Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Wild Life of a Forest Officer's Son

Imagine a 4 year old child in the jungles of U.P. way back in early 1960's

when forests were dense (with no sunlight reaching the ground)

when Dhoni's countdown for Tigers had not started

when nearest sign of civilization was a 30 minutes Jeep drive away

when for reaching the nearest cinema hall you had to cross a रेल फाटक  (where dacoits ran amok-if फाटक  was closed)

where nearest school was made of mud and was called नदी पार  as you had to cross a river to reach it.

Yes,this is a real life situation of a small child...yours truly.
I was born on a cold night of December in 1962 to an IFS officer and his very loving wife...who even in those days had graduate degree in Science.

The luxurious life style of a Forest Officer of those days was to be experienced to be believed.Besides a large bungalow in the middle of jungle on a hill top and a mandatory Jeep,he had a help for almost any errand...and even an elephant to help cross rivers and difficult terrain.

A typical day in my life began with a swim in  the पहाड़ी river atop our gardener's back.Post breakfast,my Mom taught me the alphabets and counting and then it was PLAY TIME.Going around to the houses of our gardener,driver and all other help and collecting their children & having a whale of time...climbing mountains,trees,playing pranks by the river side or just feeding milk with cotton to my baby deer (yes,our play time companion was a beautiful deer).

All of a sudden,in the midst of all this-our gardener would come running,shouting in garhwali that my Mom is furious...it is way past lunch time.

Lunch followed by siesta and then again bit of ABCD & counting in the evening - came the moment i waited the whole day for.

It was a tradition in Forest Department that the elephant would be fed by Forest Officer's son in the evening.The महावत would help me in feeding the mighty giant & i still cannot forget the love for me in elephant's  eyes. He showed his gratitude by lovingly and safely carrying me across violently flooded river on our weekly visit to the temple across the river on another hill top.

The day used to end with final check to make sure that the baby deer was safely locked to prevent wild dogs attacking him...which they eventually did.

I still remember the long waits for wedding invitations from Delhi - to have my fills of colas and ice-creams.Also,the 40 km drive on a slippery hilly road to reach the only cinema hall in Nazibabad...what excitement to even watch RAM RAJYA in black and white!!

In those days i used to feel that i am the most deprived child who did not see a proper school till i was  5 years old and small pleasures like ice-cream and colas were like Holi and Diwali festivals.

Now after more than 40 years,when i see people calling these locations exotic(like Corbett park where we lived) and they can only dream of such lifestyle - i conclude by saying that all these people are deprived while i am blessed to to be Forest Officer's son!



  1. You're right. That kind of life is exotic for people like us, but as always, isn't the grass always greener on the other side?!?!

  2. Just trying to imagine our life today with an elephant as a pet, ha ha ha... and then imagine, fitting it in the Hutch adv instead of the pug who follows its master wherever he goes... ha ha ha... a real traffic stopper... ha ha ha... a bit like your nostalgic moments... bring out more... Cheers!

  3. super duper like........

  4. Your story has reminded me of my happy childhood days and today has started well because of that. Ah the days of being carefree, when life was so simple. And by the way who let the deer out?

  5. Thanks a lot Tina,Praerna,Amitabh,Yatin for words of encouragement.

    Tina san-I donot remember exactly but i think the deer was attacked during day time only.