In the year 1965, I attended a National Cadet Corps (NCC) camp for about fifteen days. At that time, I was in the first year of my graduation. My elder brother was also in the same college studying in the second year of graduation. We both were supposed to attend that camp. Since the camp was to be held just before the Deepawali festival, it meant being away from home during the festival, which certainly did not make the occasion very welcoming. In view of this, many students applied for exemption including my elder brother. The exemption was sought mainly on medical grounds, which required a fake medical certificate. It was not difficult to get one even during those times. My elder brother also resorted to the same practice and managed to get exemption.
The idea of seeking exemption did not even occur to me and doing so on the basis of a fake medical certificate was even more remote to me. As a result, I had to attend the camp, though I was not very happy about it for reasons mentioned above. This was my first experience of collective living and that
too, in somewhat uncomfortable conditions. Waking up early in the winter season (at that time Deepawali days used to be quite cold and more so in the open ground), taking bath in cold water, strict adherence to meal timings as well as the quantity, the poor quality of food, etc., were the factors which always gave a regretful feeling. At that time, thinking of the comfort of those who had sought exemption on one ground or the other used to add salt to the injury. There was no option but to undergo all the drills. Not only this, the behaviour of our friends occupying some rank in the NCC was even worse than the real officers.
Somehow, the days passed and we started enjoying the so-called suffering. Many aspects of such a life were new to us, which we would have missed, had we not attended the camp. Gradually, the envy of those who had sought exemption started disappearing, with a feeling of being fortunate replacing it. Though we were given an option to spend the Deepawali day with our families, the evening celebration was in the camp only. The fun we had during that celebration is still a memorable event. Overall, this camp imparted me a good lesson of life, which helped a lot in leading a successful one. It has been rightly said that there is no elevator to success; the path is through the staircase. The heights achieved through the elevator are equally short-lived. The NCC camp taught me this secret very convincingly.