The people we see around us mostly belong to the privileged class of the society. I myself belong to this class also. We have food when we are hungry, clean water when we are thirsty, clothes to suit to our taste, access to hygienic environment and a roof above our head while going to sleep. We have quick access to the medical help to take care of our ailments. We secure the future by investing our wealth. We send our children to have the best education. And then we do not see (or pretend not to see) those people who survive without the basic amenities of life.
A few months back I had the opportunity to visit the Sundarbans – the largest mangrove forest in the world and home to the famous Bengal Tiger. It was a two day one night safari, organised by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation. The forest and its bio-diversity, the suspense and wild beauty of the place is definitely worth a visit. Yet in spite of the awe inspiring romance, the misery of the poor inhabitants of the place would definitely touch upon your soul.
The last week of May in 2009 saw a huge tropical cyclone called Aila hit the Sundarban. The samaritans had come and gone with their share of publicity. But the damage that was caused is still visible in the region in 2014. The catastrophic disaster left one million people homeless. The misery of the destitute people affected by such a calamity was insurmountable. The broken embankments, the desolated agricultural fields are a tell tale picture of natural devastation. Yet the local people, braving the tigers and snakes, still go to the forest to collect honey; the fishermen go out to net the fishes.
While traveling through the estuary, one can see pieces of red cloths tied to the trees in the forest. We thought it probably signified dangerous areas. However, our guide explained that wherever the tiger kills a human being, the local people tie a fabric to the tree as a danger signal to future visitors. The number of people killed by tigers each year is astonishing. But people still go to these areas in search of their daily livelihood.
One feels pity even for these tigers. The tigers swim across rivers in search of food. They go hungry for days together. Once a tiger was killed from the venom of a snake; it had killed and consumed a poisonous snake. One can make out the extreme dearth of food for the tigers from this incident. Some photos in the end for you dear reader for taking trouble of going through with this mundane blog.