Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Part II of RJ @ RD 1996

This blog is Part II of RJ @ RD 1996 (click on the link if you have missed out on Part I , if you would like to know the whole story). My journey to/through Republic Day Camp, the story continues...

At the final training camp, just 2 days to get our backpacks ready and head to Delhi for the RDC…the cadets were given permission to go home to do their laundry and get cleaner clothes. RJ’s folks weren’t home, so she went along with JN (fellow cadet) to her place.

We put our clothes into the washing machine and went on JN’s Hero Puch (motorcycle) for some LMS (Last Minute Shopping), with JN riding pillion. On our way back, it started drizzling. We didn’t have much time to hang around (take shelter) since we had to be back at the campsite by 5.30 pm.

RJ & JN were cruising (on wet slippery road) at normal speed (it’s a Hero Puch not a Harley!). At an intersection, a truck decided to cross without indication and all of a sudden. RJ clutched on the brakes with all her might. Narrowly escaped colliding head-on with the truck, but skidded right across the road. RJ scraped her knees badly with the pants completely ripped-off at the knees. JN got a silencer burn on her legs. A huge crowd was gathering. But the brave girls, didn’t want a scene and picked up the fallen Hero (motor cycle) and scooted.

We escaped JN’s mom’s scrutiny, went to the bedroom, applied some anti-septic cream, changed clothes and put up a normal appearance like nothing had happened. Ironed the clothes, packed, took an auto and dashed to the campsite. Nobody noticed anything unusual, obviously (we tried hard not to overact!). By night, I had fever and a fellow cadet who coaxed the real story out of me alerted the camp commandant. They rushed me to AFMC (Air Force Medical College) Hospital nearby, gave me a tetanus shot and some paracetamol for the fever to subside. Back at the campsite, and everybody chided RJ & JN for behaving irresponsibly. We got away with our sheepish grin and innocent nods.

Next day, was d-day. The cadets got to the Railway Station. RJ’s folks were also there, waiting to see us off. RJ was trying hard to hide the limp. The folks noticed that the fellow cadets were being extra nice helping RJ with her luggage. They asked, but RJ pretended not to hear. RJ and the other cadets got into the compartment and occupied their seats. The folks stood by the window to bid their adieus. And then…

The Wing Commander came by RJ’s window and enquired “Hope you are doing fine now!” And RJ was like “damn, not now!”And mustered a feeble voice that sounded more like a sheep bleating “yes sir, yes sir (3 bags full!)”. RJ's folks were perplexed. The curious mom asked “what’s happening? You’re walking like you have one flat shoe on and the other heeled, others are carrying your luggage, everybody is extra concerned about you…Tell us the truth!” Confession time, so RJ tells the story (can’t get away with anything, from your parents, can you?!) And then, more chiding over the “ting-ting…announcements”, “chai, vade” and the chaos at the Station. The Wing Commander and Camp Commandant also pitched in. On the receiving end, there’s nothing much else you can do, but nod your head gently (to vigorously). The train started to move, and RJ was relieved. Quickly waved “goodbye”, promised to stay in touch and looked forward to the RDC we’d all been waiting for, eagerly.

01 January 1996 - Garrison Parade Ground, Delhi Cantonment

It was a cold winter morning in Delhi. We were transported from the Station to our barracks in a big army canter. The boys were led to their tents. The girls were taken to their barracks, which was like a dormitory with many cots, no mattresses. The sleeping bag was used as a mattress-cum-quilt. They settled down and there was a call for breakfast. Bread, jam and butter. And apples (from Kulu Valley, we were told). It was the sweetest apple RJ had ever eaten. A good feeling already. Lunch was even better. And dinner was, well what can I say, the best! RJ suspected if this was like a demo version where everything would look good at first glance and the real thing would be hell (with all the bugs), considering the bad taste of food still lingering, from the training camps.

On the first day, the cadets were allowed to get familiar with the whole place which was huge and it took us a while to find our way around. 2nd Day, morning up by 4 am, and level the ground with our bare hands touching the cold soil and some spade and tools to make the irregular terrain right outside our barracks into a beautifully landscaped area (part of the competitions). Then brush our (chattering) teeth and have bath in hot water (that turns cold by the time we get to the bath). Then slip into our uniforms and get ready for a long day of drills and competitions. This was pretty much our routine for the whole month.

Various competitions are conducted in National Integration Awareness, Drill, Line & Flag Area, Cultural programmes etc, amongst the16 NCC Directorates, to decide the Champion Directorate for award of Prime Minister's Banner. The first was of course in drill. The whole contingent is judged and given points based on performance, uniformity, uniform (including the sparkling shoes and buckles), precision and other such parameters. Then cadets are selected for the Guard of Honour. Cadets from all contingents are mixed and asked to march forward one row at a time. Then each cadet is judged based on their individual performance. The selected cadets are retained, while the others are sent back. RJ was one of 2 girl cadets selected from our contingent for the Guard of Honour. The other cadets get a 2nd chance in the RD Parade selection. Each selected cadet earns some points for the contingent.

Later, we discovered (cadets from other Contingents), that there was clear bias in the selection. The chief commandants were basically from 'M' Directorate. All cadets from the 'M' Directorate had their butts (riffle butts I mean) painted white, which you can clearly distinguish from a distance. And each one of them from that contingent (12/12) made it to the Guard of Honour, inspite of their not-so-great drill performance. The rest of the contingents were fuming. It was an unfair competition, everybody knew about it, but the show had to go on. So we took it up as a challenge and competed with greater vigour.

Break for scrumptious breakfast. And break from the post (it's getting longer than I intended). I'll be back with the rest of the story, when we pick up our riffles and fall-in at the parade ground, for guard of honour training....


For those of you who are not familiar with these abbreviations:
  • NCC: National Cadet Corps
  • RDC: Republic Day Camp


radha said...

Part II - more action than Dhoom 2. Waiting for part III

Rama Ananth said...

Oh No!
It was so interesting, and just when you were going to reach the most interesting part you had stop. Mean lady you want to act like the writer of a soap opera, with a "to be continued"....

Bikram said...

WOWOW Oh man OH MANNNNNNNNNN I envy you now , maybe i shud have tried for RD tooo :)

I know i know I still have to write on my expereicne but mine are more like pranks and silly things we did ...

Waiting for next one and offcourse the march-past with the rifles , I did that once or twice only they are heavy and the poor finger...
I would rather use them to fire then carry them :)

and oh yes BIAS in NCC so true :)

keep them coming

Bikram's Blog

Shilpa Garg said...

Oh wow!! That's great going (making it to the contingent for the Guard of Honour!!) ...though with bruised knees and fever too!! Simply cool!

Ah...bias happens here too?? Bad! :(

Looking forward to Part-3!!!
Cheers :)

Rachna said...

Wow, motorbike accident, biases in selection -- all dramas happening here. Looking fwd to the next installment.

R. Ramesh said...

motorbike accident, biases in selection -- all dramas happening rachna says...and to add to it be continued:)

Insignia said...

Bias? Thats sad. It happens everywhere. But you did well; with bruises and fever.. Keep up.

Now this is drama and excitement. Waiting for next.

Jon said...

so nice post...the thrill part was good...
i thought u will be kicked out due to the bruises!!

Butt painted white lol!!

Balachandran V said...

Made good reading! Surprised to learn that you guys were made so comfortable. Looking forward to the next part...

Nona said...

:) Everywhere, someone is ready to bend the rule! What a nice way of identifying their cadets!

Destiny's child... said...

Why do I never tire of your tales? They ARE interesting. :)
No matter how much we pull your leg for your dedicated replays ;)

A New Beginning said...

Thats what I call an action packed post!!! :))

Sandhya said...

You have got a great sense of humour, RGB!

Riding motorbike itself is great and falling down and act as if nothing happened...hmmm,

Good idea for identifying and then..politics, here too...should we think this happens only in India?

My cousin was in airforce and he was always complaining about stomach used to be horrible over there. I just don't understand, health is very important here and no one bothers/take action to help them keep fit.

This is turning out to be a thriller now...carryon, good luck, RGB!

The Holy Lama said...

Bias in NCC too? Always thought that it was olear of these things. Awaiting next post

RGB said...

@ radha,
The sequel is normally not as good. Hope I can pull off the 3rd part as a grand finale!

@ rama,
I did not expect it to run to Part III, but just couldn't stop writing, with the memories of my experience flooding in! Thanks for bearing with my rambling :)

@ Bikramjit,
Yeah, you must pen down your experiences. It's like a re-run of the whole thing, and it feels good to dig your memories for the finer details. like to fire the riffle rather than hold it, don't you!

RGB said...

@ Shilpa Garg,
Thanks :) Yeah, bias seems to be just about everywhere. Looks like there's no such thing as a fair game anymore, where the meritorious and the truly deserving win!

@ Rachna,
Yeah, the drama unfolds part by part ;D

@ R.Ramesh,
Couldn't help it! So Part III, there will be :)

RGB said...

@ Insignia,
Yeah, bias where/when you least expect it! Glad you guys are not bored yet. So the drama will continue...(hopefully, I'll be able to wrap it up with Part III)

@ Jon,
Yeah, if the medical officer hadn't given me a clean chit during the fitness test, I would have been left behind! Glad u enjoyed the pun:)

@ Balachandran V,
The training camps were tough, the RD Camp on the other hand was luxury (comparatively)!

RGB said...

@ Nona,
It took me a while to get over it, the 'obvious' bias that went on during the camp!

@ Destiny's Child,
Just as much as I don't tire, saying them over and over again to you guys. LOL!

@ A New Beginning,
Action Drama, wasn't it?!

Aleta said...

I was hurting just reading about the accident! Amazing that you kept it together and remained calm. But yes, I'm glad that others noticed and you were brought to the hospital!

Congrats on the Guard of Honour! That's something else about the riffle butts painted white and them getting in, though they didn't earn it. If I was one of those cadets, I'd be embarrassed if it wasn't properly earned. Looking forward to your next post!

Kavita Saharia said...

I wish tv showed shows based on these personal experiences than those chewy saas-bahu sagas .It is so gripping and interesting .I was wondering if you took the Tetanus shot after that accident and i got my answer later. Sheepish grins and innocent nods..oh ,how cute :):)This partiality thing is very discouraging ...still happens !
Looking forward for the next part....

Kavi said...

I can relate to every word here in this post !!

Lovely !!


Looking forward to the parade !

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi RGB:)

Thank God you and your friend had a narrow escape and were fit enough to go for the parade at NEW Delhi and go through a a wonderful experience of a life time.

We also stayed in the Army Garrison grounds but we had to pitch our own tents which is a cumbersome affair and to add to our woes it rained in the night and water started entering our tent.The cold made it impossible to sleep inspite of our blankets and great coats.

I did not get selected for the guard of honor because I hit the but of the rifle with a slight thud while lowering it from the salami sasth position. I was indeed very disappointed.

I am reliving my RD experience through your post.

Best wishes:)

RGB said...

@ Aleta,
Thanks.'s just not fair how some make it to the top by hook or crook! Wonder if they don't have that thing called conscience!!

@ kavita,
Glad you found this saga, that has started resembling soaps with its many episodes, interesting enough! Yup, partiality seems to be just about everywhere and it certainly is disheartening :(

@ Kavi,
Thanks. Hope I can wrap it up in my next post :)

@ Joseph Pulikotil, sure was a narrow escape and the RDC is definitely worth a lifetime of memories, glad I made it! I almost forgot...the boys had to actually pitch their own tents. You seem to have vivid memories of your RDC days, you must post them sometime SOON.

Unknown said...

u write this and make me feel..DAMN* wish i was there!

R. Ramesh said...

thanks buddy:)

walk2write said...

Great story, RGB, and it's so effective because it's told in the third person. You have to get outside yourself to see the humor like you did, even in the painful parts (scraped knee, unfair competition with the "white butts"). I can see that Part III is going to be the real kicker. Of white butts, maybe?

RGB said...

@ Madhu,
Yeah, those were fun times I wouldn't have missed for the world!

@ walk2write,
Thanks for your comment:) True, what was painful back then seems funny when I look at it now, from an outside perspective.

Hee, hee...Part III - some butt-kicking it's going to be ;D

K. D. Kumaran said...

I am just super eager to know who u r... i am nostalgic now...

Unknown said...

Hai this is vivek sinha I was also part of that Rd camp from mp directorate and I was selected for Rd parade and I agree with you about M directorate and unfair selection of cadets belonging to that particular state.