Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Random Thoughts

Recently I had an occasion to visit the Wild Life Sanctuary at Muthanga, in Wynad district of Kerala. It is about 30 kms. from Sultan's Battery and we reached there by about 10:45 A.M. However, we were not allowed to enter as entry was not allowed after 10:30 A.M. till 3 P.M.So we had to go back and return at 2 P.M.

The formalities like buying tickets for entry, arranging transportation to the interior of the forest where only Jeeps can travel on the rough forest roads etc. took a lot more time than one would normally/reasonably expect. There was no official transportation but rows of private jeeps were parked outside and they took their turns on payment at the counter like prepaid taxi service.A lot of ad hocism was seen but none felt like complaining as there was no option. No facilities were availabe for the hundreds of waiting tourists; not even a few standard concrete benches to sit!!! Can't we manage all this better?

After all the hassles, we set our journey into the forest. It took about 45 minutes on the rough forest roads. We could not see any wild animals except a herd of four elephants including two baby elephants and one or two deers! Where were all the others?Well, after all, which wild beast will come out when jeep after jeep carrying 'yahoos' slowly roared along the forest road endlessly? I realised that I should not have been one of those 'Yahoos'!

We also noticed a curious board at the entrance of the sanctuary ,showing the entrance fee for various categories of people and vehicles etc. The rates of fee was Rs. .20/- for adults, Rs. 10/-for children, Rs.10/- for students etc. But for foreigners the fee was shown as Rs. 100/-!!! For light vehicles it was Rs.50/- and for heavy vehicles Rs.150/-.For camera it was Rs.25/- and for video camera Rs.150/- Probably the authorities thought it fit to categorise foreigners along with objects like camera, vehicles etc or vice versa!! Of course, objects like vehicles will not complain and foreigners do not appear to have any option. We too have no option in similar situations abroad.
Please click on the photo to zoom it.

1 comment:

raju said...

Rip off the foreigner seems to be a favourite pasttime of Indians, whether it is hotel accommodation, entrance to archeological monuments, national parks etc. I have not seen this distnction in the few countries (mostly western) I have travelled in. In fact, OED/ELBS/Penguin-Pelican and various Institutes extend concessions to Indians/Asians. I have heard several Americans complaining about this in the Indian Consulate meetings at Chicago.Thankfully, this discrimination is not extended to the few public toilets we have. No self-respecting foreigner would want to use one of those anyway.