T1 Travelogue: Hyderabad Run and Tadoba Tiger Reserve
I am a traveller at heart. But I have barely travelled long distance post my diagnosis. It’s true that everything looks intimidating after diagnosis - you may never know what can possibly go wrong and whether you would be able to manage the situation on your own. Despite this, you have to overcome your fears someday as life goes on, and you have to keep up with its pace. One fine morning when Nupur asked the Club 1 Crew members if we would like to join her for a run with T1Ds in Hyderabad, I was skeptical about travelling more than 1500 km in just 3 days during the hot summers of Central India. But hey, there’s never been a better time, and with the company of Ninja T1s in the group, I need not to worry! The itinerary looked more interesting when the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve trip was added.
After long group chats on WhatsApp and a few conference calls, we settled for an itinerary that suited everyone. Thanks to Nupur, Chinmay and Sagar for planning everything meticulously! I couldn’t contain my excitement about this sort of an impromptu trip as I had never been to Hyderabad before, and a safari at Tadoba has always been on my list of places to go. A day before the trip, Mini and I went snacks shopping, just in case we don’t like the food provided on the train. 8 people, 3 days journey, and ~5 kg of snacks!
Isn’t it better to be over-prepared than under-prepared?
Finally, the day of the trip arrived! All of us were wide awake at dawn just to catch the train on time. To our disappointment, the train was late by an hour and a half. But there’s never a single dull moment when you have great company of the most entertaining guys - Sagar, Mihil and Shekhar! They really made that wait a little less boring until the train arrived! We all had fun chit-chatting with each other, taking tonnes of pictures (Thank you, Super Mini! We all now have the DP stock of the year!) and of course, binge eating the moong dal and the flavored peanuts!
We were graciously welcomed by Nalini aunty and Ramesh uncle as soon as we landed in Hyderabad. Their daughter Dhishana Kidambi - a T1 in her early twenties, founded a support group in Hyderabad called Sweet Souls to connect the families of T1s so that they can grow stronger together while living with T1D. The duo has such positive vibes and enthusiasm; we never felt that we were meeting them for the first time in our lives! They were so kind as to drop us off to our hotel, and insisted we stay at their home the next time we visit Hyderabad. Nalini aunty surprised us with her extraordinary culinary skills - home cooked low carb mooli parathas, bhindi, paneer sabji, salad, and buttermilk with masala (including the tableware and cutlery - so thoughtful of her!). The paneer sabji was the most delicious one; Nalini aunty, recipe, please!
In the evening, we met our other T1 friends from across India - Chhavi from Delhi, Prashanth from Chennai, Shakeer from Bangalore (T1 before his pancreatic transplant) for dinner. We woke up early next morning for the run and walked towards Sanjeevaiah Park which was just a few blocks away from our hotel. At the park, T1s already started gathering. I was glad to finally meet Lakshminarayana who reached the park first. Our beloved Lakshmi is not only a T1 (since the last 5 years) but also visually challenged since birth. He had to leave his home by midnight, and change two locals to reach before time.
He gave me serious goals of commitment and a positive outlook towards life. Thank you, Lakshmi!
We had a brief introduction followed by a heartfelt welcome with jasmine garlands for all of us. Nupur then took a quick warm-up session and the run began. It was no more than 5 km and quite easy, but I didn’t run because I was in hypo. After treating my hypo, I started walking with Priyanka - a T1 my age who is an entrepreneur.
Talking to her made me realize that I am not alone in this journey with T1. There exist hundreds of people my age who are in a similar situation.
A low carb breakfast was waiting for us after the run. I must admit that Hyderabad is a city of not just pearls but also home chefs. Apart from Nalini aunty, many parents bought their home cooked low carb snacks and goodies for us. Chocolates and mini samosas by Sunil, cupcakes by Sirisha, Doodhi Khichdi by Falguni Aunty and more treats by Rabia were mouthwatering! They demonstrated that low carb food does not necessarily have to be tasteless and boring. I had a deep conversation with Sunil regarding my misdiagnosis, not opting for a pump and choosing low carb lifestyle while having my breakfast. I struggle to find low carb meal options as I am a vegetarian, but talking to Sunil gave me many ideas to incorporate low carb foods in my diet. I also talked to Rabia and Sirisha who are supermoms and low carb ninja chefs. I loved how they are passionate about spreading their recipes through WhatsApp groups and Instagram pages.
The run concluded with appreciation speeches from parents and doctors from Sweet Souls and Club 1 Diabetes. Ramana, a parent to newly diagnosed Lolly played melodious songs on his harmonica, and added more sweetness to the event. The group dispersed after taking a group picture and fond memories with them. We rushed to our hotel as we had a train to Ballarpur, a railway junction close to Tadoba. We all were exhausted; but our super Nupur was not! She managed to publish her blog from the train with poor internet connectivity. Hats off to her commitment towards work! As we reached in the evening, an SUV was waiting for us to take us to Chinmay’s house at Ballarpur and our hotel at Chandrapur and Tadoba the next morning. We were warmly welcomed by Chinmay’s parents, elder sister Rasika and her super cute son, Shreemay. Rasika made delicious Pavbhaji and Paneer Tikka for us. She also gifted us handmade souvenirs. We all were touched by their gestures.
We then headed to our hotel at Chandrapur which was 20 km from Ballarpur and 35 km from Tadoba. The hotel had a great display of breathtaking pictures of the wildlife at Tadoba. I couldn’t contain my excitement to experience the serenity at Tadoba as I roamed across the halls of the hotel. We quickly freshened up, and walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner of Chinmay’s recommendation; he has nostalgic memories of this restaurant from his graduation days. Let me tell you guys, I am a big fan of papad and chutneys. So I ordered masala papad with cheese (something I ate for the first time). Unlike other restaurants, this dish was served with green chutney. I assumed it to be the regular mint and green chili chutney, but it tasted different. It was very creamy, definitely not the curd kind of creamy. It was just too appetizing not to eat more. Curiously, I inquired about its ingredients as I wanted that kind of creamy texture and the taste to my version of mint chutney too. Can you guess the ingredients? It had boiled potatoes and grilled eggplant. Absolutely unbelievable! No wonder it tasted so creamy and good (oh, the carbs)! It took a toll on my carb guessing, which is okay once in a while as long as you keep an eye on your BG trend and take a required correction shot, you are doing well.
Lesson learned; always ask for the ingredients before placing your order at any restaurant!
After sleeping for a decent 5 hours, we got ready to go to Tadoba at 5 am. I could feel the tranquility on our way to Tadoba; that cold breeze, humming birds, warm sunlight, pure oxygen and the sound of a jungle - an amazing feeling difficult to put in words! Our safari was supposed to start by 6:30 am. It got delayed as we realized that mobile phones are prohibited in the jungle. We needed to have our phones for scanning our Libre Pro Sensors to check our BG. We ran to the Forest Officer’s office to convince her to make an exception for us on medical grounds. It was the first scenario of its kind for her too. Fortunately, I was carrying my doctor’s certificate which stated that I am T1D. The officer then made a few calls, took a picture of my certificate and asked me to write an undertaking. Meanwhile, her supervisor visited her office. The gentleman mocked us and said that we are making a big deal of our “diabetes/sugar” (talk about myths and annoying things) for no reason (T2 spotted!). He told us that he was once insulin dependent; now he follows naturopathy, and is doing fine without insulin. I wanted to correct him so badly; but we didn’t have time, and we absolutely couldn’t afford to be kicked out of Tadoba for violating Government rules. Thankfully after giving us a brief lecture, he granted us permission to use our mobile phones only when it’s absolutely necessary to check sugars. Finally, our safari started!
As we hopped on our open bus, we were instructed by our guides about how to behave in the jungle. We spotted wild dogs, an alpha gaur, sambar and herds of deers on our way to the water reservoir where the dominant tiger of that area, Matkasur usually visits to drink water and take a bath. He was spotted by another group of visitors a few minutes ago; so all of the jeeps and buses gathered near that pond to catch a glimpse of Matkasur. But he was not in the mood to show up anywhere near the area. After waiting for nearly half an hour, we had to leave as the safari was about to end. I was still hoping to spot the dominant tigress of that area, Maya with her cubs or Matkasur's son with another tigress and his now rival Chhota Matka; but none of them were not in the mood of showing up either.
So my fantasy of witnessing a streak of tigers (who remembers the scene from the movie Kaal?) remained a fantasy!
It was the only safari we had booked; so we were a bit upset because of the tigers' no show. But we enjoyed the overall jungle experience. After all, how healthy it is to inhale pure oxygen for a change! By the time our safari ended, it started to become extremely hot, and I couldn’t realize I was in a hypo (thanks to sweating that had misled me before). On top of that, my Glimp app gave me a hard time scanning my sensor. Thankfully, I was carrying my glucometer (always carry a backup of all of your T1 supplies whenever you are traveling), and I was with my diabuddies who knew exactly how to help me in such a scenario. We then left for Nagpur to board the train to Pune with unforgettable memories.
This trip has taught me many lessons about managing my T1 during long travels - carrying backups, making correct food choices and most importantly staying calm during hypos and hypers.
I experienced the enormous power of a strong knit community that isn’t based on religion, language, or economic status.
We are often engrossed in our own little world, and keep worrying about trivial things. But we fail to realize the rest of the world might be feeling the same way we do. It was truly my moment of sonder! My main attraction was seeing at least one tiger in the wild from a close distance when I decided to go for this trip. I was focusing on the “destination”. But this trip taught me that it’s the “journey” that is more important than the “destination”. In life, once you reach your destination, you might not feel as ecstatic as you expected you would feel. But once if you start concentrating on the journey, and enjoy it with its twists and turns, you will be surprised how much happiness it can bring to you.
I hope to go on many more journeys like this, and to cherish the friendships, deep and candid conversations and lessons it may bring to my life.