Business Standard

Kishore Singh: Midlife jungle rhapsody

Related News

Back in the old days, the Indians knew they were on to a good thing when they turned a certain age and decided to renounce the world and head for the forest. So when a friend turned that golden age, she decided, in a token gesture, to at least do a jungle recce, but denial was not an option for she had that ultimate accessory — a toy-boy spouse.

But eye-candy and youth isn’t aphrodisiac enough unless you can also show it off as an accessory, so she turned her trip to the forest into a pilgrimage for friends old and new. Ordering a bunch of us into compliance, we found ourselves at Nizamuddin station, clutching on to our toothbrushes as we prepared to board the night train to tiger country, Ranthambhore.

“I’m going right to sleep,” I’d told my wife earlier that evening, for it had been a rough week at work, and I fully intended to catch up on my forty winks. If ours had been a cow-belt group, you might have expected some degree of bonhomie in the form of antakshri, but this was a bunch of paper intellectuals from the land of Rabindrasangeet, surely they’d be fast asleep before the train left the station?

But showing an innovation markedly missing from the state in which has swung to power with her slogan of ma, maati, manush, the motley bunch added another “m” to that heady mix — madh, intoxication. An entire cabin was emptied of all but a few essential bags and cartons that contained single malt and scotch, vodka, gin, rum, barely enough water but plenty of tonic water, beer, bitters and ice. I was told that a friendly agreement and the passing of a packet between a certain official in a black coat and our host allowed the bar to operate in some excess, the consumption and commensurate revels halting only when a very drunk group found itself stumbling out in the very early morning for the start of its jungle safari.

I hadn’t managed any of the sleep I’d hoped for, and now it didn’t seem any had been planned for. Any suggestions of a post-breakfast siesta were put to rest because the wanted their elevenses consisting chiefly of Absolut and Schweppes, which was arranged with the help of child labour for preparing and circulating the potent brew. At least, I hoped, our afternoon safari to the jungle would provide a break from the libations.

Just how out of touch scribes and urbanites are from the realities of life was brought home on that safari when a few wondered aloud about the point of going into a forest that wasn’t air-conditioned. An open-air “canter” and the absence of any tiger on our trail seemed to have enhanced their thirst, for they were soon urging the guide as well as the driver to head back for the resort and refreshments. That night, at the birthday celebrations organised by the poolside, I am happy to report that by some luck no one actually drowned in the pool — though it was a close thing.

The next day was a repeat of the first, the journey back had a sense of déjà-vu, and summing up a list of things we’d done while away, I reported to my children, “I saw one guest eat four helpings at dinner, there were 29 guests and 63 empties, which could be why one lady performed a floor show that will likely embarrass her when it appears on YouTube, and watching the men dance,” I reasoned, “is probably the reason no one wants to retire to the jungles any more.”

Read more on:   
|
|
|
|
|
|
|
|
|

Read More

Shankar Acharya: Macroeconomic context and Budget

Budget 2013-14 may manage to control the fiscal deficit, but pushing growth and fixing the current account deficit are another matter

Most Popular Columnists

Debashis Basu

Debashis Basu: Narendra Modi's Jan Dhan - what's new?
Debashis Basu

Like Indira Gandhi, even Narendra Modi seems to be relying on directing public-sector banks through ministry of finance supported by party cadres. How new is that?

Khutub A Hai

Khutub Hai: Defence - It's time to get serious about 'Made in India'
Khutub A Hai

Narendra Modi has repeatedly emphasised indigenisation but where's the action on the ground?

Ajai Shukla

Ajai Shukla: The day nothing happened
Ajai Shukla

India has victories, brave deeds and valorous soldiers who deserve celebration

Advertisement

Columnists

Martin Feldstein

Martin Feldstein: Back to the US
Martin Feldstein

The US must change the least company-friendly tax rates in the West

A K Bhattacharya

A K Bhattacharya: Towards a better Parliament
A K Bhattacharya

Data compiled by PRS Legislative Research say a lot about the changed environment in Parliament since the formation of the Modi govt

A Seshan

A Seshan: 'Insiders' vs 'outsiders' at RBI
A Seshan

The real issue is reconciling the problem of staff denied promotion with the management's desire to promote excellence. But history shows that ...

Back to Top