Culture

We are all made of sawdust: Nilgiri Tahrs

Nilgiri Tahrs (or Ibexes) are goat antelopes exclusively reside along a 400 kilometer in-between the Nilgiri Hills and the Ashambu Hills. Found at elevations of 1000 to 2500m above sea level, they are cautious, tough as nails and dashingly-handsome. The last time I saw them was early this year in Valparai. It was unexpected since it was late in the morning. They are known to disappear into the thickness of shola forests during these hours.

The three years I spent in college felt about two-and-a-half years too long. Since I possessed none of the characteristics of the Tahr, I needed a happy place to survive. A shola forest would have been perfect. Not to escape the soulless drudgery of the modern education system. Just to hide behind a tree. Stay there until the smoldering heap of embarrassment that was my pursuit of individualism turns into sawdust.

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No more Mr. wise guy

After finishing a solo trek in Tada Falls last February, I saw physically-disabled man begging for change at a local tea stop. Govind couldn’t have been older than 45 years. He looked disheveled and desperate. The men at the tea shop seemed to either ignore him or make impolite gestures.

I offered to buy him a cup of tea and struck up a conversation with him. Govind was reluctant to say much at first but after a while, we sat down on the bench to talk. It wasn’t an act of kindness. I had been walking alone all day. The weather was hot and humid. I was feeling a little miserable. And we know what misery loves.

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