Letter from your tour-leader

By Ramesh Jangid, former tourleader in Rajasthan, India

Below is a letter from Ramesh Jangid, addressed to people going on our tour to Rajasthan in India. Ramesh lives in the small town of Nawalgarh in Rajasthan. His letter is a good one and it contains a message for you, for Läs och Res participants and for anybody considering a tour to India. All participants on his tours were given this letter as well as all tourleaders. He put demands on people on his tours. Something that is taboo in travel trade! Ramesh was a proud and strong-willed man. Accordingly he was not liked by everybody, but I did.

Ramesh Jangid

Vår värdinna bakar chappati

Det kom ett mail från Ramesh Jangid, vår reseledare i delstaten Rajasthan i västra Indien, och bosatt i den lilla staden Nawalgarh. Han bad mig vidarebefordra hans mail till de personer som snart skulle göra den resan, vilket jag med glädje gjorde. Alla reseledare fick läsa hans brev. Jag gillar hans sätt att ställa krav på deltagarna. Något som är tabu i resebranschen. Hans mail innehåller ett budskap, inte bara till de som skulle resa med honom, utan till alla som funderar på en resa i Indien, faktiskt till alla som reser i en främmande kultur!  Ramesh var en stolt och viljestark man, alla gillade honom inte, men det gjorde jag.

Dear Participant,

Rather soon, I will be your tour leader in India. I am proud to get the opportunity to show you my country and introduce you to our culture. However, I would like you to prepare yourself in order to be able to follow some basic ”rules”.

First of all, I do hope you realise that you will not get the same comfort as you are used to at home. If you think that you will miss your friends and your home too much, I don’t think it’s right to go – you won’t feel well and you won’t gain very much during the trip.

From what you have learned through TV and newspapers, you have probably created a picture of my country and its people. I would like to recommend you to be as neutral as possible when you visit our country. Try to omit prejudices and discover our country yourself, with your own eyes!

Please remember that you are coming as our guest. Behave in my country as you would like foreign tourists to behave in your own country – ”do in Rome as the Romans do”. Our way of living has developed from centuries of experience according to our climate and culture. I don’t want you to dress exactly the same way as we do, but please cover your body to the same extent as our people do. We do appreciate it and we get hurt if you don’t. When staying with families, you are expected to accept the food they eat. If you are used to alcohol or drugs, you should give up these habits during the trip. If you cannot accommodate and misbehave, in the eyes of local people, you may have to leave the group and may also prevent future participants to travel this way.

Please try not to make comparisons with your own country. The service, the cleanliness, the standard of living, the time discipline, etc, will differ from what you are used to. Anyway, why travel to another country and another culture, if it would be just like at home?! We are so different in every respect. Sometimes our traditions are difficult to understand. But there are always sound reasons behind every tradition; I am there to help you understand.

Most people in our country are not as rich and self-sufficient as you are in terms of materialism, but they have a high sense of self-respect and dignity. I don’t think it’s fair that your financial situation should put you into a superior position. I hope you won’t look down on the locals or have a negative attitude towards them.

If you take a keen interest in our culture, I am sure it will help you to achieve a richer and happier life in your own country. If you adapt to what I have mentioned above, you will be more than welcome to travel in my country together with me. And I can assure you that your tour will be successful and beneficial! Just give me the pride of being your tour leader. I am looking forward to show you my beautiful and mysterious country.

Ramesh Jangid has finished working for Läs och Res to take up some private business. Still we should read his letter. His attitude to his role as a tour leader and what he expects from the participants, I hold in high regard. I wish you to share his attitude!

The amazing story of catching a leopard inside Kirtipur Town, Kathmandu valley

by Shekar Dangol, tourleader Läs & Res

Min egen erfarenhet av leoparder är ringa. Jag har nog sett alla stora, allmänt kända djur, i Sydasien. Dock inte leopard. Så det vet jag – den är synnerligen skygg. Däremot har jag träffat en man som attackerats av leopard: Hemska riv och bitmärken och så svårt handikappad att han knappt kunde gå. Leoparden är alltså inte så sällsynt som många tror. Den finns sparsamt i skogar över hela Sydasien. Att en leopard kommit in i en stad i Kathmandudalen har inte tidigare skett. Åtminstone inte så länge någon kan minnas.

I played the main role to save a leopard from being killed by people and people being attacked by it on 8th February. I am glad that I could handle this risky business successfully through my experience from my wildlife safaris in Chitwan, Bardia and also trekking. Thank you Christian for giving me an opportunity to work with Läs och Res. If I had not been there, there would surely have been a serious accident.

A female leopard about 55 kg strayed into densely populated Kirtipur market and was hiding under the staircase outside a house, just 50 meters above Nayabazaar, the busiest market of Kirtipur, after being chased and stones pelted by some locals. It may have come from the nearby forest to take stray dogs from streets.

As soon as I heard the news I rushed to the site about 7:45 am, thinking that the leopard must be saved and there should be no human casualties as well.  When I reached the spot, a group of excited people outside the house and a small team of police force were present. They did not know what to do. The terraces, balconies, and windows of neighboring houses were filled with people making noise. As soon as reached the spot I told the police to move away people from the site and keep them at a certain distance. I talked to the owner of house not to panic and offered a help to entrap the leopard. He let me into his house. I also introduced myself to police and told what I do as my profession. They believed me and let me handle the case.

I observed the situation and thought of trapping it in one of the rooms inside the house. We tied a rope to a door thinking that we would pull it when it would enter the targeted room. We also kept open the door of the toilet beside the staircases outside the house thinking that it could also be trapped there. We waited and waited, the owner of the house pelted some stones from upstairs, I stopped him to do so and told him to be patient and quiet. However there was lot of noise from the surrounding. Because the leopard was scared and hiding quietly, it made me think that it was probably already gone or waiting for dusk to sneak away.

I told two locals to stay with me to help. I opened the door of the house to check the leopard hiding under the staircases just 1.5 m away outside the back door. I could not see it, but I didn’t go out the stairs to check because of high risk. However, one of the locals did it even though I told him it was too risky. He did it very quickly and found that it was still there.

Finally, I thought of another idea to trap the leopard. Because the cement made staircase was open only from one side, I thought of blocking the hole with a big and strong plywood. We made the plywood ready and informed the police we were ready to do it, but the police in charge didn’t let us do it. The authorities of the in zoo Patan were already informed before I reached the scene. They had left their office but were caught in traffic jam. They arrived three hours later and started to get the tranquilizer dart ready which took another half an hour.  The leopard was still in the same little dark hiding place,despite that the mass of people was close. Maybe 300 persons.  They could not shoot the dart as it was well hidden except showing its tail a few times.

Finally, I convinced the senior veterinary technician, the head of the rescue team to block the staircase with plywood. I told them no more time should be wasted as it might run away and create havoc in the crowd of people outside. They agreed. I told them that four persons would do the job; me, two locals, and a police. I instructed them how exactly we had to execute the job of trapping as it was risky. We all put on motorbike helmets and one of the team members from the zoo was ready with a thick blanket to cover the leopard just in case the beast attacked.

I opened the door, took the plywood slowly without dragging it on to the stairs and dropped it swiftly beside the hole while the three assistants immediately followed me and kept pushing the plywood from the sides of three corners. That was it! The job was successfully done in 5 seconds! The plywood was drilled to make two small holes, one for torch light and another for darting. After two darts the leopard was sent to the zoo in Patan. The leopard was displayed about one minute to the massive crowd curiously waiting outside the house to see it. According to the zoo authority it would be released to Bardia or Langtang national parks after custody in the zoo for a few months. As a reward, I have got a lifelong free entrance to the zoo in Patan. I will go there soon to see my new friend!

Here is the link of the video made outside the house after it was darted.