Stories From The Camp: Independence Day Celebrations

No matter which part of the country you are in,  Independence day is celebrated with much pomp and vigour. Here’s Rupert Winchester talking all about the Independence day celebrations at our Chamba Camp, Thiksey in Ladakh

Independence Day Celebration

The map of India made by the general manager, Joydip, in the restaurant tent

The 15th of August is a very special day in this country: Indian Independence Day. Being an international hotel, I wasn’t sure how we were going to be able to celebrate the day: I needn’t have worried. Like everything they do up here in Ladakh, the staff at The Ultimate Travelling Camp managed to do it brilliantly.

Obviously, the guests came first. Morning sunrise viewings, visits to morning prayers at Thiksey Monastery, and sumptuous breakfasts were all dispatched with TUTC’s usual élan.

But once the guests were sent off for their days out, or to the airport for their regretful return to the plains of India, all the staff at Chamba Camp, Thiksey – F&B, housekeeping, laundry, accounts, transport, security – gathered at the back-of-house volleyball court. A flagpole had been erected, and at the stroke of 10 o’clock the Indian flag was unfurled, releasing a huge cloud of marigold petals; the Indian national anthem was sung, and then cakes and sandwiches were served.

Independence Day Celebration

The flag hoisting ceremony at the campsite

The camp restaurant had been decorated with balloons in the Indian national colours, and extraordinary General Manager Joydip had stayed up half the night making an amazingly detailed and accurate map of India out of flower petals. It looked amazing.

In the afternoon there was a camp cricket match between different departments, played on a square of dusty ground in the back-of-house area. It was enthusiastic and fun. Food & Beverage eventually triumphed, beating Housekeeping in a tense finale.

Nothing like some good old camp cricket to make everyone's day!

Nothing like some good ol’ camp cricket to make everyone’s day!

And then in the evening there was a little celebration, with a talent show. Various departments put on little dramatic skits, or dances, or read poems; drinks were drunk, songs were sung, old friendships were renewed.

We had a guest, a well-known Indian politician, who insisted on coming to the back of house area after dinner and making a speech to all the staff. I was expecting the usual vote-gathering fluff you usually get from politicians; instead he spoke fervently and honestly about how brilliant the camp was, how the levels of service were beyond excellent, how the warmth of the staff made it an unforgettable stay. The staff were thrilled to hear it. We were all very proud.

For me, as an Englishman, Indian Independence Day is a bittersweet reminder of what a wonderful empire we used to have, but it was difficult to feel anything but great delight in this marvellous country, and how it is progressing boldly into the future, proud and content and fearless and ready to show the rest of the world what democracy and hard work and optimism can achieve. Here’s to many more!

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