One month and eight days.
That is how long it has been since I stopped eating rice and haven’t even had a single grain of it inside my system.
But this isn’t some story about my struggle with rice that I am narrating. This is about the camp which served me rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner for ten days straight. This rice frenzy had such a condescending affect on me that I even despise the mouth-watering biryani now.
Each time when I think about it, a sense of immense pleasure and joy fills me up, and I’m proud to be an NCC (National Cadet Corps) cadet of 4 the KAR ENGY COY (MIT).
Yes, part of being a cadet also includes painfully getting up at 6:00 sharp on a Sunday morning (the only weekly holiday I get, when most of my friends are comfortably wrapped in their beds), putting on an uniform perfectly and spotlessly and reaching the unit for parade precisely at 8:00, because a delay of even a minute is considered to be highly erroneous.
In lieu of my service as a cadet, I was given the opportunity to attend a NCC camp (CATC) for ten days in Hebri. I had already heard a lot about the camps from seniors, and I had prepared myself for the fact that it was going to be extremely rugged and tough, but an experience which I would always remember and cherish.
And I must say, people were darn right about the rugged nature of this camp. From waking up at 5:30 AM to getting ready by 6:15 AM for PT and yoga, serving food to junior cadets, putting on the uniform for drill and sweating like I was wearing undried clothes picked off the washing machine, to attending lectures, ship modelling and waiting for badminton rackets and volleyball in the evening to having a hard time comprehending the skits during cultural programs as it was mostly in Kannada, I had almost forgotten the essence of the word “easy”.
After having such a rigorous exercise, one expects a queen-size bed with the cosiest of linen and the softest of mattress. But I was only greeted with a cemented frame for a bed, it didn’t take me long to realise how much I was spoiled by the luxuries of mankind. It is indeed, a herculean struggle, adjusting to the conditions, finding gigantic snakes in the washroom (Some as long as seven-feet!) to cats running across the dorm when the night drops dead silent, getting back massages and dusting off cockroaches and all kinds of ghastly insects one could imagine, before trying to sleep to gazing at trees filled with fireflies. From sharing food to sharing memories. I created bonds that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
NCC made me realise the importance of unity and discipline and helped me overcome all the obstacles, despite the odds against me. It taught me to expect the unexpected.
A slogan is still reminiscent to my ears, and it echoes despite me being so far away from the camp. It goes.
“Ek do teen char
4 kar ki jai jai kar.
Jai Hind !”