I live at Hyderabad but this is not Hyderabad main city. This is the township of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited in which I live with my family in the residential quarter allotted to me by the organization (because I am employed with it). Just opposite to our line (of residential blocks), there is a jungle controlled by the Forest Department of the government and it is called Urban Forestry (title given – Shashank Vanam). Some employees of the Forest Department (I don’t know whether they live nearby or not) visit it from time to time but mostly it remains deserted. Whenever there is rainfall, it gets greenish and whenever there is lack of rain and too much heart, it gets studded with dry leaves, bushes, thorns and broken branches of the trees. I, being a solitude-lover, keep on wandering in it, sometimes with tea which I consume there enjoying the calmness prevailing. After rainfall, when there is too much greenery there, my whole family moves inside it with some tea / coffee and snacks and we enjoy the beauty of the nature at some appropriate place (after rainfall, there are many beautiful spots found inside). There is a negative aspect also of this location of my residence as during the rainy season, poisonous insects keep on roaming on the road and we have to be cautious while treading it. However these small picnics at a place which is within walkable distance from our residence are a source of joy given to us by fate free-of-cost.
During Winter, there is a different kind of enjoyment for us in the jungle. We tried it for the first time on 24.12.2010 on the Christmas eve. Since we were celebrating the Christmas at our residence itself, we decided to have a campfire in the jungle. Never in our life, had we done any campfire (neither me nor my wife nor my children) and that’s why when we tried to create a fire in the small pyre of wooden pieces, it was not lit properly. I even soaked certain pieces in petrol and then lit them but as soon the impact of the petrol was over, the fire extinguished automatically. Finally, we left hope in this regard and went back to our homes, after consuming the snacks and tea brought by us to enjoy with the campfire.After one year, when another Christmas was approaching (in 2011), I decided to take a clue from the previous year’s failure and started preparing a good pyre weeks before the Christmas eve, I arranged very slender and very dry broken tree branches, very dry skins of certain trees (which had come off the trees on their own), heaps of dry leaves, heaps of dry grass, certain abandoned pieces of packing materials, many old and abandoned newspapers etc and finally made a good pyre by the time to enjoy the campfire came. I convinced my family members (especially my wife) that this time, we will lit a good fire and we approached the place with tea and snacks. The pyre got lighted up immediately just by applying a lit matchstick to it and then we started dancing and singing around the fire (and enjoying the food and tea brought with us). Now came the twist in this tale featuring my family and the jungle.Suddenly some people of CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) alongwith some local policemen entered the jungle in a jeep and inquired in a strict manner as to what was going on and who we were (they had seen the flames from distance). No sooner did I start furnishing my explanation to them, one of the CISF person recognized me (being a Finance official, I am known to many) and then asserted, ‘Arre Saahab, it’s you ! The trees may catch fire Saahab. Please put the fire out.’ I also recognized him and replied, ‘Don’t worry. We’re just enjoying for a little while. When leaving this place, we will put the fire out, believe me.’ They believed and left. Thereafter we were also in no mood to continue with our Christmas eve celebration and within a few minutes, we also left, using our water bottles to put out the fire whatever of it was left by that moment. Thereafter my wife and children laughed a lot, saying that our campfire did not last for even half an hour.But the next year (2012), I again prepared a pyre in the same fashion well before the Christmas but this time, taking a lesson from the preceding year’s experience, I set the pyre quite away from the entrance point of the jungle and when we (wife and children) reached there with an emergency-light with us (in addition to whatever we always bring for enjoying the campfire), I lighted up the pyre and then asked my children to dance (on the foot-tapping songs being played on the mobile phone) until someone might arrive at that place to interrupt the enjoyment just like the previous year. However this time, the campfire being quite distant from the entrance and the main road, nobody noticed it and we enjoyed non-stop for around 75 minutes.
And this joyful campfire of my family continued in the succeeding years too on every Christmas eve. Whenever 24th December arrives, we love to repeat it.
I have spent a lot of money on different family outings but I have found the free-of-cost small joys like these as superior to the pleasure gained through them.