Tales from Rhinoland

Finally, my much- procrastinated article on Rhinoland is over. Personally, I never like writing about vacations, but I quite liked this place, and the experience was too memorable to be left unrecorded.

The very first thing I noticed about the place was that there were no Rhinos. Well, not for a while, at least. The trails in the jungle were a bit difficult to tread, and they really added to the whole experience. Every tree, bird, bush and blade of grass was spectacular, but it was the watering- holes that I liked most of all. You could almost see a motley herd of animals out there: elephants bathing with the aid of their built-in showers, storks drinking through their elegant ballerina- like necks, and the odd ugly rhino, disturbing the harmony of it all.

During the whole experience of taking in so very much of nature, I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures. I am not really a photography nut (as evidenced by my average photography), but for the few days I spent there, I became one. In particular, I took to taking pictures of the many nameless wild flowers that filled up the place, mostly the ones that were withering. I’m not a flower person, but the image of a wild, nameless, withering flower- once beautiful, now in it’s twilight, struck me as almost poetic.

But the best bit was the Elephant. Looking at Rhinos and flowers and trees is pretty ordinary; it was the elephant ride that I’ll always remember. We sat on it quite precariously, and it took us deep into the jungle, easily ambling through territory which no car can tread. We saw the real bits of the jungle- all of its raw beauty, it’s birds and it’s beasts. And even it’s bugs. The mahout kept telling me about his many adventures with larger elephants, but I was more interested in this one. Lakshmi the elephant was forty years old, a mother of four. “Two of her sons are abroad”, said the mahout, with the slightest hint of pride. Lakshmi too, picked up her chin a little, seemingly proud of her children who had found a place for themselves in cages across the oceans.

Before I dismounted, the mahout told me that many people sell elephants, and a baby was worth about 8 lakh rupees today. I thought about that for a while. If I live in the jungle when I’m older, should I buy a Range Rover or an Elephant? For all of it’s impracticalities, the elephant will provide me with a higher ground clearance, so speed bumps on the road won’t be an issue any more. I think I’ll risk being compared to Rajesh Khanna in ‘Hathi Mere Sathi’.

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2 Responses to “Tales from Rhinoland”

  1. Abhishek Dube Says:

    u went to the kaziranga national park?

  2. Vinayak Sapru Says:

    no, i went to the jaldapara reserve in northern bengal, close to assam. not exactly the biggest rhino reserve, but it is rhino country.

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