Friday, June 26, 2009

NC and the Art of Vehicle Non-Maintenance

It is a known and proven fact that a camp without disasters doesn’t quite feel like a camp. We almost look forward to the stuff that isn’t on the itinerary. But this time, we didn’t know what we were asking for.

I have limited knowledge about the anatomy of an automobile. But the vehicles we hired for the North East camp this year made sure I got a crash course in atleast naming some of the monsters that slept in the depths of its engines. From time to time, the parts of our vehicles made their presence felt by bursting, leaking, tearing, blowing off or just mysteriously coming to a standstill.

Also, as if it were a small mercy (or not!) the Motor Gods granted us, not all of this happened on the same day. It happened every day. Once the radiator blew, another day something was wrong with the gasket. Our tyre goddess had lawfully wedded the puncture god in the mountains of Mizoram and there was no telling if we ever had a brake in the first place.

Beyond a point we realized there was no point in worrying about the performance of our glorious vehicles. If they broke down, we walked when possible or just waited. When there was a biker who crashed into our bus (and escaped with surprisingly less injury) the first aid wallahs of the group hopped out to attend to his wounds without batting an eyelid. It was as though we were here to learn about the highway disasters.

But things eventually got better. Not that the vehicles worked fine, but we didn’t just pay that much attention anymore. Somewhere in the spirit of things on an NC camp, getting cranky doesn’t fit in. even those who made a few feeble attempts at complaining eventually gave up.

And in the same spirit of things, we learnt the biggest lessons of these camps. That long forgotten lesson of kindergarten. We learnt to share and adjust and squeeze in. we learnt to inconvenience ourselves just a little, and just be happy campers.

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