Monday, November 28, 2011

Call of the Wild

Old habits die hard especially traits that are hammered into our kiddy frames by our persistent parents.  Even after we are done with growing up, working our arse off, paying instalments for home loans, changing diapers of our wailing progeny - we can never say NO to them.  We are hardwired to obey our parents.  So one fine evening, when you are flopped on the bed after a hard day’s work,  your Mom calls you only to announce that we are all going to Jim Corbett next weekend, you instinctively say YES to her.  Of course you have the rest of the week to repent, worry about unfinished chores, incomplete reports.  Ahh...I’ll manage, somehow!
My Mom has a special fascination for animals, the wilder the better.  In fact just a few months back, she and Baba went all the way to Kenya to see lions, zebras, hippos and their sundry cousins frolic in the Masai Mara forest reserves.   In the 90’s she had yet to acquire an international taste and was content with desi forest reserves, especially Jim Corbett.  So every time she was feeling low, high, bored, restless we would all rush off en masse to the resorts in the vicinity of the wildlife reserve.  

When my parents say they are taking a break, they do exactly the opposite.  As kids whenever we took a vacation, we would see them mutate into hyperactive kids ready to scale any peak or crawl under cobweb infested caves all in the name of sightseeing.  Since we had no choice but tag along with them, we (me and my brother) would feel like hapless prey caught in a Venus Flytrap.  Once when I refused to accompany them on a trip to Kolkata, my brother came back with a look of betrayal in his eyes.  Listening to his endless stories of torture – of being dragged around in hot and humid Calcutta (as it was then), forced to gorge on the much hated maachh and mishtee – I giggled in relief.   

Even after I had been married, the memories were still fresh in my mind; so I had enough history to support my unusually low enthusiasm about the much abused word break

Clark Kent needed a phone booth to transform into Superman and all my Mom had to do was sit in a car packed with suitcases and voila she would be ready to fly with her brood in tow.   Since she has always a great believer of conservation, five of us (my daughter was still a thought) would stuff ourselves in one car.  And just as we were getting in the mood to snooze, our limbs resting not so gently on each other, she would take out a thermos full of coffee like a rabbit from the magician’s hat.  Puhleez Maa not now!  But does she give up? Nah.  So whenever we stopped for a loo break – I am so hungry break – Wait, aren’t those guavas, they look so fresh break – Maa would triumphantly take out the thermos and threaten to pour out coffee for us.   

The first time we went to Corbett, we agreed to pick up a gentleman from Ramnagar, the town nearest to the forest reserve.  Imagine five of us already squeezed in an Esteem and an adult man is graciously asked to join us on the front seat.  With my brother propped on the gentleman’s lap, his gangly legs on the dashboard resting next to the steering wheel, the husband gingerly changing gears lest it slam into one of the protruding bums – I am surprised people didn’t stop our car and click pictures.  But this was a pre mobile phone camera, pre Facebook era where memories were not meant to be uploaded and shared with 355 online friends. 

The resort was a stunning piece of property – River Kosi a stone’s throw away, well tended greens, each cottage built around a mango tree.  Since it was winters, it was decided our next visit will be during the mango season.  But what excited us the most were the hammocks and the friendly German Shepherds.  Good, we have plenty to keep us occupied and won’t have to venture in the wilds.   Famous last thoughts!
The caretaker was suggesting that we take an early morning safari on an elephant’s back.  At the crack of dawn, there she was gently encouraging us to haul ourselves atop a pachyderm and look for cheetahs and tigers.  Of course not, I said.  Not in this lifetime, said my brother.  I looked sweetly at my still-trying -to-impress husband to accompany his doting in-laws.  He actually looked mildly excited and bounded off.  And came back with the all too familiar look of betrayal in his eyes.  Farty elephant...bumpy ride...all they spotted were tree tops.  Don’t worry, tomorrow we will take the camel ride, cooed Ma in her best conciliatory tone.

On our next trip, it was decided we’ll take an open jeep ride in the forest reserve.  You went all the way to Corbett and all you saw was stray cows and manic truck drivers – Shame on you! Obviously we had to spot at least a tiger or two for the sake of our neighbours.  And we did – stared intently at tiger paw marks, oohed and ahhed at tiger poop (yeh dekhiye, bilkul fresh), jumped in excitement when we heard rustling behind the tall grass, swooned in ecstasy when we spotted elephants.  The highlight of the safari was our jeep coming to a screeching halt at the sight of a white owl and Baba exclaiming beeyoootiful.  The owl looked too stunned to react. 

When we finally got back from mission-jungle-exploration looking like rag dolls, we realized that Baba had left the car keys in an impossibly secure place – inside his locked car.  With Maa giving a stern lecture to her sheepish looking husband,  me staring at dismay at my white jeans gone a dusty gray, the husband and bro desperately trying to open the lock with a plastic ruler – we made quite a fetching sight.

It’s been over a decade since our last visit.  I have finally mastered the art of saying no and my parents prefer unwinding in their cottage in Ramgarh in Nainital.  Last year when we decided to join them for a couple of days, Ma insisted on feeding us two crates of eggs (yes, all 60 of them) she had bought especially for us.  Later she took out half a dozen ready-to-heat packets of Aloo-mattar and gave us a hurt look.  See, what a waste!  And suddenly all those Corbett memories came rushing back.  It made me wonder whether I actually missed those days – the craziness, the endless arguments, the exasperated sighs...   

The more things change, the more they remain the same – Thank God for that.  

Mwaah to Zephyr for reviving those memories.....


  1. I Like your Mom. I really do :D
    Whats wrong with adventure trips...hmmm..? I would prefer such trips any day of the year. My dream is to go on a Mountain Safari and try to spot a Snow Leopard and capture it on camera. That is the ultimate adventure for me. couldn't eat 60 eggs? Huh

  2. what a chance read, was meant to escape from my mother's current rage, while I ended up reading about another so similar to mine.

    my parents are similarly enthusiastic about almost anything and sometimes nothing in particular, while we siblings are boring, lazy copy of you n your sibling..

    but now, after reading this, am thinking of making up with mom. it was an ugly spat but I guess a simple sorry would work!
    thanks for cheering up :)

  3. Excellent recollections. Tiger paw thing is a scam. Just to keep the interest of visitors.

  4. Childhood memories often start to make so much more sense when you grow old - but at the time they seem so crazy.

  5. Cribbing and complaining go hand in hand even in the best trips! Purba, I think few years down the line your progeny will tell the same..:)A Sweet post!

  6. Next time your maa is planning a trip and you are not in the mood for some adventure, I can tag along....
    But on a serious note the roads are so pathetic that the fun of driving is lost as soon as we start. Yesterday we drove towards Sultanpur bird sanctuary but returned midway as the ride was too bumpy and arduous for comfort.

  7. Haha fancy being with such parents! My parents are so worked up with office work that all we do in the name of holiday is sleeeeeeeeeep :)

    Your mom is super jolly and childishly cute! My Mom is simply petrified of animals :P

  8. a very nice post purba...u guys were lucky if no one thought u were trying to steal that car :P :P...each time i crib about my parents i always knew i was not alone :D :D :D.. but u know what now i feel people like we are just blessed to have such parents.. they are such masterpieces I tell you, love them <3 <3 <3

  9. Holidaying with parents used to be completely different affair... my father used to take us to nearest hill stations like shimla and mussorie for say 3 days and then used to bring us back in 2 days :)

    He used to get up early and sleep early like normal days so holidays were just like normal routines :) :)

    Today thinning about those days makes me smile at all the arguments and typical behavior :) :)

  10. Snow...Will ask my Maa to adopt you ASAP :p

    mepretentious..Wow...seeing you on my blog after a such a long time :))

    It's only your Mom who will never sugar coat the truth - yes it can get annoying at times but there's no one who cares for you as much.

    Harish...How else will they keep the tourists coming!

  11. Gyanban...In my case it seems crazy now when I sit back and reminiscence.

    Rahul...Oh believe me, my daughter cribs all the time. We are worse! We insist on covering the city on foot and walk for hours:))

    Alka...We did a road trip to Uttarakhand and the roads were a nightmare! And Maa would love to have you as company :)

  12. maithili...Err... a Bong woman is anything but cute - fiery, over emotional, vocal but cute? NEVER! :D

    SuKupedia...I know! life would be so bland without them...sigh...

    Purvi...Ahh... we used to go to Shimla and Mussourie so often that now I am sick and tired of them!

  13. Purba,

    No matter what you may say, memories are made of such things only. Don't you remember and laugh on these ventures? Next time they visit you, do let me know as I would like to meet them. Enjoyed the post.

    Take care

  14. Your mum sounds like she's fun. Maybe you should make another visit to Jim Corbett with your parents to make up for the tigers you didn't see there. There's loads of awesome such places in our country. Visit them all with your parents and brother and husband and daughter. And the extra guide. :D
    It might be fun. You never know unless you try, right? :D
    And how many days did you have to eat those 60 eggs?

  15. I loved family holidays. I think my parents took a great deal of trouble to make sure we went and saw the mountains, and the sea.

    Lovely post Purba!

  16. Jack...My parents are very much in Delhi, you can meet them anytime you want :)

    D2...I am a big city brat and if I need to relax I prefer the beach any day :)

    And we stayed only for a day and a half - guess she carted them back to Delhi :)

    Pzes...I can't remember a single summer break when we stayed back at home.
    And so glad you liked it.

  17. Memories...:)
    and yes true! somehow Corbett has always disappointed when it has come to spotting a leapord(or something more interesting than a deer) there. Rajaji has promied a greater luck !

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  19. Please give my contact details to your mum, I am willing for anything to have those fun days back as her to adopt me , I promise ot be good boy .. pakka

    You are so right when parents went on holiday I have some of my memories and the fun we all had. In those days maybe i did not want to go but now i miss and wish dad was alive to take us to places ..

    those are the memories which are sort of keeping me going otherwise i wud probably have long gone by now ..

    this post brought so many memories.. lucky are those who have had fun with parents ..


  20. Moms, I tell you!

    (Runs away in a corner)

  21. Tiger poop haha! That was funny. Loved reading about your memories.

  22. Nice read...I am afraid I am turning into a mom like yours. I get super-excited about trips and such and have witnessed the sighs and exasperation in the eyes of the progeny and the hubby. I usually pretend not to notice;)

  23. have one amazing mother! Mad in love with her already...You ought to plan more such junglee trips, you see...May be your daughter will write in her blog someday about Mommy dear and her chatpati baatein:P Nice post, Purba!

  24. I like the sound of your mom!! And this post. Heh.

  25. Your mom is as cute as mine-we don't know whether to laugh at her or hug her at most times!

    and yes, the poor stunned owl-my sympathies:-)
    i have always heard of people seeing everything about the tiger, yes even the freshly splashed stuff, rather than the tiger itself...

    but the post makes me sooooooooo wanna go there, coz never been to Corbett-maybe your mum n you n I could do a threesome some day..okay we'll take Alks too-the more the merrier;-)

  26. venus flytrap reminded me of those torturous yet splendorous school days.. :P And yeah the Moms can be tough and hard at times, but then what to do... moms are lovely and caring too :)

    Weakest LINK

  27. I am sure the Brats would have tales of horror to share, but I have my own Hmph....And being probably the only representative of the 'Mom' breed, I stick up staunchly for them and their (er..well..sometimes..misplaced) concern, care and sense of adventure.
    Still laughing at the memories you have unleashed on the readers. Loving it! But seriously, are we guys that bad? :D
    And hey, thanks for linking back :)

  28. A grain of sand...I see enough wild animals in Delhi itself!

    Bikramjit...You miss your Dad a lot, don't you?

    Kartikay...Glares at him :p

  29. sumitra ...Memories of those crazy trips still make us laugh.

    Neelam...All of us eventually turn into our Moms. You should see my daughter's pained expression when I chalk out our itinerary.

    RK..So glad :)

  30. Cloud Nine...Oh she did write a post on my blog describing me as a Vampire :D

    Zeba...Yep...she is an interesting lady.

    Suruchi ...A weekend is good enough for Corbett.
    And I would love to do a ladisss trip!!

  31. Rachit...You cant' live with them or without them :)

    Zephyr you forgot, I am a Mom too and that too a hyperactive one.

    And it was your post that revived those crazy memories :)

  32. What a fun mom you have Purba! :-) I'd have loved those jungle trips as a kid. I love them loads now!
    Liked the feel of this post, brings back nostalgic memories of long drives with family which I really miss now.

  33. loved the post...and having been brought up in Nainital,I kinda really like your parents :D...Corbett was like a 2nd home 2 me!

    and yes, the tiger poop trick has been around for decades now...."Shhh, ye dekhiye...tiger abhi abhi nikla hai yahan se!" I bet they'd even tell u the temperature of that poop :P

  34. Wow, your parents are quite the adventurous types. I guess they are the types that go on intense vacations during their "breaks"! :-P

    Do you usually need a vacation from one of those vacations? ;-)

  35. Ambika...We had a picnic phase too - when my parents would hire a bus, do all the cooking and drag their friends all the way to Sohna and Surjakund :D

    Aman....The great Poop scam - what if India TV decides to investigate!

    Dark Knight..I don't know about them but I certainly needed a vacation to recover from one :)

  36. Dad doesn't get many leaves so we hardly go anywhere. I wish I had such irritating but quite sweet memories too.

  37. Parents I tell you can be impossible sometimes just like their kids :p

  38. YEs i do.

    what happened to the adoption request, you can put a good word for me :)


  39. Just came back from such a vacation, though the adventure level was low. Even the mountains had very wide and secure roads.

  40. Typical Purba Post! Loved it! Your mom is Rocking! :)

  41. Nethra...LOL @ irritating but sweet.

    Pooja...LMAO...well said!

    Bikramjit..Of course I"ll put in a good word for you :)

  42. Giribala...Aww such a let down!

    akanksha...She is a tigress!

  43. The problem with Jim Corbet Park is that there is so much hype.

    I remember that all we saw were elephants, Deers and Machan when we had gone a few years back.

    So u finally learnt to say No to Ma :)

  44. loved this post!!

    superb write!!

  45. My first time here, and I loved this post. I just went to Corbett in October and horrible roads coupled with a disappointing safari really acted as dampeners. Nainital was a redeemer though :). You can read about those on my blog. I will be back for more :).

  46. just so your mum!!!!

    am planning for corbett for so long but never got around to visiting it!!

  47. Such fun! Your mom is so adventurous... As a child I would surely have LOVED it.
    Loved your post...I feel you could write Best Sellers with such awesome tales:)

  48. Abha...I just say Umm and do what I want to :)

    magiceye..Thank you.

    Rachna...I did read your last post, yet to read your travelogue.

  49. Sushmita..>Winters is a good time to visit.

    Deepa..>But who will be interested in reading my memoirs!

  50. "yeh dekhiye, bilkul fresh" HAHAHHA!!!!!

  51. What a delight, I bet you definitely miss those day.
    and so prevail the much cherished days :)

  52. Finally I met someone who is sailing in the same boat as me :) Loved your narration.

  53. God bless my parents to be overly protective of me and never even thinking of trying to make me face a tiger, even in a reserve. Even though Ranthambore was right there! Before this post, I would have complained, but not any more :)
    Great narration, once again. And the humor, it's like you got back to your expertise.
    One observation-your "post a comment" field camouflages with the background so much that it is hard to locate,especially when you are trying to post a comment after #53 :). Also "Links to this post" field is too big and comes right after the comment field, making the former even harder to locate.

  54. i have a friend who is running a eco resort at jim corbert forktail creek jungle lodge.. .infact next year we plan to start a similar one at Pithraghar...what iam trying to say is that i think i already adore your parents...

  55. Good way to revive your memories.. Had a great time reading it..
    Grass always looks greener on other childhood memories of vacation are visiting relatives or them visiting us..and we were as much as victim as you and your brother.

    Parents seem to pull us wherever they go so it seems but when one becomes parents the cycle repeats. My children crib when I want to take them to visit Agra and they want to go to Goa/Singapore..

  56. Jayanth..We didn't try to find out :)

    Harish...Oh I do.

    Ashwini...So it seems :)

  57. Prateek...Thanks for pointing it out the problem, will look into it.

    tyr...All the best for your venture.

    bemoneyaware....I used to love it when we had relatives visiting us. Since Maa had to do all the extra work, she did not share similar sentiments :)

  58. 'The owl looked too stunned to react.'...hehehehehe! I loved your words...always so hilarious. Though I think you do fondly miss those days...

    Guess what last weekend I was in Gir National Park, and almost towards the end of the safari managed to see a lion! Thank god for that...I had something to tell my friends back in Ahmedabad :)

  59. 60 eggs!!..all parents are same I guess..when I visit my dad once in every year he does the same thing! But somewhere, now when I am away from all those tiny irritations and fights, I miss all of that..

  60. Siddhartha...Waiting to read about it on your blog.

    Rachna...Thank you.

    Richa...I am a much married woman with a grown up daughter and my parents still treat me like a kid!

  61. beautiful twist given to the tale. Made him worse than an ass.
    penning excellence to the ultimate.

  62. Enjoyed reading this, with the regular punctuations of the coffee flask pull out :-)

  63. Thanks for bringing Corbett alive! And your mum and I'd get along well - ande aur ande :)


  64. Marriagebook...I think this comment was meant for my previous post :)

    Haddock...Coffee and Corbett!

    Manreet...Thanks to this post, my Maa has acquired a fan following.

  65. You are very right Purba Ji , it was a mistake due to comment via mobile. Touch screen flicked to your next post. And the enviable database of comments, scrolling is an endless task. Please delete earlier comment here. I have rectified the error.
    Journey down the memory lane. Very well penned, hilarious ly.
    Elephants reminded me' of my entourage in Penang where I benevolently saved my beloved wife from being trampled by the elephant. *No Regrets*

  66. Yes, irritating but cute. Irritating at that moment but they end up being cute memories.

  67. Keeping in view the dwindling number of tigers in our country today, even spotting tiger poop in a reserve forest would be considered a blessing. I envy you for these nice yet exasperating travel accounts...please write more. While reading the piece I imagined so much that it felt like I had gone on this trip with you guys!

  68. Marriagebook....LOL @ no regrets!

    Nethra..Sweetheart I was not laughing at you but with you :)

    Samadrita...Maybe you should accompany us one of these days and experience madness first hand.


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