Monday, April 03, 2006

`I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately....

My friend G was inviting me from a long time to visit the forests.
`This is the occasion, tiger census is going on and we can join as
volunteers' he called up and said. I packed my backpack and when I
reached the Tiger reserve at Bhadravathi it was 6 PM. The forest
Officer suggested we can stay at guest house at BR Project which
has all the facilities. But we chose to stay at Sukalhatti 15 kms deep
inside the dense forest where there is are no luxuries, not even
bedding. But there is a building built by Britishers during 1906 and
some Watchers of forest department stay there.

The jeep took us to
Sukalahatti through the dense forest. It was already dark, the road
almost did not exist. The watcher accompanying us said, `If a tiger
comes in our way, there is nothing to fear. But an elephant.... it is
totally a different matter'. It was so dark and every shadow looked
like an elephant. We stayed there for three days. We went around the
forest looking for all animal signs. We found pug marks of tigers

and footstep marks of elephants.

A baby deer which had never seen
an humanbeing before came running towards us, but immediately
ran away. Certainly, man is a deadly creature!

The evening we spent at Tadasa camp watching the
sunset beyong the horizon of backwaters can never erase from my

I remembered Saint Exupery's `Little Prince' and his desire
to watch sunsets- many a times in a day! I remembered my earlier experiences of the forest. That
was R's first trek and also her last trek to a forest. After the horrible
experience of blood sucking leeches and treacherous ravines of
Barapole in Kodagu she swore she would never venture in to a
forest on a trek again.

But I enjoyed the trek and the risk. One rarely
gets such oppurtunities to be with wild nature. My second trek was in Kodachadri hills. It was an all
male gang- very spirited and adventurous troup. While getting
down the forest hills, we avoided the usual track and took the
forest route. One of us spotted a cave- a real cave and decided on
the spot to spend the night in that cave.

I can never forget that night. The campfire was burning
throughout the night to keep away
the bears and other wild animals. I still remember, in the middle of
the night a rustling sound woke me up and saw the feeble campfire.
Somu was also awake and we put some more twigs to the fire and
increased the flame.

Usually the last nights we spend at such forests are
laced with gloom of sadness, for we have to leave to the city the
next morning, a place of traffic, pollution, chaos and a 'civilized'

During such times I remember Thoreau's words about
nature in his `Walden', `I went to the woods because I wished to
live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I
could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die,
discover tht I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life,
living is so dear, not did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was
quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow
of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that
was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into
a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be
mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and
publish its meanness to the world; or it if were sublime, to know it
by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next


jo said... still the same stuff who always dares do these wild things...
Happy to see R again ...

jo said...

"woods are always dark and deep...."

jo said...

" making me long for the world i lost..."

Jacob Matthan said...

Great post. I have linked from my blogs.