Legendary partnerships have been the mainstay of Mythology as well as Hollywood /Bollywood, even sport. Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, Batman & Robin, Agents J & K (MIB – remember), Karan- Arjun , Sachin & Sehwag Pappu and Yadav, Sathish & Nigam Eh wait! What did I just say! Let me explain. Lets’ rewind then to the jungles of Madhya Pradesh where dynamic duos like Pappu & Yadav set out every day to grant the wish of every tourist.
Safari holidays are most satisfying. While they seem perfectly planned like every other holiday, what lies within each day solely depends on luck and razor sharp instincts. From who you ask – The Dynamic Duo ofcourse ! The Dynamic Duo are those ordinary souls who turn super heroes whenever a Tiger or a rare bird is spotted. You hug them, thank them , yes tip them even. But no sightings and these become the target of the choicest of your abuses, especially if you know they have made a mistake. These duos that roam the length and breadth of every jungle in MP are your very human Driver and the Govt appointed Guide. Simple men they are. Vague accents & trained by the government in the art of animal and bird spotting & watching, every guide has his own accent and pronounces every bird in his unique way. It takes a little getting used to, as you meet a new one on every safari. But, with each passing moment and gesture your hopes live and die with every movement that he makes, every pause he takes and every time he stops the jeep on the lookout for a ‘call’ or ‘footprints’.
And that leads me to his partner in crime the driver. The driver is usually a constant as long as you roam the same jungle and so may end up travelling with him in 2 or 3 safaris before you move to the next location. Driverslike their counterparts in Mumbai are the smarter lot – that is when it comes to taking credit. Because they linger with you after the safari till you reach your hotel or the jungle as the case may be, this unique species leaves no stone unturned in singing eulogies of how daft the guide that day was and that every spotting was because he stopped the car or took a particular turn on a particular route in time everytime. He is definitely the more flamboyant one, the Akshay Kumar you may say, in the Hera Pheri series as compared to the simpleton Sunil Shetty.
But put these 2 together and they become the dudes of the forest. The sudden stop of the car. The gestures without talking. The explanations in lowered voices. Its almost like you are predators on the prowl. The excitement is fever pitch.
Every safari almost invariably starts with ‘saab, aaj tiger dikhegaa’, and with every passing hour it goes to ‘saab, yeh to luck ki baat hai. paaaasionce rakho’. As hope dwindles so does their concentration.They miss obvious sightings, & your respect goes down and suddenly the cape of invincibility that they have put on disappears. It’s amazing how ‘aap’ becomes ‘tu’. Your voice tonality becomes aggressive,theirs passive and the tables turn in an hour and a half. The crusaders as it is apparent lose more battles than they win. Their moment of glory beckons when the ultimate sighting is done… the tiger. The swagger is back. The command in the voice is back. Local one liners like… ‘tiger ko tiger kaise nahin dikhegaa’ become the order of the day. There is no question who is in control as they gain auto-control of every living soul in the jeep with gestures of no talking, be quiet, oh and education on camera angles and the virtues of preserving battery for better shots later too.You quietly almost unconsciously go back to ‘aap kamaal ho sir. thank you’.
Sightings like these usually end up with thank you, a small tip and the necessary photos that remain for posterity. The guide humbled by your graciousness turns all polite, utters ‘atitihi devo bhava’ or some words to that effect & then as sudden as he came into your jeep quickly disappears the the melee of jeeps and banter mainly comprising of sightings and near misses.
The driver does the same, only to greet you the next morning ready and raring to forge an alliance with the next super hero that will come their way.Together, in their toota- foota english, and rustic charm , the dynamic duo once again set foot in the jungle to fulfill the wishes of the next group knowing too well that hopes live and die with them.. like goes the new song ‘ Tumhi din dhale, tumhi din chade, tumhi ho bandhu, sakha tumhi’ - Very apt in a weird sort of a way
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