Amid miles of sugarcane shoots, trucks emerging from brick kilns and the odd bullock cart, you can easily miss the road to Johri, an inconspicuous village that connects the western Uttar Pradesh towns of Baghpat and Baraut.
Faces of the future
A couple of kilometres away from the Pathanon Ki Masjid complex – which houses the old shooting range which has helped Baghpat produce as many as 41 international shooters – a new 10-metre range has come up, thanks to donations from a local politician. It has better training facilities and 30 shooting pulley targets.
Practising here, 11-year-old Khushi Tomar, the youngest of the girl trainees, is a picture of concentration. At an age when most urban kids are busy playing Angry Birds on smartphones, this girl with a pixie-like hairdo and steely, unwavering eyes doesn’t flinch even as the report of gunfire booms across the hall.
“Looking at the dadis, my father and his elder brother encouraged me to take up shooting. If the dadis can feature in television shows and be honoured by the government at their age, what stops us children from doing it? After all, our eye sight and reflexes are much sharper than them,” she says with the poise of a grandmother.
The next generation of women sharpshooters from Baghpat has the future in its cross-hairs. And nothing short of bullseye will do!
A few gur men
(From the author's diary)
When my colleague Asad Ali came up with the idea of featuring three generations of women shooters in a UP village for the Brunch Women’s Day Special, we didn’t realise how much fun it would turn out to be.
For the assignment, our photojournalist colleague Sanjeev Verma, Asad and I set out towards Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh, about 70 kilometres from Delhi at the crack of dawn.
Apart from the pizzazz that the feisty sharpshooter grandmothers Prakashi Tomar and Chandro Tomar lent to the story, visiting the shooting range amid sugarcane fields and brick kilns, was a new experience for the trio of city scribes.
So, once the interviews and photo shoots were done, Sanjeev and Asad wanted to get a taste of Village India by plucking out sugarcane shoots and visiting a factory next to a field that makes unadulterated chemical-free jaggery (gur).
Once we were there, we turned into excited children and lived up our own Charlie and the Gur Factory experience.
Photos by Sanjeev Verma
@AsadAli1989 & @Aasheesh74 on Twitter
From HT Brunch, March 8
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