The man with salt and pepper beard hoodwinked me so easilyMy field training started yesterday. Yesterday, my handler took me to the Pansari Bazaar (one of the most famous and oldest markets of Jaisalmer) and ordered me to explore the market and prepare a mental map of it and the surrounding lanes and bylanes. I recalled whatever I learnt in my theoretical training classes and explored the market, mentally noted some important crossings and shops for future identification. I was happy with my detailed exploration of the ethnic items market. I also noted that the market got closed after 6 p.m.
Today morning, at around 10 a.m., my handler dropped me again at Pansari Bazaar. The market was just opening. Suddenly, my handler pointed out to a man purchasing cigarette from a kiosk barely 150 meters away. The identified person was a middle-aged man with salt and pepper beard, wearing a simple shirt and trouser and normal office shoes. He was carrying a bag. Anybody could easily understand that he was not a local man. My handler ordered me to follow the man throughout the day and submit a report on his activities at 8 p.m. to him. In the market full of local people, the middle-aged man with salt and pepper beard was easily identifiable and I thought that it would be a child's play to track that man.
First one and a half hour was easy. I maintained a reasonable distance and followed the man from shop to shop, kiosk to kiosk. But suddenly I lost him at the entrance of the biggest shop in the market. He was inspecting the mannequins for a quite long time and I became unattentive for a few seconds. I completely lost the man. I thought that the man could be found because of his distinguishable salt and pepper beard and different dress. But I completely failed.
I tried to find him in every shop. I checked the lanes and bylanes during the harsh noon of the desert city. I continued searching that elusive salt and pepper beard even after the market was closed. Ultimately, I returned to the Field Training School, tired and dejected. I had to prepare my failure report and submit it to my handler.
In the Reception of the School, the male receptionist asked me to report to my handler at Chamber No. 1. I knocked at the door and entered. I was astonished. My handler was talking to the same middle-aged man with salt and pepper beard. The man smiled at me and said: "So, even now I can beat the best cadet of the training school in the tracking game." I was perplexed. My handler also smiled and introduced me with the man: "Cadet No. 6, meet the Regional Director of the Bureau. He is really impressed by your performance and tenacity. You could keep track of him for more than one hour and then methodically tried to find him the entire day".
The man with salt and pepper beard shook my hand and said: "Great job done. Wish you all the success in this dangerous profession".
(Competition entry for Salt and Pepper ToW Competition)