A total recall

I have been thinking quite a lot about the land of the Bhils and Gonds – the tribals of the region of India I have my roots in. A long time ago, it seems, B and I visited a section of it, and fell in love with the greens and the browns and the blacks of the place. I’d love to, someday, write about it. But today, I am so full of the memories, that all I can do is post some pictures and reload the page over and over again through the day to keep looking at them. Why post them and not see in my personal gallery? Well, posting it in the blog has an added advantage of pretending I am storing it in a diary. And I was a religious diary-writer as a kid.

Besides, I always love to share what I think the world deserves to know. So, here goes a collection of memories from a land that has not seen ‘civilisation.’

The creek that gushes close to where we stayed.
A reservoir close to Bhoramdeo, the place where we stayed for the night. The red soil turns all waters into remarkably dirty-coloured entities. But all is beautiful, still. The fisherman promised to keep a fish for us to take home. We couldn't go back to him after our little jaunt at the hills. Our loss. The cow bells came with me, though. In the mind. I can still hear the sweet sound.
The dragonflies, blurred in the foreground were the stars of the season. It was summertime, the worst time to go there. If the worst time offers such beauty, the best should be just that, no?
This kite flew down to perch on the distant guard rail. As if to pose, it stayed there only as long as we clicked pictures. Quite a celeb, eh?


Moti of the Baiga tribe. The man we went to meet because people from the world over come to meet him, to seek cures to their ailments. He claims to walk the darkest of forests with tigers and elephants for company, make medicines to cure anything ranging from constipation to multiple scleroris. He claims to have eaten a herb for the duration he didn't want children. Natural contraceptive. πŸ™‚ Pointing at my spectacles, he said, "I can get these off in one day". I'll tell you the outrageous cure, someday. Suffice it to say, I am chicken-hearted. And they make stylish spectacle-frames these days. All the tongues-in-cheeks aside, he has remarkable eyes. I couldn't meet them for long. He kept looking into mine, deep and deeper. It was unnerving.
Child-mothers, all. The local weekly market is quite a draw. People come in throngs from distant villages to buy several things. My favourite among them? The circlet around the girl's (on the left) neck. It's called a sarota. Pure silver, awesome weight. I got myself one. πŸ™‚
Leopard kitten (a leopard cat is a wild cat, but not a leopard). A domesticated devil at a local village. I'd have taken him if the people weren't so attached to him. Such fire in his eyes.
A lotus pond at the Shiva temple at Bhoramdeo. The temple itself is so mind-numbing, I was slightly scared to click its picture, so I took its companion's instead.
This classy lady is off with her bargain of the week - the mahua. A local wine made of mahua flowers. The blossoms fill the forests during the summer season with their heady fragrance. Lotus-eaters would find these a much bigger challenge. People have been known to have fallen asleep the moment they came too close to a tree in full bloom. Or have been attacked by bears who wish to claim their share. Mahua. A heady, fruity, sweet brew.
Not a great picture. Doesn't quite capture the beauty of the fall, but it is important to post it here because a couple of ten minutes after this, as we trekked along the dirt track, we were to have a memorable experience. Since the track was a narrow one, we were walking in a straight line. The leader was a spirited dog we'd found close to the creek posted above. It wanted to come with us, or lead us rather. He was followed by our guide, then B and then finally, me. After a few minutes of walking along, we heard a rough grunt that reverberated not only through the hills, but within our heads and hearts as well. A growl followed. And then a yelp. By the time we'd trundled to the place, all had already happened. The dog was cowering, the leopard was gone. Yes, there had been a leopard ahead in the path, probably sleeping. Our leader was the only one to sight the cat. A rare example of a dog cowering in front of a cat, perhaps. At any rate, the leopard was gone before we could say Dog. All we had left of his presence was the memory of the inimitable growl (showing disgust, probably at the intruders) and the unmistakable big-cat smell. I can still feel the adrenalin. Our leader deserted us immediately thereafter. We never saw him again.

This outing, just a weekend, was an important one. I grew up very far from all these visions and smells and experiences. Despite the lack of familiarity, I somehow felt a part of it all, as I walked these roads. A feeling akin to home. B; a child of lands much beyond these, lands of tall mountains and great lakes, with people so different yet not quite; also, for some strange reason, felt one with the land. I know no better pleasure. Bhoramdeo is the place that brought me closer. To what? To life itself, I daresay.


10 thoughts on “A total recall”

  1. Wonderful post, Priya. Beautiful images combined with beautiful words. Thank you for shining your light onto this place most of us would never have seen or even heard of.

    And that cat! Are those the green eyes you wanted?

    1. Thank you, Charles for reading, appreciating.

      It is never surprising that the world has beautiful places we might never even go to, is it? Earth has so much, it puts our departmental stores in perspective.

      Oh the green eyes. Well, yes, the eyes attracted me to this kitty, but the ones I want are just shade greener…

  2. Dear Priya, it is so nice to meet you. I appreciate your very kind comment at my blog, wow.

    And let me in turn praise you for your blog. Everything here is just beautiful: the template, the header, the photographs, the writing, your apparent heart and sensitivities. Great, great beauty, I feel honored to meet you.


    1. Hello Ruth,

      Nice, indeed, to meet you and see you here.
      I intend to go through your blog at length. There is so much promise of a good, sweet-like time there.
      I feel honoured, too, that you find my blog and its appearance worth a praise. Let’s settle for a mutual honour, then!
      Happy Lovely Season to you and yours,


  3. Priya, these are magnificent photos and your explanations took me there – I stood beside you. I love your descriptions. I chuckle at your response to Moti and his ability to look at your soul. I strongly believe he saw your beauty, your depth and someone who understood him.

    Thank you so much for this feast for my senses.

  4. Your photos are beautiful, Priya. As beautiful and evocative as your descriptions and what happened. I love your dog-guide. He protected you from the big cat – very courageous of him. And Moti with those deep eyes, I can feel them from here. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has some sort of power – if only to hypnotise! And the Kite. We have a few (they’re rare) Red Kites here. None of them would perch near a human being, I don’t thing. They stay soaring and gliding high up in the sky, often in pairs, and then suddenly swoop down on something in the distance.

    Thank you for this post and your memories.

  5. Priya,
    A true gem of sharing and open hearted space. I looked around your blog and wanted to thank you for having this here. All of it really…so wonderful.

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