I recalled my own maiden visit to the Republic day parade

Salt N' Pepper


Say what you will 26th January, the Republic Day that is, is a day to celebrate. In these busy times it provides a rare opportunity for a sit-in at home and since you can’t venture too far from your homes it oftentimes leads to that even rarer pastime, a get-together between neighbours. A get-together, that too when you are hemmed in by cold as well as a combination of hartal and security bandobast, is an ideal setting for relating anecdotes. My father spoke nostalgically about the time when everybody would sit around black and white TV sets to watch the Republic Day parade. “I never got an opportunity to watch a real parade though, not even the local one in the stadium,” he said.
“It is something I would give a miss anytime and I speak from experience,” one of the two neighborhood guys who had dropped in at our place said.
“Why? Don’t you enjoy the parade?” I needled him.
“How can anyone, when, in there, even a sneeze is considered subversive?!” he replied.
“Really! And how do you say that?!”
“Well, last year I went to see the parade. Sitting there in the stadium I could sense the beginning of a cold. I wrinkled my nose and tried all possible strategies to hold it back, but I finally had to let go a particularly insistent sneeze. And guess what! I find a dozen guns pointing in my face!”
“And what is more, half an hour later as this ‘crisis’ got defused, I lifted my hand to scratch an agonizing itch in my arm-pit. Even before my fingers could make contact with the itching terrain, I found myself pinned down, beneath not less than six of the blackest and the most feline commandos ever, who, almost permanently, squashed the life out of me!”
“Well this goes to their credit rather than discredit,” the other visiting neighbor pointed out. “They have got to be alert and they really are! A couple of years back, in a similar function, a strange noise suddenly started up in the VIP enclosure. The whole place was immediately evacuated, sniffer-dogs brought in and a bomb-disposal squad checked the whole area with metal and mine detectors!”
“Did they discover the bomb?! “ I asked in duly impressed tones.
“Well you see there was no bomb…,”he dismissed my query with an impatient wave of his hand.
“What was it then?” I persisted.
“The noise was traced to a secluded corner. And preliminary investigations revealed that a very honourable (but habitually somnolent) minister had fallen asleep and was … well, snoring at high decibel-levels!” He concluded rather sheepishly.
Well strange sounds do create such situations. I recalled my own maiden visit to the Republic day parade. There was palpable tension in the air and I can’t claim that I was unaffected by it, as I sat in the stadium awaiting the beginning of the parade. My gut is rather sensitive to ‘tension’ and I had also had a lighter than usual breakfast in my hurry to reach the venue for the ceremony. A combination of tension and hunger being sufficient stimuli to set it off, my stomach rumbled to register its protest. In the unnatural hush of the venue this must have sounded like thunder (or a roll of guns perhaps, depending upon your perspective!). The man sitting next to me jumped out of his skin at the sound and looked towards me, apprehension, nay, horror, writ large on his face! Needless to say he changed his seat. I did not relate this incident though because I did not wish to initiate a debate on obnoxious sounds of abdominal origin as such discussions have a tendency of getting out of hand.
 Later as I saw-off the fellows accompanying them to the gate of our house my 5 year old nephew Afaan also accompanied us. “What is this Gun-tantra?” he asked suddenly. He must have heard the word while we were relating the Republic Day anecdotes. I cleared my throat preliminary to launching into an erudite definition. Thanks to the desi avatars of Harry Potter, the ladoo gobbling Chotta Bheem and others of the ilk I never got a chance.
“Tantra-mantra! It is some sort of magic, isn’t it?!” Afaan answered his own question the knowledge inspired I am sure by the aforementioned TV cartoons. I saw no point in contradicting him.
“Why! There is nobody on the road. Not even a single gaadi!” Afaan remarked with surprise as I opened the gate and he saw the deserted main road, which is normally full of hustle and bustle.”
“And who are they?” he added, pointing towards the security personnel who were the only ones present on the road.
At this one of my neighbors laughed and said, “Don’t you know?! They are Gun-tantrics and it is their magic that has made everyone on the road disappear. The magic of Gun-tantra!”
I could see by the look on his face that Afaan was mighty impressed.
Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at

Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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