Thursday, March 31, 2011

Official's Life

As we set out from Delhi to reach Hotel Pink City, driving in our Gypsy with Anirban on the wheel, hardly did we know the challenges that Monsoon had set for the participants of “The Monsoon Ride 2010”. Apprehensions are always there in the beginning of any event; this year’s main concern was the rain. Monsoon had come announced in true sense, turning the ride to Jaipur into a lush green stretch of beautiful trees and undergrowth. When we reached Jaipur, the weather was pleasant and refreshing; there were signs of heavy rainfall but none at the present. It was nearly past midnight, the Jal Mahal stood elegantly lit with the water surrounding sparkling in its reflection. We reached the hotel and were settled in our room, already pre-allocated for the officials. I hurried off to sleep, preparing for the next day’s activity, while Anirban hung around with Govind ji, Yogesh sir and Yatin discussing the plan for scrutiny to follow the next day.
On the 30th of July, I woke up to a not so sunny morning. Instructions had been sent with the bed tea that we were all to report down by 8 ‘O’ clock in hall downstairs. At breakfast we met the Official team for the first time. Yatin briefed us of the duties that had been allocated, and I was lone in charge of the document scrutiny to be later joined by Shalini. After familiarizing me with my crew of 5, we set up our tables with the required documents, cards, tags, boxes and papers. Shalini soon joined us. Today was the day for the local participants to get their documents and vehicle scrutiny complete. Participants started turning up, but the turnover did not seem as intense as we started. There was a lovely wind blowing outside, no heat, the weather was befitting for us to sit back and enjoy the monsoon feeling and with the less turnover from participants we did have time to stare out at the lobby and exclaim at the beauty outside. By the afternoon we got busy with the participants pouring in. At times our table was a chaos, while we persuaded participants the importance of their missing documents and insurance. There were others waiting and in hurry to get through the document scrutiny and get to the vehicle scrutiny so that they could get all complete if any requirement was lacking. Evening 6’O’ clock saw us wrapping up having finished with the document scrutiny for the last person of the day. The numbers on the sheet including two and four wheelers had reached some 30’s only. That left us expecting a swarming turnover we might face the next day, as the outsiders were yet to arrive and a some of locals who had to turn up for re-scrutiny. Tired and hungry, i was off to bed by 10 after updating every one of the current data.
July 31st was not a sunny day as well. The sky looked pale, cold wind blowing, from the beginning it looked like it would rain. We were back at our desks by 9am. Few participants had already gathered and queued up for their scrutiny as we settled down. Today was the day for the participants outside Jaipur to complete their document and vehicle formalities. The day was scheduled to be action packed as it also held the ceremonial flag off in the evening followed by the pre-event press conference. It was going to be a very busy day. Today since morning participants had already started arriving in ones, twos and in packs. Hands were moving fast to cover up the extending queue of participants who had gathered and still arriving. Brief explanations were being given to participants and referred to the supplementary regulations for any information they required. Important instruction were being pinned up on the side board to avoid queries that could be gathered through them. The scrutiny team was on a roller coaster ride from the very beginning trying to accommodate all queries, checks and even help for the clueless participants, when it came to insurance, FMSCI license and completion of their documents. Track had to be kept that all received their id cards, meal coupons and certificates before they left the scrutiny desk. Amidst all this confusion and chaos monsoon played its worst cards for the officials that day. It started pouring cats and dogs by 10:30am in the morning. Participants were arriving drenched with news of others stuck en-route due to rain. Participants had to wait to get their documents photocopied from the shop outside or reach the insurance office to collect their required vehicle insurance, to help them avail the FMSCI license. With more numbers pouring in, advancement of work was getting stalled while more piled up. So went the proceedings the entire day, it was past 8 in the evening when we finally wrapped up at the document scrutiny. The flag-off had taken place and so had the press conference amidst the rain and a little sun in the evening. But the scrutiny people hardly knew anything. Pre dinner all officials were briefed about their TC locations and the chain of events to follow next day to make the Monsoon Ride a success. All queries were answered and a GPS, Data sheet and Road book was handed over to each TC team. All officials were to report at Jal Mahal at 3am the next day for their TC placement. A long and busy day was ending, preceding another long day. It was nearly midnight and the next day was to start early for all of us, everyone retired to their rooms to grab some sleep before they reported for duty.
1st of August 2010, it was 3 AM at night. Having collected our breakfast, we stickered our Gypsy and loaded it, we set out to reach Jal Mahal for the Official line up. 4 AM, all official vehicles followed Sudev sir. Having placed TC2, as the convoy moved on, one of the official vehicle, an Accent got stuck in the mud. The terrain for the event included rocky paths, as well as slush. Here, the previous day’s rain had loosened the soil beneath a small bridge we were supposed to cross and thus the car tyres had sunk in and the thorny bushes had punctured a tyre. Our Gypsy thus stayed back to help while Sudev Sir moved on with the rest of the convoy, leading them to their allocated TCs. Though we managed to get the car out of the slush and the tyres had to be replaced before it moved on, the WM MEDIA TEAM who had followed us in their hired Innovas got stuck in the same slush. Word was sent with the now, running fine Accent for help. The route had to be cancelled and a fresh start now had to be given. After re-lining up all vehicles as Govind ji gave a fresh start to the competition, Anirban and I went on recce to make sure that the 2nd half of Leg2 was in a motor able condition for the participants to pass through. The road seemed fine and having reported that to Govind ji, we were placed at our TC by Sudev Sir, for Leg2 of the competition soon after lunch time. No sooner than an hour had passed before Mr. Raju Verma, whizzed in to our TC in his Gypsy. Soon the others followed in their four wheelers and two-wheelers. All had passed our TC in an hour and a half time. The sweep team arrived not much later and we started our journey back to the hotel.
We then reached Angara discotheque where results were being calculated and prize distribution was to take place. Results were being calculated at the Angara, the participants were all present there. They looked tired but everybody had the look of anxiety, eager to know their stand in the competition. There was a constant buzz and every now and then a participant would come up and ask how long it would be before the results would be out. Finally, the wait was over as the results were hung up on the board with 30 minutes time for any objection by the participants on their individual scores. There was a lot, however amidst all the objections, explanations, happiness and sadness, the results were declared final. Prizes were distributed and the event came to an end with a closing speech by Govind ji.
It had been a tiring run of events. I was drained of all energy; my love for sleep was catching up. I had dinner and Anirban drove a sleepy me back to the hotel. 2nd August, the event was over but the essence still seemed to run in all of us, we had emerged another year old, a bit more experienced. We knew our shortcomings and our advantages. We had already started planning for the next year, implementing ideas to overcome our fall backs and building on our positives. A small group of us, who had not yet left the venue, sat in our room, drawing the outlines for the TMR 2011, planning to handle the challenges which lay ahead of Western Motorsports…

Document Scrutineer.