stopping it.”
“Since you’ve been so kind as to teach me boxing,” I told my instructor on the next Guest Night, “I would like to repay it by teaching you our Indian wrestling.”
I was not adept at th i s sport, but I knew something of it, and felt confident of being able to teach my “Persecutors” a lesson in more ways than one. I picked on Bert Coffin for a start, and he agreed to wrestle with me. The chap knew nothing about the game, and I quickly threw him and sat on him, where upon I began to hammer him fairly hard. Bert’s fellow Britons started to object to this, but I told them not to interfere.”This is the only way to learn wrestling.” I assured them. “Nobody interfered when you welt. teaching me boxing so painfully, so now you just keep away.” My scheme worked, and from that time there were no mon• boxing lessons for me. Any strain that might have crept into on! mutual relations was relaxed.Part of our daily activities consisted of riding practice which I knew well since my father had given me a pony
when I was thirteen. One day, as I was taking the jump course, I came to the last hurdle and suddenly noticed a ditch five feet long filled with water. Somehow I lost my nerve and began to pull the reins. At once the Principal, who was watching, yelled at me “Give him his head, you bloody fool, damn you!” where upon I slacked rein and made a smooth jump clean over the ditch.However, I felt humiliated at having been shouted at and abused in front of my colleagues, and was determined to get even with the Principal. (This post was now held by Mr.Haslam, who had succeeded Mr. Boyd).
On the following Guest night, I went up to the Principal the Mess, after dinner, and invited him to have a beer with me. We adjourned to the bar, where I drew two mugs of beer, as usual, from the barrel, swallowed one, and poured the contents of the other over the Principal’s head, at the same time challenging him to a fight. My friends, who had been looking on, quickly pulled me away.” Don’t be such a fool, ” they said;” The Prinicipal’s a very good boxer, and all you’d get is a sound thrashing.”
Next morning, the Principal sent for me and wanted to know why I had been so rude to him on the previous night. I apologized, saying, “Sir, I feel ashamed of myself for what I did last night. Please excuse me”. He smiled and said, “That’s all right, Kamte, you’re a good boy. But why were you rude to me and what made you want to fight me? What’s on your mind? Come on, spit it out!”. “Sir “I said, “You were very rude to me, and abused me; that’s why I had a grudge against you and wanted to get my own back”.
“You idiot!” he answered, “If I hadn’t shouted at you when you were pulling your horse, the pair of you would have fallen in the ditch and you might have got killed. In any case, the words I used are never taken as a deadly insult in English conversation; but in case you still think otherwise, I apologise.” So saying, he held out his hand, which I took, and my humiliation was soon forgotten. The incident taught me an important lesson that a policeman must grow a tough hide and never indulge in over-sensitiveness; and years later, when I was I.G.P., I purposely used to shout at my men just in order to teach them to take that sort of thing.
Another lesson I learned was concerned with the practice of ragging. Before coming to the P.T.S I had never heard of the way in which older boys in English school rag the new-corners in order to make them tough. My ignorance did not survive for long, and I myself became a victim. One night, at a late hour when I was asleep, some of my colleagues broke open my door and went off with my cycle. I had been some-what alarmed by the instrusion, and was shocked to see British
Officers apparently stealing a bicycle. Next morning, I called on the Principal and reported the incident. He just laughed and said, “They were ragging you, Kamte. Why not pay them back in their own coin?” He advised me to go to the local Superintendent of Police, Mr.C.S.Martson, lodge a complaint of theft, and tell him whom I suspected, viz, my colleagues. I did this, and as a result, the Inspector of Police, Nasik City, visited the school, made preliminary enquires and took down the statements of the suspected persons. My colleagues were disgusted at my behaviour, vowing that I was “no sport” because I “hadn’t got the guts to take a bit of ragging.” They returned my cycle, and later, when they found I had acted only in fun, they realized that I had been ragging them. After that, the raggers left me in peace.
With my previous experience of military training, I passed the Drill examination in my first term. The Equestrian Test was no problem. I passed both First and Second Law examinations within nine months instead of the permitted twelve months, which was a record for the P.T.S. The only subject in which I failed to pass was Gujarati language, which I had offered (as a Maharashtrian, I was not allowed to offer Marathi, my mother tongue). Thus after nine months I was ready to be posted to a sub-division of a District. No cadet before me had completed the School’s course in so short a time.On the I.G.’s next visit, he asked each of us where we. would like to be posted. When it came to my turn, I said, “Give me the most criminal district you can, Sir”, to which he tersely replied, “Very good. Kaira for you.” Afterwards, while informing me that I was being sent to Kaira, our Principal observed that my reply to the I.G. had shown a want of wisdom because it might have made him think I was trying to be funny.”