The power of Khaki!

What is it in a uniform that makes it so important? There are some people who really get attached to their uniforms and this sort of ‘attachment’ happens to be especially true of army fatigues or more so of the khaki – the colour associated with the police. It shouldn’t be difficult to guess why it is so. For years altogether these colours have been the colours of might, and as they say, might is always right and so it naturally follows that the colour of might is the right colour! In this regard the khaki is definitely superior to even the army fatigues, because it holds more sway over the civilian population.

Now a uniform, and by association, a colour becomes something as characteristic as say a costume. And costumes have always had this almost magical property! A rather dumb-looking, bespectacled, mild fellow like Clark Kent dons a blue costume and is instantly transformed into a Superman that leaps across the skies and holds up falling giant meteorites! Ditto is the case with the guys who don specific costumes and emerge as a Spiderman or a Batman, as the case may be, and acquire these amazing powers.

No these metamorphoses are not something confined to the imagination of a comic-strip creator. One witnesses an equal, if not a greater transformation in real life when an ordinary guy dons a policeman’s uniform! No sooner is the khaki costume donned that this hitherto ordinary guy undergoes a palpable change and gains rather awesome powers! Granted that he doesn’t leap across the skies or like Spiderman, shoot some sticky contraption to haul himself up sheer-faced buildings. He doesn’t need to do all that! His uniform is a season ticket, more of an all-season ticket I would say, and the only gesture required is a snapping of fingers and name any cab and it is there just a gesture away. The khaki ‘costume’ entitles the wearer to a free ride on any ‘auto rickshaw’, taxi, bus or whatever and it does not stop at public transport either! A cop drumming peremptorily on the wind-screen and asking, rather demanding, a lift in your car is a common phenomenon and something that you learn to take in your stride. So as you see, a khaki ‘costume’ ensures a far more comfortable and dignified, not to say safer, mode of transportation than say Superman’s leaps or Spiderman’s swinging from buildings and lamp posts and this is just one example of the superiority of this ‘costume’ over all the rest!

Talking of uniforms and costumes and the transformation they work, I am reminded of a classmate of mine who used to be a gentle, absent-minded sort of guy, the sort who forgets to ask the shopkeepers for the change and all that. Destiny decided that this fellow was to become a policeman. Now it is the shopkeepers who ‘forget’ to ask him for money when he buys something from them. When this fellow needs a hair-cut the barber is willing to leave a shop full of waiting customers to provide him with ‘home service’ and the butcher digs out the best leg-of-mutton as soon as this fellow stops his vehicle by his shop! Even the elders of the locality are all praise for this fellow now and admire him for his being a ‘tough’ man. His neighbours are tickled pink if he so much as nods in response to their greetings. Needless to say his prestige increased by leaps and bounds shortly after he assumed the khaki attire and even if he is rude at times that only adds to the awe that he inspires!

I always say it is not the man but the uniform! Strip any policeman, or a PSO or an SPO or any other specimen of the species, of their authoritative attire and there is usually a very ordinary man, someone almost human, someone quite similar to you, me or any other ordinary mortal beneath the Khaki! Put it on again and you won’t recognize the fellow that is if you dare look at him in the first place!

It is against this background that one can understand the excitement of this fellow who lives in our mohalla. The young fellow is quite a perky chap even as such, full of enthusiasm and all that but lately he has got even perkier. When I asked him about his visibly effervescent spirits he told me that the change was all because of his new job or rather the uniform that he has started wearing because of this new job – a Khaki uniform! You see this fellow is a rolling-stone sort of guy and keeps changing his jobs frequently, his latest job being that of a private security guard for an ATM. The happy-go-lucky fellow confided in me that he had already begun to have a taste of the power of Khaki! What happened is that the young mothers who live in his vicinity have started to pay him an ‘honorarium’ for parading outside their houses for say half an hour in the mornings!

“What for?!” I asked when he told me about it.

“So that they can feed their young ones without the usual tantrums on their part and also persuade their older children to leave for school without any fuss! All I have to do is stand outside their windows with this stern expression on my face so that they can point at me and quell any resistance or rebellion from the kids. The Khaki uniform you see!”

This was quite enterprising as you will agree and I am sure that gradually he will become fully aware of the potential of his Khaki uniform. I have a feeling that this fellow will stick to this job longer than any other job that he has had!

(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at snp_ajazbaba@yahoo.com)