Mountainous treks are part of public schools calendar. They help foster spirit of adventure, love and respect for Nature and a sense of comradeship. I am sure all of us have been part of such trips in The PPS. All of us also have some sweet memories of an odd happening, a hilarious experience or a dangerous moment on such treks.
I remember one such incident in the year 1964. The trek was in Chamba hills. After a strenuous trek we put up in a remote forest lodge. It had no facilities so we spent the cold night on the floor.
Next morning as we stepped out we saw snow on a mountain peak next to the lodge. All of us decided to go and play with snow.
After a quite breakfast we set up hill. There was no track leading to the top of that mountain so we had to make our way through bush and the jungle. I remember Rupinder Dhillon (Khilji) (B-68,1967) carrying a fragile stick to ward of “any tiger attacks in case they were any lurking ever around”. The climb was steep and what appeared to be close by from the lodge became ever elusive. But after few hours we reached our goal, dead tired.
Having played enough in the snow we decided to come down to our lodge. We were quite relaxed as now it was going to be down hill. When we actually started moving down we felt being pulled down by gravity and not much effort was required as while climbing. It seemed very easy in fact too easy to be true.
In the beginning the descent was easy we moved down with speed. The mountainous slope was steep and slight imbalance could set you on a roll to the bottom of the small gorge in front of us and the consequence was not difficult to imagine. Most of us who tried to move down fast soon realized that it became uncontrollable due to laws of nature (gravitational pull) and you could easily become a body hurtling downhill uncontrollably and catching momentum.
Inderjit Arora (J-40,1967) was (and is) my desk mate and very dear friend in the class and we were together on this trip. He is a short dark fellow with whitest of teeth, humorous, extrovert, bubbling and grinning most of the time, he was excellent company. However, when he was made Monitor and Prefect he would not tolerate indiscipline and become serious and somewhat arrogant or so we thought. This part of him came out during this trip.
The pictures show him as Cleopatra (with crown) at 1967 fancy dress farewell party meeting Jyoti Basu as naval officer, as NCC air wing cadet in School with the biggest aircraft model matching the ego.
He boasted of running down hill. He was behind us but soon we saw him whizzing past us downhill in great hurry. His face, which was grinning initially soon turned pale and expressionless. We realized he was unable to stop himself and was hurtling down and did not at that moment know what to do. Soon his speed was more than probably the Olympic sprinters. We just saw him speed down with limbs flailing and within seconds we saw him rise a few feet from the ground and fall downhill. He vanished behind a rock. The rest of us stopped in our tracks. We exchanged glances wondering if we had seen the last of Inderjit. Or if we did see him, the sight may not be pleasant. Our hearts stopped and then beat fast. Slowly we moved down to the rock with all sorts of thoughts in our minds and yet no one spoke.
On reaching the rock we found there was a small pit below it. Inderjit had luckily tripped on the rock, took a short flight like a missile and had landed in the pit. This broke his uncontrollable downhill movement. There in the pit we found Inderjit getting up unhurt, dusting himself and wearing a sheepish grin showing all his white teeth.
Pictures show him at the 40 years reunion of 1967 batch holding the memento, picture from Washington with Vinod Kashyap (j-63,1967) visiting him. Vinod was ONA President from 1985-95. Last picture shows him with his late wife whom he affectionately called “Chhotu”.
Dr. Jashanjot Singh Bhangu (S-52,1967)