Where in the world is Keith Elliott? Well, I'm not entirely sure. I've been living with him for 20 years, and each year he gets this call from the wild to seek out fish in far-flung places.
Actually, it's usually a call from fisher friends in cahoots to get him to join their latest adventure. Keith really likes to get away from it all. He's somewhere in southern India. Sorry to sound so vague, but despite intensive nagging he never gave me his itinerary. As he was walking out of the door some days ago, he flashed his airline ticket at me. "Just one question, Keith," I queried. "Did you realise you were not flying home until 28 January?" "Really?" he said. "I always thought it was the 26th..." He's as slippery as any fish, my husband.
I've looked on maps and found Bangalore (his airline destination), and that's where the trail ends. I know he's somewhere near a rock on the white-water part of the River Cauvery to catch mahseer (I had to read the Independent on Sunday to find this fact out), but where's that exactly?
Admittedly, four days into the trip I did get a phone call from a charming Indian gentleman, who reassured me Keith was alive and well deep in the jungle, and missing me - so much so that he offered to come home on the 26th as originally planned. He also told me Keith had lost a world record-sized whopper that day, so was feeling a little sad.
He asked for a message to cheer up my despondent husband. I said I missed him too, and that he could stay the extra days. (I would far rather have a happy husband home two days later than planned, having exhausted himself trying for the big 'un, than a resentful one who would always say that if he'd just had another couple of days...)
I reckon it's a bit like playing I'm A Celebrity - Get Me Out Of Here! in reverse. In Keith's case, he probably wants to stay in the jungle with all its deprivations for as long as he possibly can.
The last time Keith visited India to fish for mahseer, he was treated like a celebrity chief by a primitive tribe. This filled him with humility. He came home philoso- phising about his and all mankind's very existence on this earth. Their chief observed that the fishing party was obviously from a very advanced society, and asked Keith for advice on how they should lead their lives. This Indian experience changed Keith. He advised the chief to change nothing.
On his return from that trip, which I still haven't found on the map, Keith enjoyed telling us his traveller's tales. How he scaled 1,000ft precipices, ate food that caused violent gut-rot, and about the night he sat on the thunderbox convinced a tiger was about to pounce and eat him.
The only thing that marred his first trip was the fact he failed to catch a single mahseer. I really couldn't bear this to happen again. It's such a waste to go all that way, face life-threatening adventures and then not catch a fish. So wherever you are in India, Keith, tight lines.
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