METRO PLUS

Russian reminiscences

UNDER A ROOF: With Sasha and Olga, the interpreter.

UNDER A ROOF: With Sasha and Olga, the interpreter.  

Haripriya Reddy, the only cadet representing Andhra Pradesh in the NCC delegation for a Youth Exchange Programme in Russia, recounts her experience there.

SHE TRIPS on BSBs and freaks on Barista Cappuccinos. No different from any other girl of her age - discussing TDH features and relishing M&Bs, what distinguishes 18-year-old Haripriya Reddy is that unlike others, she has wielded Kalashnikov's and fired rounds off UMG's and other sophisticated weaponry.

Perhaps, more than her brush with artillery, it is the mix of unpretentiousness and self-confidence in her which makes her stand apart from her equals. The NCC Junior Under Officer of 7-Andhra Girls Battalion, Haripriya, makes sure that she does not miss out on the fun and gambol of life even in her staunch spirit for patriotism. "So what if I am patriotic. Should I keep myself off the fun of my age?" she argues.

A go-getter, Haripriya is passionate about joining the Indian Air Force and serving the country as a defence doctor. The teenager's `just do it' attitude is more than just exemplary. The only NCC cadet in the entire State to have been selected for the pioneer delegation to Russia, which recently returned from a Youth Exchange Programme last month, the degree of self-assurance has been quite rewarding for the youngster.

Haripriya was a part of a 12-member National Cadet Corps team, the third ambassadors of the country, as they were called on its first ever visit to Russia. "For me, it was a much-cherished dream come true. To represent your country in a foreign land is indeed a matter of great pride. It was an experience which I want to relive again and again," she says.

"It is certainly disheartening to note that Russians still continue to think that Mahatma Gandhi is the father of Indira Gandhi.

The only other thing they know is that Raj Kapoor was a great Indian actor," she reminisces about her trip to the land of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

FORWARD MARCH: Haripriya practices for a parade.

FORWARD MARCH: Haripriya practices for a parade.  

The 10-day long trip to Russia included interaction with youth and military officers of Russia. Hosted by the `Cadet Core Rescuers', the Indian contingent gave presentations on Indian history, geography and culture to apprise Russian counterparts of the Indian ethnicity. "We popularised the song Hum Sab Bharatiya among the Russian students at Suvoroi Military School," says an ebullient Haripriya.

Her first trip overseas, - - the walls of the historic Kremlin, the quiet village of Tula, its traditions, customs and heritage, the Red Square, Yasana Polyna (Leo Tolstoy's birth place) and of course her handling of the AK's, will remain forever etched in her mind as pleasant memories. "I was really touched by their creative and constructive labour, their art, their appealing songs and spirited fiery dances," she recounts.

An MBBS student in Osmania Medical College, Haripriya aspires to specialise from the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune and then pursue her dream to be a doctor in the Air wing of the country's defence sector.

Having participated in the Republic Day parade and earned laurels for her battalion and State, having won the All India First Award in Flag Area and having received a gold medal for the feat; Haripriya's dream does not appear too distant to get realised given her tenacity and single-minded devotion.

HISTORY REVISITED: At the Red Square.

HISTORY REVISITED: At the Red Square.  

"Defence people could have handled the present crisis of unrest in the country better than politicians," is something she religiously believes in.

For a girl barely out of her teens, so clear-headed and focussed, endowed with a zeal to perform and excel, Haripriya simply re-affirms her `born tough to lead' attitude.

SOUVIK CHOWDHURY

Recommended for you