Something Special : The Indian Army Way

Something Special : The Indian Army Way

This video is a great tribute to our soldiers and is worth watching, especially on the Valentine’s day.  Do not be surprised, it has come from Malabar Gold, a jewellery chain in Kerala.  The animation is excellent with apt scripting.  It depicts how a senior army  officer would advice a young officer in a situation like this.  It celebrates the bonding and bonhomie among officers of the Indian Army.  In fact, it is a real motivational video.

After watching this TV commercial, I reminisced about my Commanding Officer days in 2002.  Our Regiment was deployed in Rajasthan sector for operations since January.  After I took over command in June, I realised most young officers, especially the newly married ones had not been home to look up their wives.  Leave for everyone in the army was curtailed and could only be sanctioned in extreme emergencies only.

After taking over command, I had to travel to Devlali, our permanent peacetime location, to carryout documentation procedures.  I was accorded permission by our higher Headquarters to move out of the sector for a week.  I took this opportunity, rather misinterpreted the orders knowingly, to take our two young Captains with me as my staff officers – Adjutant and Quartermaster – to facilitate various documentation.

We three booked our tickets to travel by train from Jodhpur – Captain Subhash  to Devlali as his wife was stationed there and Captain Mitra to Ahmadabad, Gujarat, which fell enroute.  Mrs Mitra was living with her parents there.  I was booked for Devlali as Marina had by then emigrated to Canada.

The train was scheduled to stop at Ahmadabad by daybreak.  Subhash called up Mrs Mitra instructing her to prepare breakfast for the Commanding Officer and him and carry it along.  He also did not forget to add an advisory note that the Commanding Officer was a connoisseur of good food and so it got to be good.

Half an hour before the train was to pull into Ahmadabad Station, Mitra woke us up with a cup of hot tea and with the best smile he could portray.  That was when the ‘devil’ in me worked overtime.  I asked Mitra to step out of the train – not on to the platform side, but to the opposite side.  Subhash was to meet Mrs Mitra at the platform and break the ‘sad’ news that the leave of Mitra was cancelled by the Commanding Officer on the eleventh hour due to unforeseen operational requirements.  I was to walk in then to meet Mrs Mitra for the first time.

After the train came to a halt everything proceeded as planned.  She was waiting on the platform next to our coach with her dad, all smiling and eager to meet her husband who was away for the past six months.  The moment Subhash broke the ‘sad’ news, I walked in to meet them.  I could now see the dark clouds of sadness layering over her smiling face.  Rather it was as if the arc light bright face now had a fused bulb look.  Her father was comforting her by reasoning out that her husband is on an important national duty and would be with her shortly.

I apologised to her that I had to cancel Mitra’s leave and he would be sent on leave home surely after two months.  Mrs Mitra was surely not hearing me – she gave a dazzled blank look.  Subhash now grabbed the breakfast hamper from her saying “He has not come, but we can have the breakfast.  Haven’t you brought it for us?”

The train blew its whistle to indicate that it was leaving the station.  We thanked them and got into the train and stood in the doorway, waving goodbye.

Wishing all the couples Happy Valentine Day.

Falling in love is like looking at the stars. If you pick one among the billions and stare at it long enough all the others will melt away.

Canada’s War Museum

war museum

The first time we visited Ottawa, the Canadian capital, was in 2009, five years after landing in Canada. Being a soldier, I was very much impressed with the Canadian War Museum, especially as to how it serves to remind us of the sacrifices of soldiers across the globe and also sensitises us about the immense calamity any war can have on the civilisation. In 2014, Guillaume Le Floch, the French exchange student came to stay with us and we all visited the capital city and obviously we visited the War Museum once again.

Canadian War Museum was established 1880 in Ottawa to pay tributes to the men and women who endured the tests of war. Today the museum stands as a gratitude for the service and sacrifice of Canadians soldiers. The new, modern building, commissioned in 2005 on its 125th anniversary and the sixtieth anniversary of the end of WWII., emerges from the ground and rises progressively higher at its eastern end, closest to Parliament Hill. Its textured concrete walls and roof are somewhat reminiscent of a bunker, while a partially grass-covered roof is consistent with the Museum’s theme of regeneration and its environmental friendly design.

The museum also provides an evolving searchable catalogue of its collections. Types of artifacts found in the database include archaeological specimens, aboriginal arts and artifacts, folk art, furniture, war art, military objects, glass, porcelain, textiles and much more. This catalogue now contains more than 240,000 objects and is growing to include more than a million artifacts held with the museum.

Much of the Museum’s public exhibition space is devoted to its Canadian Experience Galleries. These displays underline the profound effect that war has had on Canada’s development and the significant role Canadians have played in international conflicts. Their content is a rich mixture of some 2,500 objects from war art to armoured vehicles, as well as scores of audio-visual displays and many hands-on activities.

The first gallery introduces the concept of war and its relevance to Canadians and Canada. Visitors explore the Canadian experience of conflict from aboriginal warfare and post European contact and the Northwest Resistance of 1885.

The second gallery covers the South African War (1899-1902) or, as it is also known, the Boer War, where more than 7,000 Canadians, including 12 women nurses participated. This war marked Canada’s first official dispatch of troops to an overseas war. This gallery also houses exhibits from the First World War. During World War I, Canada was a self-governing dominion of the British Empire, with its own foreign affairs. In 1910, the then Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier declared that “when Britain is at war, Canada is at war. There is no distinction.” Some 619,000 Canadians, about 7% of the population, had enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force for service overseas.

The third gallery explores Canada’s fight against dictatorships overseas during the Second World War. The gallery introduces the visitor to the oppressive and aggressive dictatorships of the 1930s, and the mounting pressure for a strong response from the rest of the world. Britain’s declaration of war did not automatically commit Canada, as had been the case in World War I. The government and people were united in support of Britain and France. After Parliament debated the matter, Canada declared war on Germany on 10 September 1939. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King promised that only volunteers would serve overseas.  In the beginning Canada was unprepared for such a large scale war.  The regular army of 4500 men, augmented by 51,000 partly-trained reservists were deployed and was surely a modest beginning. The Second World War fundamentally changed Canada. Canada experienced industrial transformation and a booming economy during the war. New technologies and manufacturing principles produced enormous quantities of military supplies. By 1942, there was full employment as hundreds of thousands of Canadian men and women found work in war industries. As a result of its enormous military contribution during the war, Canada also became recognized as an important and assertive international actor, increasingly pursuing its own path in foreign policy.

The fourth gallery showcases The Cold War, Peacekeeping, and Recent Conflicts, 1945 to the present.  Canada became a respected international player through its commitments to Western defence and peacekeeping. The first Peacekeeping force consisted of Canadians to resolve the 1956 Suez Crisis.  Lester B. Pearson, the then Foreign Minister, who later became prime minister of Canada, won a Nobel Peace Prize for using the world’s first, large-scale United Nations peacekeeping force to de-escalate the situation. Since then, there was hardly a peacekeeping mission till date that did not have Canadian participation.

The LeBreton Gallery houses the Military Technology collection and is a diverse collection of vehicles, artillery and other large artifacts that tell the personal stories of war, from the eighteenth century to the present.

The Memorial Hall located in the Museum’s spacious foyer, is a space for quiet remembrance and personal contemplation. The concrete walls, grooved with large, offset rectangles, are reminiscent of the rows of white grave markers in Allied war cemeteries. The lone artifact is the headstone from the grave of Canada’s Unknown Soldier from the First World War, a simple bench the only furniture. Sunlight through the Hall’s only window directly illuminates the headstone every Remembrance Day, 11 November, at precisely 11 am, the moment the Great War ended in 1918.

The Regeneration Hall is a narrow, soaring hall with angled walls and a narrow triangular window that frames the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill. There is the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower that houses seven Books of Remembrance which record the names of the men and women who have given their lives in military service to Canada. (Please click to read my earlier blog). The hall is a representation of hope for a better future. High narrow windows spell out in the dots and dashes in Morse Code which stands for “Lest We Forget” and “N’oublions jamais”.

The Royal Canadian Legion Hall of Honour explores Canada’s long history of honouring individuals; how Canadians have remembered and commemorated their military past. Through personal stories, photographs, art and artifacts, this gallery shares the earliest forms of honouring through burial, painting or dance, to the erection of national monuments.

The Military History Research Centre has a comfortable main reading room. An Archives Reading Room is also available for researchers accessing archival documents, photographs and rare books. The staff is always available to assist you with research, answer any questions, and assist in accessing the collections.

“Spitfire Dance”, a dramatic musical entertainment in two acts, is staged by the War Museum. The musical is accompanied by World War II era songs, and it tells the stories of pioneer female aviators of the Royal Canadian Air Force, their courage, their daring and their frustrations. It is a memorial for all those women who dared compete in that most male of establishments of the time – aviation.

Every nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that none can ever repay. The only way they can is to remember them, cherish them and honour their sacrifice. I conclude with the first four lines from Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, written in September 1914.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Voice Modulation

Margaret Thatcher

Voice modulation is very important, especially to make any presentation or a speech impressive. The best method to achieve it is to undergo a bit of voice training and the easiest way is to attend a few lessons on vocal music, either Western, Hindustani or Carnatic. Our daughter Nidhi had undergone training in all the three and our son Nikhil was reluctant to do so. His clichéd excuse was that vocal music is not that ‘manly’ . His ideas about vocal music training changed after we watched the movie ‘The Iron Lady’, a biographical movie about Ms Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of UK.

Ms Thatcher realised that her voice was a bit ‘screechy’ and was deemed a problem when she first wanted to run for Parliament election. Women’s voices, especially shouting at the top of their voices in any parliament, has always been accused for being too shrill. The movie shows her undergoing vocal training to reduce the shrillness of her voice to her optimum pitch and improve the projection of her voice. Improvement in both of these areas removed much of her shrillness and gave her voice a better projection and thus better impact.

Bingo! after the movie Nikhil enrolled for the vocal music lesson and did about a dozen classes. His voice modulation improved tremendously and after a few months he asked me as to how I knew that vocal music training would help. I said “fools learn from their mistakes, wise ones learn from others’ mistakes and idiots will never learn. Your dad was a fool and you need to be wiser”.

Here are excerpts of the Valedictory Address by Nikhil in Grade 8 (before vocal training) and Graduation Breakfast Address in Grade 12 (after vocal training)

Decades of research have established that musical training has profound impact on the development of the brain. Many language skills, from reading to speech perception and production, rely upon phonological awareness, the explicit knowledge of the components of speech and how they can be combined.   Phonological awareness, in turn, relies upon the ability to categorize speech sound which are distinguished by small differences in timing and frequency content. Audiovisual processing is seen to be much enhanced in musicians’ brains compared to their non-musician counterparts.  Musicians are more sensitive to subtle changes in both speech and music sounds.

When children start studying music before the age of seven, they develop bigger vocabularies, a better sense of grammar and a higher verbal IQ. These advantages benefit both the development of their mother tongue and the learning of foreign languages. During these crucial years, the brain is at its sensitive development phase, with 95% of the brain’s growth occurring now. Music training started during this period also boosts the brain’s ability to process subtle differences between sounds and assist in the pronunciation of languages – and this gift lasts for life.  It has been found that adults who had musical training in childhood still retain this ability to learn foreign languages quicker and more efficiently than adults who did not have early childhood music training.

How is music training going to develop one into a good speaker?

In order to get your ideas across well, captivate an audience, command or persuade your team to achieve a goal, it is important to modulate your voice to suit the occasion. In all these situations, your voice plays an important role in making a meaningful impact on your listeners.

Everyone would like to listen to a confident and inspiring voice. A good voice is one that is easy to listen to and it would command the attention of the listeners, influence and inspire them. A good voice is a great tool in communicating any messages clearly, whenever or wherever one is.

Most speakers, however good they are, shy away from listening to their own voices. One got to accept one’s voice, but also realise that there is always scope for training. The aim of such training should be to develop some simple vocal skills to help you sound more confident and interesting.

Speed of the delivery of the speech, mostly too fast, causes strain to the listeners and results in loosing focus. The speed of your delivery is mostly dictated by your nervousness; more nervous you are, faster you speak. This results in loosing track of your thoughts and makes you mumble a few words and often results in a monotonous and uninspiring speech. To control the speed of your delivery, pause for a second or two after your first sentence. This allows the audience time to adjust to your voice and take in what you have just said. A good way to practise getting used to pausing is to read out aloud a from a newspaper or a book. When you get to a full stop make sure that you pause two or three seconds before moving on to the next sentence.

Most audiences get put-off by a dull and uninspiring speaker with a monotonous voice, a voice that is too quiet or a voice that lacks emphasis. You need to speak with energy and enthusiasm if you want your audience to listen to every word. If the audience cannot hear you, they will switch off very quickly. To avoid this you do not have to shout but you need to project your voice by emphasising the key words in the sentences. This will help you to project energy and passion into your voice and your voice will sound stronger and more confident. Emphasising words also tends to lift the pitch in your voice so that it is no longer monotonous but more varied and interesting to listen to. Select any text, underline the key words and read it aloud to practice emphasising these key words.

An expert voice coach can help you to discover your true voice; develop your own vocal strengths and thus communicate with greater influence in all situations. This is where the basics of classical music comes in to help you modulate your voice.

It is not too late for anyone to undergo a few vocal music lessons. The least one can do is to ensure that the generations to come are put through some vocal music lessons.

Canadian Winters with Scary Freezing Rains

Freezing Rain

While beautiful to look at, freezing rain is one of the most hazardous types of winter precipitation. Accumulations of a tenth of an inch of freezing rain may not sound significant, but is more than enough to break a few branches on the trees, bring down power lines (and cause power outages), and cause sleet on road surfaces.

During the scary freezing rain, the entire area is paved in a sheet of ice at about minus ten degrees Celsius.  This is hazardous, especially  for the morning commuters, resulting in many accidents on the roads and highways.  The drivers of the cars parked in the open find it difficult to even open their car’s doors as they either slip on the glass surfaced floor or the doors are jammed by the freezing ice.  These drivers first have to scrape off the ice from the doors and windshields and then drive on glass like roads.

The public transport is also affected as the drivers are extra cautious and driving slow on the icy roads.  It is compounded by many non-functioning traffic lights due to power outages.  The street cars (trams) are delayed due to ice forming on overhead power lines.  The trains are delayed, mostly due to failure of the signalling systems.  In effect, most people on a  freezing rain day reach their offices late.

Over a hundred flights are cancelled and many delayed due to the freezing rain.  The landing and taxiing surfaces have to be cleared of the ice regularly, causing major delays.  The de-icing activity has to be carried out on all aircrafts prior to take-off, contributing to further delay.

The problem of ice forming over the wings and tail of the aircrafts is a major concern as it adversely affects the performance of the aircraft, especially at take-off due to reduced lift. This ice has to be removed and the airports in Canada are equipped with deicers. These are vehicles that spray a mixture of a glycol and water, heated and sprayed under pressure, to remove ice and snow on the aircraft surfaces.

While it removes ice and snow, deicing fluid has a limited ability to prevent further ice from forming. During snow fall or freezing rain, anti-icing fluid is applied after the deicing process is complete. This fluid is of a higher concentration of glycol than deicing fluid. It has a freezing point well below zero degrees Celsius and therefore is able to prevent the precipitation that falls on to it from freezing on the aircraft’s surface. Anti-icing fluid also has an additive that thickens it more than deicing fluid to help it stick to aircraft surfaces as it speeds down the runway during takeoff.

What causes the dreaded freezing rains?

FreezRain11

Freezing rain develops as falling snow encounters a layer of warm air deep enough for the snow to completely melt and become rain. As the rain continues to fall, it passes through a thin layer of cold air just above the surface and cools to a temperature below freezing point. However, the drops themselves do not freeze, but remain in liquid state due to a phenomena called supercooling.  When the supercooled drops strike the frozen ground (power lines, or tree branches), they instantly freeze, forming a thin film of ice.

The freezing rain drops on hitting a tree branch or a power line condenses around it as these objects are at a much lower temperature than the supercooled rain drops.  As they accumulate, the weight of the tree branch or the power line keeps increasing.  Once this weight crosses the strength of the material, it snaps and falls on the ground.  In case of a snow fall, the snowflakes even if they accumulate on trees and power lines, tend to slide off them due to their own weight.

The freezing rain leave streets under a layer of ice in the morning and results in the closure of many schools, colleges and universities.  The students are always very pleased with these ‘natural’ holidays.

Freezing Rain11111

Many customers experience power outages due to downed power lines or due to tree branches falling on power lines.  The crews of the power companies work overtime round the clock to ensure speedy restoration of power.

Police services and radio/TV channels warn motorists to slow down due to ice. It is expected of drivers to treat all lighted intersections without power as all-way stop signs.  That means any vehicle approaching a failed signal must come to a halt and the vehicle which halted first leaves first.  The emergency services always work at full efficiency to cater for many road accidents and to assist drivers who spin off the road.

Environment Canada gives sufficient warnings- generally a week – about the impending freezing rain.  Various TV and Radio News channels cover it in full details and warns the citizens to be careful and suggest preventive actions.  As soon as the rains stop, the salter trucks of the city spread salt on the roads and sidewalks to facilitate melting of the sleet that form on the surfaces.

How does salt act as an ice melter? All icy surfaces have a thin layer of water. When salt (Sodium Chloride – NaCl) applied to such surfaces, starts to dissolve. This ionises the salt into positively charged sodium and negatively charged chlorine ions. These ions, in turn, react with water molecules and form hydrated ions (charged ions joined to water molecules).

This process gives off heat, because hydrates are more stable than the individual ions. The emitted energy then melts microscopic parts of the ice surface. When an automobile drives over the ice, the pressure helps force the salt into the ice and more of this hydration occurs.

The ice-cream makers of the pre-refrigerator days employed the same principle (freezing point depression). The ice and salt mixture ensured that the temperature was well below the freezing mark (zero degrees C), even though the ice melted.  Dry Ice or solid carbon di oxide was also used as a more sophisticated alternative. That begs the question why is solid carbon-di-oxide (CO2)  called dry ice? This is because the solid carbon di oxide on being heated does not melt into liquid and instead changes directly into the gaseous state by a process called sublimation.

Canadian Snow-Storm

Snow Storm

Snow storms results in accumulating snow on the roads resulting in driving becoming hazardous. The municipal governments are mostly responsible for ensuring that the roadways, back lanes, sidewalks, active transportation trails and designated park pathways in such a manner so as to provide safe and accessible operating conditions for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians; reduce the hazards of icy road conditions; and facilitate the handling of emergencies by Police, Fire and Ambulance Services during the winter.

Salters are sent out at the start of the storm when snowfalls do not exceed 8 cm (3″) and plows are sent to clear the roads when the snow on the roads is accumulating faster than the salt can melt it away (when snowfall exceeds 8 cm). Main roads with high traffic volume are cleared first. Streets with less traffic volumes and lower speeds are cleared after the main roads to ensure that residents, and emergency service vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances, can safely travel to hospitals, schools, work and get to public transportation systems during or immediately after a snowfall.

The municipalities employ trucks for many horticultural activities during spring and summer. They are used for tree planting/pruning/cutting, watering (mounted with a water tank), grass cutting (mounted with a tractor), landscaping, etc. By fall, these vehicles (trucks and tractors) are fitted with a light dozer blade in the front and a salt dispenser is mounted on to the body. The trucks are used for plowing the roads and the tractors for the walkways. They doze the snow away in the front while spreading salt from the back. The highway construction/maintenance companies also modify their trucks for snow plowing. These trucks travel at about 100 kmph on the highways plowing the snow,

Approximately 150 kilograms per Canadian is used on roads each year to make them safe for travel in winter. In Ontario the salt comes from the world’s largest salt mine is located on the eastern shore of Lake Huron in Goderich.

How does salt act as an ice melter? All icy surfaces have a thin layer of water. When salt (Sodium Chloride NaCl) is applied to such surfaces, salt starts to dissolve. This ionises the salt into positively charged sodium and negatively charged chlorine ions. These ions, in turn, react with water molecules and form hydrated ions (charged ions joined to water molecules). This process gives off heat, because hydrates are more stable than the individual ions. That energy then melts microscopic parts of the ice surface. When an automobile drives over the ice, the pressure helps force the salt into the ice and more of this hydration occurs.

The ice-cream makers of the pre-refrigerator days employed the same principle (freezing point depression). The ice and salt mixture ensured that the temperature was well below the freezing mark (0 degrees C), even though the ice melted.

Environment Canada has recognized that salt has adverse impacts on wildlife, plants, water and soil, and in 2001 considered adding it to the country’s list of the most toxic substances. Instead, in 2004, the government instituted a voluntary code of practices to encourage municipalities and others to use the de-icer more sparingly, while maintaining highway safety. But with the vast amount used, huge quantities are still polluting soil and water. It noted that after winter thaws, there were spikes in the amount of salt in streams.  Those taking runoff from the main highways having approximately double the concentration of the pollutant than watercourses nearby that don’t take its storm water. Environment Canada says it is currently reviewing whether the voluntary practices code has led to any reduction in the amount of salt being spread on roads.

Pre-wetting is the process of spraying salt with a liquid de-icing agent (salt brine) before spreading the salt on the roadway. A salt brine solution is spread n the roads before any expected freezing temperatures. The liquid starts to work before the precipitation starts to freeze. It acts like a barrier between the road and the snow/ice, so it doesn’t stick to the road and cause slippery conditions. If no precipitation happens, the salt brine stays on the road and last for several days. Pre-wetting results in less salt being spread, saving money and minimizing the threat to the environment. Wet salt clings to the road instead of bouncing off or being swept off by traffic.

A living snow fence is a barrier created by plants, shrubs and trees to reduce snow blown across roads. Planting trees and shrubs is not only more attractive and more environmentally-friendly than building a wood fence, but also more convenient than putting up and taking down traditional snow fences. Snow fences force wind to go around and through a fence. This causes the wind to lose energy and speed. As the speed of the wind slows, the snow forms a drift before or behind the snow fence. How much snow a fence traps depends on the height of the fence and the amount of snow that falls. Manufactured snow fences are installed next to roadways that experience lots of blowing snow.

Another effective snow fence is standing corn in the corn fields all along the roads. Each year in late summer, participating farmers leave a swath of standing corn (six to 12 rows wide), parallel to the road and about 20 metres from the road. Farmers are compensated for this.

Delayed flights during and after a snow storm is common in Canada. Salt can never be used on an aircraft due to its high corrosion properties. The delay is mostly due to the de-icing activity carried out on all aircrafts prior to take-off.

The problem of ice or snow forming over the wings and tail of the aircrafts is a major concern as it would adversely affect the performance of the aircraft, especially at take-off as the lift may be reduced. This ice has to be removed and the airports in Canada are equipped with deicers. These are vehicles that spray a mixture of a glycol and water, heated and sprayed under pressure to remove ice and snow on the aircraft surfaces.

While it removes ice and snow, deicing fluid has a limited ability to prevent further ice from forming. If winter precipitation is falling, such as snow, freezing rain or sleet, anti-icing fluid is applied after the deicing process is complete. This fluid is of a higher concentration of glycol than deicing fluid. It has a freezing point well below zero degrees Celsius and therefore is able to prevent the precipitation that falls into it from freezing on the aircraft’s surface. Anti-icing fluid also has an additive that thickens it more than deicing fluid to help it stick to aircraft surfaces as it speeds down the runway during takeoff.

Hats Off

In the Indian Army, everyone, irrespective of their rank are expected to salute a dead body, whether it is of a fallen soldier who may be junior in rank, a civilian – why even if he is the enemy.  The Youtube video above is taken after the Kargil War of 199 where the Pakistani soldiers are collecting the dead bodies of their fallen soldiers.  Note that every Indian soldier is saluting the enemy fallen soldiers, even though they killed many of their comrades.

Our Regiment once had the Quarter Guard – main guard room – located near the road frequented by civilian traffic.  Whenever a funeral procession passed by, the Regimental Guard ‘Presented Arms’ and  offered a ‘General salute’ to hour the dead.

It is a cliché in Indian movies when the police arrive at a scene of death, the inspector on realising that someone is dead, is shown removing his cap as a mark of respect.   Does the Police manuals lay down such an act?

It is rare to see the Police personnel saluting the dead anywhere.  Why they do not even remove their caps as depicted in the movies.  From where did this ‘Cap Off’ tradition begin from?

History of removing headgear as a mark of respect can be traced back to the days of the knights, wearing helmets that covered their heads.  They would lift their visors to show their faces to their monarchs. superiors and friends as a sign of respect.  They used their right hand to lift their visors to show that it did not contain a weapon as most soldiers were right handed.

This practice quickly caught on.  Later, the helmet or hat became a part of the soldier’s uniform and thus it began to be thought of as disrespectful to take it off.  It is surely a lot dangerous to take off a helmet in battle with gunfire and other shrapnel flying around.  The salute with the right hand now replaced the gesture of lifting the visor or removing the headgear.

By the 20th century, hats were pretty much worn by everyone in the West when they went outdoors, as it kept the sun off in the summer and kept the head warm in the winter.  In addition to this, in the cities there was an amazing amount of industrial dirt and grime and the hats were good for keeping the dirt off the head and out of the hair.

Men’s hats are easily removed, but women’s hats with ribbons, bows, flowers and other decorations can be quite a production to remove, especially if they are anchored with hatpins. Women might also risk messing up their hairdos if they had to remove their hats. Hence, only the men were expected to remove their hats as a mark of respect.  Proper hat etiquette defines that while removing the hat, the lining should never show, for obvious reasons.  One must always hold the hat in such a way that the outside is all that is visible.

Men generally ‘tipped’ their hats, or removed them, in the presence of women as a sign of good manners and respect. This developed into removing one’s hat when indoors as a sign of respect and trust.  When entering a home or a building, a hat was generally removed immediately upon entering.

From this originated the expression ‘Hats Off’ normally used when you wish to show your admiration for someone.  Hence it was a ‘male only’ expression.

There is another tradition regarding hats that when men put something on their hatband, it is generally placed on the left side.  Anything on a woman’s hatband is usually placed on the right side.  Is it because men generally commence walking with their left foot and women with their right?

Orators would generally remove their hats while speaking–even when outdoors, so that the audience might observe their facial expressions.  In theaters and while in a church, the hats are removed once the gentlemen took their seats, as a consideration for those sitting behind.

Today many wear baseball caps as a fashion statement with some believing it to be cool to wear it backwards.  It is a good etiquette to remove such caps while indoors as there is absolutely no purpose to keeping it on; not even to cover up a bald spot or your badly kept hair.

So, Hats Off to all those who keep wearing their hats all the time, even while indoors.