After a short (and a little boring) talk by the organizers, people started checking into their pre allocated tents when Mr. Bechara Lal (name changed again to protect the identity of the individual) found that his tent was already occupied by some Australians (non - Nucleites). Mr. Lal was with his wife and 10 months' kid and they had to wait under a tree for 2 hrs till they could finally settle. Nobody got to know what the actual problem was all about but the Lals had to face a considerable discomfort. Problems like this are bound to arise in situations like this but probably Nucleus needed to organize the show better and have a contingency plan in place.
Afternoon saw half of the campers with their boots, goggles and digicams set out towards a distantly visible mountain peak for trekking. Wait! Did I say trekking? Trekking involves mountain climbing, it required ropes, it needs considerable athleticism and above all it is adventurous and fun, isn't it? Well, that is what around 80% of the people (who were first time campers like me) thought. But TREKKING turned out to be mundane, going half of the distance in a bus and the rest trudging along winding pathways. No doubt, the path was sloping up but we were not climbing, just walking. We were exhausted, legs ached and sweat dripped. Children were unable to keep up and their parents were unable to carry them. The show was a complete flop and everybody was bitter about it later. Aren't there better things to do rather than walking for 3 km and back? Doesn't Nucleus need to check this before? We had a little talk with the external trip organizer, Mr. Bala (original identity retained) about it. Aren't there better areas around to trek? Yes, he said. Then why the hell did he choose this path? He said that the choice was not his. Nucleus had made all the decisions. We thought we would confront the Admin people about this later but later it was booze time and as you might have already guessed, the issue was closed - unresolved.
The cream of the entire trip, the MAHA event, the time for which everyone had been talking from a couple of weeks - RAFTING. This was the best part of the entire trip for almost everybody. The day was 'almost perfect' but as the popular saying goes - 'Perfections are never noticed, only imperfections are'. After a truly eventful and much enjoyed day, things were being wrapped up. We had finished rafting over 15 km stretch on the holy Ganges and the last thing of the day was a free jump into the water from a 20 ft rock. Most of us were non swimmers and the organizers were giving us all the necessary tips before the jump. Keep the body straight, don't tilt sideways, and don't fold the legs, try to take the plunge in a straight line. It all seemed ridiculously simple and common sense on the rock but off the rock, every piece of advice melted down instantly. We curled into a ball or stretched our hands and the impact with the water down was always painful. The most unfortunate of all was probably Leo, the lion king (this incidentally is the e mail id of that guy). Leo had folded his legs and the impact with the water gave him a severe effect in the lower part of his abdomen. Poor Leo was not even able to walk properly in the rest of the trip. In the night, his tent mates went to the Admin people for some medicinal and professional help and SURPRISE - Nucleus had not thought of this earlier. So there was no medicine. When pressed, the Admin guy in charge gave a Paraceutemol tablet (250 mg), a drug used for normal body aches, with a very sound advice - tell him to sleep. Oh, we had not thought of it. Thanks a million for such a brilliant idea.
Organizing and managing an event is not just about arranging for the journey. It is also about being able to predict the possible and probable emergencies and planning for them. The issue with Leo was quite serious, so serious that Leo had taken 3 days leave after the trip and used medicines for a whole week. Not being prepared for such an emergency is sort of being a failure in managing the event.
That night saw people boozing and puking heavily as it was the last night of the trip. At about 2 AM, there were six of us on the edge of the Ganges sitting on the rocks smoking and shouting gibberish. One of us suddenly decided that he did not have enough swimming during the rafting and got into the water before anybody could realize what was happening. The current was quite strong there and this guy was a non swimmer plus quite drunk and by the time we all came to our senses, it seemed it was too late to do anything. Fortunately, there was a very good swimmer among us (who had till then forgotten that he was) and the rest is history. I understand that there is very little that Nucleus can do in situations of this sort but there is a river barely 100 mts from our tents, booze was there and it is pretty obvious that people are going to get drunk and then cool themselves at the edge of the river. True, we were warned hundreds of times; true, we are old enough to ought to take care of ourselves but again a human life was almost lost that night. What started as fun would have come to a sad and tragic end. To be prepared for the worst unpredicted situations is not a quality that every manager possesses.
Fortunately, there are not many episodes like this, so my piece of literature (thanks for letting me call this) ends before you get bored (if you are not already). There have been quite a many accident Nucleus had been exemplary in handling with and such incidents are out of scope here and hence not mentioned. Please understand that it is not like I had a horrendous time and now I am persuading Nucleus to do away with the idea of Nuc Venture. I too had loads of fun, had found half a dozen very good friends, smoked my first joint and felt very much like Richard Branson must have when he made his maiden trip into skies in a hot air balloon. Nuc Venture would even find a mention in my autobiography (I plan to write one some time). It is just that being a part of the Six Sigma group, I felt that it is part of my job to bring up defects in the process so that we achieve perfection the next time we attempt it.
Looking forward to the Nuc Venture next year.
Three cheers to the Nuc Venture.
Three cheers to Nucleus.