This meet began with me and my brother proceeding to Mumbai airport for our first flight to the orange city Nagpur. Soon after checking into the flight we caught with team bhpian and participant in the workshop (sachin.sri) Sachin Shrivastava. He was already in the city on official work and we caught up with our specific interests on the forum. We had a smooth flight and as guided by Dr. Abheek over the phone we met our cab come to pick us up from the airport. We found that it was drizzling in Nagpur and this dampened our spirits a bit thinking that wildlife spotting would be difficult in incessant rain. We proceeded to the starting point where we were to meet other participants from Nagpur.
The point was Hotel Turning Point at Laxmi Chowk. Here Wild Cats member Mr. Sachet and the owner of Turning Point Mr. Amol greeted us warmly. Mr. Amol treated us to a sumptuous breakfast and some interesting tales of wildlife in the outskirts of Nagpur. Very soon another Wild Cat member Mr. Chinmay Deshpande joined us.
Interestingly he was an active snake rescuer for Nagpur and he had a bagful of snakes to be released in the wild during our trip. Sachin was startled and a bit alarmed by the presence of so many venomous and non-venomous snakes around. We were amazed and excited and try to reassure Sachin. We had for the first time such a close encounter with snakes. Under the close guidance of Chinmay we were even able to handle a non-venomous snake the trinket snake easily. It was so beautiful to hold the snake. In our hands the snake seemed like a velvet rope. It is very sad that even before knowing much about snakes I had a preconceived fear of such beautiful creatures. Chinmay rightly explained that snakes have no emotion and if we humans maintain our distance and exercise caution and adequate precaution while interacting with them there is no reason why we cannot co-exist with the most venomous of snakes. Having said that he also explained that the most experienced of handlers have been bitten only by either their carelessness or overconfidence.
In no time Doc. (Dr. Abheek Ghosh) popped in. As expected he was a bundle of energy and charged up the already excited bunch. Meeting him for the first time I have to say the moustache suits him well, like the whiskers of a wildcat.
He had some news. The team from Hyderabad had missed their overnight train and had since proceeded by car. They would be meeting us directly at Tadoba. Another of the coordinator Mr. Akash Kothe also joined us. All of us wrapped up the breakfast meet and proceeded to our coach, which was with us for the entire trip. The coach had a banner of Wild Cats in the front, which was looking very apt for the occasion. As we were getting into the coach we could see our host Amol also getting into the mood and wanting to join us for the trip. However as had some unavoidable work in the city he could not join us. We bade him good-bye and proceeded to Tadoba.
Sachin was getting nervous with so many snakes joining us in the coach although secure in their respective jars. We all joked this would be “SNAKES IN THE COACH” Indian version of the famous Hollywood movie” SNAKES IN THE PLANE”. This made Sachin all the more jittery and he tried to make himself comfortable as far away from the snakes as possible. But at every jerk and every pothole he would plead Chinmay to check if all the snakes were secure.
The entire journey of about 5 hours due to bad roads after Jam was hardly felt due the non-stop banter amongst all of us. It was remarkable that inspite of our varying backgrounds and ages we all gelled in no time. This goes to shows that enthusiasm is infectious and knows no barrier.
In the coach Doc treated us to a Audio Video documentary by Vidya Atreya on animal human conflict in Western Maharashtra and how it was affecting the leopard in particular. I had already read up some material on her work and...