The space between Chandigarh and Shimla is barely 28 air miles because the crow flies. Being a Navy pilot, it was my first enterprise into the hills piloting the helicopter with a VIP throughout the monsoon and I ready nicely, finding out the map. I used to be sure of reaching Solan even in hostile climate by following the flavour of ‘Previous Monk’, the headquarters of the well-known Mohan Meakins brewery. It was additionally prudent to observe the NH-22 and the Kalka-Shimla railway line with almost 800 bridges.
The onward journey from Chandigarh to Annadale helipad, on the opposite aspect of Shimla ridge, was uneventful, though the strategy to land was fairly robust, being unidirectional with steep hills on three sides. The VIP proceeded for the perform whereas I settled down on the Golf Membership with the protocol officer to benefit from the scenic magnificence. It was a halt of about two hours, and out of the blue the climate began deteriorating. The state of affairs was clearly ‘no go’ when the VIP returned and I accordingly suggested a delay. He quietly retired to the golf course, leaving his employees to pester me. The bored air site visitors controller bid me an abrupt goodbye on the cellular and gave me the landline variety of the meteorological centre, Shimla.
Right here, too, my queries have been met with feedback like ‘Sir, it’s troublesome to foretell climate within the hills.’ I used to be like a toddler misplaced in a village truthful. The one silver lining was that Chandigarh was reporting clear climate. I referred to as the technician close to the Pawan Hans helicopter parked and enquired about any probably enchancment. He replied in a thick Himachali accent, ‘Oh, saheb, climate is ok, Captain Bahadur Singh would have taken off anyway.’
I climbed up a hillock close by to get a greater orientation of the native factors to correlate on the map. The technician adopted me however stored singing paeans in reward of Captain Bahadur saheb. ‘You recognize, sir, Bahadur saheb… very tall sardar… By no means apprehensive about climate… very courageous… you understand how the Sikhs are, by no means simply scared.’ This one was clearly a hefty blow under the belt regardless of my shorn hair and never carrying a turban, however I took it.
In the meantime, the PA got here panting from the climb up the hillock and requested, ‘Hor kinni der ji, CM saheb very upset, he’s on the point of go by highway.’ I turned to the technician for Bahadur saheb’s cellular quantity, who appeared to be an skilled in negotiating dangerous climate. He checked out me shocked. ‘You don’t know, sir! Bahadur saheb was killed in a crash over that hill two years in the past.’
All my rigidity and indecisiveness vanished in a second. I put my arm across the PA and mentioned with finality, ‘We are going to go when it’s secure to take action. In case you want to journey by highway, please do proceed.’
The climate cleared after about half-hour and we returned to Chandigarh.