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Meet the alarmist

The best working conditions in any environment are when there is no tension and the atmosphere at the workplace is congenial and relaxed. However, our squadron commander held a different view. He was not only finicky and unsure of himself but also equally adept at creating tension in his command. Lt Gen Harwant Singh (retd) writes

chandigarh Updated: Jul 16, 2013 10:38 IST
Lt Gen Harwant Singh (retd)

The best working conditions in any environment are when there is no tension and the atmosphere at the workplace is congenial and relaxed. However, our squadron commander held a different view. He was not only finicky and unsure of himself but also equally adept at creating tension in his command.


We were out on tank troop training and were camping near Ferozepur. The ground where we had set up our tents was sandy and we had low camp cots. Desert rats roamed all over the place and sometimes at night they would, in a playful mood, jump on to the bed and then jump off.

Around 1am one night, the squadron commander called out to me. Being a light sleeper, I responded immediately and rushed to his tent with a torch in hand. I presumed it was an emergency. On entering the tent, I found him sitting up in bed and holding his hand. He showed me his finger, which had obviously been nibbled by one of the rats. I had a close look at the bite marks and thought that here was an opportunity to pack off the squadron commander to hospital for a few days and get rid of all the tension he had created.

Making a face so full of horror, I pronounced that is was a snake bite and the cuts were decidedly fang marks. Before he could say 'Jack Robinson', I raised the alarm, tied his wrist tight with a piece of cloth to stop flow of the 'poison' to the rest of his body, got the squadron commander's jeep out and told him that he was being taken to hospital.

As he was getting ready, he told me to accompany him to the military hospital. I drove the jeep rather fast to highlight the urgency in his evacuation. Around 1.30am, we were at the hospital where the duty medical officer examined him and said that he would wait for a reaction to set in before administering any treatment. I suggested that my boss be moved to the intensive care unit, but the doctor thought otherwise. He asked him to lie down and relax. Soon the squadron commander dozed off, snoring rather loudly. All this while, I sat on a bench next to him.

Around 8am, the doctor came over and examined him to see if any reaction from the snake bite had set in. I knew that there would be no reaction for it was only a rat that had nibbled his finger.

After applying some iodine on the finger, the doctor told us that all was well and that we could go back to the camp. I returned with a stiff back, groggy eyes and perhaps required the doctor's attention more than my squadron commander.

As I slowly drove my boss back to the camp, he dubbed me an 'alarmist'. Sometimes, it does not pay to be too clever.

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