My parents still believe that the three ‘happenings’ described in this book are a result of my overheated imagination and too much free time during the holidays. Of course they would, because events involved a crotchety-voiced Neem tree, a phantom scarlet E-type Jaguar and a lammergeier that dropped a skull with a golden tooth at my feet. But since my parents spend all their time in their precious factory and business, how would they know? The tree events described here are all related and also unrelated. Related in the sense that they all have to do with phenomena which are inexplicable, the ‘supernatural’ if you like, and which also had some strange link with my ‘progressive’, ‘alternative school. And unrelated in the sense that none of the events have anything to do with the other two. The first occurred in the cemetery next to my house, the second at the hill station of Sonekote, and the third up in the high Himalayas. They took place over a period of several years, and I like to believe I’ve grown up quite a bit since the time when Ambi, the little girl with the leopard eyes first called out to me from up on the big Neem and when I had to take care of Aarti, who had busted her ankle, while we were stranded up on a remote mountain ledge thanks to Mrs Samson’s lammergeier and other reasons (and which also led to the most embarrassing moments of my life). But which ‘adventure’ did I enjoy the most? That had to be the time when I ‘drove’ Kavita’s father’s fabulous red E-type Jaguar at breakneck speed on the narrow mountain road at Sonekote. I hope you enjoy all three of the accounts and decide on your own, whether they could or could not have happened.
Meet Anirudh. A bored, neglected youngster to whom the strangest things happen. His ‘quiet neighbours’ in Big Neem include a crotchety-voiced neem tree, the Chota Bandar gang and Ambi, a pretty ghost with leopard eyes.
Down the winding roads of Sonekote, zips a ghostly blood-red Jaguar. Along with Kavita and Cyclone Shaila, Anirudh must uncover the secrets of the misty, secluded, hill-sides. Red Jaguar takes our hero on the most exciting ride of his life.
High in the Himalayas, a bird of prey waits and watches as Mrs Samson and her troupe of five: Sangeeta, the bug freak; the brothers, Billy and Lokesh; Aarti, haunted by the death of her parents in the same silent mountains and Anirudh, trek their way through the lonely landscape. They are accompanied by Bahadur, their guide and Budhoo, his faithful mule.
Adventure, ghosts, and mystery await Anirudh and his strange friends in these three stories.
Ranjit Lal has been a freelance writer and columnist for twenty-five years, and has published over a thousand articles, short stories and features in fifty newspapers, ad magazines in India and abroad. His interests include natural history, photography, and automobiles.