I have to admit, when I left the UK for India last month I was dreading it. Having pretty much constantly (and guiltily) thought and dreamt of India, ‘my favourite place in the world’, whilst I was in Africa, suddenly after a happy month at home I couldn’t really believe I was heading off on my own again so soon.
Fortunately the “you’ll love it when you get there” advice I gave myself and was given by my friends as always turned out to be totally true. I LOVE IT HERE. India is the bomb. The thing I love about it most is the same thing that I have loved about India on my previous trips. The people.
The first two weeks were completely nuts, I arrived exhausted. Had a day to acclimatise then our first guests arrived…. A learning curve to say the least, whilst constantly trying to be on chirpy happy form.
This months blog will be a sort of general summary – like a long email I might send to Mum and Dad, the ones that follow in the next few months will be on specific topics, setting the scene for future ones if you like. The next ones will be spicier I promise! (For instance at the end of November, I am doing a 7 day walk/camping journey with WWF India. Along the wildlife corridor between two national parks, then writing it up - hopefully for a local paper...) Don’t give up on me.
To start though I ought to explain what I am doing here and where ‘here’ actually is… Then, like my Africa blogs I’ll run through a few things (staff, wildlife, guests etc.). Here goes…
I am now the General Manager (very fancy title) of Kipling Camp in Madhya Pradesh, Central India. Kipling is an old school institutional sort of place; set up and built by Belinda Wright’s (my boss, a 4th generation white Indian wildlife conservationist) father, with whitewash walled small bungalows repainted every year after the monsoon, absolutely stunning waterhole in front of the camp and a very relaxed atmosphere. It is deep in the jungle surrounded by trees, birds and wildlife. The local leopard comes through most evenings (as revealed by the alarm calls of the deer and monkeys, and our camera traps...), and evidence (pug marks, scratches) of your highness The Tigress we find regularly. We’ll get a photo soon! With very pretty rooms, plenty of hammocks, delicious food and such kind staff – Kipling blew me away when I arrived. Another different India to the hundreds I had seen before (of the millions out there), but this India was clean, quiet and full of wildlife, but still retaining its Indian character of organised chaos and head wobbling. Bizarre? Peachy.
I have really had to learn fast; tricky and demanding guests, trying to communicate with the staff in a language we don’t share, teaching myself that I have to be the boss when I really just want to be everyone’s friend… I know I was Head Boy for a bit a school but stepping up from employee to Manager is a big shift. But one I have enjoyed. There are 17 staff (all men) and two forengay volunteers – gappys (both boys). And me (unspecified).