Friday, May 21, 2010

Newly born died in the Family

Since morning Littlen was crying to come in. At last we let her come in with Tea. Kay was stroking her suddenly she realised that she is leaking. We put her on floor. She was crying to come back on bed. I brought a bed for her and she was put in this box. She will not leave Kay for a minute so she has to sit next to the box. Probably Littlen has no idea that what is happening in her body. She keep on making rounds and rounds in the room, leaking. After an hour or so she started delivering the kitten. First kitten was born dead and premature. She ate it instantly. She is not feeling more pain now. Second kitten was born after another thirty minutes or so. This kitten was healthy and birth was quick. She cleaned him but didn't knew what to do. Left him unattended. This happens with young experienced mothers.
Third kitten was born dead and other way around. She could not deliver him. Half of his body was hanging outside and she was running around in pain. Kay got worried and asked me to get some help. I asked Kali to call Nurse from Vet. Hospital. By the time Kali could go she delivered it.
Out of three new two born dead, one she ate and one got buried in the Garden.
This took away our morning working hours.
Now Littlen is comfortably sleeping in her box with her one kitten.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bharatpur, Rajasthan

A day at home just to change the clothes in the bag and download the photos from Gir and again ready for Bharatpur.

Train journey was very quite except few mobile phones ringing in middle of the night. I wonder if ever country will have quite trains/coaches. Dinner packed by Kalicharan was very helpful in the train. Train reached Agra about an hour and a half late and this made us run to Agra Fort so we don't miss our connecting train to Bharatpur.

In Rome live like Romans so we cross the railway track at Agra Fort station to board the train. There was no other option except this. Cant go over the bridge in two minutes time was the thought in mind.

Travelling in A/C Chair car was a mistake. Suffocating and No fresh air in the compartment because A/C wont work in slow speed train.

We face the severe heat of Rajasthan, Temp was touching 47degrees. Spoonbill room walls were hot. Within few hours we decided to come down to comforts of ground floor room. We had a quick cup of Tea and within minutes we were ready for the Park.

Now park authorities are providing the bi-cycles. Good move with poor maintenance. Park was dry like bone. Dead turtles were telling the story of drought. We think that these Turtles could have been saved easily but after seeing the working of forest staff we could understand that how difficult it is for the management to get the needed work done. Lack of dedicated staff is the sad part of Wildlife Conservation in India.

Reason to visit Bhratpur this time was to attend the Marriage of Junie, daughter of Sh Arun Deo Sengar. It was a grand marriage. Everything up to the mark.

We met quite a few people there but meeting with Mr Girish Mehrotra was special. We need to see him some time in Allahabad.

we could not find any taxi to go back to Agra from Bharatpur. This was quite interesting. Someone offered his private car but his charges were much more than a proper Taxi. At last we decided to go by bus. Hot but faster journey to Agra. Bus took only 75 minutes to Namner. 5 minutes walk to brother-in-law's house. Quick cup of tea with lots of helpings of sweets from marriage filled the belly.

Train was again more than 90 minutes late. Kay missed her sizzler at Rieo. Journey back home was noisy. Too many crying kids with useless parents.

Reached home mid day and ask Kalicharan for a big Cup of Chai.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gir, Sasan Gir Gujarat.

Uri Goleman asked me to meet him in Gir so we could discuss some future business together. It was very difficult for me to short out my visit on such a short notice but it all got arranged courtsy Railways Tatkal ticketing system. I asked Omhari at Hoshangabad to book my return ticket and I printed it in Ahmedabad. My journey from Gir to Tala I completed in three different class in the same train.
Initially I was not sure about my programme so Uri found some Mr Kamlesh from Rajkot to guide him in Gir. Uri came with his another friend Mr Thomas, a Photoshop expert. I reached Sasan on 6th evening but couldn't find Uri at Sinh Sadan. At about 11pm Uri knocked on my door. We discussed the morning plan and decided to go to jungle together.
Had a nice morning. I felt other people were not feeling very easy with my presence in the jeep. I was not at all in a position to help them so I decided to become a spectator.
After morning game drive Uri told me that Kamlesh says that it wont be possible for me to go along with them for day outing. I simply said "thats fine with me."
I booked my jeep and got the permit. I had two safaris by myself on 7th afternoon and 8th morning. Saw few lions but nothing for photo.

Uri came back on 8th afternoon. First I thought I wont join them but later I changed my mind. They saw nothing in last 24 hours. No photo opportunty of any sort. Uri claimed a Sunbird photo as a reward.

It was so secretive plan and the destination that I had no idea where they went for one night. Sleeping on ground was rough, as Uri said. Thomas was also not very happy by loosing a day. Uri said that we are finish with Kamlesh?? I didn't ask much on this but they revealed it later on. He does not have any knowledge about the photographers needs and neither of a foreign tourist. Asking them to drink normal water was too much for Uri.

I was shocked to see the behaviour and working modus operandi of forest guards and trackers there. It is very important for a tourist to know the local language or have interpretor or Fixer as they are called in Gir. This helps in making their trip successful. Lions are very docile animal and can be herded by a single man with the help of a stick. I have seen this happening. I was an outsider amongst our group there so our jeep was always moved away from the spot hence I never had an opportunity to photograph this drama. One evening we met two Dr brothers from Ahmedabad who were complaining about the trackers bahaviour. Some other Indian gentleman's jeep was taken off route to show him the Lion and he was asked to get down from the jeep to photograph Lion on foot and these two brothers were denied the opportunity. Their complaint was that everyone should have equal opportunities in the park. No favours to any particular tourist. I agree.

I felt very happy in myself. Minimum there is one person who knows the local language and still ignored by the local people in the jungle because they did not had proper connections there. These connections are made on the basis of how much money you can shell out of your pocket or to whom you know in the department.
I have never seen any other National Park in the country where money plays such a vital role in sightings. Many people left the park disappointed. It is a part of the game. It could have been more justified if everyone gets the same treatment/deal in the jungle. People with privileges in the jungle annoys tourist more than anything else.
I saw more people complaining about the system here than anywhere else.
The rules are very ridiculous for sharing the jeep with foreigners. I had to pay the camera charges same as foreigners. Many people dont agree with camera charges at tourist destinations. Every Camera used by visitors, big or small helps in publicity. People dont charge for showing their photo of the destinations then why camera fee is charged to them. Charging camera fee is really mean thing to do with that kind of Entry fee structure. We pay to enter our National Parks which are run on Tax Payers Money.
After my visit to this place I checked two photoagencies for Lion Photos, just to check the demand of Asiatic Lion photos. I was surprised to know that there were hardly any photos of Asiatic Lions. This is only because there is no demand of these photos in the market or destination is not popular amongst the foreign photographer. Every photographer visiting any place dont look for fixers. They visit destinations with a hope of getting some photographic opportunities through legal means as a general tourist.
After seeing the Lion herded by trackers I can not suggest this place to any of my photographer friends. Majority of them are true wildlifers who prefers to wait for opportunities in the jungle. Most of the photographs I see from Gir are very much touristic shots.( I learnt this word in 1989 while working with one of Indias top photographer. This was his comment after seeing a tigress with her three cubs sitting next to her.) Lion photography is difficult. You dont get a chance to observe the subject. People walking around jeeps distract their attention. I did not see them in relax mood. Even three female and 5 cubs sighting did not produce any extra ordinary picture.
Drivers drive their jeeps too close to follow them. Any animal would not like to have a vehicle full of shouting tourist at his bum end. I photographed this. Lion was not at all calm. He wanted to get off the road as early as possible but poor chap was again cornered by Tracker on motorbike. I think these lions have always accepted man as their master. At one time, when there were only few lions left, this must have been the way to locate them.

I did not found Sasan as a very popular tourist destination for foreigners. Food is the one problem. All the restaurant I tried were serving very oily-spicy hot food with very limited choice. I survived on Biscuits, fruits, Curd and Roti. All the Tourists do not go to stay at top end lodges.