“I meet people and they become chapters in my stories.” ~
Panna is a great safari destination because of the diversity it offers.Small Brooks,Rivers,Bushes,Valleys,Gorges,Plain land,Tall grass land…you name it and the forest of Panna has it. So people who love landscapes and can compromise on animal sightings, because it is totally on luck and the probability is almost same in all the national parks of Madhya Pradesh,must choose Panna over all other parks.
Apart from choosing Panna as our recluse to spend a silent Diwali away from all the unwanted noise,we were also lucky enough to have chosen TAJ,Pashangarh for our stay because it is very natural to have returned from a place and be so overwhelmed that you are excited to share your experience with others..But its rare to have left a place with tears in your eyes,stories in your heart and overpowering gratitude for the people you met over just 3 days .
While the name TAJ is enough to assure a world class stay, Pashangarh,stood much higher in the rank of luxury because of the hospitality the following people rendered.
RAM JI…The man who exudes innocence!!!
Lovingly called as DAI ,Ram ji is from Nepal.When asked why is he here ,leaving his family so far away,he sweetly replied “I like it here “.
Now there is no reason for liking ,just as we have no reason for our immense liking for Ram Dai. The day we entered Taj Pashangarh we were introduced to Ram Dai as our private butler just like we had in any other Taj safaris.But he was special not only because of the way he took care of us but also for the warmth behind his “Wah TAJ” smile which is seen on all the wonderful crew members of TAJ ,all the time , of any TAJ property around the world and I sure RAM Dai did not have to go to any training to have that smile on his face because some people are born to spread love.
SACHIN…The Magician Chef!!!
“Eat to Live ,don’t Live to Eat” -Well…agreed!!!!
But damn the thought when you have such tempting dishes in front of you.
It is one thing to have the privilege of having royal food and completely another when the ordinary turns royal because then you can appreciate the fact that imagination can do wonders.
Pao Bhaji, Biryanis, soups , chats, mixed vegetables, ice creams, brownies, gajar ka halwa…nothing great about them, right?But that’s when Sachin moves his magic wand
and turns them into delightful delicacies.And when those cuisines are sprinkled with an extra pinch of affection,royal seems too small a word to describe his creations.
DEEPU – The naturalist and The snake lover
Deepu-yeah that is what he was called professionally as well and I guess he is such a loving person that everyone who know him ,choose to call him by that name intentionally, in spite of him having a “Good Name”.(However ,we do not have any confirmation on that, just a guess :D)
He is a perfect story teller.While inducting us on the wildlife of India(which we never got in any of the other Taj safaris,not sure even if they have such a program) ,under a dim light in the silent night ,we could see his eyes twinkling and the twinkle would increase in intensity with the size of the animal he spoke about.Thus,for us it was more like listening to stories right from his experience book rather than merely an induction
He is also famous amongst his crew for his uncanny fondness for snakes and has even caught a few (the poisonous ones at times) with bare hands .
Scarrryyyyyyyyyyyy….yet CUTE 😀
KOPAL THAKUR – The Dapple Light
A girl slightly taller than yashu(my now 6 year old son :D) was appointed as our naturalist at Pashangarh.
She was just like any other naturalist but with a tangy twist;)…..she was…
A passionate lover of the wild,who left her corporate job to live her dreams.
A vehement insect admirer ,who finds happiness in collecting the unattended microscopic eggs of some random insect and hatching them in a jar at her home(NB:-Kopal Thakur is not ‘a kid’:P)
A keen observer who taught me to look down and listen to the stories of the tiny creatures, whom we miss out in search of big Cats .
Yashu’s freind who knows that we should never kill the child in us and hence patiently answers the never-ending questions of my then 5 year old son.
A vigorous driver who tamed her 4-wheel drive such a way that it made our safaris more enthralling and also gave a tint of complex to the men😉
A wanderer of the wild who fearlessly entered the bushes in the dense property of pashangarh (where leopards are a common visitor) while having our nature walk at dusk and made me realise that power comes in believing in yourself and not from your built.
A happy bird who had fun in the simplest of the things like chasing the bush quails,clicking the flickering light of the lamps lit on Diwali or even collecting the shredded feathers of peacocks.
A star gazer who loved finding shapes in the stars just like us and made sure that we have a memorable Diwali by taking us to a place lit by the milky way in the middle of pitch dark jungle.
And last but not the least-
A wonderful human being who taught me the meaning of the word “Dapple Light” and whose smile can kill !!😉
Amit Kumar -The MAN!!!
What happens when your train tickets do not get confirmed, flight tickets show a sky rocketed price of 25000 from the nearest airport and road transport becomes sparsely available due to after Diwali effect??Well, we get a “Luck By Chance” to know Mr. Amit Kumar, the general Manager of Taj Pashangarh. Already in awe with his personality after having known him for the last 3 days, the extra few hours that we got to spend with him turned that “awe” to “respect”.
Settled in the forest of Panna with his lovely wife and a cute dog, Amit is THE MAN behind the show.
He is the one who has taught his team, not to make their customers feel homeless,in case they have to spend some extra time in the property due to some unavoidable reason (because everywhere else we stayed, the show ends with your check out time and no one even cares to recognise you.).
He is a man who leads by examples and hence he gave up his resting time and stayed with us along with his crew members …. helping us to find a way back home….treating us with lunch and snacks…..helping yashu to pluck berries ….telling stories of the forest …exchanging stories of our lives …and most importantly giving us the chance to know a LEADER like him.
The royal ADIEU!!!
TAJ safaris have this unique way of bidding adieu to their guests.They all stand in a row with broad smiles and as your vehicle starts moving, all of them raise their hand high up in the air and wave good bye.
Here too they did the same ,yet it was different!!!It was not some standard they were following ,it was heartfelt.
And as if so much of hospitality was not enough,we were sent with tasty dinner packets just because “they” thought it will be difficult for us to find food in the station from which we somehow managed to get a train to the nearest airport.
Suchhhhhh was the grandeur !!!
And, Now ,as i write this blog after 4 months of my return from Panna…
I still remember every bit of my stay there..
I feel honoured to have witnessed the company of all of these people together..
AND I am proud when I say I have made bonds for life!!!