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Dare You Go, Into the Wild?

KAMAL BARUAH
Wed, 10 Nov 2021   |  Reading Time: 3 minutes

Dare you go, into the wild?

He embarks on a thrilling adventure into the wilderness accompanied by different celebrities around the world. Four Indians from Prime Minister Modi to southern superstar Rajnikant, Bollywood’s Khiladi Akshay Kumar and now superstar Ajay Devgn, who joined the British adventurer Bear Grylls for his unmatched survival tricks and skills over the years. Even US President Barack Obama appeared on the wild show inside Alaskan wilderness.

Welcome to the wild ! It’s fierce. It’s unforgiving. It’s expert mode on. Let’s go. If you see a shark, stay calm ! It’s absolutely enthralling to see Ajay’s struggling of survival with Bear in the Indian Ocean, watching PM crossing Kosi River in a makeshift raft to learning how to make a spear in the jungles of Jim Corbett, adventurous journey of Rajnikant through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Akshay’s learning a reef knot to navigate a river full of crocodiles. Those are indeed a mesmerizing stare.

Interestingly celebrities are only allowed to say ‘I’m going wild’, while people from all walks of life also overcome so many personal challenges. Over centuries riverine people have learnt to live with rivers. But even then rivers flooded, changed courses and wreaked havoc, people learnt to take that in their stride. Soldiers posted close to the frontier, have to fetch an uphill task while asserting the territorial integrity and defending the country. How soldiers survive on the highest battlefield in the world, where soldiers die from harsh weather than actual fighting in Siachen glacier. Yet a patriotic move that went unnoticed by the masses. But those episodes are undoubtedly the world’s most trending televised event. But everything was not so wild with the running wild show.

The adventure with a forest with my early days of jungle training at the hills of Karnataka is still fresh in memory. We were learning survival techniques in dense jungle for a week, where tall trees and plants grow very close together. We were confined in a base camp for the jungle warfare survival. Air warriors don’t need much counter-insurgency and jungle warfare but they had to learn to fight the guerrilla like a guerrilla. Enemies and straggles are bayoneted where they fell in the forefront of a dummy fight.

One fine morning, we were loaded into a Stallion 6X6 to an unknown destination. With heavy boots and combat uniforms, we were guessing for a treacherous journey. The road trip got off to a rocky start as much of the road had been swallowed up by jungle. Soon after an hour, we were dropped at the other side of our camp separated by a hill. With no compass, we lost our way. The sun was directly overhead. The commander left us in Jonga pointing finger at one direction ‘the other side of the hills is your base camp, go hike, climb and reach your destination before the dusk that now falling rapidly’.

Today I recount the experience where we did desperate attempt at survival after becoming lost in the rainforest. Our entry fell into various groups. As the sunset was still a couple of hours away, we tried to understand direction based on the Sun but trees and vegetation fully covered the sky from the falling sunlight. Since there was no road; we walked with the help of a jungle canned stick and saying ourselves loudly ‘dare you go…into the jungle. We trekked through the jungle and vowed to continue fighting.

Initially it was heroic move on foot. We shouted but observed that it was difficult to know where a shout is coming from. With no landmarks we passed, we realized our orientation got clueless. We walked in straight line, justified it loudly to ourselves and even followed animal trails as they head in the same direction always. A full of camping water bottle helped us to remain rehydrated.

Fallen trees, slippery rocks, heatstroke are the most common reasons for injuries but mosquitoes are the main dangers in the jungle as it spreads malaria, dengue and yellow fever. We tried to protect with a towel hand cotton covering face from such dangers. Heavy and thick shoes caused blisters after continuous treks for the entire day. Cuts and wounds over face occurred while trespassing into the jungle.

There was no break possible as dark was almost falling sharply. Alas! We were yet to reach any destination. We found no way to move further and the situation was met with puzzled looks of four members of our group. There was extreme tiredness and mental exertion leading to a total mess. It wasn’t an easy task while carrying a heavy backpack and only water to prevent fatigue. Bruised knees were already swelling up. We shouted for help but with no such luck and continued to explore.

The camp fire had already begun. And there was scattered light that filtered through trees into us, we shouted in reply. It filled with joie de vivre at last. Trainees wined and dined in camping tents, learning their survival. Hope someday Bear Grylls will live in the countryside and would reveal the true life stories of ordinary people trapped in extraordinary situation of survival.

Kamal Baruah
A former air warrior


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