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Komal Panwar

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This Couple BCCed Their Resignation Mails To Each Other Before Starting A Life Amidst Elephants

  • IWB Post
  •  February 13, 2018


Not every person dreams to flow with the fast-paced madness. Many like the gush of the wind to brush past their hair, while they sit back and experience life.
For them, life is not a ball of stress, but a ball of infinite energy that they roll in, daily. Meet Shweta Govind and Govind Gorur, the couple for whom life could be best enjoyed around nature.

One day, Shweta and Govind quit their jobs to find the ball of energy and happiness.

Give us a peek into the fast-paced madness you faced every day.

Well, to be quite frank, there was never a time of “fast-paced madness” in our lives; because we chose it to be so slow paced. Let me explain. While most people think it as a (read life’s) mission to be “professionally successful,” we looked at it as a means to keep our minds and bodies occupied with doing something useful and, in turn, earn a living by “Living” and not “Existing.”

Both of us had made this distinction quite clear to ourselves even before we met, meaning that both of us had the same attitude and outlook towards our careers since the beginning. It only got better endorsed once we were together as one. Therefore, we never worked our bodies or souls off, burning the night oil to get a promotion/higher salary/best employee awards, etc. We both loved our time with each other during weekends, evenings, mornings and every other time we could squeeze out from our “slow paced jobs” and these times were sacrosanct. No boss, no “urgent” meeting could “urge” us from breaking our weekend. Having said this, after so many years in IT, we did manage to earn 1.2 lakhs per month put together at the time of our marriage. The only thing was that there was a sense of emptiness or purposelessness in life, and we were searching for it, both before and after we met.

What made you impulsively quit your jobs?

Now that you know our attitude to duty, you can see for yourself that it was neither difficult nor impulsive. The decision to not continue with our respective jobs for life was already in existence, and the only due decision was the “when.” That moment came when I was chatting with my “boyfriend/fiancé,” Govind. As usual, the discussion veered towards how hollow our lives had become, we discussed the need to do something, etc., and so I just said: “Are you going to only crib about these things or are you going to actually do something about it”?

“What do you want me to do; we are 2 months away from marriage”.

“I don’t know, but you have always told me that you want to live Billy’s life, but that is impossible to achieve in Bangalore.” Suddenly, I don’t know what happened to him, but I got his resignation mail BCCed to me.

“Hello, what did you just do”?

“Well, you wanted me to do something about it, and so, I did. We will only be able to do something when we don’t have the comfort of our jobs.”

Minutes later he got my resignation in BCC.

“Oye, what did you do?”

“You’ll live in a pristine paradise, and I have to rot in B’lore? How mean!”

“Fair enough! Let’s get started on our honeymoon”.

How did you manage your expenses after quitting your jobs?

I was searching the internet and one day about 20 days later, I found a website of Tiger Haven Society, and they wanted a manager. He applied and got the job, I mean to live Billy’s life, in Billy’s own bungalow right in the Dudhwa National Park and be paid for it (though only a fraction of our earnings) what more one could ask for, it was like a dream. How much can you spend in an all taken care jungle retreat?img_2 (2)

How was EleFriends 101 born?

I am sorry I can’t answer that question right now. But just to make it clear, we didn’t start it, Dr. Supraja Dharini did. We just work here and take care of the eles, Govind as Manager and I as Positive reinforcement coordinator.

Paint us a word picture of your first visit to the Dudhwa National Park.

Like I have already said it was like a dream. He had gone ahead of me, 3 months ahead actually, and in winter, so his experience was much better than mine. I reached there in peak summer, and it was burning, but nonetheless, it still was paradise. Even though he had taken pictures of how the jeep enters Tiger Haven and all, yet, when our car turned from the main road into the tall elephant grass, my heart skipped a beat. I suddenly found myself going into a safari only this time to live in it.

Words aren’t enough to describe what I felt. Picture this, lush green country giving way to tall green elephant grass, a river with crocs basking in the sun, tall Sal and teak trees looming in the background like sentinels hiding know not what mesmerizing secrets and you not knowing what to expect. Where will we go? When will we enter the jungle? Then all of a sudden the car slows down and slowly turns into the tall grass, you could hardly see what’s in front of you an elephant, a deer or a tiger even? Going through that jungle route was probably one of the most exciting things that ever happened to me. It was fifteen minutes later when the car came to a halt. We reached the home of the legendary Billy Arjan Singh, and I was going to live in it. Sorry words fail me beyond this.

Tell us about your first experience with the elephants.

This was little less dramatic, having lived with wild elephants in our backyard at Dudhwa National Park. So it was a very natural transition that it was going to be more of an everyday affair. Anyway, he is the one who handles them, and I am the Positive reinforcement coordinator for the center.

Do they really need human care, or are they good to survive by themselves?

Yes, of course. They are captive elephants so they have to depend on us. But if you want to know if a captive elephant can survive in the wild on its own if released, it’s a thing that has never been experimented or done before but my husband’s belief is that elephants don’t need us to teach them what, where, and how to eat, but they need to be monitored just so that they don’t come near the human settlements and get captured again.

What did you learn about them over time?

That animal, and especially them, are the only ones who are truly compassionate with not just themselves but intra-species, too.

Elephants are noble, strong and mighty animals. Remember how in The Jungle Book, everyone bowed down to them? What was one bow down moment for you?

Despite being inflicted with such incalculable miseries by my species, they still found the discretion and compassion to know and include us as their benefactors with the very 1st touch. Tears well up in our eyes, every time we think of their superhuman nature.

How has the direction of your conversations shifted (from when you were in corporate jobs to now)?

Hahahaha… a very complicated question. Like I said we never liked our corporate jobs to ever discuss it. Again, it’s a status quo. We still discuss history, geography, geopolitics, blind destruction of the earth by us, added to the above presently the eles and their welfare, our minuscule POA in future to conserve what is left of the earth, just like any other normal person.

img_1 (2)

How do you meet your daily expenditures?

We do get paid through the NGO, and yeah it is really low, but we thankfully never had humungous requirements either. We still go out and eat pizzas (and Pondicherry has some fantastic ones) once in a while, movie, shop (only what’s required), go to places like Africa, go on treks to the Himalayas at least twice a year for 15 days each. The only thing to remember is to do what is important. Being trekkers, we have learned to live simply. Whenever we are out touring except our destination nothing is planned. This was the case even when we were in IT, too. We take simple accommodations sometimes tents, we eat in the most delicious of places (shacks) and remember to have a blast of a time.

We figured that we can happily “live” with 25K. To give you an example, we went on a 33-day long honeymoon covering every nook and corner of 3 states flying between them and yet ended up spending only Rs 55,000 (54,760 to be precise) for both of us, but that story some other time.


This article was first published on November 17, 2017.

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