“Glimpses of tribal youths in Action towards the cause of Education”

“Community Leaders” creating an impact through Non Formal Teaching in the villages of the tribal areas around the buffer zones of TATR. (Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve)

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Children’s creativity-Ashta_Tadoba_Andhari Tiger Reserve
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Children’s creativity-Ashta_Tadoba_Andhari Tiger Reserve
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Children’s creativity-Ashta_Tadoba_Andhari Tiger Reserve
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Children’s creativity-Ashta_Tadoba_Andhari Tiger Reserve
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NFE teachers supporting the Education of the tribal students in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve
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NFE teachers supporting the Education of the tribal students in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve
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NFE teachers supporting the Education of the tribal students in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve

Exquisite local Art and its future: A Question to reflect….!!

Art work done by ANKUSH.

Art work done by ANKUSH.

As a person I was not a big time “Art- lover” though I appreciated Art, culture and crafts alot. During my childhood, I travelled to enormous places within India and visited to places that are the masterpiece of some really old arts,crafts and culture. India is a nation where you will see limitless traditional art and crafts whether you go from north to South or from East to west. Rajasthan is famous for its royal heritage and craft work, Gujarat for its textile production and handicrafts, Assam for its beautiful silk work, textile work and Manjaa ( woven mat) and South India for its temples- Dravidian style influence and crafts and textile industry.

When I think about Art its not only limited to a small paining or a hand made piece of craft. For me its spread over is limitless and endless. There is so much more that we can add in it through our creativity and aesthetic ability. Even when we speak, read,write,dance,sing or play or do other things, there is a natural element of art within all this. When I was small I used to spend my time looking at the potterer making clay pots. The beauty in their hands was something I used to envy but then I used to think when I will grow up then only I can do it. (Though it never happened..!!)

The reason what made me write this blog for myself and others,comes from my own need to connect with art and culture more. From last few months I had been thinking about it, reading articles about the same and was talking to some of my friends. What moved me more was that India has one of the best art forms available globally, but then how can we really make sure that every artist and craftsmen in our nation is earning sufficiently. And if they were earning well, then we would not had seen some of the basic art forms vanishing from our very culture.

The National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) includes education of traditional crafts in their course curriculum to maintain this culture. Despite these efforts, the roots of these crafts, which are the rural craftsmen, are in decline. Rising costs of materials and supplies have placed many of these craft communities in financial struggle. A recent article in the Times of India predicts the price of steel to rise between Rs 600 and 1000 per tonne.On the other hand, statistics from the All India Handicrafts Board show that craft export has risen from 23 crores to over 9000 crores since the past 50 years.With rising economic and political issues in India, the craft sector is struggling to uphold. Although an interest to retain the culture of crafts is seen in designers and institutions. There are many non-for profits that are coming up to help them, but there are handful in numbers.

I recently made a short trip through the Wildlife Conservation Trust to Ramtek (Nagpur)  where I got the chance to visit some schools in the buffer zone of the Pench Tiger Reserve. The sarpanch of the Lodha school was quite an active man,whom I met there. He shared with me about the government school and last years’s floods and the disaster it did to that village and also some of the neighboring villages.

There I was surprised to see the art work done by students in minutes with the help of the leaves (Type of Bamboo)  that are of no use and are found in that particular idea surrounding that territory.

Here is the actual story and the person who inspired me to write this: Ankush Madavi is now an alumnus of Lodha Upper Primary school, studying this year onwards in Nagsen high school, Nagpur. However, 3 year a ago his life was on a different path altogether. Ankush lived in Sitapar village that falls under the Bhandara zilla. Both his parents had died when he was eight but he continued living with his relatives in Sitapar. He quit his studies and used to spend his time loitering about in the village and doing small chores for his relatives. Ankush once decided to live with his sister in Lodha for a few days. It was then that Anil Rathod spotted Ankush sauntering about aimlessly. Rathod is the Head Teacher of Lodha Upper Primary school and lives in the village itself. He believes in community development and always helps the villagers in their time of need. He visits the homes of the students studying in his school regularly and has put many efforts in strengthening the School Management Committee in his school. Rathod asked Ankush to join his school instead of wasting his time. Ankush reluctantly agreed to attend school after Mr. Rathod asked him a few times. Rathod noticed that it was difficult for Ankush to stay in school as he was the least interested in the curriculum that was being taught. Rathod then started to encourage him to pursue extra-curricular activities like sports and began using his skills. Ankush then started taking an interest in school and this new found interest reflected in his grades. He became a regular student and got a lot of attention and appreciation for his skills in sports and handicrafts. He studied under the watchful eye of Rathod for three years in Lodha before moving to Nagsen to continue his education. He still visits Rathod and helps with the school if required as his way of giving back.

Rathod’s belief in Ankush and other students make it possible for him to retain them in the school and succeed. His generous efforts and his confidence in the potential of the students have helped him instill in his students a certitude in their own ability and skill. The manner in which the students are empowered at Lodha to manage cultural events, library records, assembly as well as academics is unparalled in the neighbouring areas and almost all of the credit for this accomplishment has to go to Anil Rathod.

Interaction with Ankush on how he start this.

Interaction with Ankush on how he start this.

P.S. Its a SINCERE REQUEST to all of you who so ever reads it,if you think that you would like to be a part of the change and help Ankush, please connect with me. We all can help him with education and livelihood options.

“Enticing and dazzling Pench and its periphery….”

I got up at 4a.m. in the morning. Did my yoga and then was quietly waiting for the vehicle to come and pick us up. Finally the vehicle came up at 5.45a.m. when we were having a morning walk. This was my first time going to a Tiger reserve in the core. The idea of SAFARIS really make people happy but for me it was more to understand what are the issues in this tiger reserve and how we can resolve some of them through EDUCATION as the tool?

Lush Green Pench Forest.  Its the first monsoon of the year 2014.

Lush Green Pench Forest. Its the first monsoon of the year 2014.

The Pench Tiger Reserve is a 292.85 km² Project Tiger tiger reserve located in the Seoni District and Chhindwara District of southern Madhya Pradesh. This reserve is lush green, full of ]Teak  forest stretching from one part of Maharashtra to other part of M.P. The river Pench flows through it and divides the reserve into 2 different parts. Almost 3/4th of this forest falls under the Madhya Pradesh state and 1/4th falls under Maharashtra.Interestingly,  this Tiger Reserve is divided into 3 forst range: Karmajhiri, Gumtara, and Kurai. During my  4 hours in this dense forest, I could sight some Gaurs, sambhars, Spotted Deers in huge no’s (around 80-100 in a group),peacocks, monkeys,wild pigs, wild cocks, kingfisher,hornbills and a wide range of butterfly species. I could not sight any tiger since the rainy season has already started. It was an enriching experience for me to explore this forest during monsoons.

he Gaur, also called as Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine and is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle.

he Gaur, also called as Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine and is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle.

he Gaur, also called as Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine and is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle.

he Gaur, also called as Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine and is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.The gaur is the tallest species of wild cattle.

                    Then I had some interesting discussions with the people from the communities who were staying near this   forest,   in  the buffer areas. I personally visited villages  which were a part of the buffer zones,  like Pipariya, Amazari, lodha,Pindkapar,Sitapur,Dahoda,Mansar, Salai and Devlapar and Pawni of Maharashtra and villages like Turia, Ambazari,Jeerewada,Awargani,Kurai and Khoka of Madhya Pradesh. It was indeed a very enriching and inspiring expeirence for me to understand conservation from a 360 degree approach. While I  interacted with so many villagers and students of the school,everyone said only one thing that they want development.

 

School Chale hum..!! Enjoying the monsoons and this doesn't stop the students from coming to schools. Excellent Attendance.

School Chale hum..!! Enjoying the monsoons and this doesn’t stop the students from coming to schools. Excellent Attendance.

Bumps in Thumbs Out..:)

Bumps in Thumbs Out..:)

 

Today these people are dependent on forests because there is no other means of livelihood and their survival is at stake.  Since their kids grow up attaining poor government education and hence can’t really go out in search of jobs outside. People in these forest still poach and hunt tigers, and carry the illegal affairs world wide and eat wild pigs by hunting.

Forests causes rains and water is required by all of us not only by the people who stay around the forests. So its our responsibility to make sure that these forests are well protected. For this we need to education the students and schools and communities how can we conserve our forests and why its important to preserve them? We also need to support the youths by providing them different jobs or by imparting skills  that will help them earn good money for their families. We need to make sure that the forest guards and officers are motivated enough and have the right equipment in place because if they are not safe,how will they keep the forests secure? We need to make sure that health facilities are available to people since many times man-animal conflicts results in serious injuries.

 

Core of the Pench Tiger Reserve

Core of the Pench Tiger Reserve

When I speak about “WE”,its everyone of us.Each citizen of this country. lets see how each one of us,can contribute in our own ways ( concrete ways) to preserve and conserve our “FORESTS AND WILDLIFE.

Courtesy:

Anish Andheria

Mr.Bobade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quest to know more- Sairat..!! The journey of life, leading to ……..?

Review of the Movie:

 

Watched this movie a month back and then heard from so many friends, colleagues and relatives. Yes, no doubt everyone enjoyed the movie and it had many subtle questions for the society and addressed the key issue of why it is so important to talk to families and share with them, before taking an extreme action.

The film follows the story of Parshya, a low-caste man, and Archie, a daughter of a rich “upper caste landlord”, who falls in love despite pressures from society that they must not be together. When their relationship is discovered, the couple is faced with violence and many challenges before they leave for the city.  The movie’s first part deals with a romantic love shades where there is lot of naughtiness seen, young love bubbling up and adolescents immersed in pure madness of sheer love and happiness. Excellent acting by both the actors. Even the starting plot was very well laid by the director, where he is bringing about many issues of the village and the society through  the “”Cricket” match.

Whereas the second part is more about the very struggle both of them faced and then emerged as a powerful family. They overcome their situations, learnt from their hardships and also lived the life they wanted to live. Till that it was fine, but the moment the parents come to know about them, they ensure they both of them are killed and they are successful in doing that.

Definitely the story could have been reduced in terms of its length, where many unnecessary prolonged shots have been taken.  Songs, Music and Lyrics are at the top no doubt and make you feel dance and sing.  Now, besides the technical parts of movie making, I want to highlight some basic questions, which came to my mind, while watching this movie:

 

  • Movies are the stories that come from our society. And there is a huge audience that get influenced by such love stories and where do you mark a line, when it’s a PURE LOVE.
  • Treating such stories also means that one has a responsibility to deal with the topic sensitively. Somewhere down the line, it felt as if ONE WAS PUNISHED FOR FALLING IN LOVE…..!!
  • The climax, may also justifies conservative people who still believes in casteism and advocate classes within the society. How do we help them REFLECT on this? The movie is somehow reaffirming their beliefs more strongly.
  • The whole approach of this movie, at the end somewhere, reflects that if you don’t let you parents know about things and don’t take their agreement into account, something similar can happen which is as extreme as this movie has shown?
  • Both the girl and the boy study in the same college and the guy is shown more intelligent in a way, but just because he is not rich and well settled, in the later stages is shown working as vendor body and as a labourer whereas the girl, who is from a rich family gets a managerial job. Are we trying to give some MESSAGE THROUGH THAT?
  • How do we see LOVE and the universal force that binds us? Parents love is more than anything, why is blockage is there in our minds? Is love really a comparable commodity to think?

My Take:

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  • Could have enjoyed if the director would have posed some question/questions at the end of the movie, to the audience and society related to what they think? It could have led to a mass movement towards breaking these stereotypes, caste and class debates because media is a strong way of bringing about social changes.
  • A positive message where parents share their disappointment and never come along with them, rather than taking such an extreme step / where parents come along and share love together with their family of Archie and Pasrshya…!!

 

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LOVE STORY – And at the end its the love..!! 

The movie somehow gave a feeling of tornness and hurt at the end. 

Creative Assembly in “Girirajpura School”

Morning Assembly at Girirajpura School:

We all remember during our school days and how we used to start our day with an assembly. There used to me a prayer song, followed by some news bulletin, current affairs and some exercises. It was quite amazing to see and visit Girirajpura School, which is almost 40 kms  away from the main SawaiMadhopur city where, each child shared his or her input and then co create an assembly session. They sing, dance, talk and discuss about issues related to their school,community and classroom, cleanliness and hygiene related matters and so on. All this becomes a part of the Assembly and this platform, is something which is an important part of the school’s every day rituals.

 

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Children sharing their folklores during the assembly time.

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Completely in the musical mode, singing as well as playing the instrument with full delightment. 

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Phenomenal Palace and Me- “Lakshmivilas”

Incredible Lakshmivilas Palace- Vadodara-

It was not in my life, that I plan too much for things and then make them happen. So, visiting to Vadodara, was much like this. I had few cousins staying over there and then when I got a weekend, I thought of visiting them. It was just an amazing time I had with them and since I love to visit the nearby places, I decided to go to Laxmivilas Palace, about which I have heard a lot in the last 15-20 years.The best thing about this palace is that it is still a living palace which means, that still the Gaekwad family stay there in one part of the palace. Its a home for them. This is not usually seen in other palaces, where they are kept just for visits and maintenance. One can make out, how different one feels, when one enters someone’s home, which is a palace itself and how those energies are felt all around.

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“Incredible piece of Art and Creativity indeed”

My niece, Namita, came along with me and we really had some really enriching, wonderful and incredible experience. I never thought that this palace is so huge. Being in Rajasthan, I had visited to many palaces and so I was not really thinking this to be an incredible and marvellous piece of art.When you see it from outside, it look like a massive giant palace with enormous facets and when you go closer the massiveness becomes eye catching and mesmerizing in its own ways. Whether its paintings, or wall hangings, gardens or architecture, weapons collection or handmade things, hunting tiger or deer skins or the mehfil khana all just makes you feel speechless.

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We left early morning, had our breakfast, shared some stories of our work and then left to visit the palace. Namita, already knew a lot about this palace from the beginning, so she endlessly continued to share stories from the past about the prince, the Gaekwad family and their ancestral anecdotes one after the other. She was quite informative that way and being a localite it was an added advantage. This is my experience that more, you are familiar to the place, more comfortable you become and if you have a local person with you, there is nothing like it. It adds on to your comfort and also well-being in a great way. I really admire Namita and her warm presence around me. She must have visited this place 100s of times, but her curiosity to be a child, and her willingness to share things with me, were something that I relished beyond measures.  She has an impeccable command over the stories of the past related to Gaekwad Gharana. What I  loved about the palace was the audio system, which helped to listen to stories and information in a great details.

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The term Maharaja Palace actually refers to a series of palaces in Vadodara, Gujarat, India, constructed since the Gaekwad a prominent Maratha family started ruling the Baroda State. The first one was a building known as the Sarkar Wada. This building, not really a palace, was given up for the Nazarbaug Palace built in old classical style. This palace was built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890.I was really mesmerized by the way the whole architecture was done. In those days ,when technology was not there, when it was difficult to communicate to each other in that era, something so beautiful, unimaginable palace like this was built. Really feels hats off to the workers, laborers and everyone who had contributed to this, due to which today we area able to see some great structures like this.

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Long shot taken from a distance by me.

It is reputed to have been the largest private dwelling built till date and four times the size of Buckingham Palace. At the time of construction it boasted the most modern amenities such as elevators and the interior is reminiscent of a large European country house. It remains the residence of the Royal Family, who continue to be held in high esteem by the residents of Baroda.

Darbar Hall featuring the Rajas Throne: This was simply marvellous. My eyes are stuck on the kind of artistic work that was done and that too in those days.

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Darbar hall featuring the Ornate artwork:Its ornate Darbar Hall, which is sometimes the venue of music concerts and other cultural events, has a Venetian mosaic floor, Belgium stained glass windows and walls with intricate mosaic decorations.This is the same place where “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo” movie was shot in 2015. The place was dedicated for Mehfils by renowned poets, musicians and dancers of those times. The females of the palace, used to see this mehfil from the top windows. They were not allowed to come down and be a part of the larger community. The were considered special and were not given the same treatment as men.

27-DSC_0874Outside of the Darbar Hall is an Italianate courtyard of water fountains. The palace houses a remarkable collection of old armoury and sculptures in bronze, marble & terracotta by Fellici. Each stone/marble was imported through different parts of the world, through water transport. The palace is full of Italian, Russian, Indo-western styles of architecture.   The grounds were landscaped by William Goldring, a specialist from Kew Gardens. The Palace “compound” covers over 700 acres (2.8 km2) and houses a number of buildings, particularly the Moti Baug Palace and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building.

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This was one of the unimaginable place with absolute peace and quiet ambience. What more you need? 

When I entered this place I really thought, why there is not water source here, and the moment I reached to this fountain space,I was on the top of the world. Water, is one thing I have loved the most and still love it. The cleanliness in and around the palace is something, I really wish to share about. The toilets were in very good condition, neat, clean and tidy with water facility. This also speaks about how our culture was and what we have made it like today.

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The Museum building was constructed as a school for the Maharaja’s children. Today a large number of works of art belonging to the Royal family have been displayed in the museum. The most remarkable of these is the fabulous collection of the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, who was specially commissioned by the then Maharaja of Baroda. The collection includes portraits of the Royal family in addition to the paintings based on Hindu mythology for which Raja Ravi Varma was famous.

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The charm and convenience to hear the stories with the help of technology is really an innovative way. 

Some more pics:

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Elephant at the entrance which signifies strength, power and massiveness.

 

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Encounter with “DHOLE” (Wild dogs)

 

 

 

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A young  confident and bold “Dhole” on his way leading the group.

I have been travelling to these forest and tiger reserves from almost a year and a half. And though I don’t go in the core so often, there is this unsaid anxiousness to just keep your fingers crossed and imagine some wild animal approaching you. It all about the crazy imagination of a person, who is fond of nature and its diversity. And so this time, during my visit to Tadoba Tiger Reserve, I encountered a pack of 7 wild dogs. I had always heard that wild dogs are always in groups and they are more dangerous than Big Wild cats at times. I was furious to see them, but then somehow came out of my vehicle and captured.

It was around 7.30 am in the morning and I was going through the Tadoba’ s  buffer zone (forests) along with my driver and the coordinator where I saw a pack of wild dogs sitting on the side of the road. They all were quite in their own play way mood. Wild dog is a highly social animal, living in large clans and containing multiple breeding females. It is a diurnal pack hunter which preferentially targets medium and large sized ungulates. In tropical forests, the dhole competes with tigers and leopards targeting somewhat different prey species, but still with substantial dietary overlap.

It was a quite an interesting morning to start the day with work. We moved to the NFE, taking the amazing memories of the Wild dogs with us.

POWER OF 1% OVER 99%

When it comes to “LEARNING” and “CONNECTING WITH YOURSELF”

 And we say that man learns through books, television and internet but the best of the learning has happened to me only through my experiences of life. Definitely the formers have influenced me to a great extent in the way I think and exhibit my response to situations but most of it is merely through experience.

 

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The journey of experiential education also came in my life, with this subtle realization as a young girl, looking at life and its huge canvas. Looking at people, following their dreams and yet learning in their own ways and putting their ideas in place, really gives me a feeling of self-contentment and encouragement.

This is an experience of my life, which I want to share, to connect with those souls, who had experienced something similar in their lives in the past. It was somewhere at night when I was on my way back home and suddenly when in a meditative phase. I was a bit tired and wanted to relax for a while. When I closed my eyes, I could sense a lot of negativity in my mind and I was recalling some viscous painful memories that were juxtaposing over each other in an endless manner. I was getting overwhelmed and wanted to be at peace and in isolation for some time. And I did the same.

The more I tried to go away from it; more I was getting closer towards it. Slowly there was something BEAUTIFUL that happened the moment I realized that though everything is negative and low in energy, there is a small part within me which is blowing, growing and is happy and I was wondering why it is happening? It was magical and unimaginable. I was surprized to see how it was growing and expanding from within. Slowly, that small part made me realize how happy and blessed I am? How this small beauty touched me, made me realize that all those pains, struggles and sadness was just another part of me, which was somewhere needing a place to rest and reflect itself. It was longing for acknowledgement and a sense of liberty to express itself the “”WAY IT IS.”  Those experiences have taught me few things:

  • To be more grounded and be mindful.
  • To acknowledge life with both its facets.
  • Be alert and conscious, because in the most painful experiences of life also, there will a small beam of light, which will take you to the path of consciousness.
  • Pain has its own beauty and its needs to be acknowledged and appreciated.

That incidence made me realize the power of 1% over the 99% which was more in terms of numbers and intensity but had an energy that was pushing me down and was also asking me to “LET GO” and feel it completely till it’s done.  1% was just there, but was not visible. It needed some extra efforts, some patience and perseverance that certain things happen at their own pace.

It was a wonderful discovery that happened to me while travelling. I don’t know what others think about it and how it lands for them, but for me it gave a “SENSE OF HOPE” and energy to move ahead.

 

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MY “FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH A WILD TUSK”

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“Wild” is beautiful,adventurous and yet so enriching with great learnings..!!

It was last year (May-2015) during the heavy monsoons that I visited Mudumulai Tiger Reserve somewhere around early September for a workshop on Integrated Learning for the local NGO team members. It was around 7p.m. that I crossed the Masinagudi and was travelling to Gudalur. It was raining like cats and dogs. I was also feeling a bit cold and it was quite windy.

The driver had to maintain really slow speed since we were travelling in the midst of a forest. It was about to get dark in next 20 minutes or so, and I was just crossing my fingers that we reach to the place, soon.

Suddenly, the organization person who had come to receive me from Gundlupete, told the driver to stop the car and to my surprise there was this “huge tusk (Male Elephant)”about to cross the road. I was just startled at the first sight..!!For me, looking at this WILD ELEPHANT IN THE WOODS was absolutely amazing.This was first of its kind and so was feeling speechless. It was looking at us and we kept our vehicle really slow, so that we can see him for a longer period.

I was about to take out my camera, but the driver, cautioned us and said NO. The Elephant was moving his right leg which was an indication that he was about to run towards us. He was may be angry. Also there was a vehicle ahead of us, who had taken lot of pics and the flash light had made the elephant irritated.

I had no other option, but to capture this moment in my mobile phone. And here it is.But personally it feels very good to see wildlife pictures, but yes, it’s one of the most difficult things at times, since you are in the home of the animals. At the end would just like to say, “Adventurous yet so memorable.”Tusk