Saturday, 26 December 2015

Braving the Cold



We require a cue to make us remember and recollect something. The cue that made me recollect is the cold; despite staying zipped up in the sleeping bag inside the tent, it was freezing, taking me back to the days where I felt the similar cold in the somewhat exact situations.


It was at same period of the year in 2003 but at a higher altitude, therefore, it was much colder. We were without shelter or sleeping bag in a hastily dug up bunker sitting in an ambush. Of all the hardships that we have been through, it was the cold that nearly killed us. We were lucky to have made it through without suffering from cold related fatal disease like - hypothermia.

The site that we were located, was such that the sun light fell there at around 1100 hours and it went over the hills, leaving us back in a shade coupled with cold, at 1400 hours. There was nothing to beat the peak winter cold as it was tactically unsound to make fire and on top of that we were not attired for the winters other than the combat clothing. In such a scenario the only thing that made us fight the cold was the pure resilience and training of bearing more severe cold at higher altitude at the peaks of Thimphu mountain ranges.

Once during the training in the winters of 2002, when the rest of the residents of the capital city lay tucked up and asleep in the comforts of their home, those of us in RBG were busy preparing and training at the top of mountain called Zetola, with full battle load and battle gear. The cold that we experienced at that time would put all the colds to shame. It is felt directly by the bones and not through the skin making the limbs go numb.

My company commander and I took shelter for the night in one of the dilapidated huts of a cow herder. The cold was so harsh that the issue type Korean sleeping bag was no match for it. My tired limbs wanted me to go to sleep and shut down but the biting cold kept me awake. Sometimes the cold won and sometimes the tired limbs making me shift between wakefulness and sleep.

When I had enough sleep and rest and the cold was almost doing the damage to the system, I dreamt of myself, getting wet in the rain and the rising level of ice cold water was almost drowning me I could barely move my limbs. I woke up with a jolt and found myself almost freezing to death. I was shivering and to my good luck my company commander was already up due to the same reason and in the process of making a fire. We made fire as fast as our shivering hands could and warmed ourselves. The peak winter cold at such altitude is such that in the early hours of the morning the ground becomes white covered with white sheet of frost as if like having a snow cover without the snow actually falling from the sky.

We braved such cold without realizing that it would acclimatize us to bear cold for longer duration during the real operations. This training with a hidden package of cold had made us tough and kept us alive without our knowledge, we got ourselves acclimatized ready to bear any harsh treatment by the climate.

There are so many such things happening to us and we feel that it might be useless to undertake but some trainings and courses come into handy subtly without us noticing the hidden packages.