Army Brats. The term may sound elitist and funky. Isn’t it? Well it actually isn’t. We’ll come back to that soon, but first let’s see what it means. An Army brat is an offspring of Army personnel, and all these Army brats could be considered to be an unofficial ‘community’ of sorts. Each Army brat knows someone you know from somewhere across the country (or even globe for that matter) and it is highly unlikely that you haven’t met the likes of at least one of them! Army brats (whether you like it or not) are not too difficult to identify within a gathering. First of all, they will most probably be at the centre of the crowd, trying to make order out of the chaos; or if it’s a peaceful sitting, they will be the first ones to let you know that they are in fact, Army brats. They seem proud of this heritage, and they won’t change that for the world. Having said that, let’s list 8 things you wouldn’t know about us Indian Army Brats. Here’s hoping you find out something new, something fun, and something relatable.
Why are we called brats?!
Please don’t look at this term literally. Not all of us are brattish enough to be uniformly called that. The word is actually an acronym which stands for “Born, Raised, and Transferred”. We’ve been to more schools than the number of classes we were promoted to; and our fathers and/or have been transferred to double that number of places. We have been transferred almost every two years ever since we’ve been born. So it makes sense that we add it to our identities, right?
We belong to the whole Nation
India is not altogether progressive in culture, with certain states still far behind in development and exposure. More often than not, we army brats hear certain comments which demean our liberal thinking or outgoing nature simply because our values don’t make sense to the other person. What is important to grasp here is that we are children of the whole country. We don’t belong to any particular culture, background, or strict religious belief. We are a product of all the kinds (and they are MANY) of people we have met as we travelled across the country and stayed in all corners of the nation. We are open to new ways of thinking and we imbibe ideals as we go along. So if someone doesn’t ascribe to our thinking or lifestyle, it doesn’t mean that we have misplaced ideologies. It’s just a matter of individuality.
We are as patriotic as our parents.
We are brought up in a world where we see and hear of fellow soldiers dying for the country, and of our fathers staying away from us for months at a stretch for ground duties. The devotion towards India that our fathers/mothers have as officers, rubs off us in good measure. We won’t hear a word against the nation, Indian Army, or even our fellow Army brats. We consider ourselves to be a large family, and the patriotic fervor runs in each one’s blood no matter who it is and where they may be.
We aren’t making up our stories.
Yes, we actually did see that snake in our bedroom. Yes, we have stayed in a tent in -18 degree temperatures. Yes, we have ridden to school in a ‘truck’ which is (believe it or not) called ‘Shaktiman’. While it may seem like our stories or escapades are exaggerated or too fancy for reality, we must admit that we are being honest. Our lives have not been simple, but to say the very least, we have had some memorable adventures along our journeys. If you wish to hear the most outrageous experiences and laugh over the good and bad ones, find an Army brat pronto.
We are independent, but not always by choice.
Army brats are fiercely independent and quite capable of handling their own situations. While this may be interpreted as our ‘bratty’ sides, the source of this trait is the lifestyle we have had. Army officers are often posted in remote areas where they may or may not be allowed to bring their families with them. If not allowed to, the family stays separated from the officer. In this case, it becomes imperative that the lady of the house and the kids handle the household, finances, and everything else all by themselves for they mostly have no other support. Army brats have a tendency to adapt to the responsibilities they have been entrusted with and go with the flow. Independence and abundant confidence become by- products of such situations. Therefore, our independent streak is a result of our upbringing, and not just our choices or character.
This life isn’t convenient for us.
Army brats often become the butt of jokes wherein it is claimed that they are lucky enough to have a very comfortable and privileged life. Yes, we have Sahayak bhaiyyas to assist us and gypsys for conveyance, but this life that we lead is by no means an easy one. We have had to face troubled times and disturbing periods, especially during War times. Kids have to stay away from their father for months or even years at a stretch and the constant shifting to new places is not a smooth ride. Transition periods are tough, and adjustment is difficult. At various places, we do not have the so called ‘luxuries’ or even basic facilities of regular water, electricity or fresh food. So it may be easy to judge or comment, but the Army brat life is not always a joy ride.
We are always connected.
Two Army brats keeping no contact but meeting after years altogether, will still be the best of friends. Even before we had Facebook and WhatsApp binding us together, we knew how to be in touch with our old buddies or at least know of their welfare through complicated networks of people. As was said before, we are a large family and we accept each other despite everything we go through. It’s actually endearing how warm and welcoming even strangers can be within this culture.
We are harbingers of ‘jugaad’
The Army brat lot is an inquisitive one. We have had crazy places to go to (Yol, Leh, Kupwara, Wellington), where one had to learn neat tips and tricks to achieve what he/she wished for. We know unlimited ice- breaking games, we know how to sneak in random things (nothing illegal, please!), and even treat 25 people to Aloo Parathas at 1 am. The things that other kids learnt in hostels (like making Maggie with an iron or in hot water kettles), we learnt way back in our pre-teen years. We can find out the whereabouts of a long lost friend faster than any GPS or Social media app in the world; our connections and networks are just that strong. So the next time, you wish to learn something new and fun, you know whom to approach. See you!