Chandrashekhar, who was evicted from his house for failing to repay his loan, is often visited by wild elephants and snakes are found crawling around his ‘ambassador abode’
Could you imagine yourself tucked away from society, living without any technology and apps like Tom Hanks in the famous movie Cast Away?
Well, here’s the tale of 56-year-old Chandrashekar, who has given new meaning to the word solitary, and lives in the dense forest area between the villages of Adtale and Nekkare near Aranthodu of Sullia taluk, Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka for the past 17 years.
Reaching him is tricky. One has to walk 3-4 kilometre inside the jungle and after a while, a small plastic sheet is visible which rests on bamboo poles. There stands an old white ambassador car with a very old but functional radio on its bonnet, albeit it has lost its colour and identity after all these years of forest dwelling. A lean man with strong limbs, half bald head and no shave-no haircut, two pieces of clothes and a pair of rubber slippers on him, Chandrashekar has adjusted himself to life in the wilderness.
This was not how Chandrashekhar always lived. Earlier, he owned one-and-a-half acre of farm in Nekral Kemraje village where he grew areca nut and led a peaceful life. In 2003, he took a loan of Rs 40,000 from a co-operative bank. He tried hard but couldn’t repay the loan. So the bank auctioned his farm which Chandrashekar couldn’t digest. He took off to his sister’s house in Adtale in his ambassador car. After a few days, he had a rift with sister’s family and decided to live alone. He drove away into the deep jungle and parked his favourite car there. He put a plastic sheet above to protect the car from rain and sun.
Thus, Chandrashekar has been living a solitary life from 17 years inside the car. He takes a bath in the river that flows inside the forest. He weaves baskets using dried creepers around him and sells it at a shop in Adtale village and takes rice, sugar and other groceries in return. His only wish in life is to get back his land. He has safely preserved all documents for the same.
The interiors of the car is his world and he seems content with it. He also owns a very old cycle which he uses occasionally to move to and from the nearby village. He listens to Akashvani Mangaluru station on the radio and loves old Hindi melodies.
On learning about this man’s self-imposed solitary life, a few years ago, A B Ibrahim, the district collector, visited him in his ‘ambassador abode’ and promised to get him a proper house. He even got a house built but Chandrashekar refused it saying the house was in the middle of the rubber forest and he didn’t like to live there.
Wild elephants have peeked into his tent several times. Wild boar, antelopes, leopard and bison are also very frequent. Snakes keep crawling around. But he refuses to leave the place.
He has never harmed or looted resources from the forest and hence, the forest department doesn’t have any problem of him staying there. He only takes the wild dead creepers to weave baskets. “I don’t even cut bamboos in the forest. If I cut even a small shrub, I will lose the faith that forest department has on me,” says Chandrashekar.
Chandrashekar doesn’t possess an Aadhaar car, but the Aranthod Gram Panchayath visited him and administered the COVID-19 vaccine to him.
Lockdown was a tough time for him; he survived on water and wild fruits for weeks during that time.
After leading this life for 17 long years, Chandrashekar still dreams of getting back his plot and driving home in his ambassador, which may be a tad too old and worn out for the journey.
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Meet Karnataka man who has lived out of his Ambassador car parked in the forest for 17 years – nonenglishfeed