Monday, March 05, 2007

The rank tank I almost sank...

I have been staying in a military base for the past few days and have been having a great time with my nephew-in-law. He is a tank squadron leader and trains the tank handlers. So upon arriving he asked me what I would like to do and suggested driving a tank. A tank?! I've never driven a tank before ;) I quickly accepted the offer. Now when I get back to Canada I can finally get one of those bumper stickers that reads, "I drive tanks" or even better, "My other car is a tank". I think that will go over with a smashing success.

I remember driving up to the tank instructional area. A assortment of light to heavy tanks. One included in this is the Pakistan made Al-Khalid. This one I was unfortunately not able to drive due to the advanced training that is required to operate it. I had it's junior at my disposal by the name of Al-Zarrar. It still weighed around 40 tons and sported a gigantic canon on top, you know, your basic tank. I was schooled in the gunner's position, the communications position and finally the driver. I was right at the front of the tank and all that could be seen was my head. A six slot gate housed the transmission and the two sticks as my steering wheel. The clutch, brake and gas pedals were fit for the foot of a sasquatch. I barely managed to force the pedals down to get the beast into gear. It was a little overwhelming at first to be operating a machine of war but when does one get a chance to add that to accomplishments. I have no need to train to operate one in practical application but I have to tell you that I'm an exceptional tank operator ;) I maneuvered through the obstacle course and was sporting an ear-to-ear the whole time.

The images from movie Tank Girl kept playing through my head as if this was my very own tank decorated in my charming stylish ways - I'd definitely have the fuzzy dice, that would be mandatory ;) I was going to attempt the hair in pom-pom's and sport ripped up fishnet stockings housed by my big black boots, except, I was on a military base and was getting enough stares and questioned looks. A civilian operating their tanks was quite the sight which I'm positive that just doesn't occur. I didn't want to push it. Grenade practice was next but since I had so much fun with the tank I lost track of time and grenade practice will have to find another day ;)

Horse back riding on cavalry trained horses that are sent in the North West Frontier Province for months to endure the heat, terrain and challenge was indeed a challenge. These magnificent creatures of mammoth proportions were the most beautiful sight. The eyes of this one horse as I was getting to know it spoke so much. The eyes were a silver blue with a dark pupil that would just focus on me as I came close to let get used to my energy. So I decided to talk back. We had an understanding. I have been horse back riding before but a member of the Military Pakistan polo team was leading our adventure, I was intimidated to say the least. I've ridden through a mountain, once, and before that horses didn't play a role in my upbringing other than a ten year old's birthday party. I opted for just trotting about the tank obstacle course mixed in with the tanks as they were gearing up for a rehearsal to show off their capabilities. After my spine was realigned with the trots, gallops and canter of my horse, so affectionately called 'Number 9', I had a rubber spine. My back aches, my rump is roast and I had an amazing time in the military town of Nowshera. Off to the tranquility of the north in Abbottabad with my mom ;)

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