“ BWANA WE ARE IN BISHNOI COUNTRY. “
The word Bishnoi (also known as Vishnoi) is derived from the word VISHNU.
Bishnois are known as the conservationists to whom the preservation of animal and vegetable life is a religion and has been so from the early 15th century. Their spiritual mentor, Guru Jambheshwar was the Avatar of Lord Vishnu. He formulated twenty nine tenets . The tenets were tailored to conserve bio-diversity of the area but also ensured a healthy Eco-friendly social life for the community.
Eight tenets have been prescribed to preserve bio-diversity and encourage good animal husbandry. These include a ban on killing animals and felling green trees, and providing protection to all life forms.
Deer and peacocks roamed freely in the Bishnoi villages and were treated with great love and affection.
Numerous traditions and rules of social conduct have been combined with the original principles that guide Bishnoi lives. The most significant of which arose in the original Jhamba village soon after the death of the prophet.
Each year, the people chose a man they called SHAAND, or breeder: a strong young man in his early twenties, handsome, intelligent and a prototypical ( B. D. SERIES.EXTENDED CHORD ) specimen of their race.
His duty was to breed with the women to improve the genetic stock of the entire ethnic group. Instead of wearing traditional mojari leather shoes, the SHAAND was known by his wooden karau. It was a great honor to be chosen as a SHAAND, who would leave his karau outside the home as a sign that no other men were welcome.
Although being chosen as the SHAAND was glorious, it was a short-lived honor with an abrupt end: Every year, a new SHAAND was chosen and the outgoing one was sacrificed. This tradition ended in the1920’s, doomed by both modernization and the increasing desertion by SHAAND in the last weeks of their tenure.
If you ever hunted on BISHNOI lands,they would kill you and send your SOUL to the “Happy Hunting Grounds.”This was irrespective of RANK.
The bachelors of the Marut lot would take in a Rest and Recreation trip every two weeks to SALAWAS AIRFIELD.This airfield was fenced in and shrub and wild life grew in abundance.It was manned by a D S C Guard Post.
The Shikaris were
On every second saturday afternoon the lot would set out by 1400 Hours in two Game Wagons, The Green Hornet and the Black Ambi. One D S C Guard would be awaiting their arrival at the Main Gate.He would let them in and lock the Gate again.He would get in the Ambi and the lot would head to the Staging/Resting Post.This was usually about 50 yards from the Main D S C tent.
Here the unloading was done and the Shikar was planned.Only partridges/Rabbits and Ducks would be culled.Enough Game was downed for the Party and the D S C Guards.
When the SUN went down the Party would sit by a fire side and Hercu Beta and Chick the Master Chefs would marinate and grill / roast various delicacies.This was accompanied by “GOOD SIPPING” and Tales About The Air Force was the Order of the day.
A Good Time was being had by all.
The Party followed some simple rules of the Land.
Hunting was done only on Air Force Land.This was limited to the centre of the Airfield and the Lake on The Salawas.
Guns/ Game were never in visual sight in the two vehicles on the road to and from Salawas.
Deer and Peacocks were given a wide berth and were never touched even though plenty existed on the Airfield.
SENIOR OFFICERS and outsiders were never ever allowed to join the FESTIVITIES.
Sunday morning the Party was back in the MESS.
Every one was having a good time.
The gentle Bishnoi People did not bother the Air Force Lot on the AIRFIELD.
During Hashimara Days Hercu Beta,Chick,Keru and Sambo did many a Shikar in the Cooch Behar District.
“ ANDROID D’FROSTA” was a Flight Commander in 17 Squadron and on many an occasion he requested / begged to join the Shoot.
He was politely refused due to Anomalies in the Rank Structure. Flying Officers vis-a-vis Squadron Leader.
ANDROID was not a happy officer.He could not do a “Sweet Tooth” about it.
The Hashimara Flying Officer Pilots were known as “THE WILD BUNCH “ and so Life went on.
We move back to Marut time and lo and behold “ ANDROID “ gets posted to Jodhpur with four flying officer tapes.He comes to hear of “plenty of game”and the luxury life style of the “ The Gang Of Six Shikaris “.
This time he puts the “ DHAMKI “ on a Marut Boss and says he wants to be included on a “SHIKAR “ outing.
The Boss takes out his worry beads and after a lot of praying on bended knees respectfully calls Bobcat and Randy for a request.He says that “ANDROID “ has requested to be included on a shikar.
Both firmly refuse and say that rank and shikar is a deadly combination and so will not work out.Four flying officer tapes versus two flying officer tapes is worse than a MOLOTOV COCKTAIL. In addition they reiterate that taking ANDROID on a Hunt would relegate them to POINTER / RETRIEVER DOG STATUS.
They further declare “ANDROID “ will treat us as “SLAVES” and would want us to say “HU-KUM “ to his every word.
“ YE SHIKAR HARGHIS NAHI HOGA.“
Two weeks later the Bossman is lying prostrate and begs the two, to take “ ANDROID “ just once for a short Shikar and get him off his back.He promises that they will not have to do it again.
This request is made close to midnight on a saturday evening on the Mess Lawn during a squadron party.Both Shikaris in a flash of kindness and spirit soaked /dulled brains agree.They tell the Bossman to inform “ ANDROID “to arrive at 1400 hours at their residence behind the Mess and to be in overalls and they will provide three shot guns and the shells.They also tell him to dress in flying cover alls,and to bring a jeep with no top and a full tank.
At the appointed time Bobcat and Randy are awaiting with the 3 shot guns and shells when “ ANDROID “ pulls up in a topless jeep wearing an overall with many squadron patches and a peak cap.The jeep is festooned with a flag. He has a shot gun and a .22 rifle is in the jeep.
ANDROID in a commanding voice says “ Boys” put away your “Indian” short guns in your rooms as I have an “English” shot gun and an “American” .22 rifle with a Silencer and a Telescopic sight.”
Rank outweighs logic and so the two do as requested and as they are climbing in to the jeep “ ANDROID “ tells them to sit on the back seat as his two gun cases are on the front passenger seat.
Slaves do not sit next to MASTER.
The two comply and Randy says “ B . O . ONE .” ( Bad Omen One )
Bobcat politely explains the rules of the Game.He tells “ANDROID “ that the road to SALAWAS airfield is strewn/peppered with game birds and deer.Hunting is entirely taboo as it is completely “BISHNOI TERRITORY “.
No hunting is permitted and I repeat is not permitted till we are inside Salawas Airfield.
ANDROID asks “Who Says So “
Bobcat replies “ I DO SIR AND IT IS THE LAW OF THE BISHNOI LAND “.
ANDROID lets out a maniacal laugh and gives them both dirty looks.
Sambo says “ B . O . TWO “.( Bad Omen Two “.)
The jeep is on the way and the flag is fluttering in the wind.
As soon as the jeep hits the one lane narrow road to Salawas, game is in full glory on either side of the road.
Partridges Ahead of us. ( Aage Teetar )
Partridges Behind us. ( Peeche Teetar )
Partridges to the left of us. ( Baa-yehn Teetar )
Partridges to the right of us. ( Da-Hi-Neh Teetar )
Peacocks all around us.
Deer out of shot gun range peacefully going about their business.
ANDROID “HAS NEVER SEEN SUCH A SIGHT THAT IS LAID OUT AROUND HIM AND HE IS SHAKING ALL OVER AND GRIPPING THE STEERING WHEEL VERY, VERY TIGHTLY. HIS KNUCKLES HAVE TURNED LILY WHITE.
Bobcat in a soothing yet stern voice says please do not stop and to keep driving as the same quantum of game is available on the Salawas airfield.
ANDROID is violently shaking and his eyes are bulging out of their sockets. He is breathing heavily and the sound is akin to a death knell and he is close to losing it completely.
Sambo in his best psychiatric tone continues to tell ANDROID to keep the focus on the road and hold on for another 20 minutes.
There are two crop fields on the left with a dividing dirt road and the left one has a small bush fence around it.The crop has just been thrashed and there are a lot of piles of dried cow/camel dung.There are at least forty plus partridges gorging themselves on the fallen crop and the seeds in the dung piles.
This vision is too much for ANDROID and he viciously turns the wheel left and pulls into the dirt road and stops about 30 yards from the mass of partridges and jumps out.
He leaps out of the Jeep,takes out a blanket from the floor of the jeep and lays it on the bonnet.He then takes out his .22 rifle case and starts assembling the rifle and fits the “telescope sight “and the “silencer.”
Sambo in a raised voice lays it on the line
“ANDROID SIR WE ARE IN BISHNOI COUNTRY AND THIS IS COMPLETELY INSANE, PLEASE STOP AND DESIST.”
Randy and Sambo have spotted a bunch of BISHNOI VILLAGERS about two/three kilometers away stop their work in the field and look towards the jeep.The Marut duo get down from the jeep.
ANDROID is tone deaf and he rests his beer gut on the right mudguard of the jeep, loads a small magazine and sighting down the telescope sight squeezes off a shot.There is nary a whisper as the silencer muffles the firing of the rifle and one partridge goes down. The other partridges cannot see the jeep because of the bush and do not hear any rifle shot. They continue their business.
Sam screams at ANDROID to seize and desist. “ ANDROID “ is taken aback by the tone of voice of Sam and says “ Sam I am aghast that you have the gumption to use this tone of voice and I will deal with you at the base. You two can beat it back by foot and I do not need you.
“BEAT IT YOU BUMS.”
The Marut duo say in unison “ B . O . THREE. “ Bad Omen Three.
The two get back to the road and glance back to see ANDROID in throes of multiple orgasms dropping partridges silently.
In the distance the ten odd villagers bend down to pick up a pitch fork each and commence a leisurely walk in the general direction of the jeep.
In a few minutes as luck would have it ( GOOD OMEN ONE )a military Jonga stops and the Army Captain driving asks if the duo want a ride.Both jump in and get a ride to the Mess.The duo convince the Army Captain to stay back for drinks and dinner and he accepts the invitation.He gets to meet the other folks and fun is being had by all.
The time is around 2100 Hours and the Boss rolls up in his Jeep and asks Bobcat and Hercu Beta to talk to him out of ear shot of the rest.They take him inside the residence of Bobcat/Chetah and ask if he would like a drink.
The Boss stands up to his full size and asks what the duo did to “ANDROID” as he wants them both to face a “ COURT MARTIAL”.
Bobcat goes on the offensive and in a layman’s terms explains the episode till the time they hitched a ride back.
Bobcat adds “ I TOLD YOU SO ABOUT DISPARITY IN RANK STRUCTURE AND IT DOES NOT WORK IN A SHIKAR.”
It is the turn of the BOSS to fill in the blanks.
His narration is as follows.
ANDROID is in the S S Q being administered for High Blood Pressure/ Hypertension/Shock/ The Shakes.
Duo start smiling
After he told you guys to beat it he was merrily downing partridges one by one.
He had reached around 10 when he heard a commotion from up the dirt road. He looks up and he sees a hoard of “ BISHNOI GENTLEMEN “ each armed with a pitch fork yelling “ MASS MURDERER “ in a foreign language.
He said “ THE BISHNOI GENTLEMENS’ intention was very clear and it was to do some skewering with his 240 pound body.
They were running as fast as their feet would carry them on the dirt road towards him.
Duo start guffawing.
ANDROID jumps in to the jeep with his .22 rifle in his hand and shakily fires up the ignition.The engine turns over on the first attempt and he reverses at Battle Speed on to the main road.
A few pitch forks go sailing past his head.
He straightens out the wheel and guns it to get away from the “ BARBARIANS”.
He dismisses the minor loss and is thankful to the GENTLEMAN upstairs who saved his “BA-TOO-TAH“. He recites a few silent prayers.
He is driving for about 40 minutes and there is no Jodhpur in sight.
The G . P . S . has not been invented yet.
It dawns on him that in his over enthusiasm to get away he had turned the wrong way, away from Jodhpur.
He continues driving slowly till sundown and turns back for home.
When he thinks he is near the “ AMBUSH AREA “ he guns it and drives as fast as the jeep would go.
Duo commence rolling on the floor.
He rolls in to the S S Q and calls for the S M O and the Boss and asks for medical attention.
He lays it in to the Boss and screams for a COURT MARTIAL.
Duo scream “please stop, cant take it anymore”
The BOSS cant hold back his smiles/which turns into giggles/which turns into guffaws/which turns into rolling on the floor and yelling “ STOP IT PLEASE “.
The Boss on getting his breath back asks for the promised drink.
He soon departs and no “COURT MARTIAL “ orders were issued.
HERCU BETA :
During the sixties DARA SINGH acted as HERCULES in a BOLLYWOOD film.His mother in the film would call him Hercu Beta fondly. We called Randy the same.
GREEN HORNET :
Fiat HIM 9063
Black Ambassador. Owner ESKAY
Italian for BOT-TOM. Vernacular= ASS
BADA SAHIB Officer during the RAJ
LOCALS CELEBRATING DEPARTURE OF BADA SAHIB