The banner was unusual, strange and noticeable for ab-initio. All we had been confined to camp for the last couple of months during our First Trimester. It was another 15th August while celebrating ID Dayand was indeed are opportunity to finally have a gate pass. We’re excited then at the chance to experience, what Pagal-Gymkhana is all about. It’s an afternoon of fun and games in Armed Forces and Para Militaries. There are unusual games for the soldiers and for the families and are all in good spirits too.
On this historic day, it signifies India’s triumph over colonial rule celebrating across the country. However it’s a special day for Defence establishments. Soon after raising the National Flag above the Air House, the cadets in their ever-shining ceremonial uniforms marched past in synchronize movements with the sound of Air Force Band. The parade salutes to the raised dais facing north as a gesture of respect and trust. The josh among trainees was untiring enthusiasm while the parade commander reviewed each flights, made address and took salutes.
The Bada Khana at Trainee Mess always keeps our hunger pangs at bay. We had a healthy appetite then. It was a sumptuous, luxurious lunch. After having a hearty meal, it tempted us to lie down over charpoy but Pagal-Gymkhana was calling us. We had to move in an all-white outfit because our dress code and induction haircut easily identified at large and we can’t do any damn things like other civilians. Oh that’s such a pity.
Air Force Station Jalahalli organized Pagal-Gymkhnaas part of the Independence Day celebrations with the aim to bring back excitement and break the monotony of armed forces life through recreational activities and fun-filled events. The event has a long history since the days of the British rule and is a celebration of the informal and the offbeat. With hundreds of soldiers and families were gathering at Jalahalli East ground in the afternoon to watch the spectacle.
There were games and events that required skill, co-ordination and most importantly a sense of humour. It’s a wonderful opportunity to everyone to spend a lovely afternoon in a very informal atmosphere. Three Legged Race, Wheel Barrow Race, Musical Chair, Shuttle Relay, Gunny Bag Race, Dart Throw, Bucket and Ball Game, Fishing Rod Game, Tug of War and many more by which filled young minds with happiness and zeal. Participants looked thrilled and excited as they took an active participation. The initiative was very well appreciated by all.
It didn’t disappoint us too while we had another idea of playing number based Tambola. That was quiet popular and addictive on our times. We came across a couple of small stalls displaying the skill of archery. As a child I witnessed those ancient divine skills. The modern history of archery in NE region can be traced back to the tribal resistance against the British invaders. I found it alluring. So I did gambling with bows and arrows.
However my curiosity was piqued by the Ring-Toss where Cane rings are tossed around the dazzling golden Beer bottles. The excitement was gathering. I stopped at one and tried my luck. Soon I placed a ring on the target with precision; trainees gave a loud hurrah every time as I won a couple of throw. The gambler shocked by my motor skills and hand eye coordination and stopped me further throwing ring-a-bottle. You are allowed to drink two beers on it. I was caught up in the excitement and walked away with a pair of drinks.
We didn’t ask for a pint of beer that brewed at Pagal Gymkhana. After we had played all fun and chatted over Beers until dusk. We had been out boozing another day but the offbeat British legacy was simply overwhelming. We had been an intoxicating sense of freedom on that Day. Soldiers shrugged their shoulders and promised to return next time. (The author is a former air-warrior who can be reached at email@example.com)