A Night With Man-Eaters

Its raining cats and more cats

A friend, her husband and I had gone to Mukteshwar quite some time back. My friend and her husband checked into a cottage and I checked into tented accommodation a little distance away. It was off season, Mukteshwar had very tourists and so did the camp. It was deserted except for me alone in a tent. I had for company about dozen or so empty tents with no one else around not even the camp caretaker – he had moved off to his friends at the cottage. Once the dinner was done I had to go to my tent something I was rather reluctant to do as staying all alone in a tent at a deserted camping site was not my idea of peace. I delayed the going by chatting up with the cook. Basically polite conversation in which he also told me that there were leopards around but did not come into to the camp as it was quite near the road. Good leopards! how considerate. So off I went to my abode for the night with a solar lantern for company which was just slightly less afraid than me.

 All this while, in back of my mind, the stories of Jim Corbett’s man-eaters were playing tricks. One was about the clever leopard of Rudraprayag and other of the fearsome tiger of MUKTESHWAR! who use to have his meals nearby many decades back. The two tales fused in my mind as I settled for the night in the tent. I closed all the fasteners and loops to securely close the tent but feeling rather insecure myself. Rudraprayag leopard, I remembered picked many a meal by coming inside homes and this was flimsy tent! Anyways I decided to be brave and lay down on the bed taking strength and courage from the lantern. It was past mid night and deathly quite. The time when animals are at their best and  humans worst. I could not sleep a wink for the fellows of Rudraprayag and the neighbourhood won’t let me. I waited for dawn to break which was some six hours away. A light breeze started to flow. Each swish of breeze very gently shook the tent from all sides. Beautiful it was but it scared me to death. Really. With each swish of the tent I would say “Kaun hai”? in whispered tones. What if some one had answered “hum hain tendua aur sher jaldi karo bhook lagee hai!”? Some how the night passed, the faithful lantern held out and continued to glow right through my ordeal. An ordeal which I thought was no less than what Jim Corbett went through while sitting over a kill waiting for man-eaters. The morning came-one of my happiest mornings – and I rushed out my abode and went and sat outside the cottage where my friends were peacefully asleep. All India Radio – being played by the caretaker in the kitchen – never sounded so good. All my fears had gone I was now happy and secure and no tiger or leopard dare touch me.So much so for my fear of the unknown. Though when I look back I feel if these animals had to do something to me at all then the time I rushed out of my tent and sat outside the cottage would have been just the opportunity they were looking for. Daylight offers no security. I forgot Mukteshwar’s tiger hunted by the day. 

 

Published in: on 22 October , 2007 at 8:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Hi my name is Ayush. I stay in New Delhi, India. Travelling, trekking, visiting way off places in what i like to do most and yes if I can get to share about my travels I feel really happy as I wish everybody could travel all the time…!  traveling as we know is one of most ancient and effective means of communication. Otherwise, I work  freelance with childrean and young people on developing programmes  using interactive methodologies

Published in: on 15 October , 2007 at 5:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jungle Jog in Similipal

jungle-in-the-morning.jpgjungle-in-the-morning.jpgjungle-in-the-morning.jpgI share with you a beautiful experience that I had during my recent visit to the forests of Similipal We left Baripada late afternoon for Similipal. After about fourjungle-in-the-morning.jpg hours drive we arrived at Chaukha – deep inside Similipal forest. The bright full moon was just rising as we checked into the forest guest house that had huge glass and wooden doors all around. It was beginning to get quite cold so a fire was lit outside. We had some interesting company of forest officers who had lots of stories to share about Similipal and its wild habitants both scary and amusing. Soon we had a herd of wild elephants -for company who come to feed – seven of them with a baby – thankfully some distance away separated by a wide trench. Being a full moon night we could make them out quite distinctly. They were trumpeting every now and then. We were told elephants can charge and the wide trench was no barrier for them and in the recent past they had broken into the forest guest house and taken away things to eat! “God if they happen to come again?” The thought was enough to keep Shevanti and me awake for the entire night – scared we were! We were visited by a bat who must have found us quite amusing – sitting up on a cold night when everybody else slept peacefully. Then there were sounds of the jungle – elephants, barking deer that kept us guessing besides the tap tap of a leaking faucet that really scared us. We laughed at our selves for we knew if an elephant was to charge or leopard or tiger attacked there was nothing we could do even if though we had stayed awake.                                                                                 

 Morning cme and we drove to the jungle. I had never seen forest before. It was so thick that there was hardly even a patch of bare ground. Though we did not see any wildlife, I found the forest was to very alive – perhaps spirits of the forest! We also saw two marvelous waterfalls. Falling from a great height & plunging into deep gorge with that distinct waterfall signature sound that many of us herd and loved – absolutely out of this world for me. Here are some photos which can say more than what i write.

 Waterfaaaal similipal-pictures-076.jpg

We left Similipal forest in the afternoon and had lunch at a place with a rather musical name – Gudgudia. Gudgudia has a orchidarium that nurtures various species of orchids found in Similipal We reached Chandipur, a town by sea side near Balasore, late in the evening. Now we had the effervescent Bay of Bengal for company. Its huge waves came right till the boundary walls of our guest house.

similipal-pictures-088.jpg

By the sun rise the sea had amazingly disappeared far back leaving behind a wide and a wet shallow beach. We left after breakfast to catch the train to Kolkata. Our short and a pleasant stay at Similipal and Chandipur had left us recharged for our lives in the city! 

Published in: on 14 October , 2007 at 5:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Apathy Wave

Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal in eastern part of India are a world apart – culturally and socially. It is distinct from the rest of the country as coconuts are from mangoes. It however shares a bond that is gradually making it similar with rest of the country. No its not Hindi films, railways, cricket, chowmein or masala dosa. It’s the increasing apathy of people like us towards place where we live.

The plane from Calcutta to the Andaman takes you over pristine blue green sea, dotted with corals every now and then. As plane flies into Andaman Islands the blue green turns green. Not just green but almost impenetrable rain forest green. Its so thick one wonders if there is space even for a pin prick. As one approaches Port Blair the capital of Andaman, the green gradually blurs and transforms into familiar brown and grey of mud and cement. Port Blair – one rightly expects it to be a tropical town breezy, open with smell of sea. Unfortunately honking cars, mismanaged market places, dirty lanes with garbage is what one finds. The sea around Port Blair is of beautiful green and blue shades – cobalt, turquoise, etc. It is also splattered at places with green, yellow, red, brown, pink, etc. Colours of plastic bags and garbage consciously thrown over board by people like us who do not care enough. Take the example of adjoining Ross Island. It has no permanent human population. It primarily has day time tourist population and few shops that sell tea and snacks. The island is divine. The swaying palms with sea waves crashing on the shore with sea all round can take you back into time. Run your imagination and you could be transported to era of sea farers like Vasco de Gama, Columbus and Magellan. But No! Along comes a Pepsi bottle with smiling face of Kareena Kapoor to gently remind you – wake up man this is 21st century – sea faring is dead. Chill out! The place has become a mini waste dump with packaging thrown by a caring visitor. Caring enough to travel light and not bothering to carry the burden back. Andaman and Nicobar Islands have one of the greatest diversity of corals in the world with Wondoor National Park being an important site. Corals are extremely sensitive organisms and any disturbance in their physical environment can affect them adversely. Besides being beautiful they support a large number of fish species in their midst and play a major role in preventing sea shore erosion. The scene at Wondoor National Park presented a familiar site. Beautiful environs with magnificently coloured corals carpeting the sea bed and that equally magnificent apathetic people like us. The motor boats that bring them leave a thin film of oil on the sea all ultimately permeating to the corals below. Adding to this mess is our passion for dispossession. We dispossess all plastic bottles, chips packets, aluminum foil hoping that they be absorbed by the sea and transformed into beautiful corals. Port Blair is just an example what is happening around us. The place represents one of the most diverse and beautiful places in the world. It is becoming increasingly uniform with other parts of the country in terms of apathy, chaos, gradual disappearance of indigenous styles and most importantly apathy of people like us who have little sense of belonging, ownership or connectivity. Uniformity is great – it might give resemblance of order and ease of functioning with familiar things all around but can it ever replace diversity that is so strongly rooted in a country like India. Let us care more. Please!

Published in: on 14 October , 2007 at 5:19 pm  Comments (2)