the call of the wild

Wake up to the alarm on my cell phone…there was no water in the bathroom. Bugged the owner, ablutions and the city cab waiting, I was on my way to Mysore at 4:30am in the morning. The bus- stop was brimming with people at this hour of the day/night/dawn. Mysore was 2hours and sleep. At the bus stop, I remember the stares and the wares. The one and only bus to BR hills was waiting and this is no Volvo, so that means less comfort, no AC, no music and a bigger crowd. I loved my seat by the window. The many stops on the way saw me waving at the children who were mighty tickled to see a girl on a back pack. You smile, they smile. They wave, you wave back. Behave like a proper traveler since you cannot pretend to be one of them. It’s refreshing to see all the green corn fields, the palm trees, the cattle, the dusty roads, the stagnant ponds and the hyper magpies. Enquiries in broken, half-baked English with the conductor were not humorous but interesting. I was quite impressed with his communication skills, he managed to convey all that was asked of him. We stopped briefly at the Sanctuary gate. There is a small temple, the conductor opened the temple door and a waif in the bus got down and cleaned the porch of the temple. There was something primitive about the whole ritual. As the bus meandered into the pristine wilderness of the thick woods, one cannot miss the innumerable ant mounds/hills. I got a very creepy feeling. It turns out they are not anthills but they are termite mounds. Anyway, they are still creepy. I happened to watch the latest Indiana Jones and the movie had some unpleasant ant scenes.

Never mind, the green wounding climb up the hill is simply breathtaking. The valley below, wrapped and tousled in mist is worth a sight. At the lodge, we got down… I spotted two tamed elephants grazing near the pond and a lot of elephant poop scattered here and there in the slope. I was dying to rest my achy-stiff back. Got a log-house perched on a beautiful gliding slope overlooking some tent-houses and lot of wild grass around and all over. A quick shower and lunch followed by some simian visitors who were amused to see us relaxing on the hammock. A short nap killed time before the safari. The ultimate would be to spot the gentleman of the jungle but too many deer, stag and gaud killed all semblance of hope. We were greeted rather nastily by a family of elephants to stay away. Basic instinct is similar in nearly all forms of life.

We retired for the night after a simple meal and a campfire of sorts. Power was available for only 3 hours, the remainder of the night in the mercy of the hurricane lamp/lantern. On my walk back to the lodge, I thought I saw two hind feet of some smelly grunting creature dart past the slope of the hill. We slowly moved the torch up to follow and there he was- the wild hog come for his post dinner stroll.

The next morning we were greeted by the chatter of monkeys in the porch making merry of my morning tea and snacks. Bugged Narayan, the in-charge/manager to take us for a small trek, armed with a pair of binoculars after a filling breakfast, we take to the road less travelled. Narayan is a tall, not dark but handsome Coorgi dude in camouflage, has light eyes, quite attractive for the natural surroundings. He is a naturalist and wants to move away from the mundane thing that he was doing. He made us trek for a couple of hours, explained a lot of minute things. Small talk and exchange of phone numbers, what I will remember most about him is his cool in the eye of elephant panic when some fore wheel of his safari jeep got jammed somewhere and his good luck, he had a jeepful of weepies- old, young and infants.

By afternoon, we were at the gate, waiting for that one bus which will take us to civilization. Lot of good memories and quiet times, the winding road to Mysore and back to Hyderabad, many small things happened- like asking our Mysore bound bus to drive like a F1 champ and then having lunch at 5 in the evening and watching overly watched movies and dinner at some noisy joint where people forgot to look at their plate and kept staring at a female with slightly tanned lithe arms. I don’t remember sleeping, my major worry was not to consume “excess” water lest the bus deserted me in times of dire call!

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