Bear Facts

There are conflicting reports about why the bear was in the village in the first place

Salt N' Pepper

DR. AJAZ A. BABA

Those of you who have read ‘The Jungle Book’ or at least watched Mowgli on TV may think themselves to be familiar with the workings inside a Jungle but then that is how Rudyard Kipling saw things. Times have changed and Kipling is long dead and his ideas outmoded. The Jungle Book today would be an entirely different story, some aspects of which came to light recently after a bear was almost burnt alive in the Shopian District of Kashmir.
There are conflicting reports about why the bear was in the village in the first place. A group of free-lance rabble rousers who allegedly make their rabble rousing services available to desiring parties (usually in the opposition!) accused the authorities of planting these bears so that people do not move outside their homes especially after dark. “These Bears are being used to impose an unofficial curfew by the authorities. It is a conspiracy against the Kashmiri people,” a loutish fellow who looked rather like a bear himself declared. Another guy claimed that the ‘Bear’ was not even a ‘Kashmiri’ bear. However on being asked about what distinguishes a ‘Kashmiri’ bear from any other variety he could not come up with any coherent answer though a wit standing next to this fellow remarked that the non-Kashmiri bear obviously couldn’t understand Kashmiri.
A guy I know happens to be a middle rung official in  the wildlife department and has spent so much time in jungles and amongst bears and other animals that his wife left him after filing a report in the local Thana that he had eloped with a Bear! I decided to ask him for his expert opinion on the matter.  “Since humans have been encroaching upon jungles space has shrunk for these poor animals and that is why they make an appearance in human areas every now and then,” he explained. “If you would like it hear a firsthand account there is this Bear I know…” he offered.
And this is how I got to meet Haaput, the Bear who claimed to be a direct descendent of Baaloo the Bear that featured prominently in Kipling’s Jungle Book. Those of you who have read the book or watched the cartoon version on TV may remember that Baaloo was Mowgli’s teacher. It seems that in return after learning the human language Mowgli imparted the same to Baaloo who taught it to his future generations.
“Why are the bears intruding upon human territory?” I asked Haaput.
“Mister it is the other way round! It is you humans who are intruding into our territory,” the agitated hairy giant growled rather menacingly. “I guess you haven’t heard about this ‘Taj’ Mahal coming up in Jungle territory.” He added in a sarcastic tone.
Although I understood what and who he was talking about I pretended as if I didn’t. “Now that’s a wild allegation, I am sure! There was only one Shahjehan and there is only one Taj Mahal.”
 “There was only one Shahjehan then, but nowadays there are many Shahjehans especially in Kashmir!” he said in a sad voice.
“Come on cheer up!” I patted his belly. “It isn’t all that bad. Besides if a VVIP decides to grab some land in your vicinity you should feel honoured. Your area will become a VIP zone and you will get electricity for 24 hours!” I laughed at my own joke. 
He looked at me reproachfully. “This is not a joke. There will be none of us left and there will be no jungles left in Kashmir.  Even as such lots of forest land was cleared up by the forces alleging that militants hide in these forests. The militants cleared up the rest saying that the forces lay ambushes against them in the dense foliage. The lumber in both cases was subjected to enforced disappearances.”
“Hey tell you what! Let me introduce you to this TV journalist I know,” I was sure that any news channel would be excited by these revelations that too coming as these were from a talking bear.
“No thanks! I have seen enough of all those things that you did in our jungle. They will say that I don’t even belong to Kashmir but have crossed over from the other side to foment trouble and that all those Bears who wander into human territory are on my payroll. Hairy chap that I am it will be easy for them to link me up with the Taliban! I will be finished off in an encounter and end up as a stuffed piece in the drawing room of the ‘Taj’ Mahal.” Haaput refused my offer and in fact he was so scared by the suggestion that he excused himself and giving me a bear hug (a real one!) lumbered off into the jungle.
Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at snp_ajazbaba@yahoo.com)

Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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