TP had to give a speech to some American University law students the other day and was lamenting the fact that he couldn’t update his one joke* that he uses in each of his immigration lectures by calling up the sorely-missed family joke-encyclopedia, Nanaji. With him in mind, I perused some of his old articles and came across this one which made me smirk. Enjoy.
Our Indigenous Paan Gun by N.A. Bhatti
January 28, 2000
Almost all inventions, constructive or destructive have had very modest beginnings. Over a thousand years ago, some unknown Chinese got hold of a bamboo pole, stuffed it with powdered charcoal, sulphur and saltpeter and lighted the mixture with a crude fuse. WHOOOOOSH! Up, up, up soared the first rocket in history. The onlookers clapped delightedly, never dreaming that they had just witnessed the birth of the ancestor of the V-2 rocket bomb used by Hilter against England during World War II or the Saturn-V booster that would done day generate 157 million horsepower to land Neil Armstrong on the moon. Or, Allah forbid, place a deadly nuclear payload of an Inter Continental Ballistic Missile thousands of miles away on a country as a token of international love.
Several years ago, the British applied a similar principle to a gadget they marketed: The Stinking Red Avenger, priced at £5.99. The aerosol, fitting snugly into a lady’s handbag, was extremely handy in case any goonda eyed her with malicious intent. If, like the Texan Six-Gun Pete, she was quick on the draw, the unsuccessful Romeo would be sprayed with an indelible red dye that would stink powerfully enough to put a skunk to shame, and the cop would arrive in time to make an arrest.
I have been thinking about the matter and doing some research as to how we can develop a deadly weapon for self-defense by our womenfolk: the indigenous Paan Gun. I visited a government office block for the purpose. When I climbed the concrete staircase, I noticed a young man with his jaws grinding away like a buffalo chewing cud. When he reached the landing and was about the ascend to the next flight of stairs, he got ready to launch the missile he had been preparing in his mouth.
Spitting distance depends on the quality of salivation, absence of cross-wind and complete coordination of the neck and tongue muscles. Since there was no cross-wind in a narrow staircase, weather conditions for the test-firing were ideal. The young man squinted at his target with a determined expression on his face. The countdown began. Five, four, three, two, one … FIRE!
With a sickening pilch! a viscous blob of fiery red fluid flew out of his mouth, propelled by the compressed air in his powerful lungs. I wish I had the necessary monitoring equipment to measure the effect of the prototype Paan Gun but as I hadn’t, the accompanying photograph will give you some idea. A circle of 1 foot diameter has an area of approximately one-fifth of a square foot. So if your aim is reasonably accurate and your target is of really posh material, I dare say no dhobi will volunteer to do a dry-cleaning job on a moving target’s jacket or vaasket.
It may surprise some readers to know that in the United States there is an Annual Tobacco Chewing Contest in which distances of 50 feet have been achieved. I have given readers only a brief idea on which the more brilliant ones can work and develop Pakistan’s very own lethal close-range weapons. No licence needed at all. If we don’t produce the few simple raw materials needed, we can import them from Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, both friendly countries. If needed, we can enter into joint ventures with them and develop very potent weapons. One day, perhaps in the year Y3K, we can become a trio of the Big-3, who knows? After all, a thousand-mile journey begins with tiny steps.
*TP’s joke inherited from Nanaji:
Momma mouse was getting food in the kitchen with her baby when the cat pounced in. Snatching up the baby, Momma ran for the mousehole but it was obvious she wasn’t going to make it. Finally, in desperation, she whipped around and shouted “Bark, Bark” at the cat. The cat skidded to a halt and ran away. Momma mouse turned to her baby and said, “You see how important it is to learn a foreign language!”