Currently I am on a short trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, in connection with an official engagement. While my travel blog will follow, this is regarding a totally new experience about the military life.
We have been brought to a place some 100 Kms away from the city, where buses have left us at the end of a motorable road to be taken to a further remote location by military trucks, powerful all terrain monsters. A short drive through muddy, virtually no road brings us to a military camp. Here we are exposed to real arms, guns, grenades, tanks and other small arms. The weather is chilly ( temperature being close to freezing point), damp and very harsh. In such extreme conditions, we are given an opportunity to relive real experience. First, after a demo, we are given a chance to fire that monster of a weapon, the much dreaded AK-47. This is an excitable but eerie experience. Next is a ride in the tank through the unfriendliest of the terrains. Thereafter, we are offered to try our hands at knives, thrown at the targets that’s much different from darts we get throw at certain bars. In the eerie cold, a cup of hot ” Black Army Tea” comes like godsend relief.
The experience evokes a feeling of patriotism in all of us. ” Bharat Mata ki Jai”, “Ganpati Bappa Moriya” and “Har Har Mahadev” chants make the atmosphere very sombre. We are all having just one feeling- in a made up scenario, when we are facing no real enemy. are getting full assistance and safety and are made comfortable to the extent possible, we’re getting this eerie feeling! How about our soldiers? They face a very vicious and treacherous enemy, terrorists, most difficult of terrains (Siachen is the highest battle ground in the world), are at the front for months together away from their families and yet have their morale always high ready to die for the nation at the drop of a hat!
Let’s not underplay their sacrifice by labelling it as their duty. Let’s give our fondest salutation to these men because of whom we feel protected and safe!