Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Gharghodan safari

It was 3.30 in the noon and the temperature was still 45 degree Celsius outside. The sun was playing the innings of his life and I was doing nothing except mumbling words of desperation at the sun and at the electricity department for doing what they are best at; load shedding.

But then like a merciful drop of raindrop on a parched land, my cell rang and it was Mr.X on the other line. Mr.X is one of the many forest department employees whom I have acquainted with since I came to Gharghoda. He was blabbering something that was making no sense and the only thing I could make out was that he was going on a raid to capture timber smugglers and if I wanted to join , he will be waiting for me at the forest guest house where I am currently staying.

I had five minutes to come with an excusable reason to explain to my boss that why I was leaving the office so abruptly . 3 minutes later, I was in my way to the spot where we had decided to meet.

There were four forest employees, one driver and one banker in that Bolero when it took from Gharghoda for the daring adventure to catch the tree thieves.

While on way to destination, which was 70 kms away, they told me that they had got information from the villagers that some timber fellers where cutting trees. And if we are lucky enough we would be able to catch them before they are able to smuggle the heavy wood out of the forest, probably Sagun. This area of Chhattisagrh has heavy plantation of Sagun and i’ts not rare to come across such smuggling.

Soon we were out of the city and curved roads dotted with green trees , lush fields and mountains of soil greeted us make the whole stretch beautiful. In between we also saw huge area of forest cover that was destroyed by wild fire.

Wild fire, they told me, rarely occurs because of natural cause. In 95 percent cases the fire is lighted by the Mahua collectors on behest of local Mahua merchants who find it cumbersome to separate the Mahua from the bed of dried leaves and hence they find it more easy to set the whole area on fire and take away the Mahua later.

The guards who are deputed to stop the fire from spreading have nothing highfi to battle this hot menace and they mostly rely on fresh branches of trees to extinguish fire and they admitted that once a fire starts it is very difficult to stop it from spreading until it has reached its zenith and starts dying down by itself.

The state forest department is spending large amount of money to plant trees and increase the forest area, but its efforts are being mitigated by the regular incidents of forest fire.

Then they narrated me a story of three bears, presumably siblings, who apparently after having their fill of Mahua decided that the shiny Tar road was the best place to have some 'after drinking nap as they laid there for 12 hours. Neither of them, inspite of being conscious, had any problem when the guards shifted them to a safer place using bamboo sticks. Ohh... How much I miss Jehenuma,TC.

And when they finally woke up, they walked away, still reeling on the feet to a nearby nullah to remove the hangover. My take is that these animals have been watching sitcoms too seriously.

One of the person sitting in the backseat narrated me of how he saved a life of an elephant calf who was stuck in the mud for 12 hours.

The guard was posted at a place, 90 kms from Gharghoda. And it was a night of heavy rains when he was told by the villagers that a herd of elephant had converged on a spot in the middle of forest and were showing signs of agitations.

When he rushed there he found that there were more than fifty villagers who had assembled there and were waiting anxiously to see why the elephants were so angry. As our brave guard went near he saw that a calf of not more than 2 months was trying to keep his trunk out of the mud pit in which he had fallen. The elephants were trying to pull out the calf but were not able to get a grip on him. And he was slipping back

So on a night when the rain drops were as huge as a peanut and the sound of thunder was making the overall atmosphere even more menacing, our guard decided to climb into the mud pit to pull the calf out.

The herd consisted of 15-20 elephants with 3 more calves and as you must be aware elephants, like any mother, are pretty unpredictable when it comes to the protection of their calves. But our brave lad took his chance and slowly but steadily walked towards them.

He told me that in spite of his being uniform totally wet , still he didn’t take them off, because he believed that the elephants recognize the colour of Khaki and would do him no harm and his belief was proved right as the elephants made way for him to climb into the mud pit.

Entering the mud pit was another thing and getting that scary calf almost another. And to make matter worse he had the company of so many huge agitated and confused elephants . Hardly any reason to feel comfortable.

The villagers were watching the whole drama unfold silently, perhaps thinking of what they will tell to the Bada Saheb who will scold them for not stopping an insane forest guard from taking up such antics. Or maybe they were thinking that whether the Gajraj will let them take away the body of the poor guard for a proper cremation.

Well fortunately, nothing of such short happened, and after 20 minutes of hard labour, the jumbo kid was pushed out by him. And everything ended on a happy note.

The guard then proudly tells me that when the elephants were moving back into deeper forest along with the rescued cough, the leader of the herd, turned back , looked at our dude and cried out in loud voice as she raised her trunk. Maybe saying thank you.

At the mention of this concluding remark all hell broke loose as the other guards who were quiet till now, started mocking him , calling him names that are too classy to be written here.

At this point we reached our village and saw our informer standing under a tree...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

As he walks into the class...

In the future you will see a guy sitting in one of the last benches of Jawahar Lal School,silently following his instinct. And if he starts erasing his notes as soon as the teacher cleans the board, you got to know that the legend is son...proudly walking on his fathers footstep, creating a legacy of his own... Amen.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I, My...

Regret-Not joining IRMA in 2009, Not joining Mundus inspite the Scholarship in 2009

Hate- Not many and its decreasing with time.

Despise- Those who have no compassion for animals.

Wish- Join UN, become a civil Servant ,write a good book,build shelter houses for stray animals.

If I had time machine I would go back to- 1987-1991- when I was in Gujarat, 1991-92 when I was in Ruchika school,Bhubhaneswar, 2000-2001 when I was in Jawahar, 2004-2006- the last few years of college, every moments of years of Abhivykati, to the salsa class of 2003, to the Doha time of 2006.

Wonder where are- Vasudha,Romila,Mit Basa,Lariss,Miss Anne,Lopamudra.

Feel things that should have happened- Time should have stopped in 2001,S.S would have remained the same.

I Miss- Kerwan time, Appan sirs tuition, class of 12 C, those time of Magic moments.

Would like to meet- Gabriel Garcia Marques, Orhan pamuk, Dalai Lama.

Moments that would be worthwhile to relive again- the MACT peace match of 2000, Abhivyakti of 2002 with partners from Excellence college, the evening of marriage of my sister, December and January of 2009 .

Teachers I admire- All of my English teachers. Mrs. Kishwar Jahan, Appan sir, Beena madam,B N Trishal sir, Uday Pratap sir, Naidu sir.

One of the saddest day-- when Bela and Sofia passed away, the last day at school.

Love to - Spend times with KK , Idle away at CP and Sector 18 Noida, Coffee at Rajeev chowk CCD, Let my sister pull my leg, Stroll alone in Mussorie,Laze around at my Patna home, Have evening tea with Mom, Dad and Bela, Enjoy a late night gupshup at Shyamla hills, Have a huge family gathering of everyone, go philosophical at Tattenham corner, Have a meaningful dialogue where I just listen, spend hours with my 6 school friends.

Look forward to- Introducing my would be wife to mom and dad, Sending santabanta jokes to my mother in law, Drive around the town with my father in law, have a wedding in a cool winter season, Come home to a smiling wife who is everything to me.

Would do specially for her - Surprise her when she least expect it, Do things that I am embarrassed to do otherwise like carrying her in arms in a busy metro station, Making tea for her and knowingly substituting salt in place of sugar, Disappearing with her for one week without telling anyone, take her to Kerwa, do Garba with her in Abhivyakti, sit with her on the stairs of Jawahar, watch her get scared by Bela,Laze around with her on a secluded beach, take her to Rome, watch the sunset in Greece, make her mad by singing songs of Rafi, write poems for her,Get dropped at office by her, Get a cut above my eyes after a fistfight with someone who teased her J, Watching emotional love stories with her and cry together, watch her dance in her own ladies Sangeet, specially on Mundey Huey Paresan from Love Aaj Kal...

So long...God Bless.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

some months back...

A joyous ride on horse drawn carriage overooking the magnificent taj…some beloved time it was,
your laugh and your smile brightned my somnolent soul,
but then the moments in the black and yellow cab too were no less,
or the feeling of longingness on the volvo from pune to jaweri bazar;

exchanging of notes and something more in a dim lit atm, as i fervently wished it rained
and i leave myself in your hands on a not so empty local train
a whippy dog scares you as we play in one of those park
we say bye and soon the heart starts missing you

Saturday, April 10, 2010


It is about thinking how to stay close even when far.
Following when not walking by side.
Missing the person when you are the most happiest.
Not missing every moment but suddenly remembering those moments when you least expect it.
Not being able to forget even when you dont want to remember.
Faintest hint of love coming back makes you glow.
Pretending as if you are as cool as before.
Hoping you laugh with everyone inspite knowing that it will be difficult to.
Smiling when alone.
Pondering how it all started and then how it got over and then wishing it starts all over again.
It is about trying to come close when the distance are long and the paths have faded away.
To hope and continue to hope.
Looking for signs where nothing exist.
Feeling happy when looking at the moon. are in love or rather still in love.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

76 jawan shahid...

"76 jawan shahid" was what the headline of one of the local newspaper screamed and everything else was the same in this part of Chhattisgarh. The life was going on as if nothing had happened.

The local population was more interested in when will the herd of wild elephants that have come to this part of Gharghoda leave and they were more concerned with how much price they will get this year for Mahua produce.

And it was only when my dad messaged me about the ambush and I got calls from my concerned friends that I came to know that not more than 4 hours away from here our security personnel were being culled like a group of birds. And I instantly thought about how many of them will die.

76 is the official figure that has come out from the dense forests of Dantewara. 76 family have lost their close one but lets not get into the emotive aspect. .

Emotions can never be a great ingredient when you are discussing naxalism.

How many of us remember that on 12th July 09, in Rajnandgaon 29 jawans including an ASP died, on 5th March 07, in Rani Bodli 55 Jawans died ? There have so many such attacks. The figures are high, they always are. But like in any other terror attacks, with every passing day, the number starts fading. And finally there are forgotten, until a new set of number crops up.

The recent trend has suggested that the attack on India's effort to tackle naxalism is from two sides. In the first one, arms are used and in the second type of attack, Pens are used.

Pens are used by the naxal sympathizers who are doing their best to put an ideological pressure on the Indian establishment so as to stop the 'excessive use ' of force on our own people ( read naxals) who have taken to killing because the have been exploited by the government machinery.

One perfect example of this 'intellectual pressure' can be seen in one of the recent "collector's issue" of an English weekly, The Outlook. Every page, every word of its cover story that goes by “Walking with the Comrades" emits this smell.

The writer of this cover story has done a brilliant work. She has left no scope for even thinking that the naxals are brutal killers. Infact she has made sure that by the time we turn the last page we too start sympathizing with the comrades. Infact the weak hearted may even start shedding a tear or two.

The term "romanticize" has been aptly displayed in this cover story. Start romanticizing Naxalism or you too are a bloody heartless capitalist bourgeois.

Now I just want to ask this booker award winner intellect author that when will she start on her precarious, dangerous journey of sympathizing with these jawans who too are fighting for their death. Or maybe she is aware of the fact that no one will be interested in the life of a small low ranked jawan. Maybe she is correct and practical, none of the national magazine will make a cover story out of a piece that is based on the life of a CRPF jawan.

Another amazing ability of these intellects is that they have developed a very effective way of going into a shell whenever something that will make them appear like a faceless buffoon happens. Search for them after any such terror incident and they will disappear, only to appear after 10 days, more refreshed than before and with more fire in their belly to support naxalism and show their intellect. "The Intellectuals".

I have started to hate this word so much. And it is just because of people like Arundhati Roy who wear this very type of intellect on their sleeve and express through their pen.

The only positive that has come out after this attack is that both the national parties have reiterated that they are one when it comes to tackling naxalism. And the current Home minister too has started talking tough as can be gauged from his statement that the Indian government in the past has been lousy while dealing with the naxalites.

The use of air force and army is being delayed on the ground that it will be unethical to use our military might against our own people. This argument though doesn’t stand much ground. The army has been used and still being used in Northern and Eastern sector of India and they have been successfully able to control the local form of terrorism.

The reach of naxals has penetrated every sphere of social life. There are numerous illutrations of this. In Chhattisgarh , the naxalites annual income in expected to be 1000 crores, chiefly though extortion from local traders.

According to forest officers with whom I have been interacting ever since I came here, the naxalites along with the ever present politicians are equally responsible for the lack of development of this newly born state.

It has become very difficult to carry out developmental activities in the interior parts of the state because of the naxal terror and because of this very terror the government is not able to extend its activities into the remote areas, thus providing for a fertile fodder ground for naxals to recruit and expand. It is kind of a circle.

“Operation Greenhunt” has taken a long time to materialize; maybe we are two three years late. But now when it has begun it should only stop when it has completely wiped out this gravest internal threat to Indian security.The fact is that naxalism needs to be eradicated at all cost and I hope Chidambaram and Company will make this sure.

Till then keep praying that you are not affected by the intellects like Roy who say that killing of these jawans is a legitimate act on the part of the naxals so as to defy the rule of Indian government. Maybe she has taken a cue from the history when a dude called Gandhi defied Britishers by using non-violent methods. This lady sure has a wild stretch of imagination

And in between all this, life goes on in Gharghoda, like it is going on in Delhi,Patna or Mumbai.


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