Ram Charan growing up in the wilderness? Yes, he is. It was a sweet surprise that a kid, who lives in the interior wilderness of Telangana, is called Ram Charan. His friends are Haasini and Sanvik.
It was parents’ exposure to movies that made them give their kids modern-sounding or actors’ names. However, they live so deep in the interiors of Telangana forests that we had to drive for an hour off of the nearest tar road, on a bumpy, unpaved mud path to get to them.
While city kids of his age manage to fiddle with electronic gadgets, Ram Charan was busy in competing with his friends, easily manoeuvring an old tyre. These are in Pochapur – a Koya hamlet in the Lingala range of Eturunagaram Wildlife Sanctuary that I happened to visit as part of a wildlife census programme for the Telangana Forest Department.
I also met a Koya gentleman trying to respond in bits of English. Equipped with a BEd degree, he teaches Telugu at the Eturunagaram High School and said all the kids of the village go to some school or the other in the nearby bigger villages. And then, we met Rajeswari, a class III student born into a Guthi Koya family in a nearby tribal settlement near the Kodisala village.
While modern technology, electricity, water and other basic amenities aren’t really accessible to them, they did appear like a happy lot. On my way back to the city and my life, I kept thinking about the kids, how glad I was to see everyone of them going to school, as well as the stark contrast of their life to mine. I remembered my favorite verse “Sreyobhuyatsakalajananam”, meaning “let grace and happiness abound for all mankind”.