Quirks of Army


The Mighty Maharaj

The army cantonments are always situated on the outskirts of a town or city due to which the people living in it are close to wilderness and hence experience incidents related to various animals like snakes, monitor lizards, jackals, boars, bears, elephants and also wolves and leopards. Before marriage, living in Pune, I had not experienced such animal encounters. But soon after getting married, I had to deal with these animals of which some were actually scary incidences and some not so scary but at that time, since I was not ready for it, I was very scared.

Since my first year of marriage snakes big and small, black and green have visited my house, then I could be staying on the first floor or even ground. In one of the postings I came to know that there were too many snakes and scorpions around, so we decided to take the first floor accommodation but even there a snake visited my abode and out of all the family members, I saw it first. (a black snake was living inside the bathroom , in between the wash basin and wall from quite a few days.) 

But today I am going to narrate an incidence of the big mammal, elephant. I stayed for a few months alone in Siliguri, after that I shifted to Gangtok, when my husband’s unit came there after their high altitude tenure. While in Siliguri, I came to know that the people living there face a big elephant menace. The local people never called it ‘hathi’ but Maharaj’ was it called. At that time the Siliguri cantonment was quite small and there was a nice, long, quiet road just outside the cantonment. But I hardly saw any ladies taking a walk on that road and wondered why nobody went there for evening walks. Then one evening I understood the reason well. I and one of my friends who was also a young officer wife decided to venture out of the cantonment, and take a walk on the adjoining road, towards there unit mess which was at the end of the road. After about fifteen minutes of walk on the road, which had cantonment walls on one side and dense forest on other we reached the mess. There was kind of a commotion going on in the mess. My friend asked the reason before entering the main door, that why is everyone so excited. Then the Mess Havaldar told, a Maharaj had given a rough visit to the mess. The mess which was made of make shift material like tin and wood was in dilapidated shape. The kitchen wall and door was broken by Maharaj, he had eaten whatever his long snout could manage and then, Maharaj ji had proceeded towards the unit baniya’s shop and ate all the sweets. We both were shocked and surprised at the same time. Then I managed to ask the Mess Havaldar, that what is the route that the elephant, err I mean Maharaj had taken and found out that he always comes right from the forest across the main road.

We both looked at each other and did a ‘Piche mud, tej chal’ and rushed back home, promising ourselves to never go for a walk on the road where Maharaj walks.

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