Monday, June 26, 2006

State of indifference

When you are going towards Ooty by road, you reach a small village called Gundlupet. On the main road there is a small circular traffic island from where you have roads going in four directions. Take the left turn and you will come across a small thatched café. Just an ordinary dilapidated wayside teashop except for its menu.

Peacock Meat
Rabbit Meat
Deer Meat
Quail Meat
And other miscellaneous small animals from the Bandipur Forest.

The ‘restaurant’ does thriving business and its patrons are local politicians and other big wigs. Long time back on our way to Ooty my Dad developed a headache and needed some coffee. That’s how we landed up at this ‘Café’. The owner is a very friendly and nice man. He became very friendly with my Dad and even offered to parcel some of the ‘forbidden’ delicacies, which my father declined politely. My heart sank when I realized that this was a well established ‘business’ several years old. The suppliers are the tribes that inhabit the forests, the very same tribe that fought off the Taj Hotel venture that was to come up in the area.

Last year in Ooty we met up with the Conservator of Forests for Nilgiri’s and he told us proudly, that they now had 35 tigers in the Tamil Nadu (TN) side of the forests. When we informed him about the café, he said that there was nothing they could do as the café was in Karnataka. The animals were safe in TN but once they crossed to Karnataka they were easy pickings.

The very next month the UN lauded TN for its excellent work in conservation. The moment you enter into TN you can feel the difference. The Mudumalai Sanctuary (the TN name for the same forests) is well kept with check points. You are asked not to carry plastics into the Nilgiri’s. This year I saw less plastics flapping in the wind on the Nilgiri hillsides.

We were also fortunate to be taken on a guided tour of a man made Shola forest. A Shola forest is a ‘Rain Forest”. This means the trees in these forests absorb rain water and release it into the ground via its roots. So there is no wastage, no flow of water carrying top soil and ground water also gets recharged. These trees grow very slow, it takes almost 40 years for one tree to reach a height on 6 feet.

What amazed us was a revelation. The Shola forests in the Nilgiri feed the underground aquifers from which springs the Cauvery many miles away in Coorg. The Shola forests of the Nilgiri’s feed the Cauvery !!

When we went to Coorg last year, what struck us most was the cleanliness of the place. No plastics littering the roads or crowding tourists. The reason…not many hotels in the area. We stayed with our Coorgi friends in their Estate and thus were able to feel the animosity against Karnataka that simmers in the area. The reason? Coorg was an independent State till 1958 (not sure of the date) before it was merged into Karnataka. The discontent is due to the rampant felling of trees by contractors who have ‘friends’ in the corridors of Vidhana Soudha. The Coorgis are a tree loving people and believe in planting 10 trees for every tree that is felled. They also feel out of control of their own motherland. There is not a single college or decent school in the entire area. Coorg contributes a sizable chunk of revenue to the State through it’s coffee produce.

When Karnataka polled 4th in the corruption list, the joke going around was that we had bribed our way to the 4th position while we were actually in the first position.

As you enter Karnataka from Mudumalai there is this board welcoming you to Karnataka. As a kid I asked my Dad, how people could distinguish between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. He said, “You see the policeman at the border checkpost who is putting the entry fees into his pocket? That’s the beginning of Karnataka."


quills said...

Really informative post.

It is encouraging to read about the efforts TN govt has undertaken to afford the wildlife population within its borders a safe and peaceful sanctuary. And so deplorable the state of affairs in neighboring Karnataka.

Cruelty to animals is something I absolutely cannot stand. Recently there was a story of a wild elephant that was captured(kolakolli was the name given) and unfortunately less than a day or so in captivity it died and the circumstances of its death still a source of mystery. I cannot help wondering whether it could be for its valuable ivory tusks, that the animal died so mysteriously and so soon in captivity..

silverine said...

Quills: The Nilgiri's is also the Oxygen plant for the entire of South India. The present system of the area is mostly due to Jayalalitha I heard. It is sad to hear about the elephant :( It must be due to the Ivory.
However Karnataka is blessed with individuals like Heblikar who have dammed the rot to a great extent.

pophabhi said...

Very good insight to the true picture. We have passed the same Gundalpet Junction couple of times in our bike trips, but never bothered to look around. Well - Always there is a next time - we will explore that small shop.

But as such, I guess Kerala also fights pretty well with Karnataka. For that matter, many other states too.

Mind Curry said...

Peacock Meat
Rabbit Meat
Deer Meat
Quail Meat
And other miscellaneous small animals from the Bandipur Forest.

man..thats a lot of killing happening.. :)

I absolutely agree, driving through TN is more pleasurable than anywhere else..Karnataka is not bad either, when you compare to Kerala especially! But yes, thanks to veerappan clones (politicians,forest officers, poachers etc) we are losing all the beautiful flora and fauna.

coorg is of the best places i have been to..also wayanad in kerala..loved being with the nature.

perhaps if you were crossing kerala-karnataka border, you might see the cops fighting for the money.

calvin said...

Hence proved that :

Man is the one who can do good and bad. Rest of the beings are not as powerful as he is ..

P.S : You really should read 'State of Fear' by Micheal Crichton.

mathew said...

hey me a regular traveller in that route..bcoz mysore-ooty-wayanad is a frequent part of our bike sojourns..But never happened to notice this cafe @gundlpet...

Bandipur..although been there 2-3 times..never happened to get a glimpse of atleast one tiger!!donno where have all of em gone..
Have u taken the Ooty trip via gudalur..that route gives the best glimpses of shola forests!!

silverine said...

Pophabhi: Kerala too? Sad :( The cafe is called Mohammad's cafe. And don't you dare go sampling the fare :))

Mind Curry:"perhaps if you were crossing kerala-karnataka border, you might see the cops fighting for the money" LOL I can almost imagine that now :))

Coorg is beautiful I agree ( and so are the Coorg men :p) and the place where we stayed was 13 kms off civilisation. Lovely!!!

Aashik: Have read the review of the book :) It's about "pseudoscience" and the theory of non existent crisis' isn't it ? You calling me paranoid? lol

mathew: The tigers are in the deep jungles, which is out-of-bounds for visitors. But leopards are aplenty. I have gone via the Gudalur route. It is lovely. Gudalur is like a small Kerala town. I have an acquaintance there who works with the tribals and so we have been into the restricted forests and saw Leopards and lots of other animals :)

calvin said...

I am not calling you paranoid. I am asking you to look at things from a manipulator's point of view.

Mind Curry said...

not to forget to mention about the coorgie women :)

silverine said...

Aashik: hmmm I do dear!

MC: Yeah that too. My best friend is a coorgi gal :)

Jiby said...

wonderful post...the Sholas and Coorg are among the most beautiful places in india really. i am hearing of TN doing a lot of good work these days in several fields...and u have just said another case in point i didnt know abt.

when u wrote abt all those kinds of meat still available i was wondering when the medieval mentality of our new-age nobility, read politicians and their well-to-do cronies will change.

and coorgi women like mind-curry said...i keep telling my cousin-sis who is from there to find me a coorgi gal and i wud agree to marriage immediately...hehe!!!

silverine said...

Jiby: Thank you :) Guess we all agree on the Coorg lineage :)) TN is def strides ahead of Karnataka. Ktka has had good luck due to Bangalore, but the city is now falling apart."medieval mentality of our new-age nobility" is eaxactly what it is :(

Dr. Pissed said...

Man, even I've noticed the same thing. I remember once my friend and I did a bike trip to Ooty and then headed to Chennai from Krishnagiri and then back to Bangalore and believe me or not, everytime we entered Karantaka, there'd be absolutely no lights on the highways at all. When we were on the TN highways, the roads were well kept, street lights lit and all.

Damm, its so nice to see how well those guys adhere to the "No Plastic Rule". How i wish it were enforced here in Karnataka. If not Karnataka, atleast Bangalore!

But cheers to you for being so informative.

silverine said...

dr pissed: Thanks da :) Plastics have to be banned. Have you seen the drainage cleaning work being undertaken in front of Games village ? There is a 10 feet high pile of plastics, fished out from the drains forming a mini mountain.

venus said...

havn't read the whole story, will read it soon, but just saw peaccok meat!?!?!?
It is a crime to kill our national bird!!

silverine said...

Venus: It is a crime to kill any wild animal and besides they don't taste good too. But people eat it for the sake of prestige. It is an ancient mentality!

Ganja Turtle said...

Why is it a crime to kill a wild animal but not a hen or a goat?

silverine said...

GT: Because dear GT, a hen is bred in captivity and there is plenty of them :) I went to a pet shop last Sunday and saw many Cockatoos and Budgerigars..perfectly legal as they were bred in captivity and not poached.

Ganja Turtle said...

Hmmmm...2 years ago, I would have sworn that only Mallus knew how to protect their forests...and us friends used to say that if only these kind of forests were there in Tamil Nadu, we would have razed them to the ground in a couple of days and carted them off to the sawmills...apparently the tables are turned...but MC's most reviled of politicians, VS seems to be doing one thing right - he's already banned cutting down of trees in private estates in forest areas under the pretext of "clearing wasteland for cultivation"...sometimes I wish the people of Kerala could go down to the dry gullies of Tamil Nadu or AP to actually know what they have been blessed with...Recently drove down through the hills via Punalur/ Ariankavu/ Thenmala to Shencottah and then to many old, thick trees have been felled for a 4 lane highway...gnarled trees as wide as 7 metres....probably planted by men who lived a hundred years ago, to provide shade for the weary traveller....the bitter taste of lopsided development...I hate it!!!

And on a disconnected note, Dr.J had done a whole lot of good - from maintaining roads, to attracting investments, to protecting wildlife...but all this seems to impress only outsiders and not the people of the state who have thrown hr out...good PR? or flawed reality? And another tree somewhere goes down...

Ganja Turtle said...

If we breed people in captivity and breed plenty of them, can we eat them?

silverine said...

GT: We breed animals for our nutritional needs.. )

Ganja Turtle said...

Hmmm...almost every nutritional need is met by a vegetable as well...and while seemingly repellant, whats wrong with eating humans - they would also meet our nutritional needs as well as birds/animals do... uh oh...i see a frown on the face of someone who doesnt like to get entangled in comments at the start of a nice working day....

If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store
Two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy Soul.
-- Muslih-uh-Din Sa'di
(alt. Moslih Eddin Saadi)
from "Gulistan" (The Garden of Roses), 13th century Persian.

Have a nice day,silver lady!

silverine said...

Thanks GT..the verses are lovely, infact my next post is on the same lines :)

..and animal protien is essential for humans, see vegetarians eat Ghee... and eating humans would be Cannibalism, you wouldnt want your boss to make a meal of you because you failed to deliver would you? :p

Ganja Turtle said...

Proteins essential...but animal protein?! Naaaahhhh....

Isnt that even worse...we dont eat our own kind but have no qualms about plunging our hungry hands into other species...

Lol...thats an eventuality that hasnt happened till now, touch wood! And knowing my boss, he is capable of worse things that eating me up alive...his speciality is the slimy sidey look that is to be read as "Are you sure you are not alien scum?" and if continued beyond 5 seconds to be read as "While you get on your knees to crawl into the crevice on the wall, you may kiss my boots as an abject apology"

silverine said...

GT: "Isnt that even worse...we dont eat our own kind but have no qualms about plunging our hungry hands into other species...

This is a dog eat dog planet and we humans are top dogs :) Everything eats everything, even we get eaten in the end. So lets rule with mercy till we surrender ouselves to the 'grubby' arms of death :))

Your boss... LOL

Ganja Turtle said...

Silverine tries to becomes Barb Wire in an omnivorous world! *puts on shade and gives a twisted grin*

Go girl!

Ganja Turtle said...

Murder is commoner among cooks than among members of any other profession - W. H. Auden

silverine said...

GT: To reply to your earlier comment, I hope too that the mallus don't take their green state for granted :(

And that was an apt saying but then, packaged meat was not in vogue back then :)

Anonymous said...

“You see the policeman at the border checkpost who is putting the entry fees into his pocket? That’s the beginning of Karnataka."

it is the other way around... the TN guys take bribe at two gates, one is a single constable guarded who takes anything less than 50 bucks and the other one just after the first gate where a group of policeman stand on a bridge to take a few more bucks...(approx 100)

I do agree with you about the wildlife protection though.. there are 2 small time restaurants which server the wildlife menu.

You forgot to mention the roads which are better off after you get past the karnataka border