Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Jackal Hunter

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I hope you have done justice to your day's work...and its time for a lighter hour...I'll try not to push it hard on you...
Please stretch yourself in a cozy sofa in a little quieter corner of your house.... and imbibe a well relaxed smell of a hot cup of mocha....from some hand ground  Guatemalan Elephant...your nerves will thank you for the care you have extended them...

... Corbett's way...

All I am going to talk about today is about a prospective hunter...who was so insanely infatuated with Corbett...that he committed himself to a night of  craziness... to hunt down a  jackal who he believed had killed a well-known goat.

The goat was well-known, because ... he was seen in almost everybody's backyard...to have quick sneak peak at the garden grown vegetables... and anything that felt tender...including trash bags... also because...he was searching for food ... irrespective of whether it was day or night...all the time.

Still the goat was medium built and was not known to be aggressive...as you would otherwise imagine him to be...and he always had a very mysterious look that defied our every resistance to fall for him on sympathetic grounds.

On that very particular day, when we were running toward our cricket ground, we found the goat lying dead in a nearby ditch, little closer to the forest line of our village. We, the school going kids, were perplexed...for we could not barely believe that such a  stable element of our known surrounding could stop living so easily.

"But why did he die?" We all were confused.
 Everyone was looking at me expecting a satisfactory answer since I was believed  to have better understanding of cases like this that happen on the forest line of the village. They were not untrue to some extent, since I had gained a sound knowledge about forests from extensive reading of Corbett's books and virtually I had mastered every ability to convince my age goers about what I thought to be right in cases like this. So I quickly thought for a moment. I remembered that I had heard a bunch of Jackals hallowing "hukkeh-hukkeh-ho" several nights before.
Indian Jackal

So I immediately concluded that those bunch of jackals might be responsible for the goat's death. And I started explaining the theory to my cohorts.

But even more surprise was waiting for me.

In order to prove my claim I sat down to inspect the body of the recent kill. I tried to roll the body of the goat around (which by itself was a big deal for a boy like me) and I was indeed surprised to see tooth marks deeply buried inside the goat's throat. I sprang up from the goat unknowingly and I felt a steam of very cold blood ran through my spine for I could not believe that my bluff about the jackals would indeed come true.

But it was indeed getting exciting. We forgot about the game that day and I decided to take it to the next level. I called for launching a through investigation of the foot print of the goat and the jackals to understand what happened. Excitement had made me lose my mind. However, I started looking around for fresh pug marks of jackals. Very early in the childhood my grandpa had trained me a bit about tracking animal movements from their pug marks. No matter how insignificant that training was I was all excited to make use it at that time. I started looking around in half but expanding circles toward the jungle line from which direction I thought that bunch of jackals would have come. Luckily there was a big patch of land that was recently tilled and I, with the help of my friends (who were equally excited since it was a new thing for them) I located a bunch of pug marks of jackals. But we did not see a pug mark of the goat. However, with circumstantial evidence we concluded that the bunch of Jackals must have tracked the goat on hard ground and thus, jackals being not so heavy, we cannot see their pug marks.

Evening was setting down quickly with the wintry blanket spreading smoothly over us. After all the investigation and tracking we we convinced that it was the rogue jackals who have brought the end to our goat. We were tired, we were cold and we were mad. So we decided to avenge the goat's death.

Very hurriedly we started procuring all the air rifle bullets we had collected from our previous bird hunting parties. The number came up to five. Now the problem was to get hold of an air gun (that was the most advanced weapon we were exposed to). That was not easy. So we took a task to ask the only person we thought who could let us have it remotely, Tukun uncle.

For a good reason we did not have to work hard that day. Tukun uncle was out of bullets for several days and thus had no use for his gun. So he was glad to hand it over to us once we promised that we will protect the gun with my life.

With the air rifle in hand and with the five bullets in hand, I felt like I am totally in the shoes of my idol, Corbett. We were four in the group and two had to get back home by the dusk at the latest. So the remaining two of us had to shoulder the task of avenging our dear goat.

We decided on our strategy pretty quickly. My friend Krishna had already procured his sling shot and some marbles. So I decided to climb a nearby mango tree and keep a guard on the goat's carcass and Krishna had to wait a little far on the fire track that we predetermined that the jackals would come from. Our idea was that we would try to get at least one of them with a head shot  or several shots on the body. So Krishna was supposed to shower marbles from his sling shot as soon as I take careful shot at the first jackal that comes.

The plot was set and we took our positions. I was feeling the rushing of adrenaline and I was feeling very elated. If I succeed in this mission and I could kill a jackal I'll be known as an established hunter. I will be well known in school and in the area to be the bravest kid alive. And Krishna will be known as my most faithful companion and the second bravest kid in the area. I was feeling as if I was almost going to live one of Corbett's life's moments.

We waited in the dark for around forty-five minutes. We neither saw or heard anything. We were just getting numb with the chilly evening breeze that had started blowing after the dark.

After fifteen more minutes of waiting we  heard some noise. A little subtle movement where the goat was lying. I tried to look deep into the dark and suddenly all I could see a pair of feline eyes. I took careful aim and pressed the trigger. And as soon as that happened Krishna got up from his position and started showering with marbles. I jumped down from the tree and tried to make sense of what happened. I called Krishna to join me. When he came down and I asked him what was he shooting at he said that he was not sure. But he had gone crazy on such a long waiting in cold that he had just emptied his supply of marbles.

We started heading home.

Well... we did not get that famous, still we started getting complements from everyone around for such an effort.

Corbett's life relived...partially.
Cheers,
Talk to you soon.
 


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Canine's Mind

People who think for Forest,
I thought I should share the memory of a little incident with all of you today that would be of incredible help to you should you face disagreements with a friendly canine...I cannot declare that I can convince you on this...but trust me... its worth a try anyway...

I was more than busy that morning...a whole troop of our old friends...several Langurs ... had shown up in our village...crossing the deep river...with their indomitable passion to eat all that comes their way. Langurs are the second smartest species in this world...well almost in everything...but especially in solving extensive form Centipede games (people who know a little bit of game theory might immediately get what I am trying to say.). They individually optimize by eating and destroying every bit of food item they see in the first instance. It was not the eating part that hurt us more, it was the destroying part that drove us crazy.

We,  all the school going kids at that time, always dreamt of having a friend among the Langurs, if not for anything else, but just for occasional favors like a bunch of ripe mangos thrown at us ... or teaching a lesson to our annoying history teacher who was in the habit of boring us to death... and twist our ears if anyone started snoring truly innocently. 
One of our Friendly Langurs
But we were not unreasonable. We did not want to get the favors for nothing. We indeed were very willing to compromise in our attitude toward them ... assigned to us by our elders... to hit them with the hardest marbles from our sling-shots especially designed for the purpose.

But how would they get the idea?

However, competition and jealousy had brought them a set of more determined enemies...our village canines.Our village dogs considered Langurs a very big threat to their food supply...(I am very confused about this since I had never seen any of those friendly dogs climbing a tree to look for a fruit or nests.) And they were determined not to let the fair weather immigrants do any damage to their free haven. So, de facto,
dogs always extended their heartful support to us by joining our agression against the Langurs.

The troop of our village dogs obeyed a hierarchical structure. There was a big dog...who commanded respect from others (including less influential villagers and children) just for being big...and just because he could call at a louder tone... and just for running ahead of the village troop of dogs... for any reason.... Of course, there were smaller dogs in troop and their respective but variable female companions. However, everyone was under the leadership of the big dog.
Bhatta: The Big Dog

In that particular morning that I am talking about...for some reason beyond my comprehension...Langurs were displaying more agility than other times by paving their way swinging from branch to branch and not ever touching the ground. Having said that you can impress yourself by thinking what miserable feeling they would have brought to the mind of our village troop of dogs. With their inherent disability to climb the trees, and with their indomitable rage to purely end the world of Langurs ...the dogs were almost in the verge of losing their minds by chasing the tree swingers at a much lesser speed on the ground. The troop of kids which was being led by me to accomplish this arduous task at hand was still trying to come up with a strategy to deal with the situation. The troop of dogs, include the Big Dog, was starting to get a little frustrated with the ineffective leadership.

At this juncture, nature gave us a way out.

The dogs noticed that a particularly large and arrogant Langur was sitting on the branch of a Mango tree. Its tail was free-falling from the branch it was sitting on. For some reason the Langur was looking at the sky with no regard to the frustrations that we are facing and seemed to have immersed in the mesmerizing beauty of the blue sky.

 And ...that was the chance our canine troopers were looking for. Slowly...stealthily...the whole troop crept to the respective mango tree and gathered at a distance such that they could get to the tail of the Langur in a simple spring.

All the kids in the troop were holding their breath to see when the dogs will get the Langur down and we will have a chance to get even with him.

The lieutenant canine prepared with care.. 1 2 2.5 3 ...he gave a quiet and a very large spring...

damn it... just missed it...

Langur is still lost in the Blue sky... we still have high hopes...

The second-in-command started stretching... hop...skip...here we go...

Shit...not again...

Langur is not looking down...

We were still betting on the Big Dog's chance...

He  got ready...and without much ado took a huge spring...

Hell no...He missed ...

We were totally doomed...our last hope was gone...

But still the Langur is not looking down....?????

Our persistent dogs were not ready to embarrass themselves and continued with their second and third rounds...still missing...

Langur is still not looking down....???????????????????

We kids started reviewing the situation...
As long as we remembered we knew that these swingers were a very informed and a cunning species. We never had a chance to get close to them to take a shot. They would always find out when we got close and would always flee before we could hit them. So it appeared to be very weird that the Langur is not even noticing the obvious effort of the village dogs...we had to do a little investigation...we sent forth a member of our troop to see what the other Langurs were up to... and we waited while the dogs continued with their springs from different angles.

Our investigators returned to the scene with a smaller canine who was missing ....with very serious news...the rest of the Langurs were ransacking the Papaya and Orange orchard on the other side of the village and seemed not to be bothered if anyone would come and get them....

Now things started looking clearer which we were not able to appreciate for so long...this particular Langur who seemed to be (or voted to be) the smartest, had strategically chosen that branch . The branch was in such an ideal height that, if the Langur sat on that branch it tail will fall to a height  that will give the dogs and the kids hope that they will be able to catch it. However, with their immense knowledge of mathematics the Langur knew we will not be able to succeed. And this will provide two strategic advantages. First, it will act as a diversion and the rest of the Langur troop would rampage the other orchard scot-free. And the second,  the troop of kids and canines will return home with the deep remorse of defeat and get required punishment from their superiors....

Anger took over our patience in no time...and our friendly canines were not in the mindset to listen to anything except knock that Langur off. However, the instinct to teach this Langur and his troop a lesson took over my thoughts.
For the first time I wanted to act strategically...first realization that I had  human brain...

I sent all the kids except three to the orchard with their sling-shots. Three of us kept three marbles each  and gave the rest to them such that they have a lot of supply. I told them to bring down hail on those  Langurs in the orchard with the marbles as soon as they saw them and absolutely make sure no Langur turns this way to help their smart aide. I let them borrow a couple of dogs to help them with this matter.

The rest of us decided on our positions.The idea was to dodge this lone Langur and separate him from the rest of the group...and each group separately when they do not have any information about our movement. But it all rested on the orchard group successfully stalling the group there such that our beauty, the lone Langur, will have no help.

The strategy, in fact, worked well.

Three of us, who stayed back to deal with this Langur, took careful aim and shot the marbles simultaneously at the Langur. Luckily, three of those large sized marbles hit the Langur hard in his head and his back. The Langur, who was still seemingly joyous of his success of having misled us and was concentrating on the blue sky, hard hit by the marbles, lost his balance and grip of the branch and landed right in the middle of our canine troop...

My friends, you will have hard time imagining how the dogs reacted....I'll try my best to explain it...think of a situation where you have been hungry for at least a week and you find a whole dish of freshly made Chicken Tandoori right in front of you...out of nowhere...please close your eyes and imagine how would you react...you might be confused about what to eat first...

Our village dogs...who were losing their minds for not being able to pull that insolent Langur down...had a similar experience...they were having hard time in choosing how to bite the Langur and were getting more and more restless...growling with due disagreements with each other....

Well, our job was done here since we knew the canines will do more than enough damage to settle this deal...
(We later learned that after biting the Langur several times the troop of village dogs chased him for several furlongs to ensure that he is not coming back)

And the three of us ran to the other end of the village...pandemonium was reigning there...our guys were doing an agressive job by shooting marbles like carbon dioxide powered BB pistols...and the canines present there were blocking the way of entry into the village and barking their voices out....

We joined that troop with a fresh supply of marbles and  now the attack on the intruders was on full force. After resisting and swinging from tree to tree for about ten more minutes the bunch of Langurs realized that  they are in serious trouble and it would not pay to stay any longer...

They started jumping out of the tree by calling each other while we chased them by continuously shooting at them until they were out of sight...a couple of the Langurs were hard hit to move faster...but we restrained ourselves and our canine companions to hurt them anymore...

The troop of canines that were engaged in that smart Langur joined us in our way back after having finished their business. We put a stop to every other activity that day...we were exhausted...however the deep feeling of a victory over a group of smart intruders were giving us enough joy to credit us with ice creams...along with our canine companions.

Our friendly canines were also having their day and never left us until around midnight when we were called off to bed. They were developing a deep sense of respect toward themselves and our whole troop...since this was a rare occasion where we had bit the Langurs strategically and not just by chance or force. Outsmarting a long daunting enemy is worth a lifetime of satisfaction...and the canines well appreciated it.

The troop of Langurs never came back to our village that season and we got unconfirmed report that the leader of that pack apparently resigned after the decisive defeat at our village...

But the next season I was reported of this...



I am still thinking what could it possibly mean...


Cheers,
Talk to you later.





Friday, December 28, 2012

Cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain

Fellow Readers...this is just the first day after my long hibernation ... so let's start with the refreshing aroma of a cup full of virgin Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee...from the privately owned nucleus coffee estates in the heart of the igneous rocks of Blue Mountain Range...fresh roasted on clay pots and moderately coarse jute beds to the maturity of a deep aroma preserving espresso ... pumped through the deep rejuvenating steams of a stove-top espresso maker... and ... added to it two sachets of brown sugar and a small portion of rich double cream ...  ha....
My dear friends...if you haven't had a taste of such a cup...you have not been thrilled with the sense carousing aroma of the coffee cup...please...oh please.. join me in the deep forests near Kanda...in the Kumaon foot hills...

In a little cozy camp nearby a little mountain creek...in the silence of heaven...and with a bon fire...

I'll be obliged to serve you a cup...

...Just to make your first love with coffee a long lasting one...

'Pleasure'...if you ever end up in an attempt to define this word for yourself... you might just remember the first feeling you had with this cup...sensually romantic as it may sound.

Jamaican Blue Mountain Cultivation
 With this warm feeling...let me regain our long pending conversation...
Talk to you soon.
Cheers.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Friends for Fish

Please imagine a day in the bank of Sharda river in early November...out for fishing Mahsheer... you have your bait out in the still water of a small deep...and you are relaxing gently in the flickering shadows of Buransh leaves while appreciating the sweet smell of some wild flower ...and... gazing at the hermit-like snow-capped Garhwal mountains ...and may be...slipping into a deep slumber... listening to a couple of Chitals warning the jungle folk about the presence of a Himalayan Black bear a mile away...for a moment you might time-machine yourself to the year 1925 to feel the ambiance in Corbett's eyes...developing a deep association with forest and its elements. If you ever read about the fishing days of Corbett in his master piece "My India" you can probably assess what I am really trying to paint...we all may be motivated enough to return back to mother nature and to experience the cleansing effect on our souls at least for a brief second...a very important second.

What I am going to talk about here today is about a possible way to rejuvenate those peaceful and exciting days...like a dream come true...you may think I am crazy...but hear me out...

Many times, Corbett has spent several words mentioning about the fun and excitement while fishing...which all of us fishermen would wholeheartedly agree to. But towards the later part of his life, he had expressed his concerns about the loss of aquatic life in a rate that was going to ruin the heaven of fishermen for ever. This is where little memories of my childhood shadow my eyes. My father taught me and bunch of other toddlers in the village how to swim in our village river. When we became able swimmers (and we could swim across the river about four times in a go) we developed interest in catching the fish swimming under water in bare hands. There were lots of them and some times we used to get lucky. Sometimes we used to form a group under water and we would chase a bunch of fish toward the bank. Some of them used to get caught in the algae near the shore in an effort to hide themselves...in vane... we knew where the smart fish was hiding...all we had to do was to push the algae up the shore and retrieve the fish with little effort.

Most of the people in my village were fishermen and mostly earned their livelihood by fishing off of the river and selling them. But we still used to get ample bites when we used to go angling with our hand made poles.  When I grew up to be a teenager, I realized that people in my village are not only catching fish to meet their needs, but they also have become greedy. All of them were catching and killing fish as maniacs to afford building houses, buying vehicles and even to buy fancy pairs of shoes. There was no regulation, so no body listened to any body when they were advised against doing so by the more thoughtful ones.

I was out of my village (a slightly unknown village named Motarangapal in Jajipur Town, Orissa in the bank of river Baitarani) for higher education and several years passed before I could  return to my village to see my granny. It was my all time favorite past time to go to the deepest point in the river and cast my bait to reel a big catfish in when I visited my village. I always enjoyed the view, the breeze and the deeply fulfilling peaceful time on the river bank. And I tried doing that that time too...I kept casting my baits, lures, swimmers, flies and so on...every trick that I possibly knew. I could not get a single bite after trying for a full week in a row. I was very surprised...it was very disappointing too...I started doing little inquiry...and the truth that was revealed to me was dreadful...The whole river has been fished out so bad over the years that the river did not have enough fish to generate eggs to replenish itself with the lost fish for quite a long time to come...some species of fish who were aggressive bait eaters (local name Balia) has been wiped out from the river due to shortage of food...there was no sign of migratory birds...the survey report produced by the state showed that the river was not in a chemical state to make it conducive to the existence of certain species of fish and crustaceans. Certain kind of fish species have been taking a heavy toll due to a cancer like disease which has been caused by the overuse of lead in fishing nets...and those species are no more suited for human consumption...to be precise the place was no better than hell for both fishermen and fish alike. And the so called fishermen who have been surviving on the river, have been running their fish business relying on several commercial fish suppliers.

Friends, I cannot possibly explain the pain I started feeling in my heart...I felt like I have not been a good friend to this river... and the river is just dying on me waiting and waiting...sick and tired of the piracy and torture of some stupid and selfish people...thinking that some day her friends will come to help her survive. I felt very heavy in my head and returned home that evening. I talked my heart out to granny about the situation long through the night...and I promised something to myself ...

Ever since, I have thought about what I could do about it ...how could I bring the past life back to my dear village river. I finally found the answer when I came to Virginia to attend graduate school. I learned  about the Trout stocking scheme in Virginia run by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries .

Trout is a beautiful fresh water fish native to Virginia and a charm for fishermen.
Rainbow Trout
Since the fish is so widely coveted by both fishermen and non-fishermen equally, the state has made a licensing policy against Trout catch and has enforced it with a heart. And the people in Virginia are great supporters of the policy. With the money that is raised by the licensing and other generous contributions from Trout conservationist organizations and individuals, the department of Game and Inland Fisheries has maintained Trout hatcheries. In those hatcheries,  Rainbow Trouts are bred and raised to a specific physical length to ensure that they have acquired the necessary strength and skills to survive on their own and protect themselves. The hatchery Trouts are then released to designated creeks and natural ponds in order to help maintain the Trout habitat against Trouts caught by anglers in that time period. For water bodies not historically inhabited by trouts, the state also has a program to release Trouts in order to expand the habitat for trouts across Virginia such that the Trout species does not go extinct.
Trout Hatchery in Paint Bank, Virginia
This is indeed wonderful... we can do this...in fact we should have been doing this for a long time...I see that I cannot sleep anymore...I'll have to tell everyone who are friends of my village river...whether the local authorities are willing or not willing to help...we still can make our effort to release fish during certain season and restrict ourselves not to fish during those seasons...we could start a fund raiser and awareness campaign to make this a success...or at least we can have a start...and sooner or later we can make some positive progress towards it.

At least this is where I can start...and may be... in some auspicious future, others will put their heart to join me, if I am lucky enough...

Talk to you later..

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fisherman's Haven

Jungle Lovers...if you have ever been to Corbett National Park and have read through the master pieces of Jim Corbett's hunting stories, you will find several instances of fishing experiences in Ramganga and Sharada rivers which are still over-trodden with a rich collection of Mahsheer and Goonch species. I keep looking at several advertisements about commercially arranged trips by the local companies to let you have a very exciting experience in reeling a big o' Mahsheer or Goonch in your stringer. If you have read about Corbett's little experience about the huge Goonch fish he caught with the help of two local brothers (one of whom insisted that he would carry the pole and the fish together such that others will think that he caught that big bully Goonch by himself ) you would always dream of having such an experience and having a wonderful day out in the serene sands of Ramganga river and among the virgin nature for a change. And, I am here to guarantee you that such an experience adds to your permanent memory and to a panorama of dreams that you would always cherish as long as you live. You are welcome not to agree with me...but please do so after having such an experience in Corbett National Park.
Ramganga River Valley in Corbett National Park
 However, I am here to talk about a little fishing trip I had in Virginia which all of us in the troop will remember all our lives. We were a troop of seven guys who were willing to do anything to catch some Bass (One of most aggressive bait eaters in Northern America) from the New River (just New River by name, but its the third oldest river in the World) to arrange for our evening barbeque. Among us, two were from Peru, one from Germany, myself from Bharat, and three from the USA. Only two among us had some experience close to fishing. Rest of them belonged to "more the merrier" group.

It was around 6 a.m. in the morning and we packed our gear to get to the Big Falls at McCoy near Blacksburg, Virginia. By the time we got there it was around 6.30a.m. and the Sun was not up, even though it was bright. This was the perfect time to cast the bait. Bass are very aggressive to live and moving baits especially on the top of the water. A very effective bait to catch bass is Canadian night crawlers hooked in a typical way. And we had carried about 5 dozens of those.

Since only two of us were experienced in fishing we started casting bait right below the falls looking for some prospective catch. Relatively less experienced ones with little or no experience in casting, started casting the bait anywhere they wanted, with no correlation to whether they knew they will get a fish there or not (sometimes their hooks got snagged on tree tops). Half hour passed...still not a single bite. We kind of started looking a little worried. Then one of the other guys who were casting almost anywhere caught a tiny Bass. You could very well imagine what would that cause to us. They started giving us such  looks that just said..."if you don't know how to catch a fish and have lied to us like all fishermen do, may be its time to admit it and we can all go home peacefully". But...may be they were not that lucky that day...
Please take a look at the picture below.
Big Falls, McCoy, Virginia

I was standing on the rock that you see on the bottom right corner of the picture. And I just dropped my bait right below the rock just for a try. And here we go...I just got a bite from a medium size Bass. No one looked amused or interested, because we were supposed to catch fish for almost 20 people and two in our bag would just not be enough. So we were planning to let those two insignificant catches go into the water. But...wait a minute...the other fisherman in our troop just hit one more Bass.
Large-mouth Bass

So we decided to stay and continue with the fishing. What went on for the next hour and half there, I have experienced something like that only once more in my life (I'll have chance to talk about it later).

Right after the other fisherman caught the Bass we felt like we have come across a whole school of Bass. Both of us did not have a minute to spare and we did not have time to even reel a fish to the shore.We had to just lift them from water. Thank god we had re-spooled our reels with 10 lb test lines the evening before. After half hour everyone else just came down and stood beside us on that rock. We were just casting the bait and reeling it in with a fish. We had all size of them ranging fro 4lbs to .5 lbs and after a total of one and half hours we had one hundred and twenty-five Bass in our stringer. The non-fishermen had not seen something like this before and all were just mesmerized. They fought around for almost 10 minutes to decide who is going to carry those fish and since we had elevated to such a highly respected level we were spared from carrying the fish, cleaning them, seasoning them and eventually barbequing them...both of us fishermen were sitting near the barbeque and were listening to the talk of the day...traditional lies of people who had recently developed interest in fishing...and who were just lucky to catch all these big fish with their own hands...who had had a lot of tricks to lure so many Bass at a time...and so on.

Still we enjoyed the eve like never before after such a day in a fishing trip...If some of my friends who were on that trip read about it they might remember me on that May morning  in  2008 in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Talk to you later...


Monday, December 19, 2011

Rule of Terror


My Dear Friends,
I am feeling very nostalgic today. Flashes and glitters of the most memorable phase of life are rushing into my brain faster than adrenaline. A little adventure into the nearest forest, a short trek into the Eastern Ghat mountains, studying an elephant's foot prints, messing with a gentlemanly crab in the solitary mountain stream...and sweating till the pants hearing about the terror of tigers...are just flashing by...  If life could be viewed from the other side of the telescope, I would do that at least twice every week...just to get a different perspective.
It was one of those days...I had finished reading Man-eaters of Kumaon for the fifth time...and I had got hold of my next prize...Man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag.( I was in my study room and I was reading it by carefully hiding it in my social science book...just to save my hide from MOM.).

...It was quite late in the night...it was raining with the mighty rhythm of monsoon. And I was reading about the strict curfew the leopard had imposed from sun down for eight long years around Rudra Prayag and in an elliptical vicinity of around 100 miles and even more. I was so immersed in that...even a little noise out of the blue would have been enough to set me on fire.

If you would like to know more about what my situation was, let me narrate the specific incident for you. One of the instances of terror that the Man-eating Leopard was truly  infamous for is the incident of the Pahadi (people from the Himalayan Mountains) woman who took refuge at the local Pandit's open rest area to sleep at night.
...At sun down a group of worn out pilgrims came to the Pandit's place asking his permission to sleep in his open rest area. The Pandit could not persuade them to go elsewhere even after mentioning about the terror of the leopard. So the Pandit gave them their supplies and before he locked himself in his house for the night, the Pahadi woman, who was running late for her village, asked the Pandit's permission to join the pilgrims.The woman knew about the leopard and chose the most secure place to sleep. The place was so chosen that if the leopard came to kill, it had to cross over all the pilgrims before coming down to her. …So she was indeed at the safest place of all. Deep in the night a pilgrim woke up with a sharp pain thinking that she is being stung by a scorpion and saw a bit of blood in  her toe. Accusing her of spoiling the sleep of everyone and saying that scorpion bite does not cause bleeding, the pilgrims went off to sleep...
Corbett with the man-eating leopard of Rudraprayag (Source: Wikipedia)
When the pilgrims woke up next morning they were ready to resume their voyage and thankful for surviving the night without incident. But some wondered where the Pahadi woman was. Thinking that she might have left for her village early, the pilgrims were about to leave when someone saw a torn piece of the woman's saree in the nearby fence and a big spill of blood nearby. With the hauling around, the Pandit came out of his house and having understood  the situation in an instant, arranged for a search party. They found the sorrowful remains of the woman about three hundred yards from the Pandit's house.

What analyzing the ground and probing the pug marks revealed was beyond the pilgrims' imagination…The leopard came right after sunset; around the time the Pahadi woman got situated at the inner most portion of the rest shed. That portion of the shed extended a bit into a perpendicular hillock which provided a natural protection against the leopard… after everyone went off to sleep  the leopard came, walked over all the pilgrims without even touching any one of them...got a hold of the  Pahadi woman's throat in such a way that she could not make any noise even close to a whisper, lifted the woman whole in air and took off . And while the leopard was retreating with the Pahadi woman the poor pilgrim's toe was cut by the leopard's claws that everybody thought to be a scorpion sting.  (Let's stop for a moment, close our eyes, and imagine ourselves in that situation in a dark night in the year 1922.) The leopard killed the woman at the nearby fence, and then carried it for a good three hundred yards before having his human meal.

The leopard had killed 125 people (official record. Unofficially well over 400.) But, he got so infamous for his kills, that people had started believing that it was the embodiment of "Shaitan"(Satan among rest of the believers) before it was shot by Corbett. But, even now hearing these incidents blow a cold air on your spinal cord…making you wonder…if the leopard is still in the dark…lurking.

I am sure I'll get more opportunity to talk about some more incidents  later...may be I can convince you about the real rule of terror that the leopard had enforced at sun down for eight long years...But for now...if you visit Rudra Prayag, the confluence (Samskruta name Prayag) of Alakanada and Mandakini

Rudraprayag
and one of the holiest places for salvation seeking Hindus...please ask around some old Pahadi folks...they might still have reminiscences of the old days of terror...many may point out to some places that has a historical association with the Leopard...
Still ...when you are lying in your couch… deep in the night...fast asleep...the nocturnal scouting of a pair of feline eyes in your dreams...may frighten you...
Talk to you later...
Indian Leopard

A deep conversation with a Scorpion

Dear Jungle Lovers, Welcome back. I am going to speak about a conversation I had with a Big-Black Scorpion several years back.

Let me keep my liberty to call him Mr. Scorpion.

In the year 1997, I  was a student at Hyderabad Central University. In his introductory speech, our registrar had asked us to view the wild elements in the campus as respectable as gentlemen/ladies and treat them with due references (That's why Mr.Scor.).

It was almost 7 months past after that speech, I realized that Scorpions especially are more respectable than others in that huge campus. The campus was otherwise home to wild boars, deer and numerous sober snakes (not due to the wide presence of pea-fowls and Indian Grey Mongoose...they were indeed sober). The scorpions were so much used to come in front of us anywhere and anytime that they did command more respect as a species than the others...

Mr. Scorpion
 Well... I think I was not feeling very well that day... I was out on a walk toward the peacock lake and midway I was approached by Mr. Scorpion. Before even I could take my hat off and say good evening to him (Please don't ask me how I figured that out ) I guess he thought it was too late and I was not in the mood of greeting him...So he rose his tail straight and with the vengeance of a cougar he came straight to teach me some manners. I said sorry...very sorry...very very sorry...I apologize for my indisputably insolent attitude...but it was too late for everything...the attack seemed non-stoppable...I thought for a moment and an idea just struck me..."Oh, how about that?" I just remembered my grandfather...when I was a kid he emphatically told me that if a man uses his brain he is the most powerful even when he is in the most disadvantaged circumstances...that's it...I will not run away and I will use my brain...

Here is what I did. I pointed my finger at him in a way that he would think its easy to dunk me down by stinging the finger. I let him forget that I have a perfectly big body which can be targeted more conveniently otherwise. When he ran for my finger, I humbly begged for an apology and I started circling my finger around him. He ran for it in rounds and rounds to get my finger...I remember I told him once..."Sir, I am sorry for what I have done. But you can just cool off and let it go."...to no avail.
After circling in bigger circles, I now reduced my finger circling to smaller circles and even smaller but rapider. After facing huge heart beat to compete with the speed and blown completely off by the pressure to handle his anger...and exactly after 5 minutes and 38 seconds...I found Mr. Scorpion stuck at one place...with the tail straight erect ...I waited...no movements...45 seconds past no movement...I tapped my feet... no movements...well...I guess he is thinking....I thought its time for me to go...
I put my hat back on my head and walked off.

I returned after spending a good four hours in the lake and other rocky structures. I was not expecting Mr. Scorpion there. I took my hat off to say hi to him...still no response...I tapped my feet...clapped my hands...whistled...blew air from the mouth...still no movement...I was very sad...
Later, I came to a conclusion that his brain might have fused in the heavy tension and pressure he had to under go for a whole five minutes and thirty eight seconds...
I apologized again...said sorry again...I dragged my feet toward my next destination ...

That was my deepest conversation with Mr. Scorpion...

Talk to you later...









Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...