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Jungle Memories......

by Ambitions of Lisa 

Posted: 09 March 2005
Word Count: 925
Summary: This piece of writing describes my feelings about an adventure I had in India, when I chose to spend the night in a Jungle.

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What can I say! Depravity of luxuries! It brings you down to earth with a huge bang. It was an experience not to be missed, 2 days, 1 night, in the middle of a South Indian Jungle. I was determined to do it. And I did it!

We don't know how lucky we are, existing in this western world full of comforts and lavishness. And we can never begin to appreciate this until we are faced with the opposite.

Broken in gently, we visited a spice plantation for lunch. Immediately I felt closer to nature, yet so far from what I felt was the norm.

To gain knowledge about the spices used in delicious Indian cuisine, and to then watch a meal being prepared with freshly picked ingredients was fascinating. It tasted even better, to eat using not a knife and fork but my fingers, not off a plate but from a banana leaf.

It was mid afternoon when we arrived in the midst of the jungle. Panic! There was no going back. I was to sleep in a mud hut, more or less under the stars, in the heat of the Indian summer, with all the nature that came with it. It was actually an elephant retreat. The money we paid to experience the jungle went towards their food and continuing care.

The mud hut, was literally a mud hut…. nothing more, nothing less. There was a bed made of clay or mud, and a mosquito net above it, not very inviting. It was dark, and small, no windows, quite claustrophobic. To the rear of the mud hut was a toilet of sorts and a very basic shower. There was no roof above this part of the hut. I would be showering in the open air.

I took a shower more or less immediately. I can’t tell you how dirty I felt. The water was cold, but refreshing. After being in the 40 degree heat of the daytime sun it felt so good. I put my head back looked up and saw monkeys playing in the trees above. This made me smile. How many people can say that they have showered under the trees in an Indian jungle while watching the wildlife at the same time? I was aware of insects all around me and was eager to get dressed again.

Walking through the jungle was beautiful. Whichever direction I chose to look, there was something to see, either a bizarre looking plant or tree, an animal, a ruined temple or growing fruits.

Arriving at the local village, prepared with pens and sweets for the children, we met an Indian woman of slight build. She was making rice at the front of her hut. It looked like such hard work, but she was keen to show how it was done. She welcomed us into her home as her children played barefoot outside. Inside her hut, there was no electricity, it was simple and basic. The few clothes that her family owned were hung on one small wooden rack to the side of the hut. I felt honoured that she had taken the time to show us her humble home and surroundings.

Inane questions enter your mind in this situation such as; ‘She has no electric, therefore no fridge, where does she keep her food?’, or ‘She has no TV, does she know what is happening in the rest of the world?’. The questions are endless.

Before I left, the children were called to us and we handed them the sweets and pens. The look on their faces was unforgettable. They were so happy, grateful and excited to receive something so simple. It made me angry and ashamed to think of the children back in our own little selfish world with their many toys, computers, latest clothes and footwear and how ungrateful many of them would be at the gesture of such small gifts.

Returning to the mud hut, I was overwhelmed by the effect the whole experience was having on me. I had always been aware of the huge cultural and economic differences between East and West, however now that I was actually living the differences I knew it would be life-changing.

The elephants were amazing! To ride them, feed them, bathe them and sleep yards away from them taught me a lot about what fantastic animals they are and how much respect they deserve. The feelings, which occur when standing in a bikini and a sarong knee-deep in a river while bathing an elephant are surreal. I look back now and it feels like a dream.

“Did I really bathe elephants in an Indian river?”

“Did I really feed elephants watermelons?”

“Did I really meet an Indian woman making her own rice?”

“Did I really sit around a campfire, surrounded by elephants singing Indian folk songs?”

“Did I really take a midnight walk through the jungle to a temple?”

“Did I really shower in the open air while watching monkeys swing from branches above me?”

“Did I really sleep in a mud hut?”

“Did I really eat with my fingers from a banana leaf?”

“Did I really get that dirty?”

Answer……….. yes!

“Would I do it again?”


The words I use to write about my experiences in the subcontinent cannot possibly give you an accurate impression of what is imprinted in my memory. Even the photographs do not do it justice. I can but try to describe it the way it was… somehow I know you’ll never know…….unless you do it too.

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Comments by other Members

sue n at 19:34 on 10 March 2005  Report this post
Good piece Lisa, you portray the overwhelming nature of the experience well.
I do think though that it could do with a little editing to sharpen it up.I'm not sure that the 'Did I really's are necessary as some are about things you haven't told us about and others are repetitions of bits already covered.
Also some of your sentences are a little short - maybe some could be combined.eg
'I took a shower more or less immediately. I can’t tell you how dirty I felt. The water was cold, but refreshing. After being in the 40 degree heat of the daytime sun it felt so good'
This could easily be rewritten as 2 sentences, which would make it flow better.
Just suggestions.
Sue n

scoops at 09:23 on 11 March 2005  Report this post
Lisa you clearly had a terrific time in India. Your sense of wonder is palpable in what you've written here and it reads as if you came back and wanted to document all the differences and the thoughts you had at the time. What it is at the moment, though, is a full and joyous diary entry rather than a travel piece and I think it would be a good exercise to turn what you have here into something more substantial. Most westerners who visit third world countries are filled with guilt and altruism and that is well documented, so you need to find new angles and new ways of looking at your experience. You also need to make decisions about where to expand an anecdote and where to excise because it isn't enough to say 'I did this'. I hope that's of some help:-) Shyama

Account Closed at 08:07 on 19 March 2005  Report this post
Hi Lisa,
Yes, India blows your mind, doesn't it? I understand your feelings about the simplicity of their difficult lives compared to our luxurious lifestyle. I agree with Sue and Scoops that you need to tighten this up. Maybe keep your opinions out because through what you describe, the reader will form his own opinions (probably the same ones!) I feel you brush over the elephants. What about focusing on them, as I think this was probably the strongest moment of the trip, and really try to describe the experience visually.

I remember seeing an elephant in India in a small religious procession. I was standing close to it when suddenly I was struck by fear of its sheer weight and force; that it could crush me below one of its huge slow-moving legs. An Indian caught that moment of fear in my eyes and laughed at me (nicely).

Look forward to reading more of your travel tales


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