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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Life as an Army Officer's Wife



My first impression was of the green lawns lined precisely by those white and red painted bricks and the unending lines of the three tonners and two tonners. This was a world alien to me. This was the OG world to which my husband belonged. Coming from an entirely civil background, I had no clue as to what I had let myself in for. And my husband had done nothing to alleviate my ignorance.







When our train reached Jammu, my husband remarked that there might not be anyone to receive us at the station. I smiled wryly. Who did he expect? With the smile of a self-conscious, newly married husband, he scurried out. I scanned the platform to breathe in the place where I was to start married life. My gaze was riveted by the sight of a group of OG uniformed jawans all lined up. A bewildered anticipation welled up in me. My husband re-entered the coach. He had changed from a self-conscious newly married husband into OC, workshop. “These jawans are from my workshop. My CO has sent them and his Jonga to receive us. You must return their greetings appropriately,” he informed and instructed me. My baptisement into army life was beginning.

As the Jonga came to a halt outside the officer’s mess, the whole unit was waiting for us; from where the ragging started. An officer posing as a jawan tried to act fresh with me. But, of course my husband’s concern for the officer gave the game away. Then I was welcomed as a new bride by ceremonies of different states by the ladies. After this there was a small game where, blindfolded, I had to identify my husband’s palm by touch. Providence was on my side that day of my initiation into army life and has been ever since.

Of course, there were the initial teething problems. But on the whole I count myself lucky for having been exposed to this kind of life. At first, I used to feel like a bird that has come in from the wild and been imprisoned. There were so many rules and regulations. All that hierarchy from a second Lt to a Gen-one had to be, oh so careful. But slowly and gradually I learnt to transform my frivolous, college girl attitude into that of an army officer’s wife. This I achieved by my husband’s acute disapproval of anything unbecoming of a lady and by sheer observation of other ladies. I learnt to mix with different kinds of people coming from different social backgrounds from different parts of India.

My major obstacle was my fleeting acquaintance of the language in the fauj-hindi. Hindi spoken in the army has it’s own personality. It carries reminiscences of the British. Besides, it has imbibed the colours and whims of the various states of India. It is a true case of fusion and is rich research material for the linguists. Here my servants came to my help as I spent a substantial part of the day with them (much more than with my family.

Using this language, I learnt to mix with people: some of who were familiar and mostly unfamiliar but friendly. In a gathering, I learnt to acknowledge the presence of everybody on entering and leaving. It may seem ridiculous to mention it, but it is ridiculously conspicuous by its absence in gatherings where people confine themselves to groups. The army is one establishment where one’s social etiquette is honed to perfection. At the base of it all is the cardinal attribute of humility, which one learns due to the system of hierarchy.

Besides humility and good manners, hospitality towards guests (a dying art where T.V serials gain priority over socializing) is very much interwoven in army life. One is bound to bump into an acquaintance due to different postings and because the armed fraternity is after all, a small one. What at first seemed nerve racking and impossible is now a pleasure- entertaining unexpected guests. When a new neighbour arrives and is busy unpacking or an old neighbour has sent off their luggage on being posted out, it is but good sense to ensure they get help and a meal or two. For, after all, all of us face the same situations. And thereby the chain of good samaritanism cannot but grow.

Had I not married into the armed forces, so many creative arts would have bypassed me. At every posting I love the challenge of dressing up a new quarter to suit our personalities. I have dabbled in the arts of gardening, flower arrangement, singing, choreography and public speaking. I believe every woman has an artistic niche in her personality. But how many have the fortune or opportunity to explore it, I wonder.
But most of all, what makes army life a charmed one is the abundance of good humour and good cheer (and here I mean the “spiritless” one.) Here nobody is too old to let down his/her hair if the Queen of Sheba so demands in a Mess party. It does the heart a lot of good to see CO’s and 2IC’s scrambling in the mad rush all around. Midnight raids of newly married couples are a must. And we were delighted not to be spared. Midnight picnics, a sudden outing to see a movie, shopping expeditions in groups, rain dances, beach parties, barbeque parties, dandia discos, Halloween nights, husbands’ nights are all arranged in a jiffy to take off the intense pressures of living in a secluded world.

But life can be very difficult and lonely though; like getting posted to outlandish where you have to live in “bashas”(a makeshift arrangement) with only two three families close by. The whole day is an endless wait: waiting for your husband to return, waiting for your children to return and waiting for your servant to come. There are times when you are settling in a new place and you have no servant; which means one has to double up as the “bai”, chef, gardener, et al. Then when social outings become a compulsion, you have to wear a smile to match the outfit and brave it all as others do. A teaching job with suitable hours is all right. But no woman can seriously think of a 9 to 5 career. The social commitments as an army wife are all encompassing but can be profoundly satisfying depending on which way you look at it. Then there are times when the loneliness stretches over when your husband is away on temporary duty or exercise. But then, of course all the ladies rally around each other as family. The biggest disadvantage of this kind of life is the disruption in the children’s education.

But again one has learnt to cope with it all; because the smallest and most important unit in society :- the family - gets to spend more qualitative time together. We get to see facets in our near ones, which we never would have known existed. We ourselves become enrichened personalities by learning to live in all kinds of situations: in the bush or by a warm hearth. Life is truly a ‘bed in the bush with stars to see………..
This is the life for a (wo)man like me
This is the life forever.’
For me, the pride that I feel as an army officer’s wife is worth all the sacrifices I have had to make. It is a badge of honour I shamelessly flaunt.

Published in Femina (Oct 2000)

(1,263 words)

82 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great article - it gave me a good insight of what one misses in civvie life!

soma jot majumdar said...

next time pls could you leave your name behind. thank you

kavie said...

Hi soma, am into reading every one of ur articles today--- want to tell u---- am mighty impressed. kavie

soma jot majumdar said...

thank you.glad you liked them.

Anjana said...

I was looking for one of my acquaintence by the same name......but then i couldn't stop myself by reading your well written article(s).........
Kudos to you !!!

soma majumdar said...

thank you. its always nice 2 b appreciated. btw did u manage 2 locate ur acquaintance? is she in kol?

troubled said...

nicely expressed :)

mandeep said...

hi dear..although its very hard 2 make such big decisions in life(movin from civilian life to army life)...but ur article is really gr8...quite helpful in making up one's mind

soma majumdar said...

it always feels good to share experiences

soma majumdar said...

hi mandeep
r u plannin on gettin married to the forces

mandeep said...

Yes dear
hes captain(engineers)
my parents were totally against dis...but now after 6 years of long wait dey've finally given there consent..and now i'm worried

soma majumdar said...

ofcourse, ultimately it will be ur own personal decision, based on prevailing situation around you.....
but..... i have said it all in my article and till date, i am happy wid my decision. all the best!

Anonymous said...

Hi mam,

I am also panning to get married to an army officer .. can u please guide me??

soma majumdar said...

hey its all there in the article...after 13 years of marriage i am still in love with my husband and the armed forces....what else do you want...

Anonymous said...

Wonderful and very well-written! Can you please also give us an insight of the various ceremonies carried in the social circle of army... like Dining in , call on , officers call, and many others.... what is all about and... when should we expect them.. and how should an army officer's wife behave during such ceremonies....

kabita said...

M also planning 2 become an officer's wife if i didn't become an army officer.

soma said...

all the best to you....be prepared to become an enrichened person...

Aisha said...

Wow..the article was excellent!!
Mam, I am dating a army officer but I am a career oriented girl and am averse to a very binding life...but have always loved the army....and he is a great guy.Even though I love the challenges of army life, my career is my way of contributing to my nation..u think can manage both..?Please advise//

Anonymous said...

good article and very well written...makes my nervousness go away a little bit as I am in the same position- a civilian about to get married to an army officer in 6 mnths time!!!

Anonymous said...

the article is very well written Mam. I totally can identify with you as iam planning on marrying a major in d army and coming from a civil mumbai background, ive been totally spoilt and pampered. have a good career in HR too.. but sumtimes think is it all really worth it? the loneliness, financial pangs and childs education.. im a bit confused. can give me some pointers plss?

Divya said...

i happened to read your article today ma'am and it has definitely given me an insight into what i am headed for in a a couple of months...it would be great to get in touch with you

soma said...

thx all

Anonymous said...

Hi Mam,
Nice Artical.
I'm get married in Nov wth army officer. I'm so nervous...
Dnt kno wat will hapen wth me?
ur arti.gives me some idea abt army life der manners.
- Patil.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mam,
Good artical.
I want 2 know dat it is must dat u have 2 speak English if u r wife of Army officer?
coz i'm get married wth army officer bt i cant speak english very fluently i'm from a marathi school mean totally marathi background. jus coz of dis i'm so nervous.
Mam plz help n tell me.

soma said...

hi annonymous, dont worry at all...the army fraternity is a mixed lot...u wld be far more comfortable in hindi, trust me, thats more popular in the fauj...and as to manners n etiquette, there is nothing like observation n imitation with a lil help from husband n the ladies in the unit...

soma said...

@divya, you can get in touch with me at
somajm@gmail.com

babita said...

Hi,
Enjoyed it thoroughly---I am a thoroughbred Fauji--daughter , wife and sister of faujis--and like u bloged--am proud of it all.
From the time i was wedded to a fauji--it has been a rollercoaster for me---and beliv me when i say--i enjoyed my self to the hilt---right from the flower arrangements to the time he took PMR. I miss it all now--but have no regrets --and can say proudly---once a fauji--always a fauji---
Am doing something i am passionate about--HR--and am enjoying it thoroughly!!
ciao and goodluck

Ateet Gupta said...

Hello mam......it was so nice to read this blog of yours....i am at a very crucial point of my career....i have got a job in IBM but somewhere down the corner I am so attracted towards this green dress and respected life.....i have some doubts and it will be great if you can clarify them.....I have heard that army life is monotonous....after a point of time you get bored of all the things happening around......but u hav no option but continue your journey....is it true......pls tell me....if thats not the truth I am all up for this wonderful experience.

Anonymous said...

Hey awesome article ,my boyfriend is in indian army and soon we will get marry this article helps my out.......thanks alot....god bless.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mam,
It was very nice reading your article. I am at a very crucial point in my career now. I am an MBA graduate student from USA. I have been working here in US from past 1 year and from childhood I have imagined a very good career for me here in US. But I am going to get married to an Army Officer in another 6-7 months. I will have to quit my job here and move to India which is sad but at the same time I do not want to give up my career in India even after getting married to an army officer. Can you please suggest me something on this. Thank You very much!!

soma said...

hi.....
nowadays there r lots of options.....i can only speak from my experiences....i feel if u r good at your job, pick up the skills, make your firm believe u r an asset to them...u can always opt out for a work online opportunity with the same firm since u know their style of working....maybe it wld entail a paid for trip once in a while...secondly, in india too there r lots of opportunities...once u get posted to a gd station, get urself a gd job, make urself an asset to the firm so that when u move they offer u a work from home opportunity....SIMPLE ISNT IT?
but in the end its yoyr choice....the army is all about prioritizing.....u have to set ur priorities, be ready to observe, learn n grow...:)

geeta said...

Hi,
This is such inspirable article for me,because i am getting married to an army officer.

Thank You!

soma said...

hey geeta....glad i could be of some help....all the best!!

skalsang said...

Hey soma...you just made ma day..so before talking to you long....let me introduce my self.m lobsang..23 yrs old..doing ma masters in buddhism studies in ceylon...am from ladakkh(jammu n kashmir).my boyfriend is also an army officer and we have been dating from past 6 yrs and i will a member of indian army family soon...soma thanks alot for sharing all your deep feelings and no doubt your words are too touching and ur experiences are too real...i hope many more to hear from you.....

always keep smiling and stay blessed.
lobsaang

rimmi said...

hi
am going to be an army wife, i am completely aware about their frequent relocations,but at the same time i am interested to work, could anyone suggest wat all possible jobs are there for a gal with management background.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. My dad was in the army. I miss the army life. If one wants to have fun and make lifelong friends, join the army; true camaraderie.
However, getting into the civil one realizes how much out of touch one has been with reality, mostly for army officer's children, who have only seen the army life: posh messes, open spaces(no greedy builders vying for every inch of the land), well dressed people, excellent etiquette, golf courses, all possible sports, well maintained roads etc. You can see the difference by entering a cantonment from a civil area. It is a different class.

ankush said...

hello ma'am
my husband is in indian navy,
it has been more than a year since my marriage. i am a doctor myself,
but sadly i want to have my own life and my own identity. i do not wish to be solely mrs so and so,wife of surg lt. so and so. the forced social gatherings are hindering my own studies. is it so bad if i wish to have my own career,if i have my own dreams? my husband has no problems with whatever i do,and i do attend my guests well. the biggest problem is parties and nwwa functionns. the seniors are always compelling to attend these gatherings. there should be some flexibility. to be very frank and without any offense, these parties are mere occasions for gossips and show off of designer clothes and expensive jwellery. i just feel out of the place. should not we, women move a little byond that?

ambika said...

hello ma'am..i am going to get married with an indian navy officer.but there is a big confusion in my ming regarding the life gonna be after marriage.your article helped me a lot to give an idea.but is there a big difference in being a navy officers wife then that of army.wil it be easy to transform from a civil to naval force environment.if u can give me the idea about a navy officers wife through your contacts in this area.then please help me out.i am so much confused. thnk you ..
Ambika rathore

shilpa said...

hi.
i am really thankful to you as you have helped me overcome that fear of loosing my identity as i knew that post marriage i will have to sacrifice my career as a C.A. Although i was sort of prepared for it but half heartedly but now I am all set to step into the new phase of life with a whole new sight.

hema said...

Hi,
This artical is amazingly good,being an Army Officer's wife I actually felt it while reading,it recalled all my memorable days..

soma said...

thank you hema...the main idea for my writing these experiences is to share them.....

Lakshmi -Celebrations said...

Amazingly written article.it just took me through your journey...lovely

navdeep said...

hiii i am a gentlemen cadet at IMA ...will goin to be married soon...can u suggest me, as a officer how would i make ma wife happy....!!!1

soma said...

@navdeep...have a permanent servant/ cook....who travels with you from posting to posting....will save ur wife a lot of headaches and she will love u for it...trust me....:)

soma said...

@ankush....did u never once think that marrying an army officer is marrying an institution as well as a person...u have to respect both, for you to be happy and only after that can u make others around u happy...

shalini said...

touched the common strings!!

indu uniyal said...

hello ma'am,

I really loved the blog,being a army officer's wife myself i was able each and every word of it..thanx a lot for sharing .

regards
Indu Uniyal.

punjabi baaz said...

very nice post maa'm...

Deepika said...

Hi..I am married to an army officer n it's been one year.i have also come from civil background n learning lots of things over here.m very happy and proud of being an army officer's wife. DEEPIKA

rahul said...

hi maam.it was a gud article...im sure all army wives relate to that.

Anonymous said...

hi....my story is different...iam from civil background married to an officer...its been 6 months..it is becoming a hard task to please all the senior ladies...iam confused and stressed...no one to guide,m sick of all protocols that are being followed.iam academically very sound,energetic..iam depressed and feel soooo bad to see my loving husband bothered by my tensions...
another bad day

Anonymous said...

unfortunately this is another side of the army people dont know of and it's nice to give both sides of the story and not mislead people eg.being able to work if in good station ...how many good stations does an average officer get posted to which has good opportunities for work ?

Anonymous said...

Very nice post.....Its true dat we army wives sacrifice a lot in our life,but its an honour to be the love and life of our men,who loves us more than anythng else till their last breathe.

Anonymous said...

hello maa'm, my marriage is almost fixed with an officer(Major)...i was(still iam) clueless about the army life(i am from a civillian background), but ur post had given me some info about the do's & dont do's, still there is more i wish to know... the biggest problem for me r the parties. i am not at all into these parties; r attending these parties a must? i have also heard about senior officers misbehaving & all, is it true? r the wives allowed to skip these parties? Plzz help me...

soma said...

..look no one life is perfect...there are ups n downs everywhere...i wish those of you who are wedding or to wed the olives, pls do not mix up marriage with lifestyle...your first priority should always be the man who you are planning to spend the rest of your life with!...how much you can accept his profession and lifestyle is surely up-to you...you can look at it as a glass half filled with water or half empty: that has to be your perspective/ vision/ attitude/ expectations of MARRIED LIFE.

Vijaita said...

hello mam,
I am in love (madly!! :)) past 4.5 years with a beautiful person who is supposedly an army officer!! well, this actually adds up to his charm.

Now the problems I ll be facing:
1) I am a civiie and a fresh college pass out. I fear how I ll drop out that casual behaviour.

2) the most important part-- I have just completed my engineering and will be joining Infosys in january. I wish to work, also I wish to be with him. But that i suppose is going to be difficult!!

Could you please suggest something. . .

Regards and lots of smiles!!
Vijaita Thakur

Narayani Karthik said...

Enjoyed reading this post as I myself am married to an army officer. Am yet to enter the unit life, as my husband is currently serving in RR. But it felt so good reading your article....I had written on similar theme a few months back, hope you would like to check out - http://narayanikarthik.blogspot.com/2011/06/snippet-from-diaries-of-army-officers.html

By the way, keep blogging.....
Cheers & God bless...!!

Aditya Singh said...

Fantastic post. Thank you for writing this. Lovely.

Anonymous said...

great post.PlEASE reply to vijaita's query :) am in a similar situation

soma said...

@vijaita n annonymous,
look the thing is....marriage is a very personal decision as I have already mentioned..it is upto to u to decide which is more imporatant a few years of extreme career oriented life or a lifetime of companiopnship...the latter is what my experience of the army has been.....all that i can say is ..pick up that job...be prepared to stay apart for a while....and then ask ur firm to make ur job an online one...in todays world of globalisation n internet connections, anything is possible....but in the end it has to be your call...

Anonymous said...

splendidly written web log ma'am :)
hope to experience this kind of a life v soon:)

Anonymous said...

splendid written web log ma'am:)loved reading it:)hope to experience this kind of a life v sooon :)

Anonymous said...

Very Nicely written! Have been an army wife for the past 8 years...have had my own ups n downs........but would never exchange this life for anything else.
-aditi

Anonymous said...

hello mam,
your article is really good.i'm getting married to naval officer.i 'm very shy.i don't like attending parties and all.but i love my officer and i don't want to make him sad because of me.but i don't like all this show off.and you have to please senior officer's wife.what's that mam? isn't it bad?how can one use her husband reputation to make fun of others?help me mam.what should i do?

nitti007 said...

hello mam,
That ws such a wonderful post.. i loved reading it.. i am a naval officer's kid and i cud actually relate this article to my mom's life.. i have a handfull of relatives and cousin's frm our family serving in the armed forces, i hope i cn maintain the trend by joining the army.. like yourself, evn i take immense pride in d fact dat i belong to defence background.. i wish u all the best fr ur lyf ahead..

nav said...

Hi Soma, your article is amazing, I have finished my master degree in biotechnology from Canada and I am working as junior scientist at Toronto cancer research centre.I really want to marry an Indian army officer and want to live a life like you.The problem I am facing is my parents thinks that army officers are very rude and have some attitude and the second problem is my parents do not have contacts with anyone who is serving army. Tried many matrimony sites but all from defence are there to chit chat no one is serious :(. I think you r so lucky to have the pride.

Rishi Nigz said...

Hey.. very nice blog. You know why I wanted to know this.. I am a young guy preparing for army job. One one of my deepest concern is what will be the life of my GF (would be wife, i wish) if I got into army. Crazy reason to read this blog, I know. But I got a great insight. Thanks.

Trupti Vabale said...

this is such an awesome blog , loved it! often I and my army boyfriend have talked about this life and how all together a new experience it would be .

Sneh Sharma said...

Dear Ma'am,

Great content and its more interesting to know your deep intent in reading through the comments and responding to them personally. I am soon going to be a navy wife myself and have been progressing strong on my career. Although, we will be stationed at a metro city and hence there will not be any immediate challenges. But again I wanted to understand that how tough does it really get for 9 to 5 working officer's wives!
I would like to plan and be prepared for life ahead.
Regards,
Sneh

soma said...

things are changing everywhere and within the forces too...lifestyles, that is. people are more open to the idea of working army wives. Having said that, it really depends on the kind of person your CO's wife is...whether she is understanding or not..

Anonymous said...

Woww... Well one thing I have realized after reading this blog is that we all have so much in common. So much to learn from each others experiences. Very nice blog and the biggest success factor is that it has got all of us together. Being an army(infantry) officer's wife and a career woman myself I am planning to write a blog to help the ladies who have raised some questions/aspiration/dilemmas in this blog.

pratibha said...

Hi maam it ws a real nice article ,i m married to an army officer n m going to join him in coming month pls guide me so dat i can prepare myself.....

pratibha said...

Hi mam
M married to an army ofcr n soon m going tojoin him on his posting place for d first time
Pls guide me...
Regards...

madhu solanki said...

Hie!Thnx fr ur article lady... Thnx alot!
M gng to marry an officer.. U made clear ol my doubts!
Wonderful article!! <3 :-)

nidhi said...

hello mam,
i m a dentist and i m love wid an army officer i really wnt to marry him bt der r certain problems. After marriage i wnt to stay wid him n i also wnt to continue my practice. can u pls help me wat career should i opt to b wid him n cope up wid changing postings...

ankita singh said...

Hi Soma,

I was jus doing random search and got your article....nyc one ...finely written... I am gonna marry a captain in jan next year. I am right now working and don wanna loose my carrier....We both have discussed this many times but not able to decide anything :( ....I don have any work from home thing in my office...even if its dere, its only for a week or so not permanently....
I don wanna stay away from him as well...I jus hope everything jus work out well....hoping for the best...

Abhishek Senapati said...

Lovely Article..beeing an army officer's son, i could very easily relate the paragraphs to my mother..

anu said...

Hi Soma,

I am in a relationship with a guy for last 7 years who has recently completed his training and has been allotted Infantry as his arms. My parents agreed to get me married to this guy if he doesn't gets into some supportive arms.I need my parent's consent for marrying him.
pls. advice is it possible that he can change his arms. I really want to marry this guy. Please reply to this post.

soma said...

hi all,

first n foremost its really your decision and your husband's: whether you want to spend your entire life with each other...

after that other decisions are easier to make...life itself is an experience...you dont know what it holds for you...
so is marriage....so is life as an army wife...

there are politics in civil, corporate life...but if you are in the civil corporate set up,
it is your innate survival instinct and an acquired maturity which helps you deal with it....

in the army, the challenges are different...."attending parties", as you call it...when people mention it they mean nothing than
social ettiquette....if you are apprehensive of honing yourself into a polished, refined, mature lady...then i suggest this is not your kind of life..
but all this is not a conscious, overnight thing...sometimes there may be personality clashes with senior ladies...that is human dynamics..
you can't expect every human you meet to be oozing with the milk of human kindness...:)...

my husband will be retiring within a few months....and it is impossible for me to visualize life after that...
but in this life there are some bonds which are so strong, it is these association n interaction with these people
that make it so special and that will stay forever....these bonds , sometimes are stronger than even family ones...
the bonds with your husbands coursemates and their families...ask your fiance..

career, you can pick up as you go along as and when....online opportunities, flexible timings, are somethings you should look out for...
why not regular jobs too...your potential employer will sit up and notice you first among interviewees as an army
wife stands for discipline, values of honesty, sincerity and one with lots of HR experiences as you learn to handle so many
different personalities..

viji said...

Ma'am, first of all, I'd like to appreciate your article, I just enjoyed reading it :-) , it's written very beautifuly. My boyfriend is a Captain in the Indian Army and all I can say is that he's the best guy I've ever known. He is so very loving, supporting and pampering, but very smart, hard working and self diciplined when it comes to his profession. His nature and attitude, made me choose him over some IIT graduates and NRIs. We talk a lot about his work and his life in the army and I've something new to learn everyday and he is really supportive. It's not an easy thing to be an Army girlfriend and there are times when you really feel lonely and frustrated, but I must say that being with him, I've developed a lot of patience and become really mature(though I am still in college and pursuing LAW). I used to think about my career a lot but with this person, I've set my priorities and nothing is above him. I got to learn a lot about Army life as my roommate is also from Army background. It surely is very different from normal civil life and also don't expect your partner to be like regular guys who are working in Corporate Atmosphere. You really need to be very patient and very supportive. And trust me, if you're blessed with a good partner, he'll be there to support you in every 'lil thing. So nothing to be nervous about :-) . All the best to everyone who is going to marry an Officer :-)

Ashim said...

Hey! that was a well explained article! Gave a good idea aboout the family life of an officer in the indian army! thanks a ton! :)

Anonymous said...

Some things form a splendid impression up on u when u read a perspective of life like this. Eagerly waiting for the year when I would be in your place looking at life the way u mentioned it to be.