Sabyasachi Patra



This image is of a shattered windshield of a car I was driving in. This didnít happen at 100kms per hour, but at only 30 kmph.

Cracked windshield of Tavera

Cracked windshield of Tavera


I was in Similipal Tiger Reserve and had hired a Tavera. I was in the front seat carrying two cameras Ė a Canon Cinema C300 and a EOS 1D Mark IV. Since the speed was hardly 20kmph, I had not put on the seat belt. After about two hours we reached a place where the road was better. The driver increased the speed. My IndiaWilds cap was lying on the backseat. Without thinking I just picked up my IndiaWilds cap and put it on. I glanced and saw that the speed was 30kmph, however it was still ok and I didnít say no.

We were close to a small hamlet, which is supposed to be relocated from the tiger reserve. Suddenly infront of me, I saw the road had been dug to create a channel for letting the water pass from one side of the road to another. The channel was about 8 inch deep and a feet wide. I shouted to the driver and he braked hard. The front tyres got into the channel and remained there. I was flung ahead and my head hit the windshield. And the windshield cracked. My cameras fell down but nothing happened to them. I had a throbbing pain in the head which lasted till the next day. My head was not protected. Fortunately, I was wearing the IndiaWilds cap, and according to experts even a small layer on your body minimizes the impact. Why the driver didnít notice was another story, which I will tell later.

The morale of the story is that even at 30kmph, I was thrown into the windshield as I had not put on the seat belt. I was really tensed due to the throbbing pain in my head. The pain vanished the next day. With this experience, I would urge all of you to mandatorily use the seat belt when you are in the vehicle. This may sound innocuous, however, it can save a life. So please pass on the message to use seatbelt while driving.

Coming back to the driver who was not concentrating on driving. We were passing the small tribal hamlet and there were a few tribal women, on the right side of the road. The driver had turned his head to watch them. I have seen this behaviour with other drivers too. In Delhi, I had a young man driving for me who used to turn his head the moment he sees any girl or woman on the road. I fail to understand why people turn into predators when they see a girl. It is not simply because the persons concerned are deprived, as both the persons are married men. I have seen similar behaviour with most of the taxi drivers. Why is it so?

Animals select their own mate. Usually the female of the species decides her mate. The male birds display to impress the female. Elephants choose the strongest male to mate. In ancient India Swayamvar was practiced where the princess used to select the most eligible amongst the assembled kings. Women were far more liberated during those days. Women like Gargee, Maitreyi were known for their intellect. In the Mahabharata, even Draupadiís question on dharma in the Kuru raj sabha, after Yudhisthira lost everything in a game of dice, was sharp enough to stump even Bhisma. Apart from beauty and intellect the women were also skilled warriors with King Chandragupta Maurya choosing to surround himself with only female bodyguards.

However, the impact of the many invasions by Mongol/muslim/Mughals and subsequent rise of abhorrent practices like woman behind veil or the practice of ďSatiĒ where women were forced to jump into the husbandís pyre hasnít been banished from our collective consciousness. Women are today seen only as an object of desire.

Change starts from within and hence we should start looking at this ourselves. In light of the many reports of violation of women, do we need to be assertive and immediately admonish or counsel the drivers when their heads automatically turn at the sight of a woman? By not protesting are we encouraging this behaviour?


IndiaWilds Cap saves my face:

In the second instance a few months later, I realized that my IndiaWilds cap again was of help as it saved my face from major wounds.

I was filming in Assam with a small team. The previous night I had fever and didnít have sleep due to severe cough. I had somehow pulled myself up from the bed for the shoot. We were on a hill at dawn and had climbed on a rock in the hill. There was a steep drop of a few hundred feet on three sides. After a few minutes of filming, I packed up to go down. First I passed the tripod and then I sat down on the rock and tried to hand over the camera. I was holding on to the rock with my left hand and trying to lean and pass the camera with the right hand. In the process, I pulled my left shoulder and there was a sharp pain. Soon I my eyes became blurry and the next moment I was rolling down the rock headfirst. I came back to my senses with a jerk and opened my eyes to realise that my team saved me. Mrudul had both hands free so could pull down my legs and when my legs finally hit the ground, the jolt brought me to my senses. The other team member who was there as an intern, had only one hand free as he was holding the camera with other hand, and was sliding down with me. I had severe scratches and lacerations on my shoulder and arms as well as my chin. My face, except the chin was covered by the cap. The severe cut marks on the cap makes me realise that the face would not have been recognizable if the cap was not there.

IndiaWilds cap saves face

IndiaWilds cap saves my face

The IndiaWilds cap was designed based on request from forest guards who had complained that they get clothes from large NGOs but no one gives them a cap. So we had designed, manufactured and distributed these caps. I had never imagined that a small cap could save me.

Sabyasachi Patra
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