I know it’s the height of summer, I’m 51, and Hindu to boot with a penchant for evidence-based mythology. But I have finally succumbed to global consumer culture’s mandate and have started believing in you and your innate capabilities of bringing gifts to those who ask in earnest. This being June and December being in December, I thought I’d give you an early heads-up holler for my wish for this year’s Christmas present.
When I was a kid, I had a yellow Tonka toy dump truck — you know, a truck that had a back that tipped back. I would fill that truck’s back with knick-knacks like chaotic pieces from my Lego set, roll the truck around and then tip the back over to dump the goods, only to start all over again. Some half-a-century later, I write to you asking for another heavy vehicle, this time not toy-size: a Caterpillar D9.
The D9, as you well know, is a tractor with a large detachable blade at one end and a ripper attachment at its rear. In other words, it’s a bulldozer. With a 474 horsepower engine and an operating weight of 49,000 kg, it is an engineering beaut. With its continuous tracks, the D9 resembles a yellow scorpion, commonly known as the deathstalker. The front blade resembles the scorpion’s pincers, and the ripper, its poisonous sting-carrying tail.
As the gods of irony would have it, the deathstalker scorpion (Leiurus quinquestriatus, or ‘five-striped smooth tail’) is also known as the Palestine yellow scorpion. Ironic, because not only is this most dangerous species of scorpions found in the deserts of Palestine, but also because of the existence of its lookalike: the IDF Caterpillar D9, or Doobi, which is Hebrew ha-ha for ‘teddy bear’.
Manufactured by US heavy equipment company Caterpillar, this D9 variant is used by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) as de-construction machines since its victorious 1956 Sinai War against Egypt. It was also used in the 1967 Six-Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1982 Lebanon War to clear landmines and anti-tank obstacles, philistines included. It was during the Second Intifada – the Palestinian uprising in 2002- that the D9 found its calling. Now armoured, the Doobi was used to raze buildings in the West Bank suspected of harbouring Palestinian hostiles.
Santa, at a security conference hosted by the Centre for Global Security Research (CGSR), Institute of Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv in May 2017, I took copious notes on how the IDF used the armoured D9 dozer to raze buildings of not just suspected members or sympathisers of Hamas in the West Bank, but also their families.
The speaker- Israeli journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman- mentioned that it was the IDF’s preferred way of pre-empting anti-Israeli terrorism, and this included fidayeens (suicide bombers) who didn’t baulk at ending their own lives, but surrendered at the thought of their family and loved ones being targeted and becoming collaterals under the shadow of the D9’s dozer-and-blade sting. There were other Indians at the INSS conference also taking notes, some even wondering why such an effective low-cost tactic wasn’t used back home, say, in Kashmir.
Santa, I know Boris Johnson was all excited at the British-owned JCB bulldozer factory at Halol, Gujarat, when he came traipsing in April. But honestly, the D9 Caterpillar model is the bull of all dozers. The market price, I’m told, is around ₹47 lakh, which I know is tiddlywinks to you with your North Pole elf-crypto money. But I have been a good boy-man these last few years and I think I deserve a D9 dozer for Christmas. With the right bent of mind and the judiciary also not minding if my mind-bent is right, I can even use the Doobi to raze establishments of people who seem to be spoiling the neighbourhood.
From now till December 24, I promise to be a good, vigilant, patriotic citizen. Santa, I know you’ll get my banged-up Honda City replaced with a spanking new Caterpillar D9 dozer in my parking lot this Christmas. I don’t even need it armoured. Can’t wait.
Yours, with anticipatory bail,