Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The smell of gunpowder and marksmanship

To me, the sharp, sweet smell (atleast to me.. it is )of burnt gunpowder you experience when you open the bolt of a rifle to eject a spent shell is heaven. I just love it, I have spent a small fortune on bullets just to enjoy that smell. In fact I have spent enough time on a shooting range nosing around, to be able to recognise the smell given off by different breed of catridges. Ok, enough about the smell.

This post is actually about my love for marksmanship. It's about hitting a dot dead centre a.k.a the bull's eye from a distance and being able to do it again and again all the while knowing that the probabality of hitting the bulls eye is more near to zero than one i.e. if everything goes the way things ought to go.

Speaking in scientific terms, you should be able to reproduce the outcome of an experiment if you are able to do it in identical controlled conditions. In a target shooters case the controlled conditions include but are not limited to 1) Three Part Breathing 2) Attentional control 3) Maintaining body posture aligned to the target and the the sighting scope etc.Hitting the bulls eye is the result of perfect execution of a series of actions like any stage art you can think of.

I still remember the first time I squeezed the trigger (they pull the trigger only in the movies), it was almost as good as any first kiss. ;). I long for the company of my fellow riflemen and their tall stories about their junglee exploits and about guns passed on from generation to generation ... in that other life of mine.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Borders Abroad

Growing up in Kottayam, a small town down south of India, I was kilometers away from the nearest border post with Pakistan but was never too far from the emotional shelling that happened every morning when news was discussed at the breakfast table and at playgrounds. We celebrated war movies, cried together when we lost a cricket match and silently swore to kill them all when ever a jawan came home from kashmir in a coffin. For me, patriotism went hand in hand with an underlying hatred for Pakistan and Pakistanis. I know hate is a harsh word but I would never have shared a meal with a Pakistani during my growing up years. To me ,Pakistan was in another planet .
Years later, living in another city, I now know that there is a Punjab in Pakistan along with Sindh and Balochistan. Now that I have friends from the other side, I have no qualms about sharing a meal with Most of the time, I mean it when I say "Bhai Jaan". Lahore is now just another city I can look up friends in, if I ever went there. I don't really mind when they call me "Hindi" behind my back because I identify more "Hindi " than being called a "Malabari".
The way I look at things now, there isn't much difference between us and them, if we forget what we assume and what we were told about each other. They like SRK and we like Junoon, they are mad about cricket as we are, and we always cheer for their team unless, of course, they are playing us, don't we ?
Of course, there is that invisible thin line that separates us in all ascpects of life out here ( we seldom watch cricket together, we don't talk about the wars and we never share accommodation). As the saying goes, good fences make good neighbours.