Dec 29, 2009

Pench Trip - Safari & Fire Making (3 of 4)

We rose early, not to miss our appointment with Mr Sher Khan in the Pench forest. Rudyard Kipling spent his time in this forest and this is where he wrote the famous Jungle Book. Having read this story to my daughter several times I was all familiar with Bagheera, Baloo, Mowgli, Kaa and others – the area is full of their pictures on various signboards.

Once the red tape at the forest office was done with by Pradeep, we set forth in our gypsy into the forest. We were assigned a guide, despite his efforts the tiger was not traceable. We saw the tiger’s pugmarks though, and several game like Cheetal (a deer), Sambar (another Deer), Nilgai (an antelope), Warthog, Peacock etc. At Alikatta, we enquired about the ‘Tiger Show’ in which tigers are arranged to be ‘sighted’ on elephant back parties. The wait was long and the group was not keen on the ‘arrangement’ though I was not so sure. We moved on, and more of the same sightings followed till we exited the sanctuary, and got back to another sumptuous breakfast of puri-bhaji, poha and omelettes.

Major Pradeep wouldn’t have us rest, and the next task given to us was to light a fire. It again may sound simple, but the effort proved humongous (if you have seen Tom Hanks do it in the movie Castaway). Getting the tinder to light up in itself is tough and takes a long time rubbing wood against wood. We tried using a magnifying lens and a paper (a shortcut actually) but even that failed! The lens would burn a hole into the paper but it wouldn’t light up! Meanwhile our eyes were so strained that they almost popped out of the sockets. Though we finally used a match, a major lesson was learnt in putting together tinder, twigs, air (yes, Oxygen), sticks and logs into a fire-friendly arrangement.

Post lunch we went back to the night shelter task, cleared the floor of the large tent, erected the central pole that anchored the parachute, secured the parachute ropes to nearby trees. Srikanth and I deployed our fire skills in creating a fire place, a hole in the ground where the fire would burn through the night keeping us warm and the stories coming.

The next venture was to get into the jungle, walk around a bit, and then figure out how to get back. Before that we climbed a 25 feet tall water tank that gave a view of the jungle nearby. After walking around the jungle a bit, we used the sun’s position in the sky to determine which direction to return. We also learnt that at night, the crest of the moon always points west and on a full moon night, the ears of the bunny on the moon always point south.

Towards the evening, Srikanth, Manu and self took the cycles and headed to the check dam passing a few villages. It was a 6km each way ride, and was uneventful except for the spectacular fall I had. On the way back, I had gotten off road and was maneuvering my roadster back onto the road. While negotiating the sharp left, the handlebar reversed itself, abruptly stopping the cycle and sending me flying into the air. I fell on my bums, and then rolled over with barely a scratch. Had I resisted the fall injury would have been certain, I was happy that the fall was gracefully done.

The night was spent in the shelter we created, eating good food and listening to all kinds of stories. We also split into three shifts of two hours each for tending the fire. Pradeep later called up to say that the resort manager liked the shelter so much, that he planned to retain it.


Anonymous said...

The future generation gets to see the creation of the first ever Junglethlon batch :-)!

Ram Medury said...

You bet, the first batch it was! And has that touch of being part of something new.