Narrate an important/ unusual incident of your life, when you had to face a very demanding/ challenging situation. How did you overcome the situation? What lessons did you learn from this incident? In October 1989, I was entrusted with a long range foot patrol with a team of twenty fully geared soldiers to the extreme border positions In Northern Kashmir. With 20 kilos of backpack Involving survival rations, weapons, polar gear all to be deftly balanced on the treacherous Himalayan Mountains – this was the ultimate test of human endurance.
The real test came In hen we as a team were to scale the Kolkhoz Glacier. On the 4th day of the mission while nearing the summit, we found ourselves entrapped within a fierce blizzard at 17700 feet. With climbing conditions next to Impossible, I decided to pitch In a bivouac at that height braving the fierce Himalayan blizzard amidst pitch darkness and complete whiteout. I decided to huddle in a tight formation with my fellow soldiers to ensure our body entropy could see us through the devilish freeze of the blizzard, without the slightest desire of giving it all up and surviving come what may.
The morning after the long night, eased the situation out allowing us to continue with our patrol mission after having scaled the Kolkhoz successfully and completed the task entrusted with. We had been out of communication for about 24 hours now, without having met our tactical objectives – which we had been entrusted with. The climb down was quite steep, last light was now approaching and we were looking for a flat surface to spend the night. However, we lumbered back on top of a frozen river and water could be heard flowing below.
We tried to navigate the surface but one of the boys slipped and lost his gear. We had no choice but to spend the night too on the frozen river and look for the gear in the morning. We did find the gear and continued our Journey. Traveling for another three days, we finally reached Ball, our destination. The misery, the cold and the hunger of the last few days were all forgotten, having braved nature at its unforgiving fury, for the warmth of hot piping food The incident primarily taught me to stay calm in the face of odds and the
Importance of taking proactive and systematic steps. I also learnt not only how to motivate my team members when their morale was In their boots and the going was tough but also the importance of teamwork and of setting a personal example In such situations for others to emulate. More so having worshipped, Ernest Skeleton’s (Anglo-Irish Polar Explorer) cult Like status – his leadership style came In handy when I stood face to face with a salary situation decades later In the Icy wilderness of the Himalayas.