Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Hirudin day

Madla camp


Woke up late in Madla camp today. With eyes still half open I cut about 2 cm candle, put some wood together and started a fire. Coffee next and then Shankara anna made me rice and dal. Plan of the day was crossing the swollen Somavahini river and going to abandoned paddy fields in Hipla and Karvani villages. After breakfast, we went to the river to inspect, plan B! To go to Kesave village but through a longer route because we can't cross the stream and although Kesave camp was on the other side of the river, the fields we had to visit were on our side. We had enquired earlier if there was an alternative route without crossing the river but no one in the Forest Department knew. Shankara anna said that we should find a way on our own, so it was to be.

We left at 11 am hoping we can go along the side of the river. Though a river winds a lot, we thought it can't be more than 5 km since the jeep trail was only 3 km. We start to walk. I hadn't judged the terrain in this season and was wearing slippers, much to the delight of the leeches. In all the muck/swamp the slippers proved what they are called and several times I had to fix broken slippers. In all this commotion, there was no time to even remove leeches. It took us abut 3 hours and about 100 leeches must have had bottoms-up from my feet. We reach at 2.15 pm, finish vegetation sampling by 3.30 and walk back in about 2 hours since we knew the route. Another 100 leeches. I reach camp, take this photograph and salted them. I'd have never imagined a day like this in field. I drank a cofee, had evening meal and put my feet in a stream closeby and the fish cleaned up most of the mess in my legs. Later I lie down writing this and conclude 'leeches suck!'

Sorry for the grossness of the picture, but it was quite tempting to post!

Chinese whispers!

Last night in Bhadra, Madla camp I was listening to Queen. Before that I tuned my Radio to short wave to look for more interesting channels than Akashvani-Hassana. First channel I tuned in reminded me of times in Arunachal and after listening to Queen I was thinking ‘all we hear is, Chinese channels’. Now somebody please tell me why there are so many, so many Chinese channels. Does this have anything to do with the fact that the radio I was using was ‘Made in China’. I can understand this if I was in Bomdo village in Arunachal, I was so close to Tibet, it was but natural to tune into Chinese channels. There was even a program teaching Chinese in English. Wan-an I remember hearing which means good night and then I turned off the radio. And yes, how do they produce that music with jarring instruments, sounds like elephants are tuning their trunks! I do listen to a bit of Chinese classical music but to hear this in a camp in forest is not a pleasant experience, believe you, me.

By the way, then I found BBC, good one. I remembered listening to BBC in Garo hills and Arunachal and felt nice to tune in from Bhadra. A discussion was on about the similarity between Hinduism concept of beginning of the world and that of science. A radio is, I think the best thing to have in field and the best thing to gift your field assistant after the field season! My MSc field assistant Shankara anna, who I am presently with in my camp after three years told me, ‘everyday when I turn on the radio you gave me, I think in my mind, ‘Hi Karthik’!’ Apparently the radio was even offered a price of 1500 bucks, but he wouldn’t part with it. It’s a Grundig hand-crank radio, he has also tied a wire to its antenna to make it reach out. A minute of cranking produces ten minutes news or some good music or some Chinese music. This time, it had batteries to save all the cranking! I gave another radio to a friend in Ramsing, Upper Siang, will he be listening to it everyday too!