I had recently been to parts of W.Bengal and
Siliguri to Jaldapara- the first destination- is a run of around 3-4 hours by road. Arriving at the Jaldapara Forest Lodge at night (as the more scenically located Hollong lodge wasn’t available for accommodation) was like a journey from the world of dark illusions into a jungle of illuminated realities. Since this lodge, as other forest lodges in this area, is an undertaking of the government, needless to say it isn’t kept very well. Settling to the new room, if taken in the right spirit, was like watching a discovery channel take on “our insect world”. Yes, they were there..in-sects and cults. I mean, what the heck, the government takes trouble to educate us regarding the miniscule (and the not so lesser) denizens of the forest, giving us “the complete jungle experience” as a package and we mock and scorn! How unfair. In any case these tiny sweethearts of the class insecta were gnawing at my peace before they could get a go at my clothes, which made me get up at mid-sleep to shift my bags from near wood- paneled walls of the room to its centre, giving the bags the position of attention and esteem. No... I wasn’t worried about my clothes just about me in them on the days that were to follow. And my concerns weren’t entirely baseless either for on my heavy-lidded, droopy-eyed, 3.a.m. scrutiny of between wood panels, what seemed to transpire among our crawly friends, was something on the lines of my kindergarten game of “Fire In The Mountain….Run Run Run”.
Anyways, they got me crawling away from the subject, insects that they are! So this was the night impression by en large laced with the not-so-well- cooked- but-well-received- by-hungry-stomachs Bengali meal.
It was a beautiful dawn, of a colour that would put jealousy to shame. The morning started with an early morning elephant back safari, and amid much squeals of delight, to which I’m certain the elephant objected, did everyone manage to get seated; and the elephant with a damn-these-squealing-idiots gesture of the head got on his way. The ride was spectacular, once we got used to his (elephant’s) dish-tik tush--dish-tik-tush (with an emphasis on dish) and our respective head-waist-butt--head-waist-butt (with an emphasis on head) rhythm of movement. See what we were ‘dish’ed out. Utterly butt-erly delicious.
This rhinos butt and tail were hurt and as such matters interest me most (and I don’t mean anal-matters, but animal health matters.. well it does 'matter' now, doesn’t it?), I enquired about the animal’s health, on which I learnt that the wound was a byproduct of two of these guys playing fighter-fighter. I also got a between the lines tip from the mahout that in case one desired to mess with rhinos, the ones with a hurt behind wouldn’t be the best choice. Something about their aching derrieres makes them prone to charging with their head. What shit-head logic!
See more of my photos of Jaldapara here