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DDU College in Dwarka ready for opening

There is a piece of good news for the students seeking admission to the undergraduate courses in the regular colleges of the University of Delhi (DU). A new college campus is ready for the inauguration in the national capital’s education hub Dwarka. The college adjoins Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology (NSIT) in Sector 3.

Deen Dayal Upadhyaya (DDU) College is ready to be thrown open to new students from the academic year 2015-16. Construction hindrances might have delayed the inauguration by more than a year, the college is ready and final touch is being given to the structure.

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The main building of the DDU College in Sector 3, Dwarka.                                  Pic: Amit Arora

The estimated cost of the project was Rs101.05 crore. It is now ready at Rs112 crore. Importantly, the students now won’t have to search for a PG every now and then, as the campus houses separate hostels for boys and girls and a building comprising of staff quarters, a good underground parking lot besides other facilities.

“Though the construction progressed at a good pace, projects always face hindrances and obstacles, which delay them. The DDU College was to be ready in February 2015. All the buildings, including main college building, staff quarters, girls’ hostel and boys’ hostel, on the campus are ready and interiors are in the final stage. The education department will be able to start the new academic session this year,” said SK Handa, executive engineer, Central Public Works Department (CPWD).

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The college building, boys’ hostel, girls’ hostel and staff quarters have been set up next to each other for better security of the students.                                                    Pic: Amit Arora

The IGL is carrying out the work of providing gas connections. DJB is expected to undertake the work of providing water connections soon. Sewer work will be carried out in the next few days. The government agency is expected to finish all these by the end of June, added the executive engineer.

The plot area is 30,909.97 square meters. The total built-up area is 51,027.853 sq mt (with one basement + G + 6 floors in college building, G+7 floors in boys’ hostel, G+6 floors in girls’ hostel, G+2 in utility block and staff quarters and G+1 in principal residence. Maximum height of the building is 33.15 meters. Of the total area, 18,128.219 sq mt accounts for the total landscape and green cover. The contractor who developed the structure is Kamla Aditya Construction Pvt Ltd.

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Backyard where greenery is to be developed over the underground parking.     Pic: Amit Arora

Notably, the old college building is located in Karampura. It had been demanding a makeover, and lacked hostel and other facilities. The education department thought it better to give a bigger piece of land to the college and provide better infrastructure to the new generation students instead of renovating the old one.

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I am climbing—climb on

 

Want to be a mountaineer? Just a thought about spending hours at a glacier undergoing training by army men and experts, specialists and mountaineers, with years of experience, will send shivers down your spine.

Waiting for a year after the enrolment and preparing for the month-long Basic Mountaineering Course at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling, is in itself is a course that involves following a strict discipline of getting up early at 5am and do a 10-km run and exercising, besides carrying a rucksack weighing around 15kg and walk. In my case, I had decided to climb the stairs for 30 minutes.

It was a daily affair for me for almost a month. In fact, when I started the glacier training, it proved too little. I realised I cannot put in more efforts, as that was it. I did not have the energy because I had pushed myself to the brink. It was all I could do. I was breathless. And I had no stamina and no energy to workout at the high altitude. But, I had no option but to do it. So, I carried on and continued doing what I had been preparing to do for long.

Not because someone is compelling you to do it, but it was my love and I was enjoying myself doing it, it was just the beginning. People dream big. And, it is anyway a big dream as people think of landing at the top of the world, the highest peak in world, climbing Mount Everest much before enrolling for the course.

I knew it was my first step towards the journey that takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, dedication, and most importantly, I’ll have to do it religiously. Therefore, my journey began on the night of March 31, 2016, with a train to New Jalpaiguri. After a 30-hour sojourn, I alighted at the NJP station in West Bengal, and took a shared taxi to Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), Darjeeling to attend BMC 313 03 April-01May, 2016.

In the taxi, I met a woman, Krishna Rana, who was another mountaineering course candidate, but for the advance one. She was short, fair, cute, and medium built, carrying a backpack and a daypack with her. I didn’t know that she would make a good friend and a good source of inspiration during the course. She had rightly said to me to score an A, I’ll have to check my behaviour. Later, I found that Mountain Behaviour was part of Basic Course’s curriculum.

Around 3pm on May 10, while writing this article, there was doorbell. On opening the door, a man asked me to sign the paper and receive a mail, which turned out to be the certificate of the basic course, which I been waiting for… Excited and fearful, I opened the envelope only to find that I got a B (Brave). A little surprised, I thought to myself, I was expecting an A. I had done fairly well. Then why? The report card says I was physically average, and a slow walker. D is distinguished and A is Above Average. I don’t want to discuss C and U. The report made me worry as to what I am going to do next…either repeat the course or just leave it there and forget it? Then, let me sleep over it…

On reaching the HMI, I met the administrative officials at the training office and showed my confirmation letter, and was directed to the Quarter Master’s office for the allotment of the room in the hostel.

I was made to fill up the details in the trainee register about name, date of arrival, residence address, phone numbers – personal and parents’, and food I’ll prefer to take during the training. Then the student life begins with keeping the luggage in the cupboard and jumping into the bed. I was the first trainee to reach the institute. Then started the expected arrival of other trainees from various locations. Everyone in the room started meeting one another. Eight trainees share a room. Each has his own cupboard.

Most were from defence and locals, who could walk up and down the hill in a flash. A major chunk was from Maharashtra. A few were from other parts of the country. Geographical distinction was necessary, as later we were divided into ropes (groups) on the basis of locations. Each rope had 6-7 trainees, including a team leader. Each rope had a team instructor. Total, 12 ropes were there.

When all the trainees were in, we were asked to fall in (gather for the assembly). We were briefed about the next day’s schedule and told to collect the bed covers, a spoon and a glass. After the dinner, the trainees again started talking about themselves and discussed about how things might proceed as to what would happen in the next week, where would we go for the glacier training and how we would be awarded grades. Lights out!

At 5am a bell rang for the bed tea. I had already woken up a little early to answer the nature’s call. At 6am, another bell rang for the fall in and running. After the 10-minute warm-up, we crossed the huge HMI gate and went out running. A few were already gasping for breath. After a 2km run, we were stopped at a crossing for the exercise. Then began the real test of our stamina, strength and vigour!

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This is the point in the nearby market from where we had to return to the institute during the morning running and exercises Pic: Amit Arora

 

All parts of my body were fully stretched up. My imagination had begun to take a shape. Our instructors had started to mould us into a mountaineer with exercises done for a period of time only soldiers are expected to perform. When the instructor asked us to stand up, most of heaved a sigh of relief, but nopes, we were asked to continue with the run. We had to run back to the institute. It was an easy task due to downhill slope, but after entering into the gate, we all slowed down and we were like walking up to the quadruple area. This was the stretch, I thought to myself, which could bother me during the marathon, and I needed to work on, and I did. I never aimed to win the race, but Grade A was my target. I had set very high standards for myself, but the training needed even higher standards.

After the breakfast and taking a shower, we attended theory classes for two days. Each trainee was issued personal equipment, including a rucksack, a mattress, a sleeping bag, a mess tin, a carabiner, a Jumar (ascender), a descender, a harness, sling (piece rope), helmet, mitten, an ice axe, gaiters, crampons, rubbish bag, snow boots, a feather jacket and a wind suit. Later, we were taken to Tenzing Rock and Gombu Rock, HMI training area for rock climbing, where we practised rock climbing and rappelling. For 2-3 days, we were trained at the Tenzing Rock. Then, practical lectures were delivered on artificial indoor and outdoor rock climbing walls, in addition to other theory lectures for the next two days.

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Gombu Rock where the HMI trainees practise…Pic: Amit Arora

 

Theory classes include topics Introduction of Mountaineering and Rock Climbing and Equipment, Mountain manners and customs, Introduction of Ropes, Knots, Mountain Terminology, Avalanche, and The Himalayas, Rock Climbing, Tent Pitching, Mountain Hazards, Sport Climbing, Axe and Crampons, Map Reading, First Aid, and Health hazards in High Altitudes.

In the first week, we had also gone to Tiger Hills for tracking with our rucksack, weighing around 15kgs, on our backs. Tiger Hills track was a mini trail for the glacier. Half day was spared for outing in case we need something for our stay at the Base Camp, located at Chowri Khang, at a height of 14,600 ft.

On May 12, first bell rang at 4am for the bed tea. At 5am, we had to be in the dining hall for the breakfast and take pack lunch for the track. At 6am, we were at the Quadruple, carrying a sack weighing over 17kgs, ready to leave for our glacier training. Cabs were ready to drop us to Yoksum, West Sikkim, the old capital of Sikkim. Yoksum means the meeting of three Lamas. It is 1,780 meter high. Night stay was at Yoksum. The morning, we had to be ready to leave for Bakhim (3,000 m), and cover 13 kms on foot. Bakhim means house of bamboos. A theory lecture on Hygiene and Sanitation was also held in the evening. Overnight here. Leave for Dzongri 4,300 m), at a distance of 12-13km. During our night stay at Dzongri, there was a snowfall. After the breakfast we left for the ChowriKhang Base Camp (4,450m). Chowri Khang means grazing area of yaks (pastureland).

 

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Trainees were taken for acclimatization after reaching Dzongri (13,200ft); Japanu Peak can be seen in the backdrop Pic: Amit Arora

 

Caption: Trainees were taken for acclimatization after reaching Dzongri (13,200ft); Japanu Peak can be seen in the backdrop               Pic: Amit Arora

 

Interestingly, the erstwhile King of Sikkim, had given this entire area to Sir Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the Tiger of Mountains, after his historical visit, who had first set his foot on this land and ventured into the mountains and stayed at the ChowriKhang base camp. Today, civilians cannot pass a certain area, near Dzongri, as the entire stretch belongs to the HMI for training. The Government of Sikkim has earmarked a certain area as camping site up to which adventure enthusiasts can visit, beyond that no one is permitted. Last day of tracking and last stretch of the track up to ChowriKhang base camp, was most difficult. It was a vertical uphill track.

When we reached close to the base camp, our seniors of the advance mountaineering course started to welcome us. They took our bags and asked to move along them, which was a welcome relief for most. The advance trainees had reached there two days earlier. The Advance base camp was 2-3 kms away from the basic’s… On reaching the base camp, tea was served, and again fall in, now at a height of 14,600 ft.

Captions: After reaching the base camp, I got a chance to take selfies with my coursemates and instructor Sonam Wangdi Sherpa (below)      Pics: Amit Arora

 

Although I have visited this height before, not for training. So, the feeling was mixed, we were tired and happy. We were briefed about the next day schedule and where to relieve ourselves, and who would stay where. I, along with other eight trainees, stayed in a tent. Women and other trainees were allotted huts. Then the dinner bell rang and we rushed back to our tents. As the clock ticked 3pm, it started to snow. It was a daily affair at the base camp. It snowed all through the night on almost 10 of the 12 occasions. We would wake up around 2am and make our tents again, as it could take the wind pressure of the snowstorm.

When I would come out of our tent at 5am, it would be a whiteout on most occasions. On day 1, when I went out to relieve myself, I had taken the ice axe with me to dig the area open to make a hole. From the next day, I started to use the permanent toilets, which proved better than relieving in the open. It was comparatively comfortable to use it as gusts of cold wind blowing in the snowfield would make the entire process of daily ablution difficult for a person staying in the plains. Toilet paper was a great help. But after washing my hands, I would have to wait for 10-15 minutes to do another work. My hands would freeze and become a slab of ice, and one couldn’t feel anything for long.

Another thing that helped me, which I had carried from New Delhi, was neem twigs. Then, rang the breakfast bell. After the breakfast, we climbed a mountain. I took over half an hour to reach the top. It would take our breath away. Most of us would fall to death and gasp for breath in climbing this mountain. And, we had to climb this tall one whenever we had to go for the glacier training.

A theory lecture was delivered atop on Environment and Surroundings. Imagine, you are sitting on top of a mountain and your instructor is pointing at numerous peaks more than 5,500 meters high.

These include, Renowk Peak (5,500m), Chhowgil, named after ex-King of Sikkim (approx 5,000m), Frey Peak (5803), Cockthung Peak (6,147m), Cockthung North Peak (19,000), Rathong Peak (6,679m), Kabru North (7,338m), Kabru South (73,17m), Kabru Dome (6,600m), BC Roy (18,000 ft), Fork-1 (6,100m), Fork-2 (6095m), Fork-3 (6083m), Palumg (19,000ft), Sangri (17,000 ft), Kabur (18,000 ft) in Rathong Valley, Pandim Peak (6,691), Tenzing Khang (6.010m), Japanu (5,736m), and other unnamed peaks. Chhowgil was the first field director of the HMI. He donated land for the base camp.

After an hour or so, we were taken to another area about which our cute instructor talked about in detail. After the brief details, we sat there for about 10 minutes. When we reached the base camp, it was already lunch time.

In the second half of the day, we were asked to wear snowshoes and crampons. Earlier, a detailed lecture was delivered on crampons in Darjeeling. Here, a brief account was made. Then, we practised walking in the snowshoes and crampons. Walking in snowshoes was already very difficult and we had wear crampons also so we could train in the glacier. Snowboots weigh around 4kg and add the weight of the crampons, a spiked metal frame. Dinner time, fall out, and retire to your sleeping bags.

At 4am, the bed tea bell rings. After the breakfast at 5am, ready to leave for the glacier training at 6am with snowboots on. Climbing the tall mountain was already difficult. Wearing snowboots was also necessary during the three-hour track to the glacier. On reaching the glacier, we would wear the crampons and walk to the ice walls in ropes. I was among those who would walk slowly. Though I am good at walking and running in plains, climbing the mountain would take my breath away. I would get tired early, so was slow in reaching the glacier, which I think actually hurt my chances of scoring an A.

Caption: I pose for a picture perfect, but in the end, all I could manage to get clicked at the Rathong Glacier was this one                               Pic: Amit Arora

 

At the glacier, we were showed demos and made to climb the ice wall using ice axe. We practiced the ice craft for over an hour. Later, an hour-long lecture was delivered in the glacier itself on various walking positions, including walking stick position, anchor, pick position, pick and toe position, double axe and so on.

Next day, the same activities happened again as part of the ice craft and the glacier training. Unfortunately, I fell down from a height of around 20ft while going to the ice wall for the glacier training. I was hurt and bruised badly, but did all my activities and practised as usual. My rope leader had helped me in coming to the terms from the sudden fall. In the evening, a theory lecture was held on the glacier, its origin, mountaineering terms like Moraine, and importance of the mountains.

Fourth day at the base camp was a little relaxed. Rock climbing training was held at the base camp. We practised to climb the boulders and rocks and rappel down the mountain. We did the belay. The entire day was consumed in rock climbing, and rappelling at different spots at the base camp.

Next day was again a little hectic, as it was another day for the glacier training. Wear snowboots and climb that tall mountain laughing at you and saying don’t you dare ignore my might. Remember, before coming to the base camp, you had promised to fulfil a dream. You have dream of the Mt Everest Summit. You have to keep that promise. And, I would remember murmuring the words most of people like me utter all their life…Veer tum bade chalo, dheer tum badhe chalo, saamne pahad ho, singh ki dahad ho, veer tum ruko naho, dheer tum ruko nahi…and I would reach the top of the mountain. Most of would gasp for breath and get tired. There was resting place for all atop. As soon as we would reach the glacier, we had to get ready with our equipment and move to the ice wall for the training. Our instructors would fix the ropes and we would have to climb up the ice walls using ice axe and practise various positions. We would have to repeat and practise various positions at different spots in the glacier.

After the training at the glacier for around two hours, we would come out and had tea and biscuits. This time again, I fell down while coming out. I had hurt my leg badly. Instead of taking tea, I requested to one of the instructors that I want to go back. I head back and reached the base camp in record 1hour and 18 minutes. Otherwise, people take two hours and thirty minutes to reach the base camp. The instructor lauded me for the feat.

On an earlier occasion also, the same instructor had appreciated me during the glacier training. I was technically sound, but slow, when it came to exercises. In mountains—high altitudes, breathlessness and low stamina are very common, and most people have difficulty overcoming these two problems. This is where running and carrying weight and climbing stairs help. In my case, I should have done more exercises and for longer period. I’d done it for up to four hours during the last 21 days of training at home.

After reaching the base camp, we had lunch and took rest. It started to snow and tea was served. This time, the instructors delayed the theory lecture on Jumaring (ascender). Then tea was served. An hour later, soup was served. Then the dinner…Before going to the bed, we were served hot drinks (Horlicks milk), which everyone would love to drink. Custard, rasgulla, suji halwa and sawainyan were served as desserts after the dinner.

Most of the time, we would get chicken/mutton, dal and a vegetable in lunch, along with rice and roti. After the hard day of training, sometimes papad and salad were also served to pamper our taste buds. In breakfast, bread butter, jam, scrambled egg, porridge or corn flakes were served. In dinner, they would miss the non-veg dish from the menu and add a dessert.

The lunched were so tasty and lip smacking that overeating had almost become a norm. I was the only one who had skipped dinner on many times. Once I had custard and milk; on other occasion I had milk only. Other times, I didn’t take anything, which was a mistake. I should have eaten dinner properly. It would have given me energy. After completing the course, I found that I have lost weight. During the training, everyone was repeatedly asked to eat properly, and people anyway eat heartily.

The next day, the trainees were taken to the advance base camp, Bhale Pokhri. While I was about to reach the top of the Mountain Tall, which I had named it, I lost balance and fell down. The instructors themselves sent me back to the base camp. I had heard that the advance base camp (ABC) was one of most beautiful places. ABC offers a beautiful lake and scenic and picturesque views. The course practised there falls from the mountain and self-anchors. This was the only class during the period that I had missed.

The next day was spent at the Chowrikhang base camp teaching the techniques of Jumaring, rappelling and belay. The day was tough, as climbing drains you of energy and lots of efforts are required to climb a rock. You get exhausted and enervated while performing the most adventurous activities. It is said that Mountaineering is the King of the sports, as it involves a lot of money. But, otherwise also, you have to put in all your efforts and concentration while climbing a rock. And to gain expertise, practise is necessary. In that sense also, it is the king. You need to take care of yourself in many ways, eating, practice, training and what not…

The next day, we were taken to the glacier. It was a day when we were to be tested our instructors who themselves had put in their hearts and souls to train every trainee. All the instructors had been so much engrossed all this while in training each and every candidate of the nuances of mountaineering as if this was their own test. I never saw any instructor who had refused to clear the doubts of their pupils. They all were so helpful that sometimes I would ask myself as to why do they do so? They were more than happy to help every trainee. In a way, it was their test also. I did my best, but I might have failed in fulfilling the aspirations of my teachers.

The Army and the guest instructors have set so high standards that there is no other option but to do well. That’s why, even after doing so well I was awarded a B grade. Later, when I spoke to an instructor, who happened to be my favourite, frankly told me that I lacked stamina. I just needed to be in front, which I was not. Rest would have taken care of. But competing with people who were already in the Army was indeed a tough and challenging job.

During the test, I was asked to do ice craft, walk up the ice wall on crampons, climb the wall in one position and return in different position. We were tested on parameters, including techniques, speed and height. We were asked to do the belay. I did really well, but the instructors found me average. I myself noticed that most of the trainees were average, considering my own techniques and level, and how we all performed. But, on what basis we were awarded the grades baffled me. If your climb time is noted, then return time and speed must also be noticed.

After the test, a class on crevasses and rescue was held at the glacier. The instructor taught us if a climber falls in a crevasse, how to save him. We were all sent in the crevasse one-by-one, and various methods and techniques to save him were taught.

After coming out of the glacier, tea and biscuits were necessary. This time, I had ensured that I didn’t fell down. So, the day had gone well. One thing if I forget to mention here, it would be injustice. Cooks play a vital role throughout the training. They not only served the meals, they started late from the point where we stayed or halted, they reached the next point, whenever and wherever, early. They prepared tea and next meal before we reached there. They would carry their own stuff. There were times when they would reach hours early. So, the credit must be given to them also.

Not just in training, but while on private tracking trips also, cooks are credited with reaching early and getting the meals for the team ready.

Next day at the base camp, a class on river crossing was held. We practised various positions like fox climbing. In the second half, we did jumaring and practised other rock climbing methods.

Next day, we had gone to the Renowk Peak (5,500 m) for high altitude acclimatization. The previous night my rope instructor had asked me to stay in the middle. In the beginning, I was well positioned, but after the half track, I started to lag behind. Then suddenly I felt stomach ache and I had to relieve myself there only. I had taken the crap in the morning also, but I had to do it again. A lady instructor shouted at me from a distance, because while I was doing it, the last person had already reached there. I had rushed and covered up. We had started from the base camp for the Renowk Peak at 6.30 am, but when we reached the point from where we had to climb the peak, it was 8.54 am.

Though we were fast enough to reach there, the entire course and all the 12 instructors had already rushed to the peak. The six trainees were slow so were not taken there. It was sad that we were not taken to climb the peak. The moment we reached there I saw our last instructor coming and rushing towards the peak. From other side, another instructor came, who told us we were late and only the director could help us reach atop the peak. He was nowhere to be seen. An instructor returned with a group, he said it was an achievement to reach the peak. Climbing doesn’t matter. The last fellow/trainee, along with the director who generally stays at the end of the line to see no one is left behind, returned around 11.15am. The successful climbers then clicked pictures with the flags, and after an hour or so, we left for the base camp. I was among those who had reached the base camp early.

It was surprising for me that the six people were not taken for climb. Generally, after 12pm people don’t climb the Renowk Peak, and around 1pm everyone leaves the place, it is said, before the weather sours. Though we had enough time, we could not make to the top. Later, the director asked us to not take it to the heart. We would get many chances to achieve a feat. This was the only thing that hurt me…

After the lunch and rest, we were asked to fall in. Dry fruits, cold juice, and candies were distributed. Those who were carrying cameras asked to pay for it, clicking pictures there is chargeable. Later, we returned the crampons. And, we were informed that a few of us would have to return to the institute a day early. I had to be among those few ones. After the dinner, we retired to our tent.

The next morning, we got up at 4am, got breakfast at 5am and pack lunch, and left for the return trip to Bakhim at 6am. I was the fastest among all who was in the front. Three instructors accompanied us. At 5.10pm, we were at Bakhim forest rest house. I could have reached Bakhim at 3pm, but instructors had to take other slower trainees along. Otherwise also, in descent, I was among the fastest ones. Three-four cooks who were accompanying us served tea. They prepared rice and dal in dinner. In morning, they fried the rice for breakfast. At 7am, we had left for Yoksum, around 1.15pm we reached Yoksum. There we were served a tea and lunch–rice and bottle guard vegetable in lunch. We pitched the tents. In the evening, tea was served. Then I skipped the dinner here as well, so cannot say what was on the menu. We had to be ready by 6am after packing the tents and all, as other trainees were expected to join us anytime. The first person from the second lot reached Yoksum at 8am. He was an instructor. The last fellow reached there at 9.30am. At 10am, we were in the cabs, and off to Darjeeling.

We indeed took breaks on our way back to the institute. Around 5pm, we were in the hostel. Heavy rain welcomed us to the city. Showers made no difference as snowfall had become a routine. Tea was ready in the dining hall. After some time, dinner was served. Rice and chicken was on the platter. Then retired to our hostel rooms. Trainees were busy sharing pictures. I was among those who preferred sleep.

For the next day, 6am, 7am and 8am were the timings. An outdoor sports climbing competition was the occasion. We all reached the venue and took our seats. Ropes were checked. And one by one each candidate of each rope was asked to climb. Of the over 70 trainees, only 10 could succeed in crossing the very first hurdle. Two-three were from Army and 2-3 were locals from Darjeeling. This was how we all the trainees had been. And, how all other my course-mates were awarded the grades, until writing the article is still unknown to me. Fall out. At 1pm lunch, and 2pm was time for the written test.

In written test also, everything was from the course. It was a 100 marks question paper, which we were expected to write in 40 minutes. I finished it in half the duration, 20 minutes, and had expected to score a distinction. And, who scored what in the written test, no one knows, so can’t say anything… After the test, rest.

Next morning was marathon. So, back to square one! At 5am bed tea, 6am marathon… All the trainees started running. I was a little behind, because we were made to stand in such a way that I was unable to see who was in what position and where…All I know when I reached the finish line, I was among top 15 trainees. I had crossed many young guns, who had been running much faster than me. In the running competition also, I was among those who were above average.

Rest of the day was for outing. Trainees could go out to markets after the breakfast and had to return to the institute around 3pm. After the rehearsal of the next day graduation ceremony, people were seen roaming around and talking to one another, sharing pictures, and lazing around in the evening. After the dinner, I was as usual early to sleep. A few could still be seen sharing pics, but most fell asleep. It was April 30, 2016. Graduation ceremony was to be held in the morning on May 1. Later, we got to know that the ceremony was delayed due unavoidable circumstances. So, it was to be held at 3pm. Until now, I was thinking that my train to Delhi was scheduled to depart the NJP station at 10.15pm on May 1.

A few had left for their homes on April 30 in the morning, and some had left at night. Some were expected to leave early on May 1. After the breakfast, when trainees were packing their bags, I asked my roommates to hurry up. I thought to myself I am in the habit of packing my bag in 10 minutes and leave. When I started my bag at 10.15am, to my surprise, I found that I had booked a train which was scheduled to depart NJP at 5pm. I hurried up and packed my bag, met my mates and left the hostel. One thing that I found common in all my coursemates was they all are good human beings, soft at heart and mentally and physically strong.

All the gems and jewels of the basic course: Trainees after the graduation ceremony rehearsal at the quadruple in HMI institute               Pic: Amit Arora

 

I met Quarter Master and bade adieu. I collected my badge. There, an instructor made me write an application why I was leaving the institute in such a manner. I narrated my ordeal. Then, while going out of the institute, which houses a zoo also, I bumped into my favourite instructor. We sat down in the bench and chatted for 45 minutes. Then, I rushed to the market, for which was I had to walk for half-an-hour, with my 19kg backpack, and catch a shared taxi for the NJP station. I got a taxi to Siliguri. From there I took an auto and reached the station at 4pm. I had a lunch in the station market. I boarded the train, which took 30 hours to reach Anand Vihar Station. It was running 3-4 hours late, which compounded my troubles. I reached Anand Vihar and managed to catch the last Metro to Dwarka. At 12.30am on May 3, I reached my home and rang the doorbell. Now, I am back home after 33 days.

I want to offer a piece of advice for those who want to pursue this course. If you are physically fit and serious about it, only then do it. Otherwise don’t even attempt. The course is subsidised and you can mar the chances of a deserving trainee. There is a long queue of people who want to do this course and become a mountaineer. If you want to do it for fun, then there are many operators who organise such tracks. You can do that. If you are undisciplined, you may lose your fee also. All the best.

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