I have been reading my Herodotus again and as always, delighting in his inconsistancies in both number and distance, and then when I awoke the first news Item I read was about Iannis, a latter-day Greek, who, because of the Greek financial crisis has been forced to move back in with his parents in Sparta. As a bird was squarking on my window sill I took it as a sign. After offering a cup of coffee to the Gods, I drank it and sat down to write the mornings post.
In the article it was mentioned that Iannis and his indignants engaged in a “three day protest march on Athens”. Now wait a bit. Athens is 250 kilometers from Sparta.
The march took three days. So here I am once again trying to figure out how a group of people who eat fatty foods and chain-smoke can march 250 km. in three days, thats 83,33 k’s a day in the midsummer Peloponnesian heat, and believe me, there are not many mortals who can cover that kind of distance in a day. This brought to mind the many protest marches that were conducted by Pakistani Political Groups. The favourite was always “Marching on Islamabad.” Be it from Lahore or Peshawar, hundreds and hundreds of miles away. I happened to be in Lahore at the start of one of these marches which would gather force along the way and then topple the Musharraf regime upon arrival, thereby bringing peace to the tormented nation. So off I popped to the starting point. About 200 hundred people were gathered, along with even more television cameras and about 20 pick-up trucks. After impassioned speeches at the cameras and microphones, the brave 200 all piled into the trucks and drove off for about a mile or two, chanting and sloganizing, followed by the cameramen in their vehicles. When the cameras lost interest, so did the protesters, so they returned, piled into far more comfortable cars and zoomed off to Islamabad, 350 km distant where they, that very afternoon were speaking in front of the Presidential palace. The government was not toppled and three suicide bombs went off in various parts of the country.
So the mystery is solved.
Marching has aquired a new meaning. In my time in the army, it involved slogging up and down koppies in the bush, heavily laden with victuals, weapons and ammunition. Covering thirty miles in a day was considered quite the feat besides it being a waste of time, what with enough helicopters around to do the trick.
I am sure that Iannis and the other indignant Spartans did indeed march on Athens, but did so in cars. It makes me wonder if Mao cheated a little bit and used a car or two on his long march, because I have become sceptical of long marches, especially when the numbers over a definite period of time don’t quite match reality.
Mao succeeded with his venture, the time-space realtionships being consistent, the Pakistani’s did not. Iannis and his indignant Spartans are, I am afraid, going to have to enjoy mommies cooking for quite some time to come, just as about a million young Italian men do, well over the age of 30.
Makes me wonder, what with the national debt and general financial misery in the USA, whether there are going to be any marches on Washington soon, and where they will start from?
29th July 2011