"Army Days Vol. 2"
Post on: August 23, 2018
Every 18-year old male goes through this rite of passage. It’s a transformation where boys become men. Yeah, I am talking about National Service where one has to soldier on for two years before he embarks on his tertiary education or working career.
It is a real wonder how the army can transform a “fresh-out-of-school” boy into a man proficient in soldering skills and a leader within months. Such is the intensity of training and a belief in every individual, regardless of where he comes from.
In fact, the army is a great leveller of social status — you are treated the same whether your dad is a business magnate or a humble cobbler.
I bring you some terms which might be amusing and yet informative to those who have yet to be enlisted or are exempted.
Army phrases and lingos:
1. How many Crabs does he have? — Well, it doesn’t mean the soldier is about to relish on a seafood chilli crab meal. It simply means a question is asked to determine the soldier’s rank. The question is usually reserved for senior officers holding the rank of a “Major” and above.
2. Water parade — This is to prevent heat exhaustion and is strictly enforced. This is done usually before and after a physical activity. A recruit has to consume adequate water and the Corporal personally ensures that it is adhered to during the “parade”.
3. Sign extra — Soldiers hate this term. When you sign extra, you are not autographing your memoirs. It means you are signing for additional duties as a form of punishment. And the extra duty usually falls on a weekend when your buddies have booked out.
4. Standby Bed — It is an inspection whereby the corporal checks on your wardrobe and bed. Not forgetting the general cleanliness of the vicinity. The inspection is benign in nature compared to No. 5
5. Standby Universe – This inspection encompasses stand by the bed, standby bunk, standby field equipment etc. It is a very thorough inspection and the term itself instils fear. This is usually reserved as a form of punishment and is uncommon.
6. Ninja – This denotes a soldier who disappears suddenly when there is work to be done.
7. Lao Jiao – This denotes someone who is proficient in his field of work, commonly known as an “old bird”.
8. Keng King – A soldier who reports sick frequently and deemed a malingerer. He thus escapes training.
9. Regular – This is interesting. It does not refer to the McDonalds Coke where it can be regular in size or “upsized”. Rather, it refers to a soldier who has made the military his career.
10. 5BX – It is the term for the 5 basic exercise conducted every morning. This is a routine during one’s “recruit days” and is very effective in building stamina and muscles. Exercises include push-ups and sit-ups.
Well, there are many stories and proliferation of movies made about army days. Yet we all can’t get enough of it. For those enlisting soon, be prepared physically and mentally. It may sound cliché, but let me reiterate: “Tough times never last, but tough people do.”
One thing never changed. A soldier goes through the training with grit and tends to tease and at the same time, encourage his predecessors once he’s assimilated back into civilian life. My siblings who have served before me, delight in the hackneyed expression, “The training during your days are so “senang” (easy). Back in my time, it was so demanding that we became tough as nails…” I completed my national service in the 90s — and not to be outdone, I use the same phrase on my nephews who are currently serving.
Such anecdotes resonate with all national servicemen and it’s something we all can relate to. Serve with pride and a positive attitude. Army days is a defining period for the enlistees. Amidst all the rigours and regimental life, there is much fun and valuable lessons we can bring back to our civilian life.
As the saying goes, “If you think you can, you are right; If you think you can’t, you are right too”. In line with this, my Encik (Warrant Officer) always unleashes his favourite catchphrase when the going gets tough, “Can Do”!
The Jolly Good times hopes you had a glimpse of army life. We will come up with more terms and real-life anecdotes. Share with your kakis – Invite them to Like us on Facebook.
By Shaji Thomas Varughese
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