Kolkata, Apr 6:
It was a horrifying time initially for 75 trainees of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, held up at 14,600 feet high Chaurikhang base camp at Kanchenjunga mountain ranges when the 21-day nationwide lockdown was imposed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
They were to finish their training two days after the lockdown was declared on March 24 and return to their respective places with the certificates, but little did they know they will be in a real life ‘HMI 21 Days Big Boss Challenge’.
Safely brought back to Darjeeling where Asia’s first mountaineering training centre is located, the 75 trainees, including two women, hailing from different parts of the country, are living up to the challenge by example.
“With the help of Sikkim and West Bengal governments we could bring back the trainees to the institute safely but the biggest task for me was to keep them safe and engaged during the lockdown,” group captain and principal of HMI Jai Kishan said from Darjeeling.
“So we thought of this Big Boss Challenge. Everybody is aware of the popular show on TV and we gave it a twist at HMI, well aware that it would cost us Rs 15 lakh extra as we are not charging a penny extra for them.”
The 75 trainees include 53 in Basic Mountaineering Course and 22, including two women, in Search and Rescue Course which began on March 10 as they are having an extended stay under the unforeseen circumstances.
Kishan said the trainees begin their day with a two-hour yoga, pranayam, meditation session followed by the singing of National Anthem. Then, they go to breakfast table without stepping out of their Laxman Rekha (circles marked all over the institute with a two-metre distance to maintain social distancing). (PTI)