Friday, February 6, 2015

"Many faces of jungle people" - yet another love story


Sometimes a little push is all it takes for Kaleidoscope to start typing which his head often labels as unimportant and insignificant. This post (and many others too) owes a lot to Kay Cha... kaleidoscope's black and white friend (not quite) from down the memory lane simply because Kay Cha pokes Kaleido on absence of blog entries, and in thousand other ways.

Annual field ritual:

This year's yearly field ritual is guided by Kaleidoscope and his favourite HoD. The chosen place has been Gidhni, a small station having tiny villages located within dense forest, once a Maoist inhabited zone of the Paschim Medinipur, West Bengal. Apart from the ethnographic romances, kaleidoscope and HoD because of their vagabond(ish) selves soon discover more forests, stones, ups and downs rivers, within the forests, rivers and everything else. Once a liberated zone for Maoists, also a place where Kishenji has allegedly been killed, Kaleidoscope falls in love with the most spectacular river he has ever encountered - Dulung - which become another name of his love. 

Walk is worship:

Kaleido and HoD are both expert walkers... they can walk restless for hours. Kaleido kept concentrating on his Camera - his second wife and HoD with GPS (arguably his second wife too!). Kaleido and HoD together kept exploring the forest which directly connects Paschim Medinipur with Andhra Pradesh... the famous Red Corridor. 


Gidhni is closer to Jharkhand and Orissa, ideal place for a game of hide and seek especially if you have a GPS and a car or motor cycle. Kaleido and HoD kept walking for 12 days, enjoying the sun, forest, river, wildlife and of course the river.
A rough area covered by Kaleidoscope and HoD

What face do you wear?

One day, while they have walked for more than three hours covering about 9 km within the jungle HoD felt pain in his left ankle and Kaleido also thought that its better to take some rest and do some focus work with his camera. HoD kept himself busy with his second wife (the GPS) as this one is fresh (newly purchased for the department) and HoD had to explore her beauty (options)… Kaleidoscope and his HoD both did not shave for a few days, had unkempt hair – something that happens when you don’t have actual wife (who will nag to make you do these things) or girls to impress (of course voluntary impressions management) and wore the walk tired faces.
Suddenly both of them heard a sound of a person walking through the dried lives… made them look forward. Three women with tangi (battle axe) were approaching and discovering Kaleidoscope and HoD's faces, stopped for ever. When forerunners stopped there were others following them asking "why do you stop?" They stopped for quite long, so do their followers which is an entire village of Mahatos in search of fuel wood and mushrooms. They did not say a word, nor do they retreat. 
The moment of halt... Kaleidoscope had to shoot it from within the grasses. 
Kaleidoscope with his pea size intellect told them to pass and also mentioned that he and the HoD are not forest department officials and henceforth are not in a position to do any harm. The crowed still did not move a muscle. Kaleidoscope also referred to his identity as a "college master" and that his students are working in the nearby Khatgeria village. One of the younger looking girls managed to smile and said "I also had anthropology in my Under Graduate."

Others were not as comfortable, and the following conversation took place

K: Why were you afraid of us?
Villagers: "you dont look like masters..."
K: so?
V: "so many different kind of people roam around this jungle"
K: What different kind?
V: Jungle party people look similar to you... they also carry bags and phone map (pointing at HoD's second wife, the GPS)
V: "you people should not roam around these forests... these are for us and for different people"
K: Do you fear Jungle party?
V: no, they used to give us medicines... now roads etc. are constructed to kill them... we are getting the benefit...
K: We have heard that Jungle party people are gone, especially after the encounter death of Kishenji
V: We don't believe he has been encountered... he was killed
K: If you do not fear Jungle party, why were you afraid of us?
V: we don't want to witness anything odd... neither do we need to be interrogated by the police... you people better off the jungle and concentrate your work at the village... this place is not for you... you roam around the metaled road... it is safer.

Before Kaleidoscope or HoD could say another word the entire village moved out in search of forest resources. Kaleidoscope and HoD was amazed with their faces that represented/ resembled jungle party... and it was even more amazing to encounter a pupil of anthropology living a life which anthropologists have always been studying and never living.

Kaleidoscope returns home leaving the place he called field with a not to share love-story and still looking for an excuse to go back... 

Post script:

A few shots which Kaleidoscope could take before proposing to the river Dulung for love.

Khanjana beside river dulung

Title me!

They call it tuni ful...


Kaleidoscope's last hope
Kaleidoscope will remain a walker... even after his legs are gone... 

Focus work


  1. Rich experience indeed... Dulung is not your love only... I love her too...

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  3. your encounter with the village people just reflects how the state & its machinery is breeding mistrust between its own people...& as for river Dulung....yes she looks beautiful in this picture,,,

  4. Calling someone 'zebra' is not that funny, although I wish if human relations were like that. It is so beautiful to have shades in nature, but too bad if between people and country.
    A nice reading, thank you.