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Unsung Hero of Ranthambhore

Driving on Ranthambhore Safari Tracks, there is every possibility of you hearing this statement ” Che Mahine Ho Gaye Tiger Dekhe Hue” ( it’s been six months since I saw the last tiger) & you could have multiple reactions to this statement – surprised – if you are a first time visitor & wonder how everyone keeps talking about easy sightings, shocked & angry- if you have left your sense of humour back home & smiley- if you know that person making this statement would have seen his last tiger probably few seconds back.

Anticipating Tiger movement…

Wearing a loose cheque shirt with folded sleeves & his trademark polo cap he can be seen driving a gypsy or cantor inside the park every day for the last 25 years. While his looks could be deceptive & his sense of humour could be sometimes difficult to handle, people who happen to know him would do anything to go with him on a jungle safari, something which the current roaster system in the park makes difficult. His fan list is huge & ever-increasing, so much so that you might have to wait for a year to go on safari with him but would still be glad to do so.

Safari with him in the forest is not about sighting a tiger only, it’s about the whole experience you have with him. The passion he has for Ranthambhore & his work is just commendable, mentioning a few of them here:

     Jungle every day for the last 25 years -without signs of boredom or lack of enthusiasm. Each day is like the first day in the park for him.
     Amazing knowledge of jungle, routes, flora & fauna which is third best post legendary Fateh Singh Ji & Machli II.
    Willingness to share this with tourists accompanying him on safari.
    Kamakazi style driving to ensure that he is at the right spot at the right time, fast but never reckless.
    An instant hit with every type of tourist- amateur visitors, ace photographers, families, students, celebrities, and travel companies, this man surely has something or the other to keep everyone in good taste.
    A die-hard Ranthambhore fan, he cannot stand his home being portrayed as second best to any other park in India, something I keep testing time & again.
    He probably is the only driver in the park who would never expect/ask for a tip. Giving him tip would be quite a task in itself.
    While some call it a wrong thing but I call it a wrong thing for the right cause- Breaking rules in the park, he would not break rules in the park to get an extra tip or favour from guests. He would only break rules to ensure visiting school kids do see a tiger, guests do not go back from Ranthambhore without seeing a tiger. Asked him why & he says” Log meri shakeel dekhne thode hi itne paise khirch kar ke aate hain?? (People do not spend so much money & come to Ranthambhore to see my face, do they?? They come to see tigers & that’s what I ensure). On a serious note, he wants all his guests to go back with happy memories of Ranthambhore & come again.
    He is the only driver I have seen picking up plastic bags & litter thrown by rowdy tourists inside the park everyday religiously.
    Personally speaking, he is my mentor, guide & great friend. Tigerwalah would not have been possible without his support.

Old Friends: Rahees Bhai & Machli
He is none other than our own Rahees Alam or Rahees Bhai aka R1 as he is popularly called. Owners of the biggest fleet of Safari vehicles at Ranthambhore, his family’s association with Ranthambhore was courtesy of legendary Fateh Singh Ji. His elder brother was Fateh Singh Ji’s driver at Sariska & he encouraged the family to buy a jeep & take people on safari way back in the 1980s.
While I can go on & on writing about him & some fantastic experiences with him, something I would love to do anyway, I have compiled a list of testimonials about him from people who are his raving fans. Sharing some of these here…in case I have missed out or you wish to share your experience (Rais moment) with us, please feel free to comment on this blog post.
Testimonials:
Rais Bhai – our dear brother from Ranthambhore. One of the most passionate, hard-working and knowledgeable people in the wild – most of our rarest sightings and best pictures are courtesy of him… His energy and tireless enthusiasm are at another level – am sure the world will agree…!
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Raeez Bhai makes Ranthambhore an exciting experience. I can never forget the dinner we had [ courtesy of him] one moonlit night.
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Tigers at the drop of a hat.
Birds are spotted and identified with the third eye.
The I’m-gonna-die-now cross-country experience.
Dal baati and laal maas.
Long live Raeez Bhai
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Ranthambore must be seen with Rais bhai. He knows his tigers as well as a mother knows her kids. The daal-bati and mutton are unforgettable.
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Agreed. Pictures with him should be in your travel scrapbooks.

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Rais bhai… this man has the eyes of an eagle and a heart of a tiger.

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Written by Dr Dharmendra Khandal

1. He is the person who collects litter thrown by tourists from the park.
2. He is the driver who understands small birds and helps in spotting tourists, while 90% of drivers and 100% of guides ignore them and fail in the job.
3. he is one person who never asks you for tips…… the only driver in Ranthambhore.
4. He is one person who enchants the experience of tourists who get fed up with the same route.
5. he is the person who is vocal against any wrong happenings in the park. and it is a rare trait of a tourism person.
Many drivers are breaking the rules for making money but Rahis breaks them to give the tourist an experience. while many Biggies manipulate the route etc……………. he is ASSET of Ranthambhore…

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Rais Bhai, another person who is responsible for my passion towards wildlife! I first went on a safari with him when I was a little kid, every ride with him is still etched deeply in my mind! He is a person who would make sure that small kids and students end up seeing the tiger along with everything else when they visit Ranthambore…. he is not only an asset to Ranthambore but an asset to conservation too!
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One of the best drivers there and very knowledgeable too
 
 Rahis zindabad!

Soonoo Taraporewala
 
Shardul Bajikar

Rais is a real genuine character, by far the best person you can find in the guide and driver community and as a person he is amongst the best.
 
Rais Bhai is One of the best drivers there and very knowledgeable too
 
The list is endless & testimonials countless…probably the space is too less…
 
Thank you Rais Bhai for making our Ranthambhore visits an enchanting experience….

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