When I was a student of Sainik School, Amaravathinagar, in Tamilnadu, three students including me, were selected to attend the “Adventure Course “ conducted by the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, in Darjeeling.
The course was for three weeks, between late December 1964 and early January 1965.
For budding students in their mid-teens, it was a rare opportunity, to undergo training in rock-climbing and learn the basics in mountaineering.
At such a tender age, we were closeted together with students from the other states of India. Further, for the first time, we got to experience the pan-Indian culture in all its diversity.
We literally moved mountains . What an amazing three weeks! To top it all, like a flag on the peak, something wonderful happened.
Just as we were about to leave the HMI office building, at the main entrance, who should step in, but the great hero Tenzing Norgay himself!
Tenzing Norgay, was the first Indian to have climbed Mount Everest along with Edmund Hillary, in 1953. His name had been on every little boy’s lips at the ‘Adventure Course’ and he was before us in flesh and blood. This was what dreams were made of!
The great man was all humility, and with a benign smile on his face, quizzed us about the course, and wished us well in our studies. He voluntarily asked us to get into his jeep and drove us awe struck boys, to the dormitory.
What a rare and precious moment it was! Something which we would not have expected even in our wildest dreams. Just talking about it, makes me get goose bumps.
Even after a lapse of 47 years, this unexpected meeting with such a great achiever has always remained fresh in my mind and heart.
I would definitely call it my Himalayan Encounter!
As told to Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo by : M.J.Manimaran. Chennai. (Student of Sainik School, Amaravathynagar, Coimbatore Dist, Tamilnadu. Year: 1962-1965)