Custom Search

Sunday, January 04, 2009

My favorite place to be - Part 2

The Biligirirangan Hills, or B.R.Hills in Mysore, was where we went on a short holiday. Adu's diary offers enticing information excerpts of which I'm posting here. This is the second part of this three-part series on the B.R. Hills.
There will be some photographs merely to showcase some of the world's most beautiful animals and birds but they will not detract from Adu's verbal portrait of the forest and its denizens. I reiterate that I have not corrected any part of his diary and have only edited sections which offered too long an explanation or description. For the most part, I have been truthful to the diary itself.

Excerpt from Adu's Diary: We came back and said thank you to the naturalists and lazed around for a bit. Yash and Krusha played TT (ping pong for my American friends), I wrote while Mamma and Heena aunty swapped stories. There was a nine-year-old boy there. He was rather short, so we assumed he was five and marvelled at how he played TT.
He was one of the rangers' sons and he was dressed like Mohammed Rafi, with black shoes, a black pant, a black shirt and bright red embroidered coat. "Oi! Mohammed Rafi?" called Pappu uncle. "Aiy!" said Heena aunty to Pappu uncle while frowning. "He is dressed like Mohammed Rafi!" protested uncle. They both stared at him and called "what's your age?" The boy returned a ball with natural ease and answered, to our surprise, "nine". Mamma, Pappu uncle, and Heena aunty put their heads together to discuss the fact that he was short, Yash and Krusha continued playing, daddy went to the tent, and I continued writing. Then, when we were all togther, we went to the bonfire. End Excerpt.

Mohammed Rafi was a very famous movie singer. His melodious voice is beloved of generations of Indians. One must forgive Adu this description since he has only heard of Mohammed Rafi and listened to some songs which have been played at home. He could not have known how Mohammed Rafi could have been dressed. Rafi was known to be a very soberly dressed individual and was never known to have sported flamboyant attire like that described by Adu.
Excerpt from Adu's diary: From a little way off, we could see the bonfire, a little red, glowing coal coloured something in the bonfire area. We walked along and ate food in the Gol Ghar. I finished first, and walked to the bonfire and pulled my chair as close to the bonfire and stared at the flames. My mind went blank and stayed blank, until someone interrupted me. "What's your name?" a small voice cried in Kannada. "What's your name first?" I countered.
"Ha! The last time we went to Jungle Resorts, also we met an Aditya," he said, as if I'd been following him around for no other purpose than to keep meeting him. End Excerpt.
Adu's name is Jayaditya and he's Adu only for those who know him well. He can be a little testy at times with other children of his own age.
Excerpt from Adu's diary: We sat for a moment in silence, then they left and I sat like a rock till a big boar trotted in and stiffened when he smelt me. I walked off and dragged everybody to the bonfire. It was a cozy gathering, with my feet resting on a snoozing dog. The little boy sitting on Narayan uncle's lap and everyone else forming a semi-circle around the fire. "What's his name?" asked Heena aunty suddenly. Narayan Uncle opened his mouth to answer, but the little boy cut across him quickly. "Adarsh", he said. "He answered before Narayan could give him another name," said daddy, his face half in the shadows. In order to get his revenge, Narayan went on, looking at Adarsh fondly, "His mother and brother both stay in Mysore, but he's always here. Know why?" he ended with a mischevious twinkle in his eye. Everybody nodded their heads and asked why. "Well," said Narayan uncle, "There's a little Soliga girl here..." "When did that happen?" asked Adarsh. The two of them had a silent scuffle in the dark, then everybody got up and went to sleep. End Excerpt.
Soligas are the hunter, gatherer tribes of the B.R. Hills forest range. Expert trackers and keen observers, they are known for their skill in collecting honey which is sold through a cooperative. A large tribal village exists very close to the Jungle Lodges camp but tourists are not allowed to disturb the tribals there. A few tribals may be found early in the morning during the morning safari with the children waving madly at the passing safari jeeps. If you happen to be there, please wave back. You will be rewarded with lovely smiles.

Excerpt from Adu's diary: The next morning, we went for the safari. We saw, to my surprise, a huge tusker with even huger tusks, with pink spots all over his forehead cmoing blurred and drunkenly down his trunk. For four or five minutes, he stood quietly, his trunk half-heartedly putting food into his mouth, but more after playing around with (for a human) the knee high vegetation. He fixed his intelligent, honey coloured eyes, with their black pupils on each of us, then on the entire party.

I turned my attention away from him and to what Narayan uncle was saying. "...and when he charged me," he shook his head and went on, "it was uphill, like this only -- when I think of it -- my heart stops for a moment. Then, two other jeeps came along and deciding that there was too much noise, the elephant turned and, with a brisk, purposeful walk, he set off on his own business, thank you very much.

If Veerappan had been alive, this tusker would have been the first to go to the happy browsing grounds. End Excerpt.

For those who are unaware of Veerappan, he was the most notorious poacher and sandalwood smuggler South India has ever known. In his long career as a poacher and smuggler, Veerappan was responsible for the deaths of several elephants, the denuding of the forests of highly prized sandalwood trees, and the deaths in encounters of several policemen who were sent to catch him or kill him. Veerappan was eventually shot dead in an ambush when he sought medical attention.

Excerpt from Adu's diary: That evening again, we went for the safari. The hill myna was haunting us again, but to make up for that, we saw a brown fish owl. While at Kabini, we had very nearly murdered Afsar for not showing us this bird.

The brown fish owl is a funny bird. It has deep brown feather tufts, the same color as its wings and back. Its chest and stomach are the colour of half-dried clay, with dark vertical lines. It has a white collar invaded by the regiments of streaks. The face is all grey, and two darker lines extend from the beak and slant over the eyes, giving the impression that it's frowing at you. The brown fish owl is the only owl which has bare legs. All other Indian owls have feathering up to their feet. We also saw the sparrow hawk. This one we saw was immature so its wings head and back had a deep brown and a striking pattern of grey. It took very keen eyes and constant alertness to spot it. The mature ones are with the same pattern, only the background is the blue of a sky before a storm. End Excerpt.

Still to come: Birdwatching, the elephant charge and the pickpocket monkeys.