Tiger Pataudi turned tail
Just a year back, cricketing legend and icon of the erstwhile nobility, Nawab Mansur Ali Khan Tiger Pataudi joined his peers in the happy hunting grounds. Known for his courage and quicksilver movements on the field at Lords, Pataudi’s exploits in the jungles were of a somewhat different order. Out hunting with his nephew Saad Bin Jung in the jungles on the Nepal border, the Nawab was actually caught with his pants down. In his book, ‘Wild Tales from the Wild’, Jung recalls when his favourite ‘Mamoo’ was answering the call of the nature in the tiger-infested jungle. The Nawab ordered Jung to stand guard nearby with a gun as he hung his trousers from a tree and settled down with a sigh to relieve his pressing bowels. A tiger alarm was sounded just then and Pataudi was off like a flash, abandoning his trousers. Pataudi made a dash for the jeep, 60 yards away, and dived in. What a catch! In November 1998, Pataudi and his better half courted controversy when they let fly at migratory birds at Hokera sanctuary in Kashmir. The large shooting party, guests of the then CM Farooq Abdullah, shot 160 waterfowl over two days, the bulk being drab, slow-flying and uneatable Common coots! I personally recall Pataudi and Jung from a duck shoot in Haryana in 1985 winter with India’s then top skeet shooter, Harinder ‘Baba’ Bedi. Pataudi refused to wade into the water to get close to the ducks and preferred to fire from the comfort of the car bonnet even as most of us went into deep water. Pataudi, ever the dapper fellow, was well equipped with a priceless, royally engraved English double-barrel shotgun, custom-built with a curved butt to suit Pataudi’s one-eyed mien. But as ducks whizzed by and Pataudi missed them with his poor shooting, an exasperated Jung memorably snatched Pataudi’s gun and brought down two Pintail ducks in a jiffy! Pataudi’s last known escapade in the wild was most unchivalrous. In June 2005, Pataudi was arrested and charged with poaching a female black buck and two Black-naped hares in Jhajjar, Haryana. Apart from the criminal offence, it was unsportsman-like to shoot animals in breeding season and that, too, with searchlights at night from a Maruti Gypsy.
(The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)