Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Bouzkashi game at Kandahar

After McDuff's closed down, it was of course understood that I would try for one of the colonial forces, but at the time was still a little too young. My father then arranged for me to go on attachment as a volunteer with my elder brother Belvedere's regiment, the Shikhari Mounted Rifles, which at that time was guarding the Northwest Frontier from its inhabitants.

While I was with the Shikhari Mounted Rifles, we received a challenge from the Barking Mad Fakir of Ipi's younger brother Derek (Winchester, Balliol College Oxford and the Al-Jihad Madrasah, Peshawar) to a game of Bouzkashi. As any afficianado of the ways of the wily Pathan, moon-faced Sart or pointy-headed Turcoman can tell you, bouzkashi is basically a game without rules played by two teams of murderous nomads on ponies, using a goat as a ball.

Clearly the honour of the Indian Army was at stake, so we sent our acceptance off in a high-frequency cleft-stick pronto and scraped together a regimental team. Capt O.D "What" Canther-Matterby, Lt Douglas "Dark Satanic" Mills, Dacca Deakin, Belvedere and I were the only white officers involved, the rest of the team consisting of Havildar Prakash, Corporals Singh and Singh, and troopers Singh, Singh, Patel and Singh. The third trooper Singh, I should point out, was the Trooper Singh later decorated for bravery in Iraq, not the Trooper Singh who was court-martialed and scrattled for the incident in Quetta involving the theft of Mrs Blower-Bentley's unmentionables from a cantonment washing-line. Or was that the second Trooper Singh? Old men forget. The first Trooper Singh, of course, later became bandmaster and was noted for his performances of "The Surprise Symphony", for which he became known, inevitably, as the Haydn Sikh.

Where was I?

Oh yes - the Bouzkashi game.
The spectators - clearly partial to the local Pathan team, began by taunting us with a chant of
اور ایک بکرا بھی اگر آپ کو لگتا ہے کہ تم کافی محنت کر رہے ہیں

We were soon hard at it, and wreathed in dust. The confusion was indescribable, except as indescribable confusion. An hour passed without a point being scored on either side. I thought it was all going rather well, actually, and Trooper Patel and I succeeded in making a good run right up to the Pathans' five-yard line, when one of them let out an anguished shout of 
وہ ایک بکری نہیں ہے. یہ میری ماں ہے.

Well, that certainly gave us a momentary pause for thought. But was it merely a ruse? As Trooper Patel responded with a quick-witted cry of "તમને કેવી રીતે કહી શકે?" I succeeded in "landing the goat" - not in the Welch sense, obviously - and the day was ours. The largely Pathan crowd did not see this as a desirable outcome, starting a chant of
تم کم از کم دو ایمبولینسوں میں گھر جا رہے ہیں

and as Matterby grabbed the trophy and put spurs to horse we followed in headlong cavalcade with Pathan musketry zipping past our accoutrements. Nightfall saw us well clear and settling around a campfire to eat goat curry.

At least, I hope it was goat curry.

Looking up at the myriad stars visible in the wilderness, away from the bright lights of civilisation, I recalled the words of the great Persian poet:
هر کسی که اذیت به ترجمه این به بزرگی یک احمق به عنوان مردی که آن را نوشتم

Bloody fool.


  1. I recall the afternoon and parts of the evening well, Marmo. A couple of points occur to me.

    First, this was the first time Army of India officers had played under Kandahar rules, ie using an Hazara pandit en lieu of the goat - an easy mistake to make. This was mentioned in dispatches and a fatwa from the Caliph in Stamboul.

    Second, the Second Corporal Singh later won the commutation of his death sentence by plugging the Amir of Jalal-Abad's cannon with his turban. So expertly did he apply his winding sheet that the cannon exploded harmlessly, destroying only the field hospital before which it had been deployed.

    In my dispatch I noted that "Singh acted with such alacrity that he forgot to remove the turban from his skull while disabling the cannon. On reflection, the catapult from which he was propelled into the Afghan camp had afforded him little opportunity to disrobe, but that cannot in all fairness be held against him."

    It was the third trooper Singh who fired the catapult, so I saw fit to promote him to the late Corporal Singh's position both in the regiment and matrimonial bed - a practie that I believed at the time to be common amongst the Sikhs, although I may have been wrong.

    This made him the Second Second Corporal Singh.

    Not sure what the death sentence was for in the frist place, but then we were young man in a hurry. Eheu!

  2. 7:05p
    Had a group of white kids come up to me and ask me to buy a bottle. Suggest I will be attacked in the near future.
    I will be ready with the sizzors and I will go for the eyes. Please make them white males.

    The gods are fucking monsters. Let me share with you some of the monsterous things they have done in the recent past::::
    1. Treat Blvd. killings. Saw a beautiful therapist I recently brought up again. The gods had some delinquent white male plow his SUV into an Afghan man and his 9 year old daughter on a Saturday morning ride right in front of the building after I "foreshadowed" the event, killing them both.
    2. Discussed Haitian child slavery problem. Had a slavery issue in my family, perpetuated from parents into the next generation. Considered a parent's possible reincarnation as a Haitian child slave. Shortly thereafter 25,000 dead in 2009 earthquake.
    3. Badmouth crappy Chilean fruit. 2009 Earthquake.
    4. 2002 Cozumel vacation. Wilma parks on the prime diving area (SW) of the island and hammers the reefs for 40 full hours.
    5. Hurricane Andrew
    6. Hurricane Hugo
    7. Trip to Na Hoku followed by the 2006 Hawaiian earthquake days later.
    8. 2004 trip to Bourbon Street's hedonistic Fat Tuesday followed by 2005 Hurricane Katrina (name clue).
    9. 1999 trip to Grand Cayman. Hurricane Ivan devistates the reef, the Queen's Garden and proceeds to slice up the middle of the state of Alabama months after my visit.
    10. The town I stayed in experienced a tornado which killed almost a dozen.
    This list goes on and on and on.

    You are a sleazy piece of shit. My life was devistated and I never even had a brief period of time to achieve to the best of my ability.
    Don't you ever preach compassion or empathy to me. You could have allowed a period of loss. Instead your control freak nature ensured little progress.
    The Situation sucked for a reason:::So the gods would not be obliged to their Chosen One. A mediocre Situation ensured they could force me into MY "consoloation prize"::::Relegated to recolonization of the next Planet Earth. Tens of thousands of years of hard labor, "dawn to dusk" days, slavery, crucifixion, burning at the stake, torture, etc.

    They treat life so trivially. Since we are all "coming back" through reincarnation I suspect this may be the case. However in light of the atrocities the gods inflict on humanity in the name of divine justice it rings hallow.

    The gods having fun with the Situation through killing:::
    1. Treat Blvd. blonde, 2 dead
    2. Salon Meritage, 8 dead
    3. Speed Freak Killers, dozens dead
    4. Costa Concordia, Sch captain, 30 dead.
    4. Haitian earthquake, 25,000 dead.

    PS:::I understand the gods and I'd take my comment about white males above as a clue.