To begin from beginning, the Dictionary states that ice is a brittle transparent crystalline solid. It is water that has frozen and become solid. By implication, it is supposed to be harder than snow. The oft repeated phrase “breaking the ice” should not be taken in the literal sense of the term as it aims at facilitating communication in a primary or extended group situation, such as, a Course. One may, nonetheless, be justified in asking-What kind of ice needs to be broken, freak or solid?. Whether the setting per se was perceived clogged with ice?
All said and done, in the evening of 10th January,2014,attention of Army, Air Force, Navy and Civilian officers was glued to 6,Tees January Marg. As a matter of relief, chill wind that blew the previous partially clear evening had come to a standstill. Reported minimum temperature was 6 degree Celsius and the morning fog too had turned shallow. While many comprehended the purpose, some were in a guessing spree. Others supposedly arrived with an open mind. A handful did report ahead of time. Same could have been due to compulsions of transport in a vast capital city, a latent desire to impress or also not to invite the attention of any of the SDC’s in the event of delay. Nevertheless, the get-together gathered the required momentum in a matter of about twenty minutes.
Setting That Facilitated
Later half of the evening turned out to be not as cold as anticipated. Initial apprehensions could be genuine in view of semi-open enclosure, otherwise beautifully decorated. Impressive aesthetics combined well with soothing electrical display to create the right ambience. The already existing mini waterfall in a prime location looked like icing on the cake. Gigantic and sparkling heaters ensured a sort of climate controlled environment. Upon exchange of pleasantries, the unstructured introductions began slowly. Possibly everything seemed to be rolling in the right earnest. After all, the active involvement and contribution of the families was stated to be a hallmark of the course, a fact to be taken serious note of by the Civil Servants.
Talks: Past & Present
Dutiful Mess staff in spotlessly clean white uniforms began service of liquid and carefully cooked starters with a humble smile. They appeared fully geared up for such occasions. The nostalgia of days spent together in a particular tough or convenient station was but obvious amidst the conversations. Side by side, it was enriching to develop familiarity with new settings. The party kicked off further with zeal and enthusiasm. In addition to the service matters, the status-quo of growing and settled off-springs justifiably figured, time and again. The enclosure was soon abuzz with bonhomie and excitement. Bejeweled women in their light make-up but heavy woolens & attractive silk saris added to the charm. All this ensured that there was not a single boring or dull moment.
Attire & Common Names
Coming to dress, some were consciously suited and booted while some preferred combinations. All, however, looked relaxed. Two foreign friends rightly stole the show with their attractive National dresses. Apart from the easily identifiable headgear of eight to nine Sikh brothers, Nepali caps became crowning glories for many. While six nos. of Sanjays rubbed shoulders with four Sandeeps, a couple of Joshis, Anils and Aloks made sure that they were not ignored. Singhs as a matter of fact, always outnumber others and this congregation was no exception. Ten, yes ten of them were seen displaying their vigour and vitality at the drop of hat.
Flow of Liquid
Drinking hard or soft or hot, drop by drop, sip by sip with a common goal to refresh and celebrate with a beaming face and inhalation prior to and subsequent to intake of tasty food was on expected lines. No GDE (let’s have a guess) cases whatsoever, were noticed. A few deeply engrossed in sipping Indian Red Wine, post dinner appeared more than elated and overwhelmed, driven by a desire that defied measurement.
One may like to be lovingly reminded of several tongue-twisters served without any time gap. MEETING WITHOUT EATING DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. Of the ‘eats’, Cigar Spring Rolls, Dahi Kababs, Fried Fish and Mutton Kababs were prominent. Whereas, the main course later comprised of Indian and Thai vegetable preparations, Noodles, Fish items, Chicken Curry, Mutton Rogan-Josh and mouth-watering Dahi-Vadas. These were rightly accompanied by a variety of salads, breads, Rotis and Naans (last two served straight from hearth). One couldn’t think of more delicious dessert items than Mini Kesar Jalebis, Rabri and Carrot Halwa. No one minded, therefore, spending 10-15 minutes in a queue. After all it is said “A proof of Pudding is in the eating ”. One should thereby have a decency to appreciate as well as gobble sumptuous food on an occasion expected to let one unwind and vent your feelings to ultimately qualify to share and care.
As a particular season does not last forever, the apparent ice prevailing between the selected competent brains too was destined to melt and evaporate. The smiling and receptive faces in the dying moments bore testimony to it. It looked or transpired that the desired objective was accomplished to a large extent. Resultantly, one may hope for more of opening up and frankness as the days progress. All good things come to an end. This superbly organized event was no exception. Be it Raksha Bhavan or Shanker Vihar or the Central Govt. Pool Quarters, majority felt prior to hitting the pillow that stage was now set for a level playing field. Efforts made were expected to bring accelerated warmth in the inter-personal relationships. Merely five days had elapsed, many many months and weeks of togetherness were in store.
To sum up, a few suggestions may be worth considering, such as, having light music to fire one’s imagination and arranging chairs around a bon-fire in the interest of individuals having Orthopedic or Spinal complications. Bon-fire at this time of the year could be also a precursor to the festivals of Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal and Bihu. All of them symbolize weakening of the Winter chill on the one hand and the onset of new harvest season on the other.