A six-mile walk up the hill this Sunday morning has been invigorating. Walking along the wild sequestered Himalayas always gives a queer feeling that nature is watching us. So much greenery, butterflies cluttering around, tiny warblers busy hopping from one sprig to another, air filled with a pleasant fragrance of verdure around. Among this wilderness, the mumbling stream seems to lend its utterances an added confidentiality. And during return witnessing a rainbow above the sunlit mountains offer a spectacular treat. It is disheartening to imagine that all this will vanish in the times to come.
As the poet Matthew Olzmann in "Letter to Someone Living Fifty Years from Now" says,
“Absolutely, there were some forests left!
Absolutely, we still had some lakes!”
दिल्ली के न थे कूचे औराक़-ए-मुसव्वर थे
जो शक्ल नज़र आई तस्वीर नज़र आई
मीर तक़ी मीर
The localities of Delhi are none, but sketches of an artist
When ever seen, looks as if beautiful paintings
History awaits us in Delhi!
Every monument in Delhi has its own story to tell. Whenever a Bollywood movie is picturised in this city, it is bound to show one or more heritage monument. And why shouldn’t it be, considering the fact that city has a innumerable monuments bestrewed in every nook and corner, representing perhaps every period of the history, be it…ancient, medieval or modern.
It had been more than one year since we had shifted to Delhi and surprisingly we didn't visited any of these notable monuments. To circumvent this culpable deed, we planned to commence our exploration with one of the most famed heritage monument of the city- the Qutab Minar.
Monsoons set up early that year, but they didn't seemed to recede even in month of September. The sky was leaden with dark clouds on that Sunday morning, but the fresh breeze with sporadic rain has forged pleasantry in the weather. It appeared to be an ideal day for such an outing during this part of the year. The Qutab compound seemed flared up with glistening light piercing through the clouds and greenery all around has added allure to its grandeur. More than the monuments, children seemed engrossed by the undulating grass turf that surrounds these ruins.
After strolling around the courtyard of a ruined mosque which seemed to be plastered with the leftover material got after demolishing an earlier existing temple we reached the famous "Iron Pillar". Instantly, the climax scene of movie “Cheeni Kum” flashed in our minds where Amitabh Bachchan was shown hugging it, depicting the belief that if someone can encircle it with their arms while standing with their back to it, their wish will be fulfilled. Shucks! we couldn’t rub our backs to it any more, thanks ASI which has erected an iron railing all around it. Several Bollywood movies have been shot at this location: “Fanna”, “Jannat 2” and most recently Amir Khan’s “PK”. But the most remembered song sequence “Dil ka bhanwar kare pukar” from 1963 black and white classic "Tere Ghar Ke Samne” directed by legendary Vijay Anand is peerless. Anyone who has seen the movie when ever visits Qutab minar gets instantly reminded of this immortal love song picturised on dazzling Nutan and evergreen Dev Anand inside the minaret.
Vijay Anand wanted to shoot the song on a sea beach. But since the story line represented city of Delhi so as to bring the feel of this heritage rich city onscreen, Dev Anand suggested his younger brother to shoot the song at some local monument preferably Qutab minar. The entire unit packed for Delhi to pasteurize this song inside the minar. Being acrophobic since her childhood, the very thought of climbing up the tower and romanising over the top shuddered the leading lady. However, the director convinced her with cogent assurance that she‘ll be comfortable at the top and the song sequence shall be filmed while descending. The crew got permission to shoot in the Qutab complex and even inside the minaret. Dev once wrote that carrying the cameras, sound recording and lighting equipment etc. inside the dark and narrow steps and then ensuring smooth hassle free shooting was a real tough job for the team. He further added that for these technical reasons, only some portions could be actually picturised inside the minaret, while a major part of the song was picturised inside a replica set of the monument contrived back in the studios of Bombay.
Perhaps the last Navketan movie to be shot in monochrome, it was an instant hit. During the picturisation of this song, the leading pair actually came down from the top through dingy ‘n’ drabby steps of the minaret surrounded only by stone walls and a staircase, with not even a speck of sky around? With no acting gimmicks and contrivance, and for close to 5 minutes, at that! One would think of the entire scene as dull and dreary, but Nutan’s radiant smiles, battling eyelashes and sparkling eyes lit-up the song while Dev Anand’s charm splashed it with flamboyant colors. Both climbed the Minar as friends but come down as lovers. This interaction between the two was more than enough in weaving a dazzling magic in the minds of the cine viewers since then.
Flabbergastingly, Vijay Anand also did a fair bit of acting in the song, but this one of his most famous appearances lasted just for five seconds or so. As the pair was dallying on the winding steps of Qutab Minar, getting just a little close, they’re interrupted by a group of scholars making their way up the stairs. The group is led by none other than bespectacled Vijay Anand, who overreacts most amusingly, gesturing unsubtly to his companions in order to give the two lovers wider berth on that narrow staircase. Adjusting his glasses at Dev and Nutan, and covering up a giggle he abruptly walks out of the view. That an elder brother is being judged for public romancing by his younger sibling makes this moment even funnier.
This was first and perhaps the last song sequence ever picturised inside the minaret. A mishap took place in the early eighties, when a group of school girls panicked as the lights went off inside the tower leading to a stampede and casualties. Since then, the gates of this minaret, which is part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site have been locked to the public. All the subsequent movies were either shot in the compound facing the minaret or around the undulatory lawns encircling the monument.
With modern day malls and multiplexes coming up all around the city space, visits to monuments and heritage site has become occasional. But, Bollywood has some how kept us trussed with these transcendent ruins through its songs and scenes.
It has been a fortune to be born and brought up in culturally rich Lucknow and then settling down in historically engraved Delhi. Reminiscence of Lucknow and Delhi keep promenading in my thoughts which I often scribble down. Leaving both of them even temporarily has been a great agony.
लखनऊ छूटा था पहले, क्या अब दिल्ली भी छोड़ दें
दो ही तो शहर थे अपने, दोनों तबाह निकले...
Helping my younger daughter learn a small speech which she has to deliver tomorrow at her school's assembly I was earnestly moved by the theme she had chosen. She has to speak on how a happy child can bring change to this world. She concluded her speech by asking God to bless her with ability to make this world more happy to live.
It is amazing to see small children thinking about how to make others happy and cheerful. There is a very old saying "Let your smile change the world but don't let the world change your smile". I pray to almighty for blessing happiness to these children throughout their lives.
A merchant sent his son to learn the secret of happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for. However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.
The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.With considerable patience, the Sage listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.
He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time. “However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handling the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”
The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man. “So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”
Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.
“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house.”
Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.
“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” – asked the Sage.
Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.
“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages. “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”
From “The Alchemist” by Paul Coelho
During last week of June, I visited Bandhavgarh National Park of Madhya Pradesh. Located within the serene and exquisite hills of Vindhyan, it is one of the most preferred locations for photographing and tracking tigers in wild. This place is known to have World’s highest density of Bengal Tigers. The park has four zones namely Magadhi, Khitauli, Tala and Panpatha-divided into core and the buffer areas. I was told that this park is presently home to 66 tigers. I visited Tala, Magdhi core and Panpatha buffer during my stay.
White Neck Stork in Flight
Bandhavgarh National Park boast of having about 250 species of birds. Most of them are local residents while about 120 species are migrants.
Elephants and their Mahavats play a very important role in tracking the movements and activities of the tigers in this park. This park has lost several tigers due to territorial conflicts of animal.
Photographed using Canon EOS 1100D with 55-250mm lens.
शादी से पहले रहता था सदा लाइमलाइट में,
पर शादी के बाद पत्नी ने कर दिया साइड में।
हीरो बन कर रहता था जो चकाचक “मून”,
“हनी” ने कर दिया उसे आज शून्य!
कैसे लगाए लगाम पति पर, सोचती रहती है सदा यह ट्रिक्स,
प्यार तो बन गया इतिहास दोस्तों, आज जीत गया मैथेमेटिक्स।
मैं जोड़ता हूँ, वो तुरंत घटाती है,
सोना चाहता हूँ जब मैं, तब मार्केट को दौड़ाती है!
ज्योंही करता हूँ “मल्टीप्लाई”, झट से कर देती है वो “डीवाइड”
खरीद लेती है हीरे-मोती की अंगूठी, और हो जाती है अपनी पोजीशन टाइट।
पहले का वो प्यार, शादी के दस साल बाद न जाने कहाँ खो जाता है?
छह का पहाड़ा भी, पति को जब छब्बीस का नजर आता है!!!
और तो और! दस भी लगाने लगते है तब दस हजार,
फरमाइश पूरी करने को पत्नी की, जब पति को लेना पड़ता है उधार..
और यह बच्चे!! यह तो Highest Common Factor हैं!
पति-पत्नी की जीवन-पुस्तक के ये मुख्य chapter हैं।
इन्ही के कारण तो खर्चे exponentially बढ़ते है,
पर जब ये नही होते, तो दिन बड़ी मुश्किल से ढलते है।
बच्चों की हंसी-किलकारी पर तो आज इंटरनेट भारी है,
पत्नी को टेब की, तो पति को मोबाइल की बीमारी है।
जो दूर हैं उनसे तो हम चौबीसों घंटे वेल-कनेक्ट्ड हैं,
परंतु बगल बैठे बच्चों व परिवार से सब-ट्रेक्टेड हैं।
आइए! सारी गणित को भूल, रिश्तों की मीठी चाशनी बनायें,
प्यार जो बन गया है इतिहास, उसे फिर से जीवन मे लायें।
टेब-मोबाइल छोड़, फ़ेसबुक-वाट्सअप की काल्पनिक दुनिया से बाहर आयें।
यथार्थ मे जियें! और कुछ समय ही सही, अपने परिवार के साथ बिताए!!
We all are shattered by the devastating earthquake that jolted the Himalayas last Saturday afternoon. It not only shook the paramount land of Hindu and Buddhist civilizations but also squelched the souls of the Nepalese people. Thousands of lives were exterminated within few minutes and many more thousands got buried under the debris. Lakhs of buildings including houses, places of worship, monuments, government buildings etc. are either completely destroyed or collapsed and ruined. Many buildings are leaning dangerously and are abundant now. Mother Nature has snatched away the shelter from thousands of Nepalese while hundreds of children are orphaned. The Himalayan tectonics has been writhing with so many shocks and aftershock!!! Even though one week has passed but this region is still experiencing aftershocks thus inculcating a persistent fear among the masses? A hell lot of effort shall be needed to rehabilitate the perturbed citizens. An equally herculean task shall be to restore and rebuild the country's monumental heritage. Just about one month back when I landed at Tribhuvan International Airport of Kathmandu as a stopover during my journey to Paro, Bhutan, I never imagined that this city of architectural marvels will collapse into a dusty heap. As a mark of solidarity towards the brave brothers and sisters of Nepal, I pay tribute through a short poem written by myself after the earthquake cherishing the non-perishable hope and everlasting spirit of friendship between people of our two countries:
दुख-सुख के साथी हम दोनों,
साथ न तेरा कभी छोडेंगे!
जब दोस्त बनाया है तुमको,
तेरे गम से मुँह् न मोडेंगे!
तहस-नहस नेपाल हुआ,
विकट रूप धर धरती कांपी!
हर घर फैला मातम का साया,
भारत में भी छाई उदासी
भूख प्यास से बोझिल है सब,
चारों ओर बर्बादी छायी!
घर से बेघर हो गये है अब,
ऐसी विपदा तुम पर आयी
झेल रहे तुम कष्ट वहाँ पर,
मन अपना भी यहाँ भारी है
मदद करेंगे मिल कर हम सब,
बात यह अब मन में ठानी है!
उठ खडा होगा नेपाल फिर एक दिन,
हर आँख से आंसू पोंछेंगे!
जब दोस्त बनाया है तुमको,
तेरे गम से मुँह् न मोडेंगे!
We all got petrified by several heart touching pictures coming from Nepal and thronging the internet through various social networking websites. They created a huge emotional fervour by exhibiting enormous grief and devastation that this calamity had brought to our neighborhood. As Indian armed forces and teams of NDRF, doctors and rehab workers are perspiring night and day along with other International teams and institutions to carry out relief work, we can only pray deep from our hearts for the recovery of our grieving brothers’ n sisters’.
We also wish to contribute for the cause of relief and rehabilitation of Nepal. We all are very keen to provide helping hand to the grief-stricken, thirsty, hungry, homeless and shattered neighbors and friends. The best way for giving our contribution is by donating to Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (https://pmnrf.gov.in/). I had also donated my modest contribution to PM's National Relief Fund through the above website. It is considered to be the most trustworthy and reliable source for expressing your gratitude. Donating through this website is very easy, their is quick transfer of fund through a payment-gateway and a system generated temporary receipt is received instantaneously. To my surprise, within few days of this transaction I also received a formal receipt of my contribution to PMNRF along with an acknowledgement letter from the Under Secretary, Prime Minister's Office.
The other option is to make our donations in favour of some renowned, authenticated and trustworthy non-government organizations which are genuinely undertaking the relief work. Times of India has published a list of NGO’s (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/listshow/47129159.cms) along with their addresses, their plan to provide relief to earthquake victims of Nepal, how to reach them and nature of help sought by them. These NGO’s are involved in various relief and rehabilitation activities in Nepal. Most of them prefer financial grants. Several Newspapers and FM radio channels are also collecting donations for this cause. There is no dearth of good people wanting to reach out to help the Nepalese in distress. But their genuineness holds most of us aback. Authenticity of the agency must thoroughly be checked before making donations. We hope our paltry contributions shall reach to the grief struck people of Nepal...
सब रंग में उस गुल की मेरे शान है मौजूद
ग़ाफ़िल तू ज़रा देख वो हर आन है मौजूद
It happened on a hazy, sultry winter afternoon, the penultimate month of the year 1862 had begun a week ago. Since the monsoon had receded in this part of the world, days were getting shorter and colder. As the sun slithered towards the western horizon, a bunch of British soldiers were seen speedily escorting a shrouded corpse towards an anonymous grave located at the back of a walled prison compound which lay overlooking the muddy brown waters of Rangoon River, a little downhill from the great gilt spire of the Shwedagon Pagoda. The bier of the State Prisoner- as the deceased was referred to, was accompanied by two of his sons and a mulla priest. Women were not allowed to attend the ceremony. A herd of followers from the nearby market area, who had somehow got the news about the prisoner’s death were barred from entering the compound by armed guards. However, few of them managed to flee the barriers and reached the bier so that they could touch the shroud before it got lowered into the grave. The British authorities not only had made sure that the grave was already been dug when the corpse was brought into that place but also guaranteed that the quantity of lime was sufficient to cause rapid decay of both the bier and the dead body. Under the strict surveillance of the British soldiers, very short funeral prayers were recited without lamentations and moaning. Customary eulogies were not allowed. After the soil was thrown over the lime powder, the earth was meticulously groomed such that within a short period no mark would remain indicating the place of burial.
The archival sources says that Captain Davis, the then British Commissioner of Burma (now Myanmar), wrote an urgent letter to London wherein he informed the Empire about the demise of the State prisoner and his unceremonial funeral. The state prisoner whom Captain Davis was referring was none other than Bhadur Shah II, famously known as "Zafar" meaning victory.
The news of his death reached Delhi about a fortnight later. Zafar, the last Mughal ruler of India was a Sufi and also a great Urdu poet and writer. It is depressing to know that this great poet was denied pen and paper during his captivity in Rangoon (now Yangon) but his passion for writing was so intense that he used to write on the walls of his room by means of burnt sticks. He wrote his epitaph himself in the form of a beautiful and a very famous gazal which says:
लगता नहीं है जी मेरा उजड़े दयार में
किस की बनी है आलम-ए-नापायेदार में
My heart has no repose in this ravaged land
Has anyone felt content in this futile world?
बुलबुल को बागबां से न सैय्याद से गिला
किस्मत में कैद थी लिखी फ़स्ले बहार में
Nightingale deplores neither the sentinel nor the hunter
Fate had decreed imprisonment during the harvest of spring
कह दो इन हसरतों से कहीं और जा बसें
इतनी जगह कहाँ है दिल-ए-दाग़दार में
Tell these longings to go dwell elsewhere
What space is there for them in this besmirched heart?
कितना है बदनसीब "ज़फ़र" दफ़्न के लिये
दो गज़ ज़मीन भी न मिली कू-ए-यार में
How unfortunate is Zafar! For his burial
Not even two yards of land were to be had, in the land of his beloved
The monument which we see today has come up after lot of struggle!! The British never wanted to make any shrine in the name of "Zafar". Initially, a bamboo fence was erected around the grave, which got disintegrated within few months and the spot was again covered by grass and vegetation. Eventually, a plaque was erected saying that the "Zafar" was buried “near this spot”. The shrine was largely ignored until 1991, when workers digging a hole for a drain rediscovered the old brick lined grave. Re-interest in "Zafar" resulted in building of the Dargah, which was originally funded by local Muslim population of the Yangon town.
मुझे दफ़्न करना तू जिस घड़ी, तो ये उससे कहना कि ऐ परी,
वो जो तेरा आशिक़-ए-जार था, तह-ए-ख़ाक उसको दबा दिया ।।
1. Dalrymple, William (2006): The Last Mughal, The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857, Penguin Books.
Aisa Koi Zindagi Se Vaada to Nahi Tha..
Tere Bina Jeene ka Irada to Nahi Tha..
Life is nothing but struggle against odds.. It is not that all those who have witnessed success have done so without facing hardships.. so my friend get up and force yourself against all the hurdles that are stopping you from moving ahead... take your friend with you and if you have none... it hardly matter... even alone you can achieve the goal of your life...
Let us start the journey !!
कदम कदम पे चट्टानें खडी़ रहें लेकिन
जो चल निकले हैं दरिया तो फिर नहीं रुकते
हवाएँ कितना भी टकराएँ आँधियाँ बनकर
मगर घटाओं के परछम कभी नहीं झुकते
हर एक तलाश के रास्ते में मुश्किलें हैं मगर
हर एक तलाश मुरादों के रंग लाती है
हजारों चाँद सितारों का खून होता है
तब एक सुबह फ़िजाओं पे मुस्कुराती है
जो अपने खून को पानी बना नहीं सकते
वो जिंदगी में नया रंग ला नहीं सकते
जो रास्ते के अँधेरों से हार जाते हैं
वो मंजिलों के उजाले को पा नहीं सकते
मेरे नदीम मेरे हमसफ़र उदास न हो
कठिन सही तेरी मन्जिल मगर उदास न हो
हम बहुत दूर निकल आए हैं चलते चलते, अब ठहर जाएँ कहीं शाम के ढलते ढलते
अब ग़म-ए-ज़ीस्त से घबरा के कहाँ जाएँगे, उम्र गुज़री है इसी आग में जलते जलते
December 20, 2014
I prefer to get up late on Saturdays, but for the last few weekends I have been deprived of this pleasure due to one reason or the other. And today also, as I was sipping the morning tea with just my head outside the quilt, reading the mailbox of mobile phone, my elder daughter came rushing into the room.
She said angrily: Papa!! You appear to be in relaxed mood… please hurry up…I’m getting late for the school bus. Now I’m leaving …Please don’t get late!!! You and mama should reach my school in time….
As she left shutting the door hurriedly, I softly whispered: OK!
Today it was Annual Sports Day at her school. It was just in the morning that I found an e-mailed invitation message from her school which has been lying in my span folder. This year she seemed to be a bit more excited than usual. Being a new admission in the present school this was her first major event. Here, it has been mandatory for all the students to participate in the sporting events in one form or the other. Yesterday, my daughter informed me that she had qualified in final heat for two races: 100m sprint and 200m x 4 relay. I was amazed to hear that because in previous school she actively participated in volleyball and football but rarely took part in any racing events.
I asked her: Whether this is due to compulsion or willingness?
She replied: Willingness!
That’s great!! : I exclaimed surprisingly.
We reached the school in time. As predicted on accuweather.com, the morning fog had withered and entire school ground was lit by bright sunshine. We entered into the arena and very soon she spotted us. She profoundly waved and beckoned us to occupy western side seats. We followed her request as we knew that she was supposed to perform in the opening sequence therefore she wanted us to be seated towards that side from where we could watch her closely. The program started with a conventional type of speech from the principal advising all the students and their parents to minimize the use of internet instead orient the child towards field and track related sports. I also believe in this ideology but for today’s kids the inclination towards the digital gizmos is irreversible!
As the program continued reminiscence from the past engulfed my mind. Time passes with great pace and it appeared that everything had happened yesterday only. At that time my daughter was only one and half year old. Unlike other normal child she never used to crawl on knees instead she preferred to drag on her back. Few months later when she started walking we found that after taking few steps she used to stumble and fall down. Initially, it appeared to be normal but when even after several months the same thing continued then we got worried. Being posted in north-eastern part of the country where very primitive type of medical facility was available, it was not possible to gather any fruitful medical opinion. Fortunately, I got a chance to visit Delhi due to some training assignment. I utilized the opportunity and brought my family with me. I got her checked at the Escorts Hospital (now Fortis). The doctors diagnosed her of an orthopedic condition and asked us to keep our figure crossed because there is no therapy available for this ailment. They opined that in majority of cases the child recovers by itself with age. But like any other concerned parent we could not wait and watch our child struggling. Therefore, we decided that we will not take any chance. Incidentally, as we reached our hometown before returning back to my place of posting we discussed the matter with her grandparents. Her grandfather advised us to consult Limb Center. Subsequently, we took her there for close examination by the specialists. The doctor prescribed her leg braces which she had to wear during sleep for next few months. This had been very difficult but after initial refusals she accepted this extra luggage or her legs. The only cure that was possible was through massage and exercises. I remember her mother religiously making her do all pushing and kicking exercises. Those exercises became normal activity and inherent part of her daily schedule. By the time she reached five years of age she could not only walk like any other normal child but could also run for long stretches. Thank God! Now she can even take part in sprinting events.
Today as I watched her galloping on the school track, a feeling of acknowledgment for the blessings showered by almighty on my child had numbed my eyes. Yes! He may have kept us deprived of few things but the enormous joy he had given in form of moments like these are incomparable. As I thanked the lord for his kindness, I heard my daughter’s name being announced. By the time I could swivel out of my thoughts, I saw her proudly standing on the victory stand with her team mates…
As I revisit the past and glance into the corridors of my life, I found that my family had played a very pivotal role in making me what I am... Just remembering the love, compassion and support which they had poured when I needed the most.
Remember who you are, who you want to become.
Everything will fall into place,when the time comes.
Remember who you are, and who you want to become.
The time can be short, don't leave things undone.
Remember your families,they are the only ones you've got.
To carry you in times of need, they can not be bought.
Remember they love you, either here or there.
They will always be with us, help for things to bear.
I could have done more for my family, should have taken more care of them, should have been available in the time of their need, must have shower my love for them...they are very inherent part of my life and very precious for my own existence..
Such thoughts ponder me now and then!!
(Photograph by Rahul & verses from a poetry "Remember" written by Dawn Jenson)
A composition so dear to my heart, beautiful poetry by Bashir Badra and majestically rendered by Hussain Brothers.
कभी यूँ भी आ मेरी आँख में, के मेरी नज़र को ख़बर न हो
मुझे एक रात नवाज़ दे, मगर उसके बाद सहर न हो
वो बड़ा रहीम-ओ-करीम है, मुझे ये सिफ़त भी अता करे
तुझे भूलने की दुआ करूँ तो दुआ में मेरी असर न हो
मेरे बाज़ुओं में थकी-थकी, अभी महव-ए-ख़्वाब है चांदनी
न उठे सितारों की पालकी, अभी आहटों का गुज़र न हो
कभी दिन की धूप में झूम के, कभी शब के फूल को चूम के
यूँ ही साथ साथ चलें सदा, कभी ख़त्म अपना सफ़र न हो
Come to my eyes sometime, such that even my sight is unaware
Honor me with just one night, but let there be no dawn after that
He who is enormously kind and generous, should accord me this praise
If I pray of forgetting you, then my prayers should go in vain
Lying tired in my arms at present, so dream struck is she
let the cradle of stars be unmoved, nor slightest of noise to disturb now
Sometimes swaying in the daylight, sometimes kissing the night flowers
Like that we should walk together always, on a journey that never ends
फ़ितरत ने सिखाई है हमको, उफ़ताद यहाँ परवाज़ यहाँ।
गाए हैं वफ़ा के गीत यहाँ, छेड़ा है जुनूं का साज़ यहाँ।
इस फ़र्श से हमने उड़-उड़कर, अफ़लाक के तारे तोड़े हैं।
इस बज़्म में गिरकर तड़पे हैं, इस बज़्म में पीकर झूमे हैं।
Reminiscences of one’s childhood days are mesmerising. It gives immense pleasure and consolation to remember our adolescence. If the place where we are born and brought up is culturally exquisite then the fragrance of those opulent memories somewhere gets embedded into our personality. The sand of times may cover our skins but deep inside our hearts the city of our childhood lives and breathes. I have several memories of my childhood days most of which I lived in my Grandfather’s house in a combined family. It was located very close to the cantonment area of Lucknow with several monumental remnants of British period in close vicinity.
With the soaring temperatures outside, the children now prefer to pass their summer break by getting cocooned in the comforts of coolers and air conditioners. The best they can do is either watch television or play with tab, play stations and other gizmos. In contrast, our summer breaks were different. During those days, comforts of coolers and air conditioners were available only for few privileged citizens belonging to high society. During most of the afternoons it was customary for all our friends to collect within the cluster of mango trees located on the edge of a small graveyard. This nineteen century cemetery has been actively used by the members of Christian and Anglo- Indian Community. Once or twice every month we use to see a coffin arrive at the huge cavalry gates of the cemetery in a small tempo car with glasses all around. Having witnessed several cremation ceremonies there we were curious about few of the ancient graves which were located in the center of the graveyard. They were lavishly built and it seems that these twenty to twenty five graves were first to occupy space in this graveyard. We were once told by a Christian priest who often used to visit the cemetery that they belonged to family members of some British soldiers who were killed during the seize of Lucknow in the year 1857-the first rebellion against the colonial rule.
I remember one such afternoon when we friends were reading comics sitting on the tree trunks. Suddenly one of our friend Sanjay Thapa screamed, “Yaar! I’m fed up with these ghostly stories. Now living beside this graveyard for so many years my fear of ghosts and spirits has completely vanished". Sanjay was eldest and pretends to be patriarch of our group. At that time he was probably the only teenager in our group who had completed fourteen while rest of us were around eleven or twelve years old. He had proved his leadership time and again by being a harbinger of innovative ideas. He had introduced us to Railway club where for past one year we were availing the facility of swimming pool even without being member of the club due to his friendship with the club manager. He had been pioneer in introducing us to great slopes situated in the Cant area on the outskirts of the city where every Sunday morning we use to go for cycling. There the highly undulatory road was characterized by artificially build up and down tracks which were used by army training facility. Cycling on these slopes used to be a very thrilling experience. Very recently he had discovered a haunted house near the graveyard which was a semi constructed house lying vacant as the owner had abandoned the construction work in the middle. We heard that labors had seen some paranormal activity one night and they fled away. Since then, no labor was ready to work for further construction of that house. This place had become our playground since then and we had named it Haunted House being inspired from one of the Secret Seven novels which were in vogue those days.
Sanjay had come to live in our locality about two years back with his elder brother and mother after the death of his father who served the Indian Army. His brother had suffered a paralytic stroke few years back due to which his left hand’s fingers had become mysteriously curved. While playing cricket he could ball tremendous spins with his left hand. He often use to join our group giving advice on our forthcoming ventures, several of them being planned by his younger sibling. He often use to tell us various fascinating stories of his father experiences in army during his posting at border. Many a time he had introduced a suspense factor in those stories. Along with Sanjay, we also called him daju (meaning big brother in Nepali).
Knowing about Sanjay’s total denial to fear for ghost, Rajeev who never use to miss any opportunity to let down our leader replied in great rage, "Abe sale! Agar tera bhooton ka dar khatam ho gaya hai to ek raat isee graveyard mein so kar kyun nahi dikha deeta”. Sanjay was perplexed he never expected such a repercussion for his comment. He exclaimed, “Yes!..... Why not?..... I’m already sleeping with the graves. There is only that old cemetery wall which separates me from those graves".
Actually, Rajeev's house was near the park located on the northern periphery while Sanjay’s house was towards the southern side of our colony sharing common boundary with the graveyard. It was all said and done. However after intervention of his elder brother Sanjay's overnight stay was cut short till midnight on the condition that daju will tell us a very scary story during the time his brother is venturing in the graveyard. It was planned that Sanjay will go in the graveyard on forthcoming Saturday night after dinner. He will have a complete round of graveyard alone and return back at mid night when the security guard completes his first round of the colony. Daju advised us that it will be much convenient for all of us as we can inform our parents that we all are going out for night movie show.
Next Saturday we all were very excited except Sanjay. He didn’t join us during the afternoon session. As planned we all gathered at the main gate which was the only entrance and exit of the cemetery in order to welcome our friend who reached there at quarter past nine with daju. As Sanjay walked inside the graveyard we all sat on the concrete seats constructed on the graveyard entrance portico to wait for Sanjay to return back. We all then surrounded daju so as to listen to the story he was about to narrate. He began,”My brother doesn't believe in ghost but you know I've heard several stories of Lucknow especially cantonment area where sightening of ghosts has been reported. Even the master story teller Satyajit Ray, the maker of movie “Shatranj ke Khilari” had mentioned such ghosts of Dilkusha in one of his famous story. During my father’s stay in Calcutta we had seen this play and today I will narrate you the same. This story is named as Lucknow-er-Duel.
Daju threw a glance towards the cemetery road. His brother was slowly walking towards the central part of the graveyard with a torch and stick in his hand. As he disappeared in the darkness daju continued, “The main character of this story is a Bengali uncle nicknamed as Tarini, an aged bachelor who lived in Calcutta. The uncle in this story narrates his experience at Dilkusha in Lucknow to a group of five boys like you”. The story begins with Bengali uncle asking the boys “Do you know what duel means?” One of the boy replied. “Of course I know what it means, Dual role – it means a double role in films. Like Amitabh played in the movie Satte pe Satta. The elder of seven brothers Ravi and his lookalike gangster Babu.
By this time we all had forgotten our friend Sanjay and his night walk in the graveyard. We all came closer to daju as he continued:
The Bengali uncle smiled at the boy’s answer, “I’m not talking about that dual,” he said, “It’s d-u-e-l, not d-u-a-l. It means a fight between two people. It started in the 16th century in Italy. Then onward by the turn of century, it gradually spread to other countries of Europe. In those days, swords were regarded as most important part of a gentleman’s personality. If a person, for some reason, humiliated another, so in order to save one’s reputation, the victim used to challenge that person for a duel. There was no way of rejecting such challenges; as a result, a sword-fight used to take place between the two. Later, in the era of firearms, the pistol became the main dueling weapon instead of the sword. This happened around the 18th century. These duels had long list of rules and regulations! The two had to use exactly the same weapon, both were supposed to have ‘seconds’ or umpires to minimize the chances of cheating, and when the challenger’s second cried ‘fire!’ both opponents had to fire at the same time.”
The description was sounding interesting suddenly daju again turned towards the cemetery road to look for Sanjay. We all shook him,”Daju!!shouted Rajeev, "Sanjay ko kuch nahi hoga. Hum hai naa aap to bas kahani sunayo”. Daju with a smile on his face continued:
The Bengali uncle after telling the history of the duel to the boys who by then had become restless to hear the actual story further remarked “It’s not any experience like you all are thinking, but hearing about this incident will definitely make your jaws drop.” After a quick sip of a cup of black tea, taking out a packet of export quality beeri and a matchbox, and keeping these items on the mattress, Tarini uncle started his long-awaited story:
At that time, I used to live in Lucknow. I didn't have a regular job at that time – didn't even feel the need of having one either. Two and a half years ago, I had won a generous sum of Rs 2.5 lakhs in the Ranger’s Lottery; the interest from this money at that time was more than enough for me to live on. I’m talking about 1951, when living was not as costly as it is today. Moreover I was a bachelor, and only Rs 500-600 a month was quite sufficient for me. I lived in a small bungalow in La Touche Road and wrote stuff like jokes for ‘The Pioneer’. One of my hobbies then, was visiting an auction house in Hazratganj once in a while. Some antiques of the Nawabi era could still be found at the shop. Bought at a favorable price, selling these precious artifacts to rich American tourists earned me a good profit. It’s not that I was not interested in antiques. Some of these antiques also found way into my living quarter showcasing my interest for these artifacts.
Once on a bright Sunday morning, I went to the shop and saw a brown mahogany box lying lazily along with other items. It was about a cubit long, a palm-stretch wide and about three inches thick. Despite trying hard, I couldn't figure out what was inside, so my curiosity about this box increased. There were many other interesting articles in the auction, but what I could think of was only that wooden box.
At last, after waiting for about an hour, I saw the auctioneer pick it up. I sat up erect in rapt attention. As usual, he started praising the article in typical auction style, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I now have the pleasure of presenting before you a very interesting item. Look, I’m opening the lid now. Its about two hundred years old, but look! It still retains its old glory. We all can see the world famous producer of firearms, Joseph Manton’s logo on this magnificent pair of dueling pistols! You won’t find another pair like this!”
That was good enough for me; I had to buy those pistols. Even my imagination started soaring. I could visualize in front of my very eyes that the two challengers were standing 20 cubits away from each other, and when the second shouts ‘fire’ both shoot together, resulting in severe bloodshed. As I was thinking about these things, the auction had already started. When a Gujarati gentleman from Charbagh shouted out 700 rupees, I bid 1000 rupees at once. And that was all! No more price proposals for the day and the pistols were mine at last.
When I brought my treasure home, I observed that these were indeed an ideal pair of dueling pistols. The butts of the pistols were as glamorous as their barrels. The length of each pistol was about 17 inches. Both of them had the maker’s name engraved with great care – Joseph Manton. I had studied about guns before. At the end of the 18th century, Joseph Manton had been one of the most efficient producers of firearms.
It had been only three months since I had been in Lucknow. Very few Bengalis lived there, and I did not get the chance of associating with them much. I used to stay at home in the evenings; people who lived in my place included a servant, a cook and myself. A plot related to a duel was revolving inside my head from the moment I had bought those pistols, so I sat on the armchair with a notebook to jot it down. Just then, I heard a knock at the door. Who could it be? Maybe some foreigner customer of mine, I thought. I had earned quite a name as a supplier of antiques by then.
I quickly opened the door, and yes I was right.
The man at the door was indeed a foreigner. About forty-five years old, it was apparent that he had spent a lot of time in the sub-continent. Maybe he was born here too, an Anglo-Indian. ‘Good Evening,’ I greeted him. The Sahib said, ‘I need to have a word with you. May I come in please?’ ‘Of course’, I replied. The Sahib did not have a hybrid accent in his pronunciation. I showed him in to my living room. Now I got a better look at him in the bright light. He was quite handsome; he had blonde hair, a thick golden mustache, blue eyes and he was wearing a gray suit. I said, ‘Sir, I’m not in the habit of drinking, but may I get you a cup of tea or coffee if you like?’ The gentleman refused me very politely saying that he already had his dinner. He said, ‘I saw you at the auction house in Hazratganj this morning.’ ‘You were there too?’, I asked. ‘Yes, but you were too captivated to notice me’, he replied. ‘Actually, I was craving for something…., but you became its owner; a pair of dueling pistols, made by Joseph Manton. You are very lucky.’ I could not but ask him something.
‘Did they belong to someone you know?’
‘Yes, but it has been a long time since he passed away. After his death, I did not have the slightest idea where these pistols went. May I have a look at them? There is a story related to them, that’s why….’
I gave him the mahogany box with the pistols in it. The Sahib took out the pistols and looked at them with great awe. Taking them in front of the lamp for a better look, he said, ‘These pistols were once used for a duel in Lucknow, do you know about that?’ ‘A duel in Lucknow?’ ‘Yes. It happened about two hundred years ago, at the end of the 19th century. Actually, there are only three days to go for the 250th anniversary of this incident. On 16th October.’ ‘Really?’ I asked, ‘Yes indeed,’ He replied.
‘That’s very strange! But who are the people who fought the duel…?’
Sahib put the pistols back in their case and sat on the sofa, ‘I’ve heard the story so many times that I can almost see the things happening in front of my eyes. Dr. Jeremiah Hudson’s daughter Annabelle Hudson was one of the most renowned beauties in Lucknow. She was a girl of the robust type; she rode horses, was an expert in shooting- just like a brave man. On the other hand, she was a great singer and dancer too. At that time, a British artist named John Ellingworth went to Lucknow to make a portrait of the Nawab. But when he heard about Annabelle’s beauty, he decided to go to her house and make a portrait of her first. The portrait was well painted, but long before that Ellingworth was deeply in love with Annabelle.’
‘On the other hand, a few days ago Annabelle met a Charles Bruce at a party. At that time, there was a large part of the Bengal regiment in Lucknow, and Bruce was a captain of that regiment. Bruce too fell in love with her at first sight.’
‘Two days after the party, Bruce could not stand it any more. He just had to meet Annabelle, so he went to her house at once. What he saw there was an unknown man drawing Annabelle’s portrait. Though Ellingworth was not a very young man, he sure was good looking. Moreover, Bruce understood by his very look that he also had fallen for Annabelle. Charles Bruce used to have a strong disliking for people like artists, and in this case he called this artist a name or two in front of Annabelle.’
‘Ellingworth was a very artistic and gentle person. But such an insult in front of Annabelle was quite hard for him to swallow. He challenged Bruce to a duel at once, which the latter happily accepted. The day and date of the duel was also fixed: 16th October, 6 am.’ ‘I think you know that both the duelers need a second?’
I said, ‘I know. They work as umpires in the field; it’s their duty to ensure that the duel rules are followed properly.’
‘You’re right. In most cases, a friend or such of the challenger is chosen as the second. Though Ellingworth did not know many people in Lucknow, a government official named Hugh Drummond came to his aid as his second. Ellingworth also requested him to arrange a pair of quality dueling pistols, as according to the rule, both the weapons should be exactly alike. In the meantime Captain Bruce also chose a second, his friend Phillip Moxon.’
‘The day of the duel drew nearer and nearer. Nobody was at the least in doubt about its result, because Captain Bruce was an expert with pistols. Maybe Ellingworth was good with his paintbrush, but he had the least experience with firearms.’
After saying these words, the Sahib came to a halt. I couldn't help asking him, ‘What happened in the end?’ The gentleman smiled, ‘Every year on 16th October, 6 am this incident is repeated.’ ‘What does that mean?’ ‘I mean exactly what I am saying, if you go there the day after tomorrow you can see for yourself.’
‘What are you saying! This is unusual and…unearthly!’
‘There is no hard-and-fast rule about going there. You can just go and see for yourself only if you wish to.’
‘But how can I find the place? I’m quite new over here. I don’t know much about the city…’
‘Have you heard about Dilkusha?’
‘Yes I know that place.’
‘I’ll wait for you outside Dilkusha at 5:45 am.’
‘Okay then, see you at the dueling spot.’
With these words, the stranger bid me goodbye and left. I suddenly realized that I hadn’t even asked what his name was. Anyway, the name did not matter at that time; the thing that mattered the most now was the story he had told me. I just could not believe that such a romantic incident took place in this very city. Moreover, right then, I was holding a pair of pistols, which had played a vital role in this duel. But who ultimately won over this Annabelle Hudson? There was yet another question- of the two men who was the person Annabelle loved? I hoped this mystery will be revealed on 16th October.
16th October was soon knocking at the door. On the night of the 15th, I was returning home from a musical show. It was then when I met the Sahib again in the street. He said, ‘I was on the way to your house now, just to remind you,’ I replied, ‘It’s not that I've forgotten about it, I’m actually waiting very eagerly for tomorrow morning.’
The Sahib then bid me goodbye.
The next day, I woke up to the sound of my alarm clock at 5 am. After having a quick cup of tea and wrapping a muffler around my neck, I took a horse carriage and set off for Dilkusha. Dilkusha Kothi lies in the outskirts of the city, which was at one time, the pleasure garden of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. At that time, there was a huge park surrounded by a wall where a large number of deer used to graze. Even a cheetah or two entered these gardens, once in a blue moon. Now only the remains of the house could be seen, and a garden is maintained near the house; people go there for evening strolls once in a while.
I reached the spot at 5:35 pm, and told the coachman to wait for half an hour so that I didn't have to search for another carriage on my way home. As I knew Urdu quite well, the coachman took me for an aristocratic man and agreed to wait.
Getting down from the carriage, I saw the Sahib standing under a tree at a stone’s throw away. He informed that he had just arrived five minutes ago. I said, ‘Alright Sahib, lead the way and I’ll follow you.’ After about five minutes, we arrived at an open field. Very little could be seen because of the dense fog, maybe just the same kind of fog was there on the day of duel. The Sahib came to a halt in front of a ramshackle house, full of weeds and thorny bushes. Anyone can say from the first look that it was a house of the British period. Well, we did not go there to deal with the house. We turned away from it and faced the east. Though it was foggy, we could still see some tamarind trees in front of us, and to the right of those trees, there lay a large bush. The river Gomti was flowing serenely; we could see through the fog that there were no inhabitants on the banks. All these elements added a mystic feel to the scenario.
‘Did you hear that?’ the Sahib asked all of a sudden. As I tried to listen very carefully, I finally placed it to be a sound of hooves. I just could not deny that a chill ran down my spine on hearing it. Along with that, I had the strange feeling of excitement and curiosity of a new adventure. This time I saw two men on horseback. They finally stopped under a tamarind tree at our left. ‘Are these the people who will fight?’ I whispered to him.
He said, ‘Not both, only one of them will fight. The taller person is Ellingworth, the challenger. The other is his friend and his second, Hugh Drummond. Look! Drummond has the mahogany box in his hand.’ It was true then! Now I understood that my pulse rate was increasing rapidly. My heartbeat increased at the thought of watching a 250-year-old incident in front of my very eyes.
In a few minutes, Captain Bruce and his second, Phillip Moxon arrived, riding their horses. After that Drummond, took out the pistols from their case and re-loaded them with bullets. He handed them over to the opponents, Bruce and Ellingworth, giving them a brief on the rules. The sky soon took a rosy hue, reflecting its colour in the river Gomti.
Bruce and Ellingworth were soon ready to face each other. They stood face to face and then moved fourteen steps back. They turned around to face each other once more. I could not hear a single sound till now, but now I saw the opponents pointing their pistols at each other, I clearly heard Drummond shout, ‘Fire!’ The next moment I heard a deafening sound of two pistols.I was shocked to see both the opponents fall to the ground at the same time.There was another thing that shocked me – from behind those bushes I was talking about, came out a lady. She ran and disappeared in the thick fog.
‘So, you saw the results yourself,’ the Sahib said. ‘In this duel both the challengers had to face death.’ ‘That’s okay, but who was the lady coming out from the bushes?’ I inquired.
‘That was Annabelle’
‘She understood that Captain Bruce would not die in Ellingworth’s hands, but she wanted both of them to leave this world. So she decided not to take a chance and shot Bruce herself when the command ‘Fire!’ came. Ellingworth’s bullet didn't even touch Bruce.’
‘But why did Annabelle do such a thing?’
‘Because she did not love any of the men. She knew that Ellingworth would die, and Bruce would live and taunt her for the rest of her life. She didn't want such a life, because she loved somebody else – the one she married afterwards and lived happily ever after.’
I noticed that the 250-year-old duel scene was rapidly vanishing in thin air. The fog was getting even denser then before. I was thinking about Annabelle in awe when I heard a voice. It was a female voice, which gave me the shock of my life.
‘Annabelle’s calling,’ whispered the Sahib.
The second I looked at Sahib, a chill ran down my spine. Who is this person standing right in front of me? He was wearing those ancient 250-year-old clothes!
‘Sorry I couldn’t introduce myself before,’ He said; his voice distant and unearthly, clearly coming from another world. ‘My name is Hugh Drummond, Ellingworth’s friend and Annabelle’s love. Goodbye.’
I watched with horror, as he proceeded towards that ramshackle house. He disappeared in the dense fog before I could say anything. After returning home by the carriage, I opened the mahogany box and took out the pistols once again. When I reached out for them, I felt that they were hot. I brought them close to my nose to smell them.
It did not take me long to recognize the smell of fresh gunpowder.
As daju finished the story we noticed some one throwing light on us. It was the night watch man. He shouted in anger,” Hey! What you guys are doing here at the graveyard’s gate during the night. Why don't you all play during daytime?” He continued in his roaring voice, “Do you all know this boy! I‘ve just found him sleeping on the park’s bench. I think he is one of you only”. The watchman then threw torch light on the boy’s face who was standing beside him. Seeing his face we all screamed in great fear and surprise, "Saaan….jay Yo..o..u!!!”
'The Tiger is a large-hearted gentleman with boundless courage'
-Sir Jim Corbett
It may be a myth that only humans have sensitivity. There exist wide gamut of believers who opine that even wild animals are capable of exhibiting a range of emotions. No doubt that there are instances when under the influence of anthropomorphism we humans try to put our own traits onto animals and weave a story depicting a very rosy picture of animal emotions. Rarely we also become spectator to such an incident or happening in wild that may unknowingly touch the human heart with great fervour....
During our recent visit to Ranthambhore tiger reserve we were fortunate enough to witness very decent and exciting sightings of the Royal Carnivore. It started with adventure and thrill but ended with a very emotional note that left us numb for few days to come.
The luck had bestowed upon us after several hours of rummage in the forest. Our first Safari at Zone-1 in the evening had resulted in a douche due to heavy rains which had started pouring as we reached towards the core area. We were very hopeful on that day as we were told that this zone had been witnessing very good sightings since last few days. It marks the territory of a young and majestic tiger named Sultan which had been sighted on several occasion in this area. But today due to heavy downpour the forest had become very desolate and deserted like never before. We all felt very dismal and gloomy at our lucklessness.
The next morning brought a great hope as the weather had cleared and a bright sunshine brushed the forest canopy. So we started our forest ride with a bucket load of enthusiasm. We got permits for Zone-3 but since the forest department had restricted movement in that zone because on previous day, a tigress inhabiting the zone, whose one of the three cubs died few days back had approached at a gypsy in hostile manner. As the vehicular movement would have further annoyed her therefore in order to avoid any untoward incident, such a step was taken. We were alternatively allotted Zone-5 which nowadays marks the territory of the renowned tigress Machali also famously known as the "lady of the lake". She is perhaps the oldest of all the wild beast inhabiting the famous Padam lake area. This tigress had become popular due to her muscular strength and the valour with which she use to save her cubs from other animals and male tigers. The male tigers really got scared of her ferocious character and upon intimidating they use to run away from her and her cubs. Since her common territory was the lakes around the Ranthambore fort and so she had great encounters with several crocodiles; the legends of which are so popular even now. Nearing eighteen years of age, she had lost several of her teeth’s during a ferocious kill of a giant crocodile during her youth. This legendary fight of hers’ created history and it was the first time that such an encounter had been recorded and filmed. Tigress Machali is renowned as the most photographed tiger as several documentaries and short films have been shot on her.
On that morning, sudden change in weather had rejuvenated the forest. It appeared that the rains during last night had cleansed the forest. Sun rays sieving out from the forest canopy in crystal clear atmosphere had made the scene pellucid. The fervour was very well evident from the spectacular dance of Peacocks in the flushing forest meadows, herds of Sāmbhar deer and Chitals lavishly rambling, the flocks of Treepies congregating near the temporary ponds created by showers and families of Langurs hopping from one branch to another. Herd of antelopes galloping around in the wild contended our hungry souls. We had spotted several monitor lizards and most of them hurriedly entered the hollow tree trunks on sensing our presence. Enjoying the surroundings, we could hardly realize that we had entered into the territory of the majestic tigress Machali. A forest guard told us that he had heard her roaring near the adjoining ridge and her chances of coming down towards the road are rare as it had rained last evening. He further told that nowadays the sighting of the tigress had become very rare as she is now experienced and tends to venture towards the forest road only after the vehicular movement is over. In desperation we stopped for a while anticipating to sight her, but in vain. However, luck was on our side and after wandering on the forest track for about an hour we spotted two tigers. Separated by a distance of about twenty five meters from each other their golden skins were flashing within the bushes. Contrary to their fully grown appearances I was astonished to know that they still are called cubs as they are presently under the guidance of their mother tigress. Our excitement grew as we saw two antelopes unknowingly venturing towards the beast. Within nick of a second one of the two cubs charged towards the herbivores but they got enough time to gallop out of its reach. The immaturity of the cubs was very well evident. Perhaps they needed more grooming to sharpen their hunting skills. As we left their abode I saw a long rat snake indifferent to our presence, moving haphazardly over the dried leaves.
During the evening safari on that day we again ventured into Zone-5 being totally unaware about the excitement that was in store to greet us. Fortunately, we could sight Machli towards the foothills resting near a small spring. Her huge body offered a majestic look. By no means it appeared that she has grown old except when she opened her mouth to take a deep snarl. I could see that hardly any tooth was present in her wide opened jaw. Once the mightiest empress who had ruled this forest has now quit hunting and is mostly dependent on the feed from forest department every fortnight.
As we moved further towards the core area, suddenly we were greeted with loud calls of the monkeys and avian. Our forest guide alerted us of a possible tiger sighting. Suddenly he asked us to gaze towards the nala on the left side… Yes!!! we could spot a majestically looking carnivore gazing sharply towards two antelopes grazing nearby, his golden mane was shining giving a portentous looks at that moment. Guide told us this tiger is T-6 also known as Romeo. Suddenly Romeo started a vigorous chase and we could see the two antelopes galloping desperately towards the eastern side. We thought that very soon it will catch one of the antelope but suddenly a very unexpected thing happened. At spur of the moment, the tiger turned towards the western side and got hold of a Nilgai who was running heedlessly beside the tiger. Romeo caught the herbivore at his throat, putting him on ground within seconds and mercilessly dragging him towards the ridge side. All gypsies with tourists & photographers got lined up along forest track excitingly witnessing this one of the most exhilarating moment of their lifetime. This kill happened at a distance of not more than thirty meters from us. I was so much mesmerized by the kill that I forget to take any photograph during that moment. By the time I could realized that I had to take snaps, the beast had already started dragging his prey towards the hill side. As our vehicle moved closer towards the tiger we could see him feasting at the thigh portion of the herbivore. The most enchanting aspect was that the tiger had no impact of the nearby vehicles on his hunting skill. It showed hardly any concern about our presence and in fact it appeared that the poor Nilgai had got confused by the movement of the gypsies which started rushing towards the scene to witness the kill. It might have got trapped in the clutches of the mighty tiger in order to avoid the rush of the vehicles. What so ever it is, the scene of kill shall be a lifelong memory for me and many others who were witness to this rare feast.
On the early morning next day we went to the fort which is situated just opposite the famous Zone-3 of the tiger reserve. It overlooks the vast expanse of Padam Taal Lake and beautiful Jogi Mahal made out of red sandstone. As we were returning back we came across a familiar group of photographers who were with us on the previous day. They had again ventured on that day in the Zone-5 during early morning. As they spoke about their recent experience I really felt numb. They told us that on the next morning when they reached the site of the kill they could hardly believe their eyes. Romeo had returned to the prey which was a pregnant Nilgai. He like an experienced surgeon had cut through the womb of the deer and took out the dead fetus out of the mother's womb before wandering into the forest. The highly experienced photographers then whispered: "The tiger’s behavior indicated that he had been dolorous about the kill and was not interested in the the feast anymore".
Hearing this we were really dumbfounded and bewildered....Just look at the nature's dilemma!!!
It is amazing to know that a tiger is feeling sorry about it's prey…. but believe me it is true!!
To enlarge please click on the photo above.
Subsequently an article titled "Tiger Reason" has also got published in the April 2015 issue of the popular wildlife magazine Sanctaury Asia. Authored by Sagar Gosavi this article also illustrate the above event. Sanctuary Asia maintains its view that animal behavior cannot be accurately interpreted but the quest for understanding it is a purpose unto itself"
It never shows its face and never stops blubbering
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