No, you’re not, Nandankanan
Of course, you know that the Nandankanan Zoo in Bhubaneswar is the home of the white tiger. And of course you’re wrong. What if I tell you that that honour squarely belongs to the Van Vihar zoo in Bhopal? Johnny-come-lately Nandankanan may have stolen a march over Bhopal in breeding albinos, but I’ll have you know that the white tiger, a variant of the Royal Bengal Tiger, was first found in the forests of Rewa in Madhya Pradesh.
Whites are also found in nature in Bengal and Assam, but Rewa still has the highest numbers of white tigers till date. Around the Van Vihar in Bhopal, where the white tiger enclosure lies at the far end of the Salim Ali Road - yes, named after the great bird man - it’s common to see zoo officials put their long aquiline noses up in the air when a bright spark pipes up and asks if the white tigers were brought from Nandankanan.
Go ahead, wave frantically
The worry at Van Vihar is that the snakes and visitors were getting too familiar with each other. It’s common to see visitors, particularly testosterone-high male youngsters, get too close to the reptiles. Conversely there have been occasions when the reptiles slithered through the grills, which had holes the size of legal loopholes.
So now, upon prodding by the Central Zoo Authority the Van Vihar National Park has decided to close three snake pits and shift the reptiles to glass enclosures, which are being fortified better. So, Mr Testosterone, soon the pythons can see you making faces them but won’t be able to throw a stone at them.
Bhopal wishes Tragedy King Dilip Kumar good health
Big Bs, SRK and other alphabets may come and go, but Dilip Kumar is still the king of hearts in Bhopal. Last Sunday, the city’s best singers came together at Samanvay Bhavan for a concert featuring 30 songs from the legend’s long repertoire of films.
The soiree titled Sham-e-Dilip was organised not by a flashy impresario but by a cricket academy of all things. And it was a sellout. One got to hear full-throated renditions of ‘Jhoom jhoomke nacho aur gao khushi ke geet re’ from Andaz, and ‘Mujhe duniya wale sharabi na samjho’ from Leader. It was meant to be a get well soon concert for the Tragedy King, and you could see dowagers wipe a tear when they got to Aye mere dil kahin aur chal.
Why ain’t they like the cheeks of Hema Malini?
Isn’t it ironic that our mayor, Alok Sharma, has been fending off criticism about the bad roads of Bhopal even as the state’s chief minister has been extolling their virtues to audiences in Washington. Days after Shivraj Chouhan turned his nose up at the roads in Washington, a barrage of barracking was directed at the Bhopal Municipal Corporation because the city’s roads are not up to the CM’s standards.
Alok Sharma thinks it is because a multiplicity of agencies are responsible for road maintenance and that should stop. The BJP man wants one agency to manage all the roads in the MP capital. Sharma made no secret of his displeasure that the Capital Projects Administration (CPA) keeps vigil on roads in VIP localities only, not where you and I live.
The author is the correspondent of the New Indian Express in Madhya Pradesh.