Ablack beret was a rare sight in Mizoram in the 70’s. As a youngster posted with the independent Sqn of 7CAV based in Mizoram gave a feeling of superiority. This feeling was short lived as twice over I was detailed on a long range patrol with an infantry platoon to check the tankability along the Bangla border. I knew I was no Rommel but I had the knack of inviting punishments and the feeling of superiority flew out of the window. Daily I would think of fantastic plans how I could be posted back to the Regiment but nothing materialized. Suddenly one morning I was called to the Div HQ to the office of the GSO I. I raked my brain thinking what could have gone wrong over the last day or so, as I was sure it was an invitation for another so called special mission, but instead I was told that a signal had come from my regiment and I had been detailed for attending thecommando course at Belgaum and therefore posted back to the Regiment at Babina. In normal ircumstances it would have been cause of concern to be detailed for commando course but I was overjoyed to hear the orders which offered posting out of Mizoram and I asked, “When can I leave sir?” A week later I found myself in Babina and our worthy adjutant detailed a PT course qualified NCO to oversee a precourse training for commando course for me.
Except for dining in the officer’smess I felt I was back in the academy. Twenty days into this training I started thinking whether I was better off in Mizoram? It was already the later half September and the course was to commerce in the first week of October, but as luck would have it incessant rains in Belgaum flooded the accommodation for student officers and the course was cancelled. I was given this piece of good news by the Adjutant on the following day. What a stroke of good luck! But controlling my emotions I said, “Sir it’s a pity I had trained so hard I am sure I would have got QI.” I got a sympathetic reply, “Don’t worry you will get some other chance?” Such good luck called for a celebration and all youngsters residing in bachelors quarters were called for a beat up in the mess in evening. Life become a little peaceful over the next week or so and then I got a summon from the Adjutant one afternoon. On reaching his office I saluted and entered, I found him holding a signal. With a lot of concern I was told, “Nippy I have managed the mountain adventure course at high altitude warfare school for you. Course begins in the first week of November. You have sufficient time to train and you must get a QI!” my face fell, I couldn’t believe my ears, I didn’t know what to say? I never thought bad luck could strike twice over so fast. My mind was spinning like a top, I could only manage to coin “Sir I wanted to go on leave can’t somebody else go for course?” Pat came his reply “of course not, I got this course for you with great difficulty, you were very disappointed when the commando course was cancelled therefore I got this for you, now train hard and do well!” with a ‘yes sir’ I was out of the office.
I headed for the library to sit and think how to handle this “bolt from the blue!” A fleeting thought of reporting sick and getting admitted in hospital had to be abandoned as I had a spat with our doctor only the day before and surely he would not accommodate? I thought I would check with the Head clerk if the course could be cancelled? I was sure he would help as he was very fond of me! I went to his office and asked him “Saab mera course cancel nahin ho sakta?” He quickly replied “Nahin saab bahut mushkil se mila hai aapke lie. Sir apne CO saab se tips le lena wo HAWS mein iinstructor the!” After having learnt that the CO Lt Col K J Singh (later Lt Gen) had been an instructor at HAWS I knew there was no chance of cancellation of the course, and I dare not ask for tips because knowing how zealous the CO was about training I would have found myselfhanging on ropes for the rest of the month.
Beginning November I found myself on the train to Jammu en-route to Srinagar and then Gulmarg. The HI (Havaldar Instructor) assigned to our rope was from the Sikh regt and had done his mountain warfare course when my late father was an instructor at HAWS. I thought this could be helpful but on the contrary he drew comparisons between my dad and me in all physical facets of the course. Every mountain we climbed I was told my dad could climb it in half the time I took. After two weeks I could take it no longer and I retorted “Ustad Colonel saab infantry officer the main Risale ka officer hun, hum pahar aram se charte hain.” Though he piped down but pushed me hard enough to enable me to get a QI at the end of the course. I got back to the Regiment, very elated with myself! The CO was on leave and I reported to the 21C Maj MS Shergill (Later Lt. Gen). With lot of expectation I said “Sir I got a QI and have been recommended to attend the winter warfare course. He looked up at me and said “Nippy you are a cavalry officer, don’t waste your time in the mountains, tanks don’t climb mountains!” a quick ‘yes sir’ and I was out of his office I went to the library to seek some mental solace and sat and thought, “ did I waste my time & effort?” Today working in the political field I look on my above experience with a lot of satisfaction! It trained me for mental robustness and physical endurance which is the most important aspect in all walks of life and in my mind I say a big thank you to my then adjutant Capt. AK Singh (Later Lt. Gen and southern army commander) and also to the training team at HAWS.