A new game is being played across the Sino-Indian border. It’s called ‘Chinese hecklers’, a test of stealth and creativity for bored Chinese troops, who try to outdo each other by sneaking across the imaginary Line of Actual Control (LAC) and leave sundry calling cards behind. Given the secrecy of the Chinese system, no one knows how the score is kept and there’s no clarity either on whether, for example, painting boulders red and scrawling a hasty signature in Cantonese earns more points than leaving empty juice cartons and cigarette packs on the Indian side. But what keeps these devious daredevils going is the ultimate reward: an honourable mention in the Indian press every other day.
Chinese jaunts into Indian territory are neither new nor shocking, with Indian troops making their share of kabaddi-style incursions into the Middle Kingdom with comparable frequency. In fact, given the ‘Hindi-Chini bye-bye’ spirit that seems to have permeated Sino-Indian relations lately, what with vacuous border talks that seem to be going nowhere, this border disorder might just be a ruse devised by farsighted military commanders to keep boredom at bay.
So, instead of getting our chopsticks in a twist, we should suggest a few desi variations to up the ante. Like asking the Chinese to leave little scraps of paper with authentic recipes for Szechwan hotpot or Xiangdu roast duck behind. In return, we could reward them with a list of special ingredients for Punjabi Chinese, the best-kept culinary secret on this side of the pretend LAC. Well, why not dispense with all the secrecy and organise our very own border Olympics and find out who can deliver a can of cola across the Pak border faster than you can say Manchurian!