14th October, 2014 the day we were waiting for since a very long time finally arrived, not because this day was to bear fruits of all the hard work we had done. But because of something way more valuable.
10:00 a.m. in the morning, I reach home after spending the night yet again at the garage. Drenched with the light of the tiny particles that fly away from a cutting machine, they never seized to leave my gaze and kept reminding me of what I had gone through. I took a quick bath, packed up a couple of important stuff, ate a bit. By 10:40 a.m. I was back at my refugee camp (this comparison came to my mind after I saw people gazing at us day and night with eldritch looks). My super talented team was sitting on the inner side of the gate in a circular formation with faces that looked more hangdog than a person who’s seen the earths end. It was clear that something had gone awfully wrong in my absence but what?
“The engine just won’t start Aziz, we may not be going to Coimbatore at all” said Sumeet.
Those words hit me sharply, and an eerie lull of shock surrounded me. It was very difficult to accept that all that time we had invested into it was all in vain. It was unacceptable because it wasn’t true. I began checking the connections, then fittings, then battery. I couldn’t take all of it at once, as I’d worked 10-12 hours a day for a month and in the process got a hand fractured yet never bothered to stop.
“C’mon guys, don’t lose confidence, we can still make this work. If we don’t try we will never realize what fate had in mind for us on the other side. We got to give it a shot. Even if this kart doesn’t start here, we will have a day in Coimbatore, we can work there. Rather than skipping the whole idea completely” I shouted and having made my point began working again.
“I cannot go back home from here, my family is going to shower me with thousands of taunts” said Shubham, nodded Sankalp in agreement.
Somehow that urge, of either standing aloft the expectations or merely doing it because there was no other way, ignited a spark. People started joining me, seemed my little speech hit them somewhere in the head. With 40 minutes left in our hand before the train left for Bhopal, we realized the vehicle could not be repaired, so we started disassembling it carefully piece by piece. The time flew and half of us had to board the train. Rest of us decided to stay back and complete the packing and then come via roadways.
Train reached the Bhopal station at 17:50 p.m. 4 out of the initial 10, who had boarded the train secured an area with all the luggage we had. (And boy! We had a lot of luggage, around 42 bags some containing safety equipment, repairing tools, spare parts, etc.) The rest of the team touched the stations at 21:20 p.m. The packing was done with perfection and so it was easy to transport the disassembled parts.
The journey from Bhopal to Coimbatore was easy, then the repairing work. At the end of the day we were back on track. But then something had to go wrong again, during our final checks we burned down a couple of wires (because the current was higher than the wire could take) and we dropped back to the bottom of our excitement again. Praveen wasn’t ready to lose hope, his dedication kept us alive. Anyways we submitted the incomplete vehicle onto the TRACK the other morning, the adrenaline still being pumped by me. (Kari motor speedway; the second fastest track in India and one of the oldest tracks of Asia) we did the necessary repairs there. Cleared the first day smoothly. And most part of the second day too. But then brake test was something our vehicle could not qualify (the problem was later found out to be the reverse mounting of the brake calliper) anyways the brake did not lock properly, we did get a second chance on the third day to clear the brake test but our problem was a major one.
If I asses the whole event as a reader, I probably would summarize it as failure. But it wasn’t, I learned way more than I could have. Our competitors had spent around 3 lakh rupees (funding from the college mostly) we managed to do all that and more in 40 thousand rupees including transportation, without any support from our college what-so-ever. And to top it all we managed to sneak up a rank of 40 out of the 102 teams that came there. That’s really funny because we could not do most of the tests as we were disqualified on the second day.
When I look back at those days, I realize that if I’d not taken that train to Coimbatore and instead would’ve sat at Abhishek’s garage gazing at the clouds above with the rest of the team. The precious time would’ve passed by just like the clouds. And the cradle of memories that I hold now, the lessons I’ve learned, the people I’ve met would be just abyss. Disaster management would’ve been only a theoretical subject. But most of all I would never know, what waited for me on the tougher side of the situation.
“Some choices are worth making, even if they go wrong. At-least you tried”
“You can never really appreciated standing up, until you’ve fallen”
To be continued…