Thursday, March 17, 2016

Nature is Peace!

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”  John Muir

John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. In late 18th century when there was ample of forest around even then Muir has realized importance of forest & wilderness, today his above quote tells us how ahead of time he was! Every time I go to the forest or we may call it wilderness, I experience his quote; though I haven’t yet understood the concept of way to the Universe. Few days back in a whats-app discussion with a friend one question popped up, “How you define peace?” & it lingered in my mind all the time. Many a times you feel that you have forgotten a question thrown at you as then you don’t have the answer neither patience to reach to the answer but it remains somewhere under the surface & suddenly it comes to the surface, especially when you are with yourself & what better place than forest which is direct form of the nature for being with self! It’s here I realized, you can’t define peace as not all things you can define in words, some things you just have to feel by yourself; peace is one such!

This is what makes me to go to the jungle again & again as this question haunts my friends & even family, why I go to forests so often? Many a times I go to the same place or forest repeatedly! Well let me clear, forest is never same, not even for one day leave apart for moths or year & it’s never dull or boring but always alive. On any morning have you been to forest, I mean real forest, away from our city where you can see the horizon not surrounded by buildings or hoardings’ of our beloved leaders & social workers or mobile towers but with clean blue sky? I know answer for most is No, the very first thing you will notice in Jungle is pure oxygen which you inhale, filling your lungs with the freshness! This is something our urban body is not used to & neither the mind, as first what you notice before the fresh air, that there is no mobile network! But what it means is, this is the first step in nature as with no mobile network you have been cut off from the social media or so called not connected to the world which has everything but peace & then only you start looking around, absorbing the nature which surrounds you literally by body & mind! Nothing wrong in being connected all the time via 3g ore 4G but in the process somewhere you are getting disconnected from your own self & this is what you get back in forest! In a way going to Jungle is like charging your own battery as back in our city life we charge our mobiles & other gadgets but forget to charge our own self!

Here you wake up at some 4.30 am in morning, it’s yet dark outside & stars still shining in sky yet you don’t feel giddy or sleep strived as you step in the gypsy after having hot cup of tea & the gypsy roll past the forest gates & in real jungle, opening up its treasure around you. Ask yourself when last you have seen the sun coming out of blue sky painting the sky crimson red & everything coming in its path in the shades of red; then you realize even watching the sun coming up behind the tree clad hills can be so refreshing & alive! And trust me each morning its different sun rise as shades to formation of passing clouds are always new. Then you feel the fragrance of trees & flowers, so many trees & creepers are around & each has their own blossoming time so every day you get some new fragrance which can’t be bottled & preserveed but you have to be in jungle to experience this fragrance. Here is where you come to know that there are infinite shades of greens & yellows & reds, which gets displayed on every tree. No nail paint or lipstick of the top fashion brand can match these shades. As the sun rises up in the sky the mercury also rise & on face it appears that jungle is getting a bit calm yet at these times what is alive is the places of water bodies i.e. water holes; some natural & some manmade! The entire life cycle of jungle depends on water & in hot summer of Central India, every animal or bird takes solace at some water body making the place alive. It’s always a fun to be at water body in jungle as you never know what’s going to be next show; in one such show at my Tadoba trip will share my experience just to give you an idea about how interesting waiting can be even in hottest summers of forest.

On one such hot noon in Tadoba, at Pandharpauni (most of the water holes are named after some river or local place’s name) water hole we were waiting for tigress Maya & her cubs as it’s their territory; suddenly two jungle crows (these crows are different than our city crows, who has a gray patch around neck; jungle crows are full charcoal black & has very strong beak as well claws in compare to their domestic brothers & are very aggressive) flew off from a nest high on a nearby tree & headed for water hole. First I thought it’s their nest only so they must have come to the water body to hunt some food for their young ones but the female crow has an egg in her mouth & then a fish eagle started circling the nest & I realized the crow couple has stolen the eagle’s egg. I have heard that crows stole eggs from other birds’ nests but never witnessed by myself & in one smooth move the she crow squeezed the egg in her beak & swallowed it! The entire drama lasted for few minutes but made me forgot about tiger & once again forest has shown me how wonderfully interesting it can be & making me realize wait is worth in forest always! By the way some tips for a forester that while you wait patiently, two things you must be aware of, one is there can be tremendous disturbance from small bees which are honey-bees though their bite isn’t that dangerous but they can be extremely irritating defocusing you from the target you are waiting for. So a full sleeves shirt is best wear as well bee repellent is welcome. Another is there was an incidence of attack of bigger honey bees (aagya mashya) on tourists which has been caused by a honey buzzard (a bird which drinks or eat, honey from the bee hive) disturbing bee hive on a tree where the tourists were waiting nearby.  So you should be always watchful where you wait in jungle & keep looking for such birds or animals movement around as even monkeys or sloth bears too can disturb the bees & end sufferer will be you only as you are softer target!

On the water hole every animal or bird has their own fixed timing as well place from where they will drink the water & this is most interesting to watch. In jungle it’s your habits which decide your survival & if you break your habit then you can land in serious trouble. For e.g. a tiger drinks water from a fixed position or approaches to the water body from a routine path & if you happened to be in between then the outcome can be very dangerous, as a prey! But for knowing this, one has to be patient & learn to wait & water hole is best learning school for doing that! Here you can spend hours & get engrossed how leisurely animals like wild dogs can be within the water & become playful with the cubs as well the way bison’s i.e. Indian Gaur relaxes in water & mud!

If mornings & noon’s are for birds then as the noon passes the sun starts dropping down towards horizon & this is where the jungle starts really awaking up & becomes more alive as most of the wild animals are night crawlers & evenings are the time of tiger as well leopard movement. The birds starts their journey back home while herbivores animals like dears after finishing their water hole time starts looking for safe place for spending the night. The sun touches opposite side of sky that of in morning & the colors are every shade from yellow to orange; it flairs’ up the water of Tadoba lake & you can forget everything while watching a Sambhar dear getting washed up in that orange glow & drinking water from lake! The entire surrounding gets filled up with chirping of birds which are returning to their nests & alarm calls (a peculiar sound which dears & monkeys make when they sense hunter like tiger or leopard around) & on top of it, fading sun light adds a mysterious touch to it!
Now tell me where on the earth you could get such a variety of life or what more aliveness we can get in our city life better than the Jungle & yet here you are stress free from any thought of going to office or work targets or from continuous checking time pass forwards on whats-app; & here is where I realize Nature is Peace!

Though will like to put forward some suggestions for making the forest experience better, for e.g. at Tadoba, the forest department should open up new routes so the tourists get to know most of the jungle or at least keep changing the routes if not open new ones! Agreed there are restrictions by Hon. Supreme Court yet I think Jungle is a national treasure & each of us must be able to share this treasure as when more & more people will get exposed to this treasure then only each of us will become protector for the same! 

Along with routes like issues, simple things, for example the current uniform for the guides, it’s made of rough & thick cotton wear & not suitable for the hot summer of the region, Its making the guides uncomfortable with sweat all the time! Such aspects of forest should be decided by taking experts in confidence & here is where we can call in Corporate Companies or individuals to contribute. At the same time let’s not forget about the hardness of life of those who lives in & around the Jungle as here there are no city comforts & earning even daily meal is a tough job. So let our mind be open for, in what way we can contribute to make life of these people a shade better, as then only we have earned our Peace in the form of Nature, is what I will say to conclude!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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