Showing posts from February, 2021

Behra Bhaloo, Kanwa Bhaloo, and other Bhaloo Kind

A mother bear and her cubs foraging for termites one fine afternoon. As we huddled around the fire-stove, two big pots – one of daal and another bhaat – simmering with flavours and warmth, I held tightly a small cup of black coffee, eagerly waiting to ask a particular question to our cook who has been a part of the history of Guru Ghasidas National Park. It was cold and dark. There was a rustle of leaves and a crackle of breaking sticks as if something walked on the outer side of a thin wall that separated us from the dense forest. The question was about a Sloth Bear – bhaloo in the common tongue. In 2019, a bear fell in a well across from where we put up our base camp. Ropes and a ladder were put in for it to climb up, the story goes. Since this area is away from human settlements, spectators did not throng to the place of rescue, nor did it make into national news – the only reason it came into local news was that when the bear climbed out, instead of running into the forest, it ch


I. That blue ripple in the tarpaulin pulled taut in the cool breeze the first farmer pulls up his sleeves, two bamboo poles and a few jute strings hold his shop, his business, his offerings; one morning among many centuries. The tilted-goats, the hunched-dogs, the burly-bulls the dupatta-women, the dyed-men, their mouthfuls I stand in the distance, watching this timeless commotion watching dealers deal, buyers buy – those customs. The shirtless boy bringing chai on naked feet the eyeless hand touching the paper cup to lips eyes caught up with money stashed ‘neath the feet. A bajār treasury is capped by the light, that taut blue tarpaulin that dust settling upon the skin. I watch with attention at this ancient system in this timeless happening, I see one figurine exhaling tobacco clouds, ballerina of the crowds he moves to the center, that corner, then back again he heeds the serenades, the auctioneers, the marketmen his handfuls multiplying in plastic gr