Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Foundation Course at Mussoorie. What it is and Why it is and Other Such Ungrammatic Questions.

Why flog a dead horse, you ask?
Why bore people further with undead blog posts, you ask?
This blog was supposed to rest and relax in Cloud Heaven, with its well deserved company of virgin blogs. Why bring it back to the land of the dead?

Altruism is the word.

A new batch of civil servants has been revealed to the world few days ago. There were heart warming stories and symbolic achievements. Most of the 'achievers' would now bide time till the 7th of September whence Foundation Course commences. Rumour has it that the Foundation Course may be offered at one venue for all the services, subject to accommodation constraints. The venue being The Academy, of course. Be as it may, whether at much romantic Mussoorie or much more prosaic Hyderabad, Foundation Course is an exciting phase for a civil servant, budding or budded. The constant gardeners of The Academy shall keep all civil servants properly pruned. 

The hills straighten a lot of attitudes, to begin with. For the plains creatures, a hill journey would start with a symbolic and literal emptying of belly on the way up the sinuous roads from Rajpur to Library Chowk. Enroute, you would pass by the NIVH. Ladies and gentlemen, if you see to your right, you would be looking at NIVH. This is one institute, in fact the first institute, you would call on during the FC. When one had passed by the NIVH for the first time less than a year ago, one had a sense of deja vu. Illustrious seniors had written about their visit to the NIVH and Raphael, in gushing words, and one read their blogs with breathless excitement imagining life at The Academy. A month ago, while climbing down the Mussoorie range after completion of Phase 1 of Professional Training for IAS, one felt a double deja vu. 

Most blogs you come across would only talk of the going up. No one talks about the coming down. Your heart would be heavier than you weighed at the start of the FC, when you leave Mussoorie for the district training. Oh, the weight. Be prepared for a shock weight loss during the Grand Himalayan Trek. Unless you live off Universe Dew and Sweat of Heavenly Beings and or shrubs and roots and wild berries, one is assured of a weight loss during the week long trek. Should one be worried about one's fitness levels? No, if you ask me. Whether you are a well rounded personality or all angular and bony, whether you ran marathons galore or scarce moved out of your couch, or whether you get in to a bout of fitness frenzy before the start of the FC, all, and I repeat ALL, would huff and puff and pant equally when going up the steep incline from the Ganga Hostel to the Mess for the first few days. 

That is how it is. The mountains, I tell you. Over time, and especially if you are in the IAS where you would have more of the said over time, you will come to love the hills. The trek not only breaks fat molecules, it also breaks down icy personalities and bonds people unlike any other experience. The trek builds up a fortitude that will stand you in good stead in the future. Regarding the bonding. It will be of a rather unique character. You would have had made, erm, potty buddies. For, despite the Mission level importance accorded to free the country of Open Defecation, there are certain places and circumstances when if one has to go, one goes out in the open. Before dawn. Under the stars. With each other and few Himalayan bears for company. Relax, it wont be that bad. Just the stench will keep away the bears.

Normally the bear would be running away...from your stench. Image source:

Not unless you have few extra pounds to spare. Image source:
 For the ever keen type 'achievers.' Nothing you pre-read and re-read for the FC will help you. The FC exams will be a googly anyway despite your PhDs and Post Doctorals in Economics, Political Science, Probability and Statistics, Management, Public Administration, Law and in Hindi. So, relax, brush up only your teeth (a fresh breath helps in finding a suitable boy or girl, tooth paste research shows) and sleep tight. Or not. It would be of help if you can culture yourself a bit. A dance form or two. A loosening up of vocal cords. Nothing too fancy, just the basics would do. And please, if there is a real, felt need at The Academy, it is for good comperes and emcees. If you can be witty and keep the audience from yawning, what more son, all the world and the Academy will be yours.

What else can be yours? A bride or a groom as per your cadre, convenience, caste and choice. The choice will be of your parents'. In fact, ignore everything you read above. The hills have had a reputation for being the playgrounds of Cupid. If you do fall, you would only throw away your heart. Skinned hearts are no worse than skinned knees.

Skinned knees and sprained ankles are taken care of at the dispensary near the Sardar Patel Hall (SPH, a class room where Phase 1 OTs are trapped and trained, as opposed to SA, Sampoornanand Auditorium aka ultra luxe sleeping quarters for FC OTs). There are no salves for skinned hearts unfortunately, except a well made drink and a friendly ear to chew out. The drink can be had at the Officer Trainees' Lounge in the Karmshila complex which also houses the awesome library and Officers' Mess and class rooms. The OT Lounge is a nice place to laze around post lunch. Plush carpets, cushy couches, LCD TV, disco-lights, wood floor dancing area etc are but few creature comforts that await a weary OT in the lounge. 

The Officers' Mess is an institution. A venerable institution. It not only provides sustenance but also views of the Himalayas. The views are more fulfilling than the very nutritious food and it is no exaggeration. Appropriate dress code is prescribed for the Mess and it is advisable to follow the code, to respect the institution. Check out the gallery of the Mess. The trophies and mementos will spring a surprise or two.

The library is a treasure house. If the printed word means anything to you, then you will find the Gandhi Smriti Library a fruition of that meaning.

There are many more wonders of The Academy with which a fresh OT  would do well to be acquainted. We leave descriptions of such wonders for another post? Oui.


  1. Just Another 90th Guy8 July 2015 at 16:34

    Your blog sir was a most pleasant find. The sense of disbelief that I will soon be strolling the hallowed lawns of LBSNAA, is gradually beginning to sink in!

  2. No more SPH - its Tagore, Vivekananda @ Aadharshila

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