Sunday, July 20, 2014

Wild escapades

How many of us have the courage to follow our passion instead of opting for the safe route of taking up a regular job? Through this column, we share extraordinary stories of ordinary people who turned their passion into a profession. 

While the whole world seems to be drawn to the convention of pursuing a college education to bag lucrative jobs, some gladly sidestep such options in favour of living and sustaining themselves in the wild. Siddharth (Sid) and Bhavna Anand are among the few who chose the latter. Married for five years now, the couple explored the wilderness of Uttarakhand and established nature camps and resorts on the outskirts of Jim Corbett National Park and Pan got, a village in Nainital district known as a bird lover's paradise as you can spot a variety of species. 

Drawn to nature from a young age and having been influenced by his father, an outdoor man himself who spent a great deal of time in the forests and tea gardens of the north-east, Sid chose a life of adapting to the wilderness over the promise of a lucrative career that higher ed ucation could offer. 

He says, "My true calling came during a winter I spent on my family property near the Jim Corbett National Park. It was there that I learnt to build make-shift thatch and bamboo shelters, tracked tigers and a multitude of bird species that Corbett is home to and learned the simple ways of life from the local folk. The days I spent there shaped my ultimate goal in life, to spread awareness about the wilderness of the region and influence the younger generation to learn from, enjoy and preserve the country's natural heritage." 

Inspired by this newfound thrust, he kick-started his first venture -Camp Corbett -at the age of 18, with the help of his parents. This entailed taking guests on na ture trails, treks, birding excursions, fishing and camping trips and wildlife safaris in Uttarakhand and Nepal. The success of his maiden venture encouraged him to establish the Mountain Quail Lodge at Pangot in 1992 and later, Blaze a Trail Adventures, an adventure tour operations company. 

Ten years after establishing the resort, he met Bhavna, who attended the same school as him and was herself an adven ture enthusiast. She recalls, "I was brought up around the hills of Naini tal and have always been driven by my passion for the outdoors. I learned of Sid's exploits Sid's exploits and decided to follow in his footsteps. I, too, eventually, quit studies to start work ing with him full-time." 

Working together since 2002, they look after their resorts, tend to guests from across the world, organise adventure activi ties, and in their free time, explore newer areas of the Himalayan range.

They have also had to endure a fair amount of challenges themselves, owing to the nature of their work. Sid recalls, "When Camp Corbett was launched, I initially had to make do with tents. There was no elec tricity or any of the modern amenities that we have now grown used to. We have also had to endure harsher circumstances, from having tigers in our backyard and snakes inside our tents to elephants and hail storms destroying our huts, kitchen and tents. While we spent the summers cooling off in a nearby river, winters were spent huddling close to bonfires." 

Tourism, being an unpredictable industry, added to their hardships. Reiter ates Sid, "Our business mainly thrives through guests that know about us or who have heard of us through word of mouth. 

We hardly spend our resources in promo tional activities. Tourism is an uncertain do main, while some years see an unprece dented inflow of tourists, other seasons are deprived of them due to many social and natural pressures." 

However the pleasure of being pam pered by nature every day has its benefits. 

He concludes, "Every day of our journey makes the hard times worthwhile, as we truly enjoy what we do and where we live. 

My work is more a passion for me and I feel privileged to pursue what I really love." 

No comments:

Post a Comment