Monday, March 05, 2012

Shooting with Soldiers

We went to Shillong in September 2010, right, and Baba (my dad) and Vicky both got themselves bows and arrows and while they were at it, 17' long fishing rods as well. They found all that in Barabazaar and went a little nuts. Vicky even went through an arrow-making phase a month later when he ordered bamboo from Assam and sourced tiny scissors for arrowheads. Unfortunately though, apart from one or two shooting sessions at home (to the detriment of one wall) and once, at a friend's house, neither Baba nor his son-in-law found space to really shoot to their hearts' content in all this time.

This January we went to Vizag for a week. One afternoon we decided to go for a drive to a hill which has  a Buddhist site on it and is usually quite deserted (apart from the odd lovers trysting behind bushes.) The men decided to take along the bows and arrows as well as Baba's shotgun, air rifle and air pistol. (Imagine Rahul's intense excitement. On an earlier trip to Vizag I had helped restore his faith in humanity by being able to shoot, even if I'm only a 'gerl'.)

The hill turned out to be more populated than we'd hoped and we drove around a bit looking for a quiet spot. When we were right at the top we stopped and found a little lane leading into a bit of a clearing which seemed viable for shooting since we would be able to see anybody approaching us. Not that we could see anybody except for some labourers in a half-constructed building in the distance.

We set up our targets and started firing. Within a very few minutes some armed guards (with an assortment of guns including an AK47) had walked up to us asking what we thought we were doing. Those people in that building weren't labourers, they were a newly set up army guard!

I was mentally thanking god we had decided not to fire the shotgun. Things seemed to teeter on the edge of trouble until one of them noticed Vicky on the side stacking up his arrows. That sparked their interest, that and the presence of Rahul and I, all the more since I was the one firing the air rifle when they reached us. What with one thing and another they spent the next one hour firing the air rifle and pistol and some hardy souls even tried the archery. More soldiers joined them, and a commanding officer, until there were I think about 8-10 of them discussing guns with my father and taking archery tips from Vicky. Around the time we were winding up I finally got the air rifle back and managed a few decent shots. That set them on their mettle -- this 'girl' doing what only one of them had managed so far -- and we had another round of intense competition.

It was a fun afternoon, with them teasing Rahul and discussing us in Telugu (which they didn't know I could follow) but I can tell you, I exhaled long and loud when they finally left!

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