Power & Promotion when Drive Is In Reverse Gear It was pre-mobile era. The hillock was barren and desolate. I manoeuvred the jeep with ease, over steep soil-rocky mixed terrain - almost reached its plateau when monsoon rain commenced to lash. Its rear left wheel caught in a deep ditch and engine stalled. My efforts proved futile. Could it be a glitch? To seek help, I had decided to proceed downhill by foot. The long rexin-rain coat and its hood protecting me from being drenched in rains with my legs in tall gumboots ambled over the ubiquitous patches of moss and bit grass on a rocky terrain. At a distance, down the hill, I spotted a Landrover with its head lights blinking just getting parked. It was my new local boss - a Colonel - who was supposed to come any day on surprise inspection. He would be writing my dossier and make recommendations for my elevation in rank. As I reached downhill, the fury of the rain abated. He was recently posted from active army unit to the peace area zonal office to oversee activities connected with army inspection and supplies. He was tall and trim, looking fair and majestic with a thick-waxed-robust-moustache and did display gallantry ribbons on his olive green tucked shirt. My eyes met the lanky Colonel sitting erect behind the wheel; and as he returned my salute, in stentorian style queried “Hello young man. What had kept you up and why are you down by foot?” I gave a graphic account. At the end of it, he just quizzed me of my plans for retrieving the rear-wheel. I responded in soft tone that I tried to drive in 4 x4 forward in the lowest gear. He seemed to have got the technical point and from his driver’s seat he leaned sideway, reached behind the backrest- a hanging knitted pouch- containing jeep technical/service manual. He opened a section on “transmission” and glanced through some particulars and figures across; and dabbed his stiff index finger repeatedly over a tabled diagram. He drew my attention to a column of “figure” in the table which denoted the driving force for various combinations of gear ratios. His broad dense stiff moustache got pampered repeatedly with his left thumb and index finger over its contour. He shifted his gaze from manual to gauge whether I got the point. Knitting his eye brows, he just enlightened me “my dear young man - you are thorough with the manual but yet you are not on the dot.” He gestured me to hop into the seat by his side and switched on ignition and the engine roared to life; the Landrover with crunching sound behind, moved ahead in a long curve ascending the hill. The rain began pelting the windscreen and wiper struggled to sweep. Colonel drove in middle gear holding the large wobbling steering wheel with steely hands and it was a rough haul over uphill; and in a couple of minutes the Landrover reached the spot where my jeep got stuck. We alighted. Colonel briskly ran round the stuck-stalled jeep. He occupied the driver’s seat in the stuck jeep and checked something and seemed satisfied. He came out of the jeep and told step by step the action plan. He positioned the Landrover behind the stuck jeep’s “bumper to bumper”. I got into the stuck jeep released the parking brake and engaged the reverse gears in main and lowest in auxiliary gear box and the vehicle kept in readiness to move in reverse in 4 x 4 mode. Over the lashing rains, I heard colonel’s commanding voice directing me to commence reversing the jeep. As I had depressed the accelerator gently and releasing the clutch by and by, the power of the jeep engine gradually built up resulting in some jerks at the rear and lo, I felt the spinning wheel out from the ditch, bouncing back on to the level ground and jeep moved slowly backward pushing the land rover which was cushioning the jeep. The rain ceased and we alighted at the foot of the hill. To celebrate, Colonel took a cigar from a metal case and lit it with the click of golden coloured lighter. Blowing twirling rings upwards away from me, he shook hands and whispered that manual says the maximum driving force of the jeep generated only when you engage drive in reverse direction. We returned to his office chamber and an orderly brought a tray of golden rimmed china cups and a tall jug from which fresh garden tea-brew fragrance was emanating. In between hot-sips of black-tea, he dictated in few minutes, walking to and fro along the brim of large table his annual assessment of my performance to Punjabi-speaking steno clad in cardigan-covered-Patiala-salwar-suit. The moment she finished taking down, steno proffered her hand and shook mine and a stiff colonel said in his baritone voice to me “congratulations”. My life engine propelled forward.