I had Basic Mountaineering Course( BMC) at Nehru Institute of Mountaineering( NIM) this March/ April. I wasn’t sure about what they’re going to teach and what is waiting for me there before I went. I couldn’t find detail information online and had no idea how is NIM. All I knew was that it’s a semi-army base institute. This made me a bit nervous. I wasn’t confident enough, not sure if I can bear the intense training. Another thing is, I don’t really like institutionalize and concentrated group living style, or I can say, I don’t like living under disciplines, especially the one made by others.
But anyway, after wavering between going or not (and some adventures), I finally arrived NIM one day before the training. The first day, not even had the inauguration yet, we trainees had to wake up at 5:30, and had physical training at 6:20 am. We jogged from the hill where NIM located to downtown, with changing funny training postures along the way. We raised hands above the head, lift hands like a zombie or jumped while jogging. Instructors even asked us to stop few times in place suddenly, do Crunch and Push-up……many funny ones which ease the nervous of doing bad. I can’t help but laugh along the way.
But it was also a tired training. Luckily we were only asked to walk up after reaching the turning point. After jogging, we assembled together in the Pine Bowl, a grass ground with an outdoor artificial climbing wall. An instructor led us doing strength training. For some inexplicable reasons, this handsome, middle age instructor looked very much cordial, I can’t help but had a strong impression. And he is very strong. When I saw him doing push-up with one hand fingers, when I can’t follow and collapsed, I looked around, luckily I was not alone XDD
During the inauguration ceremony, chief instructor and vice principal gave a speech in Hindi, I couldn’t understand and make the posture like I was listening seriously. Until suddenly, trainees and all instructors silent, back straight, both hands above the knee and look straight forward….it’s the etiquette to superiors. I am not sure this is especially practiced in the army or also in the school. But every class we take after, we have to do this 5 seconds before the instructor walks in. And after instructor reaches the front, he/she will soon say,” Aram se.”
” Aram se.” seems to mean “Relax.” or “Take it easy.” When one careless nearly fall down, my classmates always say this. It was used frequently in India. I heard it a lot while crossing the street or crowded places. I personally feel the combination of the sounds ease the irritation while saying, which is helpful to appease the mind under conflict situation.
Anyway, after the silence, one man with round shape cap and mustache walked gently into the audio room. He is the Principal of NIM─Colonel Ajay Kothiyal. He soon after became the one that shows up the less but earns most respect. The most important thing is, he speaks English!
He pronounced like a native speaker and spoke in an elegant temple. His sharp eyes showed no emotions, but with a mild feeling which made him a refined quality. Once he spoke, he greeted me, the “only ” foreigner here. Totally 50+ students, apart from 2 Indians who have Singapore citizenship, I was the only “foreigner” who really don’t understand Hindi. Colonel Ajay apologized for he is going to speak Hindi that most of the people here could understand, and invited me for a tea in his office after.
After the inauguration, we moved outside, gathered ourselves and had tea. Colonel Ajay walked around to greet everyone. The same serious look with sincerity, modest smile, his admirers soon spring up.
I had a guess about the reason he especially invited me, so was waiting for him. As expected, he came across and asked,” How do you know the people from ITBP?”
ITBP, the abbreviation of Indo-Tibetan Border Police, was a special force for deployment along Indian border with Chinese-governed Tibet.
One week ago, I was in Menri Monastery, my monk friend called me, said that the mountaineer he mentioned to me yesterday happened to come to visit him. So I met this mountaineer who was from ITBP and scale Everest for 4 times. The mountaineer told me about his mountaineering history and said if I need any help in NIM, just tell him. He happened to have the number of someone from NIM.
So I asked him to help me to check if I apply the course successfully. Because I got no reply since I sent the application form about 1 month ago. After I arrived India, I tried to write and call, but still, doesn’t work. I wasn’t sure I should go or not.
I unexpectedly got the reply letter from NIM next day.
Not until Colonel Ajay asked me, that I realized the number the mountaineer “happened” to have, is the number of Principle Colonel Ajay. And until I finished the course, backed to New Delhi, I accidentally found out the meaning of the title before the mountaineer’s name….
My first talk with Principle Ajay ended soon, he didn’t talk to me much. From other’s faces, I can tell he is that important guy, who was needed by many admirers~
It was an enviable chance to be invited for tea by this big person. But the thing is, how to have the tea? Since Christiane shared her observation and difficulties of culture difference, I started to be aware of the tiny things between people in other culture. I don’t really care about that, but that is really interesting for me. Cause me thinking about the invitation whole day after the inauguration ceremony. The invitation, was just to be polite, or he really wants to meet me? If he wants to me meet, should I go for him actively or wait for his call? What is the proper manner to a “maybe busy” superior IN INDIA?
It was the first question I asked Deep, my instructor. (Actually, maybe the second one, the first one I asked is, “ Are you my instructor?”) Deep said if the Principle mentioned then he has the tendency. And it’s both fine whether I choose to go or wait. But it was a shame that the schedule was just too busy, I hardly have any time for myself after class. And the private meeting ended up with nothing. This probably the only pity I had in NIM.
The first class right after the ceremony was Introduction of the Equipment. And I was dumbfounded because 99.2% was taught in Hindi. The rest 0.8% was English terms scattered in Hindi sentences which make no sense for me. Seeing instructor introduced from the one I familiar with, rucksack, poncho, sleeping bag….to climbing equipment that I even don’t know what that is. I was a bit panic. I remembered I saw something like, “teach in English, supplemented by English.” on the NIM website. Was that my dream?
This was just the beginning of my stun. I found chief instructor after class, asked about the language that will be used after, he smiled and said,” Half Hindi, half English.” But the” 99.2% Hindi” last for next 28 days….
This morning we were distributed to 12 ropes, I was at rope 5, there were 5 people in my rope. In the afternoon we went to get our equipment and had physical check rope by rope. The equipment was nice and new, we can change before going to the mountain if any wrong. Not sure if it’s because I was the only foreigner that my equipment was slightly newer.
I was a bit worried about the physical checking. I wasn’t sure how detail they will check. Will my defect be found and I get rejected? But in the end, it was just checking weight and height, plus blood pressure! Almost forget here is India. Never Worry!
There is a film time before dinner every day. In India, before watch a movie, you have to watch another film. This film is full of Indian style which amused me. But soon after I found that is actually a serious one. It’s national anthem. I remember when I was a child, we also have to do that in Taiwan.
Today we watch 2 films. One is about 7 women officers from Indian Army expedited Everest. It was quite a nice documentary. Another one is about Principle Ajay. This documentary is about how Principle directed the rescue mission during the flood in 2013 and the reconstruction he led after.
The mild and refined temperament he showed doesn’t appear out of thin air! I soon became one of the fans of Principle Colonel Ajay. Even that 7 women officer expedition was led by him! Take a look at the film and join our fans group! XDD
7 women officers from army summit Everest.
The one I saw in NIM was made by Discovery, which is the better one if you can find.
Colonel Ajay documentary